Quad Revela 1 Loudspeaker

hfnoutstandingQuad's first new speakers in some seven years feature an evolved version of the ribbon tweeter seen in its 'Corner Horn' of 70 years ago. Now, of course, they come in pairs!

For nearly nine years, I have been listening to Quad's ribbon-hybrid S-1 speaker – the brand's smallest two-way box-type system – as part of my day-to-day desktop set-up. When they were launched, I revelled in the realisation that they were a throwback to Quad's first ever loudspeaker, the Corner Ribbon of 1949, and the all-new Revela 1 tells you that the company's boffins, based in the UK and China, haven't been sitting idle since 2015.

At under £500 per pair, the 285x156x240mm (hwd) S-1 was a beer budget bargain, and the Revela 1 looks to repeat the experience in much the same way as the floorstanding £3499 Revela 2 updates Quad's S-5 [HFN Jan '16]. Admittedly, at £1799 per pair, the Revela 1 is far costlier than was the S-1, but its value, as we will discover, is arguably higher still. I was not prepared for the leap in performance…

Worth Their Weight
For starters, the Revela 1 is substantially larger at 395x246x280mm (hwd) and its 27x60mm 'Quad True Ribbon' is much bigger than the S-1's 12x45mm variant. And, where the S-1 used a 100mm woven Kevlar bass/mid driver, the Revela 1 is fitted with a 165mm 'advanced fibre composite' cone unit called the 'Reveal' (lending the speaker its name) crossing over at 2.9kHz. It features a damped pulp/aramid fibre cone, smoothly attached to rubber surrounds and with care taken to avoid reflection of soundwaves at the boundary.

While the dimensions immediately tell you that these are manageable standmounts, they are deceptively heavy, the box containing the two weighing just under 25kg. Quad doesn't specify the weight, but I'd guess 11kg each. The bulk can be attributed to the exquisite cabinet, one of the most impressive things about the Revela 1 being the way it looks. It is simply gorgeous, a mix of gloss-lacquered wood veneer inserts and black gloss top, back, bottom, baffle and trim. All edges are rounded – this is a low-diffraction enclosure – giving it an organic mien, and it's a visual treat with or without Quad's charcoal grey grilles, thanks to the drive units being finished to display standards.


The gloss-finished, radiused cabinet comprises 'optimally stressed' and braced panels and is damped with foam and long fibres. Grille is magnetically attached

I'm not even sure if the photos can do it justice. You really have to see this speaker in the room on a pair of stands to appreciate how luxurious it is, not looking out of place standing next to the sublime Franco Serblin Accordo Goldberg. Yes, the Revela 1 delivers that level of pride of ownership and perceived value.

Although Quad offers dedicated stands for an extra £700, they weren't supplied for the review, so I used my references, Music Tools' Tool One (67cm version). Interestingly, as the Revela 1 arrived at the same time as the Accordo Goldberg, I simply replaced the Goldbergs with the Revela 1s, and the swap even involved a similar toe-in. Also shared with the Accordo Goldberg is the need to stand in free space, so don't be fooled into thinking these can work on shelves.

On Target
It's not just that close proximity to the wall would compromise the rear port, for the focus of the ribbon tweeter is such that the Revela 1 needs precise targeting of the listener. However, while they share the Goldbergs' creation of a proscenium within the boundaries of the speaker they do not create much of the soundstage beyond their outer edges, so you will need to experiment with the size and shape of the triangle formed by their positioning relative to the hot seat.

Quad has configured the Revela 1 for single-wiring only, instead of the bi-wiring/bi-amping afforded by the S1. Even if bi-wiring is falling out of favour, much to the chagrin of cable vendors, the chunky multi-way binding posts fitted to the back of the Revela 1 are exceptional, being substantially made to afford plenty of grip when tightening, and able to accept bare wire, spade connectors or banana plugs.

These are simply indicative of how everything about Quad's loudspeaker defies its price category – even the magnetic grille has a luxury feel to it. Most people of an audiophile bent will play the Revela 1 without its grilles, but they will find that if the grilles are needed because of the presence of small children or sharp-clawed pets, the sonic penalty is far from disastrous.

sqnote All Is Revealed
Given that I simply swapped the Accordo Goldbergs for the Revela 1s, a further coincidence suggested beneficence from the audio gods: I didn't have to change amps because Quad's new standmount is no more hungry than the pricier Goldbergs, with not dissimilar sensitivity and impedance. Both enjoy being hammered and, my goodness, do these like largescale works and challenges to the woofers.

International Audio Group
Supplied by: Quad Hifi, IAG House, UK
01480 452561