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Thread: Is the Martin Logan brand declining?

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    Super User Rich's Avatar
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    Default Is the Martin Logan brand declining?

    Iím curious about this. Iíve been a member of this forum for over ten years now. When I started, it seemed like there was so much interest in and enthusiasm for this brand. And this forum was filled with discussions about the speakers, the brand, and hifi in general. Nowadays, it doesnít seem the same. There doesnít seem to be all that much discussion of MLís current products, particularly the high end ones, as there used to be. As has been noted in another thread, all of the forum moderators and many of the long term members donít even own Logans anymore. Few memberís systems sport the newest high end Loganís. And there doesnít seem to be a plethora of new members joining after purchasing the higher end ESL speakers. It seems like we discuss politics much more than electrostatic speakerís these days.

    So is this a function of the declining brand appeal of ML, or just a natural decline in the popularity of this forum? I was struck by these thoughts recently reading the PS Audio forums and noting the amount of participation they have and the amount of daily discussions about their current products. I think that is partially facilitated by the participation in those forums by PS Audio employees, especially by the founder Paul McGowan and one of his lead engineers. It seems like a long time since anyone at ML participated in this forum.

    Years ago, when ML made some major changes, fired some longtime employees, merged with Paradigm, moved production to Canada, made some questionable CEO hires, and moved into lower tier home theater and architectural type products, while jacking up the prices of their high end ESLís, I was concerned that they were diluting their brand and would run it into the ground. I wonder if we are not now witnessing the effects of all that. I wonder whether they have priced themselves out of their traditional market for high end ESL speakers and canít compete with the likes of Soundlab, Magnepan, and so many other ďnon-traditionalĒ speaker companies.

    My Summits are working just fine for me now, but if I were to replace them in the current time frame, I expect I would lean towards Soundlab over MLís current offerings. For equivalent money, I think I would get a much better speaker. I would also consider Roger Sandersí speakers, and a few others. The ML brand just doesnít seem to hold the cachť that it once did, especially for the prices they now charge.

    I mean, the Ren. 15a is basically the modern equivalent to the old Prodigy, but at 2.5 times the cost of the Prodigy a mere 12 years ago. Thatís a pretty big price jump in a short amount of time. Especially considering you can get the Maggie 20.7ís or the Soundlab Majestic 545 for under $14 grand. Or Sanders 10e for $17 grand. All of which are arguably as good or better than the 15a at $25 grand. Weíve had a decade of low inflation, and the move to Canada was supposed to have cut costs of production. Yet MLís pricing has more than doubled for an equivalent level of speaker, while Magnepan, Soundlab, and others really havenít risen that much.

    Iím curious what everyoneís thoughts are on all of this.
    Rich

    This comment is intended solely for educational purposes and should not be construed as conveying any express or implied warranty of fitness for any other purpose. Said comment constitutes merely the humble opinion of its maker and does not reflect the views of the MLOC or of ML, Ltd. YMMV. Trust your own ears.

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    "Few member’s systems sport the newest high end Logan’s. And there doesn’t seem to be a plethora of new members joining after purchasing the higher end ESL speakers. It seems like we discuss politics much more than electrostatic speaker’s these days."

    It seems you have answered your own question.
    It is not lack of interest or the quality of the new speakers, which by the way are far better than any previous models and bargains at that.
    No, it is the political internet forum bullshat and cockiness by its longtime members that turns people off.

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    Forum Administrator twich54's Avatar
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    Rich, paragraph #3 sums it up pretty much. While it's true I am no longer a 'Loganite' I have listened to both the 13a and 15a and if I were to walk away from my Revel's tomorrow it would probably be for a pair of 13a's. That is why you never hear me say 'never' !

    Also, in general, like Tom I no longer feel the need / desire to chase 'audio nirvana'. I am far more content to enjoy what I have and the superb music it produces. The internet audio forums are filled with individuals more interested in the 'gear' than the music itself.

    FLT, while I understand(to a degree) what your trying to say, re the political stuff, I think we do tend to keep things from getting out of hand and besides no one forces you to read any of those posts.
    Dave

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    I'm completely satisfied with my lower end Ethos speakers and feel no need to upgrade anything at this point, but I was never in pursuit of audio nirvana. I was just fixated on the brand because I went to college in Lawrence, KS. The impression the Statements, Monoliths and CLS's left with me back in 1988 were long lasting. However if I wasn't fixed on the brand, I'm sure I would have purchased something else. It was just something I always wanted it, so I got it.

    The fact is that I don't know many audiophiles who are not a decade older than me and personally I think it is a vanishing market.

    In addition the bang for the buck in the low to mid price range continues to improve making the high end increasingly exotic and pricey.

    I am utterly amazed by the sound quality I'm getting out of a ~$300 AV receiver in my media room. Does it compete with my ML and amp, no, but I'm perfectly happy watching movies with it.

    People listen to music increasingly through ear buds and having a big stereo in college is no longer important so most people are not "turned on" to the idea of hi fi anymore.
    Mark
    JRiver Media Server 21 on Windows 10 -> (Async USB) -> OPPO 105D -> Emotiva XPA-2 gen 2 -> Martin Logan Ethos -> my ears

  5. #5
    Super User Rich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FLT View Post
    It seems you have answered your own question.
    It is not lack of interest or the quality of the new speakers, which by the way are far better than any previous models and bargains at that.
    No, it is the political internet forum bullshat and cockiness by its longtime members that turns people off.
    Interesting perspective. While I agree with you that today’s models are better in many ways than previous models (and I would expect nothing less) the same is true of the other brands I mentioned. All manufacturers tend to improve their products over time to maintain customer interest. That still doesn’t account for the price differential between ML’s new models vs. old compared to those other brands. Maggie’s, Soundlab, and Sanders have all improved their product, but their prices haven’t doubled or more for the same level of speaker. I can hardly call the current ML’s “bargains” compared to these other brands.

    As for the political stuff and cockiness turning people off, you may have a valid point. At the same time, there is really only one or two threads discussing the political stuff. Seems easy enough to just ignore those threads if that is a turnoff. The cockiness may be harder to avoid, as it can show up in any thread. But I have yet to encounter an audio forum that didn’t contain a fair amount of cockiness and snark among its members. So I’m not sure that really answers the question either.
    Rich

    This comment is intended solely for educational purposes and should not be construed as conveying any express or implied warranty of fitness for any other purpose. Said comment constitutes merely the humble opinion of its maker and does not reflect the views of the MLOC or of ML, Ltd. YMMV. Trust your own ears.

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    Super User Rich's Avatar
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    Dave and Mark both make some good points. Audiophiles may be a vanishing breed, with an ever-decreasing customer base to divvy up between a plethora of high end brands. Perhaps this is why ML filled out their brand selection in the lower price tiers. Maybe that is the majority of their revenue now. I would imagine that most purchasers of the Motion series, for example, donít spend a lot of time discussing hifi on the internet.
    Rich

    This comment is intended solely for educational purposes and should not be construed as conveying any express or implied warranty of fitness for any other purpose. Said comment constitutes merely the humble opinion of its maker and does not reflect the views of the MLOC or of ML, Ltd. YMMV. Trust your own ears.

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    Super User RCHeliGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Audiophiles may be a vanishing breed, with an ever-decreasing customer base to divvy up between a plethora of high end brands.
    There was already an very in depth analysis on what is happening in this market and why we have so many high end brands lately.

    Mass production products are improving in price/value very steadily, but it takes a pretty good sized company to recover engineering costs and produce enough volume with competitive lower profit margins to stay solvent.

    That meant that many of the audio companies couldn't remotely compete in the mid price range anymore so they had go to a low production much higher price model, in some cases using questionable means of differentiating their products and going after the top 1% who have price points that are not necessarily defined by performance and more by their wallet size.

    BTW that is not to disparage all expensive products, but the fact is that manufacturers had to find way to get a lot more margin out of many fewer sales.
    Mark
    JRiver Media Server 21 on Windows 10 -> (Async USB) -> OPPO 105D -> Emotiva XPA-2 gen 2 -> Martin Logan Ethos -> my ears

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    Super User Rich's Avatar
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    Good points, Mark. Obviously, every company is different in their goals and revenue/profit models. But there is a key factor that shouldn’t go unnoticed, and that is whether the company is still run by its founders or whether it has been sold out to a corporate structure. ML seems to have gone the route of Klipsch and Quad. Whereas Magnepan, Sanders, Soundlab, and for that matter, PS Audio, are still run by their founders (to the best of my knowledge). I think the management culture and mindset created by these founders instills a certain customer brand loyalty that is hard to replicate by a corporate entity. Just see the uproar on this forum created when ML management decided to end customer support for many prior models a few years ago. Missteps like that can really damage brand loyalty, as can huge jumps in product pricing that lack obvious justification.

    With a dwindling pool of potential customers, brand loyalty and repeat business become really important.
    Rich

    This comment is intended solely for educational purposes and should not be construed as conveying any express or implied warranty of fitness for any other purpose. Said comment constitutes merely the humble opinion of its maker and does not reflect the views of the MLOC or of ML, Ltd. YMMV. Trust your own ears.

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    Super User RCHeliGuy's Avatar
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    I have no doubt that founders matter and I've seen that first hand.

    I've seen how a company that was very successful and cash flow positive could be sold as the founders reach retirement age and want to cash out. The controlling company is then leveraged to afford the purchase, immediately absorbs all the assets and runs the business on a purely profit/loss basis and completely loses track of the company's initial focus.

    I'm sure it is worse if the company is having any financial issues before it is sold.
    Mark
    JRiver Media Server 21 on Windows 10 -> (Async USB) -> OPPO 105D -> Emotiva XPA-2 gen 2 -> Martin Logan Ethos -> my ears

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    I think that associating lack of interest in this forum versus how well ML are doing is a fairly dodgy assertion to make.

    Audio forums are not the newish things they used to be years ago and people have to a large extent discovered whether they fit in with particular forums.

    Many have been here and gone, like other forums, after having a hard time or just posting rubbish. Once bitten, twice shy, so to speak. They won't be coming back.

    The novelty of forums in general has worn off, and there are far more of them than the ever were, combined with Facebook etc etc that means the distribution of hi-fi related posts is far wider than it ever has been. Therefore sites like this have taken a big hit.

    This isn't to discount many of the points made thus far.

    Would I buy another ML product? No. Why? I just don't think they are as good as I used to. 17 years worth of "used to'.

    I have also become convinced that custom built speakers can provide far better value for money. But that isn't surprising. No company overheads like staff and offices to pay for. No economies of scale, granted, but it is still cheaper.

  11. #11
    Super User Rich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by User211 View Post
    I think that associating lack of interest in this forum versus how well ML are doing is a fairly dodgy assertion to make.
    Fair point, Justin. But in my defense, I didn’t make the assertion. I simply asked the question. On the one hand, I think you are right that we can’t read too much into the traffic (or lack thereof) on this forum. But on the other, I have been surprised there hasn’t been a lot of discussion around the new models since they came out. Not to mention how few member’s systems sport the new models (I think I counted three total). Likewise, and to your broader point, I just don’t see a lot of discussion of or enthusiasm for Martin Logans on other audio forums either. Which makes me wonder if the brand isn’t somewhat in decline, at least among audiophiles purchasing high end speakers. I don’t have any answers here, but I do enjoy the discussion.

    Honestly, one of my reasons for posting this thread was to try to get some of the old timers who haven’t posted much lately back into an audio discussion. And look, I got you, Adam, Jonfo, Alan, Bernard, Tom, Gordon, Dave and others all to contribute your thoughts. So in that sense, this thread is a smashing success! All I can say is: Where’s Roberto?

    Oh, and I expect Jonfo will completely agree with your perspective on the custom-built speaker value proposition.

    Your point about not feeling the Logan’s are as good as you used to sticks with me. As I think about upgrading the Summits at some point over the next few years, I have this “grass is greener” feeling towards the Maggie’s, Soundlab, and Roger Sanders’ speakers, among others. (And no, I don’t mind the narrow sweet spot of the Sanders Sound speakers.) With the ML prices the way they currently are, I’m beginning to wonder whether they truly offer anything over the less expensive competitive options. Of course, Brad has a good point about discounts. If I could get the 15a for about $12k, it would be a tougher choice.

    As for Ethan, Mark, I think he makes great acoustic treatments, though he values them highly. But I consider him to be one of many highly opinionated so-called audio experts. I’m sure his book contains some good info. I’m just not sure I could stomach reading it given the self-important egotistical way he generally comes across. But I could be wrong on that.
    Rich

    This comment is intended solely for educational purposes and should not be construed as conveying any express or implied warranty of fitness for any other purpose. Said comment constitutes merely the humble opinion of its maker and does not reflect the views of the MLOC or of ML, Ltd. YMMV. Trust your own ears.

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    Super User RCHeliGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    As for Ethan, Mark, I think he makes great acoustic treatments, though he values them highly. But I consider him to be one of many highly opinionated so-called audio experts. I’m sure his book contains some good info. I’m just not sure I could stomach reading it given the self-important egotistical way he generally comes across. But I could be wrong on that.
    All I know from my conversations with him is that the book is doing well and there is a 2nd edition that is currently "out of stock". Look for yourself.

    https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Expert-...dp/0415788846/

    I suspect that if I didn't agree with him, it would have a pronounced impact on how I felt about how he was saying what he is saying. I found the book pretty straight forward with detailed explanations and frequently the science behind them.
    Mark
    JRiver Media Server 21 on Windows 10 -> (Async USB) -> OPPO 105D -> Emotiva XPA-2 gen 2 -> Martin Logan Ethos -> my ears

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    Can't speak for others, but I can speak for myself.

    ML was one of those first loves for me. I bought into the hive when I was young... can't believe that was like 13 years ago when I was in college. First with the Montage then the Mosaic then the Vantage then the Summit.

    Then a move to a loft in Chicago ruined the stat sound for me, and I sold my Summits to Tom.

    Then a hiatus from all audio, then I returned and was about to buy one of the new pair of speakers, but the best non-clx speaker was the Summit X. I wanted something a little different than what I had previously so I went with another brand.

    Fast forward 3 years, and here we are.

    I still have a penchant for ML as I always had... and am planning on making a move for a pair of ESL11A within the next 12 months for one of the other rooms.

    So, for me, the ML brand is alive and well.

    As for the forum, I don't like to participate as much if I'm not sporting an ML speaker.
    Joey "kid with grey hair" V
    System 1: Emm Labs TSDX Transport -> Emm Labs DAC2x -> Cary SLP-05 Pre -> Boulder 2060 Stereo Amp -> B&W 802D3, AQ WEL Power Cords, AQ WEL Speaker Wire, AQ Wind (reterminating to XLR)
    System 2: Rotel RA1592 Integrated -> Sonus Faber Olympica 3
    System 3: Rotel RC1570 Preamp -> Rotel RB1582 Stereo Amp -> B&W CM10s2 (ESL11a replacement??)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Fair point, Justin. But in my defense, I didn’t make the assertion. I simply asked the question. On the one hand, I think you are right that we can’t read too much into the traffic (or lack thereof) on this forum. But on the other, I have been surprised there hasn’t been a lot of discussion around the new models since they came out. Not to mention how few member’s systems sport the new models (I think I counted three total). Likewise, and to your broader point, I just don’t see a lot of discussion of or enthusiasm for Martin Logans on other audio forums either. Which makes me wonder if the brand isn’t somewhat in decline, at least among audiophiles purchasing high end speakers. I don’t have any answers here, but I do enjoy the discussion.

    Honestly, one of my reasons for posting this thread was to try to get some of the old timers who haven’t posted much lately back into an audio discussion. And look, I got you, Adam, Jonfo, Alan, Bernard, Tom, Gordon, Dave and others all to contribute your thoughts. So in that sense, this thread is a smashing success! All I can say is: Where’s Roberto?

    Oh, and I expect Jonfo will completely agree with your perspective on the custom-built speaker value proposition.

    Your point about not feeling the Logan’s are as good as you used to sticks with me. As I think about upgrading the Summits at some point over the next few years, I have this “grass is greener” feeling towards the Maggie’s, Soundlab, and Roger Sanders’ speakers, among others. (And no, I don’t mind the narrow sweet spot of the Sanders Sound speakers.) With the ML prices the way they currently are, I’m beginning to wonder whether they truly offer anything over the less expensive competitive options. Of course, Brad has a good point about discounts. If I could get the 15a for about $12k, it would be a tougher choice.

    As for Ethan, Mark, I think he makes great acoustic treatments, though he values them highly. But I consider him to be one of many highly opinionated so-called audio experts. I’m sure his book contains some good info. I’m just not sure I could stomach reading it given the self-important egotistical way he generally comes across. But I could be wrong on that.
    Hola Rick, I am here, reading you. As always, super fan of the ML sound. I have being changing my electronics, and falling in love each day to my CLXs. This is the best sound system that I ever had...

    Regarding the new models, I do believe that they are a step forward than the previous models. As an example, starting with the Impression, they come with two power amplifiers of 275 watts each, driving the two woofers array on each speaker cabinet. The quality of the bass is stunning. A something that you must have take a listen to them. They are that good!. The stat panel comes one inch wider than the Montis, and what I listen is more delicate sound overall. It has more dynamics, and wider stage, and incredible sense of 3D. The model has better definition at the bass notes than the Montis...I am very happy with the newer models.

    I am not posting too much...you are right. This is, because others are doing it. If I can help in a decision, I love to provide my findings. Service from ML still is one of the best. Service is the most important link in the saleīs chain.

    Due to my poor English, sometimes for me is hard to explain or express the right manner, my findings.

    Rick, you are a truly robust pillar in this forum. Your opinion is very valuate. Thanks for thinking of me!
    A big hug to all of you, wishing the best for this new 2018!
    Roberto.
    CLX, Stage X and Motion 4, BF-210 sub, Summits in second system. Conrad Johnson Classic One Twenty SE amp, ET-7 Conrad Johnson pre, Exasound E-32 DAC with Teddy Pardo linear power supply, Shun Mook products, Nordost and DHLabs cables. Anthem AVM-60 audio and video processor. Anthem MCA-325 center and surround power amp. BPT Signature 3.5 Plus Balanced Line Power Conditioner.

  15. #15
    Forum Administrator twich54's Avatar
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    Roberto, Here's hoping 2018 is superb for you as well ! and I will echo your sentiment on the new series again. If I had not just purchased my Revel's there would be a pair of 13a's in my listening room !
    Dave

    System #79 - Analog is Alive and Well, if in doubt, click the link below !

    Click Here to see my System

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