REL Six Packs

Remarkable results for the entire system

Many of you are aware that REL 6-packs are fast becoming the darling of the uber-high-end set. Word has gotten out that, when properly set up in 6-packs (slang for 3 higher-end RELs vertically stacked in a line array, per side), RELs produce remarkable results for the entire system. Offering enhanced transparency, producing vivid dynamics, establishing a three-dimensional soundstage and (of course) delivering epic ultra-low bass. The effect is simply profound. As one high-end reviewer exclaimed, as he shot out of his listening seat 6 seconds into his first 6-pack experience, “OMG! This is what I’ve been looking for the past 40 years!” We get it, we get it…and we still feel that same way every time we hear the final results of dialing in a line array in a new dealer’s showroom.

“But, what about the rest of us?” You ask. The fact is that REL Line Arrays just can’t be applied to all of our models. Safety concerns alone prevent us from slapping stacking couplers on every model we make. However, (and here is the unequivocally GREAT news) … speakers and rooms far smaller than you may think can and have benefitted from a careful application of the 6-pack concept.

Bristol: Back in early 2020, just before the outbreak of COVID 19, REL held court at the Bristol Show in England in a room just 12’ wide X 15’ deep (plus a modest entry area) using a 6-pack of S/510’s and the then-new KEF Ref 1. That’s a speaker we have since grown inordinately fond of for its combination of resolution coupled with surprisingly deep, coherent mid-bass. We’re not just talking about 30 Hz bass, either, but bass that’s good down to a solid 50 Hz, perhaps even 48 in our tiny room… a room not unlike one that many of you have. While it’s nice to have one’s own purpose-built concert-quality playback studio with grand dimensions, it’s much more likely you wound up taking over one of your grown-up kid’s vacated bedrooms once you realized they weren’t moving back in anytime soon.

So, how did we cram this wall of-sound into a space the size of a spare room, and still achieve such epic results? Well, as always for REL, we started by carefully setting up the main speakers to maximize their performance -RELs, after all, can only ever be as good as their partnering speakers. We wound up with a wide stage – a key to great performance given that modern speakers are capable of much wider sets than most owners realize.

RelTip: Just for a frame of reference, almost no decent modern 6.5” 2-ways or larger require less than 8’ of width, measured from inside edge to inside edge. When we visit customer’s homes, we often find them set up pointed straight ahead and perhaps 5’ wide. Open them up, toe them in, and you’ll love it, folks!

In this case, we wound up with the outside rear corners (those closest to the sidewalls) within an inch or so of each sidewall. It’s simply where they opened up and delivered their best deep (48-50Hz) bass. This left us with no choice but to set up the 6-pack just to the inside of the main speakers. Let’s pause for a moment… Normally, setting up two 48” high towers, weighing 210 pounds each, in the sound field of a pair of speakers would seem like madness. But in this instance, and in a number of cases since, we’ve been able to retain a glorious sound field, with great precision of imagery, without seeing degradation of any kind. Presumably, this is because the positive benefits of the 6-pack far outweigh the negative ones. As I write this, it was just 6 days ago that we had a wonderful event with one of our favorite dealers in Southern California. One that drew more than 50 patrons.  We used this same inside placement (the 6-pack with a pair of Focal Sopra 3) to wonderful effect.

So, who benefits? Obviously, it’s GREAT news for audiophiles, some of whom are approaching retirement age and beginning to downsize, while others simply live in smaller quarters, to realize that they don’t have to walk away from epic systems just because they’re smaller spaces! Recently, we had a customer in Seattle buy a 4-pack of Carbon Specials to go with his wonderful Martin Logan CLXs. He couldn’t afford all 6 at once (one of the nicest aspects of 6-packs is that they can be acquired in pairs, allowing one to upgrade in stages), but grasped that having this experience would elevate his system in ways that nothing else could, for anywhere near the same investment. Once he heard it in his own condo, he wrote to say that he and his wealthy audiophile friends have concluded that his system bests any of their $100K+ speaker rigs (the CLX/Carbon Special 6-pack would retail for around $48,000, though the CLX are now discontinued). We hear that a lot.

Huge, and highly detailed sound that breaks through the limits of what anyone thought possible just a few years ago, is now accessible to many more people ever before. We’re committed to finding ways to make incredible sound upgrades available to as many people as possible, and this latest tip is an example of that commitment. It won’t be for everyone. Line Arrays aren’t incredibly inexpensive, but their benefits allow many more customers access to the kind of performance that is typically found only in uber-high-end speakers costing many times their price, as well as taking up far more real estate (so much so that many $100K+ speakers simply won’t fit into normal-sized rooms!) Remember, also, that the third dimension in audio is HEIGHT, which the Line Array 6-pack deliver in spades. Once heard, one cannot un-remember. One cannot turn back the clock and forget how epic it is to hear full, human-height, soundstages, uncompressed by the limits of conventional speakers and subwoofers. And now, many more of you can explore this possibility, knowing that we’ve already done so successfully in many rooms and with systems that are not so very different than yours.



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November 19, 2023 - Posted in: System Thinking