Published 2023-03-03 - 9:00 am
- Construction principle: Two-way bass reflex compact speaker
- Woofer: 18 cm with basalt/felt sandwich cone
- Tweeter: 28 mm soft dome
- Frequency range: 44 – 26.000 Hz (- 3 dB)
- Impedance: 6 ohms
- Sensitivity: 87 dB (2.83 V/1 m)
- Recommended amplifier power: 30 – 150 W
- Crossover: 2.800 Hz, 2nd order
- Dimensions: 24.0 x 39.0 x 27.0 cm (WxHxD)
- Weight: 11 kg
- Colour: Walnut veneer
- Web: revivalaudio.fr
Revival Audio is a brand new speaker brand. Not just on local store shelves, but in general. The company was founded in late 2021, and the first products have just been released.
We’ve got the smaller of the company’s two models for review, a mid-sized compact speaker called the Atalante 3.
Revival Audio aims to build on sonic heritage – and create its own. And the Atalante 3, with its maroon walnut cabinet, looks like something that could have been created in a more civilised age.
Behind the brand are Daniel Emonts, former chief acoustician at Dynaudio and Focal, and Jacky Lee, former commercial director at Dynaudio. Both have extensive experience in the industry, and Revival Audio describes themselves as new – but with almost four decades of experience under their belts. All the products are designed and built in Alsace, France, and the speaker units are proprietary from the ground up.
And Daniel Emonts and company have developed some really nice units. The tweeter of the Atalante 3 is a 28 mm textile dome. And should it evoke memories of Dynaudio, it’s no wonder, since the chief designer was once behind the Dynaudio Esotar tweeter.
The midwoofer is seven inches and made from a blackish-brown woven fibre material that turns out to be made from volcanic basalt that’s been melted and spun. The diaphragm is a sandwich construction with felt on the back. The unit also features one of the largest and most potent-looking magnets I’ve encountered on a seven-incher.
The sub-filter is an absolutely neat 12 dB/octave filter with just as many components as needed, but no than that. And the parts are of good quality. The cabling is Van Den Hul Skyline Hybrid. In other words, these are a pair of speakers that bear scrutiny.
The exterior is at least as beautiful as the interior. The cabinet is veneered with walnut, which in itself is a pleasure to behold. But an inlaid horizontal stripe and logo in a different wood make the impression even more refined. If you don’t want to look at the neat speaker units, you can hide them behind the fabric front grille, which is split in two and magnetically attached.
At 39 cm high and 24 cm wide, the Atalante 3 is best placed on a stand. And not on – or God forbid in – a shelf.
In the excellent manual, Revival Audio recommends that the speakers be placed at least half a metre from the back wall and corners, and that they be angled towards the listening position. But also that there are no hard and fast rules and that you should try it out for yourself.
If the bass becomes too loud because of the positioning, you can cushion it by inserting the supplied foam plugs into the bass reflex ports at the back.
In my case, a placement half a metre from the back wall and just over a metre from the corners gave a good balance. The speakers were angled inward without pointing directly at the listening position.
The build quality and design are so accomplished that only obsessive simple living fanatics can fail to fall in love with the Revival Audio Atalante 3. Sonically, it takes a little longer to achieve the same infatuation.
On the face of it, the speakers have a well-formed, but also slightly slender sound. The bass goes deep enough, but if you’ve become accustomed to active speakers with a popular voicing with a warm and rich bottom, you’ll have to adjust your ears to the fact that here comes something quite different.
Longer listening reveals that we are dealing with a pair of very neutral and linear speakers. They don’t have typical monitor sound that highlights details and imperfections. But it’s all there. And what seemed like a slightly featureless reproduction turns out to be, for the price range, an astonishing absence of intrinsic colouring. Whether this is due to the extremely well-damped cabinets, the extreme magnetic damping or the braided lava rock diaphragm material is not known. But the overall result is magical.
Exemplary clean sound
The treble is fine, and it handles details on cymbals and highhat with brilliance. But the real star is the midwooefer, which has a freedom from distortion I haven’t heard in a long time. In fact, not since the Q Acoustics Concept 500 have I experienced a speaker where the ‘noise floor’ of self-noise and ditto resonances in the midrange are similarly absent.
I’ve tested plenty of speakers in the almost six years in between. Many of them considerably more expensive than the Revival Audio Atalante 3 (and for that matter the Concept 500). Some of them I praised deerly – and I’d argue they deserved it. For they were better in many other ways. Some were more charming in sound and made the music sparkle, while others were easier to live with.
The Revival Audio Atalante 3 doesn’t demand attention on itself, but is content to convey what’s on the recording. And that can be both fascinating and unsettling. After all, a good recording sounds heavenly, while a dull recording sounds as flat and uninteresting as it is. And the ability to demonstrate the difference between recordings is a measure of quality – at least if you subscribe to the principle of comparison by contrast, as Audio Note owner Peter Qvortrup, for example, advocates.
If the recording has a high ceiling and distant walls, the soundscape will be big, loud and wide. A fun and beautiful track like Hans Hansen and Zhao Cong’s Moon Light on Spring River comes across as the mix of high-quality studio and live recordings that it is. And if you’re so inclined, you can dabble in picking out the parts. Because it’s easy to hear through.
Skjälvtin, by the multinordic band Afenginn in collaboration with Teitur and the Danish String Quartet, is a track I frequently return to, as the recording is truly transparent and beautifully produced. Such a track is a pleasure to listen to on Atalante 3.
But there are also albums that you wish you hadn’t played. In the excitement of hearing new details, the listening continued longer than planned. And I just had to listen to the live recording from Genesis’ concert in Herning on 14 May 2007. I attended the concert myself, and it was a beautiful and memorable evening. But I have to say that the recording from the console that day should never have been released on CD!
There are plenty of compact speakers in the same price range as the Atalante 3. The dynamic Dynaudio Evoke and the beautiful Sonus faber Sonetto II to name some of the most successful. Whether the relatively discreet playing style of the Atalante 3 is to your taste is a matter of temperament. But their ability to deliver the recordings’ own sound so nakedly is usually something you have to pay a lot more for.
The Revival Audio Atalante 3 is a debut model from a small French manufacturer. But what a debut! Although there is no shortage of choice in the class of mid-range passive compact speakers, they deserve to be taken seriously into consideration. The truly accomplished finish is a feast for the eyes. But the big strength is the sound. The speakers don’t charm at first listen, but give them some time and they reward with a purity and uncolouredness that is not commonplace in the price range. The reproduction can get a little bland in all its nakedness, though, so don’t pair them with the very coolest sounding Class D amplifier.