Calling all electrostatic speaker owners

What are the sonic symptoms of a dusty electrostatic panel? Is vacuuming the best cleaning method?


Bob R.
It will sound muted and not get as loud with agiven amount of power.
Vacume it once or twice a year using the soft brush attachment.
Cigarett smoke will give them perma-funk that won't come off.

Good luck!
The classic symptom of dust on stats is popping. what kind of speakers do you have.
Thanks for the responses. My speakers are ML Aeon i, about 3 years old. I live in a first floor apartment, over the leasing office. The UPS / FedEx / Comcast / etc diesel trucks park every day with idling engines, and since I leave my windows open most of the time, the apartment is fairly dusty. Dry northern California summers contribute to this also.

I have definitely noticed reduced output for a given volume input, as well as a loss of clarity in higher frequencies. Looks like it's time to break out the vacuum cleaner.
The Aeons, like most of the later ML speakers, automatically go into standby mode (discharged) after several minutes of not receiving a signal, so just try and keep your windows closed when using them ;-) Vacuuming is helpful (best if you unplug them an hour before) but I've found blowing them off with either an air can or the vacuum cleaner works even better. Just keep the nozzle at least a foot away!

If you think they're really gunked up (which they shouldn't be after only 3 yrs) the panels can be washed (believe it or not!) in the shower. It's a hassle though. You can get more info on the Martin Logan Owners website:

Will try vacuuming this evening. Tried closing the windows, but the place heated up and I had to run the a/c - very noisy. Will have to live with the dust, I guess. :(

I recall a thread here some time ago written by someone who cleaned his panels in the shower. I don't smoke, so my speakers don't appear to be that gunked up, but interesting to know the panels can withstand that kind of cleaning.

Thanks again, everyone.

Bob R.
I have Martin Logans too. I clip out text that I think is pertinent for my needs. I am not sure where these snippets originated from, but they are excerpts from forums. There is nothing as good as this forum for my needs.

Personally, I would see if you could purchase a new set of panels and then rotate them in and out of service with the set you currently own.

How to clean your panels

Posted by hifiman3 ( A ) on October 19, 2002 at 21:14:22

Over the weekend, some kids came to visit, and wound up playing in my music room. Yesterday, to my horror, I discovered someone poured orange soda on my ESL panel ! I called Martin Logan, and was advised to remove the Panel from the frame, and give it a lukewarm shower. OK, I've heard everything now! This morning I did just that; to my hysterical pleasure, showering with My Sequel II panels did the trick! After completely drying them out, not only did they look better than they have in a while, they sound better than I can ever remember! The crisp highs are back, imaging is focused again, and they have the musical quality I remember! I remember them sounding better than they have for the last couple of years, but now I'm in love with music again! I suggest anyone with seasoned Martin Logans to do the same! This is no snake oil trick! This is a totally noticeable improvement! I always keep the panels clean, smoke free (cigarette and cooking), but watching a puddle of dirty water flow down the drain was confirmation that these are in essence dust magnets. I'm putting together a guide for this procedure. It's really a no brainier, finish the procedure with a rinse of distilled water to remove any minerals so the Mylar will be clear of any spots! I also found lots of oxidizing on the wire in the terminal blocks. A fresh strip, and tinning with silver solder should keep the connections clean for many more years! Logan tells me the panels usually die around 10 years, but they have seen a refresher make them last many more years! They also tell me they have chanced the advice, don't leave them plugged in all the time; charge them only while listening! Crap, mine have been plugged in since 1990!
Hope someone else finds my bad experience helpful in restoring the luster to otherwise already great oudspeakers! When I was finished this afternoon, I treated myself to a cold orange soda!


cleaning Martin Logan panels

First unhook all the wires, remove the power supply, and and unhook the 3 wires from the screw headers (make a note of which wires go where upon re-installation, my circuit board was marked already). Then lay it (the speaker) down, face up. Using a soft mallet or the like, remove the trim rails by gently tapping the rail upwards (towards the panel) The rail is held in place by 3 little fasteners. The travel should be only an inch or so! The panel is actually held in place by luck, and 4, 4" pieces of Velcro. Start at the top, and pull the stator toward you You'll hear the distinct "ripping sound" of the Velcro releasing. After all 4 are loosened, lift the panel away from the frame, and remove from the enclosure!
I figured I needed company in the shower so decided to bring the panels in too! Using a bit warmer than lukewarm water, I simply let the water stream over both front and back sides for a few minutes until I felt like I was doing a terrible thing to my loudspeakers (about 2 minutes per side)! USE NO SOAP OR SOLVENTS. After the shower, I followed by rinsing both sides with distilled water. I figured this would rinse away any minerals left behind to ensure a clear, spot free sheet of Mylar. I let them drip dry on a towel on the floor for half a day (long side down, as the sides are open and seem to shed more water this way). Several times during drying, I rotated the panels to release trapped water. To finish the drying, I took the panels outside to dry in 50 degree sunshine. Last evening, I reinstalled the panels, re-wired, and voila, new Martin Logans!

Things I noticed:
The panels are of course "sandwiched together" Mine were only attached together top and bottom.

I removed the Velcro on the stators prior to washing making note of replacement.

The wires on both screw blocks were oxidized. I restripped and tinned with good silver solder.

The black Nextel paint finish on the actual speaker cabinet is water soluble. Keep soap and water away or it will dissolve~ I learned a few years ago, and re painted mine better than new. I have the exact paint if you need to re finish them Not cheap at $150 a quart, but makes them better than new, as its a refined formula.

Despite popular belief, there is very little chance of being electrocuted by the voltage in the panel. If you do experience a zap, its like a really big carpet shuffle shock! Common sense already tells you to unplug and count to 1,000,000 before you stick a hand and screwdriver into the power supply!

The wires soldered onto the front and rear grills of the stator can be re-soldered if need be. The (red) wire attached to the Mylar, cannot!!!! Caution here!
Longer drying times are better before you re-install the panel, but if you are a hurrier like me, this can be finished in a day! ( I painted, then glued plastic airplane models in the same sitting as a kid).

After you have things back together, and re energized, you'll notice some zapping and popping. Mine went away after 4-5 hours.

Mine seemed to be fine one minute then fade, then back. I attribute this to still having water in the panel. I did this yesterday, and am cranking on them today without ANY ill effects!

I don't want to tell you what I think of the result.........I'll let you e-mail be back and tell me when you're done!

Good luck, and be prepared to be wowed! Have your favorite song qued up for the christening, and watch your volume; will be louder! Your wife and dog will want to spend more quality time with you, since you have really cool, clean speakers again. In my case, I was lucky, my wife and I divorced, so I get to do this stuff whenever I want. I still have a great dog who loves jazz as much as I do! Good friends who like the same kinds of music are a hard find!
be careful to run the brush from the vacuum in one direction starting from the frame so that the bristles bend and do not penetrate the panel, dont change directions with brush to avoid same problem.
Great info above. Question for you guys. Can I paint the electro static panels and not change the sound? Or will the paint destroy the sound? 
The paint will destroy your electrostats. The panels will no longer hold an electrostatic charge.

Electrostat owner starting in 1995, SoundLab dealer since 1999
"I never washed my ACOUSTATS they are built to LAST!!!!!"

Just because you have never washed you car doesn't mean it doesn't need it :)

But more seriously, an electrostatic charge attracts dust which over time may degrade sound quality.

You are SOOO right Acoustats has a SOCK over them, and I must live in a DUST FREE home!!!! Plus I don’t wash my car my wife doe’s. Now put your Martins on TUMBLE DRY and dry them out.

What gives problems to Acoustats is the honeycomb front are rear plastic frames ( the old office fluro light diffusers)
they are getting very old now and are decaying, the old plastic frames get porous and start soaking up moisture, which if you know is ESL's worst thing that can happen, so the HT charge on the stator then leaks away to the frame, and you get reduce HT charge and reduced sound pressure.
All mine did this, and I'll say it won't be long before non are left.

Cheers George