ML Ascents should not be missing sparkle on cymbols. What Classe amp and what speaker cable are you using?
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If you haven't done it in a while or since you got them, try positioning your speakers slightly differently. I find that with MLs (I have SL3s and have an acquaintance with the Odysseys), the sparkle on cymbals and the transient on drum hits is highly dependent on vertical angle of the front plane. Try raising the back of the speaker by adjusting the spike/foot in the back, making the front panel more vertical as it faces you. You can also try adjusting toe-in/toe-out slightly.
The Martin Logans should have plenty of sparkle. Try a silver interconnect between CD and integrated.
Also, make sure the speakers are out in the room and not up against the wall.
Try taking out the power conditioner. Run the integrated straight into the wall. This will probably help more with bass and dynamics, but it's worth a try.
To remedy the "sparkle" problem, you need to know that the electrostatic panels are essentially dust magnets. You should do some periodic maintenance to them every 6 months or so.
1) Pull the plugs on the speakers, and let them power down for a day.
2) Then, vacuum them, gently, and on both sides.
I used to have ML Sequel II's, so I know the wonderful sound that can be had from them. I also know that when you do get tired of the sound, that it is time for a change.
After 14 years or so, I upgraded to the Revel Studio. They are a much better speaker, although, I had to pay four times the money for them, and I had to double the power of my amp! The Studios image fantastically, and have better bass. They can also get LOUD! Something the ML's were not able to do without sounding brittle.
Good Luck in your search. If you do decide to upgrade, give the Revel line a try!
The Logans are perfectly positioned spent over two months, there are probably 2000 holes from the ETC spikes, I do admit that they sound great, and I love them, I think its that dumb audiophile urge for change, but the last time I had that urge I went through 10 different speakers including Sonus Faber Electra Amator and the Nautilus 804,803 before buying the Ascents after I sold my Aerius i. I love the sounds of a esl, I just wish I could get the high end and most importanly dispersion of a dynamic speaker. Its not that I don't think the high end is good, you can hear a cymbol perfectly it just lacks that sheen that the best tweeter has. I've never heard Thiels before and was wondering if they could do it for me. Although I do have to admit besides the highs, the Ascents do it all and have damn good bass.
I was Director of Sales for THIEL Audio, but have owned both speakers.
The Martin Logans have a completely different sound, as well as sound stage than the THIEL speaker.
The Logan has what seems to be less high frequency energy which could be attributed to less phase shift,(it really does roll off in the highest frequencies when measured in a real room, too) since the panel is obviously time/phase correct insofar as the panel is moving as a unit body, creating the fundamental of a higher frequency and the harmonics with one mechanical pulse. A mid/tweeter, regardless of the crossover in the THIEL (even the 2.3 which is basically a whizzer cone) being a first order, and presumably phase correct, still can't be perfectly phase correct, with lead lag... (With the Logan you get time smear and room boundary effects from the rear too, which can sound like a phasey smear....wow, this is getting a little wordy, email me directly, and I will walk you through how to get the Logan to sound better. I agree with the one writer about the giant dust magnet, but it would take a lot of dust, (possible) to create a truly dull sound. With Goldmund and Classe, you don't have what anyone would call tubes, but they are also smooth sounding gear by solid state standards. I need to know about room placement,size, cables, etc. So if you like email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can go over this, and I am glad to help.
I have held some siminars about these differences and they need more scrutiny than this space allows for.
Larry R. Staples
Wow its amazing how many people have offered great advice thanks! looks like a lot of Martin Logan lovers out there, actually they hadn't been vaccumed in over a year since I got them, I did just that last week after unplugging over night, and they sound like a different animal, however their still not quite dynamic speakers. I rememeber one of the reason I liked the Logans were because they were easy to place. There is less sidewall reflection to deal with because of the minimun dispersion but mainly because the bass was easily to setup, everything else including the 803 and Sonus sounded boomy in my room no matter where I placed it. In my currently setup in my 19x14 room I have them on the long side 30 inches out and about 6 ft from each sidewall and they sound great. I think one of the reasons I've been inquiring in is because the Ascent still has good resale value from $2500-3000 and Thiel 2.3s are going used for $1500 and I was thinking my system might sound better if I sold it got the Thiels and put the money into better electronics.
Martin Logans easy to place!?!? Not in my experience. I think they're a pain in the lower posterior to place, to be quite frank about it.
Furthermore, conventional wisdom, confirmed at least in my room with my speakers, is that 30" from the rear wall is not nearly enough for ML panels. I have a lot of brick in my room, so perhaps that's complicating things for me, but I had a lot of image smear when I just plopped mine in not too far from the walls.
The financial trade does sound attractive, though.
Blw if you can afford bass trap go for it, put them
behind your speakers, and they like well acoustic
room.Also placing the speaker is not easy, but it can
be done, I own a ML quest, You have to familiarise
your room first, how does it react with your sp.
You can achieve this thru experimentation, moving
your speakers sideways, and forward and backward.
Do it very slowly,When I am alone at home, and relax
that when I notice the differrence.Its risky but
in my case, Iam careful, this is what i do, I move
the speaker while they playing. It works.
Hey Kurt, Have you audition the Revel Salons? I used to owned ML Odysseys, they had great clarity and speed but that's about it. I was happy with them for a couple of months, then wanted to go back to cones. After auditioning a wide range of speakers.. B&W Nautilus 800, 802, Wilson Audio System 6, Avalon Eidolon, Thiel, JmLab Utopia, and others that has escape me. Then I audition the Revel Studios at AVI in NJ, and was blown away, it had the clarity and speed of the Martin Logans, with a soundstage so wide and deep that it seems to pull you in, not to mention the dynamic, transcient, attack and decay of each note. I thought they were the greatest speakers I have heard, until I audition the Revel Salons with a full bloom levinson setup, which was out of this world.
No I don't have any Revels for sale.
Wish I could afford the Salons tho.
I haven't heard MLs and Thiels side by side in a long while. Though I have heard them often this way. I remember the MLs being brighter, glassier and harder than the Thiels. What bothered me more than that, was the transition from ESL to dynamic driver, it was just too disjointed for me. Mind you I still liked the MLs, and this isn't meant to be a put down. The old CL models were my favorite MLs. I bought Thiels.
I just made the change from SL-3's to the CS 2.4's. Mostly based on listening room size change. No longer had the rear space for the ML's. I demoed the 2.3's side by side w/my SL-3's in my home. They both image really well but i preferred the bass on the 2.3. The integration of bass always bothered me on the ML but i still love the sound. The 2.4's are still breaking in but are truly great, imo. good luck.
This may sound like beating a dead horse but I would blame the Audioquest cables for the "lack of shimmer" in your system. The Martin Logans are incredibly transparent and I never realized how much so until I replaced some very pricey Audioquest Cobalt wires with Nordost Blue Heavens. I would even go as far as to say that there is some sort of bad interaction between AQ cables and ML speakers. No need to go overboard on cables, just get something a little more neutral.
What speakers are easier to Drive? Martin Logans or Thiels? I'm not talking about sensativity but impedence, the nominal for both is around 4 ohms but the logans also dip to 1.8-2ohms depending on model, so you think that any amp capable of driving the logans nicely will do the same to Thiels? minus the 3db sensativity factor?
MLs are not easy, and in fact I'd call them one of the more difficult loads around, especially the older models. The older CLS full-range panel dipped under 1 ohm for some significant fraction of its range, a load that drives most amps insane.
For grins I tried driving my Odysseys (new hybrids that don't ever go much below 2 ohms) with a fairly respectable B&K AV6000 (175 wpc @ 4 ohms), and the result was ugly. It definitely ran out of gas, even in my small (14x 15) room. Some other folks have suggested driving MLs with SET amps and I find this totally incomprehensible with the possible exception of biamping the panels with a SET - and something massive, probably solid state, for the cones below 250 Hz.
I have a lot less experience with Thiels, but they appear to me to be fairly typical loads, so I'd expect them to be a lot easier to drive than any MLs.
In the worst cases, you get clipping and/or muddy bass. (Probably that muddy bass *is* clipping, but maybe clipping in that sound region sounds muddy.) Clipped treble or upper midrange is particularly offensive, at least to me.
Other times you'll just get reduced dynamics or dynamic range, and there are probably other symptoms of which I'm not aware.
i suggest you indeed to make sure that your MLs are correctly placed.
sometimes it takes weeks.
but this is almost the same with all big speakers.
2.3's are also very sensitive to placement. much more that avarege speakers.
but if sparkle is missing - you better check your equipment and the whole setup.
sometimes just a right cable can make all the difference.
Guys thanks again for all the advice,
I originall spent two weeks setting up my system and thought the toe in everything was perfect, well last night I readjusted the toe in by 1/2 inch and it sounds like a completely different system. The soundstage is much wider and deeper now and the imaging is fantastic. I am very happy with my system right now. I also had a chance to hear the Thiel 2.4s and I was amazed by the resolution they had. The associated gear was a Meridian 588 cd and the new Krell KAV pre and power amp with Valhalla cables. Very very impressive, I didn't hear any sound from the speaker but rather an image between. It was one of the few times that I was convinced I was hearing the live performance. My Ascent setup isn't quite AS good, but I think its because the Theta Miles isn't quite the 588 although I'm sure my Goldmund SRI2 integrated has far greater resolution then the KAV Krell, the Valhalla cables wouldn't hurt either :o)
Hey Totalmlb - hope you are enjoying your journey.
I agree with Lrsky's comments about stage being "completely different." IMHO, the ML image is in front of the speaker, and in your face, the B&W Naut. image seems to be in the plane of the speaker (and not as deep), and the Thiel image seems to be centered many feet behind the speaker. I also find the Thiels especially sensitive to placement, and I'm never happy unless they're out in the room (at least 4').
On the other hand I heard a humble demo of the 1.6s at AudioNut's store and was absolutely stunned by the depth behind them - and they were pushed up against a wall! Perhaps the 1.6/2.4 models are better at this than my older version.