Speaking with Kevin Voecks revealed that much of the initial research for the new range of loudspeakers revolved around the continued development of new and more sensitive test procedures, necessary in order for the team to measure and evaluate the reduced levels of distortion that they were hoping to achieve. To suggest that the Mark 2 Salon is a revision or makeover of the original would be misleading, and ultimately wrong, as despite some similarities in the appearance of the drivers, it is essentially a completely new design from the ground up. The result of four years of intensive research by the Revel team, backed by the full weight of Harman’s extensive facilities, little or no restriction was placed on the development process. As a result, the second generation Salon uses completely new drive units that have a number of interesting features. A dual Neodymium magnet assembly concentrates a more uniform field into the gap while presenting less surface area to interfere with linear movement. Improvements to the spider, surround composition and shape have resulted in a considerable reduction in distortion over a wider bandwidth, alongside improved thermal characteristics that reduce dynamic compression. While the large, edge wound voice coils and Titanium cones have been retained, the radical new tweeter has seen a change to Beryllium for the diaphragm material, resulting in greater efficiency and dramatically increased extension. This goes part of the way towards explaining the absence of the small, rear-firing HF unit that was a consistent factor in many of Kevin’s earlier designs, including the first generation Salon, where it seemed to add extra space and sparkle at the top end. As he put it, “we found that we just didn’t need it anymore.” The simple enough looking front plate is in fact a waveguide that serves to shape the tweeters dispersion at the crossover point, allowing better integration with the mid unit. It also increases sensitivity (and thus power handling) by more efficiently coupling the diaphragm with the surrounding air, along the same lines as horn loading. The port loading arrangement has also seen considerable revision, and is now hyperbolic in shape giving better efficiency with lower distortion and compression.
The Salon is a large and demanding widebandwidth speaker, with genuinely high-end performance. That makes it extremely demanding of partnering equipment, as the accompanying list demonstrates. Don’t be fooled by their comparative affordability (at least compared to the competition); this is one speaker with which you can’t cut corners.