Help Picking Out Towers - Electrostatics VS Traditional Drivers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 11-01-2013, 08:04 AM - Thread Starter
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So, first post yadda yadda. I've been lurking on here for quite a while and finally decided to make an account because I need help picking out a set of tower speakers for my HT setup.

 

Here's what I've got going on currently:

 

Onkyo TX-NR809 Tuner        (135WPCx7) - Driving the rears, preouts for fronts

ADCOM GFA-555 Amplifier  (Stereo 200W/8ohm, 325W/4ohm) - Driving the fronts

Vizio E60L1-A3                   (60-incher, fed by the Onkyo)

Klipsch Reference RW-12D  (12" sub, 340W RMS)

B&W SCM-8                       (Dipole Surrounds, 4ohm 50-200W)

Martin Logan CLSIIa             (Current Front Towers)

 

 

Now I love my Martin Logans, don't get me wrong, but they were made in 1992 and sat unused in my father's humid attic from 1995-2010 before he gave them to me. I love how beautiful they are and they sound amazing at sub-thx reference levels. When I got them, they barely output any sound and I've spent time and effort cleaning them and trying to "re humidify" the panels themselves to get the mylar back to running condition again.

 

Long story short, they work and they sound good until I want to watch an action movie and crank it up. Steaming them has helped a lot but I don't think it's going to fix 15 years of attic neglect. They need to be repaneled which is going to cost anywhere between $800-$2000.

 

 

With that said, I'm currently in the market for a new set of towers. I've done enough research on the CLSII to know that their shortcoming is their lack of midbass, so even if I do get them repaneled, I'm going to sell myself short of a full system or have to fiddle forever with crossovers on my sub and wall placement to try and fill that midbass hole that neither the sub nor the Logans can cover.

 

I'm looking at spending that cost to repanel them ($800-$2000) on a set of tower speakers and here's what I'm looking at currently:

 

Polk RTI-A9 (Can pick these babies online for about $1400 shipped easily) - Would definitely cover my midbass but I know I'd be losing fidelity

Klipsch RF-82II (can pick these up for around $1200 shipped easily) - Would cover the midbass but I've read they are straining to listen to

Martin Logan Aeon (I've got a guy on craigslist offering a mint pair for $1100, looking at them this weekend)

Bose 901 (Shouldn't be on this list, laughed at by audio purists but I can easily pick up a pair for $1300. I've been told they were worth listening to)

 

 

Overall, I want something that can do both worlds, IE 50/50 HT and music well. I'd say that I probably want the balance shifted a bit towards music, which is why I went with the RW-12D as my last pick. From what I understand, the Aeons should be able to handle this pretty well since they use a traditional driver from 43Hz-450Hz, leaving the electrostatic element to pick up on vocals and instruments.

 

What do you guys think?

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post #2 of 14 Old 11-01-2013, 09:25 AM
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I think, if you are happy with the sound from electrostatics, then you are going to be happiest staying there.

I think that only you going and listening to other speaker designs, and liking them better to your own experience can trump my sentence above.

I think telling us *what* goes wrong with the sound when you "crank them up" would help with the responses.

I think $1300 is way too much for 901s. I think Series VI 901's sell for $500 on ebay.
I suspect most of the other prices you are quoting are equally high.
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post #3 of 14 Old 11-01-2013, 11:37 AM
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CLSIIa's were ML's full-range beasts. The current CLX is a $25k speaker. The other speakers on your list are a step down IMO. I would repanel them and maybe get a better sub.

The big caveat is that if you are really overdriving them then panels might not be for you.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #4 of 14 Old 11-01-2013, 08:50 PM
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I think it would be hard to go back to monkey coffins after my MartinLogans. Everything else now seems like I've got cotton in my ears.
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post #5 of 14 Old 11-01-2013, 10:38 PM
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Throwing out the idea of magnepans - people who have 'em like 'em. They have a 60 day money-back guarantee.
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post #6 of 14 Old 11-02-2013, 09:06 PM
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I love my Magnepans and have owned various flavors for over 30 years. I'd still re-panel the ML's in this case.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #7 of 14 Old 11-04-2013, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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So I went and purchased the Martin Logan Aeons, man that was a disappointment.

 

The guy I bought it from had them set up in his room, everything looked good except the speakers were a bit dusty and had a few dings ans nicks here and there.

 

The mylar looked clean enough, no tears. We played some of his jazz on the system and I hooked my phone up and played scenes from an action movie and put some of my favorite techno on. The imaging of these speakers is amazing.

 

I decide to buy them from him for $1000 even. I load everything up in my car carefully. Logans went on an air mattress in the back of my SUV, each one wrapped in a clean sleeping bag... no chance I was gonna knock or scratch these babies on the way home.

 

I get home, run some test sequences through them, and low and behold eventually find out that not only is neither electrostatic panel playing at full levels, but one of them is making nearly no sound at all. The woofer and tweeter on both work great but the electrostatic portion is either dirty (needs the shower trick) or the panels are just straight up nearly dead.

 

In short, I made a quick and risky grab and it looks like I lost some D's unless I can fix them now.

 

Should have just picked up the Polks or Klipsches online. I wouldn't have had to deal with this Martin Logan "panel revival" BS.

 

FML

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post #8 of 14 Old 11-04-2013, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

CLSIIa's were ML's full-range beasts. The current CLX is a $25k speaker. The other speakers on your list are a step down IMO. I would repanel them and maybe get a better sub.

The big caveat is that if you are really overdriving them then panels might not be for you.


I agree with you that the CLSIIa was once ML's full range beast, but the way I see it, ML didn't make the decision to go to traditional drivers for Low-Mids for no reason at all. The bass response from these bad boys can't be all that great considering ML spent 10 or so years developing the newer bass panel that goes into the CLX.

 

I still want to repanel the CLSIIa's, don't get me wrong.

 

...In fact I probably eventually will now that I bought this junk pair of Aeons.

 

Who knows, maybe the shower trick will work for one or both.

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post #9 of 14 Old 11-04-2013, 11:03 AM
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The very deep low-end response of most any panel is underwhelming. It is simply too hard to get enough area and/or displacement from a planer design, The big Soundlabs do a pretty good job, but you pay for it on the high end (at least IMO). Even when I listened to very large panels I always appreciated having a good sub to off-load the bottom couple of octaves and save the dynamic range in the panels for the upper frequencies. Most of the planer systems I have heard through the years (Model 9s, Beveridge, Acoustat, Quad, Soundlabs, MLs, Magnepans, etc. -- forgotten a few) really need a subwoofer for the bass below 50- 100 Hz'ish.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #10 of 14 Old 11-04-2013, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trapani View Post

So I went and purchased the Martin Logan Aeons, man that was a disappointment.

The guy I bought it from had them set up in his room, everything looked good except the speakers were a bit dusty and had a few dings ans nicks here and there.

The mylar looked clean enough, no tears. We played some of his jazz on the system and I hooked my phone up and played scenes from an action movie and put some of my favorite techno on. The imaging of these speakers is amazing.

I decide to buy them from him for $1000 even. I load everything up in my car carefully. Logans went on an air mattress in the back of my SUV, each one wrapped in a clean sleeping bag... no chance I was gonna knock or scratch these babies on the way home.

I get home, run some test sequences through them, and low and behold eventually find out that not only is neither electrostatic panel playing at full levels, but one of them is making nearly no sound at all. The woofer and tweeter on both work great but the electrostatic portion is either dirty (needs the shower trick) or the panels are just straight up nearly dead.

In short, I made a quick and risky grab and it looks like I lost some D's unless I can fix them now.

Should have just picked up the Polks or Klipsches online. I wouldn't have had to deal with this Martin Logan "panel revival" BS.

FML


I'm confused. How could the imaging be amazing if one of them is barely even working? And the Aeons don't have tweeters at all... I guess what's confusing is how they could sound so amazing and then be completely shot when they get home? If you do the shower trick, make sure and give them a very very very long time to dry. If you arc those things they are completely toast.
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post #11 of 14 Old 11-04-2013, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

The very deep low-end response of most any panel is underwhelming. It is simply too hard to get enough area and/or displacement from a planer design,

I own a set of Newform Research R630's and absolutely love them. ( www.newformresearch.com ) The top end like a panel with a lifelike 3D stage but with the dynamics and punch of a conventional speaker. Best of both worlds. I am very happy with these speakers and very few other speakers I see or read about these days tempt me because of the inherent design.
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post #12 of 14 Old 11-04-2013, 03:42 PM
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That's a hybrid design (ribbon upper, conventional cone lower). My comment was for pure panel speakers such as the CLSIIA's discussed in this thread.

I left Sanders off my ESL list (another hybrid system) and probably several more...

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #13 of 14 Old 11-05-2013, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by simp1yamazn View Post


I'm confused. How could the imaging be amazing if one of them is barely even working? And the Aeons don't have tweeters at all... I guess what's confusing is how they could sound so amazing and then be completely shot when they get home? If you do the shower trick, make sure and give them a very very very long time to dry. If you arc those things they are completely toast.


They do have tweeters actually. The Aeon's tweeter is located on the top rear of the woofer cabinet, so the system actually consists of 3 different elements, a tweeter, a woofer, and an electrostatic panel. The woofer serves as a low to mid range driver, while the electrostatic panel serves as a mid to high range driver, with the tweeter serving high to ultra high.

 

After hooking everything up, I am getting sound from all three elements on both speakers. The thing that is bothering me is that the SPL of the woofer is of course much higher than the ESL, so there appear to be 'dead' spots in my music, especially coming from the speaker that was slightly more dusty and dirty than the other.

 

In any case, I took them apart last night and did the shower trick with both panels. I noticed that for the first 30 seconds or so of washing them under the shower head, there was definitely dirty water pouring from the bottom of the ESL panel. The HV wires on both sides were also a bit corroded so I clipped and restripped. They are sitting in front of a squirrel cage fan right now blow drying them from bottom to top at an angle and I've been flipping everything every 6 hours.

 

How long would you suggest drying before I hook everything back up and put them back in the frames?

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post #14 of 14 Old 11-05-2013, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trapani View Post


They do have tweeters actually. The Aeon's tweeter is located on the top rear of the woofer cabinet, so the system actually consists of 3 different elements, a tweeter, a woofer, and an electrostatic panel. The woofer serves as a low to mid range driver, while the electrostatic panel serves as a mid to high range driver, with the tweeter serving high to ultra high.

After hooking everything up, I am getting sound from all three elements on both speakers. The thing that is bothering me is that the SPL of the woofer is of course much higher than the ESL, so there appear to be 'dead' spots in my music, especially coming from the speaker that was slightly more dusty and dirty than the other.

In any case, I took them apart last night and did the shower trick with both panels. I noticed that for the first 30 seconds or so of washing them under the shower head, there was definitely dirty water pouring from the bottom of the ESL panel. The HV wires on both sides were also a bit corroded so I clipped and restripped. They are sitting in front of a squirrel cage fan right now blow drying them from bottom to top at an angle and I've been flipping everything every 6 hours.

How long would you suggest drying before I hook everything back up and put them back in the frames?

Ahh, then you have the Aeon i and not the first gen Aeon which makes the price you got them for even better (assuming you get them in good working order). From what I've seen on the ML forums, people recommend drying for at least 48 hours.
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