FOR Precisely organised sound; beautiful finish AGAINST Strait-laced attitude; rivals have more authority
“This isn’t some half-hearted effort involving minor tweaks and a new paint job. Almost everything from drivers to cabinets has been revisited”
You could say Wharfedale designed the midrange Reva speaker series not from the ground up, but rather from the inside out. Instead of building the range from scratch or using downgraded elements from its top-ranging speakers, Wharfedale has made a refined and upgraded version of its entry-level, budget Diamond 200 Series, with the aim being to deliver much better performance for a little more cash.
Wharfedale is hoping to build not just on the design principles of the Diamonds but on their success, too. After all, we’re talking about a range that’s garnered a collection of favourable reviews, not to mention an Award in 2014 for the Diamond 220 standmounts.
But this isn’t some half-hearted effort involving no more than minor tweaks and a new paint job. In fact, almost everything from driver design to cabinet construction has been revisited.
As we take our first look at the Reva-2s, the larger of the two standmounts in the range, the cabinet is the most obvious change. Not only has the sandwich construction, as seen on the Diamond series, been thickened with extra layers, the cabinets are also curved and finished in piano white, piano black, deep rosewood or walnut lacquer. They are very appealing, which can’t be said for many other speakers at their price.
Also improved are the drivers, designed and manufactured by Wharfedale in tandem with the cabinets to ensure good conformity. There’s a new glass-fibre weave for the 12.5cm mid/ bass driver, and a 25mm tweeter that sports a new fine-weave textile dome and is mounted on a dished waveguide for better dispersion.
Wharfedale has refined the slot-loaded port design first seen on the Diamond 100 Series for enhanced efficiency, siting it between the cabinet’s base and the plinth – so they can sit close to a wall without bass dominating the tonal balance.
Playing it safe
Although bass is pleasing – not only solid and taut, but fairly deep and agile too – it’s not the star of the show. That’s the midrange, which is one of the most focused we’ve heard at this level. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that vocals sound as expressive as you’ll hear through a £600 pair of speakers.
With Mercury Rev’s Tonite It Shows, Jonathan Donahue’s nostalgia-inflected crooning is intimate and delicate. Through the Reva-2s, the waltz-like orchestration is a joy to listen to. The ambience is densely textured and cross-stitched together with a sense of natural cohesion. While they don’t match the dynamic reach of the Dynaudio Emit M20s or Dali Opticons 2s, the xylophone notes still take flight to pleasing effect.
There’s a thoroughness to the Reva-2s but, despite their insightful nature, you can’t help feel that something is missing. It takes Broken Bells’ Holding on for Life to figure out exactly what.
The Wharfedales struggle to deliver the boppy synth hooks and, as a result, they are also left grappling to hold onto the track’s disco groove. It feels a bit reined in and strait-laced, and fails to move with the energy required. Essentially, the shortage of fun-loving attitude stands in the way of them being as engaging with as wide a range of music genres as their rivals.
When faced with an upbeat track, the Reva-2s drive more like a cautious pensioner than a daredevil boy-racer. There’s a lot to be said for playing it safe, but in doing so these Wharfedales can’t supply all the thrills you are seeking.
They aren’t the most versatile speakers out there, but they are masters of precision and detail. If those keywords top your list of sonic must-haves, there are plenty of reasons for them to win you over.
The cabinets on the Reva-2s have been given an appealing new lacquer finish