Revel Concerta home theater speaker system Page 2

The Short Form
WWW.REVELSPEAKERS.COM / 781-280-0300 / $3,794
Plus
•Superb all-around performance. •Useful subwoofer room-EQ and software. •Multimode surrounds optimize sound for source and location.
Minus
•Big, boxy, boring design. •Center speaker lacks boundary-compensation controls.
Key Features
System total $3,794 •F12 front left/right speakers 1-in tweeter, 53/8-in midrange, two 8-inch woofers; 423/8 in high; 63 lbs ($1,298 a pair) •C12 center speaker 1-in dome tweeter, 4-in cone midrange, two 61/2-inch cone woofers; 207/8 in wide; 32 lbs ($499) •S12 surround speaker two 1-in dome tweeters, two 5-in cone midranges; 117/8 in high; 12 lbs ($998 a pair) •B12 subwoofer 10-in aluminum-cone driver; 650-watt amp; 1-band parametric room-EQ; 131/4 x 141/4 x 16 in; 64 lbs ($999) •Maple, black-ash, or cherry veneer finish (S12: black or white only)
Test Bench
The F12 tower had tightly controlled directivity and unusually extended and powerful bass for a nonsubwoofer. The C12 center also had unusually well-controlled directivity, probably due to the vertically aligned midrange/tweeter array. The S12 surround had operating characteristics consistent with its dual-face bi/di/monopole driver array, but sensitivity and bass limits varied with mode selection. The B12 subwoofer had excellent extension.
- Tom Nousaine
Full lab results
Experimenting with the S12 surrounds' dipole/bipole/monopole switches on several SACD and DVD-Audio selections, I reached my usual conclusions with such speakers: bipole for some kinds of music (multichannel pop), dipole for others (classical, live jazz or rock). I didn't particularly like monopole mode. Of course, the problem here is that the Revels, like most switchable surround speakers, provide no mechanism to compensate for the pronounced differences in playback level among the different modes, so you can't easily switch them on the fly.

MOVIE PERFORMANCE I expected a lot from the Revels on movie playback, and a lot is what I got. I began with a few of my favorite torture tests for dialogue integration, sound field wholeness, and bottom-octave oomph, and came up empty - it was all there. The C12 center speaker made a tonal and vocal-presentation match with the left/right towers that approached the best I've heard. The timbre match between them was nearly perfect, and movie dialogue had excellent intelligibility no matter where the volume was set. The three-way C12, with its "vertical-array" stacked midrange and tweeter between dual woofers, sounded superb from either side, escaping the flabbiness, dulling, or honkiness you hear with many horizontal two-way centers. Placed as it was under my widescreen TV, it did sound just a touch heavier than the F12s - the C12 lacks the boundary-compensation (and tweeter-level) controls of more expensive Revel centers.

But in the overall scheme this is a mere quibble. The Concerta suite produced world-class home theater sound. The Aviator DVD demands a versatile system with strength and finesse in equal measure, and the Revels came through with full impact and detail: from the cloying ambience of the opening flashback to the (literally) in-your-face crash in Chapter 24, the Revels produced engaging, high-impact sound, free of subwoofer boom, muffled voices, sizzly surrounds, and other common movie-sound faults.

The S12 surrounds dealt out a superbly integrated, naturally diffuse rear sound field, and I couldn't make the B12 subwoofer misbehave no matter what kind of deep-bass material I played or at what volume. It punched out palpable bass to well below 25 Hz, and while it doesn't play quite as loud as my more expensive 12-inch reference sub, it was just about indistinguishable. On movies as well as music, the Concerta system's overall balance may initially seem a shade brighter than you're accustomed to, but I came to realize that this was simply the sound of dead-accurate response - without the "enhanced" lower midrange common to so many speakers - and smooth treble.

BOTTOM LINE The latest Revels may not be dramatic and swoopy-looking like their bill-topping Ultima siblings, but if you close your eyes and listen, the family resemblance is striking: strict tonal accuracy, impressive dynamic capability, superbly complementary and competent center and surrounds, and a subwoofer that delivers about as much bass power and honest extension as you'll get from a 10-incher. What more can you ask?

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