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Long term listening test / Floorstanding speakers

20176 Views 87 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  Peter Loeser
Greetings - I have decided it's time to have fun in the world of testing out products, and this time, it's going to be in floorstanding speakers.

As of now, we have a pair of Klipsch LaScalas and a pair of Martin Logan Electromotion ESL Hybrid Electrostats, with a pair of Axiom M100's and a pair of M50's on order.

The Klipsch retail for $7000 per pair, and are quite the revealing loudspeaker. Those who have not heard a pair of Klipschorns or LaScalas are missing out on something special.

Sam Tellig, famed audio critic, tested the LaScalas here: Sam likes him some LaScalas

The Martin Logans can be found here: Martin Logan Electromotion ESL

The Axioms will be delivered at a later date, and we will start discussion at that point.

The first speaker "up" will be my spending several weeks listening to the Martin Logans in a simple two channel set up.

The front end is a Denon Universal player with a Marantz 7008 receiver. All processing is turned off. No subwoofer is being used. It's just a straight, two channel set up.

The reason I finally selected the Marantz is it delivers 148 WPC into 8 ohms and 216 WPC into 4 ohms, as measured by Sound and Vision here: Bench Test on Marantz 7008.

In addition, the Marantz has preouts on all channels, and for later tests has full Audyssey XT-32 processing with sub eq which can independently eq two subwoofers.

It also allows one to bypass Audyssey on the mains, should one wish to have a sub in one's system, properly eq'ed, but without processing in the Left/Right speakers.

All speakers being tested are being purchased by me, no manufacturers "giving" free product for evaluation. I have contacted several manufacturers, and am waiting on responses for other speakers to be added over the next few months.

I will do the best I can to convey to relative "sound qualities" of each loudspeaker. More later, as some serious listening will start this week.

Speakers by Brand and Model, including post numbers where one can find them:

1. Martin Logan Electromotion ESL Hybrid's can be found in posts #4, 5 and 6
2. Axiom M50 can be found in posts #39, 40 and 41
3. Axiom M100 can be found in posts #43, 44 and 45
4. Legacy Audio Signature SE can be found in posts 46, 47 and 48

These notes will take place over the next 3 to 4 months, and the reason for the dedicated three pages per speaker is to allow an easy place for the summary notes on each speaker. There will also be the more frequent updates throughout the thread. Hopefully, this will work for both the occasional reader and the more avid forum members.
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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.
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Bookmarked for more about Martin Logans
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The opening post of the thread has been updated - each speaker will have three posts dedicated: two for the "review portion" and one for pictures.

The Martin Logans have been updated for new review content.

AND ... three manufacturers have expressed an interest in participating, look for news on this over the next few days.
This looks like it will be a good read. I really shouldn't follow these evals because they always plant the upgraditis bug! Thanks for doing this Craig.
Nice read Craig, glad to see you back in the saddle. About 18 years ago, I had the opportunity to get a pair of KHorns from a guy in Miami for $250! I kick myself to this day for not getting them. Looking forward to reading about the LaScalas (betcha nut'n touches em :) ).

PS: Welcome home!
Jbrax and Tonto - Thanks for the nice posts. This is SO much fun, auditioning these speakers. The experience at Chase Home Theater, if nothing else, has made me appreciate even more what these companies go through to deliver a fine product for a fair price. Having seen so many "agenda oriented" GTG's and reviews (on other forums) in the past 5 years, it has become abundantly clear we need more real independent reviews ... the staff here does a wonderful job with them.

Hopefully, this thread - and possibly one on subwoofers starting later this year - will in some small way help continue making HTS into the go to place for honest assessments ... and real world discussions ... on a variety of products.
^^^+2, looking forward to Craig's review on these
Enjoying your postings, Craig. Keep them coming!
LC - Thank you!

We have added another speaker to the mix - a pair of Legacy Audio Signature SE's ... the pair I am getting is the Black Pearl premium finish, and sell for $7785 per pair. Standard finishes start at $6995 per pair.

I had a pair of what was then Legacy's top of the line speaker, the Model 1, purchased in 1988. When I reached out to Bill Dudleston, president and founder of Legacy, he suggested the Signature SE as a great choice for a real high end speaker that was still affordable.

The Model 1's were my favorite speakers for 12 years, and getting a new set of Legacy speakers is pretty cool.
More speakers added to the mix, this is getting better, and I know you have a pretty good set of ears on your head, Craig.

The ML EM-ESL is one of my favorite speakers for the money. Looking forward to the Legacy review. At the recent AXPONA show, I spent almost 1/2 hr. talking with Mr. Dudleston about his latest active/DSP Wavelet Processor wonder, the V loudspeaker. The man is passionate about sound.
Ooh! This just got a little more interesting! As said above. Thank you! And subscribed!
Nice read Craig, glad to see you back in the saddle. About 18 years ago, I had the opportunity to get a pair of KHorns from a guy in Miami for $250! I kick myself to this day for not getting them. Looking forward to reading about the LaScalas (betcha nut'n touches em :) ).

PS: Welcome home!
I was just thinking about this last night. The absolutely best sound I ever heard from a pair of speakers was at Craig's house. He had set up a pair of Klipsch speakers (I forget the model) in the driveway of his house pointed at the backyard patio. No walls, no ceiling, no obstructions. At one point in the evening I wandered over and stood about 15 or 20 in front of those speakers and was DAZZLED by what I was hearing. It was perfection.
That effect is pretty cool. And the best part is it works will all speakers! Removing the room is the whole point of treatments. The best my KSF 8.5's have ever sounded was in my backyard, with my sub, playing 70's rock & roll.
Craig, it's good to have you back as a regular forum member.
Well you have never really been a regular member.
I remember finding your reviews the first day I became active on this type forum.
Nice that you pick up doing the same thing.
I hope the forray into the ID home theater marketplace had some fun moments.
Looking forward to reading more.
I will probably get skinned for this but I am going to do it anyway.

What's the appeal of Diana Krall?
I have tried sampling several albums and concerts...I just don't get it.
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