Definitive Technology's Mythos SSA-50 takes a unique approach to soundbar design. In addition to including bona fide tweeters for the left, center, and right front channels--already a big departure from the tweeterless designs of most competitors--the tweeters sit directly in front of their corresponding channel's mid/bass drivers. The result of the design gambit is a more refined and accurate sound, more like a good-quality five-channel satellite system. Definitive dubbed the SSA-50's unique tweeter/midrange arrangement "Axially Aligned" and it's at least partially responsible for the SSA-50's precise sound. The soundbar is finished to a high standard and we think it's really quite attractive.
Unlike the Yamaha Digital Sound Projector series of soundbar speakers (or any self-powered soundbar), the SSA-50 must be used with an AV receiver or amplifier. However, that allows the SSA-50 to be used with additional surround speakers. So if the owner wants to switch over from virtual (soundbar only) to genuine surround sound (soundbar plus rear speakers), that's possible with the SSA-50.
The Mythos SSA-50's mix of curves and sharp angularity makes for a distinctive design. The speaker measures 46.25 inches wide, 5.4 high, and a little more than 4 inches deep. The SSA-50's cabinet is fabricated from aircraft-grade extruded aluminum, finished in either pearlescent black or brushed aluminum (otherwise known as "silver"). The 31-pound cabinet has some heft to it, and the cloth grille is removable. The speaker's all-metal, gold-plated binding posts accept bare wire ends, spades, or banana plugs. However, they're grouped very close together, so the hookup process can be tedious--the back panel on the competing Polk Audio SurroundBar 50 is considerably better arranged.
The Mythos SSA-50 can be shelf-mounted above or below a TV, or wall-mounted with the included bracket. (Again, it would've been nice if Definitive threw in the small plastic table stands found on the Polk unit.) The speaker's deep curves and contemporary design was sized to match 50-inch plasma and LCDs. It can be used with smaller or larger displays as well, though those with 40- or 42-inch TVs will probably want to defer to the smaller Mythos SSA-42.
The SSA-50 is a five-channel speaker, but the front left, center, and right channels feature five 4.5-inch mid/bass drivers, three of which have 1-inch tweeters inset in the center (Definitive calls that "Axially Aligned"). The surround channels are handled by four 3.25-inch mid/bass drivers. The SSA-50 can be used on its own or--for more abundant bass--with a subwoofer. We opted for the latter, and used a Definitive Technology ProSub 800 for most of our listening tests.