Thoughts on Martin Logan speakers?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by heyMo, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Charlotte
    There was recent thread on highly regarded speakers which left you cold. One speaker that I did not see mentioned were Martin Logan's. I'm considering new speakers for my listening room and included in what I am looking at are the ESL's, or if budget permits, ESL-X. My room is not quite square at 13 x 13.5 with a bay window and 9 ft ceiling. I know placement is a consideration for the Logans and that is a concern. However, I am just soliciting any comments on the Logans from anyone with knowledge or experience on sound quality. Too tinny? Need sub? Listening fatigue? That sort of thing......

    Thanks for your input.

    Equipment:

    Peachtree Nova 150
    Rega RP-8
    Soundsmith Otello
    Tavish Design Vintage
     
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  2. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southern US
    One of the most fascinating speakers I’ve heard (not audition)..very pure,
    I too have always been interested in these but just never put any real ‘jones’ in them. For me I love the look of a formidable cone driving my music, and I’ve been cautious of the sweet spot thing with these speakers. I’m a sub guy so that was not a problem. It’s a speaker I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I would love to have. The purity of these things is what gets ya. I know this doesn’t help but I guess I’m with ya on hearing some responses on these. Peace.
     
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  3. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Charlotte
    Sounds like we are in a similar spot.
     
  4. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southern US
    Yea I think most people/reviewers agree these things are very pure in presentation but it’s their (limited) drawbacks you have to ask yourself if you can live with, and I’m not sure what they all are, so we shall see.
    For me if I had a quiet ‘study’ or something like it I would be all over it. I’m in to brute force capability for my main stuff. We’ll see what the replies reveal.
     
  5. svenhoek19

    svenhoek19 Active Member

    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    I own the ESLs and love them! Having said that they definitely need the right room and placement. Just based on your information I believe your room is fairly similar in size to mine and may work well for you. In regards to your window I also have large windows in my listening room and had to add window treatments.

    In my experience with the Logan’s the sweet spot thing is a little overstated but they’re certainly not the most forgiving speakers in that regard either.

    I don’t tend to get into all the general audiophile adjectives to describe speakers, but I will say this about them. . . Some of the most incredible sounding music I have ever heard has come from them! There’s times I can close my eyes and just be taken away, and it seems to me that is the ultimate goal of this hobby, at least for me.

    I could see them being “tinny” in the wrong room for sure. You’re gonna want carpet or rugs and possibly other treatments such as the aforementioned windows. Based on your room size you should be fine without a sub, especially if you get the ESL X. That will also depend on your personal preference though.

    Again, I am not the type who will write an audio magazine review summary on here for a product. I can just tell you that to me they sound very good and I enjoy the heck out of them. Hope that helps.
     
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  6. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    I had a pair about three years and loved them. Then almost overnight I hated them.

    Never figured out if the speakers changed or me.
     
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  7. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Charlotte
    Did you go to something else? If so, what?
     
  8. Diskhound

    Diskhound Forum Resident

    I am running a pair of Martin Logan Ethos that were discontinued last year. There isn't an equivalent model in their current line-up unfortunately (9.2" wide panel and powered subwoofer). In general, I think you will find that ML's panels can provide smooth and refined sound. However, they are extraordinarily transparent so you will need to hear them with your equipment. With the wrong equipment they will not sound great. If you are after soundstage and imaging then I would say they are very hard to beat at real world price points.

    ML's are beyond superb with most pop and rock, vocal, jazz, folk, acoustic and classical. Poorly recorded or poorly mastered music suffers big time though. They are not a forgiving speaker. Interestingly, my ML's are also fantastic with most of my collection of downtempo electronica. My ML's Rock nearly as hard as any speaker I have ever had. I can crank the sub when I want more slam. But if you are really into metal, grunge and heavy duty rock and want the mega slam then a high quality sub or pair of them may be needed, particularly with the ESL series,which don't have the powered sub.

    Placement is crital. You need to get rid of the reflection off the front wall by treating it and/or getting the panels at least 2-3 feet away from it. Side walls aren't quite as important. You also need to be able to sit dead center and about 1.5 -1.8 times the distance between the panels away. Getting the right toe-in is also key to getting the best soundstage and imaging. You will need to adjust it carefully.

    The sweet spot is relatively narrow but when you are in it and you have a well recorded song then you can close your eyes and place all the musicians in space. It's not that the speakers don't still sound very good outside the sweet spot, it's just that you really miss the magic!
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
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  9. stuwee

    stuwee Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    Long time ML lover here. They not only need the right room placement, 3' to 5' from the back wall (some call the front wall). I disagree with the above poster ^^ Diskhound, the less the sidewalls the better. They need air to breath and set the stage. Walls on the side mess with the wonderful soundstage that they produce, an almost walk into it experience. I've had friends that swear by cones and horns almost bow to what they hear from a panel that weighs less than a human hair move the air in an almost perfect sound.

    They also act very different as to how the amp see's the load, they are a giant cap, they suck huge amounts of energy at low ohms and then shove it back at the amp. If you listen to them loud, spend some money on an amp that can handle that load...you will be rewarded with an almost perfect sound from the midrange on up...if you want monster bass, you need a sub.

    I think your room might be a bit small, can you pull them out 2' to 3' and at least 4' from the side walls? that might give you the best sound if your listening area is 6' from the front of the speaker. Also remember that you can tilt some of these later models and that helps with the soundstage. Some like the sound tilted straight forward, some a little back, depends on your room.

    BTW, I don't bother much with windows as long as they have a sheer like covering, get into heaver curtains if you have some high frequency issues...

    I'll help as much as I can if you need it :agree:
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  10. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Charlotte
    Thank you very much for this information. This is most helpful, especially your placement suggestions. When I was looking for an amp, the one I chose (Peachtree Nova 150) was connected to ESL's for the demo. Those speakers have been in the back of my mind ever since.
     
  11. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Charlotte

    Thanks for your input. Yikes, placement is a concern and I'm not sure I can place them that far from the "front" wall. Hmmmmm........I may have to see if there is a way to try them out first, if these are what I go with. There are one or two other brands I'm considering, but ML's are the front runner.
     
  12. dlrra

    dlrra New Member

    Location:
    Singapore
    I'm looking at buying a pair of ESLs as well. Auditioned a couple of brands (PMC / Vienna / Penaudio), but the MLs were really quite magical!

    I'm glad you started this thread, lots of ML information to digest here :)
     
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  13. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    In addition to the above placement concerns, you must take into account what kind of amp will be driving them. ESL speakers are a very hard load to drive, and many SS amps cannot deliver enough current to sound any good driving them. Strangely enough tube amps, which deliver even less current, often can sound wonderful with ESL speakers, assuming that they have enough power to drive them to reasonable volumes.
     
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  14. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    Spendor S3/5 with a Janis sub. Had that setup for eight years.
     
  15. Diskhound

    Diskhound Forum Resident

    I don't necessarily disagree this point about the sidewall. My point was that it's not quite as important as front wall reflection issue and separation between the panels. If you can't pull the speakers out into the room too far given the depth of the room you are working with then the easy alternative is to get them out a couple of feet and treat the area behind them with heavy curtains. The speakers radiate sound from front and back. You don't want to hear those sounds from the back of the speaker bouncing off the front wall. It's not really too hard to fix if you can just put up som heavy curtains.

    As far as the sidewalls are concerned, my experience is that there is a balancing act. The soundstage can collapse if the panels are too close. Having the speakers 3 or 4 ft. From the sidewalls means 5 or 6 feet between the panels. That is not enough in my experience and sitting six feet away from them would not be great either. It's just too close.

    With 13 feet total width to work with then I think the panels could be about 7.5 ft. apart measuring from centre of the panel to centre. If my math is correct that would leave more than 2 ft on each side measured from the center of the panels to the sidewall. This is what ML recommends. Panels don't radiate like cones and this is very important to understand. You do not need heavy carpets in front of them or sidewalk treatment. With the necessary toe in, 7.5 feet between the curved panels and two feet or so to the side walls I think a nice balance can be achieved.

    If you have 13.5 ft depth in the room to work with (and this is actually the real constraint) then keeping the panels closer to the front wall is desirable anyway. In this case, seating distance from the speakers needs to be more than the distance between them of 7.5 ft. Perhaps, 8.5 ft would be a good starting point. Adding it all up means 2 ft. front front wall + 8.5 ft to listener and 2.5 ft to the wall behind the listener. Ideally, in this case you could also put some stuff on the wall behind the listener to diffuse the sound and prevent any bounce back but I wouldn't go crazy.

    I hope this helps. I think you have a fine room for a pair of ESL X!
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
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  16. Bachtoven

    Bachtoven Forum Resident

    Location:
    Davis, CA
    I love their clarity and transparency, but the sound seems to lack "body" or "texture" compared to a good cone speaker. I have owned ML ReQuests and Theos. Now that I'm using a tube amp, the lack of body might be less noticeable.
     
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  17. bhazen

    bhazen Binaural-Curious

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    First impressions of the main line of MLs ... very impressive. A 'big picture' speaker, not unlike other big panel speakers. The added sub gives them some 'weight' too that, say, an equivalent Magnepan might lack on its own. But after awhile, one becomes aware of a slight plastic-y flavour to the sound, which put me off the notion of owning them (I'm still fond of Maggies, which sound more organic to me.)

    At the end of the day though, I prefer much less directional, cones'n'domes speakers (I never sit in the 'sweet spot', so electrostatic speakers are a non-starter.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
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  18. daytona600

    daytona600 Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
  19. timind

    timind Bushy

    Location:
    Westfield, IN USA
    I haven't heard the ESL model, but a few years ago I bought a pair of Magnepan 12QRs off a local guy and went to pick them up. He had replaced the little Maggies with a pair of huge Martin Logans which I'm not sure I got the model number. He had these MLs in his living room which couldn't have been more than 14x14x8, and man did they sound awesome. One of the most impressive demoes I've had the pleasure of sitting through.
     
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  20. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    (added later) Apologies for the comments about a speaker that is out of your price range. I had the wrong impression of what the ESL-X costs. Maybe of interest to others, so I'll leave the post, rather than delete it. I'll also add this: If at all possible, audition at home before you choose!

    I have never owned MLs, but did own Apogee Caliper Signatures and now Janszen Valentinas, also available in an active version. I auditioned MLs a couple of time, and the first sentence of the quote from @Bachtoven is what I experienced. Not a criticism of MLs, but they were not to my taste -- though aspects of the sound were beautiful. As a point of comparison, you might audition the current Janszens. They are a different flavor and different design and are easy to place because of their controlled directivity. They (and the stand-mounted Carmelitas) have received quite positive reviews. (Actives reviewed here.)
     
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  21. robertk

    robertk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ecuador
    If you buy them buy Jim Smith's dvd and it will help you with room placement and so on. A real bargain at $39.95.
     
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  22. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Charlotte
    Very nice! :righton:
     
  23. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Charlotte
    This is really great information. I really appreciate it.
     
  24. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    I miss that Janis sub. It would sound great with the original Quads I've been running the past six years.
     
  25. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Charlotte
    Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of choices nearby to audition. Just the normal ML's, B&W, PSB, etc.
     

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