What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 24 Aug 2005, 12:00pm

Revel Concerta Package

Tested at £2700
80100
4

A forceful yet composed-sounding system, better with films than with music

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For

  • Competitive price
  • scale and authority
  • finely integrated soundfield
  • composure at high volume

Against

  • Tubby and lazy bass takes the edge off timing and overall clarity

If you judge value by just how much cabinet you get for your money, this is your system. The Revel uses big speakers, and needs loads of room to function at its best.

Consider that the F12 fronts sound best well out from any wall, and you won't be surprised to find that optimal results are had in a room that measures at least 4m or so in either length or breadth. Much less than that and it'll be a case of ‘Welcome to Boomsville'.

Build and finish are up to what we'd hope for at this price level. Still, if this package delivers the kind of fuss-free, powerful sound its appearance suggests, we're onto a winner.

Easy-going composure
You know what? These Revels almost manage to get it right. They have an easy-going composure that never wears thin no matter how often you throw complex action sequences at them. Mr & Mrs Smith is a demanding DVD, particularly the final spectacular shootout scene, and these Revels take it all in their stride. They can play loud – very loud, in fact – and deliver the rapid machine-gun fire cleanly, with a great deal of force.

You can switch the S12 surrounds to run as bipoles, dipoles or even monopoles, and in either of the first two modes they produce an impressively coherent wrap-around effect. None of the conventional forward-firing surrounds used in the other systems come close to matching such a wide dispersion, and this advantage is pressed home in scenes where the action is happening all around the viewer.

Switch to U2's Live From Chicago DVD, and the sense of scale is palpable. Bono's vocals are clear enough, but this disc also reveals a number of shortcomings to the Revel package. There's a strong hint of lardiness in the lower frequencies, which robs the system of rhythmic drive and top-to-bottom consistency.

The sub isn't the most agile around, and sounds a touch tubby, What's more, a spin of Kate Bush's Aerial reveals that the F12 fronts don't help matters much, being a bit lazy in the bass.

None of these flaws is particularly devastating, but together they're enough to affect the star rating. Despite the keen price, this is a four-star package.

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