Dynaudio Sapphire vs Revel Studio2


After some extensive auditioning, I am really narrowed down to these two speakers. I have listned to both and truly enjoyed both. I am curious if anyone else has auditioned these two speakers? And what your thoughts are? This room is a combo 2 channel and HT, with a true 50/50 spilt between them.

Associated gear:
Modwright Transporter
Modwright LS 36.5
McCormack DNA-500

Here are some thoughts from my audition:

Revel Ultima Studio2
This was a huge pleasant surprise to me as these had only come in just a few days before my arrival and I was unaware they would be there. They were finished in the piano black and are far more attractive in person than I would have expected. I have always kind of turned my nose up at the look of them, but they really started to grow on me throughout the day. They are pretty short and have a fairly unabtrusive overall demeanor. They are also bottom ported which is nice for my room setup. They also have some very cool tweakability on the back of the speaker, such as tweeter adjustments, to help facilitate room integration as much as possible. Revel has perhaps the most state of the art R&D facility in the world, and it shows in these speakers.
Upon the first note I knew I was in business. Now we were listening to a serious speaker They carry a much larger price tag than the PL300'S, with an MSRP of $16,000, but in this instance you could clearly hear and justify the extra money. The Studio2 is a three-way system utilizing two 8-inch woofers, a 5¼-inch midrange and a 1-inch tweeter. There were two immediate things that drew me to this speaker. The first is the tweeter integration. Revel uses a tweeter with a dome of pure beryllium. The tweeter is set in what looks like a shallow depression but is really a sophisticated waveguide. I might have to say this is the best implemented tweeter that I have ever heard; it truly did not exist. Not being able to distinguish the tweeter and what sounds are coming from it through me for a bit of a loop, it was almost very freeing in a sense. It just allowed me to hear the musical presentation in a way I am not accustomed to. Again, a nod to the engineering that has gone into the speaker. The next most immediate thing I experienced was the incredible soundstage they speakers produce. These two speakers truly filled the room with music in a mannor unlike anything I have ever heard. It is almost as if there is no sweet spot. You can stand 6 ft to the side of the speakers, 4 ft behind them, and even right between them and there is virtually no difference in the sound. This is totally nuts! Having a large open room as I do, this is a significant feature. Even people seated outside the speakers will have nearly as enjoyable an experience as some seated directly in the sweet spot. In a more narrow room this would not matter, but it is a pretty unreal thing to hear. This even brought the owner of the place out to listen, and he was totally amazed as the sound these speakers could create. There is also a clean, transparent sound that is really addictive to these speakers. You feel like you can hear further into the music with such ease. Unlike the PL300, the more I listened to these speaker the more I enjoyed it. Kuddos Revel!

Dynaudio Sapphire
A few of you are already well aware of how much I enjoyed this speaker the first time I heard it. This second audition was critical for me as sometimes you can have a bit of a honeymoon the first time you hear a speaker and so it is so important to listen again at a different time, in a different mood, etc. Thanks to Charles' pictures I do not need to sit here and type about the magnificant cabinet design of the Sapphires. For me, this is one of the best looking speakers ever, period. You cannot understand how intricate the cabinet work is until you see them in person.
We fired these up right after the Revels, and I was really curious if my feelings on them would continue or change. Immediately I was drawn right back into this speaker, equally as impressed as I was the first time. Phew Dynaudio hit it out of the park with this speaker. Much of this section will probably more of a back and forth about this speaker versus the Revel, as that is really where my head was at. This speaker also retails for $16,000, so this is a far comparison. The Sapphire has a slightly more forward midrange presentation than the Revels. If you are a strict listener of Jazz, the Sapphire is the speaker for you no question about it. I listened to an unknown saxophone track and the Sapphire gave you a true sense of sitting in a small club listening to a musician, the Revel on the other hand sounded more like a well reproduced sax. The Dyn just gave you a sense of realism that was amazing. It had the sax way forward and in your faced, but not edgy or harsh in any way. It was more back in the mix on the Revels. The Sapphires also have perhaps the most excellent reproduction of a piano I have heard. However, the Revels gave a more realistic drum presentation. There was a point on a Medeski, Martin, Wood track that I had that I could actually hear when Billy Martin switched from hitting his snare drum to tapping the stick on the side of the rim, awesome! Bass is also very different on these two speakers. It is almost as if the base is on two different frequencies. The Revel extend further and have a deeper bass; however, the Sapphires have midbass impact that truly punches you in the chest. I like that feeling. The soundstage on the Sapphires is much more like a traditional speaker with a sweet spot and rolls offs when you begin to get outside of it. It still produces a very wide soundstage in comparison to any speaker but the Revel. Also when listening to something like dub music or indie rock where there is a lot of different instruments and ambient noises, the additional transparency of the Revels is noticeable. The Sapphires in now way sound congested or muddy, the Revels just take it a little further.

The good news and bad news is that I could live with either the Revel Studio2's or the Dynaudio Sapphires for a VERY long time. Unfortunately, short of these two speakers getting together and having a baby speaker there is no clear choice. The "perfect" speaker does not truly exist because every speaker has positives and tradeoffs. At least with these speakers, as a good friend of mine like to say we are dealing with flavors of ice cream. One is chocolate and one is vanilla, there is no right answer but both are good. I can tell you that I am narrowed down to two speakers, but have absolutely no idea what the hell I will choose I will have to go back for an additional listen and see if that helps. Ok, I am sure you guys are totally sick of my babbling at this point and tired of reading, so I will end here...
rydenfan
Great report. If you haven't done so, you might want to take your amp in and see how the two speakers sound with it. Better yet, arrange to bring the speakers home for a sleepover (maybe the Revels one weekend, the Dyns another). But it sounds as though you can't go wrong.
The advantage of the off-axis behavior of the Revels may not be an advantage if you are usually listening by yourself. The other thing to consider is the type of music that you listen to. You mention the Dyn being better for jazz- does that make up a majority of your listening?. If the horn sounded more real, maybe the Dyn has more authentic timbre, and that is more of a priority than the larger stage of the Revel, unless maybe you listen to a lot of large scale music. It sounds like you have already done enough auditioning, and it is time for you to sort out your priorities. Good Luck.
Interesting. Based on your comments - you want the midrange and slam of the Dynaudio but the showy highs and lows or extra sizzle of the Revels is tempting too.

The Dynaudio is clearly the better choice. It has a midrange that sounds real and not a recording! Wow that is rare! Midrange is where most of it is at in music. A bass with slam and impact is more realistic than impressive warm deep bass.

Ask yourself if you are really hearing extra detail in the Revel or are you simply hearing coloration or emphasis on ambient treble sounds precisely because the midrange is realtively more recessed.

Over the long hall an emphasis on amibent sounds and bass extensions rather than the piano, vocalists and lead guitar can be all to tiring - no matter how impressive and convincing it sounds in a demo.

In short - do you want to live long term with a presentation more slanted towards boom boom tizz or a presentation that is more neutral and accurate....that is you dilemma.

Boom Boom Tizz may impress people in five minute demos...but your personal enjoyment may be in a more neutral presentation...
Referring to the Revel Studio 2 as..boom boom tizz is nuts.
Although I haven't heard either speaker, I have to think the new Revel 2 is a reference product.
Yeah, you seem to making a lot of leaps, Shadorne. That is, unless you have heard this model of Revel.
Referring to the Revel Studio 2 as..boom boom tizz is nuts.

Perhaps but many of the most popular box speakers tend to be slanted if ever so slightly in this direction, after all great bass and highs is what they can do much better than an electrostat and much better than your car or TV - it sounds amazingly impressive! Put another way - how many average people will turn up the bass and treble in the car or home system compared to those that would turn both down so they can hear more midrange. Bass and treble emphasis sells.
Shadorne,

I don't know about the Sapphires, but the Studio2s measure extraordinarily well. So I don't know why you would seek to characterize the speakers as less neutral and/or accurate. If there is any issue there, it is likely going to be a room issue where a reinforcement mode and null fall into unfortunate areas because of room dimensions and speaker location.

Ryden,

If you want to get a better sense of both speakers outside your own room, then it might behoove you to RTA both at the dealership, and then use a cheap EQ like a Behringer so you can compare the speakers without excessive room coloration. At the least, you know the Studio 2 measures off the charts, while I'm not sure I have seen any measurements for the Sapphire that were in a language I could understand.
Yeah, you seem to making a lot of leaps, Shadorne.

Ok good point. It looks like I must indeed have run off on a tangent - my bad - a poor choice of words!

Actually, somehow I thought I read this into Rydenfan's observations. I can't judge his hearing or tastes but what he describes came across to me very clearly as two quite different but excellent presentations => one with a more forward midrange (sounds real & bass has impact/slam) and the other with a more recessed midrange (sounds like a recording but you get more ambient stuff and deeper bass).

Anyway I would chose the "real sounding" speaker over the "impressive" one in any showdown - and that is what I meant.
Rydenfan,

I just returned from listening to the Studio2's in the same room that I have listened to Saphire's on three different occasions. The electronics were the same on all times and what I have in my system.

You have a really hard decision in front of you and either way you will have a truly great speaker. Your reaction is similar to mine and we seem to be hearing the same things, but there is one observation that was remarkable. When the the Studio2's were driven at a lower level, for me, they came alive and gave the Dyn's a real run for the money. They were a tad more "dry" or analytical than organic on some string instruments, but the intimacy of the Saphire's was there at "normal" listening levels. When listening to "big" musical pieces (rock, organ, orchestra) the Revel's took the extra gain and opened up the recordings giving great detail and a huge soundstage.

I would be happy to talk personally to you about my experiences and observations with these speakers.

Jim
Hey David -

I see you are reaching out to other forums to help you with your dilemma. Don't blame you.

For those of you looking for objective data on the Sapphires (FR graph), here ya go:

Audio.de (German) magazine published a Frequency Response Plot of the speaker. The Red Line is the on-axis response, the Blue Line is 30 degrees off-axis horizontally, the Purple Line is 60 degrees off-axis horizontally, and the Gray Line is 90 degrees off-axis. The Green Line is 10 degrees above the tweeter.

http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j193/ptwalker/DynaudioSapphireFR.jpg

- Tim
Revel Studio2 pseudo-anechoic response

Off-center in the horizontal plane, at 45° (red) and 60° (blue).

If you compare the plot of the Dynaudio from Germany you can see that both responses are extremely good but Dynaudio has the better plot - the dispersion in the upper midrange and treble is the best I have seen. The bass extension is greater on the Revel (but it is port-loaded to gain extension which explains the less tight bass)

The plots confirm the small differences that David observed. More bass and treble from the Revel and relatively more midrange (better balanced horizontal dispersion) from the Dynaudio.
Did the Sapphire have the same large sweetspot of the Revel's? Would you compare the Dynaudio midrange transparency to that of an electrostatic?

Aren't the Sapphires sold out? Dynaudio is only makeing a 1,000 of them.(Come on Dynaudio,make the Sapphire a regular fixture like you did the Special 25 speaker).

Stereophile has a review of the larger Salon2 and they stated it measured very well..........for what its worth.
Wadav,

The last time I was in communication with Dynaudio, I think they had like 250 left to sell. I know they were out of the Bordeuux finish and the wait time was 4-6 weeks for that color in the states. However, if a spectacular review (if justified) shows up on the internet, they will probably deplete their inventory faster. They were pretty adamant about not producing more then 1000 pairs world wide. However, maybe that will change in the future using the Sapphire design (similar to the Dynaudio Facette) and they will create a new line. Time will tell!!
Shadorne,

I wouldn't put much faith in those charts unless you have exact information on how they do the measurements... Depending on the measurement methodology, the speakers might measure differently using other methodologies.

In any case, the room itself is going to influence his impressions exponentially more than the measurements of either speaker will. In both of these cases the frequency differences between these two speakers will be negligible compared to the room interaction itself... In other words, what he was describing is going to be a product of the speaker interaction with the room much much more than either speaker's inherent response in this situation with such minor response differences between the speakers. Drawing the conclusions you are drawing from those two graphs, is fallacious.

The Stereophile measurement of the Studio 2 is much flatter BTW, and they state their exact methodology... It goes to show how easily these kind of measurements can give different results depending on the method (and equipment) used. A frequency response measurement is good for telling you how the speaker behaves in a vacuum. A flat frequency response from a speaker makes it easy to see the problems in the room itself due to speaker placement and room modes/nulls and to predict speaker placement based on those interactions. So, in a situation such as this, changing the placement between the two speakers could likely change his perception of both speakers quite a bit. The differences in their build character likely warrants very different placement, much like my Salon2s don't perform as well in the same position as the W/P8s.

When you have speakers that are wildly off flat response, then you really have little predictability to speaker placement, and raise the potential for overlapping speaker issues with room issues in negative ways.
Here are the Stereophile measurements BTW:

http://stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/308revel/index4.html
Would you compare the Dynaudio midrange transparency to that of an electrostatic?

Unfortunately, no. The Sapphire is very good speaker (but imo LF limited) but if you want electrostat type midrange transparency take a look at the Focal Be range.
Drawing the conclusions you are drawing from those two graphs, is fallacious.

However, the small differences between the two sets of measurements and those of Stereophile appear to match David's reported observations quite well. How do you explain that? Mere coincidence perhaps? I suspect not.

Do you deny that the measurements suggest that there appears to be more strength in the treble and in the deep bass from the ported-Revels than from the Dynaudio. And conversely there is more strength in upper midrange from the Dynaudio (especially the horizontal dispersion).

Perhaps comparing these two fine speakers is like splitting hairs and it is all irrelevant because the room will anyway have the biggest impact on the sound.....but if this is the case then the whole thread becomes fruitless and David should take both speakers home for an extended listening and decide - an idea trumps any hypothetical discussion!
However, the small differences between the two sets of measurements and those of Stereophile appear to match David's reported observations quite well. How do you explain that? Mere coincidence perhaps? I suspect not.

It is a coincidence, nothing more. It does tell me you do not understand room acoustics and speaker placement, as well as how both affect the sound output from a speaker. Try taking a frequency response measurement in your room of your speakers and tell me how much the room measurement looks like the anechoic measurement. If that doesn't convince you, then I guess I'll have to post an instructional on how to interpret a frequency/dB graph.

The measurements from Stereophile and the other ones you provided are fairly different, so I'm not sure what your point is about that...

If you want a good example of how much the room affects the sound, look at my overlay graphs in my virtual system of the W/P8 and the Salon2. Any differences between them on their anechoic responses, which are more significant in this case, pale in comparison to the room coloration. The fun thing is, both of those speakers can see very large changes in their in-room responses by moving their positions inside the room. This is why I suggest that moving both speakers around a bit in the demo room might be a good idea.
BTW, in an environment where you are playing and listening to music, there would need to be a 3 dB difference in the response for it to even be just barely noticeable to human hearing. More proof that it is the room coloration and speaker placement causing the issue here... In the very best of conditions, with special audio material and other environmental factors taken into account, someone can hear around 1 dB of difference (sometimes a little less, with very special factors taken care of to get lower JNDs). A demo and home audio environment with music playing is not such a situation.

Don't take my word for it, read the Master Handbook of Acoustics or something. Or do some research on Wikipedia...
Tdwalker, the response graph for the Sapphire is not surprising to me. I heard them with Clayton Audio amplification, T&A pre and cdp (If I recall correctly) and Transparent cabling.

I thought the low end was surprisingly good, too good for the configuration of drivers, until I noticed a large REL sub in the corner - and it was helping out. When I turned it off, whooosh, out went all the low end. The Sapphire is lovely, but virtually begs to have a subwoofer. I thought it very interesting that Dynaudio does not seem to have the frequency response listed in the specs on their website (It may be there and I just missed it; if so, mea culpa). Often I find that a company wishes to keep the attention off design weaknesses when such specifications are omitted. A $17k "full range" speaker to roll off at 40-45Hz? It's worth considering.

For whatever reason, Dynaudio seems to design their speakers without much concern to plumb the depths of bass relative to the pricing structure. Then again, the Aventis Audio Phobos speaker which was right next to it, and at about the same price point, was the same. Not very strong low frequ. extension. I would require a sub with either one. That's why the REL was running. So, with the Sapphire, to get actual full range, add the cost of a very good sub, like a higher end REL.
I will ammend my post to read, "...keep the attention off of design decisions (or accomodations) when such specifications are omitted."
I do not intend to convey that the Sapphire is a shabbily designed or built speaker. I felt it was a solid effort, but I look for more low end presence in a speaker above $15k. Personal preference.
It is a coincidence, nothing more.

Well If I understand you correctly, you would say David's observations of differences between these speakers were entirely a room effect? Are you saying they should sound the same given a correct room/setup?

It does tell me you do not understand room acoustics and speaker placement, as well as how both affect the sound output from a speaker

Perhaps my experience just differs from yours. I have generally found that a plot showing frequency reponse at various angles tells a lot about how a speaker will perform in a room when listening at mid to far-field positions ( typical for big speakers such as these ) and in a situation where off axis response becomes as important as on axis in the overal perceived presentation.

FWIW: The Revel Studio 2 and Dynaudio Sapphire are both extremely good on and off axis - perhaps so good that you could easily call either one the absolute best speaker in the world period (depending on your taste). However, even at this level, do you not agree that speakers can sound subtly different. Personally I'd go for the midrange and tight but not deep bass. Most others I suspect would prefer more bass and treble making the Revel 2 the far superior speaker.
perhaps so good that you could easily call either one the absolute best speaker in the world period (depending on your taste)

No, just no.
Are you saying they should sound the same given a correct room/setup

Nope. I didn't say that...
I guess I'll have to post an instructional on how to interpret a frequency/dB graph

That would certainly help me until I get the Master Handbook of Acoustics and learn something about acoustics.

Since my comments about relative increased bass and treble from Revel and relative increased midrange from the Dynaudio are "fallacious" then how would you interpret what these freq/dB graphs? It would be a great place to start if you would take the plots of these two speakers and compare them?
Since my comments about relative increased bass and treble from Revel and relative increased midrange from the Dynaudio are "fallacious" then how would you interpret what these freq/dB graphs? It would be a great place to start if you would take the plots of these two speakers and compare them?

I posted everything you need in order to figure out why what I have been writing is correct. I am getting the feeling you just want to argue without reason at this point. Have a nice holiday, I'm done arguing about this...

http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j193/ptwalker/DynaudioSapphireFR.jpg

http://stereophile.com/images/archivesart/308Revfig5.jpg
I posted everything you need in order to figure out why what I have been writing is correct. I am getting the feeling you just want to argue without reason at this point.

Sorry I got the impression you were ready to explain how to interpret the plots correctly.

Have a nice holiday, I'm done arguing about this...

That's cool with me. Have a great long weekend!
Sorry I got the impression you were ready to explain how to interpret the plots correctly.

I already did. You just weren't paying attention... Good luck to you.
You just weren't paying attention...

To true ...I really didn't get it.
I am heading out for another audition later this afternoon. I have tried to bring a lot of different material with me.
I am heading out for another audition later this afternoon. I have tried to bring a lot of different material with me

Sounds like a plan. Try walking around the room too - see which has the smoothest most even response (which would be my preference). As Jkalman suggested moving the speakers is a great idea but I really don't think it is practical to move speakers around in a demo, however, you can easily move around the room to see which one produces the most even soundfield.
Hi Rydenfan, why are you selling the Dynaudio Sapphire's? Just curious. Thanks.
Selling them for a friend