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Perlisten R-Series Loudspeakers: More Affordable THX Certified Dominus Experience

Perlisten R Series

Perlisten R Series


  • Product Name: Reference R7t, R5t, R5m, R5c, R4b, R4s, R5i, R4i, R212s, R210s
  • Manufacturer: Perlisten Audio
  • Review Date: March 01, 2022 00:15
  • MSRP: $4,995 each - R7t, $3,495 - R5t each, $4,995 each - R5m, $2,995 each - R5c, $2,495 each - R4b, $1,995 each - R4s, $2,995 each - R5i, $2,495 each - R4i, $4,995 each - R212s, $3,995 each - R210s
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
Perlisten R-Series YouTube Overview Discussion

r7t xrayPerlisten Audio’s introduction made a big splash in the high-end AV world with their acclaimed Signature loudspeaker series. In our in-depth reviews of their S7t , D215s, and S4b speakers, they did everything right; they had looks, brains, and brawn. The only problem is that they were expensive and were priced out of reach for the majority of loudspeaker buyers. With that in mind, Perlisten decided to launch a more affordable loudspeaker line that kept the core technologies of the Signatures but used less exotic and therefore less expensive components. They called this line the “Reference” series, and they have recently expanded it so that almost every Signature product has a Reference series counterpart. As with the Signature series, the Reference series has a large tower using four 7” bass drivers (the R7t), a bookshelf speaker (the R4b), a dual bass driver stand-mount speaker (the R5m), and an angled height speaker (the R4s). The Reference series has a center speaker, the R5c, and although it is not a massive quad bass driver center like the S7c, it does look to be formidable in its own right. The Reference series also has a smaller scale tower speaker that has no Signature counterpart, the R5t, which has two bass drivers instead of four. The Reference series promises a large fraction of the same performance as the Signature series but at roughly half the cost.  

Half the cost of the Signature speakers still makes the Reference series a significant consideration as a purchase for most people, but considering that we still found the Signature speakers to be a bargain at their pricing, that makes the Reference series all that better of a deal. Few loudspeakers would be able to match the Signature speakers’ combination of linearity, dispersion, and dynamic range, and if the Reference series can come close to that for half the cost, they may well be the bang-for-the-buck king at their respective price points. But how does the Reference series retain so much of the performance of the Signature series at such a dramatically reduced cost? Let’s take a close look to find out.

Perlisten R Series Technologies

Firstly, the Signature series’ exotic driver diaphragms of the Textreme cones and Beryllium tweeter dome were eschewed in favor of fiber cones and silk dome tweeters. While Textreme and Beryllium are undeniably finer ingredients for driver diaphragms, they cost a whole lot more and make more sense for those who are after the very best performance regardless of cost. Perlisten’s fiber cone is something that they have developed that they call “HPF” which stands for hybrid pulp formulation and is a mixture of long-fiber hardwood, bamboo, and wool. Pulp fiber cones and silk domes are a known quantity that can have outstanding performance at a fraction of the cost. The differences in sound may be subtle, but the differences in cost definitely are not.

R5c 2

The size of the R series midrange domes and tweeter is also a bit smaller in comparison to the S series at 26mm versus 28mm. The drivers in the R series also do not have quite as much excursion ability as the S series and don’t handle as much power, so the S series do have a bit of a dynamic range advantage (if given enough amplification power). This isn’t to say that the R series is in any way weak; indeed, they look to be far above average in dynamic range in their class, and most of the line still meets the requirements for THX certified Dominus which is no small feat.

The R series also saves some cost in not having as over-the-top cabinetry as the S series. For example, the S series had a 3” thick front baffle whereas the R series ‘only’ has a 2” thick front baffle. R series side panels and interior bracing are a mixture of ¾” and 1” thick boards as opposed to the S series 1.2” thick pieces. This is like going from extreme overkill to merely overkill. The R series is still using high-density fiberboard so the enclosures are more rigid and inert than the standard MDF most speakers are built with. This can be seen in the weight specification in the R series; the 105 lbs weight of the R7t is not something you want to lift solo!


R5m heroOne aspect that some of the R series speakers do give up on versus the S series is bass extension. Many of the S series counterparts have larger enclosures and longer ports, and that permits deeper bass. This is not an issue for those who will end up incorporating subwoofers into their systems, but those looking for infrasonic bass from a pure two-channel system may want to splurge on the S7t speakers or something with equivalent low-frequency extension, but it is a rare class of full-range speaker to have true 20Hz extension. That being said, users should be able to expect solid bass extension in-room with the R series floor-standing speakers, and deep enough bass to cover most music and movie bass.

The R series doesn’t go as overboard with crossover circuit components as well. The S series adheres to a cost-no-object criteria in crossover component selection much like the driver materials. The R series opts for high-performing components like air-core inductors and polyester capacitors, but not where large expenditures only lead to small gains such as some over-priced audiophile brands. Parts tolerance for the crossover components are still very rigid at 2% which is significantly stricter than what is found in typical loudspeakers (and the Perlisten inductors are actually wound to a fanatical 1% tolerance).

Perlisten is also bringing two R series subwoofers to compliment the speakers. The R series subwoofers will both be using the push-pull design that Perlisten used with outstanding results in their S series subwoofers. This is where two drivers are used in a special arrangement that dramatically reduces harmonic distortion. The R212s and R210s feature 12” drivers and 10” drivers, respectively. Both subs are powered by a 1.3kW amp with all the sophisticated processing features that were found on the S series subwoofers. With the R210s, the S series has no counterpart since none of them use 10” drivers. With a 15” width and a 17” depth, the R210s should pack a lot of punch in a small footprint, so those looking for a powerful sub that doesn’t take a lot of space have a compelling new option in the R210s. The R212s should be more powerful, of course, and the area of two 12” cones is equal to that of a 17” cone, so one might consider it to be the ultimate 17” sealed subwoofer (after the D212s). The main difference between the Reference series subs and Signature series is that the Signature series has double the amplifier power. That translates into approximately a 3dB difference in headroom which is noticeable but not huge by any means.


Audioholics got to demo the new R7t first hand at the 2022 Florida Audio Expo. Gene noted how closely these speakers maintained a similar tonality to the company flagship S7ts that earned our 2021 Product of the Year award.  The bass had a nice punch to it and was tight, and well extended. Gene commented that it appeared from his brief listening comparison that Perlisten doesn't scale sound quality, but instead SPL. This implies that all of their products have a very similar sonic signature and it boils down to how much output you need given your room size and listening habits.

Perlisten R-Series Sub/Sat System Best of Show Demo Experience!


What we think...

Perlisten’s Reference series of loudspeakers look like a great solution for bringing the sound of their flagship speaker line at a more accessible cost. They have told us that the sound quality remains largely the same, and what is mainly given up is some dynamic range compared to the Signature series. The Signature series has more dynamic range than most people would ever utilize, so the Reference series should come as a very sensible compromise for those interested in the unique technology and sound that Perlisten has already become known for in such a short amount of time. We at Audioholics do have plans for a review of some of the Reference series line-up, so stay tuned to see if Perlisten has really delivered a similar sound for nearly half the cost as their celebrated series in our in-depth review.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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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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