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Revel M106 Bookshelf Speaker Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Revel M106 bookshelf speaker. It was kindly purchased and drop shipped to me. It is not a new sample but came to me with full packaging and protective wrapper. The M106 costs US $1,000 each or $2,000 for a pair. It is only sold through dealer channel so these are "list prices."

NOTE: our company, Madrona Digital is a dealer for Harman which includes Revel speakers. So please feel free to read as much bias as you like in this review.

The M106 is one of the heaviest and densest speakers I have lifted for its size:

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker Review.jpg


The finish is first class and glass smooth. Back panel is highly curved which should reduce diffraction effects:

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker back panel binding posts Review.jpg


Sorry about leaving the protective plastic on. I try to keep as much as these things on so the finish is preserved when the owner gets the unit.

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 used over 800 measurement point which was sufficient to compute the sound field of the speaker.

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

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker spinorama CEA2034 frequency response measurents.png


There are some variations in the on-axis frequency response but some go away in the listening window (average of a few degrees around the direct axis). The large disparity in size between tweeter and woofer also creates some directivity error where the woofer starts to "beam" (its radiation narrows) yet the tweeter starts with a wider beam width causing a dip in off-axis response.

There are no signs of serious resonances though which is good.

Early window reflections are pretty smooth making this speaker easy to place in a room and have it sound good:

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker spinorama CEA2034 early window frequency response measurents.png


Putting on-axis and reflections together we get a predicted in-room frequency response in a hypothetical average room:

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker spinorama CEA2034 Predicted In-Room frequency response measurents.png


This is really good folks! Some of the variations in on-axis are filed away resulting in almost ideal frequency response. Since what you hear in your room is the sum of direct and indirect sounds, this type of response bodes well for actual performance in one's room.

I read some place that Kevin Voecks (most visible person behind Revel line) said that there was strong effort to reduce distortion and that they had managed to push it below audibility in mid to higher frequencies. So let's measure that:
Revel M106 bookshelf speaker Relative Distortion THD Audio Meaurements.png


Wow, seems true! At 86 dB the graphs essentially hugs the bottom of the graph. Even when pushed to 96 dB, there is hardly any rise in distortion. This is the type of performance we expect to see in high-end active studio monitors, not home bookshelf speakers.

Putting the distortion in context at 96 dB we get:

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker Absolute Distortion THD Audio Meaurements.png


Usually I set the lower limit at -50 dB as shown. But received a good request to show it down to lower levels so here we are. We can see that distortion products linearly go down and hit some of their lowest where our hearing is most sensitive (2 to 5 kHz). Second harmonic dominates across the board. Third harmonic does peak up near 3 kHz but otherwise is not dominant.

Looking at how wide of a "beam" the speaker projects we get about 100 degrees:

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker Horizontal Beamwidth Audio Meaurements.png


The drop off is smooth:

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker Horizontal Directivity Audio Meaurements.png


Vertical is not bad for this type of speaker and gives you some wiggle room with respect to the height of your stance and your ear level:

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker Vertical Directivity Audio Meaurements.png


You don't want to go so high or low below tweeter axis as to land in these "eyes" around 2 kHz.

Directivity is reasonably smooth as well again, given the type and design.

Impedance shows the typical minimum impedance:

Revel M106 bookshelf speaker Impedance and Phase Audio Meaurements.png


So don't let the small size make you think you need a small little amplifier to drive it.

You all know I am not a big fan of waterfall graphs but this one sure looks clean and uneventful:

Revel M106 bookshelf speakerCSD Waterfall Audio Meaurements.png



Subjective Speaker Listening Tests
For testing, I go through my reference track list, often playing 20 to 30 seconds before going to next one. This way, I can quickly get a sense of speaker's overall performance across wide range of content with different spectrum. Well, that didn't happen here. As soon as I played the first track, I froze in place. The sound was so incredibly smooth and beautiful that I could not hit "next" on my player! Incredible amount of detail. Resolution to die for. The note decay was tremendous. This was that first track, Youn Sun Nah - My Favorite Things:


The Youtube version sounds poor. I have the 88 kHz high-res download. Get a copy of this track and if it doesn't make you melt in your seat with audiophile bliss, you have the wrong speaker/system!

I go to the next track, Snowflake from Kristin Asbjørnsen


The starting strings seem to jet out of the speaker with startling realism. And then the beautiful vocals came through, with nice layering and separation.

Sit .... back... down. This is not some subjectivist speaker review. To wit, my wife was in the bedroom getting ready to go to sleep but she did not come out to tell me how great the speaker was!

Back to my testing, after listening to a dozen reference track and being most impressed with them all, I switched to bass heavy ones. There is no deep bass here but what is there is incredibly clean. And this speaker can play them loud. Really loud with no sign of strain. I had no trouble filling my huge space with just a single speaker playing. Tracks like the classic Samba by Jean Claude Kerinec & Staff Elmeddah could not be more dynamic coming out of this little speaker:


Words really fail me to describe the clarity, fidelity and yes, neutrality of this speaker.

Conclusions
The Revel M106 is not cheap in a sea of bookshelf speakers selling for 1/5 its price or even lower. But I am here to tell you that it achieves a level of fidelity many of us strive for. Its objective frequency response is very good. But I think part of the superb fluidity and clarity it brings to delicate notes is its extremely low distortion. I wish you could be here to listen to it and experience what I did. To say that I am impressed by it is an understatement.

The Revel M106 is one of the most perfect bookshelf speakers I have heard. As such, I am going to give it my strongest recommendation.

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

Here is my routine every night: eat dinner, go to the garden and dig, de-weed, put compost on plants, fertilize and water them. The come inside at 9:30 pm (it doesn't get dark till after that!) and wash all the dirt from under my nails. Then go in the garage measure speakers, process them and stumble into bed at 1:00 am. If this didn't make you cry and want to write me a big donation check, I don't know what will: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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pozz

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Webninja

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I have a bias towards towers, but it’s hard to justify the price increase for the F208, especially if you plan on subs.
 
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amirm

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Very, very similar to the IL10 on first glance.
Indeed. Yet what I miss is exactly what I am getting in M106. If it is frequency response difference, we better damn try to find it as my impression of these two speakers is worlds apart.
 

franspambot

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I have a bias towards towers, but it’s hard to justify the price increase for the F208, especially if you plan on subs.
@amirm how loud can you play these guys given the low distortion? Can you realistically expect these to be in the same ballpark (block? neighborhood?) as your Salons with good subs in a modest size room?
 
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amirm

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@amirm how loud can you play these guys given the low distortion? Can you realistically expect these to be in the same ballpark (block? neighborhood?) as your Salons with good subs in a modest size room?
If you ignore the deep bass that Salon 2s have, then maybe it can rival them. I know I turned them up as much as I wanted and there was no sign of distortion or driver bottoming out.
 

franspambot

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Any comparisons between the M106 and M16?

I wonder how much eq'ing the bass on the M16 would help with its distortion. It's something that should be done anyways. It probably wouldn't affect that bump at 2k, but maybe it would bring the speakers closer together.

Still, would LOVE to see the M16s re-tested with QMuse's eq settings. I think there is a lot of value in that in the context of this review.
 

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  • Revel M16 Standmount Bookshelf High-end Speaker CEA-20324 Spinorama Predicted In-room Audio Me...png
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  • Revel M106 bookshelf speaker spinorama CEA2034 Predicted In-Room frequency response measurents.png
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maty

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Ron Texas

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As expected Revel knocks one out of the park, or did the panther make a hole in one?

Food for thought: https://www.stereophile.com/content/tale-two-speakers an article why the imperfectly measuring LS50 is preferred over the M106.
At the same price, the M106 looks better to me than the R3 and I haven't seen the preference score yet.

Edit, a very solid preference rating, 5.8/8. Not off that much from the best measured around here so far, way beyond the pack, with the ability to play loud and no funny stuff in the treble like the R3.
 
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tecnogadget

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Nice review !! It’s a pity Revel speaker’s are not easy to spot in Europe. I wish I could demo the M16 and this M106 and appreciate what Amir’s has listened.

The On-Axis is indeed very good but certainly not enough to achieve golfing panter, however everything gets fixed in a magical fashion with the PIR which is almost textbook.

@amirm With so much speakers measured already and the constant fact you keep enjoying speakers that has tilted down response (harman target). Can we start having some slight supposition that as a speaker manufacturer, the way to go is not to design for On Axis or LW flatnes/neutrality, but all it matters to achieve bliss comes into tailoring the PIR and low-distortion?

Im really intrigued which tricks or methods helps the design process to tailor PIR...or is it just trial and error empiric work until it gets the target ? Couls PIR be simulated by soft at designing stage before even start prototyping?
 

Frank Dernie

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Indeed. Yet what I miss is exactly what I am getting in M106. If it is frequency response difference, we better damn try to find it as my impression of these two speakers is worlds apart.
Intriguing.
I have heard big differences between speakers which I had always attributed to cabinet and driver colouration. This conviction had been somewhat dented by statements here that the FR and directivity makes the most difference since in the case of my experience I didn't have a FR graph to compare similarities.
This speaker looks to have an inert cabinet and quality drivers.
I look forward to the wider studies to see if they coincide with my amateur experience.
 

edechamps

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I have added the Revel M106 to Loudspeaker Explorer where it can be compared to other speakers.

Good consistency within the listening window:

visualization(122).png


And since I'm the first one here, I'll take the opportunity to announce an Olive Preference Rating of 5.8.
 

franspambot

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I have added the Revel M106 to Loudspeaker Explorer where it can be compared to other speakers.

Good consistency within the listening window:

View attachment 70840

And since I'm the first one here, I'll take the opportunity to announce an Olive Preference Rating of 5.8.

Interesting. Lower than the KEF R3 even with subs. I guess vertical directivity counts for a lot.
 

ROOSKIE

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That SB acoustics tweeter is really cool. It is the one I plan to use in a DIY active set-up (someday)
A Selection of the DIY community hails it as one of the best tweeters essentially ever. (of course not all agree)
Amir you might want to have a close look at it. It is has an interesting design.

I had the baby M105 for awhile. It had a very, very smooth tweeter. Unfortunately I no longer have it. I purchased it to be used as a reference 5.25 inch driver based speaker. I liked everything about the speaker except that I liked the JBL 530 more & it therefore became my 5.25" driver reference.
The one thing about the REVEL M105 was a less detailed bass compared with the 530. I wonder if that has anything to do with the distortion characteristic? The 530 also seemed to have more depth. (maybe) It was deff more articulate in the bass.
 
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