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Revel C208 Review (Center Speaker)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Revel C208 three-way center speaker. It was kindly purchased new and drop shipped to me by a member. The retail cost is US $2,000 but keep in mind that this includes dealer margin which doesn't exist in direct to consumer sales.

Important notice: our company, Madrona Digital, is a dealer for Revel products. While our business is custom electronics installation and not much "high-fi," you should assume as much bias as you feel necessary in my subjective remarks in this review. The measurements are produced as with any other product and no attempt has been made to make them different than any other speaker measurement.

I apologize for the crappy picture as I had to take it with my mobile phone given where the speaker sits:

Revel C208 review center speaker.jpg


Speaker is fully wrapped in plastic including front which I removed for testing. I leave as much as I can on so that it gets to the customer in as new of a condition as possible but makes the picture lousy.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 1500 measurement which resulted in error rate of around 1 to 2%.

Testing temperature was around 61 degrees F.

Reference axis was that of the tweeter. The grill was not used. There are controls in the back to compensate for bass and treble. I left them at zero.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Revel C208 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Revel C208 Measurements Frequency Response Center Speaker.png


Close in view shows some irregularities in frequency response especially between 800 and 1.2 kHz. Opposite of many speaker, off-axis is better, approaching ideal:
Revel C208 Measurements early window Frequency Response Center Speaker.png


Combining the two shows a predicted in-room frequency response that is excellent:
Revel C208 Measurements Predicted In-room Frequency Response Center Speaker.png


So don't go building a dead theater. You want these reflections to even out the overall response.

Drive responses in near-field measurement shows very good response:
Revel C208 Measurements driver responses.png


Absence of a port means we don't have its resonances to deal with. That does translate into the typical bass response for a sealed box that sloops gently up. So sub-bass response will be there but at much lower level.

Impedance graph shows pretty low dip to 3.4 ohm and near it, there is phase shift as well so you best have a powerful amplifier to drive the C208:

Revel C208 Measurements impedance and phase.png


Beamwidth is wide (which is what we want in a center speaker) but we see the same strangeness around 700 and 1.1 kHz:
Revel C208 Measurements Horizontal beamwidth.png


Revel C208 Measurements Horizontal Directivity.png


As shipped, speaker wants to tilt up which is a good thing if you have it set low (i.e. below screen):
Revel C208 Measurements Vertical Directivity.png


I was most impressed with the low distortion at 86 dB SPL and to some extent, at 96:

Revel C208 Measurements relative distortion.png

Revel C208 Measurements THD distortion.png


Revel C208 Speaker Listening Tests
I used my normal speaker stand which is too high for a center speaker below a projection screen. So I stuffed some rags in the back to make the speaker more horizontal. Once there, the sound was delightful. It was clean, clean, clean! Overall balance was excellent without anything standing out. So much so that I did not bother to apply any EQ. I just listened and listened.

I tested for dynamic ability by cranking up my 1000 watt amplifier to as high as I could dare and there was no sign of stress, distortion, bottoming out, etc. As my old saying goes, "I got scared before the speaker did!" Those dual woofers bring a lot of power handling.

There was this super nice diffused halo around this speaker. Anyone who thinks there is no imaging in "mono" needs to listen to a speaker like this. I sat there enjoying track after track even though I was playing just one speaker. This is what a great speaker with wide directivity delivers.

The only negative I found was the lack of deep bass. It is there, especially if you turn up the volume but it is not satisfying. You need a subwoofer which you would naturally have in a home theater. Note however that I had the speaker out good 5 feet from back and side wall. Closer to boundary placement may bring more bass.

Conclusions
A horizontal center speaker built to deliver high SPLs is challenging to build. Objectivity there is a miss in on-axis response but off-axis response fills that in resulting in excellent subjective and objective performance. Speaker is NOT however full range and needs a sub for full range performance.

As a center speaker where a sub is expected to be there, I am happy to give a strong recommendation to Revel C208. As a stand-alone speaker, it would rank one step lower as simply "recommended."

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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PeteL

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“cost is US $2,000 but keep in mind that this includes dealer margin which doesn't exist in direct to consumer sales.”

sorry what does this mean? is revel acompany that sells direct or is it available to a regular distribution network, or both?
 

617

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It's amazing how hard it is to make a horizontal format center speaker; you need high output and it gets even harder. Matching LCR is a superior solution if you can make it work.
 

blueone

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“cost is US $2,000 but keep in mind that this includes dealer margin which doesn't exist in direct to consumer sales.”

sorry what does this mean? is revel acompany that sells direct or is it available to a regular distribution network, or both?

For so-called brick and mortar dealers, at least in the US, you can negotiate lower prices for Revel products. For online sellers which are authorized dealers it looks like the prices are all Revel's suggested retail price.
 

jonfitch

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For so-called brick and mortar dealers, at least in the US, you can negotiate lower prices for Revel products. For online sellers which are authorized dealers it looks like the prices are all Revel's suggested retail price.

Although it seems like this is a fair trade-off between ability to try it out in your home versus lower prices. Not all dealers will allow in-home demos (or may not even have them available if they have no stock and have to order), so if you buy and you don't like it, you will have to deal with maybe a 20% restocking fee or even no returns. Whereas the online authorized dealers from what I see don't have restocking fees, and may even subsidize most of the cost of shipping both ways.
 

blueone

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Although it seems like this is a fair trade-off between ability to try it out in your home versus lower prices. Not all dealers will allow in-home demos (or may not even have them available if they have no stock and have to order), so if you buy and you don't like it, you will have to deal with maybe a 20% restocking fee or even no returns. Whereas the online authorized dealers from what I see don't have restocking fees, and may even subsidize most of the cost of shipping both ways.

For Revel products there are a limited number of online dealers, and they all seem to charge MSRP. I haven't looked at all six or so of the authorized dealers, but they all seem to charge return shipping. Like Crutchfield and Music Direct, for example. While they do include shipping costs in the purchase price, for Revel products online dealers still look like a questionable value compared to B&M retailers.
 

Martin

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Sure wish I could afford Revel speakers for my home theater. :( They measure so nice...:) Still, I have a Klipsch Reference II 7.0 set (RF-82 II, RC-62 II, RS-52 II & RB-51 II ) that cost me $2,205.79 new that I am quite happy with. Measurements be damned. ;) They are not bad when paired with two Reaction Audio Echo 15 subs. I love movies on my setup. :cool: After all that's what this hobby is all about.

Martin
 

Steve Dallas

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I thought this speaker might be large. Then I saw it in person. Woa! Absolutely massive! Sounded great, but I only have room for its little brother.

(Of course, then I saw the Be version... A horizontal floorstander!)
 
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valerianf

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This review proves that a well engineer 3 ways center channel is up to the task.
Mine is a Jamo bass reflex but it does not matter if the center speaker is declared as small.
The FR and FL speakers are doing the needed job for the low frequencies that are re-directed to them.

How was the dialogs clarity with this Revel?
 

dfuller

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I wonder how these would do as stereo speakers... The response looks to be generally excellent! Figure you'd need a sub or 2, but...
 

Xyrium

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Wow, kudos Revel. Look at that fantastic distortion, especially for a product that's going to be producing a lot of vocals. Nicely done.
 

MZKM

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I thought this speaker might be large. Then I saw it in person. Woa! Absolutely massive!
For anyone wanting a comparison, Obsessed Garage owns a pair and I think he’s 6ft 2in:
754F657C-6452-41E6-9FDD-952B854112C4.jpeg


The Salk 8C center uses 8“ woofers too but with dual 12” passive radiators:
1300052-2d4c6044-salk-soundscape-8-reference-floor-standing-speakers-amp-8c-reference-center-channel-speaker.jpg
 
Last edited:

Beave

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Interesting to compare this with the Ascend Acoustics Horizon three way center measurements here.

Biggest differences byfar appear in the vertical off-axis plots.
 

Rottmannash

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Revel C208 three-way center speaker. It was kindly purchased new and drop shipped to me by a member. The retail cost is US $2,000 but keep in mind that this includes dealer margin which doesn't exist in direct to consumer sales.

I apologize for the crappy picture as I had to take it with my mobile phone given where the speaker sits:

View attachment 118078

Speaker is fully wrapped in plastic including front which I removed for testing. I leave as much as I can on so that it gets to the customer in as new of a condition as possible but makes the picture lousy.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 1500 measurement which resulted in error rate of around 1 to 2%.

Testing temperature was around 61 degrees F.

Reference axis was that of the tweeter. The grill was not used. There are controls in the back to compensate for bass and treble. I left them at zero.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Revel C208 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

View attachment 118079

Close in view shows some irregularities in frequency response especially between 800 and 1.2 kHz. Opposite of many speaker, off-axis is better, approaching ideal:
View attachment 118080

Combining the two shows a predicted in-room frequency response that is excellent:
View attachment 118081

So don't go building a dead theater. You want these reflections to even out the overall response.

Drive responses in near-field measurement shows very good response:
View attachment 118082

Absence of a port means we don't have its resonances to deal with. That does translate into the typical bass response for a sealed box that sloops gently up. So sub-bass response will be there but at much lower level.

Impedance graph shows pretty low dip to 3.4 ohm and near it, there is phase shift as well so you best have a powerful amplifier to drive the C208:

View attachment 118083

Beamwidth is wide (which is what we want in a center speaker) but we see the same strangeness around 700 and 1.1 kHz:
View attachment 118084

View attachment 118085

As shipped, speaker wants to tilt up which is a good thing if you have it set low (i.e. below screen):
View attachment 118086

I was most impressed with the low distortion at 86 dB SPL and to some extent, at 96:

View attachment 118087
View attachment 118088

Revel C208 Speaker Listening Tests
I used my normal speaker stand which is too high for a center speaker below a projection screen. So I stuffed some rags in the back to make the speaker more horizontal. Once there, the sound was delightful. It was clean, clean, clean! Overall balance was excellent without anything standing out. So much so that I did not bother to apply any EQ. I just listened and listened.

I tested for dynamic ability by cranking up my 1000 watt amplifier to as high as I could dare and there was no sign of stress, distortion, bottoming out, etc. As my old saying goes, "I got scared before the speaker did!" Those dual woofers bring a lot of power handling.

There was this super nice diffused halo around this speaker. Anyone who thinks there is no imaging in "mono" needs to listen to a speaker like this. I sat there enjoying track after track even though I was playing just one speaker. This is what a great speaker with wide directivity delivers.

The only negative I found was the lack of deep bass. It is there, especially if you turn up the volume but it is not satisfying. You need a subwoofer which you would naturally have in a home theater. Note however that I had the speaker out good 5 feet from back and side wall. Closer to boundary placement may bring more bass.

Conclusions
A horizontal center speaker built to deliver high SPLs is challenging to build. Objectivity there is a miss in on-axis response but off-axis response fills that in resulting in excellent subjective and objective performance. Speaker is NOT however full range and needs a sub for full range performance.

As a center speaker where a sub is expected to be there, I am happy to give a strong recommendation to Revel C208. As a stand-alone speaker, it would rank one step lower as simply "recommended."

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
I saw this speaker when I was buying my F208s and was startled at its size. Same drivers that are in the tower, just arranged a bit differently.
 

Rottmannash

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“cost is US $2,000 but keep in mind that this includes dealer margin which doesn't exist in direct to consumer sales.”

sorry what does this mean? is revel acompany that sells direct or is it available to a regular distribution network, or both?
If you want a "deal" you must locate a dealer and ask for a discount. It is an odd thing for sure, in this day and age when we order everything direct from the manufacturer.
 
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