Revel Salon 2 / Ayre Question

default -- Sat, 03/28/2009 - 01:15

For the last two days I've been auditioning the Revel Salon 2's with the top of the line Ayre gear: KX-R, MX-R monoblocks, C-5xe player.

Although this is a very impressive setup, sounding stunning at times, it was failing to engage me into the music. It was as if the system was trying too hard, for lack of a better description.

The midrange liquidity that I have heard from much less expensive systems (like ARC) was just not there. It sounded a bit forward and forced, too eager..?

These auditions have left me wondering if perhaps Mark Levinson gear would be a better match for the Salons.

Has anyone else ran into this with the Salons/Studios?

What gear are Salon 2/Sudio 2 owners partnering their speakers with? Am I better off using a hybrid preamp to aliviate some of the issues I'm mentioning above?

I'm extremely curious on the feedback from Revel owners

bluesdude (not verified) -- Wed, 04/01/2009 - 09:50

Wow,  I was one day away from ordering the Ayres to go with my Salon 2s.  I would really like to see what others are saying about this topic.  Thanks for the heads up.

Robert Harley -- Wed, 04/01/2009 - 11:53

I drove the Salon2 primarily with a Mark Levinson No.432, a 200Wpc three-channel amplifier that sells for $8000. I thought this was a good match musically, although the Salon2 could use more power if you listen at high levels in a large room. The Salon2 is current-hungry, suggesting that you drive it with an amplifier that can substantially increase its power into low-impedance loads.
I didn't hear any of the problems you describe, particularly in the midrange. In fact, the Salon2's midrange is absolutely glorious, with extremely low coloration, a tremendous sense of presence without being forward, and an almost spooky reproduction of timbre. The Salon2 is quite revealing of the characteristics of upstream components.
I have not hear the Ayre electronics and can't comment on them.
The rest of my system at the time was a Mark Levinson No.326s preamp and the Esoteric D-03/P-03/Rb-01 digital front end.

bluesdude (not verified) -- Wed, 04/01/2009 - 12:10

Thanks Robert.
I currently have a ML 335 amp, and it sounds quite good, but I was looking to up-grade.  I thought the Ayres might be a good match, but perhaps not.
I could up-grade to a more powerful ML amp, although there are some who think the quality of ML amps have deteriorated recently.  Any thoughts on this?   How about the ML no53?  Do you still have the Salons?
BTW, I was also thinking about up-grading to the Esoteric D-03/P-03.  How do you like it?

bluesdude (not verified) -- Wed, 04/01/2009 - 12:23

Thanks Robert.  I curently have an old ML 335 amp, which I was looking to up-grade.  I could stay with ML equipment,  but I have heard that their reliability and service have decreased recently.  Any thoughts on ML in general?  Perhaps the ML no 53 would be a good choice, although I haven't seen any detailed reviews of their performance.
Interestingly, I was also thinking about buying the Esoteric D-03/P-03.  Best,

Tom_08fg (not verified) -- Fri, 11/27/2009 - 15:47

I haven't used my Revel Salon 2s with any of the Ayre gear.

If the results are as good as you say, I may have to invest.

Tom - Author and Salon Software guru

Max -- Sat, 09/04/2010 - 06:53

I've recently been at a store in Toronto that has a pair of Studio 2's hooked up to a Mark Levinson Amp and pre and I'll have to agree with you Robert. The combo sounds fantastic but it does lack a little feel. I mentioned this to the salesperson I was dealing with and he told me to hang on for a few minutes. He brought in a McIntosh amp and pre to hook up to the Revel's. I thought to myself, this is not going to sound good since I've never really been a fan of the McIntosh gear and have always felt the product lacked a little luster and soundstage. As soon he turned on the system for me with the McIntosh gear hooked up my jaw dropped. It may not have been as articulate as the ML but boy did it implement feel. It got my toes tapping, something that the ML did not do for me. It was a lesson learned for me, from now own I will make a conscious effort not to judge products based on past experience. Evidently they all have a place.

I must admit the store I visited in Toronto was never known for hi end audio until recently and although there were quite a few salesmen around there was only one person that new his stuff. Not only was he friendly but he's been the most knowledgable person I've ever spoken to in all my years of being an audio hobbyist.

Robert Harley -- Thu, 04/02/2009 - 10:16

The Mark Levinson brand had a setback when it moved the factory and consolidated its operations. Quality and reliability were problems. Since then, however, I've had experience with two products and can report that the build quality, reliability, and sound are fully up to the levels established by the brand before the consolidation.
The No.326s and No.432 were both outstanding products. The new ML amplifier (the linear amplifier, not the new switching unit) was designed by the same guy who created the No.432, but with the goal of improving on the sound and making it two channels rather than three. I'm interested in hearing that amplifier myself.
You can read my review of the Esoteric here:

bluesdude (not verified) -- Thu, 06/11/2009 - 15:12

I've had the ML 53 amps and ML 326s to run my Salons 2s for several months.  I cannot believe how much better they sound than the 300 series amps.  Robert, you really need to listen to the 53s.  They are truly amazing.

Music555 (not verified) -- Sat, 12/26/2009 - 10:58

I agree that old ML products have beetre build quality, reliability and even sound quality.
I compared old and new version of CD NO390S. There is a noticable diffrence.
I am afraid new Levinson stuff I have heard sucks...

Music555 (not verified) -- Sat, 12/26/2009 - 11:01

Sorry I meant that I agree that new production Harman ML products are better.
But the new models are not very good sounding.

DaveH (not verified) -- Thu, 06/11/2009 - 18:48

I have had the Salon2's for over a year now and I use a pair of ML 436 monoblocks to drive them. Yes, the Salon2's are very power hungry, but if you feed them well, they play very nice! I not sure if Robert is talking about the 433, which is the 3 channel amplifier, or the 432, which is the two channel version. It seems in the Harmon empire, that all their equipment works well together, as the engineering participation is sure to work with the other division's products. I use my system for both 2 channel and home theater, so I use the ML 433 to drive the Voice2, and a pair of Gem2's.
As far as the service and support of ML is in question, I had one of my 436's shipped to me and it was dead out of the box. I contacted ML for a return authorization, and gave them the serial number of the dead amp, and he asked if I had another 436 for stereo use. I said yes, and gave him the serial number for that one. He said some minor mods were made, and he made arrangements for both amps to be picked up and replaced with two new ones. They do stand behind their product as within 2 weeks I have them at my doorstep.
One thing in listening to the Salon2's, they do need long hours for a good break-in, as their character certainly changes for the better with time.

Robert Harley -- Fri, 06/12/2009 - 22:50

I've heard good things about the ML53. The amplifier certainly looked interesting when I saw it at CES.

Arthur (not verified) -- Wed, 06/17/2009 - 15:46

I am using an Audio Research Ref 210 with my Salon 2.  It sounds great.  I agree that the Ayre front end was somewhat lackluster.  I was wondereing what Mr. Harley thinks of use Spectral components with the Salon 2.

Robert Harley -- Thu, 06/18/2009 - 16:05

I didn't have the Spectral system and the Salon2 at the same time (they missed each other by about a month). But judging from my experience with the Spectral driving the Magico V3, I suspect that the Spectral would be a good match for the Salon2. The DMA-360 has the ability to deliver lots of current, which is just what the Salon2 needs. Moreover, the sonic qualities of the Spectral and Salon2 are highly aligned; quick, transparent, uncolored, neutral, and extremely clean (meaning freedom from grain).

werner apel (not verified) -- Mon, 06/22/2009 - 18:37

What about Parasound JC1's driving the SAlon 2's?

Robert Harley -- Tue, 06/23/2009 - 15:31

I have not heard the JC-1, but it appears to have enough power and current delivery to adequately drive the Salon2. Whether it's a good musical match is another question that can only be answered by putting them together and listening.

werner apel (not verified) -- Tue, 06/23/2009 - 18:27

Thats what I plan to do.
Remember the Infinity Composition Prelude PFR's(not MTS) that came out in the mid to late 90's? I bought them after your recommendation and a listen, sold them off 3 years ago. Fooled around with Martin Logan Summmits...but needed more dynamics for home theater and now building a dual purpose stereo/ home theater system based on the new Revel 2 speakers.
I enjoy your opinions and writing, keep up the great work!

Robert Harley -- Wed, 06/24/2009 - 11:09

I bought the Infinity Prelude review samples and used them for many years.
The Revel Salon2 is, as you know, in another league. It's a great speaker and a tremendous bargain. The JC-1 is also a huge amount of performance for the price. It should make a good combination.
Thanks for your comments about my writing.

Roy Pan -- Sat, 11/28/2009 - 01:03

Do not know about the Salon, but Ayre gear always left me cold and uninvolved.

Soren (not verified) -- Sat, 11/28/2009 - 02:46

I use the Revel Studio 2's with a Yamaha MX-D1 power amp (fed by a Yamaha YPC-1 passive preamp). It may sound like a completely wrong match but it actually works very well. The MX-D1 is a switching amp giving 500W per channel and easily drives the Revels. It was very highly regarded in Germany and Stereophile (class B), but equally disliked in the UK. It sold for about usd5k, but can be bought for about usd1k now. I have had ML, Proceed gear but gave up when they stopped supporting Proceed (although I have just bought a No28 preamp to use as second phono stage). I sold a Linn Klimax combo when i got the Yamaha as the latter worked much better with the Revels. I guess good matching and actually trying it for yourself is the key to success. My two bits! 

TOGA -- Sun, 11/29/2009 - 11:02

I drive Salon2 with ML 436, Feeling they dont have enough power to push Revels. Despite 350wpc/8ohm
Heard Salon2 with No532 400wpc, still the same. very smooth, but I felt it underpowered.
I heard Salon2 work best with 500Wpc/8ohm power amp, like Moon W7M, ML53, Musical Fidelity KW.
       Thinking about new power amp to replace weak 436 , or should I just keep 436 and find easier to drive speakers.

Robert Harley -- Tue, 12/01/2009 - 21:05

I had the odd sensation when I had the Revel Salon2s that they soaked up amplifier power. You might consider something like the Bryston 28B monoblock that HP recently wrote about (Issue 190). It produces 1000Wpc at $16k for the pair. HP was mightily impressed by the sound quality. I've heard from others whose ears I also trust that the 28B is a spectacular-sounding amplifier. 
I have no doubt that the 28B would be enough power for the Salon2.  

TOGA -- Thu, 12/03/2009 - 11:33

        I am interested in 28B too, I just dont like its pre amp much. and I am not sure that my ML326s will work
well with 28B very low input impedance too. If they just make a better pre amp to match. I 've got Moon P8+W7M
right now. It provide the punch and dynamic that I was dream to have. But the overall sound is thinner than what I
use to hear from ML326s+436. I still have 326s as spare, may be in the far future, I might find No53 to pair with it.
      Or should I just find easier to drive speakers, like MAXX3 may be. 

Robert Harley -- Fri, 12/04/2009 - 11:16

I don't see any reason why the No.326s won't drive the Bryston 28B.

Music555 (not verified) -- Sat, 12/26/2009 - 10:53

I wouid try a better CD player such as the Levinson 390S
I can not beleive your pre-power are not good enough.

rick996r -- Thu, 01/14/2010 - 19:14

 Have been driving a pair of Reference 3A Grand Veena's  with the Parasound JC2 and JC1's with great pleasure.  Just got the Revel Salon2's in this week and will be replacing the GV's with them next weekend.  I'm very excited to see how they combine with the Parasound after a week of burning in.  Will issue a follow up

werner apel (not verified) -- Thu, 01/28/2010 - 18:57

nick996r...any follow up?

I've been using the Salon 2 and JC1 combo for months now in a dual purpose home theater/music system. Seems to work well for me. Home theater could not be better...Awesome Dynamics.. Music? Took a while for the Martin Logan Summits I was using to loose there grip on me. May go back to Martin Logan and try the new CLX with some Mcintosh MC2301 Tube Monos for music when I can get the cash together. But for now the Salon 2 and JC1's will serve dual purpose. Dreaming about MBL.

wpines (not verified) -- Thu, 02/04/2010 - 21:47

 Anyone with experience or thoughts on the Salon2 with McIntosh MC501's ?

rick996r -- Fri, 02/05/2010 - 10:08

 As a follow up, I've had the Salon 2's with the Parasound JC1's and JC2 burning in for over a week and they are sounding more and more liquid every day.  Since I have not owned electrostatics, but have heard them at shows, etc., for many years, I still did not know if I would get the reviewers comments of how much the Salons sound like electrostatics.  Well, in my room they just seem to disappear and the low end is better than with my 3A and a pair of JL Fathom 113's, incredible.  Now have to improve my analog and digital front end.  Have also thought about the new Mc2301 and MA2300 tube monoblocks, but that will have to wait, for now sweet sweet music. 

Robert Harley -- Sat, 02/06/2010 - 17:02

The Salon2 does sound very electrostatic-like in many ways, particularly the lack of "cone" colorations as well as a seamlessness to the sound that is the result of the superb driver integration.
As for upgrading your front ends, the Salon2 is so resolving that improvements upstream won't go to waste. Keep in mind that the Salon2 thrives on power.
In my view, the Salon2 is one of the great bargains in high-end audio. -- Sat, 11/10/2012 - 00:29

I own the Salon1s and have been thinking of upgrading...are the Salon2's a better overall speaker ? I have ML32/ML33H's- you mention the Salon2's are power hungary---will the 33H's driver them well ? (Front end 31.5 and 30.6)

adamSS -- Thu, 01/10/2013 - 17:46

I like them better than the 1's, but just an opinion. If in our area, we offer design/install. Austin Home Theater

tony101 (not verified) -- Mon, 02/22/2010 - 01:17

Just wanted to ask Mr. Harley a question.  I currently own a pair of modwright kwa 150, running in mono, driving my b&w 803's and I was going to upgrade to the Revel Salon 2 .  First if you are familiar with the kwa, will they be enough to drive the Revels, 2nd if not, is there an amp (2 in mono) that would work well with the Revels in the $6000-8000 price range.  Thanks for your help.

Cam -- Sun, 08/15/2010 - 18:03

Are the Studio 2s as power hungry as the Salon 2s?  I'm considering purchasing a pair but I've only got a Simaudio Moon Evolution i-7 integrated amplifier right now (150W/channel into 8ohms).  I might add the new Moon 400M 400 watt monoblocks to the system - would that increase in power make a substantial difference in performance with the Studio 2s?

Robert Harley -- Wed, 08/18/2010 - 13:16

That depends on how big your room is and how loudly you listen to music. For many types of music the i-7 (a great integrated amp, incidentally) will be just adeaquate. If you listen at louder volumes or like orchestral music with its wide dynamic range, the Moon 400Ms will light up the Studio2s.
I don't know if there's a sensitivity differences between the Studio2 and Salon2.

jack111 -- Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:47

great!thank you,Robert for very interesting thread!
best regards from essay topics

TOGA -- Tue, 01/11/2011 - 12:19

Since I bought Salon2 2 years ago. I've been busy changing many upstream components. This is because of high resolving capability of this speakers
which I feel I don't reach its limit yet.  Mark Levinson 436 mono didn't seem to make lots of punch out of Salon2, but with beautiful tone. Pass XA160.5
is very good despite low power rating. But I end up with Moon W7M with clean, fast and dynamic sound. Pre amp is ARC 40th Anni as I wanted add a touch
of tube sound to the system, previous preamps are all great, ML 326s, Moon P8. But end up with ARC's 40.  The biggest changed I've made ever is surprisingly from moving up from Transparent cable Ultra MM2 to Reference MM2.  Now busy with moving 3 of Anaconda CX and 3 of Transparent Powerlink MM2 around to each upstream components. Anaconda CX has smooth and warmer sound, high frequency is rolled off a lot and dynamic , speed and punch
is a different world (worse ) when compare to Transparent Powerlink MM2.  With Transparent AC cord in the system Salon is very punchy and provide much
more energy and impact. But at a cost of smoothness and with less warm tone. That's why I will have to do experiment to find out where should I use Transparent AC cord and where should I use Anaconda CX. With all Anaconda and no Transparent AC cord, system sounds very warm and relax feel with
rolled of high. But with Pure Transparent cords, It's like a turbo charger is put to the system. With roughness of very stiff sport shock absorber too. That's how Salon2 respond to each change. Also dump the supplied WBT jumpers, all jumpers I tried make big improvement in both bass and treble.

bwright -- Tue, 01/11/2011 - 15:13

Switch out the C-5xe and try an Esoteric X-03SE player.  I recently compared a wide array (Ayre, Wadia, Marantz, etc.) and liked that model best.  I attended CES 2011 and discovered EAR makes a fine one as well. Both should add warmth and weight, with no sacrifice in accuracy. 

I am frequently surprised by what a profound difference a good player can make on the entire chain of electronics. A low cost amp can generally be elevated by a great player/recording, but superb amplification can't make up for a weak source. 

I am a big fan of integrated amps as well, and have a VTL IT-85 at home.  The Simaudio line is excellent and quite effectively walks the line between solid state and tubes, and the EAR V12 I just heard at CES was astounding. 

cbetz -- Thu, 01/10/2013 - 00:36

I am at CES 2012, and definitely enjoying what is here. As far as the Salon 2's go, I think they are suited for Ayre, Wadia, Marantz, and EAR as well. It depends on taste of course, as any AP or CI will agree. I also agree on the player, i've found the same, but yes, a weak source is a thorn in ones side. The 2's are huge, I will say that. I havent stopped by the Revel booth yet, I'm sure they are here and I am looking forward to some other new gadgets, no doubt. AV Discounters. Home Theater Houston

diw -- Mon, 02/28/2011 - 22:43

I am using Salon 2s with a Theta Dreadnaught 2, with 5 of the 225 watt modules. I have a couple of questions. The Salon 2s are very tall and I am not :) Should I be tilting them forward to get a little close to the tweeter axis? Also what do people think about using a Studio 2 as a center channel speaker as opposed to the Voice2? I listen to a lot of SACDs and generally like the center to match the R/L speakers as much as possible.

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