Revox is a name with the full weight of history behind it; a brand that was once among the most highly regarded in this business, but somewhere along the line it seemed to diminish. Revox itself started when Willi Studer began making professional tape recorders in 1951 under his own name; the Revox brand was born the following year to cater for the domestic market. It went on to develop classic tape recorders like the A77, and expanded into loudspeakers and parallel tracking turntables. It was one of the first companies to build multiroom specific electronics way back in the 1980s, and had a reputation for making some of the best electronics in the business, especially with regard to tape recorders and tuners.
In the mid-1970s, Studer-Revox was a large company with several thousand staff, but today it has just 65 – what happened? Well, the company owned a fair amount of property in Regensdorf, Switzerland when Willi Studer retired and sold the business in 1990, and the company Studer-Revox was sold to essentially asset-strip the business, selling off the real estate before selling the professional division to Harman. The Revox brand was bought by private investors who set about rebuilding the company out of two bases (in the Black Forest and Switzerland), which resulted in digital loudspeakers, televisions, and a dedicated audio server built for multiroom integration. This Revox-redux ultimately led to the new Joy one-box streaming range that is bringing the company back to the UK.
Joy is an amplifier and streamer in a very neat and compact box. It comes in three varieties, the entry level S118 at £875 with a 25 Watt amp; the S119 ups amplifier quality for £1,650 (60W) and the S120, seen here, is specced at 120 Watts a side and goes for £2,090. Functionally, they all share some similarities with products from Linn and Naim, and in control terms are very similar to Cyrus streamers. There aren’t very many options on the market when it comes to sourcing the key elements in a streamer, so Revox offers an optional two-way RF handset that is a dead-ringer for the one provided by Cyrus, but unlike that company’s first streamers, an app for iOS and Android is also available from the outset.
The minimalist casework conceals a powerful box of audio tricks that supports most music file formats (except Apple Lossless) and can be augmented with an FM and DAB+ tuner module at a sensible price (£170). Most users will probably want to listen to the plethora of stations available on the net using the vTuner facility, and this gives access to ‘listen again’ type functionality with some stations, making it a whole lot more powerful than a regular tuner.
Where the audio manufacturer does have a choice with streamers is in the amplifier and digital to analogue converter. For the Joy S120 (and S118 for that matter), Revox has gone for a PWM Class D amplifier. Pulse Width Modulation amplifiers first came to the audiophile fore with the TACT Audio (latterly Lyngdorf) Millennium designs from Denmark, but are taking their time to filter through the high-end amp world. In this instance, Revox has used a linear power supply, which is generally ‘a good thing’ but invites the question, “why go down the Class D route if you’re not going ‘switch mode’?” The answer is you can get a lot more power without producing heat, so the 120 watt rating on the S120 is probably realistic, despite its shoe box dimensions.