Revel Home Theater Page 3

The Revel Embrace surround speaker uses five drivers. A single 8" woofer is mounted on the front, with a 4" midrange and a 1" tweeter on each of the enclosure's angled sides. The 4" midranges and 8" woofer are the same drivers used in the Ultima Voice center-channel. However, the 1" tweeters are not the same Scan-Speak design used in the Voice and Gems.

The Embrace can be configured for bipole, dipole, or Dual Drive operation. (Dual Drive is an arrangement available in a few surround processors—notably from Citation—that lets the user separately drive the front and rear drivers and change the mode of surround operation from the processor.) It can also be set up for electronic switching between dipole and bipole.

There are two additional controls on the Embrace: tweeter level and boundary proximity. The latter control can be switched to provide compensation for placement near the rear wall. The tweeter-level control is mounted on the rear of the cabinet, which is inconvenient for those who wall-mount their surrounds: You can't adjust the control once the speaker is mounted, and once it's in place, you won't want to move the Embrace's 40 pounds.

If you intend to wall-mount the Embraces, I strongly recommend that you let your dealer handle it. The mounting brackets provided by Revel must be very accurately positioned on the wall, and they are invisible behind the cabinet as you try to mate them with the similarly invisible brackets on the speaker's rear. When you consider the mass of the speaker, the fact that it is smoothly rounded and hard to grip securely, the risk of putting your hand through one of the drivers, and the fact that you're probably doing it while perched on a rickety ladder, this is an operation I don't recommend to the weekend home-theater warrior.

The Ultima SUB-15/LE is not your father's subwoofer. Unlike most powered subwoofers, the SUB-15's dedicated LE-1 amplifier is a huge, heavyweight design built in its own outboard chassis and purchased separately. (The SUB-15 is not intended for use with any other, generic amplifier.) A single LE-1 can be used to drive one or two SUB-15s in a mono subwoofer setup, or you can purchase two amplifiers and drive two SUB-15s as stereo subwoofers. (This setup actually lets you drive four subs: two per side!)

The LE-1 also has its own highpass and lowpass filters, which can be bypassed in favor of the filters in your surround processor. However, this might not provide an optimum rolloff slope for mating the SUB-15 to the Gems in all cases. The LE-1 has front-panel level and phase controls, a power switch, and a level indicator. The boundary-correction control compensates for very-low-frequency room gain. The boundary correction, level, and phase can also be adjusted from a (furnished) remote control.

The SUB-15 utilizes a single, massive, 15" driver with a 4" voice-coil. Its heavy paper cone is impregnated with Kevlar and kapok. The voice-coil is a long-coil, edge-wound, 4"-diameter design, and the magnetic structure alone weighs 36 pounds. The rated peak-to-peak excursion is 1.5".

The SUB-15/LE-1 combination uses none of the bass limiting, motion feedback, or level-dependent equalization found in virtually all other powered subwoofers. Of course, it does use low-frequency compensation (properly contoured bass boost is the only way to get significant low-end response from a small enclosure), which is one reason for the exceptionally rugged driver design and the high power of the LE-1 amplifier.