I had different ML speakers for years and never had a panel go bad. I still have ML speakers in my surround sound system and they are at least 15 years old. From what I have heard the panels have been known to go bad if you over drive the speakers. Before you do anything I would contact ML & see what they have to say. It could save you a few bucks.
21 responses Add your response
Sounds like you've got your system dialed in to your taste.
I've had a pair of ML ethos for 7 years with no problems and love the way they provide large sound but being semi-transparent up to don't dominate the room the way other floor standers do.
If it was me, I'd stick with what you have and or trade up to a newer ML speaker. If you feel the urge to play with the system, try a different pre-amp or set of interconnects for fun.
Over 25 some years, I had four ML models, including the CLS2A and the Summits and went with the MBL116’s. They do what ML does well and take it up a big notch. Much fuller immersion and dimensionality.
Ended up retiring / moving and wanted something physically smaller so I moved onto the Joseph Audio Pulsars and a REL T7i sub. Gets me close enough to the MBL but, IMHO, no speaker can energize a room like an MBL.
Pricey but if you can find a good deal on a used pair, well worth the effort.
There’s a pair of Joseph Audio Pearls at US Audio Mart listed at $13k but likely negotiable as they’ve been listed for a while. Also a pair of Usher BE 20 — older model but in new condition — priced at $7500 (original list $20k). Both outstanding (and good looking) speakers not likely to disappoint. Nola KO would also be worth a look as they are a dipole design that might appeal to you as a ML owner.
You have some wonderful speakers in your list. Do not overlook the Janszen Valentinas (either active or passive version). These are electrostatics with cone woofers; not too large physically, easy to place, and with great aesthetics. One difference from the MLs is that they radiate forward only, which gives more reproduction of ambiance from the recording and less of the ambiance from your room. Some listeners like that, some don’t.
@vuongp : I should mention, the Valentina was previously called zA2.1, so when you research, you might find reviews under the earlier name. Janszen has recently revised the speaker with larger woofers and improved crossover, but that’s not on the Web site yet.
Robert E Greene review in TAS
Steven Stone review in hifi+
Roger S Gordon review in Positive Feedback
RE Pulsars. Suffice to say, it, along with the REL sub, is my last set of speakers. Amazing large sound in a very small physical passage.
For background other components include: Pass Labs 250.5 amp, Conrad Johnson ET5 preamp, Luxman D-06u CDP, and Shunyata Research wire.
I do plan on upgrading to the new mid bass driver this summer.
Good luck with your journey.
My choice is the Emerald Physics 2.8s (TAS Editors Choice Award), which could/should allow you to eliminate the subs.
At ~ 46" tall and 96dB efficient, each speaker has 2 @15" carbon fiber woofers and one 12" carbon fiber mid range with concentric tweeter. MSRP is $10K, including, BUT, if any are left, because they are moving the factory $4999, includes shipping
Over the decades I have had CLSIIs with completely upgraded resistor ladders, Accoustat 2+ 2s, Maggie 3.5Rs (I prefer open baffle) and for the last 3 years, EP KC IIs, with upgraded WireWorld internal wiring and Clarity Cap upgrades, which are amazing for $3K, so I suspect the 2.8s to take their sound to a whole ’nother level of realism
@tweak1 I’ve heard good things about EP, but I’m not sure if I like the way they look. Where did you see/hear the price @ $4999?
I’ve also been looking into ATC SCM40 v2 which is probably around my budget. I wonder how these compare to the other speakers in the $5000-$10,000 price range buying used (Magico a3/Sopra2/Harbeth/Revel Studio2/etc)?
If you love your CLS... keep them... they just do some things that any other speaker can (magic)... I agree with you on buying a second set of speakers so you can play with two different set ups...
I also have a pair of CLS2, with new panels... and they are outstanding. Just bought a pair of Sound Anchor stands and see how they improve.
Since someone mentioned Usher, I have the BE10 and are lovely sounding, have deep and great bass, and the beryllium mids/tweeter is very sweet (I also have other ushers with the Diamond tweeter, but prefer the BE)... one advantage of the BE10s is that they are very stable at 8 ohms, so they play exceptionally good with any amp I throw at them... have used from 22w SET tube amp to 300W solid state, and a lot in between... all sounding great, so it is a very nice speaker to rotate electronics...
You cannot have just one set of speakers, you need at least another flavor !! :P
You’ve answered your own question.
You are clearly an electrostatic fan and are okay with the space they require.
The Soundlab 545 is the obvious answer and you have the subs to extend their Low frequency.
Doubt you’ll find them used however.
While I haven’t heard them, I’m quite familiar with other Soundlabs and supposedly their latest tech has really helped with dynamics and bass. Read some of the reviews and please let us know what you decide.
I have had the original Martin Logan CLS (1s) since 1988 and last changed the panel in 2002/3 as I was renovating our house and felt the panels got damaged in the move. At that time I coordinated with Jim Powers at ML and he also refreshed my electronics/power supply. Since then these speakers have been performing and enhancing my enjoyment. I have powered them with Audio Research D-70 Mk.II, Music Reference RM-9 Mk.2 and now the CAT JL5 (Black Path). They provide that magic that very few other speakers do. Over the years I tried the B&W 801's, Hales Reference etc. and now I did pick up the German Physiks Unlimited and have it in a second set up, but I just keep coming back to the CLS. I am considering a used ML Renaissance but we will see. In 2011, when ML announced that they will not mass produce the panels of CLS's anymore I panicked and bought a pair of spare panels as insurance which I have not had the need to use as yet. If you take reasonable care these panels last forever.
Enjoy them as there is no real replacement.