Martin Logan Electromotion ESL (ML) Page:
The Martin Logans arrived three weeks ago, and have been getting some "burn in" done on them since. Today, with the arrival of the Marantz 7008 receiver, is the first "serious" listening session. Until otherwise noted, each listening session will be with just the receiver. Later on, we will add a dedicated power amp.
Roger Waters "In The Flesh" SACD
This SACD has been a favorite test disc of mine for 11 years now. It's not the best sounding disc, but there is so much going on with it that I have found it a valuable tool for evaluating speakers. There are many tracks with background voices in them (particularly "The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking" and "Amused to Death"), and this is one of many of those tools. Compared to other speakers I have had here, the ML's are about average in terms of delineating these background voices. Average does not mean bad in this sense - it means that there were speakers which were more clear than the ML's, and others were less clear.
Macro Dynamics are less than average on the ML's with this disc set - "Money" and "Another Brick in the Wall" do not come across with a lot of impact, and these are two songs that are meant to rock, not soothe.
On the up side, Micro Dynamics are average overall - the bells in "Time" are clear and never harsh.
Soundstaging is deep - during "Perfect Sense", the voice of "Hal" from "2001: Space Oddity" starts REALLY deep - well behind the performers - and then projects out into the audience. He also moves nicely from left to right as he emerges. The projection out is not as strong as the depth, but overall it gives the goose bumps one expects.
While the ML's were not a revelation with "In The Flesh", they overall are about average with my experience with this disc, and this IS a rock disc, not necessarily the typical music for which one purchases modestly price Electrostat hybrids.
Next up will be a disc from Diana Krall: "Live in Paris".
Diana Krall Live in Paris
We can start here - the ML's love jazz and orchestra. There is nothing that jumps out of one on this disc, but it does have a lot "going on" that makes it a fun listen. Krall's voice comes through the ML's with excellent clarity and a lot of that "you are there" quality. When her voice that that "appealing cracking", it's palpable. When she whispers, it's clearly audible. Instead of being a disc that jumps at you, Krall makes you want to lean into the performance, and the ML's do this quite nicely.
Stand up bass is rendered as I hear it from a love jazz band at our club ... it's fast, clean and makes you move your feet without thinking about it. I am used to this live, but most speakers don't present this well. By most, I mean speakers under $3000 per pair. The Klipsch LaScalas soar with this disc, even more so than do the ML's - but they are also $7000 per pair, and were once a class "A" Stereophile speaker (limited bass response).
The ML's strength in microdynamics REALLY shines here - the brushes by the drummer - the background noises of the audience. All that was missing was a single malt scotch and a cigar.
The ML's have made this disc one I want to hear again - and one can't ask for much more from a speaker than that, especially for $2500.
Tony Bennett Unplugged Live:
This disc starts off with drums, piano, stand up bass, and Tony crooning. The ML's immediately deliver to one both Tony's age ... and his incredible singing voice. Yes, you hear some crackle from him that wasn't there 35 years ago, but I challenge any singer to match how this man can still hit the notes he does in his 5th decade performing. The man was 68 when he made this disc ... impressive.
The sound mix on this disc features Tony "front and center", and the ML's put him out front, right where he belongs. On "Fly Me To The Moon", Tony walks towards the back of the stage, and the ML's deliver this space wonderfully... then he comes forward again, and one can "see him move".
"Speak Low" starts with a single person snapping fingers, and quickly goes to several, and it sounds like several distinct people snapping, with Tony's voice coming through like silk, the stand up bass crystal clear. With the ML's, one knows it's going to be a great show. You hear everything ... his draw of a breath, the air of the hall.
"I Left My Heart In San Francisco" showcases his ability to hit the notes, and again, the ML's make a palpable statement about both how great he still is, and his age... then it goes directly into "Steppin Out With My Baby", and with the ML's, it's hard to sit still. These are a really fine speaker - one might expect Electrostats to be "dry", but these are not. They are musical, toe tapping treats.
"Moonglow" with KD Lang showcases the ML's talents with male and female voices simultaneously - you can see them looking at each other smiling while singing (remember, this is an SACD, no picture) ... the ML's create this picture.
The Diana Krall DVD and this SACD will definitely be required discs for all the speakers that are auditioned, and look for some comparisons and contrasts between the speakers with both these discs.