Perlisten Audio R5m – Perfect radiation with dynamic excellence - PERLISTEN® Audio

"Double perfection"

Double perfection: As a voluminous compact speaker, the R5m closes the portfolio gap in Perlisten's Reference series - and scores with the perfect radiation

Perlisten Audio R5m – Perfect radiation with dynamic excellence


Volker Frech

Double perfection

As a voluminous compact speaker, the R5m closes the portfolio gap in Perlisten’s Reference series – and scores with the perfect radiation that is the trademark of the Americans and is reflected in the characteristic special baffle with an unusual triple tweeter arrangement. This monitor also follows Perlisten’s approach of building loudspeakers that shine both in the hi-fi sector and in home cinema use. In the test, the R5m impressively demonstrated its capabilities.

Perlisten? It sounds unusual, and it is. The company name is the abbreviation for “Perceptual Listening” – and this “attentive listening” is the philosophy of the sound transducer specialist founded in 2016: When developing loudspeakers, Perlisten focuses on the controlled, directional radiation behavior in order to achieve perfect homogeneity at the listening position for maximum to achieve music perception and at the same time to avoid unwanted room reflections. This could now be marketing gibberish from an industry novice – but behind Perlisten there are experienced doers like Daniel Roemer and Lars Johansen, who work for the high-end manufacturer Acoustic Research, the loudspeaker grandee NHT or the studio and multi-channel sound reinforcement specialists, among others M&K were active. With this expertise, Roemer and Johansen in the USA, obtain some parts from Scandinavia, but manufacture the majority of the chassis, components and housing in China – in our own production facility that meets the top quality standards we set ourselves. Perlisten made the start with the S series, and the R series should now offer their central performance plus points at a more affordable level.

For hi-fi and home cinema – including THX Dominus certificate

To date, this Reference series consisted of two floorstanding speaker models, a center speaker, a small shelf speaker, a surround speaker and two subwoofers. With this portfolio, Perlisten expressly addresses both the stereo audience and the multi-channel group. It is not for nothing that the loudspeakers are all TXH-certified. Perlisten was even the first manufacturer to receive the highest-ranking THX Dominus certificate, which, with its performance requirements (sonication in rooms up to 184 cubic meters with a viewing distance of six meters to the display or screen), is aimed at large-capacity home cinemas. Up until now, Perlisten’s R series has lacked a large compact loudspeaker, which delivers mature front sound reinforcement in the surround set and also offers a lush bass in stereo mode. The R5m now closes this gap: Measuring 55 by 23 by 34 centimeters, the monitor stretches the meaning of the word “compact”. This fits the weight of almost 18 kilos. No wonder: under the richly and cleanly applied high-gloss paint, optionally in black or white…

Heavyweight with a special baffle

… there is a body made of HDF, which has a density that is around 20 percent higher than that of the MDF commonly used. In addition to the mass density, there is the wall thickness: it is a generous five centimeters at the front, the side panels are still 25 millimeters thick. This body is lined with bitumen on the inside and is heavily braced. With this massiveness, the body is as good as immune to resonances. The eye-catcher is now the attached baffle – on the one hand because it takes up almost the entire front, on the other hand because it presents itself in an unusual shape. This complex topology with its numerous curves is the result of radiation optimization that took a year and a half. The upper and lower areas each include a 165 mm woofer. It works with a special HPF membrane. Perlisten has invested two years of development time in this “Hybrid Pulp Formulation” in order to achieve an optimal mass/stiffness ratio. For this purpose, the classic material paper is mixed with wool for cushioning and bamboo and hardwood fibers for reinforcement.

Double woofers for rich bass

With this HPF membrane, two woofers now work in the R5m – in parallel and with equal priority. This doubles the resulting oscillating surface. This promotes a powerful reproduction, especially of the bass. Here the data sheet of the R5m shows a draft of up to 37 Hertz. However, the bass capability depends on the operating mode: the R5m can be used as a bass reflex loudspeaker. The grids, which are embedded in the cheeks and the back of the case, already indicate this. If you look through these grilles, you will see that the actual base of the monitor is drawn in further up and that a large bass reflex tube is embedded in this base. This downfiring principle is unusual for compact loudspeakers, but advantageous: If the port led to the front, the optics would be spoiled, If it were directed backwards, the bass would be over-boosted if placed close to the wall. With the R5m, on the other hand, the sound is always defined and controlled over the lower room and radiated to several sides without mid-range components.

Operation with bass reflex tuning or closed housing

This allows the monitor to be operated on a tripod. For the model offered by Perlisten, four bores and threads have already been drilled into the speaker base for secure, screwed installation. Alternatively, a bracket for wall mounting is also available. The R5m is also prepared for this attachment. Here, too, Perlisten thinks of home cinema and even studio use. The bass reflex tube of the R5m can now be sealed with a foam plug supplied. Then the monitor acts with a closed housing. This is useful if you want to achieve an even more contoured bass. On the other hand, the R5m doesn’t play quite so low anymore. Perlisten then indicates 43 hertz for the typical bass reproduction in the room. This solution is also suitable if the bass in your own listening room seems too pronounced. So much for the bass, now for the higher frequency ranges: the two woofers play up to 1,200 Hertz. Now a midrange speaker actually takes over…

Amazing tweeter trio

… but you won’t find that in the R5m. Instead, a tweeter trio operates in the central area of ​​the baffle. Now that’s a pretty clever solution. In this way, sound conversion is also possible in the mids without a heavy membrane, because the three identical 26 millimeter silk domes weigh just 0.3 grams. This dramatically reduces the mass-related inertia. Due to the resulting briskness, the R5m can also shine in the midrange with outstanding impulse fidelity and dynamics. But what about resilience and deflection capability? On the one hand, durable models are used for this. On the other hand, the domes work as a team: As a result, the work is now distributed over three chassis. In addition, the resulting membrane surface is of a size worthy of a midrange driver. That’s why the trio can take over at the said 1.2 kilohertz – amazing! The upper and lower tweeters then drop out at three kilohertz. From here, the central tweeter alone converts sound up to well over twenty kilohertz.

Controlled, directional radiation behavior

All in all, the R5m acts as a 2.5-way loudspeaker – and unusually realizes the 1.5-way in the high-mid range instead of in the mid-bass range. As a result, Perlisten achieves the self-imposed goal of a controlled, directional radiation behavior. Due to the deep takeover by the small calottes, unwanted bundling effects are significantly reduced. In principle, they occur in chassis up to their upper transmission range. This effect is completely absent in the R5m due to the absent midrange driver for the upper midrange and is reduced for the two low-midrange drivers. The central DPC array, which houses the three tweeters, is said to have an influence on their radiation behavior from 500 Hertz upwards. This “Directivity Pattern Control” array is the hallmark of perlists.

DPC array with complex shape

Why doesn’t Perllisten use the well-known D’Appolito arrangement for this, in which two large mid-bass drivers vertically frame a small tweeter? Because this solution can hardly be implemented in practice: if all requirements were met exactly, the tweeter would be too large and would have to be separated extremely low, the surrounding woofers would be so far away that there would be overlays in the mid-range and the vertical radiation would therefore be inhomogeneous. Perlisten’s DPC array, on the other hand, works with three vertically arranged small domes – and a baffle area with a complex shape. The two outer tweeters operate behind a perforated grid that extends to the edge of the horn and creates sound diffusion. The central tweeter for the actual highs is set back in a horn funnel. It acts both as a sound pressure amplifying and sound-conducting: its shape favors a wide emission. With this arrangement, the DPC array also achieves targeted cancellations – and overall the desired vertical bundling and the intended horizontal, broad-homogeneous radiation.

The perlist Audio R5m in practice

Perlisten recommends an amplifier output of between 100 and 250 watts for operating the R5m. A powerful drive with an appropriately dimensioned, stable power supply is required here. So low-wattage amps, single-ended amps, and small tube amps are not the best option here. With our Hegel, which is designed for four-ohm loudspeakers with an output of 420 watts per channel, we are in the full green area. Of course, the first thing we want to know is what the alleged dynamic capability of the R5m is all about. For this we let an expert do the work: drummer grandmaster Charlie Antolini lives up to the title of the song on “Jammin'”, plays himself into gear, gets everything out of his drum set and really lets it rip. As soon as we get started, our limbs get impulsive, we sit bolt upright on the sofa.

High dynamics and bass potency

In addition, Antolini enters a complex rhythm on the bass drum, here we experience every hit of the pedal beater on the skin as a mercilessly hard blow in our stomach. Speaking of blows: Antonili also hits the snare at intricately selected beats, here the drummer relies on a crisp snare drum, and so these full hits have a dry force with light whipping through the strapped snare wire. This solo introduction lasts ten seconds – and we already have a grin on our faces because the drum set inspires with great punch and rich power, with explosive impulsiveness and vitality. This is reminiscent of a horn speaker in terms of dynamics and direct response. Now the congenial bass player Wolfgang Schmid continues the furore with his five-string: During the slap passages, the highly percussive tones bang around our ears, with the swinging walking bass interludes, the R5m then puts a robust, powerful, deep, room-filling bass into our listening room. This bass potency is absolutely amazing!

Outstanding spatiality and plasticity

Of course, we listened to “Drummin'” at full volume to test the level stability. The R5m proves it with flying colours, but we need a few seconds’ rest after the number. Oof! After this gripping, intimate-intensive number, it’s now more cultivated, relaxed and large-scale. Singer and guitarist George Benson brought up a large ensemble for his high-gloss interpretation of the melancholic ballad “Rainy Night in Georgia”: He is joined by a second guitarist, strings, keyboards, organ, bass and drums. Now the outstanding imaging capability of the R5m is all the more impressive. It starts with the spatiality: the musicians are perfectly staggered, the monitor places them on a generously dimensioned stage, and the playback has a wonderful openness and lightness.

Rich in detail

… and experience how Smith plays the fretboard with his fingers. This detailed power of representation applies to all musicians up to the drummer John Robinson, who, despite his rear positioning with a short hi-hat figure, has our attention. Here we also experience the wonderful clarity and transparency with which the R5m maps. We can follow the key work of keyboarder Greg Phillinganes in all its subtleties, we can tell from the characteristic shimmering of the sound that he is playing a Fender Rhodes, if he increases the vibrato effect to intensify it, we can hear the beautiful chord acknowledgments which he enriches the song harmonically. The strings are also magnificent: they do not appear as an amorphous tapestry of sound, but as individual, Musicians playing bows and strings perceptible. With their perfectly placed increases in volume, they deliver exactly that heartwarming, voluptuous effect that one would expect from a love ballad. The R5m shows a great gradation ability and thus also proves its fine dynamic abilities.

Homogeneous radiation over the entire width

The vocal representation is almost captivating: George Benson has a pleasant organ, his singing is full-bodied and sonorous – and with these qualities the R5m places the front man in front of his accompanying combo in our listening room. The monitor succeeds in depicting Benson with an immense physical presence; this almost tangible presence is accompanied by a directness and urgency that once again reminds us of a horn loudspeaker: Benson addresses us with his singing, we cannot escape his confession . Incidentally, this expressive power is not limited to the listening position, but succeeds over the entire width of the sofa. Here the R5m proves the homogeneity of its radiation. The R5m is also easy to set up thanks to its clever bass reflex tuning: We reduced the loudspeaker-wall distance from almost 50 to 20 centimeters – nevertheless, Marcus Miller’s long-lasting, deep bass tones with immense volume and great power are in the room. This puts some floorstanding speakers in competition.

Immersive spectacle in Movie mode

Now we’re excited to see the cinematic capabilities of the THX-certified R5m. For this we choose the fast-paced chase from the Batman blockbuster “The Dark Knight”, which takes place between prosecutor Harvey Dent as a passenger in the police van, the Joker in the truck and Batman in the tumbler. The R5m gives us what we want to experience here: an impressive, crashing spectacle. Despite the pure 2.0 sound system, we are right in the middle of this minute-long scrapping orgy full of truck crashes and exploding cars, detonating explosive charges and a crashing helicopter shredding overhead. Of course, the woofer membranes of the R5m are visibly working here, and of course we’re playing the spectacle again at a full level. But the highly dynamic, impulsive soundtrack always remains clear and defined despite all its brutality. Speech intelligibility is also excellent. All this is also possible in this case with a small distance from the wall. In combination with a large screen, the R5m offers an almost immersive experience thanks to its imaging power and ensures an impressive film event.


With the characteristic special baffle and the exceptional triple tweeter arrangement, the Perlisten R5m presents itself as an extraordinary monitor – and as a compact loudspeaker it delivers excellent performance both in the hi-fi area and in home cinema operation. The playback shines with excellent coherence and homogeneity, and the R5m achieves an even, wide radiation without being limited to a sweet spot. When it comes to display, the monitor impresses with excellent plasticity and presence. The image has a superb, almost immersive spatiality. Thanks to the brisk calottes, the R5m manages to deliver an extremely agile display with excellent impulse fidelity and excellent resolution and transparency. In addition, it scores with excellent fine and coarse dynamics – and proves a high degree of level stability. Finally, the voluminous, deep-reaching and yet contoured bass is downright astounding, which is radiated in a defined manner thanks to the clever bass reflex tuning, even when placed close to the wall. The R5m brilliantly achieves the perlist goal of “perceptual listening”: It enables “attentive listening” in favor of maximum music and movie perception.

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