Revel F208 Review by Earl


Revel F208 Review

Before I start, let me explain a bit about the electronics that are feeding these speakers. The Metrum Hex DAC is very rich and analog sounding (compared to my Denchmark DAC2) The Benchmark HGC DAC2 PRE used as a preamp has stunning clarity and musicality with no added warmth and is at least as good as the pre in the Bryston B100 integrated preamp. The 4BSST2 may be one of the most resolving amps in the world and and maintains super tight control over all aspects of the sound, especially the bass. Also, I am used to having this electronics drive PMC Twenty 22 speakers flaked by two Rythmik F12 subs. Since PMC is designed specifically to run on Bryston amps you would imagine that the synergy is outstanding, and it certainly is.

So I'm used to listening a system that sounds absolutely stunning to my ears, and then I decided to audition the Revel F208 speakers in a dealers showroom. After reading more reviews and opinions on this speaker than any product I have purchased in my life, I had pretty high expectations on what they would sound like. You can imagine the shock when I did the demo and they sounded awful...so awful, in fact, that I knew something (or things) had to be seriously wrong. There was no way several reviewers I had read about where going to make a speaker that sounded this bad their reference speaker. No way!!!

Days after the demo a brand new warranty replacement pair comes up for sale on an Internet site and I buy them...one of the biggest gambles I have taken. After three weeks of break in followed by my first week of listening to them, here is my review.

With the right source materiel and electronics feeding these speakers, the Revel F208 speakers sound heavenly. They sound slightly dryer and thinner them my PMC 22 speakers, especially as the frequency goes lower. The dryer tighter bass takes a bit of to get used to but ultimately sounds fine and allows the speakers to be placed very near to boundaries without any boominess (even without using the boundary switch). They have lots of detail and are especially good with classical music. The grit of the cello is especially noticeable compared to other speakers. If you are looking for a rich full bodied type of sound, these are not the speakers you want. Nothing on the recording is pushed in your face and many other speakers will sound better in a short demo. They do have a very slight unique tonal character of there own (maybe it was just the dryness), but within a few hours I did not hear it any more and all I heard was the wonderful music they produced.

These speakers are very sensitive to the electronics you feed them. Feed them the wrong diet and they are not going to sound good. In my system there was very good synergy allowing the sweetness of the DAC to reach the speakers and produce such lovely music.

I demoed Bryston speakers (Mini T, Middle T) some time back and liked the presence and how they made everything sound better then real life, but was afraid I would tire of them after a while. The F208's are completely opposite. Nothing is hyped, nothing. I would relate the Bryston speakers to a sweeter wine and the F208 speakers to a dryer wine that most people end up moving to over time.

The F208's are very revealing and require very good electronics driving them for them to sound good. My 'in store' demo was with a Arcam A39 and Arcam CD player driving them and I was very unimpressed, to say the least. Using my own electronics made a world of difference. (At 3 to 4 times the cost, of course).

The PMC Twenty 22 speakers are slightly richer sounding with a much more fluid bass. They also have no character of there own that I could detect. It's personal preference as to with sounds better. The PMC might be a bit more true to life while the Revel may be more the type of sound what you would want from a studio monitor...super clear, very good separation of individual sounds, very articulate and slightly more analytical. Both speakers are good in there own way but if I was forced to make a choice I would still go with the PMC's for there rich natural sound, but that could easily change with time. Fortunately I don't have to choose because they are in different systems.

Vocals on F208's sound wonderful and sweet. The PMC 22's made steal guitar strings jump into the foreground. With the Revel's the strings sounded thiner but beautiful and blended into the recording more.

The dryer bass makes some upper bass percussion instruments stand out from the recording more than the PMC's. With lesser electonics this can sound unnatural and be distracting but the right electronics makes the percussion blend into the overall recording much better.

The 208's are not speakers that are going to throw out tons of bass. The bass is always very tightly controlled and blends with the whole. Anyone who says the bass is not tight and controlled has not heard these through the 4BSST2. When I first listened to them the bass was so tight I wondered what happened to it. Even the B100 integrated has fuller and softer bass sound. The Bryston speakers I heard with their thunderous bass would probably make a much better home theater speaker. These speakers are too refined to do that. They are not a high fun factor speaker IMO. To me, they excel in musical genre's like classical, jazz, and pretty much any acoustic based music. Much of my music collection is acoustic rock or at least lighter rock and it sounds fabulous through these speakers. If your main music is hard rock, I'm not sure if these are going to be your best fit. They are so refined and delicate that rock may not sound its best. When I played Hotel California through them I had never heard it so airy and delicate before. It didn't sound bad, but not the full weighty sound I am used to hearing. Also keep in mind that Benchmark/Bryston amplification is super transparent and adds no thickness or warmth to the sound. (And yet sounds extremely musical). Playing hard rock through the F208's is akin to asking the Royal Philharmonic to play Van Halen...sure they can do it, but it just not going to the same as your used to hearing.

The speaker that I can relate these closest to is the ATC SCM speakers. Very detailed, very revealing, and very sensitive to the electronics they are feed. I would love to do a direct by side comparison to the ATC SCM 40.

Many cameras have a vivid option that saturates the colors in a picture. This option can make many picture look better then they appear in real life but also has a down side. If a scene already has a lot of rich vibrant colors it can over saturate the photo making it look awful. If an un-vivid option did exist it would de-saturate the colors bringing the photo more towards black and white. I would like to apply this metaphors to scale of a speakers vividness where 0 represents what you hear in the live performance, +3 represents the most forward, ultra presence, bigger that live sound I have heard and -3 representing the maximum in a dry, laid back sound. I would put my PMC 22 speakers right on the 0 in my system. The Bryston's I heard would be a + 2 to +3. Now the F208 speakers I would place at -1 for the higher frequencies and going to -2 in the bass. This dryer presentation takes away some of the rich, full bodied sound of a live performance but opens the door to hearing more of the texture of the music. This is why these speakers to such a fantastic job with classical music...you can hear the instruments spacialy separated with loads of texture. The down side to this is that removing some of the fullness and adding texture to a Fender Strat played through an overdriven Marshal stack is not the sound you want. It is going to over-do the already sensory overloaded texture of the distortion while thinning out the sound...not a good combination for this type of music.

Throughout the whole week of listening I had not played the B100 as a full integrated through the F208 speakers. When I did I was astounded at how good it sounded. Because it could not control the bass the same way as the 4BSST2 could, the bass was fuller and in some ways sounded better. This made me wonder if the iron fisted control of the 4BSST2 combined with a tube amp that could add a bit of fullness, but not warmth or softness, might be the perfect combination for these speakers? I would love to try an Audio Research pre (LS17, LS27) and see what that does for the sound.

If I could sum up this this speaker in a few words I would say this speaker sounds beautiful but not sweet, accurate but not too analytical, slightly dry but still conveys depth and emotion, very revealing and transparent, delicate but can still rock to a point, very detailed but not over the top. As with many high end speakers that are very revealing, source system matching is very important.

Revel F208 Review

Before I start, let me explain a bit about the electronics that are feeding these speakers. The Metrum Hex DAC is very rich and analog sounding (compared to my Denchmark DAC2) The Benchmark HGC DAC2 PRE used as a preamp has stunning clarity and musicality with no added warmth and is at least as good as the pre in the Bryston B100 integrated preamp. The 4BSST2 may be one of the most resolving amps in the world and and maintains super tight control over all aspects of the sound, especially the bass. Also, I am used to having this electronics drive PMC Twenty 22 speakers flaked by two Rythmik F12 subs. Since PMC is designed specifically to run on Bryston amps you would imagine that the synergy is outstanding, and it certainly is.

So I'm used to listening a system that sounds absolutely stunning to my ears, and then I decided to audition the Revel F208 speakers in a dealers showroom. After reading more reviews and opinions on this speaker than any product I have purchased in my life, I had pretty high expectations on what they would sound like. You can imagine the shock when I did the demo and they sounded awful...so awful, in fact, that I knew something (or things) had to be seriously wrong. There was no way several reviewers I had read about where going to make a speaker that sounded this bad their reference speaker. No way!!!

Days after the demo a brand new warranty replacement pair comes up for sale on an Internet site and I buy them...one of the biggest gambles I have taken. After three weeks of break in followed by my first week of listening to them, here is my review.

With the right source materiel and electronics feeding these speakers, the Revel F208 speakers sound heavenly. They sound slightly dryer and thinner them my PMC 22 speakers, especially as the frequency goes lower. The dryer tighter bass takes a bit of to get used to but ultimately sounds fine and allows the speakers to be placed very near to boundaries without any boominess (even without using the boundary switch). They have lots of detail and are especially good with classical music. The grit of the cello is especially noticeable compared to other speakers. If you are looking for a rich full bodied type of sound, these are not the speakers you want. Nothing on the recording is pushed in your face and many other speakers will sound better in a short demo. They do have a very slight unique tonal character of there own (maybe it was just the dryness), but within a few hours I did not hear it any more and all I heard was the wonderful music they produced.

These speakers are very sensitive to the electronics you feed them. Feed them the wrong diet and they are not going to sound good. In my system there was very good synergy allowing the sweetness of the DAC to reach the speakers and produce such lovely music.

I demoed Bryston speakers (Mini T, Middle T) some time back and liked the presence and how they made everything sound better then real life, but was afraid I would tire of them after a while. The F208's are completely opposite. Nothing is hyped, nothing. I would relate the Bryston speakers to a sweeter wine and the F208 speakers to a dryer wine that most people end up moving to over time.

The F208's are very revealing and require very good electronics driving them for them to sound good. My 'in store' demo was with a Arcam A39 and Arcam CD player driving them and I was very unimpressed, to say the least. Using my own electronics made a world of difference. (At 3 to 4 times the cost, of course).

The PMC Twenty 22 speakers are slightly richer sounding with a much more fluid bass. They also have no character of there own that I could detect. It's personal preference as to with sounds better. The PMC might be a bit more true to life while the Revel may be more the type of sound what you would want from a studio monitor...super clear, very good separation of individual sounds, very articulate and slightly more analytical. Both speakers are good in there own way but if I was forced to make a choice I would still go with the PMC's for there rich natural sound, but that could easily change with time. Fortunately I don't have to choose because they are in different systems.

Vocals on F208's sound wonderful and sweet. The PMC 22's made steal guitar strings jump into the foreground. With the Revel's the strings sounded thiner but beautiful and blended into the recording more.

The dryer bass makes some upper bass percussion instruments stand out from the recording more than the PMC's. With lesser electonics this can sound unnatural and be distracting but the right electronics makes the percussion blend into the overall recording much better.

The 208's are not speakers that are going to throw out tons of bass. The bass is always very tightly controlled and blends with the whole. Anyone who says the bass is not tight and controlled has not heard these through the 4BSST2. When I first listened to them the bass was so tight I wondered what happened to it. Even the B100 integrated has fuller and softer bass sound. The Bryston speakers I heard with their thunderous bass would probably make a much better home theater speaker. These speakers are too refined to do that. They are not a high fun factor speaker IMO. To me, they excel in musical genre's like classical, jazz, and pretty much any acoustic based music. Much of my music collection is acoustic rock or at least lighter rock and it sounds fabulous through these speakers. If your main music is hard rock, I'm not sure if these are going to be your best fit. They are so refined and delicate that rock may not sound its best. When I played Hotel California through them I had never heard it so airy and delicate before. It didn't sound bad, but not the full weighty sound I am used to hearing. Also keep in mind that Benchmark/Bryston amplification is super transparent and adds no thickness or warmth to the sound. (And yet sounds extremely musical). Playing hard rock through the F208's is akin to asking the Royal Philharmonic to play Van Halen...sure they can do it, but it just not going to the same as your used to hearing.

The speaker that I can relate these closest to is the ATC SCM speakers. Very detailed, very revealing, and very sensitive to the electronics they are feed. I would love to do a direct by side comparison to the ATC SCM 40.

Many cameras have a vivid option that saturates the colors in a picture. This option can make many picture look better then they appear in real life but also has a down side. If a scene already has a lot of rich vibrant colors it can over saturate the photo making it look awful. If an un-vivid option did exist it would de-saturate the colors bringing the photo more towards black and white. I would like to apply this metaphors to scale of a speakers vividness where 0 represents what you hear in the live performance, +3 represents the most forward, ultra presence, bigger that live sound I have heard and -3 representing the maximum in a dry, laid back sound. I would put my PMC 22 speakers right on the 0 in my system. The Bryston's I heard would be a + 2 to +3. Now the F208 speakers I would place at -1 for the higher frequencies and going to -2 in the bass. This dryer presentation takes away some of the rich, full bodied sound of a live performance but opens the door to hearing more of the texture of the music. This is why these speakers to such a fantastic job with classical music...you can hear the instruments spacialy separated with loads of texture. The down side to this is that removing some of the fullness and adding texture to a Fender Strat played through an overdriven Marshal stack is not the sound you want. It is going to over-do the already sensory overloaded texture of the distortion while thinning out the sound...not a good combination for this type of music.

Throughout the whole week of listening I had not played the B100 as a full integrated through the F208 speakers. When I did I was astounded at how good it sounded. Because it could not control the bass the same way as the 4BSST2 could, the bass was fuller and in some ways sounded better. This made me wonder if the iron fisted control of the 4BSST2 combined with a tube amp that could add a bit of fullness, but not warmth or softness, might be the perfect combination for these speakers? I would love to try an Audio Research pre (LS17, LS27) and see what that does for the sound.

If I could sum up this this speaker in a few words I would say this speaker sounds beautiful but not sweet, accurate but not too analytical, slightly dry but still conveys depth and emotion, very revealing and transparent, delicate but can still rock to a point, very detailed but not over the top. As with many high end speakers that are very revealing, source system matching is very important.

Revel F208 Review

Before I start, let me explain a bit about the electronics that are feeding these speakers. The Metrum Hex DAC is very rich and analog sounding (compared to my Denchmark DAC2) The Benchmark HGC DAC2 PRE used as a preamp has stunning clarity and musicality with no added warmth and is at least as good as the pre in the Bryston B100 integrated preamp. The 4BSST2 may be one of the most resolving amps in the world and and maintains super tight control over all aspects of the sound, especially the bass. Also, I am used to having this electronics drive PMC Twenty 22 speakers flaked by two Rythmik F12 subs. Since PMC is designed specifically to run on Bryston amps you would imagine that the synergy is outstanding, and it certainly is.

So I'm used to listening a system that sounds absolutely stunning to my ears, and then I decided to audition the Revel F208 speakers in a dealers showroom. After reading more reviews and opinions on this speaker than any product I have purchased in my life, I had pretty high expectations on what they would sound like. You can imagine the shock when I did the demo and they sounded awful...so awful, in fact, that I knew something (or things) had to be seriously wrong. There was no way several reviewers I had read about where going to make a speaker that sounded this bad their reference speaker. No way!!!

Days after the demo a brand new warranty replacement pair comes up for sale on an Internet site and I buy them...one of the biggest gambles I have taken. After three weeks of break in followed by my first week of listening to them, here is my review.

With the right source materiel and electronics feeding these speakers, the Revel F208 speakers sound heavenly. They sound slightly dryer and thinner them my PMC 22 speakers, especially as the frequency goes lower. The dryer tighter bass takes a bit of to get used to but ultimately sounds fine and allows the speakers to be placed very near to boundaries without any boominess (even without using the boundary switch). They have lots of detail and are especially good with classical music. The grit of the cello is especially noticeable compared to other speakers. If you are looking for a rich full bodied type of sound, these are not the speakers you want. Nothing on the recording is pushed in your face and many other speakers will sound better in a short demo. They do have a very slight unique tonal character of there own (maybe it was just the dryness), but within a few hours I did not hear it any more and all I heard was the wonderful music they produced.

These speakers are very sensitive to the electronics you feed them. Feed them the wrong diet and they are not going to sound good. In my system there was very good synergy allowing the sweetness of the DAC to reach the speakers and produce such lovely music.

I demoed Bryston speakers (Mini T, Middle T) some time back and liked the presence and how they made everything sound better then real life, but was afraid I would tire of them after a while. The F208's are completely opposite. Nothing is hyped, nothing. I would relate the Bryston speakers to a sweeter wine and the F208 speakers to a dryer wine that most people end up moving to over time.

The F208's are very revealing and require very good electronics driving them for them to sound good. My 'in store' demo was with a Arcam A39 and Arcam CD player driving them and I was very unimpressed, to say the least. Using my own electronics made a world of difference. (At 3 to 4 times the cost, of course).

The PMC Twenty 22 speakers are slightly richer sounding with a much more fluid bass. They also have no character of there own that I could detect. It's personal preference as to with sounds better. The PMC might be a bit more true to life while the Revel may be more the type of sound what you would want from a studio monitor...super clear, very good separation of individual sounds, very articulate and slightly more analytical. Both speakers are good in there own way but if I was forced to make a choice I would still go with the PMC's for there rich natural sound, but that could easily change with time. Fortunately I don't have to choose because they are in different systems.

Vocals on F208's sound wonderful and sweet. The PMC 22's made steal guitar strings jump into the foreground. With the Revel's the strings sounded thiner but beautiful and blended into the recording more.

The dryer bass makes some upper bass percussion instruments stand out from the recording more than the PMC's. With lesser electonics this can sound unnatural and be distracting but the right electronics makes the percussion blend into the overall recording much better.

The 208's are not speakers that are going to throw out tons of bass. The bass is always very tightly controlled and blends with the whole. Anyone who says the bass is not tight and controlled has not heard these through the 4BSST2. When I first listened to them the bass was so tight I wondered what happened to it. Even the B100 integrated has fuller and softer bass sound. The Bryston speakers I heard with their thunderous bass would probably make a much better home theater speaker. These speakers are too refined to do that. They are not a high fun factor speaker IMO. To me, they excel in musical genre's like classical, jazz, and pretty much any acoustic based music. Much of my music collection is acoustic rock or at least lighter rock and it sounds fabulous through these speakers. If your main music is hard rock, I'm not sure if these are going to be your best fit. They are so refined and delicate that rock may not sound its best. When I played Hotel California through them I had never heard it so airy and delicate before. It didn't sound bad, but not the full weighty sound I am used to hearing. Also keep in mind that Benchmark/Bryston amplification is super transparent and adds no thickness or warmth to the sound. (And yet sounds extremely musical). Playing hard rock through the F208's is akin to asking the Royal Philharmonic to play Van Halen...sure they can do it, but it just not going to the same as your used to hearing.

The speaker that I can relate these closest to is the ATC SCM speakers. Very detailed, very revealing, and very sensitive to the electronics they are feed. I would love to do a direct by side comparison to the ATC SCM 40.

Many cameras have a vivid option that saturates the colors in a picture. This option can make many picture look better then they appear in real life but also has a down side. If a scene already has a lot of rich vibrant colors it can over saturate the photo making it look awful. If an un-vivid option did exist it would de-saturate the colors bringing the photo more towards black and white. I would like to apply this metaphors to scale of a speakers vividness where 0 represents what you hear in the live performance, +3 represents the most forward, ultra presence, bigger that live sound I have heard and -3 representing the maximum in a dry, laid back sound. I would put my PMC 22 speakers right on the 0 in my system. The Bryston's I heard would be a + 2 to +3. Now the F208 speakers I would place at -1 for the higher frequencies and going to -2 in the bass. This dryer presentation takes away some of the rich, full bodied sound of a live performance but opens the door to hearing more of the texture of the music. This is why these speakers to such a fantastic job with classical music...you can hear the instruments spacialy separated with loads of texture. The down side to this is that removing some of the fullness and adding texture to a Fender Strat played through an overdriven Marshal stack is not the sound you want. It is going to over-do the already sensory overloaded texture of the distortion while thinning out the sound...not a good combination for this type of music.

Throughout the whole week of listening I had not played the B100 as a full integrated through the F208 speakers. When I did I was astounded at how good it sounded. Because it could not control the bass the same way as the 4BSST2 could, the bass was fuller and in some ways sounded better. This made me wonder if the iron fisted control of the 4BSST2 combined with a tube amp that could add a bit of fullness, but not warmth or softness, might be the perfect combination for these speakers? I would love to try an Audio Research pre (LS17, LS27) and see what that does for the sound.

If I could sum up this this speaker in a few words I would say this speaker sounds beautiful but not sweet, accurate but not too analytical, slightly dry but still conveys depth and emotion, very revealing and transparent, delicate but can still rock to a point, very detailed but not over the top. As with many high end speakers that are very revealing, source system matching is very important.




earlxtr
So nice, you had to say it twice.
Earlxtr, thanks for your review. I did hear them last year at RMAF and was impressed as well. I do have a question, as I currently own F32's and would consider trading into the New Performa series, but the local dealer doesn't stock or display the Revels as he is a JBL dealer and thinks that is his basis for business. So I am not able to do an in home demo to make the purchase. So now the question, have you listened to the F32s and how would you compare the two?
Or thrice...
Sorry, my paste function was so slow I thought it was not working:( wish I could edit it...
Theo, I have not listened to the F32 so I can not comment on them.

One statement I made I need to back off on was saying that these are not a great rock speaker. Last night my neighbor was gone so I played some of my harder rock and gave them some juice and I was amazed at how the slight thinness in the presentation disappeared and they sounded very full and rich. Still other speakers my sound better at lower volumes but if you can crank it up, these can rock pretty good and still maintain complete control.
Thanks you for your response. In reading your comments on the rock presentation at higher volumes, if interpret correctly, that more power seems to bring them to life. Would you say that maybe a different amp/pre-amp would correct the "thinness" at lower volumes? I love rock and at times love it loud, (can't listen to "Stranglehold" at low volumes) but mostly I try to keep the volume at a lower non-ear punishing level. Just curious what your thoughts are, I don't see any weak links in your system, but sometimes the front end can correct lower volume punch.
Earl, perhaps the best review I ever read on here !
Frank VanAlstine, who can be a bit of a curmudgeon, made a demo at a MN Audio Society meeting that opened my eyes(ears) and those of all there on a pair of Maggies .
Left no doubt they just needed a bigger and better amp not a subwoofer. 4BSST2 must be all of that. I use a Bryston pre
in hot weather but dumped a 4B , need to hear the 4BSST2 !
Revel F208 need best electronics to sound OK, but JBL L300 need average electronics to sound SUPER.
Theo, the leanness in the sound is mostly relative to the PMC speakers that I am referencing these against. Different electronics will have some bearing on the sound, of course, but it's not going to make these a completly different speaker. It kind of like jacking up a porshe and putting knoby tires so you can take it off road...yes, it may help but a porshe is still a porshe.

As far as ''bringing them to life' I really think they sound the same at all volumes I have tried, but I believe that after a certain volume level my brain starts to perceive the sound as being fuller.
Czarivey, have you heard the F208's?
long time ago i heard f208 in the showroom. sounded very dull, flat and lifeless.
Czarivay,

As you have read, I was not impressed with the dealer demo either.

"Revel F208 need best electronics to sound OK, but JBL L300 need average electronics to sound SUPER."

First of all, they sound far better then OK in the right setting with the right electronics and with some types of music. In fact, with classical music they sound the best I personally have heard.

This statement is like saying "My four wheel drive truck is much better that your Ferrari because I can feed it regular gas and it can go anywhere and handles great." Yes, the Ferrari requires premium gas and can't go everywhere but 'handles great' is a relevant term and given the right road, the Ferrari owner might tend to disagree with you.

As I stated very clearly in my review, I believe that these speakers are not for everyone. They require a sophisticated sound pallet and may suit some people better than anything else it its price range.
Doesn't sound like a speaker I would enjoy. Then again what you describe sounds just like Bryston amps. So I can understand a little better.

Shakey
I agree Ferrari really sucks in all terms. Not the car I'd drive for pleasure and not the car i'd drive daily.
Have approximately same feeling about F208.
If speaker can't be set up to sound properly in the show room, the dramatic improvement can only happen mentally. The ones I listened to were hooked up to Classe 350 mono amps... how better should you go? I head JBL L300 with Sansui A5050 and Pioneer SX980 receivers... Not even near to the quality of Classe 350, but the performance was far more open and natural.
Schubert:

Thank you for your compliment on my review.

Clarity, transparency, resolution and control may not sound like the most exciting words to describe an amp but BRYSTON amps have thought me to appreciate every one of them. The 4BSST2 is a great amp that gets me closest to the concept of 'Wire with Gain'.
One thing I am really starting to love about F208's is their clarity and openness. Some have compared them to electrostats in that way and though I have not spent much time listening to electro-stats I think I understand what they mean.

Last night I was listening to 'Shadows in the Dark' by 'The Police' which is a very heavy percussion song and the drums sounded so defined, articulate and 'life like', that I could not imagine them sounding better.

If you have ever stood beside a Steinway Grand piano while it is being played you will realize that it has a timber and harmonics that no reproduction can do justice to. With that caveat, however, I feel that these speakers inch me one step closer to the sound I hear from the real deal. These speakers do not soften the sound of the hammer hitting the strings like many other sweeter or warmer speakers would. To me it sounds like a bit of the veil has been lifted, and I'm happy with that for now:)))

Overall these speakers are growing on me. The F208's are such a departure from the sweeter fuller sound of the PMC AND Dynaudio speakers that I am used to that it's taken my brain a while to recalibrate to the less sweet and leaner sound. Perhaps the greatest adjustment has been to the tightness of the bass.

This brings up another point...in matching a sub with these, one might want something that matches the super tight bass that these produce. Otherwise, the upper bass is going to be super tight and suddenly the lowest octave is going to sound bloated. That could sound weird.
You express yourself in "audioneese" about as well as anyone
I've heard Earl.
The brains goal is to maintain mental AND physical stasis
of your being.
It usually lets you hear something new in dibs and dabs so as not to upset the apple-cart.
If you are a hard-core believer in say, all power cords sound the same, your brain will make sure that you hear no difference.
I bet if you listen to only the F208's for a month or so and then go back and listen to your other speakers you will be surprised at how they sound, I did this once with a pair of speakers that I liked very much but when I went back to give them a listen after a month I couldn't believe that I liked them as much as I did, I think you get use to the sound of a speaker and think that's how the music is supposed to sound.
Schubert & Okeeteekid

I totally agree with both of you...our brain has the tendency to redefine normal based on what it's feed. After a week of listening to only these speakers I listen to the same song through my beloved PMC's and found the sound to be overtly sweet, somewhat smeared, and boated in the bass. Now I had never heard them like that before but after creating a new normal, that's how they sounded to me. Audio illusions:)))) I'm sure that even my not liking them in my first audition was somewhat tainted by my perception of normal. It's like Einstien's law of general relativity - everything depends on your vantage point.
Crisp, clear, clean with no caffein. Yes, I know that's from an old Sprite commercial but this morning as I'm listening to them I thought that this sums up the 208's hallmark sound. I can pick out any Instrument in the music and just focus on it like no other speaker I have heard. Is there a cost to get this kind sound? Absolutely!!! First you need the right electronics and the right room. Secondly you need to put your ears on a diet. It's like when you stop eating sugar and fat, all the healthy food starts tasting better. In this case, when you can sacrifice some sweetness and fullness in the sound, you are rewarded amazing clarity and transparency. I realize that this speaker will not suit everyone but those that love this kind of transparency will love this speaker.

With that being said, this is not Revels top speaker and there is obviously room for improvement (or there would be no need for more expensive speakers). Tonally I feel this speaker is very very good but that my PMC's render some instruments a bit more true to life. Given that the PMC's cost nearly twice as much for a given speaker type, that may be expected. I would love to hear the Studio2 or Salon2 and hear how they compare.

Also, in some recordings the snare drum can stand out from the mix more then on other speakers I have listened to. I don't know if this is a product of the transparency or a slight hump in the frequency response but I particularly notice it on recordings with very few other instruments and the drums. As more instruments join Into the recording, I don't notice it any more.
Here's how I roll. may not work for everybody but does for
me.
I listen for 4-to 6 hours to a given item and play no critical attention to the music.
If after that my body is still relaxed its good.
The kicker is you have to learn you body and system has to be dialed in which can take years as we all now.
In any case, if you tense up , something is wrong.
After living with both the Revels and PMC for a while I have to say that are both excellent speakers and it really comes down to system synergy and what flavor you like.

The PMC 22 have a very rich, romantic flavor that blends everything together Io create beautiful music. The top end has a lovely sweetness while the bass is full and fluid. You don't hear separate instruments so much as you hear the whole. It is very forgiving to bright edgy recordings and makes everything quite listenable.

The Revel f208 are all about transparency and clarity. You hear every instrument on its own, yet it still manages to create a coherent whole. Where the PMCs might embellish the sound with a bit of warmth and sweetness, the Revels do not. The bass is tight and controlled and never overpowers the sound. Despite these characteristics I would not say the sound is dry or analytical but still retains its own flavor of a rich tone.

Some recordings that sound pleasant on the PMCs can sound downright stunning on the Revels. For example, the CD YO YO MA Plays Ennio Morricone sounds very polite on the PMC's with the Cello blending in with the rest of the instruments. It's the kind of sound you might expect to hear in a large concert hall where the natural reverb of the hall tends to blend the Intruments to some degree. Now on the Revels the cello sounds simply stunning. The cello stands on its own with amazing texture and raw grit that period instruments are known for. It's like being in a small studio with the instruments only a few meters away.

On the other hand, the Revels can be too much of a good thing for some recordings. For example, the song "Miss You" from the Rolling Stones 'best of, 3 album set is just to bright and edgy for me on the Revels. Played on the PMC's it sounds great! With my collection of music this is very much the exception rather then the rule, but not everything sounds good on the Revels feed by my electronics.
"but not everything sounds good on the Revels feed by my electronics."

I think that's the Revels telling you about the Bryston. They are really trying to do you a solid.........

Shakey
"I think that's the Revels telling you about the Bryston. They are really trying to do you a solid........."

Shakey

Now that I have lived with a very transparent system for a while I am addicted to the sound and have no intention of settling for less, even if it does make a few recordings unlistenable. I'd rather trash the very few recordings that don't work that well. (Was never a big Rolliing Stones fan anyway)

I know that I could get an amp that, like my PMC speakers, would make everything sound pleasant...but I'll take stunning clarity thank you very much:)))))
Are they good for listening to Shoe Gaze? My system works really well with Early Music, Norwegian Death Metal, and Mumblecore, but Shoe Gaze seems somewhat tentative…maybe I need to sit closer.
Wolf_garcia, I had to look up what shoe gaze was:))...so have no idea how it will sound. In general they are great with anything acoustic. Electronic music can often sound bright and edgy and I would not recommend these for that kind of recordings.
They sound like the perfect audiophile speakers. Only "audiophile" grade recordings need apply. All others, pound sand.

Seriously though, I could not live with a pair of speakers that could only get certain types of music "right". I need to be able to enjoy my Screaming Females as well as my Diana Krall. If they can't do Deep Purple "Made in Japan", then I don't care how well they do Rebecca Pidgeon. I think you understand......

Shakey
So Earlxtr…you were born without the satire observation gene? In any case, to be
less silly for a moment…but just a moment…I am of the camp that thinks ANY system worth listening to within its output limits should accurately reproduce any music that goes into its electron manipulation assembly as that's a good system's only job…if something is recorded bright and edgy it should come out the other end somewhat bright and edgy and if that's not appealing to the listener, that listener should listen to some other style. Whenever I read that a system is "musical style specific" I cringe. I'm cringing now…for more than one reason...
"Shoe gaze" come on ...how could you take that seriously ...
Anyway been watching this thread because I purchased a pair of the Revel F208's without hearing them myself - but I got them for a great price so I wasn't worried if they didn't work out - had them for around 3 weeks now and I got to say they are very enjoyable speakers - very musical - detailed, yes, but nothing forced . I still have my pair of Cornscalas and Tonian TL D1's - But these speakers are fun to listen to - can easily follow the imaging - (no tilting the head back and forth so far) where I have them now, spread further apart more than equilateral (tried it equilateral and the music sounded a little too hard) spread further apart made them more relaxed and easy to follow, soundstage was wider and more natural ....can play them up to Cornscalla levels and not cringe - and this is with a Musical Fildelity M6i integrated - (my music reference RM200 is in the shop) - didn't try them with my KR 300 SET amp (only 14 watts) so they probably won't do ..... Hey I really like these speakers so far ....
Good post Mike. As much as the OP doesn't want to hear it, I think it's the Bryston amp and not the speakers that limits what music sounds good through the system.

Glad you are still enjoying your cornscalas. I have fond memories of mine.

Shakey
In fact I got these speakers brand new from a dealer trying to unload his stock - I had them running 24/7 for a whole week (with Rotel CD player and musical fidelity M6i) - just running downstairs at night to take a listen - right out of the box they imaged very well and were clear as a bell - a little too bright and not too much mid bass and bottom end. A week later they improved a little but were still a little too bright for my tastes and too bass shy for me (didn't think this was going to work out well) would crank em up and still bass was not enough ( and the review from stereophile showed they had excellent bass extension, what was going on?)
Well after a week I used my computer audio system with my Mac mini going into my NAD dac and everything gelled - very good bass extension and highs were much more relaxed and the sound was much more homogenous - listened all night, song after song "really cranking them and putting them though the test" (these guys can play LOUD and not break up) very clean and tight bass was never cringing from the highs.
Put back the Rotel CD player and same sound - a little too bright and lacking bass - so the Rotel CD player was the culprit - if that was the only source I had, I probably would have packed up the speakers and blamed it on them...
Mike_f makes a great point on how one component can make such a difference. I just purchased the F206's new from a dealer and had a similar experience. Out of the box too bright and little bass. After hours of break in sound got more balanced and bass improved. They were still too bright for me. I took a chance and bought a used Cary SLP-88 tube preamp to replace my old Acurus RL-11 preamp still using my old Acurus A-250 power amp and same sources and cables.
Everything drastically improved. Very smooth top end and bigger smoother midrange. Bass is also much better with a more 3D sound. Sounds like a different system now.
Almost blamed the speakers as well.
Wolf_Gracia, You are correct, I didn't realize that shoe gaze was a joke ha ha:))) Some people do have very odd tastes though!!

Mike_f and Tune_man, congratulations on you new Performa Speakers. Set up with the right electronics and some decent source material, I am sure you will love them!!!

Also, I agree that it is easy to blame the the wrong component when you don't like the sound of a system. This is particularly true for very transparent equipment like Revel and Bryston. They are simply reproducing the source you are feeding them.

For a system to reproduce music accurately, I believe it has to be able to present the good and the bad exactly as it is. Piano, drums and strings (at the very least) need the ability of the system to create crisp, sharp, and fast leading edges. These are very same qualities that makes bad recordings sound really bad. Pick your poison but you can not have it both ways.

As soon as you get a system that makes everything 'sound good' it loses the ability to reproduce some sounds with the bite and attack that they have in real life. Some may not be interested in real life and I don't blame you, it's not for everyone:))). Having very transparent upstream components (like Bryston and Revel) means that the selection of the source electronics becomes critically important. My benchmark 2 pre DAC would make my system sound very lean and analytical. Great if your a recording engineer, but not the best for home listening. The Metrum Octave DAC is much richer and fuller sounding but still somewhat on the leaner side. Using the Metrum Hex adds even more richness, fullness and detail and is the perfect fit for my system. If I tried to achieve this richness and fullness by using amplification or speakers, I would paint everything with the same brush and would loose focus and sharpness, as I explained earlier. Even though the Hex is full and rich sounding, it in no way masks the sound. If anything, it exposes even more of what is really in the music...and yes, crap still sounds like crap... but the good stuff sounds really amazing.
Tune-man, what size room do you have the f206 in? My listening den is only 12 cubic meters and I'm wondering if they would work in that small a room. I tried the f208's and with the boundary switch on they actually have a pretty balanced sound but they create so much presence and sound pressure that it is just too much for me. It's between the f206 or the m105 for this room. I have a couple of rythmik subs in this system too. Thank you.
Great thread Earlxtr! I have enjoyed reading all the comments and your progress.
My room is about 23 feet by 23 feet but behind my system is a 4 foot wall with a staircase behind it and opens to the right of that to another room. I have the F206's just under 8 feet apart with almost no toe-in and 21" from the back of each speaker to the wall behind them (that 4 foot wall).
They fill this room quite well. Click on my "system" and go to "California Streaming" to view the room.
The F206's do not have the "Low Frequency Compensation" and "Tweeter Level" controls however.
With your subs the m105 could be a nice option.
Note: To people into Shoe Gaze, it's no joke.
Like Ride and My Bloody Valentine.
Shoe Gazed and Confused!
I got a new (to me) Bryston bp25 preamp in my system and a week ago I swapped out the Metrum octave for the the Hex, which is also very analog sounding but fuller and richer than the Octave. I decided to try some Rolling Stones tunes that I found so bright and edgy and found they sounded much better than before. Less edgy but still very crisp and detailed...certainly a sound I could live with. It's still not the best horse in the stable but it's not a bad ride. Most of the other rock albums I have sound very good to excellent through these speakers. Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd all sound fantastic...but some of the Stones stuff was very bright sounding.
It's been six months now. I went from a handful of classical CD's to hundreds. These speakers (revel f208) make a good classical (or accoustic) recording sound amazing. Something my PMC 22 never did for me. I finally sold the PMC and am looking for a pair of f206 speakers. One thing I believe these speakers need besides the other things mentioned in this thread is a larger size room with decent acoustic treatment. I love them and these my be the last speakers I ever buy.... Except for the ultimate studio 2 of course ha ha