Your favorite Electrostatic, Panel spkr

 I’m putting together an analog system. First on the list was a turntable, I’ve settled on the Denon DP 59L. 
  Now let’s hear from the owners of some panel electrostatic type speakers, not ones you dreamed of owning, ones that you’ve owned and the reason why they were your favorite. 
Many moons ago I owned Eminent Technology speakers and really enjoyed them. The only problem was playing them with higher SPL’s they would “fart” when the Mylar would hit the magnets. The other electrostatic speaker I would love to own is the Sanders 10e speaker system. Have heard them many times and they are quick and transparent and really don’t require a lot of space. At Axpona this past year they sounded amazing. 
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When I had my shoppe in Florida, a customer wanted a pair of woofers built, to go with his Acoustat Model IIIls.    I used a design that Roger Sanders published, in Speaker Builder Magazine(circa 1980), to go with his home-brew(then) electrostatics.  We bi-amped them through a couple of my DH-500s, through a Dahlquist DQ-LP1.   My wife came with, when we set the stuff up, in the customer's home.      Has anyone else ever had to buy a new, bigger house(for a dedicated sound room), because their wife was so enthused about the tone, imaging and sound stage of a system?  My Hafler rep carried Acoustat too.   Sold a few of everything.  Those were the days.  Loved those Acoustats(and having a huge room, just for sound)!

@rsf507’s recommendation of the Eminent Technology "speakers" (presumably the LFT-8) is a fine one, but you should know that it’s design is magnetic-planar, not ESL. His other nominee---the Sanders ESL---is another great planar. The price differential between the two is considerable---$2499/pr for the ET vs. somewhere around $15,000/pr for the Sanders!

You should also know that each requires a fair amount of amplifier power (being an 8 ohm resistive load, the ET can be partnered with a medium-powered tube amp), and are both "single-listener" designs, each having a rather narrow sweet spot. The same is true of many other planar (including ESL) loudspeakers. And that they both, like all planars, need to be (while listened to critically, at any rate) out in front of the wall behind them by a minimum of 3’, 5’ being better. 10', if you have the space!

Maggie 3.7i with a sub, great natural sound nice soundstaging play everything correctly, they even rock.
It would help if we knew your price point.
I currently use Acoustat 2+2s a speaker that shocked everyone at the time. Nobody else had ever built a full range line source speaker before and the increase in dynamics was unexpected. ESLs are supposed to be polite. Not the 2+2s. Put them with a subwoofer array and they will play at rediculous volumes and do stuff like rim shots better than horn speakers.
If the panels are kept in the frames and the socks are not removed the panels are indestructible and will last forever. If you can find a pair that have not been mutilated go for em. The current speaker that better than fills their shoes is the SoundLabs 845.
rodman99999, I was down in Miami back then where were you and what was the name of your shop? 
bdp24, Martin Logans and Soundlabs speaker have wonderful high frequency dispersion characteristics. The larger multi panel Acoustats did also. 2+2s not so hot. If you use the speakers with subwoofers you can keep them as close to the wall as 2 feet. In any case you want to dampen the wall directly behind the speaker as it is the strongest primary reflection. With single panel speakers like the Sanders the high frequencies drop of fast off axis which heightens the sensation of a tight sweet spot but frankly even SoundLabs and Acoustats have a "tight" sweet spots. Because there is no midrange or high frequency cross over and the the entire spectrum (except the low bass with sub woofers) is coming from the same spot in space these speakers "image" the sweet spot and everything else much better than other speakers. In other words, the sweet spot is much easier to hear and when you are in it the image is holographic. This is always fun but in many cases not an advantage. It is highly unlikely that the engineer mixing the master was listening to speakers like these. You are more likely to hear what the engineer was hearing with dynamic speakers. With my Acoustats the image is frequently surrealistic. Like the drum set being wider than the whole band. Each piece is imaged in space perfectly except the floor toms are 20 feet away from the high hat. I've never seen a drummer with 10 foot arms. Live performances especially classical ones are usually right on as are older Jazz recordings. 
Oh and BDP24 you are right that the ET speaker is a planar magnetic but the Sanders is a real ESL with a dynamic woofer below I think 175 Hz.
Esls are faster than planar magnetics and the panel is driven more evenly
Built correctly it is impossible to strike the stators with the diaphragm. 
Withing its envelope the Sanders is a great speaker but I would rather have the SoundLabs 545 with subwoofers running below 100 Hz. 
@mijostyn- The Speakershop, on Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park. I was briefly famous for my closest neighbor, 20’ to the east of my property line(the Great Winter Park Sinkhole, of 1981). That went down, 31 days after I closed on the property, taking all utilities with it. One week, after moving in. At the time; one couldn’t get a residential mortgage, without sinkhole insurance, but- it wasn’t available at ANY price, for commercial properties. Of course, Loss of Income Ins. was negated, because my loss was caused by a, "specific exclusion." Pause the vid at 1:50 and my building is/was the blue one, at the bottom of the screen: When that vid was done, it hadn’t stopped growing yet. I was on Colonial Drive(across from Morrison's Cafeteria), Orlando, for a few years, before that.
I have reviewed the following for;
Eminent Technology LFT-8A/B (magnetic planar)
Magnepan .07 (magnetic planar)
Sound Lab Ultimate 545 (ESL)
Kingsound King  (ESL)
Kingsound King III  (ESL)

I have owned Magnepan 1.6QR (magnetic planar)

Currently reference is Kingsound King III with VAC Royal Power Supplies
-Someone just a few days ago seemingly bought the King III for sale here. They did very well. If they maximize that set properly it will reward them with stunning sound. 
I forgot to mention the room is small, 11’x13’x8’ceiling
Maggie 1.7i with a sub would sound wonderful in a room that size. My rooms a bit larger 12x15 and they were fantastic. I've moved to the 3.7i which is better on some music but also reveals a lot more flaws in a recording.
KLH Nines and Quad 57's! Both of which I own (one pair and two pairs, respectively).
The Acoustat's could really rock..  the model 3 with good power in a decent sized room was pretty impressive. I used to be dealer in the very early 80's..80/81 .. we had the model 4's being ran by a Threshold Stasis Two in a decent sized room.. I remember listening to the Police's Spirits in the Material World.. holy smokes.  the only negative was the sweet spot issue but once in that zone they were hard to beat on dynamic music swings.. I liked the two plus twos, but did not seem to get the bass response of the model 4's ..

@mijostyn, yup, I know the Sanders is "a real ESL" (what's an "unreal" ESL? ;-), that’s why I above referred to it as "the Sanders ESL". Both the Sanders and the Eminent Technology LFT-8 are hybrids, with a dynamic woofer.

The ET employs an 8" bass driver with 1st-order high- and low-pass filters centered at 180Hz. It’s dual magnetic-planar midrange drivers operate from 180Hz all the way up to 10kHz (with no x/o in that range!), where another 1st-order filter passes off to a ribbon tweeter. 5’ tall, a foot wide and deep, $2499/pr.

I've owned several pairs of Maggies, several pairs of Quads, Martin Logans, and several pairs of SoundLabs.  I chose to become a SoundLab dealer.

SoundLabs have the most natural-sounding timbre of any speaker I have spent time with.  I say this as a speaker manufacturer:  I aspire to make the second-best speakers, as I do not expect mine to surpass the sound quality of the SoundLabs. 


Quad ESL 57 has a tone that entrances me.
Well audiokinesis we have something in common. I do not have my 845s yet but they are for certain my next and probably last loudspeaker. 
douglas_schroeder, what did you think of the 545s? I'm not sure but I do not think we can get KingSound speakers in the US. I went to their web site which is a bit crude. Their speakers are listed as having cross overs at various frequencies usually 1200 Hz. Not sure what the reasoning behind that would be.
Willieva, you bet. The 4s had the best bass because they had the largest baffle area. The 2+2s are narrow with very little baffle effect. They don't really rock until you use them with subwoofers.  I used subwoofers with Monitor 4s. I took them off those cheesy plastic stands and plopped them down on RH Labs subs and boy did that rock. Those Stasis Amps were something back then. 
bdp24, it looked to me like you were saying the ET was an ESL. I do think ribbon tweeters are the best made primarily because of their very even figure 8 dispersion characteristic. ESLs beam which causes the manufacturers to do all sorts of crazy thing like making you sit in one chair to curving the panels making them non linear. I do think Acoustat and Soundlabs have the best solution by angling narrow flat panels to cover a wider area. The Acoustat 4+4 and the Soundlabs 845 are very similar speakers the Soundlabs being more modern is certainly more sophisticated room is 9.5’x12.5’,8’ceilings

would these be going on the long wall ?
the A-3’s in my room would be HUGE:0)

as of now budget is up in the air, this is a retirement present to myself, i dont think $3,000 is off the mark for speakers, so a grand above and below would be my variable.

I currently own Quad ESL 57, Acoustat Model 2 (modified and used with the Acoustat Direct Drive amps), and just picked up a pair of Analysis Audio Epsilon (planar ribbon). There is no substitute for the mid-range in the 57 in my opinion. The Acoustat's and Analysis Audio provide great mid-range as well, but the Quad are not to be outdone in that area. Although the Quad do not have the extension at the extremes of either of the other speakers, I find the bass satisfying enough for my tastes. That being said I ended up bi-amping with an electronic crossover and adding a multiple sub array to my system so none of the speakers drives anything below 100 Hz.

@kgveteran you mentioned two different room sizes in your posts, neither very large. Here are a couple thoughts. The Magnepan LRS comes in easily under your budget, and some of the larger Magnepan speakers are going to fit in your budget as well. If you buy the LRS direct from the factory I believe there is a 30 day trial so you can try before you buy. Another option is the JansZen Carmelita hybrid ESL monitors. Nice foot print but a tad over your budget. JansZen offers a trial period as well. Either of these speakers can be used on the short wall if you prefer. With the Maggies you would have enough money left over to add a couple nice subs and still not compromise your space.
Well, with kgveteran's latest update I suggest that a bigger magnetic planar or  ESL would be problematic. Imo both the King III and Sound Lab, as well as the Eminent Technology are eliminated. You would do far better with a dynamic speaker imo than a larger panel in such a close space. 

mijostyn, I would rather not discuss extensively and rewrite the book so to speak. The King III and the Ultimate 545 are a study in contrasts on several levels. You will get a very thorough introduction to either speaker by reading the reviews, including the highlights and caveats. Twin Audio Video is listed on the King's Audio website as U.S. Distributor. 

Sorry, i finally measured the room today, its a spare room with no acoustic treatments. It should make a nice listening room, once i get to measuring things and applying treatments 

So am i correct, they will be on the 12’ wall, not the 9’

I don't know how one could come to think I was "saying the ET was (sic) an ESL". I infact specifically said it was NOT---that was the main point of the post in which I said as much! My related quote about the ET: "but you should know that it's design is magnetic-planar, not ESL". I own two magnetic-planar loudspeakers (Eminent Technology LFT-8b, Magneplanar Tympani T-IVa), one ESL (original QUAD), and a loudspeaker containing ESL tweeters---RTR's, the same ones David Wilson used in his WAMM (ESS TranStatic I).

ESL's and magnetic-planars are similar in some ways, different in others. I have found audiophiles to be in either the planar (ESL, m-p, ribbon, whatever) camp, the "dynamic" (cone drivers) camp, or the horn camp. I can live with just about any planar, but very few dynamics. I don't have enough experience with horns (other than the pair of Altec Voice-Of-The-Theater PA speakers I had to listen through when living in a "band house" in 71-2. NOT a hi-fi loudspeaker imo!) to have an informed opinion about them. I've heard the Jadis Eurythmie (Brooks Berdan's pair), Klipsch K-Horn (ditto), various JBL's with dynamic woofers, but haven't lived with them. That's the ONLY way to get to really know a loudspeaker. Same with a woman ;-) .

So am i correct, they will be on the 12’ wall, not the 9’

Try the speakers on either wall and see what you prefer. A lot will depend on what speakers you end up with. Dipoles like Maggies will need more space behind them. The JansZen maybe not so much. In fact I think the manufacturer recommends them being closer to the wall behind them. Dynamic speakers will vary too. Some will offer more flexibility in placement than others. This is why I would recommend getting speakers from a manufacturer that offers a home trial.
For what it’s worth, my old listening room was 11x18. 

I tried a multitude of dynamic speakers in that room, from line source, point source, sealed, and ported. Admittedly, I never tried dynamic OB. 

Every dynamic speaker I had in this well treated room always had some bass deficiencies. It was maddening. Nothing helped, treatments or positioning. 

Last November I purchased a pair of SoundLabs M645s, and the game changed. 

I moved three months ago, and my new room is smaller then before, 11x14.  Its not completely closed behind the listening position, as there is an entryway/exitway leading to another room. 

Still using the M645s, and I only sit about 5 feet from them, very near field. 

Love the sound. I have been busy, so they need fine tuning and adjustment still, but they still do so much right. 

I have had several different models of Sound Lab speakers over the last 20 years with various analog and digital components. These are the best electrostatic speakers and better than any other types of speakers available.

Transport: EMM Labs TX2 SACD/CD player connected to DAC via EMM Optilink ST-glass cable. DAC: EMM Labs DA2. Preamp: EMM Labs PRE or Atma-Sphere MP-1. Amplifiers: Pair of PassLabs X600.8 monoblocks or Atma-Sphere MA-1 pair of monoblocks. Speakers: Pair of Sound Lab Ultimates U1-PX (Ultimate 745).

When I was auditioning speakers 25 years ago, I listened to Acoustats (forget the model, but I think 3), SoundLab A1s, and Martin Logan Sequel 2s, Quests, and CLSs.

To my ears, the Acoustats sounded nice, but dark compared to the MLs. The SoundLabs were lifeless and made static pops on fast attacks. I blame the dealer for both of those problems, but in the end they were out of my price range.

I could hear a seam between the panel and the woofer in the Sequel 2s, especially on Pink Floyd's Money. The CLSs were the best speakers I had ever heard, but I couldn't afford them at the time. I got the Quests and have had them ever since, without feeling the need to replace them.

A little over a year ago I bought a pair of used CLS IIzs and they are still the best speakers I have heard. I relegated the Quests to the home theater and made the CLSs my primary listening speakers. I will say that they are very revealing of poor recordings, so most Led Zeppelin,  Rolling Stones, etc. are practically unlistenable. As a result, I ended up buying a pair of Klipsch for those recordings. The CLSs excel in all other aspects, especially paired with a sub.

To the OP, most of what I've owned will not work given your room dimensions but here is what I've owned in my own listening studio.
ML Sequels & Sequel II's. Yes I could hear where the crossover was.
Eminent Technology planar magnetic but could not play them loud or the Mylar would hit the magnets.
ML CLS's unbelievable transparency but no low end and could never get a sub to integrate properly.
SoundLab 545's. I ordered them with a custom Birdseye maple frame and REALLY wanted these to be my last speaker since I heard on many occasions their larger versions. But after months of trying with many amps I could not get them to "sing". 
Sanders 10e hybrid electrostatics. One of my favorite of all. Very quick and transparent but requires bi-amping and lots of current. (Yes current which is not the same as power but still requires power). Yes has a narrow sweet spot which does not bother most people and still sounds amazing off axis.
OP: Given your room size the smaller Maggies will most likely work fine.

(Dealer disclaimer)
Has anyone experienced Muraudio electrostatic speakers?  if so what was your impression of them?
Small maggies with a nice sub would probably be the way to go. I enjoyed dialing in a sub so I don’t think that’s going to be a big issue most of it is room constraints. I have a home theater that’s 13‘ x 19‘, I may rethink having a set of Maggie’s to put up once in a while and use the existing subs since they are very musical .Does this change anything for any of you guys

the main problem in my HT is my sub array, (2) 15’’s to the left, (2) 15’s to the right of the LP
My room is 12' x 20' and all the speakers I mentioned previously work well in it set up on the short wall about 4 ft. into the room. If you intend to put the speakers in your home theater room you could probably get bigger Maggies and still do just fine.

As for your subs using them with the Maggies would be fine. However, I'm a little confused as to the position of them in the room. What I think I understand is you have 4 subs total, two that are positioned somewhere to the left of the listening position and two somewhere to the right. Perhaps you can be more specific as to their positions. I assume you want to leave them in place for the HT set up. Hopefully the addition of the new speakers will allow that to happen.
If you are convinced you want to put a fairly good sized panel or open baffle into the room, then consider another option of a speaker I have reviewed, the PureAudioProject Trio15 (several variants; I reviewed the Tang Band, Voxativ, and Horn 1 versions). You likely could get by without subs since they have double 15" woofers. In a smallish room that should be sufficient. 

PureAudioProject Trio15, nice ! I really like the idea of a cold winter night and some tubes glowing

can we discuss prices here ? Other forums hit and miss
kgveteran, get yourself an Atma-Sphere MA-3
Whoa, my guess those babies cost more than my home :0)

MA-3 retail around $143,000 give or take $100
rsf507, I think they are up to $147K/pr. Makes a big difference. Willieva, the Muraudios are a very attractive loudspeaker and given the great reviews I would love to hear them. The only thing that worries me is the speaker crosses down to  dynamic drivers at 750 Hz which takes a large chunk of midrange away from the ES panels which is where ESLs excel.
But, if size were an issue they could be an excellent option. They do not go very low so subwoofers would be mandatory. Another issue with them it that they are line source for high frequencies and point source below.
This means the frequency response will change as you move away from the speaker. The high frequencies will become more prominent. 
vittles, nice system. Can you give me an idea of how the Atma-Sphere amps sound vs the Pass amps?
bdp24, take it easy on me. I'm just a senile old man. 
kgveteran, if you are the sort who is interested in tinkering with things, then the PureAudioProject offers another level of fun. On all the models the capacitors and resistors of the crossovers can be changed, as well as the "internal" wiring. There are also settings on the crossovers themselves that allow various pin configurations to further adjust the sound. Consequently, you have multiple chances to hit a target of preferred sound. That appeals to me greatly and is why I kept reviewing the Trio15. 

In addition, I play with the soundstage literally by turning the speakers sideways. I have custom Sound Anchor stands to loft the speakers so as to achieve Landscape Orientation as opposed to typical Portrait orientation. I have a lot of fun with those speakers. However, that is not to disparage ESL, as it, too is wonderful. If you read the three reviews at in regard to the Trio15 you will be well versed on its attributes. Cost for complete speaker runs from $4.5K for Tang Band version to $7K for Voxativ, to $8K for Horn 1. 

mijostyn, thank you for the kind reply, they are interesting, I was curious about the omnidirectional aspect of them?. I did not realize they cross them over that high , that surprises me based on other hybrid designs. I have only read the review in the Absolute Sound .. hopefully there will be more reviews to form some sort of perception on how they might sound. I still own a pair of Acoustat Monitor 3's in very good condition.. less the built in amps i am using a mk 121 interface with them. They are too large for my room. i have them in storage. i am fan of all types of loudspeakers. great thread. i am learning a lot. .
Yup my house was $150,000 :0)
The new Martin Logan 15 a...
I had been living a long time with Audiostatic ES300. I LOVED them until the mylar get "old" and "unstretched" (or loosing their conductive coating, never knew really what it was).
Until that moment (after 10 years or so), they really sang like real people. What a thrill to listen to the real Shirley Horn in your room... Never had a sub at that time. But a Cello Encore amplifier was enough to make them alive.
Well, in the end I tried several tricks to make them alive again, but didn't succeed by any mean. The price to buy new foils was high (around 1.500€) and then you still have to put them in which is not as easy as with ML. I decided that they could stay disassembled somewhere in my house till I would have enough money to fix them.
And I bought second-hand Apogee Centaurus Minor which I liked very much and a pair of Apogee Stage that i LOVE. Almost as transparent as the Audiostatic, but more balanced due to the strong and tight bass extension.
But I'll repair the Audiostatic some day, for sure.
jperel9, all you have to do is remove any grill cloth, take a heat gun and wave it over the diaphragm at a distance of 6 inches. You will actually see the mylar tighten up! But BIG WARNING do not stop waving and leave the gun pointed at one spot. You will melt the Mylar. Mylar does not get old. It has a half life of 50,000 years. You can heat it over and over again.
The loosening is happening because Audiostatic did not adequately pre stretch the mylar. All ESLs loosen a bit (break in) but usually not enough to cause trouble if the mylar was stretched tight to begin with.
 I currently own Martin Logan Summit X electrostatic hybrids. I love them. The sound is incredibly full and lifelike. I am powering them with concert fidelity 200 W monobloc amplifiers. 
It has been some time since I've owned panel speakers, but, I still like many of them.  I've had Magnapan II, Acoustat 1+1 with a subwoofer, and Martin Logan Quest.  I have heard, and liked, models from Sanders Sound, SoundLabs, Quad, Magnapan, and a number of brands I cannot recall. 

I now own a horn-based system, but, if I were to set up another system, I would certainly consider something like the very old Quad 57 or double stacked Quad 57 (I like them more than the later Quad models).
Love the Quad ESL 57s, but own original Martin Logan CLS - they need care in set up and good stands to get them up off the floor but offer a bigger share of magic than any of their other models I have listened to (haven't heard the CLX bit would like to). Their hybrid systems have never captured my admiration.

I keep four systems and the other three are conventional speakers but the CLS will always have a place in my gear.
I have a pair of XStatic EC/X full range electrostatic speakers paired with Klipsch 112SW subs (the subs are OK, but the weak link here).   These are all powered by my PrimaLuna HP integrated tube amp.  Sources are all high-res digital.    At 34W in triode mode the amps play these louder and more accurately than my wife will tolerate...   Still the best sound I’ve heard in a system under $30k.

Before this I’ve owned MArtin Logan, Acoustat 2+2, and Magnepan, etc.   once you hear a full range, no crossover speaker it’s hard to go back.
We have been selling new and used audio equipment for 40 plus years, We get to see and hear a lot of different speakers. We would not go so far as to suggest what speaker is better for you over other speakers that are on the market, system synergy, room interaction and most of all personal taste are critical when evaluating equipment. What we can tell you is that a large percentage of our customers who listen to jazz and or classical own planers or ESL in one for or another.
 One of the rooms that we do our initial listening and testing in is almost exactly the same size as yours and through experience we can tell you that if you put to large of a speaker in a room that size you will quickly overload the room. Right now we are burning in a new 2 channel amp ( 400 watts x2 @8 ohm) for a customer and it is hooked up to a pair of medium size planer speakers with 2 small subwoofers, some of our customers are impressed by the sound others do not like it at all, only you can decide for yourself which camp you are in.
what are the opinions of  Radialstrahler MBL 101 X-treme?