When to Make the Move to a REL Line Array

Hint: It’s Closer Than You May Think!

This is for the lucky audiophile or wealthy music lover who has come to a particularly delicious crossroads. Why delicious? Because it means that they’ve built a truly high-quality system, the kind of system most hobbyists can only dream of. Awesome speakers? Check. Fantastic electronics? Of course. Great cables? Got ‘em. They even own a pair of advanced RELs (a pair of Serie S, or Carbon Specials or goodness knows, even Reference No.31s or No.32s). They are ahead of the crowd in virtually every way.

This is the point the fortunate few arrive at. And while it’s thrilling, it makes their next move that much more difficult. After all, they’ve built a fantastic system, one that is more than just a collection of pedigreed nameplates. Now, with the help of a great dealer and maybe the sage advice of some of those of us on the manufacturing side who have kept abreast of the evolution of our favorite 50 brands and can thus speak knowledgeably about the majority of the truly great combinations currently on offer, they have arrived.

Do they upgrade to the newest XYZ preamp (knowing that their dream system is that rarest of beasts; a high-end audio system that has ascended to a point wherein its whole is greater than the sum of its parts? Thus, “upgrading” to the “even higher resolution” preamp (or DAC,  or cables) that is fully capable of toppling the building blocks you’ve so carefully assembled. And (I know it’s hard to believe) to have a $20,000 preamp that 3 reviewers all swear is the cat’s pajamas but sounds like breaking glass in your system is both expensive and disheartening. Breathe, now take a step back. I’ve been lucky enough to have arrived at this seemingly perfect balance point at least three times in my career, and how I wish I had the option of a 6-pack of RELs.

You see, the reason this dilemma is so hard to solve intelligently is that, whether one acknowledges it or not, what our audiophile wants at this point in his or her evolution is someone to say to them “I know exactly what you want and it IS attainable.” Because what they want isn’t some minor tickle of additional resolution. They’re not the least bit impressed by someone telling them that “this cable is quieter and offers greater inner detail”. Piffle. Stop with the annoying, “I can get you a tiny bit more but if I give you much more of any one aspect, your whole system will topple over” kind of advice I all-too-often  hear tremulously offered up.

Nope, the big problem is this, and it’s very simple: Wonderful as it is in its highly evolved state, they want something for their system that will knock them off their horse.  That’s it in a nutshell. They already have something really, really fine. And the thing they’re craving—it’s like searching for a word or a name that’s right on the tip of your tongue and you can’t quite access it… THEY WANT IT ALL TO BE HUGELY FREAKIN’ BETTER. EVERYTHING, NOT SOME INFINITELY TINY ASPECT OF MICRODYNAMICS OF INNER DETAIL OR… OR…OR… Whew…okay…sorry for shouting.

Yup, that’s it. When you get that close to the mountaintop, there exists a need to break through dramatically and finally pull it all together in a way that speaks to your inner Trumpian (“Yes I own Mar a Lago, what’s your point?” sort of way) self. And that applies to us Democrats as well.

Six Packs. There, I’ve said it. REL Six Packs–slang for vertical stacks of 3 RELs per side of a 2-channel extravaganza, or an Olympian theatre. These are the only thing this writer has ever heard that can take a system of the sort described, grab it by the lapels and throw it over the barricades. So thoroughly and completely that it breaks through–nope, it shatters–every expensively-compromised past decision I ever had to make when it comes to this Gordian knot that only the fortunate few have ever faced.

Others are now saying it. When you finally hear what a properly dialed-in REL Line Array of Serie S, Carbon Specials, or Reference No.31 or No.32 can deliver, it simply takes the system to a level, in every regard, that the industry never could offer customers before. IA REL 6-pack is about so much more than subwoofers. It’s not about huge, loud overbearing bass. That’s why a critical element of a proper 6-pack is individual channels of amplification and crossover per REL. Only in that way can a knowledgeable person balance all the virtues for the greater good of every aspect of the system. Once heard, it’s well-nigh impossible to go back because one finally can creep down the stairs on random midnight in June, like a Christmas mouse  in search of Santa’s cookies. And turning on their system, marvel at this remarkable experience that they can enjoy anytime they wish. I know because sometimes I do, but I keep the volume very low so as not to disturb the neighbors. You see, I don’t own Mar a Lago, I own something infinitely more satisfying.

December 16, 2022 - Posted in: System Thinking