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Thread: SL3 distortion / saturation

  1. #1
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    Default SL3 distortion / saturation

    Hi,

    [I hope this post is in the right folder]

    I have a problem with one of my SL3 panel. I connected the speaker to an other home stereo an the problem remains the same.
    I can hear distortion / saturation, especially when I listen to voices (exemple: Pink Martini - She was too good to me - 2:22).
    Did you get this kind of problem? May it come from a component like capacitor?
    Stators have been restored one year ago so it may not come from it.
    What do you advise me?

    Best regards

    Maxence
     
    ML SL3 - YBA Electronics

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    Super User M15's Avatar
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    A year after restoration or washing of electrostatic panels:
    If the distortion in vocals takes place when specific tracks are played and not on all or most tracks. Because of age of panel and accompanying wear and tear not able to cleanly reproduce certain frequencies that are part of audio track.

    Furthermore if distortion takes place at high volume or on peaks of audio signal. If the SL3 are played at high volume when distortion takes place on vocals. This means that the SL3 transformer has reached full saturation point. And is not able to produce higher volume without clipping or distorting the music signal. You must lower the volume when this point is reached.

    My educated guess is the ESL panel needs to be replaced with new panel. Because you may have already washed the panels.

    A similar problem was present in a extreme sense prior to my rinsing the CLS. Distortion was omnipresent and was greater at high volumes when compared to lower volume. Cleaning the panels with water made a very big difference to remove the distortion causing dust and therefore remove distortion from the music. On most music I listen to I get distortion free sound. Now there are very few music tracks that produce audible distortion always.

    My answers are educated guess based on my experience with electrostatic panels. Please keep in mind. Do not take action based on them. Please get a second opinion from a authoritative source.

    Have fun listening to music.
    Last edited by M15; 10-15-2016 at 03:37 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member MPS's Avatar
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    You could start analyzing by playing (at safe level) frequency sweeps or fixed sine frequencies to find out which frequencies are problematic.

    You can find those on test-CDs or generate with software. Best option would use measurement sw such as REW but you need reasonably good microphone and sound card to do that.

    It can be that your panel is disintegrating or you speaker has other mechanical resonances. Have a visual check on panel and woofer cones and test each cabinet screw for tightness.

    REW
    Last edited by MPS; 10-15-2016 at 01:11 AM. Reason: add link

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    If you employ approx. 2 decade old original power cable bought with SL3 then due to age related wear and tear cable may be in need of replacement.

    In addition use a 15 ampere power cable for the power amp. The thicker the power amp cable the more current amplifier will be able to acquire from the a.c mains to easily drive SL3 without distortion when high volume is required.

    When I was using my Denon integrated with its $10 supplied comparatively thin power cable I was able to hear distortion from the CLS loudspeakers. When I subsituted a 10 ampere QED power cable distortion caused by this problem vanished.

    When my CLS were approx. 2 decades old their performance sensitivity to upstream system components increased. Distortion can be caused by multiple reasons or factors.

    You need to trouble shoot. Change one variable at time in your system with a component you know functions accurately. Repeat if possible for all variables or components in your audio system in order to isolate or locate source of problem.

    In addition to power cables please do check for malfunction all interconnects too.

    Have fun listening to music.
    Last edited by M15; 10-16-2016 at 05:16 AM.

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    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Maxence, sounds like either an electronics (something in the crossover) or an actual panel resonance/distortion. As suggested earlier, run a frequency sweep and listen for the exact frequency(ies) at which it occurs. It is often easy to tell if mechanical, as you can dampen it with the palm of your hand on the stator, or clearly hear the 'buzzing' of a loose diaphragm.
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitram92 View Post
    Stators have been restored one year ago so it may not come from it.
    Maxence, could you explain what was done to restore them?

    My first guess is that the clamping force from the mounting rails is not high enough any more, likely due to shrinking foam weatherstripping between the ESL sandwich and the cabinet, allowing the sandwich to separate and allow vibration.

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    Default Caps ?

    Hello guys,

    Many thanks for your answer.
    Concerning the restoration I mean the ESL panels have been changed (panels rebuilt by a professional in Germany), so I doubt it is coming from here.
    Anyway, I tried to push on the stator and this is not changing...
    Concerning the power cable, I tried to change it (anyway I was not using the original one) but no difference.

    So I guess it could come from the electronics? Maybe the caps?
    I unmounted the back of the cabinet.
    The first picture is the one of the speaker with the distortion:
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    The second one is the one of the speaker which is ok.
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    May I cut the foots of the blue and yellow caps to test them out of the board?

    Many many thanks for your help.
    ML SL3 - YBA Electronics

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    You have a very early SL3, and in the attached pic you can see the progression from oldest to newest SL3. Note that ML is using only film caps (and no electrolytics) in the ESL portion in the latest two versions, so you could also replace the electrolytics with film caps. (That would be the upper two blue caps in your pic. The lowest blue cap is for the bass xo.)

    Name:  ML SL3 progress.jpg
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    Better pic?

    Name:  ML SL3 progress small.jpg
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    Thank you Tosh.
    So caps may be changed to enhance the sound quality.

    For now and before investing in those caps I am still trying to find where the distortion is coming from. I mesured the 4 caps (3 blue and 1 yellow) and compared with the "good" speaker. Values are the same on each main board. My multimeter does not go up to 330uF but putting this capacitor "en serie" with an other capacitor I get the right value.
    So what's next? Is the value check enough to say that it is not coming from those caps?

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    By this age, electrolytics could stand to be changed as they might have dried out and change their capacitance value. Film caps last forever relatively, and are an audible improvement on the ESL side, but more expensive and more bulky than e-caps.

    I still think there's a high likelihood of this distortion coming from something mechanically loose, either a screw or connector or even the whole ESL sandwich -- even though you think not! My late production SL3 had a certain resonance at high playback levels, and one could squeeze the panel together but it would still be there (as you would expect from a sheet steel panel sandwich). Sure it's not just the recording?

    You should go over and check every single screw and joint and connector in those 20 year old MDF cabinets if you haven't already...

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    Senior Member MPS's Avatar
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    Any progress with troubleshooting so far?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitram92 View Post
    Hi,

    [I hope this post is in the right folder]

    I have a problem with one of my SL3 panel. I connected the speaker to an other home stereo an the problem remains the same.
    I can hear distortion / saturation, especially when I listen to voices (exemple: Pink Martini - She was too good to me - 2:22).
    Did you get this kind of problem? May it come from a component like capacitor?
    Stators have been restored one year ago so it may not come from it.
    What do you advise me?

    Best regards

    Maxence
    Have you tried swapping the channels at the preamp and seeing if the problem moves or stays in the same panel (with the preamp set to mono)?
    Last edited by Bernard; 11-06-2016 at 09:09 AM.

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    I switched the panels and the problem follows the panel.
    So the problem may come from the panel... It is very strange because it came so suddenly.
    Maybe the pressure over the borders is not good? What do you think about it?
    ML SL3 - YBA Electronics

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitram92 View Post
    I switched the panels and the problem follows the panel.
    So the problem may come from the panel... It is very strange because it came so suddenly.
    Maybe the pressure over the borders is not good? What do you think about it?
    Yes, that is a possibility (as I said in #6)

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