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- Created: 06 February 2011 06 February 2011
To Doug Schneider,
I am curious to learn, now that you have lived with the Revel Ultima Salon2 loudspeakers as your reference for some time, what qualities have continued to impress and satisfy over the long term? I know that I often come to appreciate more and more (or the opposite -- to become aggravated more and more by) the characteristics of components that are only discernible after repeated exposure. Like being married, one doesn't really know the other partner until they have lived with each, and then the "little things" begin to show themselves. Now that you and the Salon2 are probably good friends, what is it about these speakers that separate it from the rest of the pack so definitively?
I am particularly curious about your opinion, as I have read with great interest your reviews over the last decade, and have observed that you are a reviewer who has actually focused on reviewing and auditioning loudspeakers (albeit mostly stand-mount designs) more so than most of your peers. There are other reviewers with an equal or greater level of exposure and experience reviewing a wide variety of speakers than yourself, but not many, and not many with such a clear long-term focus.
A friend of mine has a pair of these speakers, and when I got to hear them, I was immediately impressed with a sonic presentation that I was not expecting -- they were incredibly natural, and they made me want to simply relax, take a long sigh, and listen to music. In fact, it was the music that became the absorbing thing -- not equipment, not recording quality, not anything else. It took me by surprise how incredibly realistic and natural (again that adjective) the timbre, harmonics, and instrumental and vocal sounds actually were. However, I have not lived with these speakers day in, day out, and a brief audition is a very different thing than extended interaction.
It’s funny that you should bring up marriages and spouses. I was having a talk today with an unhappily married friend who feels that his spouse is not at all the same person she was during the first year of dating, and the mood swings, which came to light a couple years into the relationship, are finally taking their toll. As you pointed out, there are similarities between marriage and audio equipment in that things can definitely change over time -- what’s attractive at the beginning doesn’t necessary stay that way over the long term, and sometimes you find things out a little ways in that weren't apparent at the start. Frankly, I don’t feel my friend will be married all that much longer.
On the other hand, my relationship with the Revel Salon2 speakers is going quite a bit better. I’ve had them for about two years and enjoy them as much today as I did at the beginning. That’s not to say other impressive speakers haven’t come along with certain attributes I like as much or a little more -- Vivid Audio’s B1 is a good example -- but, overall, the Salon2s certainly haven’t been surpassed.
I would say that the overriding factor that makes them so pleasurable over the long term is that they’re extremely neutral sounding, which helps to make them sound so natural, something you picked up on. It’s a full-range transducer where no part of the frequency band sounds forward or recessed. In other words, nothing calls undue attention to itself. What you hear is the music with next-to-no colorations. This is in contrast to some speakers that pump up the bass, mids or highs to impress listeners with a sound that jumps out at you in some way. But it’s those exaggerations that often get tiresome and fatiguing over the long term, not unlike the mood swings my friend is trying to cope with right now.
As for what the future holds, I can tell you that insofar as my speaker hunting is going, nothing I have in for review now surpasses the Salon2s, so I suspect they’ll stay my reference for a while longer. The Vivid B1s I mentioned have already gone back to the distributor. However, Vivid did mention sending me their Giya G2 model and I’m looking forward to hearing how those compare to the Salon 2s. . . . Doug Schneider