Review: Revel Ultima Salon Speaker
I listen mostly to classical music and acoustic jazz, and for testing I use a list of 25 CDs, chosen to represent different aspects of musical sound. For example, I use solo cello recordings to listen for bumps in the upper bass region and soprano to listen for harshness in the upper midrange. Maybe 4 or 5 are audiophile recordings; the rest are simply good commercial recordings with performances I enjoy.
Recently, I auditioned to the Revel Ultima Salons at Advanced Audio in Cary, NC. (I had intended to audition the smaller Revel Ultima Studios, but the dealer's pair was out of service.) The audition was in an medium-sized room with extensive acoustic treatment, using the dealer's all-Theta system.
I had my pen ready, but I listened to dozens of selections without taking any notes. The music was so natural and enjoyable that I had nothing to write! I particularly noticed a very even frequency response, without noticeable peakiness in any range. Treble reproduction was the best I've ever heard from CD. Even brushed snare drum from a jazz CD sounded natural -- and I usually find it irritatingly artificial. The system as set up completely lacked any of the edginess that makes the vast majority of hi-fi systems sound artificial.
I noted natural timbre on orchestral music, string quartets, harpsichord, piano, cello, jazz combos, and human voice (bass, soprano, and baritone). The one thing I didn't have time to explore was low bass response (for which I use organ recordings).
I thought the sound from these speakers absolutely outstanding, and the total setup at Advanced Audio was one of the very best I've heard, in numerous visits to high-end shops in and around Miami, Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Virginia Beach, Providence, and North Carolina. I would advise anyone looking for a full-range speaker in this price range to make the Salon or Studio a must audition. To those living anywhere nearby, I recommend Tom Hoffman of Advanced Audio as a dealer. Unlike some dealers, this guy can hear, and he obviously can set up a system so it sounds like real music.
I haven't done business with Advanced Audio yet, but I hope to do so. I have no connection with them or with Revel or Theta, other than the audition described here.
Theta transport, DAC, and 4-channel amp (used for vertical bi-amping)
Vandersteen 5, Innersound Eros III