Now this was worth waiting for! Two and a half years ago, I reviewed the Fritzspeakers REV 5 speakers and found they "are not only good for the money, they are truly outstanding". I noted that they would benefit from a "little more sparkle and better resolution". Other than that, the REV 5 offered not only excellent overall sound quality, but are an amazing value. Now, the new REV 7 is set to rewrite the rules for loudspeaker value and redefine our expectations for performance per dollar.
The REV 7 does indeed have a "little more sparkle and better resolution" due to the remarkable Scanspeak AirCirc tweeter. Due to the cost of this driver, you usually find it in speakers that sell for well over $10,000 per pair. The REV 7 sells for only $2,500 and is available in several real wood veneers including oak, cherry, maple, walnut, and mahogany. The REV 7, like the REV 5, uses a Scanspeak Revelator woofer, but in this model we find a 7" woofer instead of the REV 5's 5" driver. The speakers measure 16H x 9W x 12D and weigh a substantial 30 pounds each. Fritz offers all models on a 30-day money back guarantee.
The REV 7s were put through their paces in a system including a Basis 2500 Signature turntable with Vector 4 tonearm, Miyajima Kansui and Zu Audio DL-103R moving coil cartridges, PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter and Sutherland 20/20 phono preamplifiers, Bob's Devices CineMag 1131 "Blue" step-up transformer, Mark Levinson 326S preamplifier with phono, Prism Orpheus Digital Interface with custom Windows 7 computer/music server, YG Acoustics Kipod II Signature Main Modules speakers, Magnepan 1.7 speakers, Dali Mentor 5 speakers (from the home theater system), and two Gallo TR-3 subwoofers. Power amplifiers are the “10 LP” Spread Spectrum Technologies Ampzilla 2000 2nd Edition and Acoustic Imagery Atsah monoblocks. Interconnects and speaker cables are mostly Mogami. All front end components receive their AC power from a PS Audio AV-5000 power conditioner which is connected to the wall power with a Shunyata Anaconda CX power cord. A PS Audio Quintet, connected to the utility grid with another slithering Anaconda CX, is normally used for the power amplifiers. A variety of power cords are used elsewhere in the system, including Jerry's DIY power cords which can be found on the music computer, Prism Orpheus, and Levinson preamp. The entire system is turned on and off from the Levinson's remote control.
Most speakers seem to offer the best sound stage when I am looking along the inside edge when seated. For the REV 7s, I found that the speakers sound best pointing more straight ahead than is usual. About halfway between pointing straight away from the wall and pointing towards me produced the best image in my room. This suggests that the REV 7s have excellent dispersion. Individual instruments or lead singers are very precisely focused, but this does not limit the overall size of the recording space. Often when each component of the sound field is more clearly defined, the stage shrinks. Not here. The stage is very wide and deep, missing just a small bit of the detail in the farthest corners compared to the $18,000 Kipod II Signatures.
The upper treble is remarkably not bright, hard, edgy, forward, or "ruthlessly revealing". It is clear, present, balanced, truthful, natural, and very high resolution. The sound of cymbals and their complex harmonics are very difficult for a speaker to do well, but the REV 7 simply nails it! This high quality continues down into the midrange where the transition between tweeter and woofer is remarkably transparent. Part of this is due to the series crossover which uses far fewer parts than most parallel crossovers, just 2 air core coils and 2 physically large capacitors. The other part of the seamless blend of drivers is Fritz's expert use of this technology and experience in getting the sound "just right". Similar to the REV 5, the overall sound is just one small step to the side of relaxed and forgiving which is far preferable to the other side of hard and aggressive. However, this hint of character never comes at the expense of a reduction of information or resolution. Never! Far too much current music is mixed on the bright and exciting side with overblown bass, probably optimized for iTunes earbud listening. The REV 7 does nothing to hide this character, while offering the sound in a listenable manner that would endear them to the mixing engineers.
In addition to the improvement in the upper frequencies over the REV 5, the larger woofer of the REV 7 has greater low frequency extension and power in the bass than its smaller sibling. Fritzspeakers are well known - to those who have heard them, of course - to offer bass quality and quantity that suggest far larger speakers. One of the challenges we face as audiophiles is to install speakers that work well in our listening rooms, coupling to the size and configuration of the room to offer accurate bass response. Since Fritzspeakers are one of the best on the market at coupling to the room, it is conceivable that the REV 7 could offer too much bass in small rooms. Fritz is very knowledgeable about this subject and willingly offers advice about which model would work best in your particular listening room.
The sustained, well defined bass guitar notes in Supertramp's "No Inbetween" on the LP Brother Where You Bound are present with seemingly full power down to the lowest notes. The bass quality and resolution are also excellent. Deep bass notes have definition and detail, never melting into an amorphous billowy fog of sound. Listening to "Dum Diddly" from the Black Eyed Peas demonstrated that no subwoofer was really needed. The deep bass is very present, articulate and often room shaking. These are truly full range speakers with a specified -3 dB at 37 Hz.
Paul Simon's voice in "Dazzling Blue", on the So Beautiful or So What LP is so wonderfully natural and present. There is no sense of any crossover discontinuity between the woofer and tweeter and the sound flows up and down the audible spectrum perfectly. The extraordinarily believable sound of Simon's whistling in "Rewrite" is captivating. I felt as if I was present in the studio.
In fact, all vocalists sound very fine on the REV 7s. Alicia Keys, Jimmy Buffet, Sade, Frank Sinatra, Kenny Chesney, and Michael Jackson are all very natural and believable as living, breathing performers. On "Homeless", from Paul Simon's Graceland LP, the sibilants ('s' sounds) have outstanding clarity without ever edging to harsh white noise-type of sound. The reverberations of these sounds clearly define the recording space. This single example is quite sufficient to reveal the outstanding upper frequency performance of the REV 7s and demonstrate the speakers' excellent "air" and openness.
The enclosure is very nicely made and is quite solid and non-vibrating. A ported box doesn't vibrate as much as a sealed box because the internal pressures are lower. The in-room bass response can be adjusted by the distance of the speakers from the rear wall. Positioning the speakers so their rear panels were about 22" from the wall worked very well in my room. With rear ported speakers, both speakers should be exactly same distance from the wall behind them.
The Fritzspeakers REV 7 offers a clear message: Listen to your music and forget about speakers, electronics, wires and all the rest of the accessories. After just a brief listen, it is easy to forget about the hardware. The REV 7 does such an excellent job in all areas - bass, midrange, treble, soundstage, resolution, dynamic power - that the totality of the performance is captivating and very enjoyable. Thank you, Fritz, for many hours of highly enjoyable music!
Overall Rating: 9.5 LPs
Link to Fritz Speakers