Xavian Perla Esclusiva Compact Monitor
Last year I had the chance to correspond with Daniel at Xavian. The Czech Republic based company founded by Roberto Barletta is known for their cabinetry and the materials they use in their construction. So, it was with great excitement that I accepted the responsibility to review their Perla speakers.
It took a few months from the time of that initial correspondence until the speakers arrived at my doorstep. This was partially due to the time it took for them to travel from their origin in the Czech Republic, but that was not the only reason. Sometime between the first contact and when the speakers arrived, the design had been changed and the speakers updated. So, what was supposedly a fairly impressive speaker, or so I have been told, came to me with fairly big shoes to fill, so to speak.
As mentioned earlier, the company is known for their materials and cabinetry. Well, after the setup, it is certainly easy to see why that is the case. The wood used on these speakers is exquisite. The grain is stunning, and the workmanship is a statement unto itself. The speaker fits perfectly on the pedestal and without giving anything away from later in the review, there is no issue with vibration caused by a lack of adequate coupling between the two pieces of material. In fact, the pedestal feet seem to give quite a bit of isolation themselves.
Once the speakers were mounted, the rest was fairly straight forward. The connections are very basic and only have two binding 5-ways binding posts. You do not need to worry about a speaker wrench because the posts can only be tightened easily with your fingers. Certainly, as humble as you can get and definitely easy as well. Although, admittedly, my personal preference is still to tightened them with something more than my hands.
The speakers took a fair amount of time to break-in and really come alive to my ears. This certainly is not a bad thing, but normally after two hundred hours speakers tend to be ready for evaluation. In the case of the Perla Esclusiva, while they sounded good after that time, it was not until somewhere around three hundred hours that they opened up slightly longer until they truly achieved. It is hard to determine the exact time because after the three-hundred-hour mark, I put the recording on repeat and did not check again until nearly four hundred hours. It was then that they were truly ready for audition.
The first week was really slow, as neither the speakers or the turntable really wanted to cooperate and sound even remotely exciting. The few times that one would at least show a little glimmer of life, it seemed, the other would somehow muddy that with a slight detail that detracted enough of the beauty to render it somewhat flat and certainly not worth the price of admission. Though not to say it was bad, because that would be a false, but it was certainly not anything worth the price of the speakers and absolutely not remotely worth the cost of the turntable.
By the third week on the other hand, the speakers were exceptionally robust and needed only a little more time to fully develop into what had the potential to be something monumental. So, I added a digital source into the system and as mentioned earlier, let them continue to play material for another hundred hours while I worked on the turntable The results of that are what follows in the remaining review, though in the interest of full disclosure, I did reattach the turntable once I started the review proper. It might have only been a hundred hours for the speakers but in fact quite a bit longer had really passed. Time did fly, but finally it was time for the review to really begin.
However, for the purpose of this review, it is perfect to demonstrate just how well the speaker can maintain the imagery. The fact that when one closes their eyes and they can envision the complexity of the sound woven with the simplicity of the word is outstanding. The detail is rich and colorful and even though there is quite a bit of bass, the speakers do not lose any coherence or lack for depth. There is even a slight bit of airiness that until listening with these speakers, and perhaps using the turntable as well, had hereto been unnoticeable.
The second selection for review purposes is Andrea Bocelli's Romanza "Time To Say Goodbye" [ALMUD]. Andrea Bocelli is one of my favorite opera performers. His voice is nothing short of amazing and can humble even the best playback system. This particular selection combines Sarah Brightman's voice as well, making the selection even more difficult to playback.
The Perla Esclusiva was simply delightful in its ability to take the material and play it appropriately. Bocelli's voice was lifelike and held a presence that certainly could draw attention to itself. That alone would be enough, but combined with its ability to incorporate the instrumental and voice of Brightman was particularly impressive. Together they formed the basis for a soundstage that enveloped but did not overwhelm the listener in its presentation. It certainly was far better than my expectation, though the only expectations I had were ones given by that of the old speaker.
That said, the presentation was not perfect. The cohesiveness did crumble a bit in the more difficult passages. Perhaps this was due to the complexity of the material or the sheer harmonic requirements, regardless, there was a bit of loss. In addition, the upper treble tended to become lost when there was a great deal of detail in the lower midrange and bass, but you had to listen with a trained ear to hear it in most cases. Certainly to most listeners it would be hardly noticeable, if at all, but does bear mentioning, since everything else was nearly flawless.
The third selection for this review was Harry Belafonte Belafonte At Carnegie Hall [RCA Records] song titled "The Marching Saints". Personally, Harry Belafonte has always been one of my favorite singers. His voice is full of complexity and the musical accompaniment, especially in this selection is well played and well placed. The fact that is a live recording makes the playback even less forgiving since most systems tend to take the material and make it tinnier than in the recording, in this reviewer's opinion and experience.
Again, the Perla Esclusiva were up to the playback challenge. They did a great job of accurately reproducing Belafonte's voice in an extremely lifelike manner. You can nearly feel his presence in front of you as his mannerism and jovial nature replays itself in the recording. The stage is set and the instruments play as he sings the catchy tune that many people have heard at least once in their lifetime. The applause, which normally sound like tin cans are really applause and there is nothing left to the imagination, rather it is really there for you to see in your mind's eye.
The final selection for this review was Pink Floyd's The Wall fabulous track we all know and love titled "Comfortably Numb". This selection, contains quite a bit of challenging material. Though it sounds great most of the time, it has almost always proven to sound different and arguably better on systems which are able to reproduce more nuances and achieve better soundstages with lower noise floors. This is not an exception.
The Perla Esclusiva were remarkable on this passage. Their ability to render the material with an almost eerily lifelike manner was uncanny. Personally, hearing this material at least a few hundred times, there were slight details that I had missed until now. Perhaps, in no small part to the turntable, though captured through the speakers, the holographic nature of the material gave it new life in my mind. In fact, entire album was so much better that I invited several of my friends over to listen to it, just in ct was just my own imagination, but they also agreed.
The Perla Esclusiva were not without their flaws. Although the selections noted above were overall impressive, certainly there were not perfect. Difficult passages which contained exceptionally complex material were a challenge on many selections, especially when they were either in the lower bass or higher treble range. Additionally, they tended to have a slight loss where they crossed over from one driver to the other, though it was minimal enough that I seriously had to listen or play specific music to hear it.