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Perlisten S7t Tower Loudspeaker Review - Are these Endgame?

by May 18, 2021
Perlisten S7t

Perlisten S7t

  • Product Name: S7t Tower Speaker
  • Manufacturer: Perlisten
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: May 18, 2021 12:45
  • MSRP: $ 15,990/pair (base cost); $17,990 special edition
  • Buy Now
  • Enclosure Alignment: 4-way bass-reflex / sealed floor-standing speaker
  • Woofers: 4x7”-inch Textreme TPCD
  • Midrange: 2x1.1” Textreme TPCD
  • Tweeter: 1.1” Beryllium dome
  • Impedance: 4 ohms nominal / 3.2 ohms minimum
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 100-600 Watts RMS
  • Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 92dB
  • Frequency Response: bass reflex: 22Hz - 37kHz (-10dB), sealed: 32Hz - 37kHz
  • Frequency Response (+/-2dB): 80Hz - 20kHz
  • Crossover Frequencies: 500Hz, 1.1kHz, 4.4kHz
  • Available Finishes: piano high black, piano high gloss white
    Special addition finishes: High Gloss Ebony, Natural Ebony, Natural Black Cherry, Natural Light Cherry, High Gloss Light Cherry
    Custom finishes available - pricing will vary depending on finish 
  • Certification: THX Dominus - large LCR
  • SPL capability (100Hz - 20kHz): 117dB <2% - 2nd, 3rd Harmonics
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 51" H x 9.5" W x 15.7" D
  • Weight: 122.5 lb (55.7 kg) each

Pros

  • Extremely accurate tonality
  • Tremendously wide dynamic range
  • Optimal listening height works well for many different situations
  • Great for near-field or far-field listening
  • Outstanding directivity control
  • Neat-looking speaker
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • High cost makes them inaccessible for many people

 

S7t pair16Perlisten Audio is a new high-end loudspeaker company that is set to make their mark in the speaker marketplace. Of course, there are a lot of high-end loudspeaker manufacturers, so any newcomer has to do something to set themselves apart in this crowded segment. The people behind Perlisten know this, and they aren’t out to make some high-end loudspeakers as a generic business idea. They are veteran audio engineers with decades of experience behind them who are garnering their collective knowledge to make the finest loudspeakers that they know how. They are pulling out every trick in the book to make the speakers that they would want to own: a loudspeaker engineer’s loudspeaker. Needless to say, that ought to add up to one heck of a speaker. In for review today is just that speaker: the Perlisten S7t, their flagship speaker and the primary beneficiary of their cumulative design experience.

The question these speakers pose is what does all that engineering experience and knowledge add up to? Surely, this is a serious speaker, but what can you do that hasn’t already been done a hundred times over? There are countless high-end speaker companies with all kinds of designs from straightforward and conventional to bizarre and even preposterous. Where does the S7t fit in all of this? What do you get if you buy a pair of these not-inexpensive speakers at nearly $8k each? Let’s dig in to find out…

Appearance

Anyone who takes the plunge for speakers in the product category of high-end floor-standing speakers will be expecting something visually and physically formidable, so the fact that these speakers will not just ‘disappear’ into any normal domestic room isn’t likely to be a source of consternation. That being said, the S7t’s are large speakers but not gigantic. At a bit over 4’ tall, they stand somewhere around chest or neck height of most adults. Their most visually distinguishing element has to be the driver array; people who like symmetry will like the look of the S7ts. The drivers are mounted in five circles that protrude from the front baffle with the middle circle housing the tweeter and midrange domes. You could fold the driver array in half either vertically or horizontally, and the halves would be identical.

S7t grille3  S7t pair19


S7t pair close2The outer two woofers that flank the tweeter/midrange middle circle use interesting looking cones called the Textreme thin-ply carbon diaphragms. They have a unique lightly checkered pattern that lends these speakers a somewhat futuristic look. The middle driver section sets a silver-colored Beryllium dome tweeter in a waveguide that is CNC cut from hardwood. The waveguide also houses two midrange domes on the top and bottom of the waveguide mouth. These domes also use the Textreme carbon diaphragm, but they are mostly hidden behind a perforated screen. The front baffle has heavily rounded edges with the protruding driver mounts being an intrinsic part of the structure. This baffle is mounted on the main bulk of the enclosure, which is a typical hard-edged oblong shape, although the cabinet does have a slight backward tilt which gives it a bit more flair than if it were standing totally upright.

S7t special editionS7t special editionThe S7ts come with grilles, and they only cover the drivers instead of the entire front baffle. The grilles use magnetic adhesion so there are no visible grille guides. The grilles are perforated aluminum sheets that are functional in that they protect the drivers, but they do not enhance the looks of these speakers, in my opinion. The speakers look better without the grilles.

The base is a thick steel plate with some hefty feet sticking out from the corners. The feet have some brass rings above and below the plate which is a nice touch of class. The binding post plate is a very slick polished brass piece with the gleaming binding posts joined by a similarly polished jumper. It’s a very luxurious touch, and it’s a shame that it will remain hidden from view most of the time.

The S7t pair that was loaned to me had a gorgeous striped ebony veneer, although the standard finishes are gloss white and black. Perlisten offers special editions that use real wood veneers for an additional $2k surcharge. The veneers are dark cherry, light cherry, and ebony, and they can come in natural finish as well as a high gloss finish. Perlisten can accommodate custom finishes including custom colors or different wood veneers upon customer request, although that does entail a not-insignificant surcharge. Since the industrial design is fundamentally good, in my opinion, I think they would look nice in nearly any finish. The S7t speakers straddle the line between stately and modernist. They could fit in well in a wide variety of interior decors for that reason, depending on the selected finish. They are high-end speakers, and they certainly look the part, and what is more is that, in this case, form follows function, which is what we will now discuss...

Design Analysis

S7t pair10There is a lot to unpack with the Perlisten S7t speakers, and there is a lot more than what meets the eye. The basis description in the spec sheet of being a “4-way bass reflex” speaker doesn’t do it justice. On the surface, it looks like a 3-way speaker in which a dome tweeter is nested between two midrange domes and four 7” woofers, but this is not a conventional WMTMW speaker. Instead, the drivers form an array where they largely work with each other rather than in their own separate frequency bands, so there is a lot of overlapping bandwidths in the crossover filters. This is done to create an acoustic beamforming effect where all the drivers sum up on an intended listening angle and subtract elsewhere. In order to accomplish this, the drivers in the array do not operate at the same amplitude levels or even the same phase angle. In fact, to make the beamforming work, the spacing of the drivers must be precise, both in height and width, but also in depth, and this is why the midrange drivers are mounted ahead of the tweeter in spatial positioning. The advantage of this beamforming is a whole lot of output delivery to a specific direction without needing to throw sound everywhere at a high level. Perlisten calls their beamforming array the DPC waveguide where DPC stands for Directivity Pattern Control.

The beamforming restricted angle occurs on the vertical axis in the S7t speakers. The performance targets for this speaker are a wide horizontal dispersion and a narrow vertical dispersion. The reason is that any room with multiple listening positions is likely to be spread out on a horizontal plane but unlikely to be spread out much on a vertical plane, so it’s a good idea to have a full sound projected out over a wide angle horizontally so all the listening positions are met with a high-quality sound. It is also beneficial acoustically since it has been shown that lateral acoustic reflections from sidewalls can enhance the spaciousness of the sound, and many people find that to be pleasing. On the other hand, it can be beneficial to restrict the vertical dispersion angle. If the speakers are optimally placed, the vertical reflections are usually the earliest reflections, and this can result in acoustic cancellation in upper-bass frequencies, which can be very detrimental to the response. There is also an argument that vertical reflections can reduce a sense of spaciousness (by diminishing inter-aural cross cancellation), although that is based on research conducted for larger room acoustics such as auditoriums and it isn’t certain how valid that is for domestic living space sized rooms.

S7t tweeter close2Normally, speakers just use a waveguide on the tweeter to restrict vertical dispersion, but the problem with that is it only affects the tweeter’s bandwidth while the woofers and midrange drivers are usually projecting sound out at a wide angle in all directions. Some manufacturers place the midrange in a horn or use very large woofers, but either solution necessarily makes the speaker very large. Through the ingenuity of beamforming, Perlisten has found a way to restrict vertical dispersion over a much wider bandwidth without needing the speaker to be gigantic. Perlisten also does incorporate a state-of-the-art waveguide on the tweeter, but that is to control directivity in higher treble frequencies where their beamforming array isn’t active.  

S7t cone close up2The high treble is handled by a 1.1” beryllium dome which produces a strong response well above the range of human hearing. Beryllium is the best tweeter diaphragm that can be deployed on cones or domes on account of its extreme rigidity combined with its very low weight. It’s not used a whole lot since it’s so expensive, but Perlisten wanted to make the best possible speaker in the S7ts, so a beryllium tweeter wasn’t something they could compromise on. A well-made beryllium tweeter will hold its shape out to frequencies far exceeding human hearing, and that means it will have a smooth, well-controlled behavior for any sound that even the finest human hearing can discern.

The midrange drivers are two 1.1” domes that use Textreme’s thin-ply carbon diaphragms (hereafter called TPCD). The bass drivers also use this TPCD material as well. These are very light but exceptionally rigid materials that are superb for a loudspeaker cones or domes. TPCD is a broad weave of carbon fibers that has the strength of metal diaphragms but not the total material uniformity at every point in the construction. This is an advantage in that it doesn’t bend as sharply at higher frequencies. At a high enough frequency, all loudspeaker diaphragms will start to bend and flex since the force driving the motion isn’t uniformly applied at all points of the diaphragm. This behavior is called ‘break-up,’ and it results in a very erratic frequency response that can sound harsh. So a key challenge for driver engineers is to move those break-up modes into as high frequencies as possible where they can be more easily filtered out. Driver engineers are always on the lookout for a material that can hold its shape for as wide of a frequency band as possible. The TDCP drivers do this well. To be sure, they do run into break-up modes, also called ‘ringing,’ but the modes are heavily mitigated thanks to the structure of the diaphragm, and so the severity of the break-up modes are greatly reduced resulting in higher performance for a wider range of frequencies.

S7t bass driver profile2  S7t bass driver motor


The checkered pattern of the S7t’s four 7” bass driver cones shows the weave of the carbon layers of the TDCP material, so that is actually a functional trait of the cones and not merely a stylish one. These bass drivers have a very heavy-duty, pole-vented motor with a 3 lbs. magnet as well as a sophisticated suspension system. One interesting fact about the motor is that Perlisten uses aluminum wire in the voice coil rather than copper or copper-clad aluminum. That might seem slightly counter-intuitive seeing as how copper is more conductive, but that extra electrical resistance can be made up by simply using a larger gauge wire, and the larger gauge wire has the added benefit of being better for thermal dispersion since it has a lot more surface area from which to radiate heat. What is more, even with the larger gauge wire, it is still lighter than copper, so using aluminum reduces moving mass, thereby making the driver more sensitive. Copper is used in the driver, but as shorting rings, and in this function, copper is simply superior to aluminum albeit a bit more expensive. These copper shorting rings will help reduce induction which reduces distortion and increases linear bandwidth of the driver.

Perlisten also pays a great deal of attention to the suspension components of the bass drivers. The S7t’s designers use their own modeling techniques to optimize the spider and surround to have as long of a linear excursion as possible. They do this by simulating the effect of various suspension materials and constructions at a variety of points in its excursion. They then use a Klippel testing system to see how well those simulations pan out in actual use. They go through these iterations of computer modeling and real-world testing until they hit their desired performance targets.

The surface area of four 7” cones have the equivalent surface area of a 14” cone, so all these bass drivers are like a 14” bass driver, except that they would have a lot more cumulative motor force than a normal 14” driver. They would also be far less susceptible to thermal compression since we have four coils to disperse heat instead of just one.

S7t Crossover bass drivers labeled     S7t Crossover tweeter midrange labeled

As was discussed before, the crossover circuit in the S7t is not much like a traditional crossover circuit. A loudspeaker of this design requires varying amplitudes, phase timings, and overlapping bandwidths for the drivers. The upper and lower bass drivers play from 22Hz to 550Hz, the middle set of bass drivers play from 22Hz to 1,350Hz, the midrange domes play from 1kHz to 4kHz, and the tweeter plays from 1kHz to 30kHz+. While that explains the ranges of the drivers, it doesn’t fully explain how their behavior is being controlled. The physical crossover circuit comes in two separate boards: one for the tweeter and midranges and the other for the bass drivers. They are a sight to behold; there is a gob of heavy-duty air-core inductors, large polypropylene capacitors (with a nice 2% tolerance ratings!), and resistors enshrouded in heatsinks. These are high-end components that are what would be expected to be seen in a loudspeaker of this price point.

The S7ts are bi-ampible/bi-wirable and so have two sets of binding posts. Normally, I would say that there is little advantage in bi-amping with home audio speakers, but with the S7ts, I will make an exception. The reason is that they have a very formidable bass driver section, and with the speaker’s total 600-watt RMS power handling, they can handle a lot more power than what most home audio amps can deliver. It would still be better to just use a single beefy amplifier to power the whole thing, but let’s say you have a 100-watt stereo amp on hand, you could use that to power the midrange/tweeter sections and then add a 300-watt stereo amp for the bass sections. You would end up with a very powerful stereo system with a tremendous dynamic range. (One note about bi-amping is that you do not want to use an AVR amp to power one section of the speakers separately since it may have extra processing delay compared to an outboard amp.) However, since these speakers are 92dB sensitive, even if you didn’t have a monster amplifier on hand, you would still be able to get some serious SPLs with just 50 to 100 watts per channel. That doesn’t take full advantage of their capabilities and wouldn’t be able to achieve THX Reference levels in a large room, but if you weren’t in a large room, I am guessing they would have enough headroom for most people even with a modest amplifier. 

S7t terminal plate2  S7t cross section

PerListen S7t speaker connections (left pic) ; internal cabinet view (right pic)

The cabinet is a very heavy-duty construction made from high-density fiberboard (HDF). The front baffle is a curved, 2+” thick piece carved out of an HDF block. It is even thicker at the points where it mates with the main cabinet section. The curvature outside of the driver mounts should help to alleviate baffle diffraction as well as make the S7t look sleeker. The main bulk of the cabinet uses 0.75” to 1.1” thick HDF panels and braces. There are five horizontal braces and a vertical brace. The cabinet is chocked full of Dacron-type stuffing, and the interior panels are lined with butyl damping sheets. This all adds up to an extremely inert enclosure, weighing in at a whopping 122 lbs. For those who obsess over cabinet resonances and vibrations, there is no need to be concerned here. The plinth base and feet are solid steel pieces that weigh a considerable amount on their own, and they do a lot to give these tall speakers solid footing; they wouldn’t be easy to knock over. The terminal plate and binding posts are also heavy-duty; they are large polished brass pieces, and the five-way posts were able to accommodate my 12AWG bare wire connection with no problem.

There are two bottom-mounted ports, and they have a 3.5” diameter and are flared on both ends. Those kinds of port dimensions are what you would expect to see in a subwoofer, so the -10dB spec of 22Hz is not at all surprising. The down-firing configuration of the ports is a good idea in that it will get a bit more boundary gain and also the gain is a bit more predictable since it will always have at least that much. Down-firing ports can also help to mask port turbulence, not that such massive ports would ever see much turbulence. Perlisten also supplies the S7ts with port plugs for users who would rather run the speakers in a sealed configuration, but the only circumstance that I can think of where that would be useful is in a small room where the user is getting a lot of room gain which is massively boosting the low frequencies. Even then, I would suggest equalization as a better method of taming the low end since it doesn’t come at the cost of headroom, but sealing the ports would temper the deep bass output. Sometimes sealing the ports can help make subwoofer integration easier since ports can add a lot of phase rotation. However, the S7ts are tuned so deeply that there wouldn’t be much phase rotation at the mid-bass frequencies where subwoofers would commonly be crossed over. Sealing these speakers wouldn’t be advantageous for subwoofer integration unless maybe you are crossing the subs over below 40Hz or so, and that would be an unusual circumstance. What is more, the ports are not easy to access, and the user has to remove the plinth as well as a lower plate to get at the ports, so it’s not nearly as easy as sealing other loudspeakers with rear or forward firing ports.

S7t base2


One nice attribute of the S7t’s versus other tower speakers in its class is the height of the tweeter. Many other large, high-end tower speakers tend to have the tweeters mounted relatively high. That isn’t a problem if the listener is seated at a far distance from the speaker. However, if the listener is closer than the angle where the vertical dispersion of the tweeter can reach them, they will be missing much of the treble from the sound. For many larger tower speakers with a high-mounted tweeter, it’s not advisable to sit closer than around three meters, and further back would be even better. For the Perlisten S7ts, this is not a problem. Even a one-meter distance from them should yield a full sound from top to bottom of the frequency spectrum. It’s not just the height of the tweeter that enables this to happen; it is also the symmetry of the driver array as well as the close spacing of the drivers. To be sure, the S7t’s would be extreme overkill for a one meter listening distance, but they are not constricted to only sounding good in the far-field like so many other flagship tower speakers. This gives them a versatility that not many other speakers have in its class.

S7t logo4Speaking of listening distance, this is a good point to discuss the S7t’s ‘Dominus’ level of THX certification, meaning they can achieve THX Reference level performance at a 20-foot listening distance within a 6,500 cubic foot room. The S7t is the first loudspeaker to achieve this rarified level of THX performance, and as of the time of this writing, Perlisten speakers are the only speakers that have any Dominus level certifications. For more information about the THX Certified Dominus performance level, read our prior article about Dominus and Perlisten: ‘Perlisten Audio: The THX Dominus Line Has Finally Been Breached.’ Within THX’s certification classes, there are sub-classes such as ‘Dominus surround’ and ‘Dominus Front.’ The most demanding among these is ‘Dominus Front Large LCR,’ meaning that the speaker alone can supply the full range of sound including deep bass to meet THX Certified Dominus-level performance from front stage positioning. The S7t speakers are the only speakers among Perlisten’s offerings to meet the performance criteria to do that, which of course, makes them the only speakers in the world (at the time of this writing) to boast that certification. Perlisten decided to go for a THX Certified Dominus rating as one method of separating themselves from the crowd of other high-end loudspeaker manufacturers, although that was an ancillary goal to that of simply making the best loudspeakers of their ability. Nonetheless, they believed it would be an assurance for many buyers in a marketplace where performance does not necessarily correlate to price. 

One striking thing about the overall design is just how complex and ambitious it is for a new loudspeaker manufacturer. An explanation for that is while Perlisten as a business is new, the people who control it are not new.  As was mentioned before, these are industry veterans, and they already own much of the manufacturing processes. They are able to leverage their control a lot of the manufacturing chain from the ground up, so they build their own drivers, cabinets, crossovers, and do final assembly all in their own factories. They control quality and consistency at every step and are not as susceptible to supply issues that currently plague the consumer electronics market at the moment. Their ownership of the manufacturing chain also helps keep costs down since they are acquiring much of their parts and labor at cost with no markup whatsoever.

Perlisten’s prime intention for the S7t was to make the best speaker for a two-channel system that they could. The THX Certification may make it seem like these speakers are geared for home theater, but Perlisten tells me that their main priority was making a speaker for a superlative two-channel system. That is certainly believable because most home theater systems will incorporate subwoofers and will likely negate the need for the deep bass ability of the S7t speakers. If Perlisten were more focused on home theater applications, they could have saved a lot of cost and complexity by making the S7t speakers a sealed design which would have been a better fit for THX’s prescribed low-end for loudspeakers, that being a roll-off at 80Hz with a 12dB/octave slope. This is the design for their matching S7c center speaker. Having a true full-range speaker certainly doesn’t hurt for home theater, but it’s overkill when subwoofers come into play. It simply isn’t needed, especially considering the caliber of subwoofers that Perlisten also produces. But the demands of a two-channel system and surround-sound system are the same: that of accurate sound reproduction. Only the number and frequency range mapping are different. A speaker that is great for two-channel reproduction should also make a great fit into a surround-sound system, and that was part of the plan in the S7t design.  

Listening Sessions

parasound3

In my 24’ by 13’ (approximately) listening room, I set up the speakers with a few feet of stand-off distances between the back wall and sidewall and equal distance between speakers and listening position. I angled the speakers to face the listening position. The listening distance from the speakers was about 9 feet. No room correction equalization was used. No subwoofers were used. Amplification was handled by a Parasound JC 5 with pre-amplification duties being handled by a MOTU M2 audio interface. Here we should give a word of thanks to Parasound for supplying the JC 5 for the purpose of this review, so we could have an amplifier with enough power to take full advantage of these speakers: much appreciated!

Music Listening

VoicesOne album that I listened to with the S7t speakers was Max Richter’s ‘Voices,’ a mammoth neoclassical work with a one hour, forty-seven minute runtime. ‘Voices’ is a symphonic work dedicated to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Each of its movements begins with a recitation of one of the thirty articles of this landmark document. Richter’s orchestra is a peculiar one; it is all strings featuring twelve double-basses, twenty-four cellos, six violas, eight violins, and a harp. The instruments are abetted by a twelve-piece choir and a lead soprano singer. There is also some electronic atmospherics from synths played by Richter. This recording, released on the Decca label in 2020, is a gorgeously performed and recorded album and also a very moving one, especially considering the time of its release: the summer of 2020, an era which had to qualify as some kind of modern nadir in human rights. It can be streamed from Qobuz and Tidal in lossless, high-quality audio formats.  

...the timbre of the instruments and vocals all sounded natural and well-balanced through the S7Ts.

Through the S7t speakers, ‘Voices’ had a cinematic quality, which is not surprising given the string-heavy orchestra as well as Richter’s background in creating scores for television and movies. The soundstage was a broad one, and soloists were imaged with precision, although an orchestra, which is essentially one large string section, has inherently imprecise imaging. The wordless singing from the choir as well as soloist Grace Davidson sounded quite beautiful, and much of the instrumental playing, aside from soloists, was like a wall of cohesive sound. So many cellists and double-bassists naturally weighted this music more towards low frequencies, and, of course, these large towers were quite comfortable in such a range, whereas smaller towers or bookshelf speakers might have slightly shortchanged the amount of energy present at the low end. Everything sounded natural and well-balanced, and I would guess this reproduction is close to what the recording engineers would have intended. ‘Voices’ sounded terrific on the S7t speakers, and I am sure that lovers of orchestral music would be delighted with their presentation.   

For orchestral music in a much more traditional vein, I found a recent hi-res release from the Alpha label on Qobuz called ‘Royal Handel.’ This album is a collection of arias composed for the Royal Academy of Music in the early eighteenth century mostly by Georg Handel but with a few pieces by other composers. These arias are sung by Eva Zaïcik with instrumental accompaniment by the baroque chamber quartet Le Consort. The musicianship on display here is of an extremely high order as is the recording quality; the production is superbly recorded and produced, typical of the Alpha Classics label and befitting of this level of musical artistry.

Royal HandelThe first thing that leapt out to me when playing this recording on the S7t speakers is how lifelike the instruments and Ms. Zaïcik sounded. The dynamic range of the recording was unexpectedly wide and uncompressed, and I partly attribute that aspect to the realism of the sound. This is an album that really seems to take advantage of the 24 bits of dynamic range of the digital file. The recording made it sound like the listener was seated closer to the performers rather than farther, and so the soundstage still had some precision. Nonetheless, the performance space of the recording, the Temple du Saint Esprit de Paris, did add a reverberation that gave the performers some spaciousness and thus a slight amount of ambiguity. Ms. Zaïcik’s voice was anchored to the center, but the environment added a slight indistinction that gave her a somewhat ethereal quality compared to recordings done in an acoustically dry environment. These acoustic nuances were easy to distinguish on the S7t speakers. Also adding to Ms. Zaïcik’s ethereal quality was her smooth yet vibrant voice that seemed to be custom-made for opera, and the perfection of her voice was immaculately rendered by the S7t speakers. Through the S7ts, the timbre of the instruments and vocals all sounded natural and well-balanced. The entire presentation came together beautifully.

Strictly RomancinMoving up the musical clock by a couple hundred years, ‘Strictly Romancin’’ is an album of covers of early jazz and blues compositions from the 30s to the 40s that are performed by Catherine Russell. While this music might be classified as jazz or blues, it does not much resemble contemporary jazz or blues and shows just how much these genres have changed over the decades. The album has a bright and swinging mood with covers of the likes of Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, so it veers more towards a big band sound or sometimes a ragtime feel. Catherine Russell’s parents were involved in this original music scene, so her family background gives her a deep perspective of the sound and intent of these once-popular classics. The production on ‘Strictly Romancin’’ is top notch, and this is a superb recording for showing how good these classic tunes can sound with modern production techniques.    

The recording for ‘Strictly Romancin’’ is dry in the sense that there is not much added reverb. This gives us a clearer look at the vocals and instruments in themselves. This has the effect of transporting the performers to the listener’s room rather than transporting the listener to a different environment. On the S7t speakers, Russel and her ensemble sounded as though they were giving me a personal performance in my family room. The soundstage was vivid and positively picturesque. Russel’s voice was squarely centered between the speakers, and the instruments also had well-defined placements within the soundstage as well. Vocals and instruments sounded realistic with an outstanding sense of clarity and natural timbre. The even-handed tonality combined with the evocative soundstage gave the reproduction of this album the holographic presentation of stereo sound at its finest. I’m not sure anyone could ask for a better showing of ‘Strictly Romancin’’ than what the S7ts could do; if this presentation isn’t what was intended by the recording engineers, it really should have been. Jazz music lovers will surely love what the S7t speakers can do for their recordings.   

Tek Genesis TempFor something that could stress the dynamic range ability of the S7t speakers, especially their low-frequency capability, I selected Tek Genesis’s ‘Temp,’ an album of electronic music that spans breakbeat rhythms from drum’n’bass to dubstep. This futuristic-sounding music is filled with heavy bass, so much so that I would doubt that any normal floor-standing speaker could do it justice, but the S7ts are not normal floor-standing speakers. Ordinarily, I would use an album like this for a subwoofer review, but the S7t speakers look to be so capable that maybe they could produce subwoofer-like performance here.

I cranked the volume and clicked the play button for ‘Temp.’ As electronic music from this genre, it is not as ‘noisy’ as others in that there are not as many sounds occurring simultaneously, but many of the sounds that do occur are given full throttle. The compositions here are intricate, and the layering of instruments alternate to the forefront of the sound, a product of the type of compression chosen for this mix. When an instrument makes a sound, such as a kick drum or snare or some synth lead, it is loud, and the S7t speakers give each instrument its due. The dynamics reminded me of a live performance but without the harshness that some live sound systems can have. It was loud without being shrill. The bass was big yet balanced, unlike a subwoofer running hot or a speaker given a mid-bass boost to simulate ‘punchiness.’ These speakers let the recording decide when to be punchy and can scale with the dynamics accordingly. I’m used to having powerful subs in use, but I absolutely did not miss them with these speakers; the S7ts are true full-range speakers. ‘Temp’ was 28 minutes of fun for me with the S7t speakers, and I wish every speaker that I reviewed was as capable. Anyone looking for a speaker that doesn’t need the addition of a subwoofer for serious bass should give these speakers a close look.

Movie Watching

MankA movie I had been intending to watch since its release on Netflix was David Fincher’s ‘Mank,’ which concerns Herman Mankiewicz’ creation of the screenplay for ‘Citizen Kane.’ Having been a longtime fan of Orson Wells as well as David Fincher, this movie seemed like an intersection of some of the great figures of Hollywood from past to present. With the S7t speakers in house, I figured it was a great time to finally sit down to watch this much-anticipated movie. ‘Mank’ ought to be a good demonstration of the S7t’s ability in speech intelligibility since it seemed like a largely dialogue-driven movie. Mankiewicz himself was one of the great writers of dialogue in his day, so hopefully this movie would approach his ingenuity in injecting sharp humor and incisive characterization in its spoken discourse. One thing that I noticed in watching ‘Mank’ was a certain flatness of the sound mix. It did not sound like a normal modern movie at all, but that turned out not to be a problem with my equipment. I later read that the sound mix was intended to emulate mixes from the early 1940s, so it was actually a monaural sound mix, and some of the recording techniques used would also have reduced much of the higher treble output. While it’s certainly not a conventional sound mix, as a demonstration for speech intelligibility, it is great since there is so much dialogue. The dialogue itself is mostly witty, fast-paced banter of the type that would have been at home in a Hollywood production of that era. I had no problems following dialogue with the S7t speakers, even though I did not watch the movie at a loud level. All the speech was crystal clear, even when the titular character became drunk and slurred his speaking (which was frequent). Given its eccentric sound mix, ‘Mank’ wouldn’t be a great movie to use to assess a sound system in any respect except for speech intelligibility, but it is great as an entertaining movie, and the Perlisten S7ts were a fine speaker to hear it with.  

kong vs godzillaSo far, I have found the newest Godzilla/King Kong movies to be a lot of fun if not quite cinematic masterpieces. Of course, it was only a matter of time before these giants were brought together to duel, and I managed to catch it on HBO Max with the Perlisten S7ts before it left that streaming service. Going into the movie, it felt more like a pay-per-view event set up by Don King rather than an ostensible story with any serious human drama, but I was fine with that. Needless to say, a movie with this colossal budget and subject matter is sure to be a feast for THX Certified Dominus speakers, but it’s one thing to simply assume that and another to actually experience it. I cranked the volume and let the speakers rip.

The dynamics reminded me of a live performance but without the harshness that some live sound systems can have...

The S7ts, powered by the Parasound JC 5, made for an absolutely commanding combination for a movie like this. The effects sounds of these monsters plus the epic music score sounded as good as if not better than any commercial cinema I have been to. The slug matches caused a palpable rumble, and every step from these beasts was felt as well as heard. The monsters’ roars managed to shake my sofa through the S7t speakers. Subwoofers were absolutely not needed or missed. Tom Holkenborg’s score mixed electronic sounds with orchestral instrumentation, and it sounded as towering as the titanic title characters. Even though I watched the movie at a very loud level, it was not at all painful or obnoxious to listen to, and one reason for that is the total absence of any kind of distortion. I would never watch a movie at such elevated levels with typical speakers because they wouldn’t be able to handle it. They would either run into high distortion or knock a woofer out. With the S7ts, everything sounded as clear as a bell. In fact, the ease of the sound at such high levels is a bit scary considering the noise exposure I put my ears through. A loud movie once in a while isn’t likely to do any last hearing damage, but these speakers make it so easy. And so much fun. ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ was a terrific night at the movies, and having such a powerful and high-fidelity sound system was a critical ingredient to making that happen.

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:

Trell posts on June 02, 2021 13:10
Trebdp83, post: 1487196, member: 43634
Since this thread is already a long way off of the main road and into the cornfield, I think “room correction” is a misnomer. The software isn't doing anything to the room at all. It is trying to produce the best sound while compensating for the acoustics of the room. I think is should be called Room Acoustics Compensation. I mean, who wouldn't appreciate a nice RAC?

In the glossary in the GLM v4 manual the term AutoCal is explained as “Genelec automatic room response calibration method”. Close enough to your suggestion, I guess.
Pogre posts on June 02, 2021 12:54
lovinthehd, post: 1487138, member: 61636
Or it's not Audyssey causing the hiss particularly, but rather the pre-pro manufacturer who installed it. I have a variety of avrs with Audyssey, hiss has never been an issue (and it would be for me if it was the cause, I'd return the electronics).

ps in reading many many threads on the subject, can't say anyone else reported hiss except you.
Yeah I've never heard any hiss either, and it would definitely piss me off if I did.

I will say my comments are mainly about bass, below the transition frequency. Above that I can see the argument for not wanting to use rc if you have good, neutral speakers to start, but most speakers in most rooms are going to have issues below the Schroeder frequency and could use some help.
Trebdp83 posts on June 02, 2021 12:38
Since this thread is already a long way off of the main road and into the cornfield, I think “room correction” is a misnomer. The software isn't doing anything to the room at all. It is trying to produce the best sound while compensating for the acoustics of the room. I think is should be called Room Acoustics Compensation. I mean, who wouldn't appreciate a nice RAC?
shadyJ posts on June 02, 2021 05:20
Dan Nagar, post: 1487137, member: 95980
can't comment on Audyssey ,as i have no experience with it .
i have used a few RC system in my past and now using only Dirac.
Dirac is the only room correction that I think is worthwhile for a full range correction. While I haven't used Audyssey limited to bass range, my hunch is that it is probably OK for just the transition frequency and below.
Dan Nagar posts on June 02, 2021 03:18
lovinthehd, post: 1487138, member: 61636
Or it's not Audyssey causing the hiss particularly, but rather the pre-pro manufacturer who installed it. I have a variety of avrs with Audyssey, hiss has never been an issue (and it would be for me if it was the cause, I'd return the electronics).

ps in reading many many threads on the subject, can't say anyone else reported hiss except you.
thats definitely an option - for example - Dirac adds about 6db boost the when its engaged, that can add hiss if there a gain structure issue between pre/pro.
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