About a year ago Definitive Technology President Sandy Gross called me, sounding excited. “I wanted to tell you we’re working on a new kind of Super Tower speaker that will use a variation on those mid-bass drivers you liked so much in our ProCinema 1000 system. We’re going to call it the Mythos ST.”
The $1649 ProCinema 1000 rig, which I reviewed in The Absolute Sound issue 168, featured mid-bass drivers so sophisticated they would not have seemed out of place in costly high-end stereo speakers. I had often wondered what would happen if Definitive applied those drivers in a more ambitious speaker.
“So the new speaker is going to be a Super Tower and a Mythos model at the same time?”
“Yes,” Sandy replied. “It will be a slender floorstander with an aluminum enclosure, taller and deeper than past Mythos models, but styled to have the traditional Mythos look. Each ST will have a forward-firing, D’Appolito array on top, and a powered subwoofer on the bottom. And each one will have the same bass output as one of our SuperCube subwoofers.”
“How will SuperCube drivers fit inside a Mythos enclosure?”
“Oh, they won’t,” said Sandy. “The ST cabinet is too narrow for traditional round woofers. Instead, we’ve designed ‘racetrack’-shaped woofers and passive radiators just for this speaker, and we’ll drive them with built-in 300-watt amps.”
“Are you doing a new tweeter, too?” I asked the question because Definitive’s past aluminum-dome tweeters, though good, were not in the same league as its superb midbass drivers.
“Sort of,” Sandy said. “We’ve revamped our tweeter, tweaking lots of design elements to cut non-linear distortions in half. I think the new ones sound much better, but you can judge for yourself when you hear them.”
I first heard the Mythos ST ($3798/pair) at CES 2007 and three things impressed me from the outset. First, the speaker offered terrific amounts of low-level detail and high frequency “air” coupled with an underlying quality of treble smoothness. Second, it reproduced depth and imaging cues in an effortless way, so that palpable images broke free from the speaker cabinets in a convincing way. Third, it delivered bass that was powerful, tightly controlled, and fast. In short, the Mythos ST struck me as being hands down the best-sounding speaker Definitive has yet made—and one that arguably establishes performance benchmarks in its price class. I considered doing an immediate review of the speaker, but decided to wait unit the companion Mythos Ten center channel came out, so that I could test a complete Mythos ST surround sound system. And now that I’ve heard that system, I can confidently say its performance puts many higher priced rigs to shame.
The Mythos Ten essentially takes the D’Appolito array section of the ST, flips it on its side, then stretches the chassis just enough to fit in a pair of oblong passive radiators similar to, but smaller than, those used in the ST. The Ten’s bass won’t go as low as the STs’ does, but in all other respects its voicing is identical to its bigger brother. This means you’ll hear seamless speaker-to-speaker transitions as sound effects pan across the front channels.
Completing the system are a pair of compact Mythos Gem XL surround-speakers, also based on two-way D’Appolito arrays. Because the XLs are an earlier generation design, their drivers aren’t quite as sophisticated as those in the STs and the Ten. Even so, the Gem XLs would qualify as main speakers in most systems, meaning they’re more than adequate for surround applications.
The Mythos ST surround system draws together three essential sonic qualities—resolution, dynamics, and 3D imaging—that add up to a fourth: a touch of pure magic. Let me explain what that comment means in practical terms.
On film soundtracks, the ST system produces an articulate, neutrally-voiced and decidedly muscular sound that absolutely takes command of most listening rooms. In the initial chase scene from Terminator III: Rise of the Machines, a deadly robotic Terminatrix (Kristanna Loken) drives a motorized crane, pursuing John Connor (Nick Stahl) and his spouseto- be (Claire Danes) through crowded city streets. The ST system reproduced the ensuing mayhem of the crane ripping through phone poles, cars, and even buildings with terrific vigor and dynamic impact. Yet even through the thickest action-film soundtracks the ST system never loses sight of two essential qualities: overarching clarity and low-level detail.