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At the mention of the company Revox, founded more than 70 years ago, its famous reel-to-reel tape recorders immediately come to mind – not as fancy and expensive as purely studio analog reel-to-reel machines, but not inferior to the latter in technical characteristics.
But unlike other brands-patriarchs, Revox did not leave its “near-studio” niche and did not hit the open consumer goods. It is still a purely European manufacturer, and a strong one, with not only an engineering building in Zurich, but also a separate sales office in Austria and its own assembly base in the Southwest of Germany. They produce advanced vinyl players and elite audio components for home systems, a number of passive speakers and loudspeakers in the most advanced trends – for example, the StudioArt wireless active speakers.
The audio bar considered here is perhaps the main product of 2020 for the brand and the most recent addition to the StudioArt line. Its name shows a combination of a design component with a professional filling, i.e. the product itself is clearly not mass-produced and is addressed to the most demanding customers. To verify this, simply try to move the S100 from its place – this speaker system weighs more than a pair of active studio mini-monitors. Solid!
The StudioArt S100 case, covered with a mesh grill, looks simple only from the outside, but in fact it is a rather complex, well-damped and almost monolithic construction made of glass, metal and plastic. In the off state, only the Revox logo is read, and when the audio bar comes to life, touch controls are displayed on the top panel. When the inputs are switched and the volume is adjusted, the alphanumeric LED display hidden under the front grid also turns on for a short time. Such minimalism is generally typical for all European AV equipment, but in general it is the most sensible approach to design and illumination, because the acoustics installed under the video panel should not distract attention.
The functionality of StudioArt S100 goes far beyond the usual framework. Firstly, this is not just a replacement for the frail regular TV speakers, but a transition to a different quality level and high power. The acoustic section is built on three full-range speakers and four long-stroke woofers (measuring 7 and 8.4 cm, respectively). The amplification is completely separate – from the 7 x 30 W section. The division into frequency bands and the necessary correction of the frequency response to obtain a linear sound is carried out using the DSP, which is also “wired” into the basic decoding of Dolby Digital.
Secondly, one glance at the rear patch panel of the S100 is enough to immediately see a worthy alternative to an AV receiver in this unit. There are four HDMI ports (one with ARC), and they are brought out into a wide niche and are carefully oriented parallel to the back wall, which will simplify the process of connecting cables. The digital interface is complemented by an optical and coaxial input, the analog one – with standard line inputs and a subwoofer output. Network connection is provided by a LAN port and built-in WiFi / AirPlay 2 / Bluetooth wireless adapter.
Thirdly, if you open the Revox StudioArt mobile application, as many as 16 available sources will appear on the main page – three streaming services (Spotify, Deezer, Tidal) have been added to the listed “hardware” inputs and a pair of wireless ones, an entrance to your local network music storage, and Also connect to your favorite web stations and podcasts. In my opinion, the described possibilities are enough for the eyes. And if not, then you can also connect Google Chromecast – with so many HDMI ports, any free socket for turning on a universal media player will probably remain.
The proprietary application also configures the entire audio bar configuration and tone control, centralized control of additional StudioArt zones and wireless connection of other Revox components to the S100. But in the kit you will also find a traditional remote control – quite solid, functional and convenient.
As an independent unit, the audio bar produces either stereophonic sound when listening to music from any music sources, or recreates the full front (left, center, right channels) when playing multi-channel programs. With the universal subwoofer B100 (suitable for both wired and wireless connections), we will obtain, respectively, a sound field according to the formula 2.1 or 3.1. And in combination with cylindrical monitors A100 / P100 – 5.1. The system does not provide for extensions for even more advanced configurations.
Purists can opt for a couple of separate wireless A100s for their surround satellites if they want to get rid of the connecting cable between active and passive speakers. All components are connected via the KleerNet wireless protocol, which provides extremely low latency, and the signal transmission quality is not inferior to professional radio interfaces for stage or sound recording. So in this part, the entire StudioArt ecosystem is implemented seriously – according to studio standards, one might say.
Now you can move on to the sound itself. Before listening, I was a little embarrassed by only one circumstance: the electronic part of StudioArt formally meets the Hi-Res Audio standards, but the capabilities of the acoustic section are limited by the 44 … 20,000 Hz band.
But do not rush to blame Revox engineers for saving on buzzer or super-tweeters. You will surely be surprised when you hear a clear difference in the quality of the content being played through the broadband drivers. It manifests itself not in the detail of the high register, but in the presentation of the very foundation – the tracks in CD-quality are reproduced with the usual digital clarity, but the high-cuts begin to sound like analog recordings – more figuratively, with subtle articulatory moments! This integrity and plausibility is often destroyed in conventional acoustics by crossover filters or masked by redundant information in the upper spectrum. And there is nothing distracting in the sound of the S100 – the dynamics at the edges of the range are slightly weakened, but not crushed, and the middle on this basis is perceived as open and flat, and most importantly, it is completely devoid of any distortions or overtones.
It would be trivial to blame the S100 for not having a wide enough stereo base or for the limited playback capabilities of the lowest range, because this is the weak point of all such systems. By the way, in comparison with other models of the same format, the Revox audio bar is simply a master of extracting bass texture. He confidently conveys almost the entire range of drums, is distinguished by a good and legible filling of the mid-bass part. In general, the nature of the bass delivery by this acoustics can be called neither dry, nor empty, nor droning – rather, monitor. And his sound as a whole, perhaps, can even be considered an example in the class.
If you want to add to this clarity mute juicy and rhythmic notes, then without hesitation, complete the S100 with a B100 subwoofer. You will not regret. This bass machine has a long-throw 21.5 cm driver, a 150-watt built-in amplifier and a full set of controls, so it looks like a real professional thing against the background of all other tambourines that are offered for such kits. And it sounds accordingly – you can get the correct studio-style bass support both with a simple wireless connection, and with a classic analog one, via cable.