"Shorthand for Authenticity"
REL's Classic 98 is an instant classic
This could be the cleverest subwoofer REL has ever designed.
REL Acoustics is known for always hurtling forward. New models come out regularly, and they are not merely the last models with wiped noses and spit-battened cowlicks but represent completely new standards in subwoofer design. Each step forward brings ever lighter, ever stiffer cone materials, increasingly zippy filters, more efficient amps, and better-braced, ever more handsome cabinets.
So it was quite the surprise to hear that REL's owner and lead designer, John Hunter, and his design team seemed to have settled into Eames lounge chairs, kicked their legs up onto the matching ottomans, cupped a smoky snifter, and come up with this newest REL: The mid-century-modern, walnut-grained beauty that's the Classic 98.
Though heavily inspired by the acclaimed, well-remembered Storm III subwoofer, the Classic 98 is so much more than modern REL innards dropped into a walnut cabinet. It began, like so many millions of niche projects, during COVID. Stuck at home for weeks as we all were, John indulged his vintage audio passion, browsing Audiogon, Hifi Shark, and eBay, looking for used audio gear to build a dream vintage system.
At some point, John realized that none of REL's current line-up would visually fit into a vintage system, and he has improved subwoofers so much he couldn't stomach the thought of a vintage sub. So he dreamed up the Classic 98, an expression of how REL can work with nostalgia but cannot make something deliberately bad just to be period-correct. The Classic 98 brings us woodgrain and elegance, with a sound that is warm like yesterday and deliberately not as canny and knowing as today.
Paper Plays Rock
The 10" driver, as always, says John, was the key. The REL team knew it had to be a paper cone to preserve that heritage sonic signature, but, as John says, "We know a lot more about paper than 25 years ago."
The result is a sound that's purer and more refined "but retains some of the rounder, gentle qualities of that era while steering clear of being dark and muddy."
Designing and manufacturing a new subwoofer is a different level of scale than a sourdough starter on the kitchen counter, so it does help that, as John puts it, "the retro market is legit."
"Mid-century modern as a design aesthetic really exploded in the last 4-5 years. It's shorthand for authenticity. It's marking a desire to go back to a time when what you saw was what you got."
This is perhaps why the Classic 98 has, well, become an instant classic. Basically, John Hunter made it for himself.
Rave reviews are pouring in from the audio press, notably Steve Guttenberg, the Audiophiliac, who concluded in his video review that, for the price, you're not going to get an amplifier, speaker, preamp, cartridge, turntable, or DAC that can do what the Classic 98 does.
Says Steve, "This is going to deliver more of a sonic upgrade than any other component you can buy for $1,399."
Upscale Matches for Classic 98
The new REL Classic 98 subwoofer is a perfect sonic and visual match for vintage speakers as well as the wide range of retro-modern speakers available at Upscale Audio.
John Hunter, owner and lead designer of REL, is excited to dig out his old PrimaLuna amp, pair it with the Tannoy Autograph Mini speakers, add a Classic 98, and create a system he could be happy with for the rest of his days.
The REL Classic 98 is a potential perfect match for all the models here and many more. Says John, "Classic 98 makes an ideal partner for vintage speakers–everything from older Sonus fabers to modern Harbeths and the entire British BBC speaker movement ."
Call us if you love the idea of putting together a modern full-range system textured with woodgrain, alive with detail, and warm like the good old days!
In-Store Event on October 12
Save the date! On Thursday, October 12, from 4 to 7 p.m., we will have an in-store event featuring several representatives from Upscale brands.
John Hunter and Paul Magee of REL Acoustics will be there with a line array (six pack!) of the REL Serie S Carbon Special.
Brad Crawford will represent both Klipsch and Focal and will be showing off Klipsch Heritage speakers and the Focal Utopia EVO.
Lenny Mayeux of MoFi Electronics will be there to tell you all about HiFi Rose digital sources and the MoFi MasterPhono.
And, of course, Kevin Deal and your favorite Upscale team members will be there, too. We'll send out more details as we get closer to the event. We can't wait to see you!
Naim Mu-so on Sale
It may be an all-in-one player, but there's nothing so-so about the Mu-so. Now, in the second generation, an ARC input allows you to use it as a seriously high-end TV sound bar. The form factor makes it an ideal credenza-top system, and it's Roon Ready, so it can become another zone on your home setup.
No Roon? Fear not; the Focal Naim app is intuitive and is notably quick and stable. The Mu-so is on sale right now, so save $500 on this plug-n-play piece of hi-fi gear.
Top Sales and Deals!
Here are the noteworthy sales and offers we have going right now. Note: there are further terms and conditions; this is just a summary. To get all the details, contact our sales crew on website chat, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or call 909-931-9686.
Free Cartridge with Purchase: From now until October 31st, Clearaudio is offering a free cartridge with the purchase of select turntable packages. Contact an Upscale Audio sales team member for details.
JL Sale:Take $400 off the JL Audio Dominion d110 10" subwoofer.
Price Drop: On Chord Electronics.