Revel's Salon2: A Super-Speaker Model Page 2

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TEST BENCH

Sensitivity (SPL at 1 meter with 2.8 volts of pink-noise input) 87 dB Impedance (minimum/nominal) 3.1/6.5 ohms (normal and contour modes), 2.8/6.5 (boundary mode) Bass limits (lowest frequency and maximum SPL with limit of 10% distortion at 2 meters in a large room) 28 Hz at 100 dB 106 dB average SPL from 35 to 65 Hz 107 dB maximum SPL at 50 Hz bandwidth uniformity 96% All of the curves in the frequency-response graph are weighted to reflect how sound arrives at a listener's ears with normal speaker placement. All measurements were made at 2 meters with the Salon2 on the floor, which gives anechoic results to about 300 Hz including full effects of cabinet diffraction and front panel reflections. Close-miked responses of the woofers and port were combined to derive the bass response.

L/R •• 28 Hz to 20 kHz±1.3 dB

The Salon2 has exceptionally even frequency response when measured on-axis or a few degrees off-axis; this is textbook performance few speakers can match. It also exhibits extraordinarily uniform directivity, with only subtle changes in the midrange and a mild reduction in treble (-3 dB at 14.3 kHz at 30°) as you move off-axis. This makes the speaker less sensitive to placement or to room acoustics. Low-frequency extension (-3 dB at 25 Hz) and output (106 dB average SPL from 35 to 65 Hz) are impressive, meaning that you can use the Salon2 without a subwoofer. Given its relatively low impedance and slightly below average sensitivity, the speaker must be used with a high-quality, high-current amplifier for maximum performance. - B.B.

MUSIC PERFORMANCE

Like the sound of a door closing on a Mercedes coupe, the Salon2's precision is immediately apparent. The speaker sounds extraordinarily clean and deliberate. Woofers stop moving when they're supposed to, instead of ringing and smearing the sound. The tweeter produces no audible trace of distortion. The stereo imaging is incredible - I could easily pick out each instrument in space, even all four members of the World Saxophone Quartet wailing at once. But the Salon2's somewhat elevated tweeter mounting places the image higher than I'm used to hearing.

That beryllium tweeter is like a standout contestant on American Idol: The other drivers sing beautifully, but the tweeter really belts it out. Cymbals, snare drum, and hand percussion simply sparkled, without a single note ever sounding overly bright. Acoustic guitars sounded like I was hearing them in person at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica - I could almost feel the soundboards breathing. Saxophones came across with more detail than I can ever remember hearing.

It was a blast to hear the Salon2's woofers pressurize my room. The drywall strained to contain the sound. I felt every note from the pipe organ in my favorite deep-bass recording, a Telarc CD of organist Michael Murray and the San Francisco Symphony playing Joseph Jongen's Symphonie Concertante. Most speakers can't reproduce its subterranean notes at all.

MOVIE PERFORMANCE

Even though I didn't have Revel's accompanying center and surround speakers - the $8,000 Voice2 and the $10,000-a-pair Gem2 - I ran a few DVDs in stereo to get an impression of how the Salon2s would perform in a home theater setting. When I played James Taylor's Live at the Beacon Theatre, the tweeter revealed a fascinating sonic interplay between cymbals and Taylor's guitar that I never noticed in hundreds of previous hearings.

It's the brutal stuff, though, that really lets the Salon2 show off. The Shoot 'Em Up DVD's combination of nearly nonstop gunfire with an intense rock soundtrack works most woofers nearly to death, but the Salon2's titanium cones never complained. In fact, my 200-watts-per-channel amplifier ran out of juice before the speakers could distort. And the tweeter's detail brought a fresh, terrifying realism to the brontosaurus stampede scene in Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong.

BOTTOM LINE

The Revel Ultima Salon2 is a serious effort by one of the most serious and scientific speaker-design teams in the world. And it demands a serious commitment from its owner, because it costs a lot and takes up a lot of space. But if you want to hear exactly what your favorite music and movies are supposed to sound like, few speakers can equal or exceed this one.

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