“S” Stands for Special

Why Serie S is the Heart and Soul of REL

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Bibliomancy as the use of “books of truth” to provide divine insight. The process goes as follows:

  1. A book is picked that is believed to hold the truth.
  2. It is balanced on its spine and allowed to fall open.
  3. A passage is picked with the eyes closed.

Now open your eyes.

Just four months elapsed between signing the purchase documents to buy REL in 2005 and showing full production-ready pre-production models of the new R-205, R-305, and R-505 models at CES in January of 2006. One month later, we began shipping the first 3,000 units of each. My book of truth led me to create the original R Series, which laid down the firm principles that still guide REL to this day.

While the R Series eventually evolved into the Serie S of today, it contains the core DNA that makes all modern RELs truly exceptional.

They all possess these three essential elements: Speed, Beauty, and High Output, in either greater measure (as in our Reference models), or slightly lesser (for example, Serie T/x). Still, we manage to deliver so much more of these virtues and for far lower cost in our Serie T/x than any other maker strives for. I would add the obvious; all modern RELs go down significantly lower than their forbears.

If Serie S is the backbone of REL, it’d because we can offer the entirety of our 3-part formula in full measure, arguably the highest value, given that the Serie S delivers greater performance when compared to our more affordable models. Even hinting at what’s possible from our Reference models. Let’s put it this way, if the Serie S were a car, it would be a (lightly) optioned Porsche 911S. It would still possess all of the basic goodness of the lesser available models, like the 911 Turbo, or the even more rarefied GT-3. But even these harder to find models are there to deliver a unique experience which, like our own Reference models, the true connoisseur can enjoy. For the rest of us, the base 911, like the Serie S of REL, delivers far more than we even knew was possible.

So, how do we deliver this package of essential goodness? The specific ingredients are, A: a LOT of power, B: incredibly light drivers (the entire cone on an S/812 weighs just 20 grams, equal in weight to about 3-4 sheets of paper), and C: the ability to deliver over 2” of travel.  And they need that because – D: they are driven by a minimum 500 watts from our monoblock-designed power amp, or 800-1,000 watts in our larger models.

Loud? Very. But quiet too. We have enough extra in the budget to include a carbon-fibre structure on the rear of the cone, which both stiffens and quiets the driver’s output. This results in the desired deep bass impulse to be properly reproduced, but not the ongoing ringing that otherwise would blur and confuse the sound. There’s a proper tidiness to RELs that no other subwoofer comes close to delivering. Now you know how and why Serie S models deliver this quality. And, because they’re so well-designed and constructed, it’s exceedingly rare for a Serie S driver to sustain damage. In almost every instance that we see these come back, it’s the result of obvious abuse or an unfortunate accident, such as a house flooding and damaging amp and driver.

Truly Great Amplifiers: We never promise more than we can deliver. Our amps are capable of delivering more than we demand because they’re not based on the margins. Instead, we design and build every unit to be far more capable than we demand, allowing our amps to loaf along, relatively unstressed. We also rate them at constant RMS power, not peak momentary power, like our competitors. We know from over three decades of building what many reviewers refer to as simply the best subwoofers for music and movies, that doing so produces designs that can easily run for a couple of decades. Those original R Series designs? We built over 20,000 of them, the most recent built nearly 15 years ago, and yet we only see. on average, 3-4 per year showing up for repair even now.

PerfectFilters™: These simple, analog circuits maintain both speed and purity to an extent no digital signal processing that we know of can match. They dramatically extend the output of deep bass into the lower half of the 20–30 Hz region (and even lower for our larger S models). Between these and our precision-tuned doward firing passive radiators which produce room-shaking deep bass, we can deliver extraordinary deep bass in cabinets that are about those required 20 years ago.

Speed, beauty, and power. These are the basic tenets of REL. They remain, today just as in 2005, the foundational core of REL’s performance. We have yet to find the limits of this approach. In fact, every time we think we have, we find a new technique or a better application of a material (like carbon-fibre) to incorporate into the design. Serie S shares more in common with our Reference designs than it does with Serie T/x. For that reason, we view Serie S as the backbone, delivering as much of Reference as possible, but for a fraction of the cost. These days, many are choosing to go with stereo pairs of S models, which open up the soundstage like a $20,000 preamp. Check them out sometime soon at an authorized REL dealer near you and you’ll understand why we say “S Stands for Special.”

July 25, 2023 - Posted in: System Thinking