Let me start by saying that I am NOT a fan of the Revel sound, greatly prefering Proac and Sonus Faber. However, if its high efficiency you're looking for, I would like to suggest Reference 3A. The sound is not at all like Revel, being warmer, more liquid, and in my opinion more musical. If you like the Revel sound they may not be your cup of tea. But, they are 94db efficient, an easy load to drive, and very nice speakers. They have been reviewed several times in the audio magazines, so additional information on their sound should be easy for you to get. Good luck and have fun looking.
I agree with Rr about the Reference 3A MM DeCapos. I own these speakers and they have gotten me off of the perpetual upgrade train.
However, Rr is not correct about the effeciency number. They are actually 92db eff., but they are a very easy speaker to drive because of the lack of crossover (uses a single cap, on the tweeter only). They do seem to be much more effecient than the 92db rating would indicate.
This is the first monitor that I've ever owned that had completely satisfying bass. I drive mine with a choice of amps including 3.5 watt 2A3 SET Tube, 8 watt P-P tube or 30 watt P-P tube. ALL of these amps produce more volume than I can use in my 14X12 room and the bass is deep (for a monitor) and accurate. Mids are excellent and highs are very satisfying to me. However, my non-i version is not as extended on top as some speakers I've heard. I prefer this as "bright" is not the sound for me.
For me, the Ref 3A DeCapos are the best combination of resolution and musicality that I've heard in my system. But they are not ultra high resolution (listener fatique?) or ultra musical (boring) like some speakers I've heard.
Also, there is a great following for these speakers, so, find a good price on a used pair, try them in your system and either love them or resale them at no loss (or very little).
I have heard the JM Labs Mini U's and Dynaudio Special 25's at my local dealers showrooms (So I can only give a half informed report). From my point of view I much preferred the Dyn's (they were on the receiving end of an ARC system/ VT-100, LS 16.....). They had great extension, produced a very musical sound. The JM labs seemed to miniaturize everything...... I felt like I was watching little tiny performers on a little stage, almost like viewing a TV as opposed to watching a movie in a theater (these speakers were being driven by McCormick amps). Both speakers sounded good in thier own way, I just preferred the big vivid presentation of the Dynaudio's.
Having said all of this, I have never heard the Revel's and I think the Dyn's need some juice too.
Warren - I haven't heard the Revel's at all so cannot compare, but I used to own a pair of Silverline SR17 monitors that I had to sell to simplify my work system and pay some bills. They are one of the very few components that I've sold that I actually miss a whole lot, enough to buy another set if the opportunity arose. I forget how efficient they are, but they are not champs in that department. They do have a low end that they have no business being able to maintain given their size, and are as transparent as glass. They absolutely need a good stand to do their best. Utterly amazing and wonderful little monitors. I'd say you need at least 25 watts to make'em sing for you in an average size room. I tried them with my 8 watt SETs, and though they were marvelous at low volumes, they lost it pretty quickly with only moderate output. Outstanding build and finish too.
The JM Labs line of speakers are among the best in the industry.
" The JM labs seemed to miniaturize everything...... I felt like I was watching little tiny performers on a little stage, almost like viewing a TV as opposed to watching a movie in a theater (these speakers were being driven by McCormick amps)".
Others have stated that they didn't like the Revels.
Everyone has there own experiences/opinions when it comes to speakers. You will have to listen to them and form your own opinion.
With that said........
I've listened to the micro and mini utopia's and like the micro's a tad better. The utopia line is out of my price range so I own the JM Labs Electra 905's, next in line under the utopia's. I'm very happy with the full range sound for the size, bass is sufficient, mids and treble are above average for a stand mount monitor. My listening room is 11'x13' and use VTL tube preamp, power amp (50wpc) and never run out of steam.
If you think these will work in your system, by all means give them a listen. Only you can make the decision.
Just my $.02.
Warrenh, how about Merlin TSM's or Red Rose? I agree, 100wpc runs out fast with the M20's.
keep the revels unless you are prepared to change everything....a slightly larger amp will make everything sound incredible....and you'll get more bass than you would get from the jm labs or the reference 3a..and bigger soundstage to boot.
Yep, Jrd351 just said what I was going to. If you like Revel's sound (I really do) you may have a hard time to find an alternative - Revels are unique with their sound.
As much as I love the sound of my Revels they are not the panacea of monitors. I am waiting, patiently, for Harmonic Precision's new speaker, The Caravelle, to come out. Maybe another month. I have my order in for a pair of these babies. In the meantime I'm going to listen, this weekend, to JMlabs Micro Utopias just to have another referent when auditioning these new babies. I was told (from first hand reliable ears) that I should listen to speakers up a notch or two, over the JMlabs Micro, to really have something to compare these Caravelles to. And we're not talking about monitors, here. Floorstanders. It's exciting. I really feel I am on the ground floor of greatness to come. I'll keep you audiophools posted as I always do. peace, warren
I noted you have a pair of Star Sound's Caravelle's on order. I too have talked with Robert and am intrigued by these speakers. What do you know of them? Have you heard a pre production model? What makes you so excited about them?
About your Revels. At one point I simultaneously owned Revel M20's, Nautilus 805's, Tyler Acoustic Reference Monitor, and Thiel CS 1.6s. I ruled out the 805's immediately (too thin sounding), next the Tylers (not enough detail). At first I liked the Revel's more than the Thiels. But then I gave the Thiels another 100 hours of break in (I had bought them used and assumed they were broken in), put the Thiels on Audiopoints (from Star Sound) and played around with position (eliminating toe-in, moving in from the side walls, etc.) I found that these tweaks eliminated the hardness in the treble that the Stereophile reviewer noted, and improved the sound all round. I ended up keeping the Thiels and selling the Revels. Still liked the Revel's alot, but the Thiels were a bit smoother and, to your point, more efficient.