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Orpheus

Martin Logan Impression ESL 11A

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A year and a half ago, I visited the Lifestyle Audiostore at North Parramatta, and auditioned the 11A, 13A, and 15A models in the Martin Logan range.

 

I had previously fallen in love with the CLX, when they came out. They are a remarkable pair of speakers, but they are really too big for my listening space.

 

I was interested to see how far Martin Logan had progressed with the integration of woofers and panels. At least in theory, a properly integrated woofer and panel is a good solution, as it allows the panel to play to its strength (mids and highs), while relieving it of responsibility for the lowest frequencies.

 

However, in the past, the integration between panel and woofer has been noticeably imperfect, and problematic.

 

Counter-intuitively, I felt that the least expensive of these speakers, the 11A was the best integrated, and the most enjoyable to listen to. As a bonus, at $16,000, it was also about $10,000 less than the 13A.

 

I couldn't justify the expense at the time. After all, I had a pair of Audio Physic Avantera speakers, which are more expensive, and very competent.
 

However, sooner or later, such itches must be scratched, and when Lifestyle Audiostore had a sale, I was in contact with Vinod, who is very good to deal with, and is prepared to go the extra mile to make customers happy.

 

I am now the very satisfied owner of these speakers, which are very easy for my amps (Audio Research Ref 250s) to drive.

 

They have the energy, transparency, and detail of electrostatics, together with far more power than I need. 

 

I think the reason they work so well is that they have small (8 inch), dipole woofers (firing front and back), a single cross-over point at 300 hz, and no doubt some handy electronics optimising the integration of the woofers with the panels.

 

With the 13As, the woofers are 10 inches, and with the 15As, they are 12 inches. I found these woofers did not integrate as well.

 

As an added bonus, you can boost both lower bass and mid-bass with controls on the rear, and, with the addition of Anthem Room Correction (via the Martin Logan Perfect Bass kit) for a further $150 (basically, a calibrated microphone and software), you can add room correction in the bass, to tame room issues.

 

I haven't done this yet, but the kit is on the way.

 

I am quite happy with the factory settings, but I do have a very difficult room to deal with, so room correction may give me a further benefit. I will report back.

 

Meanwhile, I would recommend a listen to this series if you are interested in electrostatics, as I think they are Martin Logan's most successful effort yet (though the purists might still go for the CLX, which are still in production).

 

 

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Good write up, i looked at the esl11 and the esl9 out of interest. Concluded that the esl11 was the better speaker, but would not work properly in my 4m x 4m room. 

 

Be interested to hear about your room size and room setup. Piccies are always nice 😎

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Will get onto this evening.

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I haven’t heard the new range yet..... I have heard the CLX with a very competent front end and remember it as one of my most outstanding Hifi experiences. 

Electrostats can be very addictive. 

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Hi @Orpheus

 

I have written previously about how good the new Martin Logan ESL's are, I too listened to them at the Lifestyle store and fell in love with them soon after they first came out. I had originally gone there to try out Vienna Acoustic's top end The Music speakers and found that both the 11a and 13a's made the big Vienna's sound a little bit ordinary.

 

I personally preferred the 13a's extra bass over the 11a, for the want of a better term, cleaner sound, but would happily live with either and hopefully some day will.

 

cheers Terry

Edited by TerryO

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On 09/02/2019 at 11:52 AM, sfdoddsy said:

Are those woofers dipole?

Apparently it's a bit more complicated than that; they do fire in opposite directions, so in that sense, they are dipole, but the electronics which power them fiddle around with this, according to this review;

 

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/martinlogan-impression-esl-11a-hybrid-electrostatic-loudspeaker/

 

Whatever they are doing seems to work pretty well.

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Here is the explanation in the review, for what it is worth. I don't really understand it;

 

"At first I assumed the cabinet was to allow the woofers to mimic the panel’s dipole radiation. In fact, with help from the digital circuitry, the two woofers, crossed over at 300Hz, are made to work in a kind of sliding phase arrangement whereby the phase shifts with frequency in order to suppress the backwave and also to prevent frequency-specific cancellations that may result from woofers arranged to mimic dipole radiation. According to Vojtko, digital manipulation of phasing directs most of the two woofers’ output forward, not toward the back wall, an arrangement claimed to facilitate setup and speaker placement: “The sliding phasing is weighted toward the frequencies where directionality is more critical, where the manipulation of the phasing is taking place, and the woofers come into phase together at the lower frequencies.”" 

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Its a cardioid bass design. The rear bass driver is used to cancel the back spreading wave from the front driver by manipulating its timing. This means the second bass driver and amp are  used to decrease bass output.The magic is forward directional bass. The opposite of dipole. 

 

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Sounds like the woofers might be set up to operate as dipoles at upper bass frequencies and as bipoles/omni at lower bass frequencies.

 

This would help match the radiation pattern of the panels at upper bass frequencies but give good low end extension without large woofers/baffles.

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