REL Holiday Shopping Guide

Happy Holidays

For The Dorm or Home Office

First up is for a truly tiny space. Doesn’t matter if it’s a student dorm room, your first apartment (your dorm room was bigger) or a home office you’d like to outfit with some quality tunes.

System suggestion: In the US, try the Audioengine A2+. Has every buzzword and useful wired connection any 3 humans could want. Wireless, powered active speakers, they even look good in a slightly retro way. For REL types, you will NOT be able to use High Level simply because only one channel is accessible on the rear of the left speaker. Just plug an RCA into the low level input of the new Tzero MKIII or for a more dynamic sound that you can always use on a future home theatre go with an HT/1003. These little beauties are killer, just remember to keep the crossover setting low (under 9 o’clock) and you’ll hear fast, dynamic bass that extends lower than a $500/£499 sub should be able to deliver.


Redefining Power & Value

Tzero MKIII is every bit a true REL, just smaller.  It enriches even modest systems with power and natural bass by bringing the quality and full REL connectivity all at an attractive price point and size.


Compact Power & Punch

For when there is simply neither the space nor the need for all the output of a larger HT model. HT/1003 applies the same approach as its impressive stable mates and scales it down by just a little.  Scaled down design, up-sized performance.

Hot Tip: For a nice step up, grab a pair of Pro-Ject Audio’s SpeakerBox 5 (around $300/pr) and drive them with a PS Audio Sprout (AROUND $699) along with the same Tzero MKIII ($449) and for around $1500 you have a really neat, complete system.

For The Young Professional’s Flat

Congrats, you graduated, did whatever needed to be done to get a few steps up the ladder and never forgot your love for music and movies. You have a flat with a little more room, you’re still listening to music and streaming movies and sports, usually fed via Bluetooth off your phone or a streaming device direct to your TV, but in the back of your brain you’re remembering how the song sounded live in concert or the movie in the theater, or the sports game live in the stadium and you have a desire to recreate that at home.

What’s next? A pair of KEF LS-50’s –around $1500/£1200 on decent stands is what. Or better yet, a pair of Harbeth P3’s at double the price, but what a sublime little speaker. Amazon sells some decent, heavy 28” stands for around $140/pr. Use BluTack to fix them to the stands. Your PS Audio Sprout will still work fine, but the LS-50 sounds best paired with a T/7i, or expand to a pair when funds permit.


Balance Point – The Perfect Blend

T/7i is, without reservation, one of the most-balanced RELs of all time. In order to achieve perfect balance, a sub must weigh speed against heft, while ensuring true extension-depth-and do so in a physically harmonious package. T/7i manages to make it all seem easy. Quick and delicate for a perfect blend, it can pound out exceptionally deep, tuneful bass that belies its size and plays louder than most will ever require.

Modulating scale, while never compromising quality, T/7i provides the speed and punch of the T/9i, scaled to integrate seamlessly with more modest yet still highly sophisticated systems.

For The New Homeowner

So now things start to get fun, you’ve finally got a bit of room, maybe even a dedicated music room. Ok, maybe not. But you’ve got a decent-sized living room, a big flat panel tv so you can watch movies, NetFlix and all the other streaming media without which we’d starve. You want to create a gathering space. Someplace where you and your significant other and family can listen to music and watch tv and movies together. So, you start with your trusty old LS-50 KEFs on stands but you’re really able to do something a fair bit better. Step up to the KEF R-7’s, they’re a big step up from the LS-50’s with stands and will give you much more impactful theatre dynamics and sheer output.

Take it a step further and add an R2c center channel ($1200), move your trusty LS-50’s to the rear channel. Repurpose your T/7i to beef up the center channel, add on a pair of T/9i to the R-7 KEFs and add an HT/1205 or HT/1003 to the rear channels and you have a truly enveloping theatre with the ability to deliver beautiful sounding music anytime the desire hits you. This system, called REL 3-D, delivers on the promise Dolby set forth over two decades ago and can be built up over time.


T/9i RED Ltd Edition

The Most T/i Available – The Series Flagship

We have a longstanding tradition of requiring the top model in any range to be more. More than the sum of its parts, it represents the grandest scale, the highest output and the most we can do within any given technology envelope.

T/9i represents the most of T/i that we can deliver, and if sheer output alone is a primary requirement for your theater or music system then read no further. The combination of a lightweight, composite 10” driver coupled to a matching 10” T/i passive delivers speed, slam and attack when called upon but also is capable of tracing more delicate passages when necessary. Large in sonic scale, the T/9i is ideal for mating up with floor standing speakers and rooms that are on the medium-to-large size. Powerful, concussive, yet beautiful.

Hot Tip: For something truly special, indulge in the incredible (and incredibly beautiful and limited) T/9i Red Limited Edition.

For The Audio Aficionado

You’re a little bored but don’t know why. Life has been kind to you, you have a family–hey a dog or cat can be all the family anyone needs—and you’re ready for something more. For those of us who love music and movies, it can be the joy of finally being able to build out a really good system; maybe not true exotica but not having to make do quite as much as you had to in the past. Here’s a go at a lovely double duty system, capable of bringing joy to its owners.

To do dual duty, we’re looking at companies that not only make fine speakers, but also make a complete theatre suite to allow for the movie watching experience. I put an arbitrary cap of $10,000/£9,000 on main speakers and chose a mainstream company. We’ll go with the French company Focal and if you know anything about the French school of music reproduction—yes, various nationalities or regions do seem to have preferences.

Scandinavian and Swiss companies seem to favor arctic clarity, the British generally speaking prefer warm, cozy sound rather like their homes. The French tend to prefer a bright, fast sound with good dynamics and rhythmic abilities. Verve is the word that comes to mind.

At $10,000 the Focal Kanta No. 2’s fit the bill nicely. Stylish and well-finished, they use natural flax fibers in their midrange drivers for natural midranges so important to seeing well inside the music and critical for dialogue articulation in movie sound. A beryllium inverted dome tweeter delivers sparkle which can become spitty if not well setup. Careful rake adjustment, a subtle backward tilt helps tame this during setup.

Match this with a pair of REL S/510’s ($2,500 each); here’s a sub that has speed and detail for days while still delivering the lower end weight and extension RELs are known for. A stereo pair is always best for getting the most clarity and broad soundstage from a system.


Extreme Performance – Compact Package

S/510 takes REL’s compact-medium chassis concept to reference-like levels of performance and does so with style, power and incredible speed. It delivers incredible levels of all ‘round performance. S/510 allows those with less space, or when pairing with high end speakers that are slightly less robust to have a perfect dance partner when the S/812 is simply too much of a great thing.

For S/510, every aspect of the previous generation’s inner workings were examined without regard to its critical and customer-driven success. We turned a fresh eye to power requirements, driver improvements, and specialty filters, upgrading each-to extract all the extra performance possible. All this alongside the cabinet refinements necessary for those upgrades to emerge cleanly. This latest S range is a triumphant development that has exceeded every expectation of our design team.

There you have it, four different system recommendations that satisfy very different size, usage, and space requirements. We took you on an imaginary journey through 30 years of life, with sample systems along the journey. Dreams are important, it allows one to have a guide point to imagine these kinds of rewards for the hard work we all put into our careers. Each recommendation is grounded in our philosophy of building fundamentally sound systems that deliver remarkably satisfying experiences by making great decisions up front in how to balance the priorities in a system.

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