March 18, 2009
| by Steve Guttenberg
In case you haven’t noticed, oh-so-boring speaker boxes are out, and deliciously curvaceous cabinets are in. A case in point is Definitive Technology’s Mythos STS SuperTower, which is very much a model of 21st-century speaker design.
Unorthodox engineering touches abound. The extruded aluminum cabinet, with a “Polystone” front baffle, feels rock solid even before we bolt on the real granite base. Build and finish quality are on par with speakers that retail for many times the price.
Definitive Tech’s speakers are always exceptional performers, but STS engineers pushed the limits of what’s possible in a lifestyle-friendly design. Unlike most of today’s bass-challenged loudspeakers that have to be paired with separate subwoofers, the STS comes with a stealthy built-in sub. That’s really cool, because speakers with a footprint as dainty as these have never delivered this much thunderous bass.
The tower measures 47.5 inches high, 8.5 inches deep and a trim 5.5 inches wide. So how did they squeeze a subwoofer into those slender flanks? Rather than use an off-the-shelf 10- or 12-inch-round woofer, Definitive’s engineers selected a 5-by-10-inch polymer/carbon composite racetrack-shaped woofer, with a pair of matching 5-by-10-inch “passive radiators” that augment the speaker’s bass output. The three drivers’ total bass radiating area is greater than a 12-inch woofer. The center woofer is powered by a built-in 300-watt digital power amplifier—so yes, each speaker must be plugged into a power outlet.
The STS also features a pair of 4.5-inch mineral-filled polymer midrange drivers nesting above and below a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter. Those drivers are acoustically isolated from the subwoofer, which is housed in its own sealed enclosure within the tower.
I have to admit, the STS’ big-hearted sound took some getting used to. Nothing wrong there; it was just a little tough to reconcile how these sleek towers rocked my world with Lucinda Williams’ Little Honey CD. Her band’s rhythmic drive was downright astonishing. The guitar and vocal clarity was balanced by the STS’ natural warmth. The stereo imaging was expansive and wholly three-dimensional on Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Each STS tower has its own subwoofer volume control, so it’s easy to dial-in bass balance to your taste. I set the control just past 12 o’clock (flat), but bass fiends can goose it all the way to shake ‘n’ quake levels. Or you can use the control to remedy your room’s acoustic anomalies. If your room has a tendency to muddy the bass, simply turn the subwoofer volume down to alleviate the problem.
Each SuperTower is available in satin-finished aluminum or black, though no wood finishes are available. That’s a bummer, but for those who can live without the pleasures of maple, cherry or walnut, the Mythos STS will deliver tremendous performance, equally adept with both music and movies. They’re pretty darned nice to look at as well.