Wharfedale Reva-2

FOR Pre­cisely or­gan­ised sound; beau­ti­ful fin­ish AGAINST Strait-laced at­ti­tude; ri­vals have more author­ity

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“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.

Lac­quer fin­ish

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 effi‡ciency, 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

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