Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers Review

Revel, part of Harman International, has recently updated their entry level Concerta speaker line.

I have owned the Concerta1 Left/Center/Right and surround speakers for the past eight years. Revel doesn’t change their designs often and when they do, it means something. Change is often good, but is it necessary?

Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speaker, Front View

Highlights

Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers
  • Derived from Revel’s award-winning Performa3 Series Loudspeakers
  • 6.5" anodized aluminum cone woofers
  • 1" aluminum dome tweeter
  • Fourth-generation acoustic lens waveguides
  • Computer-optimized driver positioning and network integration
  • Constant Pressure Gradient Port design
  • No visible fasteners on the front, top, or side speaker panels
  • Magnetic grilles with brushed metallic logos of the Revel Concerta2

Introduction

With an all new elegant design featuring curved edges and a high gloss finish, the Concerta2 series speakers from Revel draws from years of research to improve upon the award-winning Concerta1 speaker line. Using optimized transducers, an improved wave guide, new crossover networks, and a new port design, the F36s provide the famous Revel sound at an amazing price point that bests the competition in construction, design, and sound quality.

REVEL TOWER SPEAKERS REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
2 1/2-WAY:
Triple 6.5" floor-standing loudspeaker
SENSITIVITY:
91dB (2.83V@1m)
CROSSOVER FREQUENCIES:
600Hz, 1.8kHz
DIMENSIONS:
44.25" x 9.65" x 12.2" (112cm x 25cm x 31cm)
ENCLOSURE TYPE:
Bass-reflex via rear-firing port
WEIGHT:
50lbs
HIGH-FREQUENCY DRIVE COMPONENTS:
1" aluminum tweeter with acoustic lens waveguide
MSRP REVEL CONCERTA2 F36 TOWERS:
$2000/pair
NOMINAL IMPEDANCE:
6 Ohms
COMPANY:
Revel
INPUT CONNECTIONS:
Five-way binding posts
SECRETS TAGS:
Revel, Concerta2, F36, Tower Speaker, Speaker Review 2017
LOW FREQUENCY EXTENSION:
-3dB@51Hz, -6dB@45Hz, -10dB@33Hz

LOW FREQUENCY DRIVE COMPONENTS:
3 x 6.5" aluminum cone woofer


Design

Back in 2009, my first speaker review was of the original Concerta F12. I liked them so much, I bought the samples and never looked back. I have reviewed quite a few speaker lines since, but never found any that compelled me to swap. Most of the time it was because I liked Revel’s uncolored sound, and sometimes it was the price tag of a competing speaker. Revel is not known for changing its speakers every year, so coming out with the Concerta2 line was significant. If they didn’t think they could improve upon the F12 and keep the cost in a competitive $2000/pair price range, they wouldn’t have made the F36.

The obvious design changes are the choice of colors; gloss white or gloss black. My F12s sported a faux wood veneer made of vinyl which is not an option for the F36. I was skeptical of the gloss white finish as it seemed to fly in the face of convention in a home theater setting where all of the audio gear is usually black. However, it did not take long for me to fall in love with it. Perhaps it is the idea of “white is the new black”, but I think the speakers look stunning in my room. They really draw the eye. Plus, they match my Xbox1S and Apple Airport Extreme. Next to my F12s, the F36s stand about one inch taller and the curved sides make the front baffle look less wide.

Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers, Grill Logo Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers, F12 Comparison

Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers

The F36 grilles are magnetic, so there are no holes or fasteners on the outside of the glossy front baffle surface. The cabinets are made of one-inch MDF that has been curved using a kerfing process.

The Concerta2 cabinets were solid, seamless, and the painted surfaces are without blemish. Inside there is extensive bracing to help reduce cabinet resonance that can cause sound coloration. In the back you will find a single set of five-way binding posts and a port that uses Constant Pressure Gradient (CPG) technology which causes the pressure change from inlet to outlet to remain fairly constant. CPG helps reduce turbulence which causes annoying port chuffing and burping.

Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers, Kerfing Process Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers, CPG Port

Output capacity is thus increased while distortion is decreased. An interesting side note; the F36s are a bit lighter in weight than my old F12s.

The Concerta2 F36 drivers have undergone a total re-design as well. The aluminum dome tweeter has been upgraded with a mechanical resonance well below the audible band which helps increase its linearity. The large cavity behind the tweeter helps insure that the resonance frequency can be dropped to around 800Hz (as opposed to a more typical 1.5kHz found in other speakers in this class). This then allows the crossover frequency for the tweeter and midrange to be set a whole octave lower which improves directivity and reduces distortion. The fourth-generation waveguide helps blend the tweeter and the midrange in the crossover region. Notice the subtle changes to it compared to the F12. The woofer-midrange (directly beneath the tweeter) can reproduce the same low frequencies as the other two dedicated woofers but its crossover allows a seamless blend between the upper mid-range and the tweeter, and between the lower range and woofers. This allows for a greater total surface area which increases the overall sensitivity and bass response of the F36s.

Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers - Tweeter Comparison

With a rated sensitivity of 91dB, you can select almost any amplifier or mid-priced receiver to drive them to loud volumes. The drivers are made from micro-ceramic composite (MCC) which is a thin layer of ceramic coating applied directly to both sides of the aluminum cone for increased rigidity and strength. Unlike my F12 woofers that also sported MCC, the F36s are black rather than the silver color of the F12s. I found the F36s visually more appealing to look at with the grilles off than I did with the F12s. With the magnetic grilles, you also get the smooth front baffles without holes. Even my wife noticed how sleek the F36s looked with the grilles off. To remove smudges and finger prints, a microfiber cloth can be used. For added protection, Revel recommends using an automotive paste wax; just don’t get any wax on the rubber surrounds on the drivers. Was the glossy white an issue in my darkened home theater? That was the most pressing concern, but it ended up being a non-issue. Even when they are bookended against my 55” UHDTV, any reflected light from the speakers was unobtrusive due to the curved sides.

Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers - Grill On/Grill Off

My F12s actually had a more-reflective side surface area than the F36s. As these speakers do double-duty for critical audio and movie-watching, it is good to know that the piano gloss finish is not a distraction. Now, before I get into the actual sound quality portion of my review, I’d like to remind you that Revel compares their speakers to the competition in the world’s only position-independent double blind listening lab. They also measure their speakers in an anechoic chamber. Few companies test their speakers as thoroughly and if you have a chance to hear them in person, you’ll notice the design effort that goes into their products. The overall sound quality is why I kept the F12s around for so long, even though I have listened to many other makes and models over the years. If you do it right the first time, you won’t have to put out a new model every other year.

Set Up

My review of the F36s was done using the following equipment: speaker cables – Zu Audio Julians, amplifiers – Emotiva Audio UPA-1 200 watt monoblocks, processor – Emotiva UMC-200, interconnects – Kimber Kable PBJ, and most of my audio was routed via an Oppo BDP-103. I sit about nine feet away from the F36s and they are placed seven-and-a-half feet apart and 15” away from the front wall. Though I listened both with and without the subwoofers engaged, my comments are on the F36s working without bass augmentation. I also listened to plenty of surround movies and music and I’ll comment on how well they performed with my Concerta1 center and surrounds (C12 & S12).

In Use

Beethoven’s Ninth

Beethoven “Ninth”

First up, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. This SACD recording won me over with its lucidity and tremendous sense of space. Beethoven’s musical style is both lyrical and muscular and when played at moderate levels, can stress a speaker with its huge dynamic range swings. I was listening most particularly here for imaging.

Overall, the F36s imaging was very impressive… wider and deeper than my F12s. In the fourth movement, when the full choir joins in, the soundstage expanded even more, leaving the orchestra more centered between the speakers and the choir extending beyond the right/left boundaries of my room. Voices were natural, with all four sections sounding distinctly separated from the three soloists and the orchestra. Bass was tight (especially the tympani thwacks) and punchy, the horns were brassy and clear, and even the triangle did not get crushed by the louder passages. My overall impression thus far was that the speakers did not over-emphasize any particular frequency, but blended seamlessly from treble to bass. Perhaps the curved sides and narrower front baffle helped expand the soundstage. They definitely sounded more open and spacious than the F12s.

Britten

Britten “A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra”

Next up Britten’s A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. This recording from Professor Keith Johnson is one of my favorites, not only because he recorded it in pristine DSD, but also in surround sound. The piece was written to introduce kids to all of the instruments that make up a modern day orchestra.

Using a theme by Henry Purcell (The Moor’s Revenge), every instrument plays a variation on the theme and then the final fugue brings the entire ensemble into full throated, exhilarating climax. Because each section plays a solo piece, you can really evaluate whether the speakers are coloring the sound or attenuating a specific frequency. This particular recording makes that job easier because it is so clear and natural sounding. If you love orchestral music, this disc is a demo quality tour de force. The music itself is just plain fun to listen to as well. The F36s sounded great and continued to impress me with their unrestrained soundstage. Never during the highly dynamic climax did I feel the Concerta2s were pinched or straining. These speakers love dynamics!

Hiromi

Now, as Monty Python would say, “…for something completely different”, we have Spiral by a Japanese jazz pianist named Hiromi Uehara. This Telarc disc is recorded very up close and personal with the ensemble and piano placed very close to the microphones. Hiromi is a veritable force of nature and can play the piano in a frenetic and fearsome manner. The Telarc label is famous for its uncompressed and dynamically explosive recordings (many bear warning labels about speaker damage if the volume isn’t in check first).

The last track, Return of the Kung Fu World Champion has an incredible amount of energy both in transients and bass impact. When the drummer kicks in, it literally makes me flinch when he slams the skins. The synthesizer swirls around you with sizzling treble and then the sub bass smashes into you. It’s a sonic roller coaster ride, but the Concerta2 F36s captured the true dynamics of the performance. When this track finished, my son asked me to play it again; this time with him in the sweet spot. Kids… Ha!

Jongen

Jongen “Saint-Saens”

I also pulled out the requisite pipe organ disc to challenge the speakers bass output. I was more than happy with the results. The bass was clean and tight, but it also sounded natural and not tubby or honky. I never heard any obscene noises from the CPG port in the back so I concluded it was functioning as designed.

Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers, Binding Posts Revel Concerta2 F36 Tower Speakers

I finished up with a bit of jazz (Miles Davis) and rock-n-roll (Beatles, Roxy Music, Jethro Tull, Moody Blues, et al) and I can say that there is no single genre that does not sound good on these speakers. There are equally at home with simple acoustic guitar as they are with The Flaming Lips. But then, a well-designed speaker SHOULD sound good with everything. When someone says a certain speaker isn’t a good Rock speaker, they usually mean that they are not dynamic or perhaps are too bass-shy. That is certainly not the case with the F36s. They are full range and do not necessarily need subwoofer augmentation. If a speaker can’t get the bass right, the whole thing fails sonically. If you are looking for a “do it all” speaker for a nice simple stereo setup, the Concerta2 F36s should met your requirements.

Yes and Roxy Music

Conclusions

THE REVEL CONCERTA2 F36 TOWER SPEAKERS deliver high-end build quality, engineering, and terrific sound all at a reasonable price.

LIKES
  • Well integrated tweeter and mid drivers
  • Sweet treble, buttery mid-range and tight bass
  • Flawless gloss finish
  • Looks good with or without magnetic grilles
  • Sounds great with music or movies
  • Considering their design update, they are a great value
WOULD LIKE TO SEE
  • More color options

There are a lot of speakers out there in the $2000/pair range, but only a slim handful go through a thorough re-design with rigorous testing that lead to marked sound improvement like the Revel Concerta2 F36 towers. These speakers worked well with my older Concerta1s, but what surprised me most was how well the F36s imaged when compared directly with the F12s. The bass was also noticeably tighter and better behaved. The sleek curved cabinetry and black driver-surrounds made them visually attractive, too. If the gloss white doesn’t work for you, I am sure the more generic black might. I wasn’t sure about the white finish either at first, but I really love it now. I don’t upgrade frivolously, but I am keeping these because they improve on the F12s sonically and are well within my price range. If you are looking for a speaker that delivers the goods sonically, be sure to audition these. They don’t disappoint.

Source: Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity