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The Perikles' midrange performance is among the best I've heard at any price. Exceptionally natural, illuminated and transparent, it sports a complete lack of colorations of any kind. Speed and articulation are clearly in evidence as only one other speaker in my experience exceeds it. I refer to the aforementioned Third Rethm, which clearly sets the standard for me. If memory serves, the Third Rethm loudspeaker with the Lowther DX 55 slightly edged out the Hørning's DX-2 in terms of detail and immediacy - the ability to really dig into the human voice, for instance. However, I find the Perikles to be slightly less analytical, slightly more natural and more musically honest. It's not quite as incisive and revealing but it has more meat on its bone. And of course, it is completely without the peak in the upper midrange that is still somewhat in evidence with the Third Rethm speaker [since discontinued due to revisions on the Fourth Rethm whose 32Hz extension from the new 2 x 6" active bass cab annihilated the Third - Ed.].

In fact, I'd never fully appreciated the midrange performance of the Perikles until I reviewed the excellent and twice-as-expensive Tidal Piano loudspeakers. So musically detailed, so uncolored and so free of grain, grit and glare is the Piano that it made listening to other speakers in the house somewhat difficult. While the Pianos still surpass the Perikles in ways I'll get to, it was actually the Piano's performance that helped me to fully appreciate just how good the Perikles' midrange performance is. The Hørning Lotus tweeter may look low-tech but it sounds distinctly mid-tech. Mid-tech? Yes, mid-tech.

How often have you listened to a speaker with the latest and greatest tweeters in amazement only to realize that you are indeed listening to a tweeter? I don't want to hear the tweeter. I
just want to hear the music. The Hørning tweeter is no whiz-bang high-resolution miracle device but thankfully, it sure does play music. And it takes the hand-off from the Lowther DX-2 in a most successful way. This is achieved by allowing the DX-2 to run absolutely full range where it naturally rolls off at about 6kHz where the tweeter picks up. The only component in the entire speaker representing any type of crossover is a 6dB high-pass filter in front of the tweeter. Let me restate that. As complex as the speaker design is and despite the fact that it uses four distinct drivers, there are no other crossovers involved in its design, only a single tweeter high pass. Nothing about that sound of the tweeter will draw attention to itself until presented with some really well recorded high percussion or strings. And when the recording calls for it, the Perikles will produce a huge soundstage ripe with air and space.

Bass, the final frontier - for the Lowther that is. As I've already outlined, to a larger extent than with most other speakers, the bass you get from a Perikles will depend on how good a job you did in setup. The Perikles is not quite full range in the strictest use of the term but if you do your job well, you'll get solid bass down to the mid 40s. If you don't do your job, you may not get even close. Worse, you could end up with a big hole in your bass leading to a disjointed quality that is even evident in the imaging of bass instruments. Yes, sorry but you can really mess things up. But with a little care -- the Perikles is indeed very versatile --you can mate that famous Lowther midrange to some very musically natural bass. The traveling bass drums on James Taylor's Gia [Columbia CK 67912] can't quite match the cataclysmic mayhem as produced on my Thiel CS 2.4s or the Tidal Pianos but there's plenty of warmth, fullness, power and drama. You're not settling for the anemic presentation proposed by a lot of other Lowther-based designs. Stevie Ray Vaughn's In Step [Epic Legacy EK 65874] was a CD I've returned to over and over again since taking in the SilverTone 3.2 amplifier for review. It's fun, expansive, expressive, it sounds great loud and there's
plenty of clean articulate bass for a completely satisfying presentation. Of course, much of that success and expressiveness can be traced right to the Lowther and its extraordinary level of dynamic expression. It's that level of expression that makes the most simple of arrangements sound so exciting and rewarding.

Jesse Cook's Gravity [Narada Equinox ND-63037] is one such recording that I've been listening to for over 10 years and the Perikles bring such a level of insight to the recording that in some ways it was like hearing it for the first time. First, once you get the Perikles' bass properly tuned, these are extraordinarily rhythmic speakers with a superb sense of timing and they will get your toes tapping. Second, they'll strip away a layer or two of haze that most other speakers won't, thus imbuing the CD with a fresh immediacy that allows the tonal colors of the myriad of acoustic guitar signatures into the room completely unimpeded. The Hørnings did the same thing to electric guitars. Check out "Chitlins Con Carne" from Stevie Ray Vaughn's The Sky Is Crying CD [Epic EK 47390] as a new level of tonal depth is revealed in SRV's guitar as well as Tommy Shannon's electric bass. This time a dose of shimmering cymbals is added to the mix and you can't help but notice how well the Hørnings perform when fed a good treble signal. Shannon's full-bodied bass absolutely pulsates from within a deep and spacious soundstage and one is struck by Stevie's complete control over not just the notes but the tonal variations and inflections from one moment to the next.

Overall the Hørnings lend a neat crispness to the presentation that's refreshing but not fatiguing. They throw into sharp relief the fact that the CD is a compilation of recordings made throughout SRV's recording career and the Perikles give deep insight from one track to the next into the recording's venue. On "Little Wing" the soundstage gets even more expansive and Layton's drums exhibit a broader range of tones, making even the percussion a more colorful experience. Persistently in the background you can hear SRV's amplifier humming away, not the first time I was able to hear it but I'm impressed with even its tonality and realism. The same can be said about Shannon's bass lines; here they impressed with their tight tonality and rhythmic balance without ever sounding unnaturally overblown.

As a guitar player, Stevie Ray Vaughn was all about tone. His Fender Stratocaster used the thickest neck and the largest frets Fender made and the sustain he was able to achieve was stunning. His pickups were over-wound single coils for the fattest, most unadulterated tone available with tons of overtones and harmonics. And while struggling wannabies the world over were outfitting their guitars with the thinnest and slinkiest strings imaginable, Stevie eschewed them and their thin-as-tin tone in favor of very heavy-gauge strings that wore on both the frets and his fingers alike. What a shame it is that the bulk of speakers available won't get you anywhere near the insight into the layers of tone that he was able to achieve. But the Hørnings do.

Songs such as "Rivera Paradise", "Empty Arms", "Little Wing" and "Chitlins Con Carne" or even the acoustic guitar from "Living Life By The Drop" when viewed over the Hørnings' will have you hitting the back button on the remote over and over. Well, they had me hitting it over and over anyway. I just couldn't get enough of the way he mixed all the above mentioned components for an aural complexity that made Stevie's playing what it was. Of course, the Perikles will bring the same added insight to vocals as well, be they Stevie's or Sarah McLauchlan's from her Stumbling Toward Ecstasy CD [Arista 18725-2]. Though most of this CD isn't quite as well recorded as some, most of it benefits from the Hørnings immediacy and transparency. By the time you get to "Ice Cream", you can appreciate the added insight the Hørnings bring to the complexities of the female voice as you become aware of harmonic shadings and textures that we went unnoticed before. While dynamite recordings will blow you away, more mundane recordings benefit even more from the insight offered up by a speaker like the Hørnings, no matter what it is you're listening for.

After better than a year of living with the Hørning Perikles Ultimate loudspeakers, two things are evident about them. First, great care will have to be taken in setting them up, such is the degree of flexibility they possess. Second is that once you've dialed them up, there is no music they don't serve. True, they are still a somewhat midrange-centric speaker designed around the Lowther DX-2, a driver notorious for its speed and transparency (so much so that most designers shy away from trying to augment its performance with additional and usually disparate sounding drivers). But so successfully has Tommy Hørning performed this task that he's achieved a very balanced and coherent product that preserves that which the Lowther does so well while marrying it with real bass and real treble. That makes for speakers very amenable to all recordings. While recordings vary in quality, I've never found a CD that was unlistenable over the Hørnings. They really have a knack for reaching into a recording and extracting the best from it. Where high-rez speakers are concerned, that's probably what most sets the Perikles apart from the rest. They are unfailingly enjoyable.