There’s a popular school of thought in audio that says the world doesn’t need more speaker brands. However, I think it would be fairer to say the world doesn’t need any more clones of speaker brands. This paves the way for companies like Revival Audio from Alsace in France. Revival takes classic stand-mount loudspeakers and fills those cabinets with very smart technology. Revival Audio’s Atalante 3 is the result. It’s a fine blend of classic looks on the outside and cleverness on the inside. It sounds good too!
There are a lot of newbie brands that disappear almost as soon as the products ship. While there are no guarantees in business, Revival Audio ticks all the right boxes for being a ‘stayer’. First, while the paint is still drying on the company’s logo, Revival Audio’s co-founders have racked up many years in the industry in all the right places. Designer Daniel Emonts has worked with Altec‑Lancing and Focal. Recently he spent almost six years in a senior engineering role in Dynaudio’s acoustics R&D department. Meanwhile, Jacky Lee was the Chief Commercial Officer at Dynaudio, having led the creation of Dynaudio China in 2016. This is an almost perfect balance for a start-up. You need someone with a track record of design smarts and someone with the business acumen to keep the plates spinning.
On the surface…
On a purely surface level, there’s nothing unconventional about the Revival Audio Atalante 3. It has a 28mm soft dome tweeter and a 180mm mid-woofer in a neatly finished wood-veneer cabinet. This has a large rear port roughly the same height as the tweeter. The company provides a matching stand with relatively thin uprights but does the job well.
Where the innovative part kicks in is in those two drivers. The tweeter has an asymmetric dome suspension with its own custom coating. This is called ‘RASC’. The acronym isn’t broken down, but it’s probably not the Royal Army Service Corps. This sits in an overlarge magnet with a clever back-chamber damping device, and an even cleverer Anti-Resonance Inner Dome, which sits close behind the dome itself and effectively shunts standing waves (that would otherwise propagate in that space behind the dome) into the yoke of the tweeter. In short, low resonance (a claimed low resonance frequency of 520Hz) without damping.
The mid-woofer is even smarter. Once again, it uses an oversized magnet, and there is an asymmetry in the design. This time it’s in the guise of the vented basket behind the cone. But it’s the cone itself that garners all the headlines, as it’s a Basalt Sandwich Construction, with woven fibres made of cooled-down lava on the outer layer, a glued felt middle layer and a foam-cone back layer. Revival Audio make much of basalt’s eco-friendly nature (wherever there are – or were – volcanoes, there’s cone material), but I’d argue that the other two layers counter the grey cone’s green credentials. Regardless, the BSC layout does end up with an extremely light yet rigid cone that is also well-damped; the ideal ‘power trio’ for any bass or mid-bass unit.
The loudspeakers are ‘handed’ meaning the tweeters are offset from the centreline of the baffle. Traditionally, this gives the listener the option of some degree of soundstage width control; have them closer to one another for a tighter ball of sound between the speakers; on the outer half of the baffle for a wider stage. However, Revival Audio notionally identifies ‘left’ and ‘right’ speakers, with the tweeters facing out.
Similarly, the rear port does necessitate some ‘breathing space’ between the loudspeaker and the rear wall. Not a great deal (30cm is fine, and there are bungs for close-to-wall settings), but pure boundary placement is out. The speakers are designed for small to medium sized rooms (15m2 to 35m2) and are happy with any amplifier from about 30W to a power handling limit of 150W. What’s more with a 87dB sensitivity and an impedance rating of 6Ω (with a mild 4.4Ω minimum at 175Hz), this is not a loudspeaker to trouble the kind of electronics it is likely to partner with; I used a Primare I35 Prisma to great effect, but the general consensus is ‘unfussy’ in amplifier partnerships.
These are slightly wider baffle designs than most current ‘bookshelf’ designs. Not by much and it’s only noticeable when placing them side-by-side with something like the (admittedly smaller) ProAc Tablette 10 Signature. While it’s more of a concern with slimline floorstanding designs, I routinely prefer the dispersion and soundstaging properties of wider-baffle loudspeakers, and the Revival Audio Atalante 3 is a perfect demonstration of why I have that preference.
The Revival Audio Atalante 3 has excellent dispersion properties. This means less of a ‘hot seat’ in the listening room, making the sound more uniformly good for other listeners. In other words, if you listen more in a ‘living room’ than a ‘man cave’, others enjoy the performance. Even if you are the only listener, that wide dispersion makes the loudspeaker less demanding on speaker and listener position.
Over and above that, it’s the outstanding soundstage that really hits home first. These speakers act almost like electrostatics in their imaging properties. In a small room, this acts to belie their size; you think you are listening to a large-scale loudspeaker capable of separating out all the instruments in an orchestra. Granted when you throw the last movement of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony [Decca, Solti] at the Atalante 3, eventually, the size of the speaker begins to shine through, but in all other settings, you get a wide, deep and even high soundstage that feels like the real thing.
We live in a world where a speaker cannot be too fussy. It needs to shine with outstanding musical sources, of course, but it also needs to sound good when the provenance of file or even engineering isn’t quite so wonderful. And this is something the Atalante 3 does exceptionally well. It’s more than detailed and informative enough to make recordings like ‘Clara’ by Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales [Room 29, DG] sing with clarity and precision, but it also doesn’t make a dog’s breakfast of tracks like Public Enemy’s ‘Rebel Without A Pause’ [It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Def Jam].
What is attractive about the Revival Audio Atalante 3 is that it manages to do everything sonically very well and one thing – soundstaging – supremely well. Too often, we find loudspeakers that are uniformly very good but fail to have that spark that makes them stand out in a hugely contended market. However, the alternative is often worse: a loudspeaker that does one or two things extremely well at the overall expense of the sound.
While the market of the 2020s tends to reward conformity over quirkiness, those of us who have been around the audio block a few times will have spent time with a speaker that ‘times well’ or ‘is exceptionally detailed’ only to find it become increasingly unlistenable as its myriad flaws come to light. The Atalante 3 does that rare thing of getting the basics right, and then builds upon that solid foundation of ‘good’ with first-class imaging.
Room size guidelines
Moreover, in the context of the room size guidelines by Revival Audio, there is enough solidity of image to bring that soundstage into even sharper focus. In a bigger room, you might find the underpinning of the bass too light to create the impression of image solidity. Still, in small rooms (where bass management is more about ‘taming’), this creates the perfect effect of room-filling staging. This is well met by a good tonality and the right balance of detail and precision without ‘brightly lit’ sounds. If your criticisms are trivial things like the absence of bi-wiring, you know you are on to a good thing.
It’s a bold move for a start-up to make its drive units, especially in a speaker that doesn’t cost as much as a Mercedes Benz. But it’s also a bold move that clearly pays dividends for the Revival Audio Atalante 3. I’d find it hard to name another small-brand speaker at the price that delivers the same outstanding performance. Even some of the big-name brands will struggle to match the Atalante 3’s overall strengths and absence of weaknesses. I think we are watching the birth of a new leader in loudspeaker design and with some real staying power.
- Type 2-way stand-mount, reflex-loaded loudspeaker
- Drivers 28mm soft-dome tweeter, 180mm BSC (Basalt Sandwich Construction) mid-woofer
- Frequency Response 44Hz–22kHz (-3dB)
- Sensitivity 87dB/2.83V/1metre
- Nominal Impedance 6Ω
- Minimum Impedance 4.4Ω at 175Hz
- Crossover Frequency 2.8kHz
- Power handling 30–150W
- Recommended Room Size 15-35m2
- Dimensions (H×W×D) 39×24×27cm
- Weight 11kg
- Price £2,390, stands £399
Tel (UK only): 0800 464 7274