- Clinically precise and detailed speakers, but not quite all-rounders
- Precise and organised
- Focused, expressive midrange
- Work well against a wall
- Well-integrated sound
- Beautiful finish
- Lack a fun-loving attitude
- Rivals have bigger scale, dynamic reach, more authority
You could say Wharfedale started the mid-ranging Reva speaker series not from the ground up, but rather from the first step.
Instead of building the Wharfedale Reva speakers from scratch or using downgraded elements from its top-ranging speakers, the company’s mission for the Reva range was to refine and upgrade the design and engineering of its entry-level, budget Diamond 200 Series in an effort to deliver a much better performance for a little more cash.
Wharfedale is invariably 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 budget Diamond 220 standmounts.
But this isn’t some half-hearted effort involving no more than minor tweaks and a new paint job (although it does have the latter). In fact, almost everything from driver design to cabinet construction has been revisited.
Build and compatibility
Reva-1 & Reva-2
As we take our first look at the Wharfedale Reva-2 speakers, 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 additional layers for a supposedly stronger, lower resonance structure, the cabinets are now curved and hand-finished with multiple layers of either piano white, piano black, piano deep rosewood or walnut lacquer.
They’re immediately appealing, which can’t be said for many speakers at this 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, which Wharfedale describes as rigid yet lightweight, and a 25mm tweeter across the range that sports a new fine-weave textile dome, and is mounted on a dished waveguide for better dispersion.
Lastly, Wharfedale has refined the slot-loaded port design first seen on the Diamond 100 Series for enhanced efficiency. The slot between the cabinet’s base and the plinth it sits on means they can sit close to a wall without bass dominating tonal balance.
We find this to be where they’re most comfortable. The Reva-2s rely on solid backing for the best balance and tight, firm bass response, so we’d have them no further than 30cm or so from a rear wall.
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 and pure 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 speaker.
With Mercury Rev’s Tonite It Shows, Jonathan Donahue’s nostalgia-wrapped crooning is intimate and delicate. The Waltz-like orchestration may sound like it’s coming from a music box, but through the Reva-2 speakers’ well-integrated drivers it’s a joy to listen to.
The ambience is densely textured, from dripping xylophone notes to weaving strings and melodic brass, and cross-stitched together with a sense of natural cohesion.
It’s almost as though the Reva-2s paint a sonic panorama on which instruments appear to organically direct themselves into place.
In Olafur Arnald’s Ljosio, there’s stark control and precision to the way the Wharfedales take in the harmonics and subtle dynamic changes of the piano piece.
While they can’t match the expansive scale or dynamic reach of bigger-sounding rivals, and therefore will be more at home in smaller rooms, there’s still plenty of scale and space in the soundstage.
There’s an undeniable thoroughness to the Wharfedale Reva-2 speakers, but despite their insightful and straight-laced nature, you can’t help feel that something is missing.
And it takes our playlist moving away from classical compositions to Broken Bells’ Holding on for Life to figure out 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 fails to move with the energy required. Essentially, the lack of fun-loving attitude stands in the way of them being as engaging with 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, the Wharfedale Reva-2s can’t always supply the thrills you might be seeking.
While they aren’t the most versatile speakers out there, they are masters of precision and detail. And if those keywords top your list of sonic must-haves, there’s plenty reason for them to win you over.