Test: Perlisten S4s, S7t, D212s & S7c – 7.1 high-end home cinema speaker set
In AUDIO TEST 06/22 we were very fortunate to be the first hi-fi magazine in the world to test the Perlisten S5t floorstanding speakers . Now we can enjoy four perlist speaker models – arranged in a 7.1 setup. Will that bring happiness again?
The new surround reference
In order to be able to enjoy films at home like in the cinema, home cinema fans are always looking for the perfect setup. The image plays the decisive role and a lot of money is often put into an even brighter projector – of course in 4K or even 8K. When it comes to sound, film fans often make compromises and are satisfied with inexpensive solutions – preferably from the company with the hellish name – according to the motto: the main thing is that it booms! But home cinema sound can do so much more.
We experienced that impressively at the Central German HiFi Days 2022 here in Leipzig. Perlisten Audio was visiting the publisher’s own cinema for the first time as an exhibitor. Mansour Mamaghani and his team from the German Perlisten distributor Audio Reference put together two S7t floorstanding speakers , one S7c center speaker and one D212s subwoofer each, as well as four Perlisten S4s surround speakers in a top-class 7.1 system.
The high-quality Perlisten 7.1 system was driven by the Yamaha RX-A8A AV receiver and the Krell Chorus 5200 XD multi-channel power amplifier . The numerous trade fair visitors were able to be convinced of the power of their sound during the MDHT 2022 on September 17th and 18th. Even if the selection of films was not to everyone’s taste, all visitors were enthusiastic about the sound and so the home cinema was once again one of the secret highlights of the HiFi Days in Leipzig.
We test editors then had a total of 4 weeks to put the complete Perlisten home cinema setup through its paces and hearts. In retrospect, that was a real experience, because at the HiFi Days it wasn’t easy even for us “interns” to conduct an extensive test session due to the large crowds in the cinema hall. And we can already reveal this much to you: More cinema sound within your own four walls is not possible. But let’s start in order.
Perlisten S7t – floorstanding speakers
The S7t are the largest floorstanding speakers in the Perlisten S Series . Incidentally, this is the flagship speaker series of the Americans. Like the other models tested – except of course the D212s subwoofer – the S7t are equipped with a proprietary DPC array to control the mid and high frequencies. Incidentally, DPC stands for Directivity Pattern Control, which means something like “control of the directional pattern”.
In the center of the array we find a 28mm beryllium dome. Beryllium is an alkaline earth metal, which can cover an enormous range of sound generation. This extends into the regions of the ultrasound. In addition, it has excellent damping properties, which means that it does not exhibit the breakup modes typical of other metals. This results in an undistorted sound reproduction up to inaudible heights.
The beryllium dome in the center is flanked by two 28mm TPCD ultralight carbon fiber midrange domes. These allow a crossover frequency that can be more than an octave lower than with the usual speaker systems.
All three drivers are orchestrated by a waveguide lens that guarantees a coherent wavefront. This is enormously important above all for an understandable voice reproduction, but of course also for all other sounds above the bass range and thus practically everything that provides the listener with directional and detailed information.
And since we already mentioned TPCD, let’s go into a little more detail about it. TPCD stands for TexTreme carbon fiber. Perlists not only use this in the midrange drivers, but also in the woofers. This carbon fiber is up to 30 percent lighter than conventional carbon fibers while being just as thick and even stronger. TPCD can therefore distribute break-up modes without sharp response peaks while expanding bandwidth at the same time. Ultimately, it moves the air down to 20 Hertz extremely agile and precise.
Incidentally, the S7t floorstanding loudspeakers are THX Dominus-certified, like the rest of the S-series perlist loudspeakers we tested . This means that they can be accommodated in particularly large home cinemas. In doing so, they guarantee – provided that the appropriate player is used – that they reproduce the sound of the cinema, just as the filmmakers had imagined.
At a height of almost 1.30 meters, they weigh 55.7 kilograms. Of course, the housing and its materials make up a large proportion of this mass. And thanks to the elaborately designed and extremely stable housing, nobody has to worry about unsightly resonances occurring. No, the two mid-range drivers, the tweeter and the four 18-centimetre bass drivers are framed in an absolutely vibration-free manner.
The frequency range that the S7t can represent is -10 dB between 22 and 37 kHz and +/-1.5 dB between 80 Hz and 20 kHz. In the room, however, around 16 Hz is achieved thanks to the bass reflex.
Of course, such high-end loudspeakers also need the appropriate drive. The connected amplifier should definitely offer 100 to 600 watts RMS. Incidentally, the impedance of the Perlisten speakers is 4 ohms high and their efficiency is 92.2 dB measured at 2.83 volts at a distance of 1 meter.
In terms of sound, the Perlisten S7t already produce a phenomenal sound as a simple stereo pair. In fact, they deliver such a high level of detail that allows a uniquely accurate localization of each sound. So that we thought we were hearing a kind of surround sound even in stereo mode. In addition, there is a wonderful, dry and yet never harsh bass, which makes your stomach tingle very precisely even without a supporting subwoofer.
“In fact, they deliver such a high level of detail that allows a uniquely accurate localization of each sound”
The voice intelligibility is – no question – at the highest possible level. We never have to strain to understand what the actors are saying, even when there’s a lot of action going on around it. As a reminder: we’re still talking about the S7t as a stereo pair here – we’ll get to the center speaker later. By the way, “Batman: The Dark Knight” is currently flickering across the Stewart screen.
In order to test the Perlisten loudspeakers a little more, we throw a few jazz numbers into the connected CD player. The result is intoxicating. Very powerful, multifaceted and yet always emotional, the small works of art are served to us. Our cinema room is transformed into a jazz club and we sit with a glass of good whiskey in our hands directly in front of the stage.
The change to a Mozart concert doesn’t upset the perlists any more than various rock and pop titles. They always deliver a brilliant performance that increases our serotonin level or keeps it high. So you can not only output bombastic cinema sound, but any kind of music, sensitively and precisely. The “smaller” Perlisten S5t floorstanding loudspeakers have already impressively proven this in our stereo test three editions ago.
Perlisten S4s – surround speakers
The S4s are Perlisten’s S-Series surround speakers. They are hung on the wall like typical wall loudspeakers. But there are also corresponding flush-mounted loudspeakers from Perlisten.
As with the S7t perlists, the DPC array is also integrated here. This means that in addition to the 28 mm beryllium calotte, there are again two 28 mm TPCD calottes. That alone guarantees that the lateral and rear soundtracks do not degenerate into a mush of sound. No, rather they are presented extremely precisely and extremely clearly, so that they can be located in space at any time and we really feel like we are right in the middle of the film.
The reproduction of the low frequencies is also taken care of. An 18 centimeter TPCD speaker starts at 100 Hertz at +/- 1.5 dB. If we assume -10 dB, it is 39 Hertz – which is really a remarkable value for this small speaker. Of course, this lower frequency is usually cut off by the corresponding room measurement, because after all the bass has to be distributed as best as possible. Simply “droning” from all the walls is generally rather counterproductive in home cinema.
During our test sessions with “Jurassic World 3” and “Es”, the S4s provide a phenomenal sound experience around us. Even when we entrust them with demanding music playback in virtual surround mode, they do an excellent job. They are hardly inferior to their larger relatives, the Perlisten floor-standing loudspeakers. Perlisten has clearly recognized that “secondary speakers” also have to sound good in order to be able to enjoy perfect cinema sound.
The S4s thus prove that surround speakers can be more than reasonably sounding additional sound sources. They are full-fledged 3-way speakers that never sound flat or flat. They produce a subtle, dynamic sound that is amazingly precise and powerful.
Perlisten S7c – center speaker
Center speakers have almost the most important function in home cinema. They ensure that we hear what the actors say verbally. As a rule, they are real specialists in reproducing human voices and the corresponding middle frequencies. In addition, the sounds of what is currently being displayed in the center of the screen come from the center speaker. And of course music. So this loudspeaker has to do a lot and should therefore sound correspondingly high-quality.
In fact, Perlisten makes no compromises when it comes to the center speaker in the S series. That’s why it’s equipped with exactly the same drivers as the S7t floorstanding speakers. Here we also find a 28 mm beryllium dome and two 28 mm TPCD domes as well as four 18 centimeter woofers. The entire center speaker is also designed as a 4-way system.
The technical data are similar to those of the S7t floorstanding speakers. The S7c can output frequencies from 80 Hz to 20 kHz at +/- 1.5 dB and, thanks to bass extension, can reach a depth of 32 Hz in the room. Its weight is a little lighter than that of the S7t. It weighs “only” 33.5 kilograms. Although this mass is still high and it is better to set it up with two people or put it in the right place.
In terms of sound, the pearlescent center speaker is truly a master of its trade. Such a high-quality and at the same time wonderfully understandable reproduction of audio signals from a center speaker is unrivaled in our test history to date. This is particularly expressed in the sensitivity with which language is reproduced. Really big cinema resounds here. And even if it only functions as a mono loudspeaker for music, it achieves a level from which many expensive floor-standing loudspeakers are happy to learn a lesson.
Perlisten D212s – subwoofers
The subwoofer that we were able to enjoy in our setup is the D212s, making it the second largest bass speaker that Perlisten has in its range. Unfortunately, as the pictures show, we only had the white version available. Of course, it doesn’t do as well in home cinema due to the bright surface. At the HiFi Days, a piece of black minor tone was used – the visitors will certainly remember it. Of course, the Perlisten subwoofer is also available in black, it was probably not in stock at the time of the trade fair. In terms of sound, there are of course no differences in the 67 x 42 x 55 centimeter sound cube. Incidentally, the sub is the heaviest speaker in our test setup with a live weight of at least 68 kilograms.
The Perlisten D212s uses an LC touch display on its top for control. Here we can adjust the volume or the parametric EQ with 10 bands. A 32-bit Arm Cortex M4 works inside the heavyweight and a 48-bit DSP ensures the best possible signal processing. In addition to direct operation on the subwoofer, there is also an app that we can use to control the subwoofer.
It offers two XLR inputs for balanced signals and two RCA inputs for unbalanced signals. If you want to connect speakers to the subwoofer and loop through their signal, you can either connect them via the two XLR and two cinch outputs.
The internal amplifier of the Perlisten subwoofer D212s provides RMS with an output of 3 kW. It can also output frequencies from 13.5 Hz at -10 dB and 15 Hz at -6 dB. Its upper frequency is a maximum of 245 Hz. Its efficiency at 150 mV and 1 meter distance is 92 dB.
Sonically, the D212s is a real monster, but in a good way. When measuring, we had to turn it down far so that Audyssey even started the measurement. If it is then correctly adjusted and calibrated, home cinema fun reaches the next level. Incidentally, it should be noted here that we did not have the problems with Audyssey that are described in various forums or on YouTube. After the calibration, the home cinema set sounded very balanced and excellent, although of course we chose the THX output for our sound, since the perlists are certified for it.
But back to the pearlescent subwoofer. It is a primal force and simply overwhelming in its power. It fires off the basses with tremendous power and very dynamically. He easily produced this typical tickling in the stomach in our home cinema. Despite all the power, it never comes across as too aggressive. No, even this “bass cyclops” is a sensitive and cautious player. He knows exactly how to implement which sound and puts on a deep bass spectacle that leaves the listener in the cinema seat with a big grin. You will have to search a long time for such a dedicated, clear and powerful subwoofer. Don’t feel like the long search? Then just grab the perlist D212s! Whereby this is really oversized in a normal living room of 20 – 25 square meters.
High end home cinema sound in 7.1 system
Now that we’ve dealt with the individual speakers in detail, let’s turn to the sound of the entire system. We see and hear movies like Jurassic World: A New Age, The Dark Knight, It, Star Wars 4, Dune and many more. Of course, what we have already noticed with the individual loudspeakers also applies to the overall system. All sound events can be located excellently, even with millimeter precision.
We immediately felt like we were in the middle of the soundscape. Many 7.1 systems are primarily designed to pump the sound as powerfully as possible into the auditorium. Details and, above all, sensitivity fall by the wayside. With the perlist set in our configuration, that’s definitely not the case. It actually sounds better than the movie theaters of most major multiplexes! We hear and experience the films with such openness and transparency that even one or the other seasoned home cinema test editor still has his jaw dropping.
As we then switch to pure music and listen through various music genres, it becomes apparent why the Perlisten speakers reproduce the film sound so fantastically. They do the same thing with music of any kind. Incredibly detailed and very sensitive, they almost magically bring any style of music into our cinema hall. Sometimes it becomes an intimate jazz club, sometimes a spacious stadium with a rock band on the stage or a glamorous concert hall of high culture for classical music. In short: Perlisten makes the home cinema a real experience!
The Perlisten S7t floorstanding loudspeakers are exceptional speakers that immediately improve the sound quality of any home cinema. They sound incredibly precise, but never neglect the sensitivity and liveliness of the sound. Even without a subwoofer, their bass reproduction convinces with a dry and very agile presentation. Best of all, they are just as suitable for playing music as they are for any type of film.Conclusion S4s
The S4s are surround speakers that go far beyond what we know from conventional surround boxes. They play very dynamically and powerfully and can even inspire on their own as simple wall loudspeakers in a stereo setup. Together with the other Perlisten loudspeakers, they turn every home cinema into a real experience center with the best sound that you can buy at the moment.Conclusion S7
With the S7c, Perlisten has brought out a center speaker that is in no way inferior to its column speaker colleagues. It sounds incredibly detailed and renders voices as vividly as if the actors were right there in the cinema. It also shines with a bass power that makes us pale. An absolute recommendation for every home cinema that values the very best sound for film and music.Conclusion D212
The Perlisten D212s is an exceptional subwoofer. First of all, the diverse connection options and operating modes are convincing. The operation via the LCD touch panel is also very well solved – and there is even an app control. The bass is presented precisely, powerfully and never exaggeratedly. If you run a medium-sized home cinema room with 20 or more seats, you should definitely consider the D212s. For the living room we recommend the smaller D15s or D12s.