Please settle a bet!

This is purely intended as an exercise in vicarious fun. However, there is a bottle of fine Scotch, likely single malt, riding on this bet. So, please be somewhat serious and well-reasoned with your responses.

My audiophile friends and I have recently been waxing philosophical, as audiophiles with too much time on their hands are wont to do, and bantering back & forth which pairs of speakers, among 3 specific choices, would, hypothetically, sound "best" in a two-channel application when paired with either a McIntosh MA5200 or MA5300. We, of course, fully understand that "best" is a subjective concept and appreciate the many variables involved, especially with regard to speakers (e.g. sound room dimensions; speaker placement; room acoustics; etc.). As such, let’s assume a hypothetical living room ... say ...15’X20’ with 8’ ceiling, no windows, average wall-to-wall carpeting, proverbial sheetrock construction, average couch & love seat, not chock-full of furniture, etc. Also, please assume good quality modestly priced 12-guage name brand speaker cables (e.g. Audioquest).

The 3 specific pairs of speakers involved are:

Revel Performa3 F208

Focal Aria 936

Revel Performa3 F206

All of these speakers are certainly outstanding in their own right. However, as all audiophiles know, components must be properly paired in order to sound their best. As such, please keep in mind the virtually identical characteristics and power levels of the amplifiers involved, the sensitivity or efficiency of the speakers, etc. Using your best audiophile skills & know-how, personal experiences, etc., please rate, in order, which speakers you think would sound best, second best and third best, in your opinion(s), and explain your reasoning, conclusions or prognostications in this regard.

As indicated at the outset, there’s a friendly wager riding on this (i.e. bottle of fine Scotch) and, of course, audiophile bragging rights for years to come.

Thanks for any and all responses! Have fun!


You reprobates are all hilarious! So far, the "best" suggestion is, buy the Scotch and split it while enjoying some tunes. With all this "enlightened " "help", this is probably what we will end up doing; not that we don't do this already on a regular basis.

Of my little group of audiophile friends, I am the only one who's heard all of these speakers paired with the same amps, in the same sound room. Ozzy came the closest, I think, to what I was expecting someone to say about the F208. That is, that they are certainly great speakers but require more juice or current than what either of those MAC amps can deliver in order to sound their very best.

@mlsstl, just reading this thread should answer your question. Audiophiles are nothing if not opinionated. We are hoping some bona fide professional reviewers will chime in on this one. 

I am quite fimaliar with all the candidates here, and the one sensible response I read, apart from keeping politics out of it, is that the best choice depends on what music one wants to optimize for.  The Revel F206 is light in the bass extension department, but excels on driver integration and "disappearing" so would be best for lighter scored music.  The F208 has the most low end sock for sure, of the three, but gives up some of the cohesiveness the F206, so would appeal to lovers of heavier scored music.  Really it's the more correct answer unless you prize transparency most and listen to chamber music most.  The Focal Aria 936 is in between the two Revels in range and hasn't the cohesiveness of either...but has a very appealing sound of its own and is quite enjoyable with a lot of music.  The problem is its current US price is out of line with its merit.  At the risk of breaking my own rule, the 25% tarrifs placed on EU imports by TFG strangely haven't been lifted by the current admin, and it's unknown whether FNA and others would drop their prices in response even if they were.

Oh, and either Mac can do a perfectly nice job with any of these unless you have a very heavy hand on the volume control.  We all know that watts rise exponentially with volume.  The MA5200 and 5300 are direct coupled, decently high current, very clean sounding and well balanced amplifiers.  Within their limits, very good for these speakers.