The F328Be is the top dog in Revel’s Performa Be audiophile floorstanding speaker line, and a number of well-respected people within Revel would say it is the best speaker the company currently makes. Revel took advantage of parent company Harman’s science-based engineering approach when designing this large, three-way, floorstanding speaker—both for the components and for their integration.
What Makes the Revel F328Be Loudspeaker Special?
- As the “Be” in the name implies, the F328Be utilizes beryllium for the dome of its 1-inch tweeter. While beryllium has some impressive qualities—such as stiffness, light weight, and good damping characteristics—the material selection itself does not make an exceptional tweeter. The dome is just one part of the tweeter, which itself is just one part the speaker. In this case, the dome is controlled by a completely new motor system that features dual 85-millimeter ceramic magnets. Ceramic is also used to coat the sixth-generation Acoustic Lens waveguide that guides the sound waves coming from the tweeter. This guidance helps improve the continuity of sound and the blending between the tweeter and midrange. There’s more technical information available on the Revel website if you would like to learn more.
- The first and last digits in the speaker’s name indicate that there are three 8-inch woofers. At first glance, these appear to be the same ones used in Revel’s F228Be, but they aren’t. The new motor assembly provides better control and linearity throughout both directions of the driver’s movement. There is also a 5¼-inch midrange driver, which is carried over from other speakers in the series.
- The five drivers are positioned in a vertical line from high to low, making for a 51.9-inch-tall speaker with the tweeter above ear height for the seated listener. The speaker is relatively slim at 13.5 inches wide, but it’s 17.6 inches deep, and the dual, rear-firing ports will require some additional space behind the speaker, too.
- Revel lists the F328Be’s frequency response as 35 Hz to 40,000kHz (+/- 3 dB) and with the 6-dB down point at 26 Hz. Efficiency is 91 dB at 1 watt-meter, and the nominal impedance is 8 ohms.
- When viewed from the top, the cabinet looks like the bow of a boat, with the narrow portion in the back and gently curved sides that lead a flat, front baffle. The heavily braced, wood cabinet is available in four high-gloss finishes: Walnut, Metallic Silver, Black, or White.A magnetically attached black grille covers the black-trimmed, white drivers. A gently curved top panel finished in metallic black with electroform badging adds a stylish touch to the otherwise understated cabinet.
Why Should You Care About the Revel F328Be Audiophile Speakers?
The Revel F328Be, and the entire Performa Be lineup, is worthy of note if you care about owning a well-engineered, well-balanced speaker that measures fantastically and has a sound to match. The Revel F328Be uses components that are high end but not super exotic. The engineering behind this speaker does not introduce any cutting-edge designs but is backed by decades of research. The Revel F328Be is one of those speakers that is understated but extremely competent and can serve you well for many years to come.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Revel F328Be Speakers
- The industrial design may be a bit too understated for some people. I know it comes down to personal taste, but I feel these Revel speakers do not differentiate themselves enough visually from the regular Performa (non-Be) line or, for that matter, just about every other black floorstanding speaker on the market. Sonically, they are way ahead, but visually the Performa Be line is plain-Jane compared with some of the interesting designs and exotic finishes found at (or around) this price.
- Unless you do your listening in abnormally tall seats, the driver layout will place the tweeter significantly higher than your ears. At most listening distances and seating heights, you should be well within the optimal listening window, but when reclining I found that I was moving outside that window. The fix was simple and free: I adjusted the speakers to add a slightly forward tilt.
- Some of the small design details—like the speaker binding posts and floor spikes—are just OK, but the price of these speakers implies something better than OK.
Listening to the Revel F328Be Audiophile Loudspeakers
The Revel F328Be speakers came packed in flight cases to provide extra protection for the cartons inside, and to make them easier to move. Since the listening room I used for these speakers was upstairs, I enlisted the help of a friend to help move, unbox, and set up the speakers. After experimenting with positioning to find the perfect spot, I laid the speakers on their side to install the factory spikes. The simple spikes were a bit rough as I alluded to earlier, but they did allow me to add a slightly forward tilt to aim the tweeters at my ears. I also experimented with using Gaia II isolation feet, which made some difference but also raised the already high tweeter.
Freya Riding’s ethereal voice in “Lost Without You” (Tidal) sounded hauntingly detailed as it hung solidly in between and slightly in front of the Revels (buy at Amazon). The piano was naturally reproduced, with just the right amount of sparkle on the higher-frequency notes. While much of this song is on the mellow side, the Revels did a great job capturing the dynamics as the track progressed.
A more dynamic female-vocals track is “Rise” by Dominique Fils-Aimé (Qobuz). In this track, Dominique’s powerful voice is layered over the background vocals and instruments. The drums are clearly staged behind the vocals, yet the Revel speakers cleanly reproduced them with detail and speed—and without any bloat. If you haven’t heard this track, click the video below or, better yet, stream it through your system. This is a good demo track for your list.
I listened to the live version of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” from the Hell Freezes Over album (Qobuz) (buy at Amazon). The opening notes of the acoustic guitar sounded natural and full while remaining detailed. The drums kicked in with sonic weight, resulting in a dynamically powerful foundation to the reinvented version of a truly classic rock anthem. Don Henley’s voice sounded realistic, with loads of detail and inflection, and it remained anchored at the front of the soundstage while the guitars flanked it from behind. I played this track a few times at different volumes (from low background-level music to much louder than normal), and the reproduction remained stable, without harshness or compression at higher volume or loss of detail at lower volume—although admittedly the drums were not as tactile at a low volume.
Do the Revel F328Be Loudspeakers Have Any Resale Value?
Yes, they absolutely do. Speakers don’t become outdated as fast as other AV components do. The Revel F328Be is a flagship speaker that will lose some value when it is supplanted by a new flagship model, but that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. The lifespan for Revel speakers tends to be on the longer side, with new models being released to address a certain need or development rather than simply because it is a new model year.
Who Is the Competition for the Revel F328Be Speakers?
There are a handful of larger, floorstanding speakers that compete with the Revel F328Be. A newer speaker that I have not yet been able to audition myself is the Perlisten S7t, which is comparably priced at $17,990 per pair. Like the Revel, it reportedly measures very well. Anecdotal musings warn that it may be a bit harder to drive, so be sure to have a stout amplifier in your audiophile rig.
Another new speaker that I have not yet been able to audition is the Bowers & Wilkins 804 D4 speakers (reviewed), which is slightly less expensive at $14,000 per pair. The Bowers & Wilkins speaker is slightly smaller and may be a bit more restricted on the low end, but based upon my experience with the new 700 Series speaker, I anticipate that this will be an excellent performer.
I did get a chance to audition the Magico A3, which is slightly less expensive at $12,300 per pair. These Magico speakers are over the top in build quality, fit, and finish. Their Matrix-like interior support system, coupled with thick aluminum walls, makes for an incredibly inert cabinet. I found that the A3 speaker imaged even more precisely than the Revels, and they had a more laidback midrange presentation.
Another speaker that I have spent a significant amount of time with is the RBH SVTR. This is a very large, full-range, floorstanding speaker available in a passive configuration for $17,890 per pair or in an active configuration for even more money. This three-way system cannot disappear as easily as the smaller Revel system, but it has bass extension and dynamics like no other speaker pair I’ve had in my system.
Lastly, I must mention the Focal Sopra No. 2 Floorstanding speakers and No.3, priced at $20,999 per pair. The industrial design, fit, and finish on these speakers is just amazing. My listening sessions with these speakers were too short and in poor conditions, but I recall them as being very detailed and perhaps slightly forward in the upper ranges—but with a great midrange. You may notice that many of our reviewers own Focals as their reference speakers.
Final Thoughts on the Revel F328Be Loudspeakers
The Revel F328Be is an excellently engineered speaker. When reproducing music, these speakers disappear into a large, three-dimensional soundstage. The treble is very detailed, but I did not find it to be overly forward. This makes longer listening sessions enjoyable but may also explain why the imaging isn’t razor-sharp. I’d rather give up a touch of space or precision in imaging in order to get the balanced, coherent sonic presentation that the F328Be renders, to deliver hours of listening enjoyment. Despite the use of three 8-inch woofers, the F328Be’s bass is balanced—it’s not a bass monster that will have your neighbors wondering if there was an earthquake. Your subwoofers can accomplish that feat, if you are so inclined.
The Revel F328Be provides a well-balanced, coherent sonic profile that lets the listener experience what is on the recording while staying out of the way. What more can you (or should you) ask for a speaker at this reference level?
Here is a video about new Revels from our reviews at Audioholics