Made in the Czech Republic but with an Italian heritage, Xavian Perla loudspeakers are a smallish loudspeaker made of solid oak and costing €1990 plus stands. Could these be the pearl in the oyster you have been looking for?

The founder of Xavian is Roberto Barletta who originally hails from Turin, Northern Italy where he grew up with his grandmother in a family of musicians. In 1984 his interest in music and technology brought him to “play” with loudspeakers and reproduction of music at home with him later creating a Class A amplifier for a school project.

In 1989 Roberto started working for an Italian company making loudspeaker systems and power amplifiers where he remained for five years until moving to Prague in 1994 and in 1996 he founded Xavian with the name deriving from Greek mythology  – the sacred place to the Muses. First of all the workshop was in central Prague before moving to Kladno and finally to Hostivice in 2013 where the company occupies a large former mill. In 2011 audio engineer David Hyka joined the Xavian team.

BUILD AND FEATURES

Packaging is superlative, none of the ill-fitting bits of polystyrene packed around speakers in the vague hope that they will arrive at their destination intact. Everything is packed in purpose made and purpose cut high-density foam gubbins and the cardboard boxes are likewise purpose made. This is a good start and it continues when you begin to unpack the speakers and their associated and matching stands. Both speakers and stands are both made from solid Italian oak “slats” (not veneer over ply or MDF) and there is definitely a feeling of understated quality here. The speakers are heavy (7.7Kg) for their size and the tap test shows them to be pretty much dead – no ringing – which is obviously down to their solid construction. The Perla Exclusiva is available in dark oak, natural oak, black, white and “marina” with the review pair being in natural oak. They come with grilles but I reckon they look so much better without. The speakers are made in the Czech Republic.

These are a two-way, bass-reflex design with a front firing bass slot/port. Bass and mids are handled by a 150mm AudioBarletta woofer that uses a polypropylene membrane in a die-cast chassis whilst the tweeter is a 26mm soft dome unit from the same company. Round the back of the speakers are a single pair of speaker binding posts and above these a decorative and artificial pearl. Personally, I don’t get the pearl thing but each to their own. Size-wise the Perlas are pretty compact measuring 315 x 190 x 26 mm.

The speakers bolt to the stands by way of a pair of hefty hex bolts and once they are on there they are not going anywhere. The stands come with spikes but for our purposes, and because we have suspended floors in our second listening space, we added a set of Franc Audio Slim footers to the bottom of the stands giving a solid and stable platform for the speakers.

The speakers have a claimed response of 53-20000Hz, have an impedance of 8 ohms, a sensitivity of 88dB and a crossover point of 3000Hz.

Along with the speakers you get a small booklet which talks to you about placement and recommends them to be placed 30 to 100cm from walls with at least 1.5m between the speakers. To be fair I found the Perlas pretty unfussy with regards placement and I had them 75cm away from the back wall and 35cm away from side-walls/acoustic treatment panels. Speaker cables for the duration of the review period were Chord Company’s Epic XLs, amplifiers were from Graham Slee, preamplifier was from Lab 12 and CD player was from Leema. I genuinely think that this is the level of kit that the Perlas are likely to be partnered with and I know each of the products used very well.

SOUND QUALITY 

The speakers were allowed to play for a few days without any critical listening to allow them to loosen up a bit, something we always do with new equipment and in particular loudspeakers. Once this breaking-in period was over I set down to some serious listening and from the off knew we were dealing with a classy speaker.

The first thing that will grab you by the lug-holes is the way these speakers image. The mix is laid out before you with good width and depth and projects out into the room. Listening to Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the first track Five Years grabs my attention with the instruments being able to be picked out from the mix. Imaging is not as good as the Jern speakers we reviewed recently but it’s not far off. Yes, bass is limited to an extent but it is tight and tuneful and I never once thought about plugging in the subs that we have available. In this room, it’s actually a sort of room within a room that is made of acoustic panels, I’d suggest that bass is pretty much perfect considering the speaker’s size and price-point. Detail is fantastic and whilst with some speakers you can sometimes feel you are experiencing detail overload, I just never got that with the Perlas, finding them an easy and yet rewarding listen. It’s clear from the off that these speakers have been designed and built with more than a nod to the studio environment I would suggest and we have a monitor type feel to the sound. Little cues in the music (reverbs, handclaps and the like) are all well in evidence but what I get overall is a feeling that I’m listening to a well-balanced speaker with no frequency range being pushed to the fore to create an artificial feel to the music. Particularly impressive was the guitar solo towards the end of the second track from Ziggy Stardust (Soul Love) with a really nice insight into the slightly over-driven electric guitar that also had great texture and tonality.

And so it’s out with the killer track, Daft Punk’s Contact. Regular readers will know that if a product can’t do this track justice then it doesn’t get given house room for very long thereafter. It really is a track that separates the men from the boys being full of complex rhythms and a whole host of electronic mayhem that can sound muddy, confused and downright awful on less than exemplary speakers. With the Perlas, I’m again impressed with the detail present. Drums particularly are set out in the stage brilliantly and you can “see” where each hit is in the mix and where it is panned. There is speed and agility here too with the bass stopping immediately when it should. This track builds and builds to a crescendo of electronic noise and although I’ve heard it hundreds of times, played on a great system I never tire of it and that is most certainly the case here. I’m grabbed by the detail in the alien “voices” at the very end of the track and again I’m reaching for the word texture. Look, these are messed up electronic soundscapes but the Perlas manage to make sense of what could be a racket and allow you to hear details that I’ve only encountered on the aforementioned Jerns and the main review system with speakers costing MUCH more. Impressive stuff for such a moderately priced and proportioned loudspeaker.

David Gilmour’s Live At Pompeii CD 2 kicks of with Shine On You Crazy Diamond and the stage is set before you with the Perlas. Jerry that used to review for Hifi Pig often used to make a note in his reviews of speakers as to where in the concert-hall he had the impression of being with any given pair of speakers and here I find myself in the middle of the stadium (for want of a better word) about halfway back – just in front of where the mixing desk would be. Gilmour is, in my opinion, one of the finest, if not THE finest, guitarist period and the Perlas highlight his virtuosity wonderfully, with texture and tonality and the ability to easily pick up on little timing changes he adds to his playing. Goosebumps stuff!! Is it like “being there”, well no it’s not – for a start there isn’t the mandatory tool (or more often tools) stood blocking your view with their smartphones, but close your eyes and you could almost be there. The sax solo on Shine (reaches for the thesaurus to find a new word for texture) has grit, rasp and a reality to it that is uncanny. The final track on the album, the singalong Comfortably Numb is portrayed magnificently with Gilmour’s guitars soaring and cutting through the mix. It’s always a good sign when you stop taking notes and just listen to the tune playing…and yes, there was singing along, much to the consternation of not one but both cats. You will be getting the message that I like these speakers a lot I take it, but before I wrap this up it is obligatory to listen to some female vocals…because audiophiles.

However, a quick scan through the CD shelves makes me realise just how little of “that” kind of music we actually have and so I reach for Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue. Again, there is that imaging thing, a definite feeling that you are listening to real instruments rather than poor facsimiles of instruments that you can get on lesser speakers. Indeed, the instruments sound amazingly realistic and “in the room”. Basslines are easy to follow and don’t get lost in the mix and like Gilmour’s aforementioned guitar, Davis’ instrument of choice cuts through everything and takes centre stage. Nothing is missing here and we have balance and poise, speed and agility. That speed thing is a major plus for me with the Perlas!

CONCLUSION 

I liked the Perlas so much they replaced the previous reference at this kind of price-point and it was an easy decision to make. I do enjoy monitor style speakers and that is what you have here. If you are looking for imaging to die for with bags of details then you need to audition these. They are a little light in the bass department but in all honesty, I didn’t miss it at all with any kind of material I threw at them, and in small to medium size rooms they are absolutely fine and much more bass may well be overkill. Their key characteristics are clarity, even-handedness and preciseness of tone and texture.

Their build quality puts many a speaker to shame and at €1990 plus €693 for the stands they offer good value for money given their sonic attributes. I heartily recommend them.

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality: Fantastic build, fit and finish. I don’t get the little pearl thing but hey…

Sound Quality: Detail and clarity, speed and accuracy of image. Bass may be a little light for larger rooms.

Value For Money: At less than €2000 for the speakers they are good value, though I do think the stands to be a little on the pricey side – and I’d suggest you do need them.

Pros: A superb monitor style speaker that is well balanced and even-handed with all kinds of music. Imaging is to die for and detail is fantastic. Excellent build quality. Bass is certainly not one note as can be the case with some reflex designs. Easy placement.

Cons: Bass is not trouser flapping. Stands are a little pricey.

Price: Speakers €1990. Stands €693.

Stuart Smith

Review Equipment: Leema Elements CD Player, Graham Slee Proprious amps, Lab12 Preamplifier, Chord Epic XL speaker cables and Chord Interconnects.

 

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