Why so underwhelmed by Revel F208 audition???

After much reading my local dealer finally got in a pair of Revel F208 speakers to audition. After playing my usual demo songs I was sorely disappointed with the sound.
They simply had no life. The strings that sparkled on other systems sounded like cardboard (ok, bad description but you get my point). They bass did not move me at all.

Was it because:
1) I wouldn't know good music if it slapped my in the face?
2) I was actually auditioning the electronics more that the speakers?
3) I've become a music snob and only the best will do?
4) They are not properly broken in?
5) The speakers really are [email protected]?

After reading that 3 different reviewers use the performa's (f206 or f208) as their reference speakers, it's really hard for me to believe number 5 - that the speakers suck

I've been a severe critic of bad sound and a conosour of fine music my whole life so I hope number 1 isn't true:(

The sound from my main system is breathtakingly beautiful. It consists of a Metrum Hex Dac, Benchmark DAC2 Pre preamp, Bryston 3B Sst2 power amp, PMC 22 speakers flanked by 2 Rythmik F12 Subs. The DAC is very rich and analog sounding and the rest of the system is very transparent. Stunning sound. So I have very high standards to reference these speakers against. Maybe I am just expecting too much from the Revels? So number 3 might be somewhat true???

The F208 speakers where being fed by an arcam CD player and an arcam a39 integrated amp. Perhaps this can not compete with my home system? Is number 2 correct and I am really just auditioning the electronics?

Break in can make a big difference in speakers. Maybe they need hundreds of more hours through them? I need to check on number 4.

Or maybe they really are that bad and everyone who has reviewed them is a big fat liar?

Who has heard these and can make a comment???
I'm afraid that I too was not bowled over by the F208s, though the salesperson tried to tell me they had the most natural sounding horns ever, I felt they sounded like the sax player used Tupperware for reeds. An exaggerated plastic like sound which is just not natural.

I think one of the big selling points for the F208's is a very wide listening area, but meh.

On the other hand, honestly, I didn't find them objectionable to listen to either. I was just not moved to take money in my pocket and exchange it for the speakers. :)


Well I'm an extremely picky audiophile and find the Revel 206 to be outstanding. Also my Salon 2's will compete with anything at their price point IMO..Some very weird opinions here bc one thing the Revels aren't is poorly designed and sound anything less than beautifully musical. Good grief. Kevin V. is a legendary designer with incredible resources for R&D. 

You may be like me. I prefer intrinsically damped speaker drivers. Paper pulp and doped fabric - no metal or ceramics for me.

the problem with a rigid driver is that it MUST necessarily have internal vibrations (hit a wine glass with a spoon or think of a bell). This is unavoidable physics. I find rigid drivers often sound hashy and lack the natural sparkle that you get from a damped driver - it is all about timbre and the decay that some people are more sensitive to than others.

Your PMC 22 are paper pulp with a soft dome tweeter and in my mind there is no surprise they sound sublime

That said, some rigid driver designs are better than others. Focal sound pretty good for example - light rigid drivers can be driven by smaller cheaper drive motors and they have a flatter frequency response but they all vibrate internally which can affect timbre - some have added rubber damper dots to ceramic drivers to try to band aid the problem (like putting your hand on the cymbal after hitting it to "choke it") others have used stitching on the rubber surround to dampen the cone (common for a while with polypropylene cones)

Not all pulp paper and soft drivers are superior - being less rigid the designers must worry about breakup of the cone. So it is not completely black or white but what advantages/shortcomings that you as the listener are prepared to accept.
I just bought a pair of F208’s and was hoping to find them a big upgrade to my Focal Chorus 826v towers. Immediately, I noticed that they did have a much more authoritative bottom end. However, to my surprise the Focal Chorus 826v clearly outclassed them in every other way. Although I’m not a huge country music fan, I find the Brooks and Dunn track "My Maria" to be a great track to audition speakers to, because it has really well recorded drums, that challenge the mid-bass reproduction abilities of most speakers.
Amplifier was a Parasound Halo A21, Marantz Av8801 processor, Sony ES 400 Disc Bluray changer.
When I played the track back to back between the Focals and the Revels, the Focals brought out all of the detail on the cowbell, and the snare drum and reproduced them with a very 3 dimensional quality. Additionally the cymbals had more sizzle with the Focal tweeters. The Revels by comparison, couldn’t come close to the imaging, or detail of the cowbells or the punchiness of the snares in the drum recording. The vocals weren’t quite as well projected either.

I was there with my best friend that helped me with the set-up, and we unanimously agreed that we were hearing the same things. He was actually going to buy the Focals, but he even admitted that I’d be crazy to replace the Focals with the Revels. This should really speak volumes to the quality of the Focal Chorus 826v, since its a generation older, and two price points down from the Revel F208. Just makes we wonder how badly the Focal Aria 948, must kick the crap out of the Revel F208, since they are the same generation and price point. Pretty bad that Revel got beat so badly by a competitors "previous generation, and 2 price points down."

The only thing I can think of is that maybe the Revel’s weren’t broken in fully, but I bought former demo models that had done several days worth of demo duty at an A/V convention... so they certainly weren’t straight out of the box.
I cannot stress enough how disappointing and overhyped the Revels are.  And you are absolutely right about the Aria 948's absolutely embarrassing them.  The Revels are the least holographic and open speaker you could imagine at their price point.

I think the Revel / Harman marketing machine is at work.  And way too many people take their (very flawed) testing procedures to heart and have expectation bias when listening to them.  

I owned a pair for awhile (mainly to build a home theater out of) and sold them after a few months.  I too thought they'd get better after break in and they never opened up no matter what I fed them, and I even tried stuff that has no business being paired with a speaker of its price.

I think their concerta line is more respectable per dollar by far.

I was in the same shoes, I compared Focal Aria 936 to Revel F208.

Neither myself nor the two salesmen were impressed to the Revels. All 3 of us favored the Aria 936 by a big margin. 

Take my advice and wait for "F208 be" with new drivers/crossovers/beryllium tweeter if you are insisting on Revel. 
Another -vote against the Revel speakers.
So I'm curious of you dissing the Revel's, how do you feel about Golden Ears or B&W by comparison?


This thread is just in time as just began shopping for new speakers and both these Focals and Revels are on my short list. I gave the Aria 936 a quick listen at local dealer and was impressed. Very balanced in frequency response from top to bottom and excellent imaging and dynamics. Maybe a little too smooth at the high end, but I didn’t have my own tunes with me and wasn’t familiar with the songs the dealer had on tap so I can’t say for sure. Again this was a quick listen more than a thorough evaluation. Later I was surprised to see many reviewers claim Focals have a bright top end. Not what I heard but the room was well damped and treated and I’m middle aged so these two factors may also contribute to this impression.

More auditioning scheduled for this coming weekend, the Revel F206 and F208.
Use your ears and forget about opinions of others. Just enjoy the Revel demo. 

just have to comment on the above " Although I’m not a huge country music fan, I find the Brooks and Dunn track "My Maria" to be a great track to audition speakers to, because it has really well recorded drums, that challenge the mid-bass reproduction abilities of most speakers." (i suspect that corresponds to your port on your Focal)
Wow that is a joke ! that wouldn’t challenge a pair of BBC ls5a
Try Al DI MEOLA Flesh on Flesh SACD -most ported speakers fart out that much bass not funny it is incredibly revealing of bass quality quantity and rhythm and timing -many tracks on this are just incredible
Also for strictly drums get the Sheffield drum and track test cd - turn that up -very well recorded drum solo not overdone rap bass tracks  
Most modern speakers are well designed and meet the goals of the engineering team so to dismiss, focal or b&w or kef or revel is likely dependant on many variables. The f208 are neutral sounding full range and have excellent driver integration, they don't have the sizzle of focal's but if you like rock or just enjoy music on older poor quality recordings they will shine just strap 200 wpc to them.
Audiogod I played flesh on flesh. I don't usually do carnival music and that song put me off though not because my ported speakers couldn't handle it and actually the rest of the cd is Stanley Jordan Esq. Not a bad lead. I have a benefit disc, stairway to heaven highway to hell with 3 drum kits playing Moby dick, Jason Bonham and a couple of others will put a system to the test
I was going to buy a set 208s until I spoke to  a guy that works for revel  I changed my mine.
@garryh16 - Your post would have more value if you included some details... What specifically did you hear that changed your mind about them? Did you audition the speakers yourself, or are you strictly going on the advice and experience of others? That can be a costly lesson. TIA

  • @garryh16 - Your post would have more value if you included some details...

It might help if he could make up his "mine"........
I have the F52`s and they sound great !
It`s nice to be able to adjust for room boundaries and treble output too.

I found the Revel F208 an interesting and pleasant speaker to listen to and as others have said one that would be unlikely to cause listening fatigue.They have a very even and nice tonality and driver integration is extremely good.They have unusual imaging however.The soundstage is wide but has very little projection or depth.It seems strange to me that Harman with all their resources would make speakers with that sort of presentation.It is almost  an anti-audiophile statement.Either that or they were never intended for use in 2 channel systems but rather a surround sound system in which the centre speaker would add that depth and centre fill.

Very strange that the f52’s soundstage and image as good as any and the f208 that replaces it doesn’t. 

The op’s speakers should be out of the closet by now I wonder if his opinion has changed?
The Revel F208 has a flat soundpower in the 1-2K range. Most speakers have a dip caused by the crossover here. If you look at the spinorama of the Salon2, it has that typical 2k dip and will image more like a typical loudspeaker.