Perlisten S7t loudspeaker Page 2

Clearly though, this speaker was not immune to placement/boundary issues. More effort in positioning them was the only remaining option, so I moved them around. They ended up not far from where they started but somewhat closer to me (10.5' rather than 12') and closer together (7.5' rather than 8'). The Super Bass Traps I keep on the sidewalls were moved from just in front of the speakers to a position behind them. Given the wide horizontal dispersion of the S7t, it seems likely, in retrospect, that the traps were absorbing a significant amount of the medium- and high-frequency early reflections that contribute to the sense of immersion and soundstage width (footnote 3).


Listening anew
One of my favorite recordings for solo and grouped voices with instruments is "Nobody" on Ry Cooder's album Jazz (Warner Bros 3197-2, CD). This track has always seemed somewhat artificial in that the male voices, which are warm and forward, contrast sharply with Cooder's vocal solos, which are cooler and more distant. Sometimes I co-localize Cooder's guitar with his voice, while at other times it seems integrated with the other instruments.

With the Perlistens in their sweet spots and I in mine, placement of the instruments was perfectly clear. More than that, the relationships between them and their tonal characteristics were more consistent and seemed less artificial. This has been one of my "go to" cuts for years; hearing them rendered this way left me impressed with the S7t.

An obvious next step was to "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," from Allison Krauss's Raising Sand (Rounder 11661-9075-2, CD) on Qobuz. Much as I love this, it's another track with sonics that have perplexed me in the past. The S7t's sorted it out. Krauss's voice is pure and sweet, as is her violin. The bloat I'd heard in the bass with other speakers was gone; the bass lines remain full and decisive. I'm used to having multiple subwoofers and yet, with the S7t, I do not feel bass-deprived because the lows I hear are full, dynamic, taut, and balanced at all listening levels—not only when played loud.


Let's find out how well the Perlistens do with tracks with serious bass. First I listened to several performances of Saint-Saëns's Third Symphony, which, of course, vary in their rendering and balance, from the classic with Charles Munch with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (RCA Red Seal 82876-61387-2, SACD) to the recent audiophile recording with Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony (Reference Recordings RR-136, SACD). In every case, it was easy to pick out and follow the organ's bass line in the second movement, even when the playing was soft and slow. However, with Stern's Reference Recordings take, the impact of the opening and the run-up to the conclusion of the finale was awesome. The dynamic capabilities of the S7t's exceeded anything that I've heard before in this room.

I had a similar experience with the opening scene of Bartók's Miraculous Mandarin, which depicts chaos and danger in the city. The danger is ominously intoned in a passage scored for organ and low brass, including a bass tuba. Some recordings fail to give this passage sufficient weight, rendering it toothless. Others, such as Antal Dorati's Detroit Symphony recording (Decca 411 894-2, CD), give it full and fearsome power, to the point where the sound clogs on lesser systems. Not so with the Perlisten S7t's, which filled my room with huge, angry pulsing and set me up for the awful events to come.


For a final demonstration of the S7t's dynamic capabilities, I picked some Mozart! No kidding, Mozart, but with a little help from some friends. One of my longtime favorite discs, Dream of the Orient (DG 474 9922 SACD), pairs Concerto Köln with the Ensemble Sarband, which Wikipedia describes as a "German early music ensemble with musicians from 7 nations, focusing on musical connections between Orient & Occident; Jewish, Christian & Muslim music." This album attempts to demonstrate the bidirectional flow between the classical music of Europe and the traditional (and formal) music from cultures farther East. Of the many lovely surprises on the wonderful album, none is more arresting than the Overture to Mozart's opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail. A brief, improvised introduction in dulcet tones precedes the Overture, which begins as listeners would expect. Then, after the brief statement of the main theme in the strings, Ensemble Sarband piles on and there is an explosion of strings, winds, and exotic percussion. I set the volume to a comfortable level for the intro, but now there was much more of a jump! at the tutti than I'd ever heard before. The impact was much as it would have been live from good seats. It was thrilling.


I got to thinking that the S7t would be great for Bruckner, Mahler, Wagner, and other Romantic composers who carry melodic lines in the lower strings and brass. So it was with the second movement of Bruckner's 7th Symphony, where so much of the action flows through the cellos and bass fiddles with commentary from French horns. Herbert von Karajan's 1970–71 DG recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, remastered in DSD (Esoteric EES 90059), was as warm and rich as ever, but the Perlistens delivered new details in the lower strings and a greater sense of depth.

The satisfaction I derived from the S7t extends beyond bass and dynamics. This speaker is superb on subtler fare, such as the delightful French Duets (Hyperion LC 7533) on which Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne play music for four hands by Fauré, Poulenc, Stravinsky, Debussy, and Ravel. The music is charming and playful, and the piano tones were as clear and light as champagne bubbles.


Zuill Bailey's recent recording of Bach's Cello Suites, on the PS Audio–sponsored Octave Records (OCT-0008, 2 SACDs + 2 DataDiscs), is a triumph musically and technically. Bailey's 2008 recording of the suites was highly praised, but this new one—made in January of 2021, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic—reveals a more mature artist, seasoned by time and circumstance. Bailey's instrument is well-defined, centrally placed, and quite far forward, set within a comfortable (but not distracting) ambiance. As reproduced by the S7t's, Bailey's tone was full, and the distinct contributions of bow, strings, and wood were easy to hear and appreciate. Two-plus hours disappeared gracefully.

A comparison
I compared the Perlistens to my Revel Studio2 speakers sequentially by moving each into their ideal positions, and by placing them side by side and using an A/B toggle switch. When comparing them sequentially, I noted that the Revels' soundstage was consistently wider but their tonal balance was thinner, particularly in the upper bass. Conversely, the Perlistens had a more even tonal balance and, while the soundstage was not as wide, it was just as deep as that cast by the Revels. It was, as Dan Roemer said it would be, impossible to localize any sound to the individual Perlisten drivers.

I got similar impressions in the direct A/B comparisons, although in this round of testing, the tonal balance differences seemed less striking than I expected. I consistently preferred the fullness of male voices with the S7t's, but that preference could be erased by invoking Dirac Live correction with the Studio2s. Overall, and without the advantages of Dirac Live, the S7t seemed more neutral and relaxed. The Revels offered a wider soundstage and also more midrange detail, but, in extended listening with the S7t's, I didn't miss them.

The Perlisten S7t reminded me of no other passive speaker that I have heard before. The closest comparisons in my recent memory are both DSP-controlled loudspeakers: the Dutch & Dutch 8c and the Kii Three. What all have in common is their dispersion. The Perlistens, though, are entirely passive, much larger, and seemed capable of dynamic response beyond what the smaller, active speakers could achieve; that's from memory of course. Driving the S7t's, my Benchmark AHB2 amplifiers never blinked—assisted, no doubt, by the S7t's 92dB sensitivity.

It's rare to find an audio product, let alone a loudspeaker, that is beyond reproach. The S7t is one such loudspeaker. True, it doesn't shake the room,5 but that's a virtue, not a vice: It has ample bass and plays plenty loud. The result is a system that sounds transparent, producing music not obscured at any listening level.

Overall, the Perlisten S7t is the best speaker I've heard in this room. It should be considered by anyone seeking long-term musical satisfaction without practical limitations. New company, new speaker, new world

Footnote 3: The Ready Acoustics Chameleon Super Sub Bass Traps are not tuned bass traps. Rather, they're thick (6") sound-absorbing panels. Consequently, they absorb at high and midrange frequencies at least as much as they do in the bass. The manufacturer claims that they absorb all the way down to 20Hz, but, seeing as how a 20Hz wave has a wavelength of 55', there can't be a lot of absorption going on at the lowest frequencies.—Jim Austin

Footnote 4: If you want more bass, and I sometimes do, the right way to do it is to add one or more subwoofers, properly placed and properly equalized. Perlisten's range of subs looks quite appealing.

Perlisten Audio
807 Liberty Dr.
Verona, WI 53593
(414) 895-6009

rt66indierock's picture

I'll take the robaot over any reviewer as long as Paul Seydor's wife Danielle says it desn't sound like hi-fi. Now I'm down to the age old question, will it play my reference albums and recordings?

Kal Rubinson's picture

What is a robaot?

rt66indierock's picture

The Kippel is an important tool to measure speakers. Kind of a shame Amir is the only reviewer using it.

John Atkinson's picture
rt66indierock wrote:
The [Klippel] is an important tool to measure speakers. Kind of a shame Amir is the only reviewer using it.

While I have personally spent >$50k on test equipment over the years, the $100k the Klippel NearField Scannner costs is out of reach for me financially. :-(

There is also the fact that the Klippel needs to be used in a space with a 10' ceiling height, which is not feasible in my NYC home.

Nevertheless, I don't feel my loudspeaker measurements are lacking.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

rt66indierock's picture

for a discussion of measuring techniques for loudspeakers. I'm going to use measurements from a Klippel when I can. I don’t use yours because I want to measure speakers myself. And of course, play my reference albums and recordings in an environment I control.

I recently acquired a new SUV and have heard six tracks from my reference albums in the last month. It will be an adventure to adjust the audio system to play them reasonably well.

remlab's picture

also uses Klippel, but for what it's worth, JA's measurements do get the job done, except for maybe loudspeaker THD measurements.

John Atkinson's picture
remlab wrote:
. . . for what it's worth, JA's measurements do get the job done, except for maybe loudspeaker THD measurements.

Thank you.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

remlab's picture

vs Klippel is A little like Garry Kasparov vs Deep Blue. Deep experience vs pure processing power. Each obviously has their strengths and weaknesses.

SamTroft's picture

Dont know who Amir is but Erin's Audio Corner has been using Klippel for his reviews.

dc_bruce's picture

While it certainly seems possible that system of this size could be set up for bass extension to 20 Hz (-3dB), the designers apparently have made a choice to forego that in favor of a bit more efficiency. Given that most home listening environments have a 3 to 6 dB boost in the 40-50 Hz range, it's likely that, in-room, this speaker is "flat" to below 40 Hz. The result, according to Kal's report is plenty of bass power (undistorted, uncompressed loudness) achieving a sense of realism that most people want. As Mr. Austin's footnote advises, those wanting 20 Hz extension can always add a subwoofer or two (of equal dynamic capabilities to the main speakers) in order to hear the "hall sound" and other ULF. Given that most subs feature self-adjusting room correction, this probably would result in better sound than a totally passive, uncorrected single "full-range" system of equal LF extension.

Jack L's picture

.........uncorrected single "full-range" system of equal LF extension." quoted dc bruce.


IMO, SURELY not "probably".

My experience tells me active sub(s) when blended properly with any "full-range' loudspeaker system will surely improve its ULF than without.

I finally get back the music I missed soooo much before without my active subs installed!

Listening is believing

Jack L

BluesDog's picture

No small feat competing well against your Revels. Also would you say it plays better ported or sealed?

Kal Rubinson's picture

Dunno. Only used them as ported, at the recommendation of the distributor/installer. Also, despite their supposed good accommodation for subs in the sealed configuration, a domestic speaker of this size would most likely be employed in stereo in most systems and would be expected to perform well without subs.

BluesDog's picture

Thanks, Kal. How far from the front wall would you say is prudent?

Kal Rubinson's picture

??? Prudent in what way?

BluesDog's picture

As far as I’m concerned John and Kal are among the best there is at what they do. They are in Elysium, which we can almost grasp but which enlightens us and helps us to be better. John will always be the standard by which all testers and their equipment are measured. I’ll take John’s meticulous approach, scientific consistency and sheer will over anybody else and the latest “Flux Capacitor” out there. John gets my lifetime vote as the Michelangelo of testing components and speakers. Kal consistently produces gem reviews with insight and music choices that unearth a speaker’s capabilities. We, as readers, get a frequent real treat from John, Kal and the rest of the Stereophile Audiophile Squad!

John Atkinson's picture
BluesDog wrote:
I’ll take John’s meticulous approach, scientific consistency and sheer will over anybody else . . .

Thank you. I appreciate your comments. About consistency: I have always felt that consistency of approach to testing and the presentation of the results is important. The loudspeaker tests in Stereophile feature a common format that allows a speaker's measured results from 30 years ago to be easily compared with those of current-day models.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Dan Nagar's picture

Thank you for an amazing review about amazing speaker.

this one as all the bass needed .

the issue with sub woofer integration should be considered in every system and its not related (always) to fronts speakers extension or specific in room response( again - in terms of room gain)

sub or multiple subs - configured correctly will give a much smoother response .

thank you again

Jack L's picture


Hopefully the speakere driver units are NOT made in China as well !!!

Jack L

jmsent's picture

..are all made in China. They appear to be excellent performers.

Lee Robert's picture

No disrespect but I will wait for a more credible review before I seek these out for a demo.

Kal Rubinson's picture

If you doubt our credibility, you can easily find several other reviews out there but, of course, I cannot vouch for their credibility.

Ortofan's picture

... a better way for 'Lee Robert' to have phrased that comment, rather than "wait for a more credible review."

Following is a link to another review (that includes a set of measurements) and their results essentially confirm the findings of KR, along with those of JA1.

rschryer's picture

From whom?

Kal Rubinson's picture

My remark was not to impugn other reviewers nor did I intend to provide links to other reviews but as directive in response to the implication that our review was less credible than other, yet undefined, reviews. They do exist and Mr. Robert should use Google to seek them out.

BluesDog's picture

I can’t believe how many people engage in what the Brits would term “rather shirty” remarks just for attention. People the caliber of Kal and John have WAY better things to do then defend themselves from what radio announcers were forced to call “bullsch.” I read another article about the Perlisten S7t with testing. While a good and decent article, Stereophile is always the gold standard. It’s like comparing Double AA or Triple AAA baseball players to the Gods of Baseball, Sheesh! Long after the universe has shrunk to it’s last dying star, people will be saying about Stereophile reviewers, especially Kal and John, To add lib Aztec 2Step: There will never be a faster gun or another one like you are!

So to snarky readers here is what bikers would have to offer: Sit down, shut up, and hold on!

BluesDog's picture