Alternatives to Revel Studios?

I'm currently getting back into audio after a few years away from the hobby, and I'm trying to get a new system put together within the next few months. My previous system was a Sony SCD-777ES into a Krell KAV-250p, with a Music Reference RM-9 amp, and Revel Studios for the speakers. I found the setup exceptionally enjoyable, though I do feel the speakers could have really taken advantage of better electronics. Unfortunately, I moved to a condo with no usable listening room, and sold the speakers.

As good as the Revels were, I can't help but wonder if I could do better this time around. I really don't want to get stuck playing the audiophile upgrade game, so I'm trying to explore all of my options before I buy anything. My current amps are Lamm M2.1s, and my source will most likely be an Audio Aero Capitole MKII running direct to the amps. My musical tastes are quite eclectic, though mostly electronic music, and classic through modern rock. I do listen to a bit of classical and jazz as well, but it isn't my main focus. Because of the music I listen to, solid bass extension and good dynamics are critical to my enjoyment, and a speaker with any tendencies towards harshenss wouldn't go well with my many questionably recorded discs.

My comfort level for speakers is in the $7k-$8k range, new or used, though for a truly mind blowing speaker I might be willing to spend up to double that. So far nothing I've heard under $50k is as enjoyable to me as the Revels have been. I've heard them in half a dozen systems, and have loved them every time. Is there any other speaker I should really look for, or am I on the right track buying another pair of Studios?
just my opinion, but i found the revels not quite on a par with the lower priced aerial 9. my system now is a pair of rowland 201's, an aesthetix calypso, a tom evans groove, all kubala emotion cables, a fully decked out linn lp12 and a modwright sony 777 -- and shunyata power conditioning. so you can see that i'm a bit fussy about my equipment. and i listen to everything.

i found the revels a little hot on the top end and the aerials are a little bit sweeter without losing detail. otherwise, the philosophy is the same -- lots of small woofers and high quality mid and tweet in an awesome cabinet.

and i don't know if aesthetics matter, but the aerial in rosewood is beautiful

good luck

I understand your love for the Studios, as I have them too.
I think that your RM9's were not really powerful enough for the Studios, which is why you felt something was lacking. (I started out with a Levinson 27 (100wpc) and when I went up to the Levinson 23 (200 wpc) things really opened up. (I am considering upgrading again, to get even more power, as the Revels really like lots of power.)

That being said, and coming from a fellow Studio fan, I can tell you that if you don't need the last word in bass, that the Avalon Eidolons will be a real step up. Used they are going for $10-$12K, depenind on condition, (and finish - some of the finishes are really drop dead gorgeous, especially if you are into fine woodwork!). The sound is bit more refined than the Studio, especially on the top end. The bass is close to, but not quite as deep as the Studio's depth. One caveat, is that the Eidolons are even more revealing than the Studios, so you will need topnotch electronics throughout your entire system. Also, the Eidolons are also as power hungry as the Revels. My friend's system (and I am basing all of my knowledge based on pretty intimate knowledge of the two speakers, btw), uses VTL MB450 monoblocks. (He used to use a Classe CA-401 (400 wpc) very successfullly, in case you prefer solid state.) In any case, you will need at least 200 wpc, and double that to really get the most out of them. He is currently trying them out with the Rowland 501s, but he has stated that the sound is not as good as the VTLs (or even the Classe, although it is close to the Classe.)
In looking at your current electronics, I feel they would do fine with the Eidolons. (But don't downgrade in order to raise cash to pay for the Eidolons!)

Well, Good Luck in your search!
I have a Audio Aero Capitol 2 as well. I also use it direct with a Cary V12-R with the oil cap upgrade. My choice of speaker is the Verity Audio Fidelio. They have very nice tight bass and unreal midrange. The speaker has great detail even at low volume. Soundstage is wide and deep, but I suspect some of that is the Capitol. It is a true full range speaker. If you can you should listen to a pair- you will not be let down by the experience.
Thanks for the replies, guys.

Rbirke: I've heard the Aerial 10Ts in a very high end, tweaked out system, and they sounded very good. However, my ears preferred the Studios. I'm also a fan of the Revel styling, though I do agree the Aerials look very nice. As for the hot treble, I ran my Studios with the front and rear tweeters each down one notch in an untreated room, and found the sound to be balanced. With the controls in their center positions, I'll agree the sound was a little bright.

Sgr: I've heard the Salons in a few systems, and fortunately for my wallet, I actually prefer the Studios. Though the Salons are not bad by any means, to my ear the Studio sounds a bit more natural.

Kurt_tank: I'll agree that the RM-9 wasn't quite enough for them, but I never got around to upgrading it. (FWIW, I was planning on going with Krell FPB amps and a BAT tube pre at the time). The Lamm M2.1s are rated at 200 watts into 8 ohms, though the Stereophile measurements showed them producing significantly more. I was looking at amps in the 300-400 watt range, but when I heard the Lamms I was sold. The Studios were incredibly enjoyable to me, so much so that my first instinct was not to even waste time auditioning anything else. Since I've got the opportunity though, I'm going to check out all my options.

Eidolons are a speaker that's intrigued me, but I have never heard them. I've heard from a few sources that their bass might not be what I'm looking for, but if the rest of the sound is a significant upgrade, I might be able to overlook that. I'm pretty much married to the Lamm amps for quite some time, so if the Eidolons need more power than they can provide, I'd probably pass on them. How are the Eidolons' dynamics and soundstage? Those are big selling points for me, and I love the soundstage the Studios throw. I found their dynamics to be great but not excellent, but I think the amps were the limiting factor in my system.

Itsalldark: I don't know much at all about Verity speakers, I'll have to look into them and see if I can hear them locally. How long have you had your Capitole? Have there been any problems, or anything else I should know before buying one? I really want to go with the Meitner CDSD/DCC2 but I think it just costs too much right now. The Capitole seems to be among the best digital I've heard, but more enjoyable and "listenable" than most. It also seems more forgiving of poor recordings.

To answer your questions:

I think the Lamm's would work acceptably with the Eidolons. I looked at the specs for the Lamm's and it apears that they have 200 wpc at 4 ohms, which is what the Eidolons (and the Studios) both have. (The RM9s would have been insufficient however. I heard the Kora Cosmos, another 100 wpc tube amp, and it sounded great on small scale jazz, but on larger scale pieces, it ran out of gas.) My opinion is that they will sound great with the Studios as well. In fact, it might even work better with the Studios than the Eidolons, but that is a guess on my part. (IMHO, I think the Eidolons are slightly harder to drive, even though the spec's indicate otherwise.)

The Eidolons do have incredible imaging and soundstaging, and yes, even better than the Studios. I will point out that they are a little difficult to set up properly. They really like being pulled well into the room. Their bass is good, very dynamic and very tight. However, it is not incredibly deep. It only goes a few Hz higher than the Studio, but it is enough to be noticable.
(As opposed to the Salon, which goes all the way down to 20 Hz, but you need a lot of power to make them work (probably double what you have) and they need a really large room to make them sound their best, or they can sound boomy.)

If I could trade staight across for the Eidolons, I would do so. (However, the Eidolons are a more expensive speaker than the Studio, in fact, almost double the cost new. $12K vx $22K). A pair of used Studios will cost you $6K-7K, and a used pair of Eidolons should cost between $10K-$12K, depending on condition or finish.

Two points I would like to bring up:

One, is that the Eidolons have been discontinued, and replaced with the Vision. (Which is nothing but a Eidolon with different (better?) drivers, I believe.) That is the main reason why you will see them popping up on Audiogon more in recent months. If you can avoid the Eidolon Diamonds, (Doubtful, as they are $26K used, and about $40K new), I have heard that they are even better than the regular Eidolon. (Check out the review on HiFi+).

Two, if really deep bass is really important to you, than maybe you should stick with the Studios. They are a really good speaker that does everything very well. (I don't think they are the best in any one area, but they don't do anything less than good either.) I like mine, a lot actually, and it would literally take a speaker like the Eidolons (at double the price) to get me to change.

Good Luck!
In the second to the last paragraph, I inadvertantly wrote the word... "avoid" the Eidolon Diamonds. It should have been "afford". (That is what comes from writing while one has a cold I suppose.) Sorry for the confusion.
I have the Revel Salons (10K used) in a medium sized room (15W X 22L X 8-14H) with lots of power (Bryston 7B-SST). The only speaker that I have heard that I liked more than the Salons was the Eidolon Diamonds. I really connected with these 2 speakers when I first heard them. They sounded right to my ears. I know what I like, so I bought the Salons immediately on A'gon. I could not afford the Eidolon Diamonds.

I did not hear the Studios but I was under the impression that the Salons were considered a little better (magazine reviews).

I work from home and listen to music about 8 hours a day. I am always blown away by the tunes through the Salons.
I've heard the Revel Studios with Bryston amps and Oracle front end gear at a dealer. I heard the Avalon Diamonds with Boulder gear at another dealer. The perfomrance that I heard from the diamonds was order-of-magnitude better than what I heard from the Revels - but the total cost of system was MUCH higher, in addition to being in a much better put together listening room, so take that for what it's worth. The soundstaging, dynamics, detail, resolution and richness of the Avalon/boulder system that I heard was SOTA, one of the best systems I've ever heard. I'm not sure what the spec is, but I definitely heard bass around the 30hz range, maybe lower. Very powerful and detailed and tuneful.

I have not heard the original Eidolon, however.

One other speaker that I've heard that I like a lot is the Wilson Sophia. Have you given it a try? Many of Wilson's previous speakers have been voiced pretty aggressively - very detailed, but in my opinion, too much so to be enjoyable in the long term. The Sophias are completely different - the detail and resolution is there, but they are voiced much more pleasing to the ear. They'll probably be my next speaker, unless I hear something very compelling in the meantime. Certainly not in-your-face. Your Lamm amps would be a match made in heaven with the Sophias.
I have Salons in my main system and Vienna Acoustics Mahlers in my second system.

In my systems, as good as the Salons are, the Mahlers image better and have a midrange voicing that I find preferable on a lot of music.

The Mahlers are just as transparent and detailed as the Salons in the mids and highs. The bass on the Mahlers is not quite as tight, but has better weight. The Salons have a little bit better deep bass extension (<25 Hz.). The Mahlers are 3 db. more efficient, but require a careful choice of amp and speaker cables to control the bass.

Both speakers can go incredibly loud, cleanly, with a slight edge going to the Salons due to their use of 4th order crossovers. Because of their bass weight and slam (serious SLAM), I find the Mahlers more satisfying at high volume.

In short, I suggest that you try to demo Mahlers, as they are roughly the same price as Studios and make for an interesting comparison to the Revels.
Kurt_tank: Thanks for the input. It sounds like I'm going to have to track down the Eidolons to audition before I make my decision. I've heard the Marten Coltranes which use a diamond tweeter also (probably the same one) and the highs are great, but unfortnately it seems speakers using those tweeters are out of my price range for now. The tweeters alone would eat up most of my budget.

Yyz: Most people do consider the Salons to be a bit better. It may be the systems I've heard them in, but I've always either preferred the Studio or found them close enough that the Studio won for value. Of course, everyone's room and system is different.

Goatwuss: I'm sure the Diamonds are better, but I wonder how much of what you heard was the room and the associated equipment. My experience with Boulder places it in the top tier of electronics, period. That said, I prefer the Lamms to any solid state I've yet heard, and enjoy it as much as the best tubes. I've not head the Sophias. I have heard various versions of the WPs over the years, and recently heard the 7s. I did not enjoy them at all. I've heard great things about the Sophias though. If I have the chance to audition them, you can be sure I will.

Raquel: Your comparison is interesting. I've never heard anything from Vienna Acoustics before. I'm usually a fan of tighter bass, and efficiency shouldn't be a problem since I rarely listen at high volumes. However, bass slam is always fun. What kind of music do you primarily listen to, and what are the electronics in both systems?