Revel Home Theater The Music Goes Round and Round
I did all my music listening to the Revels in my home-theater system, using the music modes of the Meridian and Proceed surround processors. Normally, I also try to listen to speakers in my music-only system, which is in a different room. But the time I had allotted for this was taken up by additional listening in the home-theater system, particularly in researching the bass performance described in the main review. No matter: A music-only review of the Revel Ultima Gems is planned for an upcoming issue of Stereophile.
For now, my experience listening to music on the Revels in the home-theater system suggests that few people are likely to be disappointed. From my admittedly off-axis listening position, the Revels' imaging specificity is a little less precise than the best I've heard in a two-channel system. But it is completely consistent with my past experience with high-performance speakers in this system.
The overall balance of the Revels is a little lean rather than rich, at least in this system. But it is very "fast": Transients snap, the top end is detailed, and there is plenty of air around instruments and voices, even with the Gems' rear tweeters turned off. This isn't a sweet sound, but it is immediate and alive. As noted in the home-theater comments, only occasionally do I get the feeling that the Revels are a little analytical and pushy in the low treble. It will be interesting to see if the measurements (which have not yet been taken as I write this) include anything to account for this.
I hear no clearly identifiable midrange coloration on instruments or voices. The subwoofer/main speaker balance is good, though it's a little better with the Meridian 861 surround processor than with any of the other processors I tried.
The bass from the Revel subwoofers is superb on music; no sign of overload here, even on difficult material. In terms of general extension and bass quality, though, it is possible to equal its music performance with less expensive subwoofers. But I've also heard the Revel subs in rooms much smaller than mine (at both consumer hi-fi shows and at CES), and the bass performance with organ knocked me out of my chair. The SUB-15 never quite did the same on musical material in my much larger listening space, but it clearly can plumb the depths when required.