Hardware Reviews

Sprint 3 finishes well

Revival Audio Sprint 3 speaker review https://the-ear.net

Revival Audio Sprint 3 speakers

As an owner/daily user of Revival’s more up-market Atalante 3 two-ways the new sub £1,000 Sprint 3 promises better value by virtue of being wholly made in China rather than in Europe. The cabinets are also more, shall we say contemporary-looking and lack the exquisite finish of the Atalante range with their sculpting and removable grilles. But we are here for the sound, not the glamour.

The range comprises the Sprint 3, a two-way ‘bookshelf’ model, with optional stands, while the Sprint 4 is a floorstanding two-and-a-half-way design. Given their size and weight, I wouldn’t fancy my chances of sitting the Sprint 3s on any bookshelf although they would fit on something akin to a bookcase or sideboard.

To me, as an Atalante user, the looks are functional and certainly will fit into many living space with ease. But it’s what’s behind the surface that is more significant; we have some really interesting loudspeaker technology here, much of it derived from the Atalante range.

Revival Audio Sprint 3 speaker review https://the-ear.net

Design

The Sprint range was developed in collaboration with A+A Cooren Design, an award-winning design studio in Paris. The aim was to create hi-fi that embodied modern French elegance, coupled with classic aesthetic minimalism. It took many months of refinement and finessing before the products were market-ready. “Every minute detail and nuance has been designed with purpose to create visual and auditory coherence”, I am told.

Of note is the proprietary Elytron front baffle which has both directivity control and diffraction optimization built into the design. This has an asymmetric shape with profiling intended to enhance high frequency directivity as a waveguide for the tweeter. It also optimises the mid to low frequency performance by reducing the diffraction impact of sharp cabinet edges. Elytron houses a RASC 28mm soft-dome tweeter, Revival’s own driver, coated with a secret recipe and incorporating an integral and patented anti reflection inner dome said to absorb over 95% of resonance in the chamber.

The main driver is a 7-inch woofer with a basalt-sandwich construction that is unique to the brand. Basalt is extracted from lava stone, it has not been used before in high-end audio applications but has similar characteristics to glass fibre yet with greater stiffness. The sandwich construction consists of three layers: felt is applied to the back of the basalt membrane and a polymer glue lies between the two for the best damping characteristics. The woofer is said to be lightweight and yet rigid, with excellent damping – just what you need to create a fast and smooth response with tight bass dynamics.

Revival Audio Sprint 3 speaker review https://the-ear.net

Sound quality

Initially I sat the Sprint 3s on my filled Custom Design stands and connected to a Hegel H190 streamer/DAC/amp, but during the review Hegel’s new and mighty H600 powerhouse arrived and it was quite the pairing. Placement of the speakers proved very straightforward, although foam bungs are provided for the large rear reflex ports should the bass output prove overpowering in particular acoustics. The speakers also presented a ‘friendly’ load to the amplifier so theoretically don’t require the power of a Hegel H600.

Before the listening panel arrived, I spent some enjoyable days with the Sprint 3s, which had been supplied pre-run in for the review. Overall, the sound was similar to that I experience daily with my more expensive Revival model, displaying the same characteristics of openness, transparency and neutrality. Which is perhaps not surprising given the similarity in design and comparable drive units. The bass seemed incredible for the price-point and appeared to virtually match that which I experience from a design at more than twice the cost: bass is clean, tight and deep (for the cabinet and driver size), helped by that large port. These boxes are capable of superb soundstaging too, time after time, I was presented with a huge spread of material which extended far wider, deeper and even higher than the cabinet extremes.

Revival Audio Sprint 3 speaker review https://the-ear.net

One piece which stood out as being exceptionally well reproduced was JS Bach’s choral prelude Sleepers Awake (the Bach Players). This piece retained all its captivating quality, the fluid and lyrical form and the exemplary playing. The tone remained as pure as I ever remember, likened to a glass harmonica quality, especially from the violino piccolo. Of particular note are the imaging abilities of this not extravagant loudspeaker, they are sublime and surpass those of much costlier models, even those from major brands.

Staying with Bach and a seasonal offering, Now Come, Saviour of the Heathens (BWV 659) – where this Lutheran chorale of 1524 certainly showed how the Sprint 3s punch above their weight, well price. The chorale was used as the prominent hymn for the First Sunday of Advent for centuries and this organ setting by Bach was extremely uplifting, the bass resonating as though one was in genuine proximity to the mighty organ itself. This surely is what a high-class transducer is all about.

The panel’s choice

The panel assembled and the tone changed as we began with Avril Lavigne and her Sk8er Boi track from 2002. Not a favourite of mine but it made my feet tap along to the tune, so the Sprint 3s pass muster when it comes to timing credentials. The panel rated the sound highly, even the more raucous parts which are sometimes presented as a mere mishmash gained delineation in the voice and individual instruments. Overall, the Sprint 3s handled the track with aplomb and are clearly well engineered to be able to do so.

Revival Audio Sprint 3 speaker review https://the-ear.net

By way of gaining my personal endorsement on female vocals we indulged in Laura Branigan’s hit Gloria which has become something of a ‘test favourite’. From the first note, the Sprint 3s handled the speed, agility and dynamics of this rather demanding track. Many a lesser loudspeaker struggles with the complexity here, but not the Revivals. To their credit, they created a hugely believable rendition of a song that reveals the imperfections in many a more costly design.

Back to the 1960s we went and Tom Jones’ What’s New Pussy Cat, a favourite of one panel member who said it was one of the best results he’d heard, notably (from the original version) that included a 13-second instrumental introduction, ending in the sound of shattering glass which was mighty realistic. I was also taken by the delicacy of the highs from that soft-dome tweeter which produced a sweet and detailed treble, managing to avoid brittleness and sharpness, albeit from what was an analogue recording that’s been digitally remastered.

With Taylor Swift in the news again, it was time to revisit her first big crossover hit We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Big smiles appeared across all our faces from the up-beat tempo and use of distortion producing something slightly different for this artist. The Sprint 3s handled the melody well and we enjoyed the song’s ‘oohs’ and the way they rise in pitch ahead of the main chorus when she adds an extra syllable to the word ‘we’ by vaulting up half an octave. This was handled well by the Sprints and the panellists scored them highly for their overall rhythmic abilities.

Revival Audio Sprint 3 speaker review https://the-ear.net

Before departing, we tried some off-air material and tuned to BBC R1Xtra with its limited dynamics and usually pumping basslines. That day was no exception as we heard On My Love by Zara Larsson and David Guetta. The bass was certainly enough to excite the audience and, here again, pace, rhythm and timing was shown to be among the Sprint 3’s strengths. Not to mention the sonorous levels of low-frequency information and none of the pitfalls that so often befall models at this price level. In larger rooms, the floor-standing Sprint 4s will probably be preferable but in my modest and never bass-light listening environment, the Sprint 3s were more than able to reproducing basslines and create solid imaging with a sharply-focused soundstage.

Living with the Sprint 3s in my daily system, I enjoyed hours of my usual audio diet comprising news and current affairs, radio drama and lots of live material via BBC Radio 3 concerts. I was struck by the midrange quality and absence of cabinet colorations. It’s so common to have to endure boxiness, or harshness of sound in the form of sibilance, nasality or chestiness to human speech. I am delighted to say that these Revivals eschew all of these unpleasant characteristics.

Before repacking the review samples, I enjoyed a Radio 3 concert by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (under Jaap van Zweden) including Mahler’s First. Intending to enjoy just the first movement, I ended up almost mesmerised by the entire work and the sheer realism that was being produced. The concert venue really was being brought to my listening room in an incredibly believable way, such that the performers could have been in front of me at, not least during the invigorating and triumphant climax. It was a moving note to end the review on and a lovely memory to take away from my experience of a loudspeaker which will give untold pleasure to all who use it.

Revival Audio Sprint 3 speaker review https://the-ear.net

Conclusion

If I didn’t already own a pair of Revival’s more expensive speakers, I would have no hesitation in purchasing the Sprint 3. They are of a contemporary design and produce a contemporary sound with vivid imaging that reaches out to draw the listener in. In its class it sets something of a new reference and offers amazing value for money. This comes from European design, with Far Eastern manufacture, and features a cabinet with a revolutionary baffle design with clear sonic benefits.

Revival has another winner in the Sprint 3 and one which could easily cost a great deal more. It manages to create a modern, involving sound and yet avoids the over-blown bass and excess treble that are prevalent in too many new loudspeaker designs. In the main, the Sprint 3 balance allows the music to be enjoyed as intended by the recording engineer, you can’t ask for much more than that.

They were a dream on speech-based material, a delight on classical repertoire and yet, with their bass credentials, a breeze when it comes to rock and pop (across several eras) when played in a moderately-sized room. I just can’t wait to see what Revival produce next; they are an exciting young brand with an even more exciting product line. A hearty recommendation and a bargain to boot.

Specifications:

Type: reflex loaded 2-way standmount loudspeaker
Crossover frequency: 1.8kHz
Drive units:
Mid/bass: 7” (180mm) BSC (basalt sandwich construction)
Tweeter: 1 1/8” (28mm) soft-dome ARID (anti reflection inner dome)
Nominal frequency response:  55 – 22,000 Hz  (-3dB)
Nominal impedance: 6 Ohms
Sensitivity: 87dB @ 2.83v/1m
Connectors: single-wire binding posts
Dimensions HxWxD: 380 x 213 x 307mm
Weight: 9.1kg
Finishes: Blonde Oak, Matte Black, Walnut
Warranty: 5 years

Price when tested:
£990
stands £399
Manufacturer Details:

Revival Audio
https://revivalaudio.fr

Type:

standmount loudspeakers

Author:

Trevor Butler

Distributor Details:

Elite Audio UK
T 0800 464 7274
http://www.eliteaudiouk.com/

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