Definitive Technology Mythos ST-L Loudspeaker Page 2

The reason Def Tech touts their Klippel testing relates back to Peet’s comments about tweaking and tinkering their way to a “re-imagined” Mythos ST. For example, in the Mythos ST-L, the familiar D’Appolito midrange/tweeter/midrange (MTM) array incorporates a pair of new 5.25-inch midrange drivers. (Spoiler alert: Klippel testing had a lot to do with the new driver designs.) BDSS (Balanced Double Surround System) technology, in which both the outer and inner edges of the driver’s cone are supported by soft-rubber surrounds, has been a hallmark of Def Tech midrange drivers. The ST-L’s midranges are third-generation BDSS, and the list of enhancements is surprisingly long, including: a more powerful magnetic structure; surround material with more linear properties; and a mushroom-shaped, aluminum “Linear Response Waveguide” that is said to keep higher-frequency wavelengths from one side of the cone from interfering with those coming from the other side—and, it does double-duty as a heatsink for the voice coil.

The midrange drivers are slightly different, though. Look closely at the outer surround of the upper midrange (it’s easier if you take off the grille, obviously), and you’ll see that the forward-bending curvature of that driver’s outer surround is the reverse of the surround’s inward curvature in the lower driver. Hidden behind the cones, the folds in the spider material that support the voice coils are also in opposite orientations. The asymmetrical design is an attempt to cancel distortion produced by nonlinear movement of one driver’s surround or spider with equal but opposite characteristics in the other driver.

Def Tech rejiggered its traditional all-aluminum dome tweeter design for the new Mythos ST-L, too. Among the many changes—such as a larger magnet structure, rubber (instead of silk) surround material, and new faceplate geometry—the most visible is the magnesium-aluminum alloy in the tweeter’s 1-inch dome. The alloy is said to help suppress resonance modes and ultimately flattens the response of the tweeter in the 12-to-14-kilohertz range, but a close look at the graph of the new tweeter’s frequency output reveals a significant rolloff above 18 kHz. What the funk? Does Klippel mean “no high-frequency hearing” in German? I didn’t get an answer on that, but Peet did explain that Def Tech “traded off ultra-high-frequency output” in return for “vastly lower distortion and smoother response at more relevant and audible frequencies.”


From the outside, the ST-L’s woofer configuration looks a lot like the ST’s. There’s an active, 6 x 10-inch, “racetrack-shaped” cone driver mounted on the front that’s pressure-coupled to a pair of front-firing, planar passive radiators. But Mythos ST-L’s claimed 1,200-watt Class D internal subwoofer amp is quadruple the rated power of the ST’s built-in amp. Exclusive to the ST-L is an L/R switch on the back of each tower. By itself, the left/right designation doesn’t affect the output; you and the ST-L’s remote control do. The remote lets you adjust the bass output of each tower independently or simultaneously from the listening position. Since the remote uses IR, however, it can be tricky to make simultaneous level changes if you’re not far enough away from both speakers. Each ST-L has a row of white LEDs across a panel at the bottom of the tower that provides a momentary visual confirmation of that particular speaker’s setting.

On the technical side, it’s obvious that Def Tech’s re-imagined flagship speaker has a huge amount of test-Klipp-ular fortitude. But, to borrow from an old VW ad campaign, do the Mythos ST-Ls have hörvergnügen? (“Listening pleasure”—if Babylon’s online German translation is correct.) More to the point, do they have $5,000/pair worth of hörvergnügen?

Disappearing Act
A funny thing happened on the way to this paragraph: Most of the demo tracks below are re-imaginings of classic songs. Take B.J. Thomas’ 2013 release, The Living Room Sessions, a collection of mostly “unplugged” duet redos of hits from his nearly 50-year-long career. “Most of All,” from 1970, starts with a simple guitar and percussion arrangement before Thomas’ vocals come in. It’s not long before Keb’ Mo’ fills in his part in the duet. It’s a simple, beautiful rendition that relies on the depth of emotion in the two voices for much of its power. Thomas’ mellow voice carries an almost seductive blend of confidence, satisfaction, and contentment. Keb’ Mo’s vocals, on the other hand, have a bluesy edge of a weary search for happiness that’s perfect for the sentiment of the song. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (1969) presents an even more dramatic pairing of Lyle Lovett with Thomas. Lovett’s voice—sounding burdened and nearly spent—came achingly through the towers. Both songs were acid tests for the new midrange drivers in the ST-Ls, and the towers did more than just pass the test. They made me forget I was even testing them. Essentially, the ST-Ls presented the three distinctly different voices (and accompanying instrumentation) in a way that was naked and uncolored.

The Mythos ST-Ls weren’t sexist, either, reproducing female voices just as nakedly. (The ST-Ls would definitely get an R rating from the MPAA—but you’d still let your kids listen to them.) Neither Jen Chapin’s remake of “Higher Ground” (reVisions: Songs of Stevie Wonder) nor Rita Coolidge’s “People Get Ready” (Play Something Sweet) are tracks I would normally listen to because of their crawling pace, but the ST-Ls’ breathtaking reproduction of subtle changes in tone and emphasis in each woman’s voice made me want to play both tracks again and again. The Def Tech midrange sounded so amazingly “simple” and clear that it was hard to find anything to complain about.

Hearing the natural energy and snap inherent in each pluck of a guitar string or hit on a cymbal proved (to me, at least) that Def Tech made the correct choice in optimizing aspects of the new magnesium-alloy dome tweeter other than high-frequency extension. The soundstage seemed to appear slightly behind the speakers rather than aggressively forward. But to say that the soundstage was created behind the ST-Ls isn’t quite right. The soundstage and the room were actually one and the same. The Mythos ST-Ls were so effortlessly amazing that they appeared to disappear—even though I was looking right at them.

By the way, the ST-Ls were just as capable of rocking out, too. The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band’s version of “House Is Rockin’” (Goin’ Home) was stunning in just about every respect. The ST-Ls didn’t hold anything back, especially the bass, which was tight and loud. So much so, as a matter of fact, that it was almost impossible not to believe that a full drum set and piano were in the room. On “Boogie Man,” the bass was sustained and deep and, well, so controlled that it was eerie.

Although it’s technically the top-of-the-line of the Mythos series of speakers, Definitive Technology’s Mythos ST-L is more—much more—than just a flagship model. One of the aspects I’ve always loved about the Mythos speakers in general is their ability to perform—in other words, to be neutral and, at the same time, exciting to listen to. True to its heritage, the ST-L is a stunning performer, so much so that it transcends the Mythos of old and truly ushers in a new era for Definitive Technology. The Mythos ST-L isn’t just another pretty powered tower—it’s a magical, emotive speaker, one that’s able to bypass the rational, thinking part of your brain and unleash deep and powerfully moving emotions trapped within. While I’m not one to casually throw money around, I have to say that, even though they’re made of aluminum, for $5,000/pair, the Mythos ST-Ls are an absolute steel…er, steal.

Definitive Technology
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jca332001's picture

Hi there
I have been eagerly waiting to read this review, since the one about the Golden Ear Technology Triton One´s appeared acouple of weeks back.
I would like to know how you compare the speakers from each brand soundwise. Both have identical rating as Top Picks.
Do you perceive both models as performing similarly for both music and HT?
And thanks for keeping the scatological references to the minimal this time!

Winefix's picture

Time for an in depth comparison since both scored perfect scores, which one is the pair to buy for <5k ?

goodfellas27's picture

Well, we all know that what sounds “best” is up to you ear. I would love them to produce an article comparing both GE Triton One & DefTech Mythos ST-L; but recognize the magazine will be hard press to produce such article –since their revenue stream also come from ads from these companies.

The little information I could scrape from both reviews; in addition to what people added on the comment section, is that both speakers are great; however, the build quality and specs looks to favor the Mythos ST-L.

The Mythos ST-L has what many would consider a better cabinet, since it’s made out of aircraft grade aluminum. In contrast with GE Triton One MDF engineered wood cabinet. Also, you have the comfort of having to control the bass with a remote control that comes with ST-L. The Triton One doesn’t provide this. In addition, the ST-L allows you to adjust the speaker’s level without moving it, thanks to redesigned footing whereas Triton One can’t.

The Mythos ST-L bass roll off at 26 Hz at -3db, weigh against to Triton One 27 Hz at the same -3db. The tweeter starts to roll off at 18 KHz with the STL traded off ultra-high-frequency output for “vastly lower distortion and smoother response at more relevant and audible frequencies.” The GE Triton One’s GoldenEar's High Velocity Folded Ribbon tweeter has “limited” vertical dispersion; not idea for a room with theater style stadium seating.

The GE Triton One Sensitivity: 90.5 dB from 500 Hz to 2 kHz
DefTech Mythos ST-L: Sensitivity: 91 dB from 500 Hz to 2 kHz

All of the above for the same price.

Winefix's picture

Some good points, but keep in mind the tweeter in the GE is on another level vs the dome model used in the Mythos. So, might be ok to lose some vertical dispersion to gain much better high end. I have the Triton ones on pre-order and previously had the Triton two's and never had an issue with the tweeter and height or placement. Far easier to set up GE speakers than Magnepan , Martin Logan, etc..

So really would be great to have a true comparison done with same equipment material, etc..

Love to see a head to head shootout like how car magazines compare an MB E class to a BMW 5 series point by point and even announce a winner. By the way, those car manufacturers advertise in the same publications.

BobHD1's picture

It seems to me that S&V has provided us with enough information in the two reviews to draw some key conclusions save for the final listening acid test. There are always trade offs for any design decision. I can confirm this having worked a good part of my life as a design engineer. For example, the ST-L is smaller and more attractive which should provide easier spousal approval and perhaps a better fit based on where the speakers will be located. The Triton 1 has to have more 'kick ass' base just looking at the base driver compliment comparison (3 active, 4 passive on the Triton vs 1 active, 2 passive on the ST-L). The performance charts support this supposition with the Triton 1 only down about 6db at 20Hz vs 25db for the ST-L. The trade off at the high end has already been discussed. It's time for the real fun: listening to both of them.

BobHD1's picture

The ST-L is down about 15db at 20HZ not 25db.

true audio's picture

First of all If I wanted to compare, I don't know of any dealer who would sell both brands. It would be a conflict of interest and no quick sales. For the same price,the salesmen would have to favor one or the other and leaving the customer confused. All I can say is I'm 150% thrilled with these speakers. HD tracks sound fantastic and with a CLR-3000 for my center channel,Hometheater brings down the HOUSE! I'm waiting on some Audioquest rocket 88's for all 3 to Bi-wire,should be no disappointments.No time to go into detail,you have to listen to them yourself.

Winefix's picture

Available at your local Best buy, as we all know the place for true Audiophiles to audition high end speakers with the appropriate set up !!

chrisheinonen's picture

Best Buy Magnolia sections also sell JVC projectors, OLED and 4K displays, Martin Logan and B&W speakers and more. Just because an item isn't only available at a boutique dealer doesn't mean the performance is worse.

johnywad's picture

Best Buy doesn't sell Definitive Tecnology. Magnolia AV does. A few of the local Best Buy stores in the twin cities redesigned a bit ago and carry some amazing product in their listening rooms. Unfortunately they still have a few Magnolia's that don't carry the same gear and they don't have the same well trained staff. From what the system designer( that's what his name tag said) told me, they are on commission and trained by all their vendors. And there are some amazing ones at that! Mcintosh, Sonus Faber, Diamond series Bowers and Wilkins, Arcam, and Electrostatic Logan's. I'm not saying all the stores that they incorporated Magnolia's in are perfect but the designer I spoke to has been in the industry for over 10 years and was very knowledgable on all the brands and answered all my questions accurately. You may not be as lucky as us unfortunately but the rooms were all acoustically treated and very well done. It was a treat to bring in my own discs and listen to the new Olympica III's from Sonus Faber with Mcintosh powering them. Oh, and you can also listen to these Definitive ST-L speakers as well since they have them in one of the listening rooms. If you have one of these upgraded stores in your town I think you would be pleasantly surprised!

simp1yamazn's picture

Still not quite correct. Best Buy has 3 different versions of their home theater department: 1) Best Buy regular home theater 2) Magnolia home theater 3) Magnolia Design Center (Magnolia AV depending on the part of the country you are in but VERY few are not Design Centers now).

Best Buy standard HT does not stock or display any Def Tech or other higher-end brands like B&W, martin logan, etc. However, they can order them for you if you know what you want.

Best buy Magnolia HT will have 1 or 2 listening rooms, mostly with entry level products from the better companies. Magnolia HT is just a slightly nicer version of the best buy HT and is nothing more than another department in the store. Any best buy employee can go into MHT and sell their products. There is nothing that Magnolia HT can sell that a regular best buy store can't sell.

Magnolia Design Centers are a separate sub-company fully owned by Best Buy. They are separate to the point that their system designers are commission based (unlike the rest of best buy), they do not report to the general manager of the best buy store, separate corporate management, separate vendor relationships, different inventory and POS system, different warehouses, and even separate tax ID. That's why they get to carry McIntosh, Savant, Lutron, B&W Diamond, etc. They can order virtually anything from the distributors they represent, even if the product is not in their systems as they can have product SKUs created for one-off purchases.

Reference: I worked for Best Buy for almost 5 years including standard HT, best buy MHT, and was one of the original System Designers when the Magnolia Design Centers were brought to the DC area.

Winefix's picture

To each is own, of course.
But, if I am spending 5k on speakers, I insist on a home audition, or at the very least serious critical auditioning of several brands with a proper set up and in a private room. Also, knowledgable salespeople.Good luck getting that at a big box store like Best Buy. (I have nothing against those stores for other items, just in the case of Audiophile purchases)

mikem's picture

A few years ago I had 4 2006TL and a 2500 center channel (it's been awhile re: model numbers)in my 12X14' theater room. From the first time I heard them in my room I was not impressed and I know this must sound heretical to def tech owners. Some time after I had them the amp in the center blew. Fortunately under warranty. If I had a penny for every time I re-positioned them I could pay off the national debt. At the time I also had, collecting dust, a THX Atlantic tech sub-sat system. After pulling the def techs out I replaced them with the AT system and then wondered why I ever replaced them. Just some thoughts.

tnargs's picture

Fundamentally compromised by the fact that the ideal location for bass drivers is where the wall meets the floor. As the wall is not a good location for the mid and high frequency drivers, they are ideally separated. So, the Mythos is compromising sound for good appearance. Why not mention this?

And the peak in the response at 10 kHz needs attention.

PollyChan's picture

The tweeter in either GE Triton One or DefTech Mythos ST-L is way too high above the ear level, making it less ideal for 2-channel music.

true audio's picture

I'm sure that Def-Tech's engineers keep tweeter height in mind when designing the ST's and the ST-L,s.Maybe you haven't noticed but they do have an adjustable base. Poor excuse for two great speakers.

DJV1972's picture

These speakers sound great! I have a pair, love them. One complaint. How the hell did engineering overlook the fact that the long throw woofer will push off the grill covers?? DF changed the grill from the ST to include an oval cut out for the mids and tweeter but no oval cutout for the long throw woofer! WFT DF? That is a let down! I don't want to run my speakers without the grill!

nicolo's picture


There is currently a clearance sale on monoblocks where i live. How many should i get for each ST-L speaker. Is 150W into 8 ohms fine?

goodfellas27's picture

Check out the video to help you understand how much power you might need.