To Doug Schneider,

That’s an interesting write-up on the Revel Ultima Salon2 loudspeakers this month. Let me tell you what my next project is to see if you can help.

I am setting up a high-end system in my dedicated room that I can also use for monitoring and evaluating recordings I make. I am not interested in the so-called “musicality” that some reviewers talk about. I won’t use tube amps to sweeten the sound. I like well-designed solid-state and I want a listenable speaker, but I want it to be accurate and I want it to deliver deep bass without resorting to using a subwoofer.

I was considering something from Wilson, maybe the WATT/Puppy or Sophia series, but now I’m thinking that the Revels might be more suitable. Comments?

Thom Sullivan 

If you want accuracy, then you want a speaker that has flat frequency response, both on and off axis. If you want deep bass, you want a speaker that extends downward to 20Hz. The measurements lhat we do at Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) can tell you that. (See www.speakermeasurements.com to see all of the speakers we’ve measured.) 

We’ve measured the Revel Salon2s and we’ve measured three generations of Wilson Audio Specialties WATT/Puppy speakers as well as two generations of their Sophia model. I have no idea which Wilson models you’re looking at exactly, so I’ll comment generally on all that we've measured. 

The Revel Ultima Salon2 has very flat frequency response, both on and off axis, and strong bass output to about 20Hz. Distortion is commendably low. Similarly, all the Wilson speakers perform well on the distortion tests. On the other hand, none of the Wilson speakers we’ve measured has had good linearity or strong bass output to 20Hz, which is rather surprising given the high cost of their speakers. Furthermore, the WATT/Puppy models we’ve measured all show a bass “hump” at about 100Hz that I find interesting. It could be a flaw in the design or it could be done deliberately to give the impression of the speaker delivering deeper bass than it really does. In fact, it’s a technique often used in the design of very small speakers to make them sound bigger than they are. Take a look through our measurements and you'll find a lot of small speakers with a boost in that region. Whatever the reason for it being there, some people might be impressed by that extra "sock" at 100Hz, but it’s not what I consider accurate sound. In addition, if you look closely at the measurements of all the Wilson speakers, you'll see that they're not only not flat but quite "spiky" as well. There could be a number of reasons for this, but the biggest culprit is usually diffraction, something notably absent on Revel's designs. That affects accuracy too.

In my opinion, given your needs and choosing from those two brands, Revel’s Ultima Salon2 is definitely the way to go. . . . Doug Schneider