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Perlisten R212s Subwoofer Measurements & Conclusion

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R212s outdoor testing

Testing on the Perlisten R212s was conducted with the microphone facing the woofer at a 1-meter distance with measurements scaled back to a 2-meter distance by subtracting 6dB. The temperature was recorded at 55F degrees with 70% humidity. The subwoofer’s gain was set to maximum, phase was set to zero, and the low pass filters were set to bypass.

R212s frequency response 

The above graph shows the measured frequency responses for the Perlisten R212s subwoofer per its operating modes. All the responses display a beautifully linear response all the way up to 200Hz with the low-end roll-off being the distinguishing factor between them. The “Small Room” mode rolls off at a higher frequency but at a more gradual slope that should make it a better fit in rooms with lots of low-frequency gain - these rooms tend to be small hence the name for the mode. The “Large Room” mode is for rooms that do not net much low-frequency gain. My own room does not get much gain, so this is the mode that I used for my own listening. This response is much like what would be expected from ported subwoofers: flat down to a low frequency followed by a steep drop-off. This mode holds a remarkably flat response that I might characterize as a +/-1dB window from 25Hz to 200Hz. The 200Hz upper end is great for those who want to experiment with higher crossover frequencies, and some people get better results than the standard 80Hz crossover. The THX mode follows a target curve mandated by THX, and I suppose it factors in some room gain, but THX has always been tight-lipped about their performance targets. Altogether, this measurement shows the R212s to be an extremely accurate subwoofer with respect to tonality.

R212s cea-2010 table 

Large BassaholicThe above CEA-2010 measurements are short-term bursts that show the subwoofer’s clean peak SPL before heavy distortion sets in. Our measurements have been referenced to 2-meter RMS, which is 9dB down from the standard requirement for the measurements to be shown at 1-meter peak. However most publicly available CEA-2010 measurements are shown at 2-meter RMS, so we followed that convention. The results displayed here from the R212s are very good and show this sub to be tremendously powerful. These are what I might expect to see from a ported 15”. A sealed sub that can nearly hit 100dB at 20Hz in this measurement set is a rare thing and prove that the R212s has an enormous amount of displacement on tap. But it’s not just raw displacement; it is linear, low-distortion displacement where the output does not deviate much from the input signal. It is only at 20Hz where the R212s can be made to surpass the distortion threshold for the CEA-2010 test, and even then only just barely. This sub cannot be pushed into heavy distortion, period. The THD percentages shown here are as distorted as the R212s can possibly get from being pushed as hard as possible. It does not lose its composure no matter what. Most of these measured distortion results would be totally inaudible. At the worst of 16% THD at 20Hz, you would need to be listening for it in a pure tone signal, and even then its audibility would be questionable. Much like we saw with the D215s, Perlisten subs only produce very clean bass. While the R212s could not be stressed hard, it isn’t able to generate enough deep bass output to meet our Bassaholics “Extreme” Room Rating and so it gets a “Large” room rating, meaning that it is sufficient to power a room from 3,000 cubic feet to 5,000 cubic feet (For information on how the room ratings are determined, please read our article “Bassaholic Subwoofer Room Size Rating Protocol”). However, for the purposes of music which doesn’t tend to dig below 40Hz, this would be able to easily power a room larger than 5,000 cubic feet.

R212s compression measurements 

Testing for long-term output compression was done by first conducting a 20-second sweep tone where 50Hz hit 90 dB with the subwoofer 2 meters from the microphone. We then conduct further 20-second sweeps by raising the gain by 5dB until no more output could be wrung out of the subwoofer. These tests show us the long-term continuous headroom that the subwoofer is capable of. These tests were done with the R212s in its “Large Room” mode. The R212s holds its “Large Room” response shape up until the 100dB sweep where it starts to compress the response. Above that, higher drive levels squeeze out the EQ’d low-end until we can see its native sealed response. The highest drive level here very much resembles the “Small Room” mode response, and so if we had conducted this test in the “Small Room” mode setting, there would scarcely have been any change in the response shape from the lowest drive level to the highest. Again, the overall output levels depicted here show that the R212s is a very powerful subwoofer. It has a lot of deep bass output for a sealed subwoofer, but its mid-bass output is particularly potent with the ability to produce a continuous 115dB from 50Hz to 200Hz. For those who plan on getting a multiple sub system using R212s subs, they try much higher crossover frequencies than normal to take advantage of this level of headroom, since most speakers would not be capable of that kind of mid-bass output, even if they were connected to monster amps.

R212s THD 3D view

R212s THD 2D view

The above graphs show the corresponding total harmonic distortion to the long-term output graphs. Essentially, they depict how linear the subwoofer remains for the corresponding drive level seen in the long-term sweeps. The quantity being measured is how much of the subwoofer’s output is distortion and is shown here as a percentage. While the R212s can be pushed into some higher distortion levels in deep bass at a continuous drive level, it should be remembered that the rate at which distortion is rising here almost mirrors the rate at which the output is dropping off. It should also be noted that room gain traditionally shores up the fundamentals rather than harmonics, so room gain can act as a distortion reduction mechanism itself. Distortion only started to creep up at the 105dB sweep where it hits 20% THD at 16Hz. Pushing it harder than that does incur greater levels of distortion, but now we are nearing the maximum output that the R212s can generate. The lowest drive level shown here of the 95dB sweep keeps distortion down roughly below 5% from 16Hz and above. 95dB is pretty loud so it’s difficult to call that a nominal drive level. At nominal drive levels of 90dB and lower, the background noise of the testing site constituted a significant fraction of the measured distortion percentage, even though I had been testing in a relatively quiet environment, so I did not include those results. That means that the distortion produced by the R212s was so low that it could not be measured over the whisper of the background noise from the environment. That is extremely low distortion. Indeed, at nominal drive levels of 90dB or less, the R212s does not even come close to 1% THD above 40Hz. The drivers that Perlisten uses are pretty much marvels of modern engineering.

R212s 2nd harmonic  R212s 3nd harmonic

Perlisten's push-pull design claims to significantly reduce even-order distortion is quiet evident.

The above graphs depict measurements of the constituent harmonics from the long-term output sweeps and are what the total harmonic distortion measurements are composed of for the 2nd and 3rd harmonics. These individual harmonics can give us a clue as to what might be the cause of some quirk or non-linearity. We are only showing the 2nd and 3rd here because they more or less reflect the higher even-order and odd-order behaviors, although higher-order harmonics tend to be much further down as a percentage of distortion compared to the second and third.

Perlisten’s push-pull design claims to significantly reduce even-order distortion products, and the above graphs are very much evidence of that. The vast majority of distortion products stem from odd-order harmonics. There are very few even order distortion products. That is what would be expected from a push-pull design where that arrangement corrects for non-linearities that occur on only one side of the cone’s travel. It can’t help odd-order distortion where the non-linearity affects both sides of the cone’s travel. My guess is that there were probably not many even-order distortion products that the push-pull design could have corrected for to begin with. These drivers are so well-engineered that they have done quite a bit to reduce even-order distortion at the start such as the use of multiple shorting rings. There is also evidence of optimization where the drivers are striving for the highest possible linear throw, so any problems that occur on a single side of travel are ironed out, and odd-order distortion is all that remains because that is unavoidable as the moving assembly reaches its limits. I think that the push-pull design decision to knock out more even-order distortion is just icing on the cake.

R212s Group Delay2 

Group delay is the measurement of how much time it takes for individual frequency bands of an input signal to be produced by the speaker. It can indicate that some frequency components are developing slower than others or are taking longer to decay. It is generally thought that 1.5 sound cycles are needed for group delay to be audible at bass frequencies, although there is an argument that group delay should remain under 20ms to be completely unnoticeable, but that is likely meant for mid and upper bass frequencies.

The R212s posts some outstanding results in these group delay measurements for either mode. To keep the graph uncluttered, we left out group delay for the THX mode, but its delay is pretty much smack dab between the “Large Room” mode and “Small Room” mode in level. The “Large Room” mode does show a bit more group delay than the “Small Room” mode, and that is not surprising since it EQs the response more. Nonetheless, even the “Large Room” mode keeps group delay well below anything that would be close to audible. The “Small Room” mode group delay is so low that it looks like hardly any equalization or filters were used. It achieves one of the lowest group delay measurements that we have yet seen. For the mid-bass frequency band, where low group delay is most important, the R212s keeps delay under 5ms. For deep bass between 20Hz and 50Hz, delay averages between 10ms and 5ms. The time-domain performance shown here is phenomenal.  

Conclusion

R212s hero5Before I wrap up this review, I will briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the product under review, and, as usual, I will start with the weaknesses. The Perlisten R212s has only one weakness, and that is its price. This is perhaps an unfair critique since there is no way a product like this can be made cheaply. However, its cost flatly takes it out of consideration for a whole swath of subwoofer shoppers. $5k is a lot of dosh for a subwoofer. But you do get a lot of sub for your money, so while it is expensive, it is in no way a poor value. In fact, I regard them as a good value for those who are shopping for a sub in this class. And that brings us to its strengths, which are essentially everything else. To wit:

The audio performance of the R212s is excellent: extremely low distortion, ruler-flat response, remarkably low group delay, terrific low-frequency extension for a sealed subwoofer, and lots of output. There isn’t a single facet of performance where it is not exceptional. It is true that there are less expensive subs that can provide more raw headroom, but not so much when you factor in other aspects of the R212s such as size, feature set, finish, and build quality. These other strengths combined with the audio performance are why this thing costs so much. 

To touch on these other elements, the build quality is second-to-none. It has a boulder-like enclosure that houses massively overbuilt drivers, and there are no cheap plastic shortcuts taken with material quality anywhere. It has a high-end build quality, attention to detail, and a luxury-level solidity throughout. The high-grade gloss black is free of any orange-peel effect, and the satin black front baffle is very easy on the eyes. As subwoofers go, the R212s is a really nice-looking one; the industrial design is superb.

One aspect that makes its performance so extraordinary is its size. While it’s not a tiny sub, it is not huge either, but it has the performance that one would expect from a much larger unit. This is a point on which I expect it to make a lot of sales; it produces a big sound from a small footprint. There are a lot of people for whom space is at a premium, and so they need to make the best possible use of it. The R212s makes a lot of sense for those looking for a high-end sound system in a luxury apartment or bedroom. It would also be a great choice for high-end recording and mixing studios on account of its ruthlessly accurate reproduction under any condition as well as its indestructibility.  

Its feature set also makes it one of the most advanced subwoofers that money can buy. It can be controlled via an app or a color LCD screen. It has an enormous level of flexibility and tweakability and that includes an overkill 10-band parametric equalizer as well as independent control over the configuration of each input, not to mention an extraordinary level of fine-tuning over many other parameters of operation. Furthermore, it is dense with failsafes that keep it out of harm from any input signal as well as a wide range of conditions of input AC power.

R212s outdoors2

As I said before, it is not a cheap subwoofer, but you do get your money’s worth. Many other high-end loudspeaker manufacturers make similarly priced subs, and their subs look the part, but they don’t compete in actual performance or technology. The R212s does everything very well. It’s perfect for a high-end home theater, two-channel system, recording studio, and mixing studio. If you have a relaxed budget and are looking for a sub that isn’t the size of a refrigerator, it should be very high on your list of options. For those shopping within Perlisten’s family of subwoofers, those who are considering the mighty D215s ought to also consider a dual R212s system instead for a mere $1k extra; you will get about the same level of output but will also benefit from the response improvements that can be had with a multi-sub system. Not that most people will need more than one; the single R212s I spent time with put a smile on my face over and over, and I am sure that it will do the same for any prospective buyers.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Golfx posts on September 19, 2022 18:56
buckchester, post: 1572841, member: 78944
Well, when it comes to value I would put more weight on the sound quality and less on the other aspects than you do.

I think this is a nice looking sub with cool sounding technology, but I'm skeptical how much all of that translates into performance improvements that we can percieve over cheaper, more industrial, and more traditional designs.
Hence why he is the reviewer.
shadyJ posts on September 19, 2022 16:50
kini, post: 1573367, member: 58144
They sounded nearly identical to my Klipsch RF62IIs I was looking to upgrade. They did have a smoother top end. That was the only positive thing. They (MT110s) had zero bass. I get that they're marketed as HE speakers but my NHT SuperOnes had quite a bit more bass. In my room they needed a 120hz crossover.

My biggest issue was with their claimed 95db efficiency. In my room with my AVR they were 2db less efficient than my RF62s. This is where the owner argued that I was wrong and that you can't base efficiency off an AVR. All I know is that using the pink noise during setup, which for my AVR is 78db. Using this to calibrate the PSAs and then switching to the RF62s the RF62s would show 80db. I remember the RF62IIs as being tested to be around 92db, so that would make the PSAs 90db not the claimed 95db.

And when I was testing my Q750s against the RF62s the difference amounted to about 4.5db which is in line with Kef's claim of 88db for the 750s and 92db for the RF62s.

If one speaker plays louder with same input level than the other, doesn't that make it more efficient?

For me they were overpriced PA speakers. The Q750s are better in every way for the same or less $$$$.
Pink noise is weighted toward low frequencies, so a speaker like the MT110 would not register to be as sensitive if that is the tone by which you are gauging sensitivity. The industry standard is to rate sensitivity from 300Hz to 3kHz. In that range, the MT110 should have an advantage over the Klipsch speakers. At least I would hope so given the drivers it is using.
kini posts on September 19, 2022 12:28
buckchester, post: 1572979, member: 78944
Ya, he's definitely a strong type A personality, that's for sure.

They used to have data on their older model subs. I wish they would include data for their newer ones too. They've been listed with “coming soon” for years now…

I bought a couple of their subs a few years back and have been very impressed with them. Like I said, some of their older models were tested on databass and did quite well. Maybe James will get a newer one in to test sometime - that would be great.

I've always been skeptical about their speakers. Seems to me speakers are much more difficult to get right than subs. It would be interesting to hear more about your impressions of their speakers.
They sounded nearly identical to my Klipsch RF62IIs I was looking to upgrade. They did have a smoother top end. That was the only positive thing. They (MT110s) had zero bass. I get that they're marketed as HE speakers but my NHT SuperOnes had quite a bit more bass. In my room they needed a 120hz crossover.

My biggest issue was with their claimed 95db efficiency. In my room with my AVR they were 2db less efficient than my RF62s. This is where the owner argued that I was wrong and that you can't base efficiency off an AVR. All I know is that using the pink noise during setup, which for my AVR is 78db. Using this to calibrate the PSAs and then switching to the RF62s the RF62s would show 80db. I remember the RF62IIs as being tested to be around 92db, so that would make the PSAs 90db not the claimed 95db.

And when I was testing my Q750s against the RF62s the difference amounted to about 4.5db which is in line with Kef's claim of 88db for the 750s and 92db for the RF62s.

If one speaker plays louder with same input level than the other, doesn't that make it more efficient?

For me they were overpriced PA speakers. The Q750s are better in every way for the same or less $$$$.
gene posts on September 19, 2022 03:39
AJagkRhtiME
buckchester posts on September 15, 2022 13:44
kini, post: 1572966, member: 58144
I'm sure they're fine. Maybe not all what the rabid fans make them out to be though. My experience with their speakers and the owner really soured my opinion of the brand. I will say that the owner did work out an acceptable resolution. I just didn't like being talked down to like I'm an idiot. If you're fine going in knowing that the owner is never wrong about anything and can accept the insults that will come if you find the performance is not what you were expecting, then PSA is great.

Ya, he's definitely a strong type A personality, that's for sure.

They used to have data on their older model subs. I wish they would include data for their newer ones too. They've been listed with “coming soon” for years now…

I bought a couple of their subs a few years back and have been very impressed with them. Like I said, some of their older models were tested on databass and did quite well. Maybe James will get a newer one in to test sometime - that would be great.

I've always been skeptical about their speakers. Seems to me speakers are much more difficult to get right than subs. It would be interesting to hear more about your impressions of their speakers.
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