Revel Ultima Gem monitors

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AudioDwebe

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Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« on: 28 Dec 2019, 05:51 pm »
Has anyone ever heard these speakers?

It appears they were only made for a few years in the early 2000's and were discontinued.

I've only seen one review (what high end anything only gets one review?!?) by Stereophile. 

There's one for sale locally but am reluctant to pull the trigger to try out due to fears of not being able to sell them if they're not to my liking.  I've encountered too many instances where I took a MAJOR loss when reselling items that I thought would sell for about what I paid.  Wrong.

Thanks,

Mamoru

timind

Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #1 on: 28 Dec 2019, 06:21 pm »
Never heard the Gems, but I have owned 4 different Revel models. They never disappoint. I still use Performa series M22 monitors and the F206 towers.

If local, can't you get an audition? Best way to know.

AudioDwebe

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Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #2 on: 28 Dec 2019, 06:52 pm »
The owner says his room isn't properly set up and has what he considers inferior equipment to play through.  I was hoping some folks would have heard these properly set up.

I'm guessing part of the reason for the lack of information is the cost ($8-$9k in early 2000 dollars) and the short length of time they were produced.

Common sense tells me they were discontinued due to lack of sales but I could be wrong.

Letitroll98

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Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #3 on: 28 Dec 2019, 07:14 pm »
The owner says his room isn't properly set up and has what he considers inferior equipment to play through.

Gigantic red flag here.  Excuses why you can't listen to them before purchase?  No thank you.

Wind Chaser

Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #4 on: 28 Dec 2019, 07:28 pm »
Gigantic red flag here.  Excuses why you can't listen to them before purchase?  No thank you.

+1

AudioDwebe

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Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #5 on: 28 Dec 2019, 08:30 pm »
No, no.

No excuses of me listening, just they wouldn't sound optimal in his current setup.

And knowing all speakers sound different in all rooms I was hoping someone had a chance to listen to these properly set up.

stlrman

Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #6 on: 28 Dec 2019, 08:55 pm »
Did u try asking over on Audiogon ?
How much ?

Norman Tracy

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Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #7 on: 28 Dec 2019, 09:04 pm »
What a coincidence that Mamoru asks about the Revel Gems, just this morning I was recalling nostalgically those 1st generation Revel Ultima speakers. At the time I had been hired to do project management for a local hi-fi shop that was deep into whole house automation, home theaters, and lighting control in addition to their traditional high-end hi-fi business. Our speaker lines included Revel, Focal, Meridian, Magnepan, and Paradigm.

What I was thinking about was how in the first generation Ultima speakers Harman Industries was all in to establish the Revel brand so controlling manufacturing cost, and profits, were no object. While most high-end audio speakers brands are minimally funded and attempt to pull themselves up by the bootstraps that was a rare instance of top management at a billion dollar corporation hiring one of the best designers in the industry and giving him a blank check. As was said back then Revel hit the market with “shock and awe” buying a place immediately in the first rank. Once the brand was established I watched as 2nd and later generation models were cost engineered for greater profit. In instances like that it is good to get the benefit of those deep pockets buying market share with a line of over engineered over build models.

The Ultima are in the high transparency, low distortion, high accuracy design camp vs. more romantically voiced designs. Your seller’s comment “room isn't properly set up and has what he considers inferior equipment to play through” may be an excuse hiding a problem; it also may be recognizing the Gems are extremely transparent and will reveal everything upstream in the signal chain. They were a favorite at the shop among staff because Revel’s combined transparency, refinement, and accuracy with the ability to play really loud and really hit hard in the bass. Outstanding for music + video systems.

My most memorable listening session with the Gems was playing them for a friend in the shop’s demo room that emphasized music over video. That day we had big Classe amps and preamp upstream. With that kind of horsepower driving the Gems their bass is phenomenal, not “for a stand mount monitor” phenomenal no qualifications required. The mids and highs also approach state of the art and on imaging the expert crossover design and low diffraction enclosure combine such that the speakers disappear as sound sources and the room fills with music. Encouraged by the low distortion we kept turning the system up louder, and louder, and louder. Eventually reaching those levels where the music gets ‘solid’ and one is listening not just with your ears but also as a tactile whole body experience. And at those hearing-endangering levels the Gems exhibited not a hint of distortion or breakup.

If you like accuracy, imaging, and greater than average bass slam and kick for a system that will have some watts available the Gems are a marvelous choice.

Regarding the comment “reluctant to pull the trigger to try out due to fears of not being able to sell them if they're not to my liking.  I've encountered too many instances where I took a MAJOR loss when reselling items that I thought would sell for about what I paid.” This is (often as not) an expensive hobby we play with. Our fellow players are a fickle lot prone to chasing the latest shiny toy. I have come to believe high-end audio gear is like German performance automobiles, amazing constructions of engineering and art prone to exponential depreciation.

AudioDwebe

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Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #8 on: 28 Dec 2019, 10:20 pm »
stirman, I have not.  I didn't even think about that.  2k.  Thanks for your suggestion.

Norman, thanks for all your information.  In my speaker arsenal, I have the Merlin TSM-MXE; JMR Trente, Totem Model One Sigs, Spica TC-60 and a Vandersteen 3A Sigs.

Do you think the Revels would bring something to the table that's an improvement over the other monitors, if you know, or would it just be a different flavor?  Would drive them with either a Marsh A400S (200 watt solid state) or the Audio Electronics Supply Six Pac (50 tubed watts).

Mamoru

blownrx7

Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #9 on: 29 Dec 2019, 12:17 am »
audiodwebe.,
I own the Ultima gems and everything that Norman said is pretty much spot on. The only thing I am not quite sure about is his caution about not using inferior electronics. I am using them with a Modwright KWI200 and a nothing special source and am LOVING the combo.
Of the speakers you mentioned, I have owned the Totems and they are great speakers but NOT in the same league.
His caution about the price and popularity are also to be heeded. That said, I have no worries about resale because they are keepers in my book.
hth

AudioDwebe

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Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #10 on: 29 Dec 2019, 10:14 pm »
Thanks, blownrx7.

How long have you had the Revels?  Any issues with them?

Would they be a good speaker for a soundstage freak?


AudioDwebe

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Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #11 on: 3 Oct 2020, 06:52 am »



I came across these recently, with matching custom stands, and decided to give them a listen.  They should be here in a few days.

jonbee

Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #12 on: 3 Oct 2020, 03:05 pm »
Congratulations. They look great.
Of the speakers you list I've owned the Spicas, Merlin MMEs and Totems. The Merlins would be the closest, but the Gem easily beats them in bass range.
I own a pair and really love them. Once the supporting cast gets dialed in (mostly cabling choices- make sure you biwire them) they are true thoroughbreds by any measure. My $18,000 Avalon Opus (w/ Accuton drivers) are a bit more transparent and have deeper bass of course, but the Gems are the best standmounts I've owned out of about 100 pairs.
Their "listening pleasure" rating is top notch. For sound quality the value at used prices is outstanding, unbeatable.
Feed them well, get cabling right and you'll have keepers. FWIW I found good copper cabling on the woofers (Alphacore is good) and especially 20 ga. solid silver on the Scanspeak 9700 tweeters (Tempo Electric is a good source) ups the transparency and soundstage size. If you use silver give the wire at least 50-80 hours use before making judgment- silver sounds a bit brittle when new.
I've never liked stretchy grill cloth so I replaced it with black aluminum mesh. Looks really good and sound more open.
Enjoy!

timind

Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #13 on: 3 Oct 2020, 07:24 pm »
Hope you post your impressions after letting them settle in. I've owned a few Revel speakers and have looked at the Gems on the use market. One of these days...maybe.

AudioDwebe

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Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #14 on: 17 Oct 2020, 06:08 pm »
My recommendation would be that you pick up a pair when possible.  There speakers are quite nice.

I've got an acoustically treated, small listening room 12x16 with the left side of the listening position opening up to the entrance of the room.  So a bit weird, but it is what it is.

I've set the speakers aiming along the length of the room with the speaker placement just about according to the Cardas method.  Even before implementing his method, the speakers were always tuned "by ear" and the location was already within an inch or so.  Apparently, my ears agree with Mr. Cardas.

The speakers the Gems replaced were the JM Reynaud Trentes which had been in place for several months.  I tend to swap speakers pretty regularily but the Trentes were sounding so darn musical that I had no desire to swap them out.  The amps I had driving them were the Monarchy SM 70s in mono configuration.  This combo provided an uncanny soundstage with tremendous depth in a very unfatiguing manner.

So when the Gems arrived I plopped...no, I actually "heaved" them onto the sand-filled Osiris stands.  These are quite heavy monitors.  And I was too lazy to do the new speaker placement dance.  I figured the spot worked extremely well for the last few monitors so it should also work for the Gems.

And it did, sorta, I guess. 

Initially, the Gems did not wow me.  The soundstage was rather flat and two dimensional.  The depth almost totally disappered.  And I looked lovingly at the Trentes which were placed elsewhere in the room.

But I decided to give the newest speakers some time to settle my ears.

The speakers didn't sound bad in any way but I think compared to the Trentes, which are very musical and easy to listen to, the Gems seemed quite analytical and precise.  Maybe even too precise.

The difference was like switching from soft lights to one of those daylight bulbs.  I like a brightly lit room where I can see everything but when I swapped all my lights one time to the daylight bulbs I could definitely see everything but man, were they ever uncomfortable to live with.  It became like a surgical room.

That's the feeling I got with the Gems.

So the Gems and I ended up doing the new speaker dance.  I moved them out wider, back more, messed with the toe-in, placed them on the custom 28" stands they shipped with and ended up not too far from the spot they initially started.

By the time the dance was over and my ears had adjusted to them and they became quite spectacular, although the depth of the soundstage was not as deep as the Trentes, as I recall.  These are full range speakers disquised as a monitor.  The bass frequencies have plenty of depth and slam when the recordings provide it. 

The imaging is precise with sounds far past the left/right speaker boundaries when the recordings provide it.  What the recordings provide, the Gems produce.  Pretty awesome!

But after a week or so I started to notice some listening fatigue.  It was never so bad that I wanted to shut down the system, but it was there after extended listening.  As long as the listening sessions weren't of the marathon variety, all was fine.  However, one of the detrimental effects of a quality audio system is my tendancy to want to listen to it more.  More frequent, more time, more, more, more.

So I swapped the amps to a pair of AES SixPacs. 

Ahh...

The daylight bulbs softened a bit and all the precision remained.  Maybe it's just psychological as the Monarchys are not bright amps.  Quite the compntrary, actually. 

But for whatever reason I feel the Gems work better with tubes gear.  Just this morning I switched the amps from their 8 ohm toggle position to the 4 ohm position.  I noticed a deeper, more enveloping soundstage.  The specs of the speakers are nominal 6 ohms and minimum 4 ohms.  I don't really know why I like it at the 4 ohm output position because it would seem like the 8 ohm would be the better match for the speakers.  Maybe it's just because I'm more relaxed or possibly the recording I was first listening to this morning (Bobo Stenson on ECM).  Maybe if I switch back to the 8 ohm I'd spout the same words.  Who knows and who cares.

Sorry for the long-winded way of saying:  Yes, you should get a pair.




jonbee

Re: Revel Ultima Gem monitors
« Reply #15 on: 18 Oct 2020, 01:46 am »
Nice review. I haven't used tubes in ages, I'm afraid. Of course, at this level the final product is cooking, not science.
I also had an extended period where mine weren't everything I wanted. For me, swapping cables, (several sets of speaker cables, for instance) got me where I wanted to go.
As I had mentioned, bi-wiring the tweeter section with silver wire really opened up the top end and imaging depth. They are a joy now, the most satisfying small speaker I've owned. Still not quite as transparent as with Accuton driver speakers, but excellent top to bottom musical balance. Excellent, wide range Revel sound.