Revel Concerta2 CES 2015 Review

Revel Concerta2 Speakers at CES 2015

Revel's "entry-level" speaker line gets its first refresh in eight years, with many design and engineering improvements.

Ever since I first heard Revel speakers—one of Harman's brands from its Luxury Audio Group—I've been enamored of their smooth, open, clean sound. At CES this year, I was pleased to hear the new Concerta2 line, the first update to Revel's "entry-level" Concerta series in eight years.

The new Concerta2 series includes (R-L) two floorstanders (F36, $2000/pair; F35, $1500/pair), the M16 bookshelf and S16 monopole on-wall ($900/pair), C25 center speaker ($750 each), and B10 powered subwoofer ($1500).

All full-range models feature the same 1" aluminum tweeter in an Acoustic Lens Waveguide. The floorstanders are 2.5-way designs with three equal-sized woofers (6.5" in the F36, 5.25" in the F35), while the M16 and S16 are 2-way with the 6.5" woofer. The C25 sports two of the 5.25" woofers on either side of the tweeter, placed as close together as possible to minimize lobing. As its model designation indicates, the B10 uses a 10-inch driver in a ported enclosure with an onboard 800W power amp and single-band parametric EQ.

I've heard it said that the Concerta2 is somehow a step backward from the original Concerta lineup, which had 3-wayfloorstanders with larger woofers and a 3-way center speaker, and they were less expensive to boot. However, Revel's Kevin Voecks reports that in blind listening tests in Harman's Listening Lab, the new Concerta2 speakers came exceedingly close to achieving preference parity with the more expensive Performa3 models. Plus, the cosmetics on the new line are far better than the original Concerta series—black or white lacquer rather than vinyl.

Of course, the proof is in the hearing, and although the demo room-within-a-room at the Hard Rock Hotel was hardly an ideal environment, I liked what I heard from a 5.1 Concerta2 system (F36 front LR, C25, M6 surrounds, B10) driven by some new JBL Synthesis components. We listened to Diana Krall, Beyonce, and Livingston Taylor streamed from Tidal (16/44.1 uncompressed) as well as Brian McKnight from a concert Blu-ray and a clip from the movie Oblivion. The imaging was not ideal due to the speakers' close proximity to the flat-panel TV, and the surrounds were too close to the couch, but aside from that, the sound was excellent—smooth, clean, and clear.

The 5.1 Concerta2 system we heard comes in at $5150. That's not chump change, but it's surprisingly affordable for the quality you get, at least in my book.