Definitive Technology Mythos STS SuperTower loudspeaker

John Atkinson and I were in a Manhattan loft apartment that could have stood in for every sophisticated NYC loft you've ever seen in films. We were surrounded by fabulous contemporary art. Asian and South American antiquities were discreetly displayed. The furniture was sparse but choice. And, over in one corner, facing a conversation grouping of paintings, two sleek metal tower loudspeakers were making extremely convincing music. We managed to delay examination of this urban paradise long enough to drink adult beverages and inhale some music.

"That's a nice soundstage," said JA, who constantly works that dry, understated Brit schtick. "And that bass player is so solid, I can almost see his fingers."

Our host, Definitive Technology's cofounder Sandy Gross, smiled his Buddha smile. "Not too shabby for $3000," he said. "But notice that they don't look out of place here. People who like nice things won't think they're too ugly to have around."

"That's true," I chimed in. "They really do resemble a Giacometti sculpture—or a Giacometti pedestal—but it's the big pile of electronics that usually drive loudspeakers that I suspect decorators are less forgiving of."

Gross's grin widened. "True, I'm not playing them with typical high-end electronics." He pointed to two devices sitting in a nearby niche. One was the beautiful Cayin A-50T integrated amplifier ($1295), which could also double as modern art. The source was an object so ubiquitous that 21st-century Americans don't even see it any more: a Sony PlayStation 1.

"You mean to tell me that you're getting sound like this from a system that costs less than $5000?"

"Closer to $4000," said Gross. "I bought the PlayStation at a garage sale for $35."

JA and I sat there, chins touching laps, taking that in. Gross went in for the kill. "So do you think Stereophile might be interested in reviewing the Mythos STS SuperTower when we have production samples?"

John carefully closed his mouth and turned toward me. "Interested?"

Indeed I was.

The only joy in the world is to begin
At only 5.5" wide and 8.5" deep but 47.5" tall, the Mythos STS SuperTower is sleek and striking. It's also extremely solid. The cabinet itself is an extruded aluminum monocoque with an aluminum cap. It's bolted to a granite base that not only stabilizes the speaker with its wider stance, but anchors it as well. Both metal and plastic spikes are provided—not only to provide audiophile approval, but also to raise the base so that the speaker's power cable can escape.

That's right: power cable. Each Mythos STS contains a 300W class-D amplifier to drive its racetrack-shaped (an oval 5" by 10") carbon-fiber driver, which in turn is "pressure-coupled" to two passive 5" by 10" planar drivers. DefTech calculates this as being equivalent to having two 12" 300W subs without, as the company's literature says, "taking up all that space."

At the upper end of the Mythos STS is a D'Appolito driver array comprising a 1" (25mm) ceramic-coated, heat-treated aluminum-dome tweeter mounted between two 4.5" mineral-filled monopolymer-cone midrange drivers with cast-aluminum baskets. The midranges have waveguides as well as DefTech's Balanced Dual Surround System (BDSS), in which surrounds placed at the inner and outer edges of the cone "provide better mechanical stability," said DefTech VP Paul DiComo.


"Okay, more linear excursion."

The STS's cabinets are internally damped by a combination of extruded ribs and inert materials. The baffles—made of Polystone, a dense, polymer-based material said to be nonresonant—are slightly oversized and have to be compressed to fit, says DefTech, thus adding to the structure more inertitude. The cabinets and baffle certainly passed the knuckle-rap test: dull thuds, no ringing. The enclosure's subwoofer and mid/HF sections are separated from one another by two plates of MDF.

The Mythos STS is rated at 93dB sensitivity. "Well, there's not much in there for an external amplifier to drive," DiComo helpfully pointed out.

Joy comes from using your potential
The Mythos STS SuperTowers weren't difficult to set up. In theory, you bolt on the granite bases, plug in the subs, and attach the speaker cables. At my house, things were more complicated. The Mythos's five-way binding posts are recessed into its cabinet, and none of my audiophile-approved reference cables—all of which have spades—would fit. Audience's John McDonald came to my rescue with a set of Conductor speaker cables.

Although I'd heard the STS SuperTowers sound superb in Sandy Gross's far larger apartment, as well as at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, they didn't get on well in my large listening room. To get the timbral balance right, I had to turn up the subwoofers' bass output, which led to a slightly cardboardy sound in the transition from the deep to the midbass. Gross's secret may have been his setup expertise (he'd set the speakers up diagonally in a room corner), or it may have been his lovely Cayin amp. Because I knew the SuperTowers were capable of much better sound than I was getting, I moved them downstairs to my smaller dedicated listening room and dialed the bass down.

Great Googly-Moogly! Suddenly I had deep bass, natural mids, silky highs—and a huge freaking grin on my puss. This was going to be fun.

Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is
Two minor setup details: The STS SuperTower's bass-control knobs were a bit twitchy—a little dab'll do ya. And ditch the grilles. Your interior decorator will be horrified, but after she's cashed the check, it's your room again. You can even bring back that comfy chair you had to hide from her.

Definitive Technology
11433 Cronridge Drive, Suite K
Owings Mills, MD 21117-2294
(410) 363-7148