It's a big step up from the Performa to Ultima 2 series IMO.
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If your funds allow the solon 2 is the best overall speaker I have ever heard. It is better than the studio 2s in the ways that count, more warmth in the mids better bass and midbass punch. Since you are already a revel fan, the Solon 2s will not disappoint. I wish I could afford them. The new Revel f208 is better than the f52 in every way, and closer to the Salon 2 than the f52 could every hope to be, and is my next upgrade.
Having gone from the F52 to the Studio 2 I can speak from first hand experience.
While the F52 is an overachiever, the Studio 2 is much more transparent and provides a superior sound stage as others have said. The only speaker I've heard that is as detailed as the Studio 2, without any added harshness, is the Quad ESL 63. The upper midrange and treble of the Studio 2 is something special. The F52 isn't really warmer as such, it just isn't as transparent. This does take some of the edge off bright electronics/recordings, but it is a distortion.
I've seen comments over the years that the Ultima 2 series can be a little forward. I don't go along with that. Once I found the optimal room placement and treated my room to eliminate slap echo and sidewall reflections, well I've never heard anything like them. They do strings like no box speaker I've ever heard.
The upstream electronics are obviously a consideration, but the thing that really did it for me was to research room acoustics and determine exactly where to place the Revel's. AND where to place the listening chair. They need to be placed well away from back and side walls to image properly. My old room was 14' wide. My new room is 17'. The difference in imaging was astounding.
If you have a large room, say 400 sq ft or more, I'd go with the Salon 2. My room is 357 sq ft and the Studio 2's more than get the job done. Bring a beefy amp in either case.
Anyone that says the f208 is not as good as the f52 in the soundstage dept has to either be crazy or actually have not heard them. I have spent literally hundreds of hours over the years listening to f32s and f 52s and I can asure you the new f208 are better in every way, ESPECIALLY the sound staging.
I also agree with Egrady, revels are some of the most transparent speakers out there, garbage in garbage out, one must partner them with good electronics and proper room treatments and placement. I spent a little time on the AVS revel forum and was dismayed at the poor advise being thrown around there, cheap blue ray player, done ! Home theater receiver and zip cord, done !! "Because of their wide dispersion they are not sensitive to room placement" It blew my mind how many people that could afford Salon 2s will never hear their true potential . Sad, and a waste.
I'm guilty. I listened to my Studio 2's for over a year before I went on the net and read everything I could find about speaker/chair placement. Cardas Audio and Galen Carol Audio have some very good tips. While my original placement was close, the speakers where almost the same distance from the side AND back walls. As I discovered, a real no-no.
Once I zeroed them in, wow! I feel this explains, at least in part, some of the difference of opinion on what a particular speaker sounds like. A good speaker properly placed in a great room is likely to out perform a great speaker in an average room. The room and placement are an enormous variable.
Unless you can hear the speaker in your room with your stuff, you just don't know. Not only that, it takes time and effort to find the optimal set up. The Ultima 2 does have an advantage I'm seeing more and more companies use. It is adjustable. A big plus, particularly if your room has issues.
The Studio 2 is so good in my room I've stopped looking. Any future upgrades will be elsewhere.
Drubin I was worried too, until I actually heard them. They are better in every way. Not a joke or hyperbole . They are lower in distortion, have better intergration between drivers, more inner definition and clarity, a much better tweeter . Their sound stage is wider and deeper. They are much closer to the sound of the ultima line than their older counterparts. Really what more could you ask for? And no I am not a dealer.
As far as the ultima line is concerned, I am around, on a constant basis, speakers that cost far more than the Salon 2s, that are not even close to the Salon 2 in performance. The irony is that for many in this hobby, they listen with their wallets and not with their ears, so the Revels are to cheap to be taken seriously.
Chrissain, I surmise that a significant reason for the excellent performance of the Salons and Studios is because of the beryllium tweeter. It's an expensive component and hard to manufacaturer. But ... it's performance attributes are stellar. There's not many companies that manufacture beryllium tweets. Other than Revel, there's Magico, Focal, Usher and Paradigm.
I happend to own the Paradigm Signature 8s (v3). Another performer on steroids that is reasonably priced.
I've read the bench test specs on many other high-priced so-called darling speakers. Frankly ... I've been underwhelmed. I appreciate that there's no substituting for a live audition, but as many have lamented, not many B&M stores around any more. So we're left to trial and error.
Anyway, the Revel Studio 2 is on my short list to try (??) and listen to one day. In the meantime, I suggest that folks with good front ends and source input materials give a serious listen to the Paradigm S8s (v3).
A word of warning. I agree with the comment above -- this type of speaker is not forgiving of bad source material and they should be driven by a very high quality, high current, high power output SS amp. I kinda lucked out with my ARC tube Ref 150. But that's a story for a diffferent day. If interested, check my posts. It ultimately came down to power, low output voltage, and a very robust power supply.
Based on e mail correspondence I had in the last year with a reviewer who is very familiar with both lines, I understand that both Revel and Paradigm share many design attributes, particularly as regards the beryllium tweeters. The reviewer also mentioned that both companies base their designs on Canada's NRC research data.
But I repeat what I said above, at least as regards the Signature 8s. Crappy music will sound crappy. GI/GO. The S8s are "current" hungry and require lot of watts from a great amp to sound their best. I've read similar comments about the Revels.
Prior to the F52s I had Wilson Sashas. I thought I wanted to get away from music and sold my entire system. After a couple of months I missed it and decided to purchase modest gear that included the Revel F52s. To my surprise my current system has been the most enjoyable to date. Now I'm looking for something that is neutral, but a little less colored than the F52s and I don't want to spend 20K. I love the fact that I can listen to the F52s all day without fatigue.
I've owned many, many speakers to include Sophia 2s, 3s, and Sashas. In the context of the system I had the Sasha's in they were forward. As a matter of fact I've listened to many speakers over the years and Revels seem to have the right mix of being detailed without too much coloration. I'm not suggesting for one minute that Revels are better than Wilsons. Revels are different and after many years I know I found my preference. Now the question is will moving up to F208s, Studio 2s, or Salon 2s reduce the coloration and still maintain musicality? The other option is adding a sub and better electronics for the F52s.
I went from ESL-63's to Wilson 5.1's to F52's to Studio 2's. The Quad's still have the best midrange, but they have other limitations. I went polar opposite with the WP 5.1's. While they had the bass slam, dynamics and so on, I got listener fatigue to often. They never could get massed strings to sound sweet, like the Quad's. Ultimately I settled on the Studio 2's. They the midrange magic of the Quad, with most of the slam of the Wilsons.
The Revel Ultima 2 tweeter is amazing. It is revealing and musical at the same time. I don't know how they did it. The Ultima 2's will expose much more than the F52's, but to my ears they don't go overboard like the Wilson's did.
Put it this way. I love Bruno Walter. His recordings are generally bright and bass shy. With the Quad's they still sounded very nice. With the Wilson's they gave me ear bleed. With the Studio 2's I can listen and enjoy them once again.
Ricred1 ... if you could do me a favor as you check out the Revels, I would be very grateful. If the dealer also carries the S8s (v3), could you please give them a listen too. Hopefully the conditions will be similar and comparable. I would consider it a favor because as I mentioned above, there's not too many B&M stores around anymore. And certainly none that I know of that are close by who have both brands. Your comments would help me out a lot.
One caveat about A/B'ing the two speakers. I suspect the Salons and Studios will do a better job than the S8s in the low bass region. That's not an issue for me because I use a sub which I've blended in pretty well with the S8s.
Thanks in advance.
Uuhhm .... be careful. that sub may crack the foundation of you house. One reviewer called the Signature Sub 2 the "MOAS" (Mother of all Subs). I guess that makes Sub 1 the "SOAS" (Son of all Subs). :)
I have an earlier generation Signature Servo sub. The nice thing about the upper tier Paradigm subs like those just mentioned is that they can be adjusted for phase alignment, loudness and cut-off frequency. The more recent versions like MOAS and SOAS use a computer and mic based sound equalization system to adjust bass at the listening spot.
Don't know how much of an assist the Studios need. The S8s need a little help; but less bass is definitely more.
If you go shopping and get a chance to check out the S8s, please share your reactions.
Thanks and good luck.
I have never heard the Revels before. There is a Revel dealer in town but unfortunately they only have their book shelf line on the floor. How would you describe the sound qualities of them? To be more specific the F208's or the 206's. You can make direct comparisons to the B&W Dseries (804), Proac (d28) or even Linn as I have given them an audition.
Revels are wonderful, but if you do wish to try something different, neutral, and potentially exquisite, consider trying to nab one of the few sets of Pioneer S1EX still available (perhaps NOS). Very under-appreciated, so not the easiest to resell, perhaps, but odds are that is not the path you would choose to take once you get them dialed in.