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Revel M126Be Bookshelf Speaker Measurements & Conclusion

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m126be outdoor testing.jpg

The Revel M126Be were measured in free-air at a height of 7.5 feet at a 2-meter distance from the microphone, and the measurements were gated at a 9-millisecond delay. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 250 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 110 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/12 octave resolution.

m126be spinorama scaled.jpg

Audioholics Measurements of the Revel M126Be Bookshelf Speaker

The above graph shows the direct-axis frequency response and other curves that describe the speakers’ amplitude response in a number of ways. For more information about the meaning of these curves, please refer to our article Understanding Loudspeaker Measurements Part 1. The overall response is good, although the on-axis response is a tad more ragged than I expected. There is a small bump that appears at 5 kHz, and my guess is that the response around that area is due to some effect of the waveguide since it disappears outside of a 10-degree angle. The ‘Listening Window’ response is very flat, and that is what should be given more attention since it is more important. The design philosophy of many of Harman’s products, which includes Revel speakers, places more focus on a wide range of angles over the front hemisphere of the speaker rather than any single angle. So the ‘Listening Window’ and ‘Early Reflections’ curves, which are averages of a multitude of angles from the front half of the speaker, have an extraordinarily neutral response as opposed to the on-axis response which is not quite as perfect. The directivity indexes show pretty consistent directivity control which is another hallmark of Revel’s design philosophy.

M126 Harman spinorama.jpg

Harman Measurements of the Revel M126Be Bookshelf Speaker

This is terrific engineering and is what one would hope for from a speaker in this price range.

As a point of comparison, Revel had sent us their ‘Spin-O-Rama’ measurements for the same M126Be unit that they sent us, and the above graph is their measurement set. This graph comes to us courtesy of Mark Glazer who has been a primary engineer at Revel since its early days. Mark has been a friend of Audioholics over the years and has helped us bring our loudspeaker testing procedures to our present levels of accuracy. We have been fortunate to have assistance from such high caliber engineering. I thought it would nicely illustrate some points about testing speakers that some readers may find interesting, and so Revel has allowed us to publish their measurements. First of all, our measurements and Revel’s measurements track very closely with each other, but there are some differences. The most major difference is that Revel has captured more high-treble energy from the speaker than we managed. This is not surprising since higher frequencies are the range where differences will most likely be seen from different test conditions and configurations. The most likely explanation for this discrepancy is that we use a windscreen on our microphone which does attenuate very high treble frequencies in this range. Of course, Revel has no need for a windscreen since they test in an anechoic chamber. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that these measurements resemble each other as much as they do, but considering we are using entirely different equipment, different software, and are testing in different conditions, it is nonetheless remarkable that we do see such similarity, and it helps to validate the CTA-2034 protocol from which both of these testing procedures are derived.

 m126be waterfall response 3D.jpg

m126be waterfall response 2D.jpg

The above graphs depict the Revel M126Be speaker’s lateral responses out to 100 degrees in five-degree increments. More information about how to interpret these graphs can be read in this article: Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II. One thing that we can see more clearly that the preceding graph hints at are the exceptional linearity of the off-axis responses. They are so very flat and neutral over a wide angle. This speaker could be listened to well off-axis and the sound would be very balanced almost anywhere in the front half of it. We do see high treble rolling off more quickly as we move further off-axis, but that is very typical of dome tweeters. For those who want the highest frequency exposure, I would recommend that they listen to this speaker with it facing them directly. For those who want a somewhat warmer sound, simply angle the speaker so that it is pointing thirty to forty degrees away which will shave off some of the sound above 10 kHz. Overall, we see beautifully controlled behavior over the entire front lateral angle of the M126Be. This is terrific engineering and is what one would hope for from a speaker in this price range.

m126be polar map.jpg 

The above polar map graphs show the same information that the preceding graphs do but depict it in a way that can offer new insight regarding these speakers’ behavior. Instead of using individual raised lines to illustrate amplitude, these polar maps use color to portray amplitude and this allows the use of a purely angle/frequency axis perspective. The advantage of these graphs is they can let us see broader trends of the speaker’s behavior more easily. For more information about the meaning of these graphs, we again refer the reader to Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II. In this graph, we get a better look at the M126Be’s excellent directivity control. It is very consistent and smooth up to 10 kHz. Clearly, the waveguide is doing its job. We also see little evidence of the crossover here, so it does look optimally designed. As was seen before, the dispersion begins to tighten up above 10 kHz, but there is still a strong response up to 15 kHz out at a 50-degree angle, so the dispersion is quite wide and will cover a broad area with a full sound to very high frequencies. Those who do not want to miss that rare 20 kHz content will have to listen on-axis.

m126be vertical response.jpg 

The above graph shows the M126Be speaker’s response behavior along its vertical axis where zero degrees is directly in front of the tweeter, negative degree values are below the tweeter, and positive degree values are above the tweeter.  It should be said here that the vertical response isn’t nearly as critical as the horizontal response, so an imperfect vertical dispersion is much less of a problem. While we do see the usual off-axis cancellation that occurs in two-way designs between the woofer and tweeter where the difference in their distance from the microphone becomes larger, the resultant null is relatively mild with respect to most speakers of this design type. The performance here is above average, however, it still indicates that the best response occurs right around the on-axis response. As usual, these speakers should be listened to with the ear roughly level with the tweeter.

m126be bass responses.jpg 

If you want one of the very best medium-sized bookshelf speakers available, here it is.

The above graphs show the Revel M126Be speaker’s low-frequency responses that I captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground in a wide-open area). Revel characterizes the low-end response as -6 dB at 54 Hz, and this is a conservative spec by my measurements. In ported mode, the response knee pretty much starts a bit below 60 Hz, and there is usable output below 50 Hz. I also measured the M126Be with its port plugged. We can see that it reduces output below 100 Hz. This might be handy for those who are getting too much of a bass boost from having to place the speaker near large room surfaces. Overall, the responses shown here are quite good and shows a well-implemented port. This is a bookshelf speaker with solid extension down to 50 Hz, and that range will cover most music recordings, especially of acoustic music. Those who don’t need deep bass can get by without a sub, but those who want the subterranean thunder of modern action movies will certainly want to add a sub. I think the 50 Hz extension is a very reasonable frequency to aim for. It covers much conventional music without trying for deep bass which would have incurred a big penalty in sensitivity.

m126be impedance.jpg 

The above graphs show the electrical behavior of the M126Be speakers. Revel specifies the M126Be speakers as having a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, and that looks to be correct. The minima occur just above 200 Hz at 6 ohms. We can see the port tuning occurs just above 50 Hz. The overall electrical load is very benign and these speakers could run comfortably on any halfway-competently designed amplifier. These speakers do not need to be powered by an expensive amp. They will work fine even with budget amps. I measured the M126Be speaker’s sensitivity at 87.9 dB for 2.83v at 1 meter which is a bit higher than Revel’s spec of 86 dB for 2.83v at 1 meter. That isn’t bad at all for a normal-sized, 8-ohm bookshelf speaker with extension down to 50 Hz. It’s quite good when considering the design and performance.

Conclusion

I like to wrap up these revim126be outdoors5.jpgews by briefly going over the strengths and weaknesses of the product under review, but that is not easy to do with the Revel M126Be speakers because they just don’t have any real weaknesses. One might point out that the dynamic range of a two-way bookshelf speaker with a 6.5” woofer and 1” dome tweeter is going to have inherent limitations, and that is true, but the dynamic range of these is well above similarly spec’d bookshelf speakers. Also, a speaker with wider dynamic range will necessarily need to be larger, and one of the goals of this speaker is to produce the best possible product in a reasonable enclosure size, so I don’t see this as a valid criticism. Yes, there are less expensive speakers that can play at louder levels than these but not with the same size with the same low-frequency extension. Those who are looking for really loud speakers need to be shopping for an entirely different form factor. And these can still get loud; I would trust these to stay clean at louder levels than most other similar spec’d designs out there.

One could point to pricing: there are many ported, two-way bookshelf speakers using a 6.5” woofer and 1” dome tweeter out there, and most of them don’t cost anywhere near $4k/pair. That is true, however, one is not likely to find such a design as uncompromism126be pair14.jpged as seen here. The M126Be speakers pretty much maximize what can be done with this form factor. I don’t know of any better speaker in this common design type. If you want one of the very best medium-sized bookshelf speakers available, here it is. Many high-end speakers with similar design can cost a lot more yet aren’t likely to match the performance shown here, and in that sense, these are a bargain. I don’t see these as being over-priced; they are not cheap, but you do get what you pay for. 

Now let’s talk about the highlights of the M126Be speakers, and to start with, let’s discuss their performance. The M126Be speakers are very accurate speakers with an outstanding off-axis response. They will not misrepresent or distort what is being sent to them. They could easily be used as reference monitors. They are not fussy about placement or positioning and should work well in many different listening situations. This flexibility is allowed by the exceptional off-axis response as well as the ability to seal the port. These attributes add up to a very natural sound with terrific imaging abilities. Bass extension digs down to a solid 50 Hz, which is good for a speaker of this size and capability, and the bass response also keeps an even keel whereas some bookshelf speakers of this type will have a slight mid-bass boost to give an impression of greater bass performance than in actuality. The high-end drivers in these speakers give them an unusually high dynamic-range for the size and low-frequency extension. They also have very friendly electrical characteristics that allow them to get along nicely with nearly any amplifier.

The M126Be speakers look great as wem126be pair2.jpgll as sound great. As was mentioned before, they can fit in just about any decor, and wouldn’t be out of place even in very luxurious interior decors. One aspect that helps in this respect is that they are not large speakers, so they don’t have to eat up a lot of space which can constitute a substantial visual aspect of the room. Their high-gloss finish and sleek shape are commensurate with their pricing; again, you get what you pay for.

If you are looking for bookshelf speakers and are willing to pay for really good ones, you should be taking a very hard look at the Revel M126Be bookshelf speakers. They are superb and well-rounded performers that have no real shortcomings. If I were on the market for bookshelf speakers in this price range, I would have these very high on my list. I am sad to have to return them, but I am glad that I had the chance to spend time with them. Highly recommended!

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarStar

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About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

RichB posts on February 01, 2020 15:26
KEW, post: 1366782, member: 41838
I have a Grotto which is a very nice music sub.
I did not know there was a "Grotto i"!
Looking at the spec's it first looked like they primarily added peak power capabilities more than any thing else, but then I saw that the cabinet is larger in all dimensions and weighs another 11 pounds???

I love this little sub because it puts clean bass and seemingly nothing else. It is small and has a corner design.
I wish more did and I would replace my Velodyne HGS-15 with 2 more compact 12" subs.

- Rich
KEW posts on February 01, 2020 13:53
RichB, post: 1366778, member: 11091
It is the Marin Logan Grotto i which was a really nice compact servo sub:

https://www.martinlogan.com/en/product/grotto-i

- Rich
I have a Grotto which is a very nice music sub.
I did not know there was a "Grotto i"!
Looking at the spec's it first looked like they primarily added peak power capabilities more than any thing else, but then I saw that the cabinet is larger in all dimensions and weighs another 11 pounds???
RichB posts on February 01, 2020 13:34
KEW, post: 1366674, member: 41838
Is that the Martin Logan Grotto subwoofer?
Or is there another Grotto?

It is indeed disappointing that the details useful for wall mounting are not included in the owner's manual!
FWIW, My Energy OMD-5 actually was supplied with mounting brackets that were very simple (inexpensive) and effective because their use was integrated in the cabinet design. I wish more companies thought that way!

It is the Marin Logan Grotto i which was a really nice compact servo sub:

https://www.martinlogan.com/en/product/grotto-i

- Rich
KEW posts on January 31, 2020 19:40
RichB, post: 1357055, member: 11091
I have a Grotto I sub that I should be able to blend-in to take up the slack.

- Rich
Is that the Martin Logan Grotto subwoofer?
Or is there another Grotto?

It is indeed disappointing that the details useful for wall mounting are not included in the owner's manual!
FWIW, My Energy OMD-5 actually was supplied with mounting brackets that were very simple (inexpensive) and effective because their use was integrated in the cabinet design. I wish more companies thought that way!
ryanosaur posts on January 31, 2020 14:33
RichB, post: 1366591, member: 11091
The M126Be's are in house.

I will be placing them on my white Omnimount wall mounts.
Life would be a lot easier if Revel would provide product dimensions, screw size (including depth), and a template.
I will use white Azek to adapt the mount to the speakers.

Are mechanical specifications too much to ask?

33739

- Rich
Ha! I think speakers should come with inserts ready for a universal bracket… something like a VESA mount. For all the random wall mount needs, it would be an easy adaptation in the manufacturing process to install t-nuts sandwiched in a 1/2”+1/4” thick rear panel!
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