AudioAficionado.org

AudioAficionado.org (https://www.audioaficionado.org/index.php)
-   Revel Speakers (https://www.audioaficionado.org/forumdisplay.php?f=172)
-   -   Performa F208 and Salon2 Compared (https://www.audioaficionado.org/showthread.php?t=36069)

Pampero 06-11-2016 11:53 PM

Performa F208 and Salon2 Compared
 
If you've followed my adventures, and really why would you, but if you have....
then you know that I bought a pair of Performa3 F208s while I waited what ended up being 10 weeks for delivery of my Salon2s. Rather than repeat myself endlessly as my wife says I do in real life, you can read Pio's I'm Discovering Revel: WOW thread HERE or my thread of initial impressions HERE Or, read Erick Lichte's glowing review of the F208 HERE.
So no long review of the F208 except to say that from first listen I was taken by their sound. They have a quality I hope for in all important things in life, balance. But they are also euphonic, sweet when the music is and listenable when it isn't. They are very well constructed and easy to look at without the Bauhaus styling some people love but I find too often results in a pair of Daleks in your living room.

I suspect the 208s are easily driven by any good amplifier and they were easy to set up in my room. I didn't think, "I wish the Salons were here." Well, maybe a just a little out of curiosity. Mostly I wondered, my wife wondered, and all my friends wondered why I felt any desire to want more than the Performas offered. Clearly they are not audiots. Although, the 208s were so satisfying that they damped some of my anticipation for the Salons. My wife didn't actually say it in so many words but I knew she thought I was being acquisitive and should just save some money. I had to defend myself from her subtle interrogations in between raving about the 208s so I stopped talking about them to her. Now you might think that could be awkward but after 35 years together you can do stuff that wouldn't occur to you on the second date. Regardless and for any value it has, my highest recommendation if the 208s are in your budget. I would keep 'em, if I had a sensible place to put them.

The Salon 2s arrived yesterday. Lindy helped me unpack them, which wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. They were consecutively numbered (I checked!) and are solid as a rock. Mine are impeccably finished in mahogany although a complaint that's been noted elsewhere is that the trap door won't close over banana plugs. It wouldn't be annoying if I could figure out how to get the covers off, but I don't want to break them. The easiest solution is to switch to spade lugs so I will be re-terminating my cables with spades. Then I can use the doors and everything will be tidy.

I started by putting them where the 208s had worked so well for me in my 3300cf room. I fired up the McStuff, sat down and felt a twinge of disappointment. Were these that much better than the 208s? Were they even as good? My first hour with the Salons had me feeling unsure. I moved them a bit forward, a bit back and settled more or less where I'd started from. Then I stopped futzing around and began to listen. An hour passed. Then two. Alison Krauss and Union Station Live, Telemann Tafelmusik (Erato), Joni Mitchell (Blue), Traffic (Low Spark of High Heeled Boys), Dixie Chicks (I'm on a DC kick lately), Rachmaninoff (Symphony No. 2, Telarc). The Salons started to reveal themselves as we got to know each other. It becomes clear that these are like the 208s or more properly, the 208s are like the Salons. Yet the Salon 2 exists at an elevated level. There's more of everything I liked about the 208s. More clean low end for instance. They improve on the F208's strengths of articulation with a sweet, clear but easy HF presentation. This is an area of obvious superiority. The soundstage and imaging are enveloping yet focused coupled with a midrange transparency and smoothness that could not get or need to get much better for my tastes. All this happens without hype or any "gee whiz, look at me" gymnastics. Good recordings are deep and detailed but not etched. Close your eyes and the speakers do the magic act as they disappear. You are being washed by humanity's musical genius right in your house. It's a luxurious and sensual experience. You know the routine.

After dinner we watched Bill Maher, then started spinning silver platters, our only source at the moment. My wife, (the former skeptic) said: "They are better. I can hear deep into the music." Nobody taught her to say that, she doesn't read the magazines, hang on forums or use audiophile terms. Then she said "there's so much space around each musical part. Everything sounds easy, like I could play those parts because I can hear deep into every line." Then the magic: "You were right." Ah baby! Say it again! The Revels do this without dissecting the music.

Lindy's a lifelong guitar player, taught my girls to play and even motivated me to pick up the guitar again, although mine is a Sisyphean effort. But Lindy is a skilled player, pitch and tone sensitive and has taught all of us about "flat and sharp" and the qualities that make for a fine voice and a great singer so her input is especially valued in that way. Speaking of voices, the Salons yet again bring the euphonic qualities of the F208 to a higher point. Harmonies are heard in all two, three , four or more parts with equal ease yet the blend is unified. Dobro, piano, acoustic guitars (electric too), mandolins, violins, steel pedal, plucked acoustic bass, cymbals (especially cymbals!) guitar effects, reverb tails, all that you want to hear, sounds the way you remember them to be, the way you've heard them in studio or in situ and the way you hear the Martins when the ladies play at home. Better actually! And certainly better than most amplified live music you hear out unless you're lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. And let me put in a plug for Nashville here. They are into it here. Don't judge the place by Broadway but of that, maybe later.

So what's the bottom line? They are both great speakers. I expected the Salons to be exceptional so in some ways the 208s were the bigger surprise. So much so that as I said, it took a little adjustment for me to grok the Salons after living with the 208s for a few weeks. But once I got it, I got it. As Dylan said, "They ain't goin' nowhere."

Postscript: I ran some test tones today and did some crude measuring with my SPL meter and ancient IVIE RTA (remember them?) using a few of my test CDs and the Ivie noise generator. The Salons themselves are (within the limits of my instruments' abilities to discriminate) very closely matched as best I can tell. However, there is more FR variation in room than I expected just from listening. My instrumentation capabilities are crude by today's standards and my efforts were just snapshots really, but I can see there is room for improvement. I'll start by doing what I always do, pushing them around a little. Honestly, I'm somewhat sorry I bothered because as it stands, they're already really delicious. But you know very well it's not a hobby unless you're being goofy and obsessive about it. I really hoped that wouldn't be the case this time, but it seems to be. Yet we should face it. Two dB down at 5kHz is the very definition of a first world problem.

mtroo 06-12-2016 12:31 AM

Nice write up. I took a similar journey. Had the F208's for about 9 months before acquiring the Salon2's. They are fabulous speakers. Enjoy them

scirica 06-12-2016 12:22 PM

My dealer just told me my order is in for Mahogany Salon 2's and a Voice 2 CC. I thought he was waiting for my money but apparently he knows me well enough that once they arrive I'd have my checkbook ready!

jdandy 06-12-2016 01:17 PM

Lew.......Enjoyed your review. I suspect after a couple of hundred hours of break-in the verdict will further be solidified.

Congratulations on your new Salon 2 speakers.

Mikado463 06-12-2016 04:05 PM

nice write up Lew, BTW the rear covers come off easily, just give them a 'squeeze' so as to bring the post out of the hole(top or bottom), there's enough give that you won't crack them

Pampero 06-12-2016 05:26 PM

Thanks, scirica and congratulations. You're going to love them.

Dan, I've don't recall hearing anything as noticeable as the shift in sound that occurred after a few hours of play on these. Being from the pro audio camp which as you know can be a different way of looking at things, I always poo-pooed break in as a minor event. No more. Same thing happened with the F208s, but not nearly as dramatic. By the way, although the 452 is a great match, you were right about the power requirements for these. I would not want anything smaller than the 452 and can easily see how having more power would be desirable. They dote on volts and amps.

Thanks Dave. I am going to roll over to them now and get the things off. I don't need them.

Pampero 06-12-2016 05:29 PM

Wow! That was easy! Thanks again Dave.

oddeophile 06-12-2016 06:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pampero (Post 785330)
Thanks, scirica and congratulations. You're going to love them. They are some kind of Dan, I've don't recall hearing anything as noticeable as the shift in sound that occurred after a few hours of play on these. Being from the pro audio camp which as you know can be a different way of looking at things, I always poo-pooed break in as a minor event. No more. Same thing happened with the F208s, but not nearly as dramatic. By the way, although the 452 is a great match, you were right about the power requirements for these. I would not want anything smaller than the 452 and can easily see how having more power would be desirable. They dote on volts and amps. Thanks Dave. I am going to roll over to them now and get things things off. I don't need them.

This is why I went with the much easier to drive and equally gorgeous and beautiful sounding Studio 2's. I was not about to change out my beloved tube amplifier and I can't live with SS amps.

If not for that yes I'd have easily gone for the magnificent Salons. My Studio 2/tube system is beyond anything I've had in almost 50 years in this hobby and one I can easily live with love and enjoy immensely the rest of my days.

Pampero 06-12-2016 06:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oddeophile (Post 785342)
This is why I went with the much easier to drive and equally gorgeous and beautiful sounding Studio 2's. I was not about to change out my beloved tube amplifier and I can't live with SS amps.

If not for that yes I'd have easily gone for the magnificent Salons. My Studio 2/tube system is beyond anything I've had in almost 50 years in this hobby and one I can easily live with love and enjoy immensely the rest of my days.

Same here. Best sound I've ever had with many miles under the keel. To be fair, I think it's nothing short of fabulous listening to the Salons with the 452 and C52. I wouldn't want much less but they're both odes to how good SS can be. I'm as pleased as I could be with my choices.....but they always say that!

BTW, I ordered the Studios first (on a Friday) but over the ensuing weekend I decided to go with the Salons when a discussion with a couple of buddies convinced me the room could handle them. Same thing with the room as it is with the amp though. I wouldn't want much less room than I have now for these.

I could easily live happily ever after with the Studios or for that matter, with the F208s. Harman/Revel has done a brilliant job of designing these things while creating a whole family of excellent products, which of course they had to do to remain competitive. It's a golden era for music lovers as far as the equipment is concerned.

And one more thing:). Mark Knopfler is a genius! I just had a transcendent experience listening to Shangri-La. What a musician!

PlanarSpeakerFan 06-12-2016 07:07 PM

Lew,

Congrats on your new Salon 2's! I knew they would be a home run for you. They will substantially improve with break-in. The Salon 2's take longer to fully break in than the F208's due to the beryllium tweeters and more heavily damped woofers. If you're loving them now, wait until a few weeks have passed!

Best,
Ken


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:26 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.10
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
ęCopyright 2009-2018 AudioAficionado.org.Privately owned, All Rights Reserved.