At one point in the chase, for example, the evil Terminator (Loken) attempts to dispose of the good-guy Terminator (Schwarzenegger) by dragging him through the cab of an oncoming fire truck. Through many speaker systems the resulting collision produces nothing more than a generic loud noise, but the ST system—thanks to its superb detail and pitch definition— lets you hear the unmistakably metallic “claaAANK” of the heavy-metal Schwarzinator plowing into the nose of the truck.
Similarly, in the final shootout scene from Open Range, the ST system displays raw power (delivering the ear-splitting “craaccKK” of individual gunshots) as well as impressive textural subtlety. You can, for instance, hear the ratcheting “clicks” of Colt revolvers being cocked, the sharp “whirr” of shards of wood sizzling through the air as shots go astray, or the gently modulated moan of the prairie wind in the background. The point is that the Definitive system weaves together small, seemingly inconsequential details to create a fabric of sheer realism.
But superb though the Mythos ST system is in home-theater contexts, it is really at its best when reproducing music—and the higher the resolution the better. In fact, the biggest “problem” you might encounter with the Mythos ST system could be finding electronics, source components, or recordings good enough to tap its full potential.
Let’s start with the basics. The ST system is sensitive and easy to drive, in part because its built-in powered subwoofers shoulder the lion’s share of the bass workload—you don’t need to use high-powered amplifiers unless you want to. (Definitive’s Sandy Gross, for example, drives his personal pair of Mythos STs with a modest, 17Wpc tube amplifier). Further, the ST system offers smooth, neutral tonal balance; delicate and extended highs; deep, powerful, and lightning-fast bass response; and the ability to resolve very fine levels of sonic detail. And therein lies the genius, but also the only potential drawback, of this system.
The good news is that the ST system resolves subtle textural and dynamic details more effectively than other systems its price. For instance, the ST shows how subliminal outdoor sounds—birds and insects chirping or the rustle of a soft passing breeze—contribute tremendously to the pastoral vibe of “The Park” from Feist’s The Reminder [Cherrytree/Interscope]. But the not-always-good news is that the Definitive rig sometimes exposes shortcomings in associated equipment or recordings. For example, the ST system shows how Feist’s vocals vary in sound quality from track to track, ranging from dreamy smoothness on “How My Heart Behaves” to a raw, hard-edged sound on the closing chorus of “The Park.” For better or worse, the ST system faithfully reports whatever it “hears.”
When recording quality is spot-on, as on Sara Hickman’s luminous vocals on “In the Fields” from Shortstop [Elektra], the ST system becomes downright holographic, its rich details and overall sense of “air” bringing vocals, instruments and even the recording space to life in a vivid way. And thanks to Definitive’s revamped tweeters, treble details always remain smooth (a step forward from past Definitive tweeters, which occasionally became a bit rough or coarse). Bass textures and transients likewise exhibit clarity, punch and speed. Listen to a recording that showcases acoustic bass, such as the Blue Chamber Quartet’s arrangement of the Astor Piazzolla composition “Kicho” [First Impressions, Stockfisch SACD], and you’ll be floored to hear how this system captures the size, weight, and tightly-focused growl of the instrument. The STs simply don’t do bass boominess, and the longer you listen the more you’ll appreciate their lithe, accurate bass.
The system exhibits few performance drawbacks, and those that arise almost always result from excessive volume settings (a serious temptation, given how gracefully the system plays at loud levels). On loud, prolonged pipe organ passages and the like, the subwoofer can be overdriven, resulting in momentary, atonal “chuffing” sounds. Similarly, at very high levels the mid/bass drivers can exhibit hints of upper midrange forwardness that bespeak strain. But at sane volumes, the system rarely breaks a sweat.
Let me also offer two small performance tips. First, check periodically to make sure the speakers’ metal floor spikes remain firmly tightened into the granite floorplates; you’ll hear some “buzzing” if the spikes happen to work loose. Second, in home theater systems, run speaker cables to the STs as you normally would, but also route line-level subwoofer signals to the speakers’ dedicated LFE inputs. This easy-to-overlook setup touch will give the system fuller, better balanced bass on movie soundtracks.
Definitive’s Mythos ST system is one of the rare few that sounds great on movies, but even better for music playback. Exceptionally revealing, the ST package will show you how your system components and favorite movies or music really sound. Don’t be surprised to hear the STs expose rich new layers of sounds you’ve never experienced before—even on material you think you know well. In simple terms, the Mythos ST system places you in the performance ballpark of speaker systems carrying five-figure pricetags, but for about half the cost.