Revel PerformaBe F328Be Loudspeaker Review
By Stephen Hornbrook on
Having reviewed and been thoroughly impressed by the Revel F228Be speakers, getting the opportunity to review the new flagship of the PerformaBe line is a real treat. The Revel PerformaBe F328Be is a 3-way full-range speaker and the largest in the PerformaBe lineup. Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t just the F228Be with an extra woofer. In fact, the only technology it shares with its smaller sibling is the midrange driver. The Beryllium tweeter has been updated, there’s a new 6th generation Acoustic Lens waveguide, and the 8” low-frequency woofers have been improved as well. All this effort has resulted in an astounding loudspeaker, capable of producing a large, accurate soundstage that draws the listener in. Immaculate details are present across the full range of audible frequencies whether listening at low or high volume levels via the Revel F328Be.
Design and Setup
Sharing the same width and overall design as the F228Be, the F328Be only looks a little taller, but it’s also deeper by about 3-inches. That doesn’t sound like much, but along with the extra 5-inches of height, the F328Be stands out in a room.
The F328Be shares the same impressive build quality as the other PerformaBe entries: top notch fit and finish and an extremely solid and inert enclosure. This is a dense speaker and not easy to move around at 112 pounds. Without looking wild, the F328Be delivers a statement that music is an important aspect of life to anyone who owns these.
They come in the same high quality finishes as the rest of the PerformaBe lineup: Black, White, Metallic Silver, and Walnut. The provided review pair, as seen in our photos, came in black and with the contrasting white drivers, you can’t help but think of a piano. The sparkly black top cap gives the speaker a touch of elegance.
The enclosure is taller but also deeper and the design now has two rear mounted bass-reflex ports. It is interesting to note that the Revel design team chose rear mounted ports in order to not push the height of the tweeter beyond spec. Proper imaging from a seated position would indeed prove challenging if the design was made taller. The Beryllium tweeter is new and even more capable of reproducing high resolution details, even at demanding listening levels. The ceramic-coated, cast-aluminum Acoustic Lens waveguide is now in its 6th generation, taking evolutionary steps beyond what was designed for the F228Be.
The same 5.25” Deep Ceramic Cone midrange driver that is used in the F228Be is also used here in the F328Be. The midrange operates in its own sub-enclosure, keeping it isolated from the low-range woofer section. The three 8” woofers are also Deep Ceramic Cone cast frame like on the F228Be, but have been tweaked for additional performance in this flagship model.
For setup and listening, I used Hi-Res tracks from Qobuz, using the EarMen TR-Amp into a Denon AVR-X4400H and Wyred4Sound SX-1000 monoblocks. The Speakers were positioned approximately 2.5 feet from the front wall, 2 feet from the side walls, and 7 feet apart.
Revel PerformaBe F328Be Sound Quality
Starting off with John Coltrane and Blue Train and it’s immediately apparent that the F328Be produces lively, engaging music. The cymbals sound smooth but sharp. That’s a vibrating disc of metal, so it better sound metallic and boy do the Beryllium tweeters convey that. Coltrane’s sax is there, present in the room with the listener, as the Revel’s create a solid, three-dimensional image. Lee Morgan’s trumpet pops to life with a bit of ring to that brass bell. Fuller sneaks in with the great, warm tone of trombone. Kenny Drew’s hitting of those accent notes on piano is rhythmic and precise. The transients of the hammers striking the strings gives the music life thanks to the dynamic capability of the F328Be. Finally, everything is grounded by lean, timely bass notes that never bleed together and smoothly traverse a range of frequencies.
Over to a testing staple, Miles Davis and a couple tracks from Kind of Blue. On “So What”, Chambers’ upright double bass sits at the back of the stage, providing the foundation for the music. This is the type of presentation that rewards the listener for sitting back, closing their eyes and getting lost. Miles playing his trumpet has depth and dimension and Coltrane on tenor is lively and dynamic. “Freddie Freeloader” jumps out at the listener with a forward presentation of the breathy wind instruments. This is a music that you feel and not just hear. The Revel F208 sound great, but not as lively and present as the F328Be.
Hopping over to some tracks by Norah Jones, “Don’t Know Why” has a wonderful live sound to it. The dynamic range and increased clarity of the F328Be allows the vocal performance from Norah to come alive. Nothing feels held back or covered up. The entire album is a treat to listen to on the Revels and probably better sounding than any live amplified performance.
I mentioned the excellent transient response on the F328Be and “Time Out” from The Dave Brubeck Quartet is another example of this. Percussion sounds spot on, as the cymbals come across as metallic and the snare pops on the off beat. The soundstage is wide and deep creating a jazz club feel in the listening room. The Revel’s crossover seamlessly blends the frequencies across all drivers. Bass lines have a solid image that doesn’t stray even as the notes enter some of the higher octaves.
“Prelude to a Kiss”, by George Coleman fills the room with a huge soundstage. Loads of atmosphere and body to each performance on stage. The Revel F328Be offers such a large and enveloping soundstage, yet if anything feels more intimate than any other speaker I’ve listened to at home.
Speaking of intimate performances, 2020 graced us with two Taylor Swift albums, Folklore and Evermore. Both recorded at Long Pond studio, the presentations do an excellent job at showing off the large, but delicate soundstage of the F328Be speakers. On “The 1”, we get the full bass extension of the larger F328Be which brings out a darker tone to the track. Taylor is centered, front facing and nearly present in the room. Her tone is balanced and natural with no sign of sibilance. “The Last Great American Dynasty” goes a step father, really putting Taylor in the room with the listener. Her lower register has added vocal texture that you almost feel. And then “Exile” builds upon that vocal texture even more with Bon Iver’s grit and reverberance. “Illicit Affairs” takes you right into Long Pond studio, stripping away the layers between a recording and in-home musical reproduction. The Revel F328Be speakers are simply a marvel of engineering.
The importance of proper low frequency reproduction also comes into play with Phoebe Bridgers “Chelsea” where the deep bass extension and detail gives the song a darker more ominous feel. Her vocals are, again, wonderfully recreated.
Going through my usual Radiohead playlist, “Decks Dark”, “Desert island disk”, and “True Love Waits” all plant a phantom voice in the room. Thom Yorke’s voice is so clear, yet full-bodied with no hint of cloudiness. The reverb in the lower vocal range communicates feeling along with the sound. The added resolution, size, and woofer control all contribute to this ability. The three 8” woofers produce superbly well defined bass with loads of texture and nuance. “All I Need” is pure sonic bliss and I can say without reservation that Radiohead is the best I have ever heard them sound via the Revel F328Be.
While listening to the Revel’s I discovered folk artist Rhiannon Giddens when her piercing voice resonated in my home theater. The accompanying strings are tactile in their sound. I don’t just hear a violin and cello, I hear the bow running across the strings.
Going from my trusty Revel F208 to the F228Be was an interesting step due to the speakers looking nearly identical to the untrained eye except for the finish. Your mind naturally expects the same performance, but the F228Be was an obvious sonic upgrade, especially in terms of resolution and added dimension to the sound. Stepping up the F328Be then adds an obvious upgrade to the size of the speaker. After setting them up, there’s no doubt there is a new speaker in front of me. But where the F228Be added resolution and life to a musical performance, the F328Be takes that a step further.
So much of music is and sound is based on the impact of two objects: a drumstick hitting the snare, hammer hitting the chord of a piano. These transients produce sudden high amplitude waveforms that must be recreated by a speaker. The Revel F328Be handles those musical transients with such precision and ease that they start to bring music to life. The more control a speaker has over its drivers, the more detail it can resolve. All the evolutionary tweaks the team made to the Beryllium tweeter, the low-range DCC cone woofers, and the crossover components, and the sonically inert cabinet is what makes the F328Be so special. Music starts to go beyond just hearing it, into the realm of feeling it as well. Think of striking a chord on a piano, the physical force of the keys leveraging the hammers to hit each string, that’s a lot of energy. We think of just hearing with our ears, but the generated sound waves from the piano are hitting our entire body. Now imagine designing a speaker, much more compact than a piano, that can accurately reproduce that. The Revel F328Be is able to accomplish this through it’s design and engineering.
Speaker size is something we all have to consider. For some, the size and weight of the F328Be may be a drawback, but this allows them to produce a big and lifelike musical image. Personally, I don’t think I would want something quite this big in a room much smaller than my 15’x20’x8’ room. Compared to some designs in this price range, the Revel’s aren’t particularly wide, but they are fairly deep and with rear-firing ports, will do best with some space between the speakers and walls. If only being used in a music system, there’s no need for any additional subwoofers. The added woofer and increased cabinet volume is enough to handle all types of music. They do so with control, speed and accuracy as well, so bass notes are clean, detailed and resolve subtle textures. Vocal performances come to life with natural tone and a level of precision that brings the artist into your home. It’s never been so easy to get lost in the music as it is with the Revel F328Be.
At first glance the F328Be appears to be the F228Be with an added bass driver. The lower frequency extension and increased bass performance are great, but Revel didn’t stop there. They have managed to squeeze even more performance from its 1” Beryllium dome tweeter and the ceramic-coated, cast-aluminum Acoustic Lens waveguide is now in its 6th generation. Plus the 8” DCC aluminum cones have been tweaked for more performance and the crossover upgraded as well. All this attention to detail has resulted in a world-class loudspeaker. Hands down, this is the finest speaker I have had the opportunity to audition at home and could easily see it being the last speaker I’d ever need.
Brilliant, reference-class performance and ability to bring music to life. Simple but elegant design along with top-notch build quality. This could be your last speaker.
Too large and heavy for some, depends on the room. Added resolution means investing in other components to get the most out of them.
The Revel F328Be takes what the F228Be did well and improves upon it, with increased resolution throughout the audible spectrum. The speakers produce an image that is large and transparent, bringing the listener even closer to the musical performance.