Revox Network Receiver

 Revox has long written its name in Hi-Fi history. Established in 1952 as the home division of the professional Studer brand, it gained popularity in the tape recorder segment, making many famous reel-to-reel and cassette models in the 60s and 70s, and subsequently switched to the production of loudspeakers.

Revox Network Receiver

Price $3600

In 1990, when the company's founder Willy Studer stepped down from the department, it was sold to investors; production continued, but since then we have rarely heard about it.

Brand resurrection

This was the case until ISE 2015, where we discovered Revox in the pavilions of the Amsterdam RAI exhibition center. Until recently, it mainly produced multi-room systems for foreign markets, but now it has introduced a new line of stereo components called Joy.

It includes a music collection server, a CD player, three network receivers and an all-in-one system. Together with five pairs of Revox speakers suitable for the Joy family, they are designed to rekindle the brand's past love.

Today we get acquainted with the oldest of the three network receivers - Revox Joy S120. The amplifier and streaming player are packaged in a stylish half-width aluminum case.

It has a very modern and minimalist design; so minimalistic that there is not even a display on the front panel - only an LED that changes color from dark blue to white when the component is turned on and off.

Application or remote control

We wouldn't have ditched the display, or at least a few diodes to indicate a working input, but it turned out that to set up the system, select songs and view information, it is proposed to use a free application for iOS or Android, or buy the S208 remote control for $ 500. The latter is similar to the one that comes with Cyrus' network players; it is comfortable and pleasant, the full color display makes it easy to navigate the menu. It can also serve as a universal remote control for any other equipment and is equipped with a motion sensor that turns on when taken in hand.

Whether it's worth paying as much as $500 for it is another question: the application copes with the basic functions quite well, although sometimes it turns out to be not very clear and reliable. During testing, we encountered several times it freezes and crashes; in addition, unlike the remote control, it could not download album art from the server.

Despite the compactness of the Revox case, it manages to pack an amazing amount into it. First of all, it's an enviable 120 watts per channel and a wide range of connections. In addition to speaker connectors, there are two coaxial and two optical inputs, a USB Type A port, two analog inputs, one analog and one digital output, and a subwoofer output.

Network Features

An Ethernet port will allow you to enter the network, and switching with a Joy CD player will control both components; you can also add an FM / DAB + tuner module. For broadcasting from portable devices, the built-in AptX Bluetooth is useful.

High-end manufacturers are increasingly opting for Class D amplification over the more traditional options, and Revox has done the same in this case. Perhaps someone would prefer class AB circuits, like the Naim UnitiQute 2, but the pulse method provides high efficiency: with such an enviable power, the S120 hardly heats up.

Connecting it to the reference system, we quickly completed the setup. Revox immediately found the wireless network and connected to it. To start testing, we offered the S120 as a Naim music server source.

Playing content in different formats - from streaming broadcasts from Spotify to HD-files with 24-bit / 192 kHz sampling - shows a similar sonic character, and only Bluetooth introduces the expected drop in quality.

It should be noted that the tracks of the 24/192 standard had problems with the beginning and end of playback, the source of which we could not identify. There were no problems with other formats; Probably, the matter is in incorrect data exchange between devices.

Revox Network Receiver

Directness and immediacy

The CD copy of alt-J's Breezeblocks brings out the S120's exceptional straightness, which reduces the weight and credibility of the sound a bit. The advantages include the skillful transfer of decisive tempo and an enviable drive in more vigorous fragments of the song. Unfortunately, the rhythm is not always equally good; in gloomy and ponderous places the receiver lacks patience and subtlety, and changes in tempo are not very successful. However, with the right choice of music, this approach may be appropriate.

Its straightforward nature is exceptionally appropriate for playing songs such as Faithless's Insomnia - it sounds very impressive and energetic.

Unexpressed dynamics

However, despite the bouncy and determined tempo that really makes for a very enjoyable experience, the S120 fails to capture the rapid changes in song dynamics; we counted on a more adequate recreation of the ups and downs inherent in the music.

Detailing is generally not bad, but the most subtle nuances elude the attention of the receiver. Voices and instruments lack depth and texture, resulting in a somewhat one-dimensional sound.

This lack of elaboration, coupled with an uneven character, ultimately affects the organization of the performance: in complex combinations of notes, the component fails to clearly form the start and decay of each of them.

In an attempt to find a way out, we replaced the neutral reference PBX speakers with speakers with a warmer and more relaxed sound - Q Acoustic Concept 40. This added weight to the bass and softened the overly straightforward approach of Revox, but the overall sound character remained stingy and not too expressive. It lacks the full-blooded openness that we expect in the case of class AB amplification circuits.

And even when we used the pre-out to completely bypass the power amp loop and use only the S120 streaming module, its character remained the same; this seems to be a common flaw in both stages of the device.

Thus, the Joy S120 lacks the sophistication to give the sound the expressiveness, excitement and articulation worthy of this price range. Regardless of the genres of music and their inherent characteristics of rhythms, voices and tonal palettes, the player failed to adequately convey the relative differences in their dynamics; so an average actor is not able to adapt his performance for a new audience.

Revox Network Receiver

Loudness lovers

The enviable power of the Joy S120, combined with the right speakers, will allow you to find a balance in which loud and large-scale music will sound just great. However, the receiver will not be able to hold your attention in more gentle passages and for long listening periods.

Another problem with the Joy S120 is the superb quality of less expensive competitors like the UnitiQute 2. We really like its open and expressive sound, and we're willing to put up with a little less power and missing a couple of inputs, especially considering the $1350 price difference.

The return of Revox was not as triumphant as we would like; in this price category, the new receiver has little chance.

Power; fast and energetic; connections; durable and stylish

Lack of expressiveness and elaboration; weak dynamics; unreliable application

The list of advantages is not small, but falls short of the level of the declared price

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