Review: Martin Logan Summit Speaker

Category: Speakers

I purchased the Martin Logan Summits to replace a relatively new pair of Ascent i’s which I had in my system for about a year and half. I was looking for a speaker with a similar footprint since my listening room has some space limitations. I enjoyed the Ascents but found their bass response to be limited. Eventually they were mated with a pair of Descent subwoofers which improved the low end considerably.
I have had numerous electrostatic panels in my audio lifetime (Acoustats, Koss 1-As, and Innersound Eros, to name a few). I have always been partial to the ability of ESLs to create spatial information that dynamic speakers do not appear to equal. They also tend to have a beautiful midrange where most human voice recordings are located.
The Summits were introduced to my system 2 months ago after I had auditioned a demo pair at my dealer’s sound room. While they sounded great in the store, I was not prepared for the incredible sound that they produced in my listening room. After about 2 weeks of listening and “burning in,” the Summits really came alive. The low end is prodigious but controlled and articulate; there when you need it, not intrusive when you don’t. The imaging is simply spectacular. There is natural space around voices and instruments that I have not heard from any other speaker in my home. These speakers do not have any “etched” quality unless the recording is overly “etched” as some digital recordings are. Basically it is WYHIWYG: a great recording sounds incredible, a mediocre recording is at least listenable.
No speaker is perfect, including the Summits although they are at least on the right path. Like all large panel speakers, they require very careful placement. They also require considerable break-in to get the bass right. The feet must be leveled and angled with care as well since the rake angle can affect the imaging. Set up definitely requires 2 people.
Weaknesses? Listening area still has a one-person sweet spot, although this true of nearly all planar speakers. Outside of that, none worth mentioning.
There are now many speakers that cost substantially more than the Summits. Since I cannot fit the Statements in my home, this will be the ultimate M-L speaker for me and at my age maybe the last high-end speaker that I will buy. Given the right electronics and room set up, it doesn’t get much better than this. Are $10,000 speakers ever a bargain? You will need to decide with your own ears. To mine, they most definitely are.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Martin Logan Ascent i (previous speakers)
I'm glad you like the Summits. I've seen but not heard them. This may be M/L's last true high end product. Maybe one day I can get a used pair of statements which I have heard. It was system that created a reasonable facsimilie of a night club performance. Long live ML.
Nice review Babydoc. Thanks for taking time to post your impressions. Likewise, I too was fortunate enough to purchase a pair of Summits - so far with excellent results.

Also, there are a few "pro" reviews about to come out. Next mo.'s? TAS and also Postive Feedback online...stay tuned!
I just set up My ML Summits. I have had numerous ML and like those above love them. So far though I am not 100% satisfied with the sound. I think it could be my wire or cd. I have Krell 350 MCX mon's, Meridian 808 the new one and the ML plus desent. I just bought Refxl Transparent and am waiting for them. Prior system was 2 krell 250's, ML requests and a wadia 861. The Vocals were upfront and clear. So far I have not got that. The vocals are back , not especially clear given the gear I have. Hopeing the cable will shed some light. Never had a Meridian so that is my next concern. My sound should be killer and now it just good??? Hope the cables are the missing link
A couple of thoughts about your system. First, the Summits require a considerable break in period, 75-100 hours at least before the woofers are flexed and the bass definition improves. Second, their positioning is different from other MLs in that they can be closer together with minimal toe-in to get great imaging. Amplification and cabling are really synergistic. I am not familiar with the new Krell line; however, because the woofers are actively driven, they don't require an external amplifier at all. The panels benefit from good amplification but are very efficient as well. High current amplifiers are very good for this purpose. Cabling is a guessing game for most systems. I have always used cable that is the most neutral that I can find, currently Nordost Valhalla. CD sources are tricky for evaluating speaker voicing because they vary so much. I think that the Meridian has some upsampling capability which would reduce the glare of the basic 44.1/16 CD sound. In sum, I would give these speakers more time. I also recently switched from the standard flat feet to the self-contained spikes. This really improved things as well but I would not do it until you had your placement finalized.

Your system looks fantastic. I wonder how your system sounds with rock. I ask because when I last auditioned speakers, I was sold on martin logan (odysseys)with every style of music I tried except rock. I listen to less rock at home than when I was younger, but it is still a necessity for me. Imaging, timbres, etc were just as good if not better with the MLs as much more expensive speakers. I have always used van halen one as a demo disc because it is notoriously poorly recorded. When I listened on the MLs in the past, I had to ask to turn it down within ten seconds. True that this disc is poorly recorded but it still could get my toe tappin' on other systems I demoed (wilson, jm lab, revel). Obviously I would want to demo first, but if this issue seams to be solved then ML is a definite contender when the upgrade bug bites me.
Thx for the response. I replaced my Meridian with a Krell KPS 25sc and love it. Vast improvement in that i like the vocals front and center. All set now except playing the cable musical chair game. Have Transparent ref xl inter and spk now. Auditioning Transparent Krell Cast and Harmonic cyber. Will see how it goes. The MLs are wonderful
Tony - while you are auditioning interconnects and speaker cable I would suggest to check out the Purist Audio Aqeous Anniversary - very reasonably priced, and very, very over-achieving performance for their price ponint IMO. I am running them on the Summits.