Electrostatics - powering on/off -okay/not okay

I've just purchased a pair of Electrostatic speakers (Final 0.4's). I was considering plugging them into slaved outlets on my Panamax 1000 LC. Is it okay to power on/off the speakers with every listening session? These outlets are normally reserved for the power amp to be turned on/off with a delay of 10 seconds to avoid the 'thump'. These outlets are available since the amp is on another circuit. Thanks for your help!
Generally it is not advisable to power ELS on and off. Quad suggests in their literature to keep the panels charged. The STax F1 did not even have a power switch, nor did the good old Accoustats. The consumption is minimal. Besides, ESL generally take a bit of time to settle and sound their best, so I would keep your Finals charged all the time.
I appreciate the quick and learned response. On - they stay. I have other questions I forgot to post.
(1)Can the longevity of electrostatics be affected by sunlight (direct/indirect)? My listening room is filled with windows. The light is indirect for most of the day. Yet, the western wall is all glass. So, the setting sun comes blazing in on the speakers- but at a lower intensity. I can close the blinds but prefer not to.
(2)The electrostatics that I just purchased were dealer demos that have been in storage for 6 months. Do they need to be burned in again? The reason I ask is because they are sounding bright. My system is fairly mellow - my previous speakers were the very revealing Infinity Renaissance with the Emit and Emin ribbons - and they sounded great. Even my Linn Kudos tuner is sounding harsh on these speakers. A speaker cable change might be necessary. Any thoughts? Thanks!
I generally don't disagree with Detlof, and he may very well be correct for Quads. Martin Logans however benefit from turning them off when not in use. The electrostatic panel has a tendency to collect small dust particles. Turning the panels off reduces this to some degree and promotes longevity of the panels. The Martin Logans come up to full voltage VERY fast (like less than a second). This is a function of the power supply, and Quad may have designed a power supply that comes up slower for other reasons (filtering comes to mind). So I think you should contact Finale for the answer here and ask them how long it takes for them to be fully charged. On the MLs I can't tell a difference in the first 20 seconds vs 24 hours. I can with my amps--they need ample warm up time and remain on 24/7. As to sunlight. I've been told it shouldn't harm the panels, as I had the same problem. But logically, I can't see how direct sunlight and associated heat could be anything but bad for the panels. Again, I would ask Finale their recommendation. As to break in. No, they do not require breakin. I've bought new panels and never had any significant change in them. If they are bright sounding, this could have something to do with the electronics upstream. ESLs are very revealing and any grain or harshness upstream will inevitably sound bright. I also had a positive experience by lowering the voltage on my panels slightly to tame them, additionally I added good PC (heavy filtering) for the ELS supply. Lastly, although you didn't ask this, humidity is the ELS's enemy. Humid climates will deteriorate the panels quickly. Enjoy them--once you go to ESLs it's hard to go back.
Reves advice is very sound to my mind and I have nothing to add to it. As far as the bightness is concerned, I would also look upstream. As far as cables are concerend, G. Sander's thoughts at www.innersound.net could perhaps be helpful. Cheers,
FWIW i had a huge brightness/loss of bass problem when i moved into a new home. i had set up the speakers as i would have set up forward firing dynamics. didn't work at all (althought my dynamics sounded fine in the same locus). you must pay a lot of attention to the wall behind the speakers to control the reflected sound and the distance to that wall which will effect both the bass and the brightness. it took me a long time to find the best location and wall treatment. keep experimenting - you'll find it sooner or later.
Almost all ESL manufacturers now have an auto time out feature built into their speakers (e.g. 5 min of no signal, speakers turn off) to fight the dust buildup problem. M-L and Audiostatic both use such circuits in their speakers. The longevity of the panels is thereby vastly increased.

Direct sunlight, even weaker afternoon sunlight, will damage your speakers' membranes. UV light and plastic do not mix!
Sunlight, excessive moisture and even cigarette smoke all damage the panels.
Dear Nalu:

Is that feature in the clsIIz? I am always removing dust from my panels and their stands.

Thanks in advance.
The learning curve continues steeply upward. Days later, I have powered down my Final Electrostatic speakers after 3 listening sessions. Each time, they had problems coming back up. One speaker didn't respond for 20 minutes. I need to consult with Final about this problem. Re: brightness, I spent a lengthy period of time with speaker placement. I did find great positioning for imaging but not brightness. I pulled out some ancient 10 guage stranded Monster Cable to see what would happen. Voila! Brightness gone. So, I guess my Mapleshade Golden Double Helix just doesn't mix with electrostatics. I think I'll give Innersound's speaker cable a try. I'm open to other suggestions. Thanks for all your help!
Yada, ML had a power-down feature way back when -- even with the original CLS. They left if off the first CLSII's and realized that was a big mistake. It was around 1993 that it was added again. If your CLS's are of 93ish vintage you may want to call ML with your serial numbers to confirm. Regarding the CLS (orignal) it did not power down 100% -- some components were left a little warm. So, it's a good idea to unplug the night before for complete cleaning.

I am *always* amazed that ML recommends using a big shop-vac to clean the panels. Talk about durability.

In addition to sunlight, smoke and humidity as enemies of esls, how about "deep frying and stir frying"? According to ML, they had a customer with a persistent failure with one speaker. Turns out his wife was firing up a wok on a daily basis too close to the speaker and the oil built up over a period of time. I'm still trying to envision the CLS/wok room confirguration...
Actually, I think some of the advice here has been faulty. It is very different to power Martin Logans up and down frequently........as opposed to cleaning the panels once in a while. To clean the panels, the speaker should be turned off overnight and then the front and back should be vigorously vacuumed with a high power vac. I personally do this about every 3 or 4 months. How often depends on your environment (how much dust, smoke, humidity etc.). But that's very different than freqently powering them up and down.

I believe the step up transformers should remain powered and at equilibrium as much as possible.
Actually all of the new ML speaker automatically shut off to preserve the panel. They come on when they sense a signal. I've spoken to Jim Power about this, and the issues with the transformer in equilibrium. It basically comes to a steady state within a second. Keep in mind this is very high voltage at extremely low current. Not like an amplifier that needs to produce current and thus have huge capacitors that need to come to equilibrium.
Rives: I have older CLS IIz's....and at the time I got them a few years ago I called and asked ML whether I should leave them powered. They suggested that I leave the speakers powered...but occasionally leave them unplugged overnight with subsequent vacuuming of the panels.
That's odd--that's the exact opposite of what Jim Powers at Martin Logan told me. Mine are monoliths which are the identical panels as the CLS. He said turning them off would definitely extend the life and they are up to full power in a matter of seconds--perhaps 30 at the most. I guess I'm a little curious in who you talked to at ML. You are definitely right about the vacumming--they need to be off for at least 12 or more hours to make that work effectively.
Rives: I've spoken to Jim several times...but it was not him who told me to leave my speakers on. I will call him on Monday to clarify this issue. Do you really think leaving the panels charged would cut down the life of panels?? And what about the step up transformers. Generally, I leave my other electronics on. Do you think, in general, it would be better to power preamps, amps, and digital gear up and down?? Wadia, for example, recommends that their components be left on at all times. What is different about step up transformers??
Hi Harry:

My name is Duke and like you, I use the clsIIz. I was wondering about the "powering off" post. Have you gotten an answer yet?

On another topic, I am searching for modders to improve the crossover in the speakers. Do you have any leads in that regard?

Thanks in advance
Hi Yada,

Kick-ass real name you got there...

Anyway, Roger West of Sound Lab used this analogy, which my non-technical brain managed to grasp at least in part:

He said that the dielectric property of the insulation material can be thought of being like a rubber band, and as long as the panels are powered up that rubber band is getting stretched. Now it's very elastic and will keep on stretching, but every now and then it's a good idea to relax the rubber band and let it return to normal. This would be like unplugging the panels say once a month or so and letting them sit overnight.

It is my observation that the Sound Lab electrostats don't fully come to life until they've been plugged in for about five days. Same thing with Quads (I've owned several pairs of them). So that has made me wonder about the newer Martin Logans powering down when they don't sense a signal. Maybe they fully come to life much quicker than Sound Labs do.

I haven't lived with Martin Logans for more than a few days, so my experiences with them are pretty limited. But I think the CLS is one of the most beautiful loudspeakers ever made. Congrats on your fine taste in electrostats!


Thank you for the complement. Do you know anyone who might modify the cls? Perhaps someone who modifies the Soundlabs?

I assume the Soundlabs do not need tweaking, but for those clients who tweak, is there a person who does these things?
I meant "compliment". Too much fun today. Sorry
Hi guys:

I love my CLS IIz's also. Spectacular speaker. Mine are mated with a pair of Vandersteen 2wq subs so I can cross them over around 100hz. This makes the panels sing even more.

Mine are also modified with a couple of bybee devices in each signal path and power path.

Hi Harry!

I read all your posts.

What can I do for you to send me a few pics of that bybee mod? (Please email me directly).

I use a pair of Descents crossed over at 80hz. I will try the 100 right now! They are located to the inside of the cls pair and about six inches closer to the listener than the panels.

If you haven't found it...here's a site that will be of interest to you:

Lots of ML tweak discussion. Also, do a search of CLS in the planar/electostatic speaker section of www.audioasylum.com. There's a fair bit of discussion about my Bybee tweak there. I'll try to send you some pictures when I get a chance.

I don't know about the finals, but ML does put in a circuit to power them down without a signal. Older CLs including 2Z don't have this sensor but should be powered down. They should also be off at least overnight before vacuuming. And like someone earlier posted they do come up in less than 20 seconds. Many of the stats collect dust like TV tubes. It's bet to check with the manufacturer. The problem with the stat taking a long time to come up sounds like it could be humidity or a bad capacitor IMHO.

This is something I have wanted to do to my panels, but because the cls is discontinued, I have been a little reluctant to clean the panels in this manner.

Anyone reading this cleaned their panels this way?
Hello Yada,

I just got back in town. SOrry, I don't know anyone who mods the CLS! I don't know enough about what's "under the hood" of a CLS to even begin...

Most of the hard-core Sound Lab tweaking consists of replacing factory crossover parts with better parts, and/or bypassing the brilliance control potentiometer. I'm not sure any of that applies to the CLS. More accessible tweaks include adding spiked feet and replacing the factory power cord.

Best to you,

Hello Yada,

The CLS IIz is the only CLS model which has the auto-off power feature to the panel. It helps to keep it from attracting dust. The panel charges automatically when it detects an audio signal.