Xavian, a loudspeaker manufacturer in Prague, Czech Republic, contacted 10 Audio in June of this year inquiring about a review of their very new Perla Esclusiva two-way speaker. The Perla, the smallest model in the Natura product line, had recently been upgraded to the new Perla Esclusiva version. So here we are today, taking the first look – and listen – to a speaker from a company that should be on everyone’s radar.
The name of the company comes from the Greek mythology. “Xavian” was a sacred place to the Muses and was regarded as a source of inspiration. Xavian, the speaker company, has been making speakers for 21 years. They have developed about 50 different models and sold more than 15,000 pairs worldwide, although with little presence in the US. Hopefully, this review will expand their reach. Xavian’s extensive use of heavy wood, furniture-grade craftsmanship, and the application of their own, custom developed and made drivers show their care and dedication to produce exceptional products.
Roberto Barletta, Xavian’s founder, CEO and head of development is from Turin, Italy. He combines the Mediterranean passion for luxurious looks and style with long experience designing and making loudspeakers. Upgrades for the new Esclusiva include cabinets made of solid Italian oak mosaic which is about 10% heavier than the older version, a crossover with top class Mundorf capacitors which permits the bass to go a bit lower to achieve fuller sound, heavy terminals from the more expensive models, and, as a nice finishing touch, a decorative artificial pearl that is visible in the rear panel. Available finishes include dark oak, natural oak, black matte, white matte, and the extra charge “Marina” finish of light maple with walnut inserts. The speakers are small, measuring 12.4″ H x 7.5″ W x 9.3″ D, and weighing 15.2 pounds each. Xavian offers a 5 year transferrable warranty in most countries, although “we are 100% sure the speakers will work for decades without any problems”.
Other components on hand during the audition include a VPI Aries 3 turntable with a Kuzma 4-Point tonearm, ZYX UNIverse Premium and Miyajima Madake moving coil cartridges; B.M.C. MCCI ULN and Pass Labs XP-25 phono preamplifiers; custom Windows 10 music computer running JRiver Media Center; Wyred 4 Sound DAC 2v2SE 10th Anniversary and Bryston BDA-3 DA converters; RME ADI-2 Pro AD/DA converter with external power supply; Pass Labs XP-22 and Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2 preamplifiers; Wyred 4 Sound ST-750 LE, Valvet E2, and Pass Labs XA30.8 power amplifiers; Focal Sopra 1 loudspeakers with the lowest few Hertz supplied by a pair of JL Audio e110 subwoofers, and Focal Chorus 714 loudspeakers borrowed from the HT system. The audio cabling is Audioquest WEL Signature and Mogami interconnects and speaker cables. USB cables are Straight Wire USB-F. Power cords include my DIY power cord and Straight Wire Pro Thunder. Power protection and purification are provided by a PS Audio Dectet for the preamplifiers and source components, and a PS Audio Quintet for the power amplifiers. The Quintet includes a standard 1/8″ trigger for remote turn-on and -off of power amplifiers that lack a 12V remote trigger.
The Perla Esclusiva speakers arrived in a single, well packaged box with both speakers inside. They were brand new with no previous use. Fresh out of the box and placed on 21” stands, the speakers sounded pretty good. The treble was a bit recessed, but with almost no treble harshness or midrange congestion that we usually hear from new speakers. As the second song was playing on the turntable, my thought was that this is going to be a fun review because the sound was already quite appealing. Even at this very early stage, the speakers were showing tremendous promise.
The Perlas then received about 200 hours of further break-in. After break-in, the midrange becomes very articulate and refined – necessary attributes for enjoyable vocals. All vocals have a see-through presentation with a high believability factor. The midrange is a strong area for the Perla Esclusivas. The speakers seem to be able to erase one or two levels of the processing that all recorded music is subjected to on its way from the microphone to the LP surface or the digital file. This allows the listener to get closer to the performers. The overall tonal balance is very even-handed and continuous; very natural sounding. Music is delivered with excellent resolution and dense harmonics. This frequently resulted in turning up the volume to bathe in the harmonically rich presentation.
Down low, the bass performance is surprisingly competent. As with any small woofer, some care must exercised to not play the small drivers too loudly. The Xavian speakers are no better or worse than other 2-ways in this regard. However, the quality of the bass, which extends well with good linearity into the mid 40 Hz range, is excellent. The -3 dB spec is 53 Hz. In my 12 x 17 foot room, the speakers will play in low-mid 90 dB SPL loudness range without strain.
For the first few days of the audition, the usual pair of JL Audio e110 subwoofers were left on, with the Perla Esclusiva speakers’ front panel bass ports plugged, and the subwoofers set for a crossover point of about 70 Hz. Then the subwoofers were turned off and the port plugs were removed from the bass ports in both speakers. The bass performance of the Perlas on their own was so satisfying that the subs were left ‘off’ for the remainder of the review, and more importantly, for the service of music. There was audible bass from the Perlas down into the 30 Hz range, just lower in volume than higher frequencies due to the normal roll-off in the bass response of all woofers. The rich and present upper bass gives larger instruments appropriate body and presence. These speakers are not “lean and mean”, but rather rich and full-bodied. This desired character benefits from the excellent linearity and high resolution across the audio frequency spectrum. The high quality of the bass enabled continuous enjoyment of the music without the subwoofers being turned on again.
The Perla Esclusiva do not require loud listening levels to sound good. Whether at quiet, background music levels, or on the edge of madness-loud volumes (102 dB SPL peaks), these speakers deliver enjoyable music reproduction. When the speakers are driven with too much power, the bass definition suffers as bass notes blend together and the upper bass and midrange lose definition. These distortions are not present at any sane loudness level, where the listener has even the faintest desire to put off the need for hearing aids as long as possible. Even with 10-20 Watts of amplifier power, the excellent dynamic performance leaps forward powerfully, with outstanding speed and impact.
The 88 dB sensitivity helps the speakers to deliver 95 dB Peak SPLs at the listening seat with the 12 Watt per channel Valvet E2 amplifier. This volume level is very satisfactory for almost all of my listening. On the rare occasion that more volume was desired, both the Wyred4Sound ST-750LE amplifier which has the newest Ice Edge chipset, and the Class A Pass Labs XA30.8 easily delivered the goods. The Perla Esclusiva was willing.
The treble has very good resolution and mates perfectly with the upper midrange. The tweeter sounds on the dark side when new out of the box, but after about 100 hours of break-in the treble opens up and lets the sun shine in with openness and lots of ambience and air. The beryllium tweeters in the $9000 Focal Sopra 1 speakers offer more air and resolution, but the Xavians are so well balanced that they sound quite complete in the upper frequencies. On the plus side, the Perlas are kinder to average quality recordings than the Sopras are, not highlighting recording deficiencies quite so noticeably. The more expensive Focals’ larger woofers provided somewhat more room-filling bass and transparency in the midrange at louder listening levels, an expected result.
How much more expensive? It wasn’t until very late in the review that I found out the price of the Perla Esclusiva speakers. Before this number came to light, it seemed that I was listening to speakers which cost around $5000 for a pair. In fact, they are about $2140 per pair in the US (1990 EUR including VAT), and matching stands are about $740, 690 EUR.
The crossover is outstanding because the blending of the woofer and tweeter is seemingly perfect. Most loudspeaker crossovers have a noticeable presence due to common phase anomalies and response aberrations around the crossover point. It can take weeks to identify this issue in the sound of loudspeakers. One of my jobs is to listen very closely for the presence of audible problems caused by crossovers. Any audible footprint from this “Fase Zero” crossover technology was very challenging to detect.
I was in no hurry to conclude the audition, which is an improvement over the $1400 GoldenEar Triton Sevens, and completely opposite from the underperforming $7000 Paradigm Persona B speakers. The Perla Esclusiva speakers disappear as sources of a well-developed, large and complex sound stage, and offer the ability to often hear directly into a singer’s microphone. They easily possess the sonic value of a $5000+ speaker, and are a tremendous bargain at their current asking price. There has been no $2000-3000 speaker in my listening room that I would care to live with long term, other than the very musical and beautifully made Xavian Perla Esclusiva.
Overall Rating: 9.5 LPs
This review would not have been possible without the kind and generous support of Daniel of Xavian. Thank you, Daniel!