All about the New Zealand Made Image Revelation Loudspeaker System at Totally Wired
The new Revelation2 is the best yet. Let’s get straight to the sound – we just love these speakers! We are hearing music on CDs that we didn’t know was there, everything is sounding better and we just want to close the door and rip into our favourite albums. There is that wonderful ‘hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck’ feeling that only ever happens when you hear something that is so unarguably better, you forget about all the pros and cons of HiFi and just want to keep listening.
Archived page: January 2016
– The new speaker ranges from Monitor Audio offer great value, highly specialised speaker technology and a choice quality finishes
Now – here is the real question- are these the speakers for you? If you...
– Want the best sound and value
– Understand the advantages of New Zealand made
– Have a reasonably proportioned room
Then the answer is ‘highly likely’. Final question – how much? New model Revelation2 NZ$ 6,500 a pair including GST.
Buy a new pair of Image Revelations from Totally Wired and we’ll look after you with custom finishes, free delivery anywhere in New Zealand and participation in our unique WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) program.
You’ll no doubt have plenty of questions so why not
Or you can phone us using our toll free number 0800 909 101
And don’t forget to ask us about preferential upgrade prices for existing Image owners.
Given we have a serious range of imported speakers to directly compare the Images with, not to mention a wide array of amplifiers and source components, you might think that there are conditions attached to our enthusiasm for the Revelations. Far from it! From the very first time we hooked them up it was obvious that Image have really pulled one out of the hat. They manage to combine all the best bits from our favourite speakers – the dynamics and scale of Shahinians, the accuracy of the Linns and the wonderful midrange and detail of the Sonus fabers. But they manage to avoid the compromises of each. They are less idiosyncratic and demanding than Shahinian, have a huge open soundstage that Linn struggle to portray and will deliver levels and bass that a small stand mounted Italian would never be expected to provide. All of the above for about half the price of any model that you might think would provide serious competition.
They are relaxing and balanced when played quietly, yet can let loose and peel paint from the walls if you want (not that we would ever suggest our clients do such things). Scorching rock and roll, sublime classical and everything in between turn into treats for your ears. Not one single disc we have played didn’t sound better through these Images. This in itself is a real feat for so many speakers seem to be biased to a particular listening style. Only a few at the heady end of the market can carry off this particular trick. But this isn’t supposed to be a review. We know you are naturally inquisitive and will want to know a whole lot more about the Images. If we suggest that the Revelations offer you true high end quality at a very competitive price, you’ll want too investigate why they do what they do so well.
How Image achieve all this is a story in itself...
The inside story
Starting from ‘the top’, a new Morel tweeter aptly named the Supreme was chosen. This unit is already recognised as one of the world’s best HF drivers. This is something that will be immediately apparent to you. More detail, less distortion – a treble that soars but never sours. The extended frequency range is just one feature, but the total tweeter design means we can now listen to detail in the music never heard before. This is especially important for both DVD-A and SACD standards, not to mention the best of analogue which still defines the absolute levels of performance.The tweeter was a designer’s dream when tested with the Norwegian SEAS midrange driver Image had selected. While the SEAS midrange driver looks similar to other units, it has a fine pedigree and features including a smooth accurate response and well behaved roll off characteristics. Earlier versions of this midrange have been used by companies like Wilson Audio in their very expensive Watt/Puppy speaker systems.When the extensive crossover design was completed, listened to and tweaked, first impressions of this combination were proved correct. With a seamless midrange to treble coherency, pre-production samples gave the tonal accuracy and ‘believable’ sound sought after after.
Even the choice of cable between cross-over and drivers was the subject of considerable analysis – in the end Image have opted for a seriously good speaker cable that retails for NZ$ 110 a metre. As you would expect in a no-compromise speaker system.With relatively high midrange and treble efficiency, and because the Revelation is primarily for larger rooms, it was common sense to use two fast acting 8" bass drivers to match the speed of the midrange, plus, have the necessary cone area to maintain an overall frequency balance. This approach is far more appropriate than resorting to a single large but slow woofer. The bass drivers come from the Danish company Peerless, accepted as leaders in low frequency design. The rigid aerodynamic cast aluminium chassis and five layer sandwich cone is there to see, but the most important design features are hidden behind this and within the Revelation cabinet.
The bass response in Revelation has more to do with accuracy, dynamics and detail than the extremes of extension. This has been achieved with very little compromise to the bass extension though. In fact, although the low frequency room response is noted at 35Hz, on test there is considerable output from the reflex port under 30Hz which is a real ‘designers bonus’. It is also worth noting that the use of two drivers doubles power handling while improving efficiency.
Last but most important is the cabinet construction. The midrange driver required a specific ‘sub’ enclosure within the overall cabinet that was an integral part of the overall design. This enclosure provides isolation from the bass drivers plus optimised low frequency driver control. The rest of the bass section has considerable vertical and horizontal bracing, all mechanically linked and bonded. This makes for a very inert and structurally sound cabinet. Internal acoustic damping is the proven real wool blend Image use.
And typical of all Image floor standing models, a section in the base of each cabinet is hand packed with a specific sand to absorb cabinet energy. This helps to explain the substantial 28kg weight of each speaker. A conscious choice has been made to stay with traditional cabinet design. While many designers resort to various gimmicks to differentiate their speakers – coloured drivers, curvy bits of plastic or cheap castings and odd driver arrays – these choices often add to cost while not really improving performance to anything like the level the glossy brochures suggest. Image speakers are classically designed to sound as good as is possible. The quality of sound and cabinet finish are all that Image require to differentiate themselves from all others.
Why we like Image so much
At Totally Wired we’ve listened most of the best known brands of loudspeakers in the last 20 years (I’ve been doing this for too long). Some have proved worthy and we still recommend them. But too many are just mass market ranges of boxes designed to be built cheaply as possible and sold by brand, glossy brochure (don’t let us get started on the archaic sexist stupidity that still appears in far too many adverts – Image speakers DO NOT come with girlie pics) and fictitious specification masquerading as an indicator of performance. 98 percent of imports come via companies and individuals who are more interested in dollars and market share rather than how the speakers sound and how long they will continue to be enjoyed. But here is a little story for you...
While I was still a poor university student I got suckered into buying a pair of speakers from a well known English brand. They cost far more than I could afford but the horny looking drivers, in-your-face sound and easy lifetime finance terms made it happen. About a year later I heard my first pair of NZ made speakers. They were the Audax A200s and they absolutely floored me. They were better than my speakers in every way and actually cost much less. I was gutted and still had many more monthly payments to meet.
The Audax A200 was one of Chris Balls speakers. Finished in rimu, with high quality imported drivers and even wired with real Monster Cable inside – funnily enough Chris Ball owns Image loudspeakers. He keeps working away, always trying to make better speakers, looking after his clients and sometimes making enough sales to make it all worthwhile. He has torn his hair out over the flood of imports and influence of overseas magazines in which Image will never appear. His blood pressure has been severely elevated by retailers who can’t open their minds or ears. But despite all this he has is heart completely in what he does – there is a bit of Chris Ball in every Image speaker. And there are a lot of Image speakers out there.
The speakers I bought while at university have long since died (which probably makes the world a better sounding place) yet I can say without doubt that just about every Image and Audax speaker made around that time by Chris Ball is still sounding great in a living room somewhere in New Zealand – and beyond. Every so often we get to hear a pair and everything that first impressed me is still there. The fundamentals of good sound don’t change.
Anyway – back to the point which is why we like Image so much – they are fundamentally excellent designs, made with a bit of heart by someone who actually cares about the end sound more than the bottom line. The fact that they are made in New Zealand and cost less (simply because there is no importers margin, overseas freight costs or excess overheads) is a bonus. We don’t have to wave the flag for this – it’s just self evident. We’d like to think that when you listen, you will agree.
Bi-wiring and beyond
The Image Revelation features dual input terminals to enable bi-wiring. This is intentional and clearly indicates that the best performance will be achieved by make use of this configuration. We enthusiastically recommend the NZ made Slinkylinks cables for this. You should also be aware that bi-wiring is just the first step. Our best systems are bi-amped or better – in this configuration you can achieve the ultimate in control, quality and power. Image speakers are built to allow you to use them in the most demanding applications.
To match the performance possibilities of Image loudspeakers we have carefully selected a broad range of electronics to deliver the best combination of performance, features and price. What will drive your selection? If a fine balance of performance and value is to be maintained Audio Analogue offers highly regarded amplifiers. And for the ultimate in performance and power, New Zealand’s leading amplifier designer Pure Audio deliver seriously high end options for the most ambitious stereo systems.
A few words on System Matching
You’ll often hear opinions offered on what brand or amp or system will work with any particular speaker and generalisations about certain brands being best for specific types of music. While well meaning, these opinions are often based on a limited amount of listening on a restricted range of systems. We have sold many, many pairs of Images to a hugely diverse range of clients with a multitude of components and eclectic musical tastes. Their response is uniformly positive. These speakers are comparatively easy to drive – in other words you don’t need a hugely powerful or expensive amp to enjoy these speakers – in fact the high efficiency (91db means even a modest 50 watt amplifier will deliver more sound than a speaker of average efficiency say 88dB with a 100 watt amplifier. Conversely they will also handle the full undistorted power of the most powerful domestic amplifiers – such as the Pure Audio amplifiers. The efficiency, detail and dynamics will also magnify any differences in amplifiers and source components So the the Image Revelation will respond to any subsequent improvements you make to the rest of your system and make the upgrade doubly worthwhile. There is no downside.
You will find that the better the speaker, the more extended the run in period. This is especially so with the Image Revelation. The bass drivers take longer to settle down than most because of the strength of the suspension system. We really are talking about a run in period of as much as several months. A brand new pair can sound somewhat restrained – the bass will be limited and treble lacking the last degree of transparency. But don’t be fooled by this or the opinion of someone who has unwittingly listed to a ‘green’ new pair. You will find the performance just gets better and better with time – in all respects. With Image’s previous topline design, we stubbornly kept our demonstration models and felt sure that even after a year there were still improvements to be had despite some fierce and critical auditions. There is no shortcut with run in – while you can play test discs or FM interstation noise, the best course is simply accept that the best things take time. Trust us on this one.
Up until recently ‘purist’ hi-fi was strictly stereo. SACD and DVD Audio have changed all that. Not to mention the advent of some serious contenders in home cinema – it is entirely possible to have a system that can cover all the bases. So how do you deal with surround sound? The good news is that all Image speakers are built to the same high standards and your system can be as good as you want it. Image Home Cinema systems are stunning. If a single pair of Image stereo speakers offer great value and performance then a full matched surround sound system will really thrill you. The extra impact of a subwoofer, the focus of a centre speaker and the involvement of surround effects will all combine to give you a ‘better than the movies’ home experience. And now true hi-fi surround sound formats enable you to make the most of multiple channels. Remember that there is nothing to prevent you taking a progressive approach and building a better system over time. But most of the sound in any format is coming from the front two speakers and that is always where you start.
Image Revelation Specifications
System type: 3-way four speaker. Bass reflex and rear ported
Bass drivers: 2 x Peerless 21cm 5-layer sandwich cone in rigid aerodynamic cast aluminium chassis and ventilated spider
Midrange: Seas 17cm coated cone in injection moulded metal chassis
HF driver: Morel Supreme 110 28mm soft dome, frequency-matched pairs
Room response: 35Hz-22kHz
Averaged sensitivity: 91dB/1 watt
Power rating: 250 watts
Crossover: 250Hz and 3kHz, impedance corrected
Impedance: 6 ohms nominal (5 ohms minimum)
Dimensions (H x W x D): 102 cm x 22 cm x 37 cm
Features: Hand-turned and adjustable solid brass floor spikes. Port plugs for room optimising
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