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Revel PerformaBe F226Be & C426Be Measurements & Conclusion

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C426Be outdoor testing.jpg  F226Be outdoor testing 2.jpg 

The PerformaBe speakers were measured in free-air at a height of 4 feet at a 2-meter distance from the microphone, with the microphone raised to a 7’ elevation that was level with and aimed at the tweeter center. The measurements were gated at 8-milliseconds. In this time window, some resolution is lost below 400 Hz and accuracy is completely lost below 200 Hz. Measurements have been smoothed at a 1/12 octave resolution.

F226Be frequency response 3D.jpg   C426Be frequency response 3D.jpg

F226Be frequency response 2D.jpg  C426Be frequency response 2D.jpg

This is excellent performance and is something we have come to expect from Revel.

The above graphs depict the PerformaBe speakers’ direct-axis and horizontal dispersion out to a 95-degree angle in five-degree increments. Information on how to interpret these graphs can be read in our article Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II. This is excellent performance and is something we have come to expect from Revel. Both speakers have a very flat response as well as a smooth off-axis response. Both speakers exhibit relatively wide dispersion, although, for some reason, the C426Be seems to have somewhat wider dispersion than the F226Be across the midrange and treble bands even though they use the same midrange driver and tweeter. Perhaps that is due to the much wider baffle of the C426Be as compared to the F226Be. What we can see from these graphs is that these speakers are very neutral. They produce an accurate sound over a wide angle in front of them. The listener does not have to be seated in a precise location to receive a full, balanced sound, so these speakers do not have a small ‘sweet spot.’

Referring to our discussion in the ‘Design Analysis’ segment of this review about the design of the C426Be which will supposedly thwart off-axis cancellation nulls so endemic to traditional center speakers, we see here that Revel’s strategy works, and we can hardly see any evidence of cancellation from the horizontally aligned woofers. This center speaker’s coverage is superlative, and its technical attributes are ideal for a center speaker. It is so good that it could easily be used as front left and right speakers too if the user wanted, and it would sound terrific. Of course, it would be unusual to use horizontal speakers as front left and right speakers, but the C426Be is an unusually good speaker.

f226be polar map.jpg

c426be polar map.jpg

the Revel C426Be is an unusually good speaker.

The above polar map shows the same information in the preceding graphs but depicts it in a way that can offer new insight regarding these speakers’ behavior. Instead of using individual raised lines to illustrate amplitude, 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 dispersion behavior more easily. More information about interpreting this graph can also be read in our article Understanding Loudspeaker Review Measurements Part II.

The Revels should sound great in the acoustic environment of any normal domestic room without acoustic treatments.

One thing we can see from these graphs is just how well-controlled the PerformaBe’s dispersion behavior is. There isn’t really any angle where there is some peak or dip that breaks the flow of the response. There is some tightening of the response at very high treble, but that occurs in a range that isn’t audible for many listeners, and there is sparse content in that range anyway. We get a better look at how much wider the C426Be’s dispersion is then the F226Be. The F226Be maintains a strong response out to about 60 degrees off-axis, while the C426Be’s response doesn’t see much drop off in energy until almost 90 degrees. One might argue that there is no need for good behavior at such an extreme angle since no one is going to listening to these speakers at nearly a right angle relative to their forward direction. However, the response to that is much of the sound we hear from a speaker isn’t direct sound from the speaker itself but reflected sound from nearby surfaces. Even if the direct sound is perfect, the sound quality of a speaker can still be diminished if the off-axis response is poor. So having such a wide and well-controlled response is not just about having a broad area of coverage for listeners, it is about ensuring the reflected sound is as good as the direct sound. Another advantage of this is that it does away with the need for lots of acoustic treatments for the system to sound good. These speakers should sound great in the acoustic environment of any normal domestic room without acoustic treatments. 

F226Be low frequency response2.jpg 

C426Be low frequency response.jpg

The above graph shows the PerformaBe speakers’ low-frequency response captured using groundplane measurements (where the speaker and microphone are on the ground at a 2-meter distance in a wide-open area). The complexity of the C426Be made measuring its low-frequency response a bit tricky, but I think I have captured a fair approximation of its true anechoic low-frequency response. It shows the relative extension that can be had between sealing the ports since users do have the option of sealing just one port if they wanted. Revel supplies port plugs in case users want to reduce bass output for situations that might give bass too much of a boost such as placement very close to room boundaries. One thing that users can do with the C426Be is just seal one port for a lower tuning frequency. Revel doesn’t state that can be done, and it isn’t how they intend the speaker to be operated. Sealing just one port does reduce headroom in bass, and the port can be overdriven into turbulence much more easily, however it is one way to get deeper bass which might come in handy when the user doesn’t have a subwoofer. With both ports open, the tuning point of both the C426Be and F226Be seems to be a bit under 40Hz. If you seal one port on the C426Be, the tuning point looks to drop to 30Hz. Completely sealing either speaker considerably reduces deep bass output. One reason users might want to seal the port is to eliminate the phase rotation that occurs at the transition to port-generated output in order to make the speakers easier to integrate with subwoofers.

F226Be impedance.jpg   

 

C426Be impedance.jpg

The above graphs show the electrical behavior of the PerformaBe speakers. Revel specifies both speakers as 8 ohms for nominal impedance. That may be true by their calculations, but much of the impedance for both speakers lay quite a bit lower than 8 ohms. The entirety of the mid-bass and upper bass regions hover around 5 ohms, and there is a pretty steep phase angle at the port tuning frequency of both speakers which also occurs at 5 ohms. This is not a particularly difficult electrical load but it is not so benign as a thoroughly 8-ohm speaker either. I wouldn’t run these speakers on an entry-level AVR, but my guess is that not many people who buy speakers in this price range are going to run their speakers on a $300 AVR, so I don’t think this will ever be a problem. I measured sensitivity for the F226Be at 88.0dB for 2.83v at 1 meter with the C426Be at 90.8dB for 2.83v at 1 meter. That is pretty standard sensitivity for a tower speaker of the F226Be’s design specifications and relatively high sensitivity for a center speaker but not surprising given the outlay of drivers on the C426Be.

Conclusion

The C426Be center may well be one of the best performing center speakers on the market right now at any price.

As usual, before ending this review, I will briefly go over the products’ strengths and weaknesses, and, as always, I will start with the weaknesses. That is tough because these speakers have hardly any weaknesses in themselves. One nit I might pick is that the low-frequency extension of 40Hz on the F226Be, which is about average for loudspeakers of their size, isn’t really amazing when you consider their cost. However, there is no way of increasing the low-frequency extension without either dramatically sacrificing sensitivity which will lead to a reduction in dynamic range or greatly increasing enclosure size which would defeat the point of this mid-size tower speaker, so that isn’t really a reasonable criticism. Besides, anyone who wants that last octave can simply add subwoofers for deep bass support. Another quibble I might have is that the C426Be is quite large and heavy for a center speaker, but again, there is no way to get its caliber of performance from a smaller loudspeaker. If you make it smaller, it is not as powerful, and that isn’t a sacrifice worth making for those who want the very best and least compromised center speakers that money can buy, so criticizing it for being large isn’t a valid critique.     

revel logo.jpgSo there is nothing serious that I can complain about regarding the F226Be and C426Be speakers; now let’s go over its praiseworthy aspects. The performance is superb. Both speakers deliver an extraordinarily flat response on and off-axis. That makes them highly accurate loudspeakers, indeed much more so than most. These have some of the most linear responses that I have personally dealt with to date. They sound great and do not use any coloration tricks to achieve that great sound. You could easily use them in music or sound content production if you so desired since they do not ‘lie;’ they only reproduce what is being given to them with nothing added or subtracted.

The C426Be center may well be one of the best performing center speakers on the market right now at any price. It looks fabulous, it is extremely accurate on and off-axis, it has good sensitivity with a reasonable electrical load, and it has an abundance of dynamic range. Since the center channel is usually the most important speaker for surround sound content, surround sound speaker systems should be selected by their center speakers rather than the front left/right speakers as is the norm. That makes a very strong case for the PerformaBe speakers since the C426Be is such a superb center speaker. If I could have any center speaker for my own audio system, I would likely choose the C426Be, and I am grief-stricken to have to send it back. The only situations I can imagine where another center model might be more preferable would be if the C426Be is simply too large for the intended placement or if the application calls for extreme dynamic range such as a large dedicated home theater room. 

C426Be outside 2.jpgThe F226Be shares all of the attributes of the C426Be and likewise should be celebrated as well, but the dearth of such high-performing center speakers makes the C426Be the star of the show for me. However, if you are looking for a nearly flawless mid-size tower speaker and have the budget to accommodate the F226Be speakers, clearly they warrant very close consideration. They are simply superb speakers.

The PerormaBe F226Be and C426Be speakers are pricey, but, in my opinion, you do get your money’s worth. They are very elegant-looking and high-performing speakers with excellent build quality, and all that cannot be had cheaply. I am hesitant to call them expensive because that almost implies that they are not a good value, but they are a good value. You do get a lot for your money. $7k for the F226Be pair and $4.5K for the C426Be center is definitely a fair price. Having reviewed the M126Be speakers, I had some idea of what to expect from these newer additions from the PerformaBe lineup. Those expectations have been met and exceeded. Revel has once again lived up to its stellar reputation.

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 QualityStarStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarStar
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:

TankTop5 posts on December 15, 2020 22:09
ryanosaur, post: 1443018, member: 86393
As a tease, Philharmonic Audio is working on a Tower version of the very well regarded BMR. It will be built around the 8" Revelator from Scan Speak in a MLTL design with an MTM set of the BMR drivers and a Raal 64-10. This ill deliver some serious competition I think to many speakers out there. These are expected to cost possibly in the low-mid $4K range for a pair. Dennis' gear tends to punch well above the pricing and may well give some of these $7K pairs a serious run.
Then they need to build a MLTL center BMR… just put the tweeter with a mid under then stick the bass driver on either side. Maybe a bit wide but if you’ve got a large projection screen…
ryanosaur posts on December 15, 2020 19:58
Genso, post: 1442994, member: 31078
Are there other options at this performance tier people here would advocate for home theater use?
At this price point?! Yeesh.

I'd like to see a showdown between the Monitor Audio Golds and these Revel Berylliums. My only experience with MA is the Silver line and I was very impressed. The new Golds that debuted last year are supposed to be legit, and one reviewer (fwiw) described them as being within 85% of the performance of their Platinum line. Subjective, of course, but as more companies trickle down their Flagship technology to lower tiers, I could see hitting a point where the lower tiers become exceptional values. The Golds are outa my reach, but I look forward to seeing what happens when they refresh the Silvers.
I digress…
Most companies have a tier or three that are suitably rare and challenging to attain. KEF fans will rave about the Rs and the References (and the Blades)… Wharfedale, ELAC, PSB… They all have gear that seems well respected. Don't forget about companies like Focal and Canton, too. A side mention for Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers and associated kit is worthwhile here.
If you've the patience and interest companies, like Salk Sound and Selah Audio do great work and may be able to deliver some impressive product if you want!

End of the day it comes down to your goals. And likely at these price points, aesthetics. (Which is a shame because I would love to experience the bigger JTRs like the Noesis 215RT!)

As a tease, Philharmonic Audio is working on a Tower version of the very well regarded BMR. It will be built around the 8" Revelator from Scan Speak in a MLTL design with an MTM set of the BMR drivers and a Raal 64-10. This ill deliver some serious competition I think to many speakers out there. These are expected to cost possibly in the low-mid $4K range for a pair. Dennis' gear tends to punch well above the pricing and may well give some of these $7K pairs a serious run.
Genso posts on December 15, 2020 18:18
Are there other options at this performance tier people here would advocate for home theater use?
shadyJ posts on December 15, 2020 08:37
Genso, post: 1442808, member: 31078
@shadyJ Can you elaborate more on why the score for dynamic range was 4 out of 5 stars? This concerns me for the home theater application.
The C426Be speakers have a dynamic range that is well above average, but there are speakers out there that have a wider dynamic range, such as some of the offerings from JTR. If you are the type that wants dynamic range above all, you can do better for the money. It's hard to imagine anyone being unhappy with these speakers though, but for those who are trying to exceed THX Reference levels in a large room, they may be happier with something that uses compression drivers.
Genso posts on December 14, 2020 23:17
@shadyJ Can you elaborate more on why the score for dynamic range was 4 out of 5 stars? This concerns me for the home theater application.
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