French company Revival Audio may be a freshly launched brand, but the two main protagonists have decades of experience in the audio industry behind them. Principle designer Daniel Emonts has an impressive portfolio, being part of design teams responsible for many acclaimed models, in particular from Focal and Dynaudio. Strategic executive Jacky Lee was also involved with Dynaudio and major IT and beauty product brands. The Revival Audio brand launched with two speaker models, the standmount two-way Atalante 3 and the larger three-way Atalante 5 reviewed here. Dedicated stands for each model are also offered. I was impressed to read that Revival claim that the entire speaker, including drive units and internal components are both designed and manufactured in-house. They did, however collaborate with Parisian design studio A+A Cooren on the styling.
Interestingly, Revival has chosen to market and sell the Atalante range directly to the customer, offering free delivery and a 45-day trial period. On top of this, a bold 10-year warranty is provided. Towards the end of this review, I was informed Revival Audio now has a UK distributor, so perhaps there will be changes to their sales model.
Design and Build
The Atalante 5 can be used with both stands or directly on the floor using the plinth provided to tilt the front of the speaker up towards the listeners’ ears. Due to the way I needed to place them in my room, I requested matching stands. These arrived in flat-pack form, but even a Luddite like me managed to build them up in a few minutes. The packaging stated they were made in China but designed in France. Whilst not as well engineered as the somewhat more expensive Solid Steel stands I had in my room a few weeks back, they do feel sturdy, with an impressively heavy top plate. Outrigger feet allow for fitment of the rather large and wide spikes, which, although they had no problems piercing my carpet, I dread the holes they will have no doubt left once I remove them. It is just as well that we are thinking of replacing the carpet at some point. Alternative aftermarket feet could easily be accommodated of course.
It is fair to say that at 33 Kg the Atalante 5 left a lasting impression on the delivery driver. The gym membership fees for 18-year-old sons certainly paid for themselves when it came to helping me move them from the garage to the listening room. I would describe their appearance as ‘classic’ with added Gaelic flair. Revival’s website suggests a fusion of French and Japanese design influences, although the latter is less obvious. The cabinet is available in just one colour, a walnut veneer. It has a red band with the Revival logo around it at the halfway point, which initially made me question if the bass section of the speaker was separate but this is a purely visual effect.
The drive units are bespoke and are said to include some industry-first technology, including a Basalt sandwich construction 12-inch woofer. Both the 75mm mid-driver and 28mm soft dome tweeter include patented ARID technology (anti reflection inner dome), said to reduce internal reflection by 95%. The crossover is wired onto a single board and hand-tuned and he top two drivers are offset from the bass unit. The manual states users can set up with the upper drivers on either the inside or outside. I put them with the drivers on the outside to achieve the minimum 2.5m space between them as recommended. To the rear, there is a single pair of binding posts, so fans of bi- or tri-wiring. The upshot is that potential owners will not incur the added expense of jumper cables. There are two ports at the rear of each speaker, with foam bungs being supplied. Despite placing the speakers about 40cm from the rear wall, I found the bass was well-controlled enough in my room for these to remain in the box. Matching grilles are provided which attach to the speakers magnetically although these were removed for critical listening. The speakers are well-built and finished, especially considering their retail price.
How Do They Perform?
The short answer is they perform well, they make music. Despite being factory-fresh, from the first few notes of music, it was apparent I was going to enjoy listening to music via these speakers. I put on one of my wife’s Adele albums before popping out for a couple of hours to let them run in a bit, and apparently, she played it through twice whilst I was gone – a good sign. In fact the vocals were presented with a strong sense of presence, but it was apparent the speakers needed some running in, with the sound being a little reticent, especially at low volumes. As the days passed, they went through a bit of a shouty phase before settling down nicely after about thirty-five to fifty hours, sounding a little more open after a further thirty hours or so.
Per previous reviews for The Ear, my system comprised of a Melco server and network switch hooked up to Moon 780D DAC via the ENO from Network Acoustics, Moon 600i amp and Tellurium Q cables. Experimentation with the positioning of the Atalante 5, resulted in them being placed just under 3 metres apart, around 40 cm from the rear wall and with a slight toe-in.
Even those new to audio would expect a large pair of speakers such as these, with their 12-inch bass drivers, to do well with low frequencies, which they do. The bass was also rhythmic and possessed an impressive degree of texture. Again, you would expect a large pair of speakers to reproduce the music with a strong sense of scale and dynamics, and you would be right. Once the speakers were run in, King Crimson’s Larks Tongue In Aspic (24/96) sounded truly scary but presented the music in a soundstage that possessed great depth, with Bill Bruford’s drums powering away well behind the wall of my listening room. The speakers keep time well, helped by the fast bass response and the integration between the drive units is very good. For a large speaker, the Atalante 5 imaged pretty well, passing the famous ‘dog in the yard’ test at the start of The Ballard Of Bill Hubbard on Roger Waters’ Amused To Death. The bark should appear well forward and to the right of the soundstage for those not in the know, and it was almost in my right ear. Although speakers with a narrow baffle have presented a more precisely detailed soundstage that escapes the confines of their cabinets, the Atalante 5 presented each performer and instrument in a full-bodied and believable manner.
Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly (24-48) is not entirely my cup of tea – I will now run for cover. Still, the Atalante 5 delivered the music in a dynamic and lively fashion, underpinning each track with deep and energetic bass. Speaking of the bass response, the Atalante 5 thrilled with their delivery of Infected Mushroom’s Bliss on Mushrooms (16/44) and Trentemøller’s Chameleon (16/44) with a dramatic, deep and tuneful bass that could get very addictive. The Giles Martin remix of The Beatles’ Revolver was a great listen (24/96) too. The Atalante 5 delivered Paul McCartney’s bass on Taxman in a deep and rhythmic fashion. By contrast, Eleanor Rigby was presented with the required degree of delicacy. I felt the level of bass response was faithful to the source. However, if there was not much bass in the recording, the Atalante 5 lets you know.
A joy of having teenage kids is that they spend a lot of time on the internet. My eldest son introduced me to a band called Polyphia last year who are not only fantastic musicians but their music is well recorded if rather dynamically compressed, but this is done intentionally, it’s rock after all. The Atalante 5 allowed the bass to thunder through the mix as intended, yet with a sense of dexterity, juxtaposed against the electronic bass to fill in the soundscape. I particularly enjoyed listening to Ego Death, the last track from their final album, Remember That You Will Die (16/44), which features guitar legend Steve Vai. After packing the Atalantes, I played this track on my reference speakers, which helped me evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the Atalante 5. I missed the bass, drum weight, and dynamics that the Atalante 5 do so well. However, I found the track more involving, and I could better differentiate between the different guitar tones of the three guitarists on the track.
I would sum up the performance of the Atalante 5 as full-bodied, detailed, and dynamic, with a wide and deep soundstage. They sounded good with all types of music and often provided an entertaining rendition of poor recordings. Speaker choice is very personal. I have heard other designs that give a silkier and airier top-end; others perhaps offer a more intimate performance. There were times when I wondered if the presence band may be just a little strong, although this is a subjective opinion based on what I heard in my room using my system. What the Atalante 5 does so well is allow you to enjoy the majority of your collection and do an excellent job reproducing the power and scale of the musical performance. As I mentioned previously, the depth and power of the bass is a highlight, yet it is also well-controlled. I would encourage those in the market for top light entertainment to take a serious look and listen to the Atalante 5