Review: Revel Performa F-30 Speaker

Category: Speakers

I like a wide range of music. Jazz, funk, rock, acoustic guitar, soloists, and R&B. I really enjoy good live recordings, though. I like to re-experience the feeling of being there as much as possible in my living room.
I have found a speaker that will do just that.

I tried very hard to listen to these speakers critically but, could not because the music seemed so real and so natural, I had to buy them. I had never heard of Revel before but, I had heard of Madrigal, their parent company. These speakers are a Kevin Voecks design and if you like older Snell's (pre-Boston Acoustics), you may like these.

I found these by going to a dealer to hear some small ProAc's. They were kind of flat and muddy for my tastes and cost $2600. The Revel's have an unbounded, free sound that doesn't sound like a speaker. I have not heard $40,000 speakers but, if I had all the money I could ask for, I wouldn't bother because these did it for me. If I found a set of B&W 9NT's for $500, I wouldn't bother because these ARE the best speakers I've ever heard. By the way, the 9NT's were the closest to the quality of sound the Revel's put out but, were still a very distant second.

The level of engineering and design that went into this speaker is incredible. The cone design, cabinetry, etc., have all been thoroughly thought out and optimized.

If you're looking for a speaker with depth, clarity, liveliness, and an incredibly convincing sound, this is it.

Strengths: It exists for low to mid 3,k range
Weaknesses: You will not want to leave home.

Associated gear
Marantz Receiver and CD player
AI Modulus 2d
B&K ST140

Similar products
B&W NT Series, 802's, 803's, and more
Dynaudio 1.8mkii
Monitor Audio 9 (silver)
Linn Espek and Ninka
Just an update about how Revel handled a situation when I received these speakers a month or 2 ago.

When I first bought the speakers they were totally different as to the grain. The serial numbers were sequential. Also, there were some odd marks/spots on one of the speakers that were very noticeable. I wrote an email to Revel and included photos. After sending me an apology, they worked with the dealer to get me a new pair, no questions asked.

Within 2 weeks the dealer delivered a new pair to my door and took the old ones away. (I had originally driven ~60 miles to pick up the original pair.) The new ones look perfect and sound perfect... well, a little break-in is needed. But, I just thought I'd add that this company works hard to make you happy. Plus, the speakers sound terrific to even my geekiest hifi nerd friends.

That's it... just a good customer service story.
I auditioned a pair of Ultima Studios several years ago, with a fantastic orchestral recording with solo violin. (I was never able to find the CD and have now forgotten the name.) This with top-line Levison digital/electronics. Since the F30s were on the other end of the same room and are similar in "stature", I asked if they might be swapped for comparison. The salesman was cooperative, if skeptical.

The truth, with identifical associated equipment and placement, was that none of the three of us could find a single flaw with the much cheaper F30. The price alone was enticing, and many may actually prefer the F30s appearance to the more, um, interesting Ultima Studio.

I recently bought a pair of Ultima Studios at a great price (personally preferring the weirder styling). The only reason I didn't spend much more time re-auditioning the F30 was that the knuckle-rapping test on the enclosure showed them to be substantially more live than the Studios, though my earlier audition found no particular audible evidence.

With examples selling on audiogon at under $2500, I consider them an excellent buy.
I moved from a carpeted townhose with a wide, carpeted room and lots of absorbent stuff to a house with a big, hardwood floor that was very lively.

The sound in the highs got really congested and fatiguing in this new room. I couldn't treat it properly because it was the main living space of our house. No foam, no pillows, etc... just bare walls and flat pictures. I tried several positions and just couldn't get it to sound as good as before.

So, I moved to a smaller room in the house (11x13) where I could control things better. Well, the Revels are too big for that small of a room. The ideal size would be minimum 14x17 up to 17x24.

I bought a few pairs of small monitors to try. I heard the Onix Ref 1's, which were too harsh and tipped up for me, the Von Schweikert VR-1's which are excellent but, need a wider room than I have, and then the Green Mountain Europa's. The Europa's are a keeper. They sound more like actual instruments and voices than anything I've heard. Plus, they work in a small room.

Well, just thought I'd post that update to help people realize the room is the most important part of a system.