The revitalized Revolver brand has made quite a splash since its reemergence. Their range of highly regarded budget loudspeakers have recently been joined by an elegant turntable, echoing the company’s original name and roots. But standing astride these worthy and definitely high-value offerings we find the Cygnis loudspeaker, an ambitious three-way floorstander with a price-tag of £8000. That’s quite a leap in anybody’s language – especially when your point of departure is built on low-cost two-ways.
We first covered the Cygnis back in Issue 54 where it’s fair to say that they met with a mixed reception. Time and further experience have allowed us to gain a better understanding of both the speaker and its specific demands when it comes to set-up, mainly centering on the low-frequencies and their integration with the rest of the range. Indeed, looking at the Cygnis it’s hard to ignore the uncomfortably large area of front baffle between the midrange driver in it’s curved housing and the low-slung 10” bass unit. What quickly becomes apparent is that it’s all too easy to mimic that separation in the sonic performance if you don’t get things just right.
My first mistake was to employ a set of the generally reliable Symposium Rollerblocks in place of the speaker’s own substantial spikes complete with large, conical bosses. Motivated by fears for my wooden floor, this dropped the speaker a minimum of 25mm nearer to the floor, and in this instance, that’s critical. You see, Revolver have chosen 2pi loading for the bass driver, meaning that it receives reinforcement from both the baffle and the floor boundary. Alter the relationship to the floor and you start to interfere with the bass weighting and voicing and in this case the results can be ruinous. What’s more, interfere with the bass and you affect the entire range, but particularly the treble timing. Partly to offset sensitivity to placement relative to the back wall, designer Mike Jewitt has sensibly chosen a distributed port for the bass enclosure, exiting through the gap between the cabinet and base. Even so, the Cygnis will deliver disproportionate rewards for care spent on positioning. Fortunately it’s a onetime chore and once it’s right, it’s right, the speaker finally delivering the sort of performance it’s fair to expect at this elevate price level.
The rest of the speaker shows similarly innovative thinking and attention to detail. The one-piece head unit is a composite molding sandwiching a structural foam core, delivering low-mass and excellent self-damping. The resultant 15 litre enclosure exhibits very low stored energy and thus low levels of mechanical and intermodulation distortion, while the asymmetrical shape helps kill internal standing waves. It’s also physically isolated from the main cabinet on shallow spacers. The results are heard in the speed, transparency and clarity of the speaker’s mid-band.
The drivers are all in-house designs featuring double magnet assemblies. The 26mm aluminium dome might seem somewhat dated but it has been carefully executed with considerable care paid to the damping of rear reflections. The midrange is delivered by a 130mm woven fibre-glass cone built onto a substantial cast chassis. Bass is delivered by a 254mm paper coned driver housed in its own 50 litre enclosure, the cabinet built from 25mm MDF throughout and heavily braced. The three-way crossover is constructed from quality components and wired up with decent cable. It also enjoys its own isolated enclosure to minimize mechanical interference, while the bi-wire terminals arrive bridged with excellent Chord Co. links.
The end result is a system offering a bandwidth of 45Hz – 22kHz ±3db, with –6dB points at 30Hz and 30kHz, a sensitivity of 91dB and a nominal 8 Ohm load. In fact, the minimum impedance is 4.3 Ohms, but the characteristic is non-reactive, making the speaker easier to drive than that number suggests. I got excellent results with both the Almarro and VAS valve mono-blocs, the latter boasting a mere 40 Watts, and once carefully positioned the Cygnis seems remarkably accommodating of partnering products – which isn’t to say that it’s without preferences. I’ll leave the appearance to personal opinion (avoiding any of the cruelly obvious “swing-bin” jokes) but the grilles have really got to go, at least as far as listening goes. Replacing them for protective purposes is hardly a chore, but I simply dispensed with them altogether. The Cygnis needed minimal toe-in to achieve image focus and leveling them was considerably eased by the accessibility of the spikes.
Despite running them with a range of excellent solid-state amps, there’s no escaping the fact that these speakers really come to life with a good thermionic design doing the driving. Their virtues of clarity and unencumbered separation can leave music sounding a little exposed and harmonically threadbare if the amplifier has any leanings in that direction. The fruity weight and warmth of a really good, traditional push-pull valve amp delivers just the mix of energetic shove in the hind-quarters and flesh on the bones that really brings the music to life. The VAS Citation Sound mono-blocs did a sterling job, but there was no ignoring the extra sheer urge, energy and enthusiasm that simply leapt forth once the Almarro’s 100 or so watts was hooked up to the speaker terminals.