Definitive Technology Mythos ST Super Towers/Mythos Ten Speaker System 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems
Written by Ken Taraszka, MD   
Tuesday, 01 January 2008

Speaker technology is growing and designs are constantly evolving to adapt to the changes in display technology and lifestyle. Definitive Technology has been breaking the price point of full-range sound for decades, and now comes to the table with the new Mythos ST Super Tower, a speaker promising to exceed all of our expectations. A tall, slender speaker designed to fit into any décor yet offer sound beyond reproach, the Mythos ST has a built-in powered subwoofer, eliminating the need for a separate one in a home theater system. They are available in a brushed aluminum or gloss black finish and cost just $1,999 each. For my review system, Definitive was kind enough to send me four of the new Mythos STs and one of the new Mythos Ten speakers, designed as an L/C/R. The Mythos Ten retails for $899, bringing the total system price reviewed here to $8,895.

The Mythos ST uses a D’Appolito array, consisting of two five-and-one-quarter-inch cast magnesium basket polymer midrange drivers with a one-inch pure aluminum dome tweeter between them. The lower section of the speaker houses a powered subwoofer, comprised of one six-by-ten-inch “racetrack” driver powered by a 300-watt Class D amplifier coupled to two similarly-shaped long-throw passive radiators. The speaker measures 51-and-one-half inches tall, but just nine-and-a-half inches deep and six-and-three-quarters inches wide. The pillar mounts to a beautifully polished black granite base with five adjustable leveling feet. The base is 11 inches by 15-and-a-half inches, giving the ST a remarkably small footprint for a full-range speaker. The top slopes down towards the rear; the speaker is somewhat hyperbolic from the top, with the front edge slightly curved out. The IEC outlets for the subwoofer power cord are near the bottom, while in the middle of the lower rear are the binding posts, a line level RCA input, bass level adjustment and indicator light. Definitive says the frequency response of the ST is 14 Hz to 30 kHz, with a nominal impedance of four to eight ohms and efficiency of 93 dB. They recommend amplifiers with 20 to 350 watts per channel.

The speakers I received came in gloss black and were beautiful from every angle. The tall slender nature of the speakers let them blend into the room easily and their narrow faces made them seem small. The build quality, fit and finish were excellent. The granite bases were perfectly polished and the cabinets were rock solid. I had wondered how the long sides would hold up, but rapping on them was akin to hitting my Great Dane on the head. It hurt the knuckles and they never budged.

The Mythos Ten is versatile, designed to be a left, right or center channel, utilizing the same mid/bass drivers and tweeter as the STs. However, in this speaker, the drivers and tweeter occupy the center of the 34-and-a-half-inch wide cabinet and are flanked by two five-by-eight-inch passive low bass radiators. The cabinet of the Ten is just over six inches tall and four-and-three-eighths inches deep, rated at 93db sensitivity, with a frequency response of 31 Hz to 30 kHz. The Ten does not have the powered subwoofer of the STs, so no power cord is present. The binding posts are similar and the speaker comes with wall-mount brackets to allow you to mount it either vertically or horizontally, as well as rubber feet and a rear leveling device for shelf placement.

Definitive was kind enough to break in all the speakers for me, so when I got them, they were ready to run. They came packed in boxes that were tall and slender, like the speakers themselves. Unpacking them was pretty easy, as the STs only weigh about 70 pounds each. I was able to remove them and, by laying them over a chair, attach the polished black granite bases, using the supplied hardware and an Allen wrench. Small plastic washers go on both sides of the granite, and at first it took some finesse to get them into place, but it wasn’t difficult. Five sites on the bottom of the granite base accept plastic tipped feet or spikes, which are included, as well as an attachable cable guide for the power cord. As I have tiled floors, I chose the plastic feet and managed to unpack and assemble all four speakers in about half an hour. I added the feet to the front left and right edges of the Mythos Ten and placed the speaker under my TV, using the leveler to aim it toward my listening position.

Prior to receiving these speakers, I had the pleasure of hearing them at both the CEDIA and CES trade shows, where they took the 2007 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Showcase Honors and left a great first impression. I had no question about where to place them for my review evaluation and connected them to my reference rig. This system utilizes a Meridian 861v4 AV preamp, Meridian G98DH transport, Teac Esoteric DV-50s universal player and Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray player, as well as a PS3 and a Toshiba HD XA2 HD DVD player, all run through a Mark Levinson 433 amplifier for the front three speakers and a Proceed HPA-2 for the surrounds. The system is wired with Transparent Reference balanced interconnects and speaker wires. Each speaker’s binding posts are recessed into deep grooves in the rear, which made it difficult, if not impossible, to connect my spaded speaker cables, so I used some spade-to-banana adaptors to connect them.

I initially placed the Mythos STs where my last speakers had been. Rarely do I expect a speaker to sound good where I initially place it, but the Def Techs surprised me. What normally plagues speakers is bass response and this often needs to be adjusted by varying the distance from the rear wall. The inclusion of a powered subwoofer with level control, front-firing drivers and a sealed design solved this potential problem, regardless of where I placed the speakers. When I put them close to the rear wall, I could turn up the level control and bring the bass into balance. When I pulled them off the wall, I could lower the bass. The further from rear wall I placed them, the more the sound opened up in the midrange, producing a greater sense of air throughout the treble. This is likely due to my TV, which sticks out some 26 inches from the rear wall. I finally settled on placing the speakers about 40 inches off the wall, which cleared them off my TV and produced an open midrange with spacious highs.

The degree of toe-in seemed to have more of an effect on the sound of these speakers. If aimed directly at the listening position, the sound became brighter than when straightforward or slightly toed in. I found the imaging to improve with more toe-in, while the soundstage seemed to benefit from less toe-in. I settled on having them toed in, aiming slightly behind the listening position. This created a wide soundstage and excellent imaging. I positioned the rears off to the sides and slightly behind the main listening position.

Once I placed the speakers in what seemed the best position for my room, I re-leveled them both physically and on my AV preamp, reset their distances, turned off my subwoofer and set out for some critical listening. I turned off my subwoofer, as the Mythos STs are designed to eliminate the need for an external subwoofer; with a powered subwoofer in the left and right mains as well as the rear speakers, I didn’t think it would be necessary. Later, for the sake of comparison, I ran line level subwoofer outputs to all four speakers. This allowed me more flexibility with control of the LFE channel.

Music And Movies
Tori Amos’ Boys for Pele (Atlantic/WEA) is a disc I frequently use to test systems. It has a lot of passages that are tough to reproduce, from the attack of harpsichords to the depth of her Bossendorfer piano. “Blood Roses” clearly showed the Mythos ST’s ability to handle bass while keeping the delicacy of the harpsichord in check. Tori’s vocals filled the sound field and the transitions were quick. The horns in the background of “Father Lucifer” were sharp and clear. “Muhammad My Friend” is one of my favorite references. The depth of bass from the piano at the start can be tough to reproduce well, but the Def Techs had no trouble at all, and in fact could easily do it to 100 dB without compression. These speakers reproduced quiet passages with depth and, when cranked up, they easily handled ear-splitting levels and kept the sound balanced with a huge dynamic range. I sometimes move about the room when listening to music. Some speakers are better than others at filling out the room; some fall short outside of the sweet spot, but not the STs. They gave me excellent sound throughout the room. Sure, with multiple subs, you’d expect a good balance to the bottom end, but these speakers also maintained the mids and highs exceptionally well, which really impressed me.

Jimi Hendrix is one of my all-time favorite musicians, and his album Blues (MCA) is truly one worth owning. I cued this disc up and started off with “Hear My Train a Comin’.” This isn’t the classic version, but rather the one with Jimi playing virtually solo. The Mythos STs clearly portrayed the emotion of the song. My favorite song on this album is Jimi’s rendition of “Catfish Blues.” I have this song on other discs, but none have the sonics of this reissue, and once again, the Def Techs shone. The attack of the guitar notes and smoothness of Hendrix’s vocals were simply amazing. The pace and rhythm of the song was so spot-on that it made me listen to it several times in awe. Every detail came through clearly and well placed.

I knew these speakers could rock, but to really test how well they did, I went to an old heavy metal classic, Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind (Sony). The opening track “Where Eagles Dare” is fast, with tons of bass and drums. The Def Techs pushed out 110 dB peaks in my 16-by-25-foot listening room without compression, keeping the bass tight yet not getting harsh in the upper end. The results made me bang my head like a high school kid. While listening to this song, I was holding the liner notes from the CD and they were actually vibrating in my hand. This is how much bass these speakers can reproduce. “Flight of Icarus” filled the room with bass and the vocals came from everywhere, never letting me down as I again pushed the limits of volume. In fact, my ears gave out before these speakers did. I had to turn them down and take a rest before doing any further listening.

Moving on to movies, I cued up Spider-Man 3 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) on Blu-ray. This movie has plenty of dynamics, powerful audio and subtle nuances to test a system. Throughout the film, voices were clear and followed the action well. Explosions were – well, how do I say it? – extreme, involving and off-the-charts visceral. With four powered subwoofers in my room, the bass was not just heard, it was outright felt. The depth of bass carried over in subtler ways as well, adding weight and breadth to the voices and impact to the hits. Having the same drivers in all five speakers made for perfect transitions, while the strings in the background music created a huge soundstage that seemed larger than my room.

I next cued up Transformers (Paramount Home Entertainment) on HD DVD. While I didn’t expect much from the movie, I did anticipate some good effects. Well, the movie turned out better than I’d supposed it would, and so did the Mythos system. From helicopters flying around me to massive robots fighting and falling to the streets, the Mythos system kept me surrounded in its powerful bass. The added subwoofers in the rears made the beating of the helicopter blades sound real and aided in the transitions, too. Subtle details were kept clear and distinct, even during bass-heavy passages. The roar as giant Decepticon Megatron falls for what seems like his final time had such depth that it seemed utterly believable coming from something his size.

The Downside
Nothing is perfect, not even the new Definitive Technology Mythos STs or the Mythos Ten speakers. Still, I have only minor potential trouble spots to point out. First, the Mythos ST towers each have a built-in powered subwoofer, so they require access to a power outlet. Fortunately for me, an outlet exists everywhere I needed to put a speaker, but it could cause placement issues. Second, the binding posts are recessed into a groove down the back that can make it hard, or even impossible, to use certain speaker wires. Finally, depending on your receiver or AV preamp and how it handles the subwoofer output when not connected to an independent sub, you may want to run line level outputs to the towers to better control the LFE channel.

The new Definitive Technology Mythos ST and Mythos Ten system makes for one of the best speaker systems I’ve heard, regardless of price. Factor in the cost of the system, and you likely have the best value in speakers ever. The built-in subwoofers can fill large rooms with deep and voluminous bass, negating the need for a separate subwoofer and saving precious space. The matching Mythos Ten L/C/R speaker uses the identical drivers and mates perfectly with the ST towers. Most speakers have a range of volume where they sound best, but I never felt that way about the Mythos STs. Whether I was listening to music quietly or at extreme volumes, the sound was full with exceptional bass extension, smooth mids, clear highs and unbelievable dynamic range. Their high efficiency made them easy to drive and the powered subs produced bass that was felt as well as heard.

Prior to receiving these speakers, I was prepared to sell my Mercedes CLK 55 AMG to buy the new $50,000 Revel Ultima2 surround system for my reference system. These Definitive Technology speakers have changed my mind. I am keeping both the car and the Definitive speakers. With all due respect to the high-end power players, I would put these speakers up against anything out there, at any price, and truly believe you’d find they offer 95 percent or more of the performance of any ultra-high-end speakers at a fraction of the cost. I am absolutely floored that Definitive Technology has managed to get this level of quality sound from such a small and inexpensive speaker. For a man who likes expensive toys, I don’t often get the chance to save a few bucks and still get what I want. These new Definitive Technology Mythos speakers are worth every penny and more.
Manufacturer Definitive Technology
Model Mythos ST Super Towers/Mythos Ten Speaker System
Reviewer Ken Taraszka, M.D

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