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Are CLS for me? ML experts help please :)

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bk12

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Hello all,

I have to confess that I am a Magnepan kind of guy....but I have heard great things about the older CLS series and am thinking about giving a set a run. I don't really need bass (40hz is fine), and I love the transparency and soundstaging my older maggie 1.5QRs offer. I was looking for a true ribbon maggie (2.6R) when a friend turned my on to the CLS series. I live in an apartment, so the low level dynamics I hear about with these is very appealing. The most important quality for me is that the speakers are involving, speakers very natural with acoustical guitar and female or male vocals....I listen to a lot of acoustic and laid back music...not a ton of rock.

I would be driving them with a Meridian 508 to Rowland Consonance to Rowland Model 5 electronics chain. My room is not that big....the total space is about 15'x17' with my listening position 9' from the speakers. Due to a door on that side of the room, I really would only be able to position the speakers about 2.5'-3' from the front wall (still leaving 9' to listening spot), but they would need to be fairly close together....I could only get an inside spacing of about 22".

Other factors....I have a dog (very well behaved, never touched my maggies, but he does seem to have hair all around the house!).

I have found an original CLS that was upgraded with the Z panels and a transformer that allows operation with the original PCB. They seem to be in good shape. I am thinking about picking them up, but I cannot listen before making the jump (ps. any SoCal ML folks looking at getting rid of a set of CLS...the ones I found require a long drive, and I live in Orange county).

What do you ML fans think? Will my room be too tight? Any other speakers in the line (for reasonable $$ :)) that might work better, but still give me that nice, transparent and pure sound (I am scared of that hybrid woofer thing!).

Thanks in advance!

Brian
 
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bk12

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A quick additonal note....moving things around in my living room I could probably get to about 30" between the speakers (inner). These darned things are 28" wide....causes some issues :)
 

Jeff Zaret

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Brian,
I live in Southern California. I bought a used pair of CLSiiZ's that were upgraded and they are great. My room is almost the same size as yours. There is plenty of bass especially for what you will use them for. Voices are amazing and guitar is like sitting in front of you!. ( Right Roberto?) Orange County is a drive for you but if you like you are welcome to come by my house for a listen. I would not let the CLSiiZ's go I think you will be pleased. Maybe you can audition them put a deposit on them to hold and see.

Jeff
 

roberto

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CLS IIz are the ones...

bk12 said:
Hello all,

I have to confess that I am a Magnepan kind of guy....but I have heard great things about the older CLS series and am thinking about giving a set a run. I don't really need bass (40hz is fine), and I love the transparency and soundstaging my older maggie 1.5QRs offer. I was looking for a true ribbon maggie (2.6R) when a friend turned my on to the CLS series. I live in an apartment, so the low level dynamics I hear about with these is very appealing. The most important quality for me is that the speakers are involving, speakers very natural with acoustical guitar and female or male vocals....I listen to a lot of acoustic and laid back music...not a ton of rock.

I would be driving them with a Meridian 508 to Rowland Consonance to Rowland Model 5 electronics chain. My room is not that big....the total space is about 15'x17' with my listening position 9' from the speakers. Due to a door on that side of the room, I really would only be able to position the speakers about 2.5'-3' from the front wall (still leaving 9' to listening spot), but they would need to be fairly close together....I could only get an inside spacing of about 22".

Other factors....I have a dog (very well behaved, never touched my maggies, but he does seem to have hair all around the house!).

I have found an original CLS that was upgraded with the Z panels and a transformer that allows operation with the original PCB. They seem to be in good shape. I am thinking about picking them up, but I cannot listen before making the jump (ps. any SoCal ML folks looking at getting rid of a set of CLS...the ones I found require a long drive, and I live in Orange county).

What do you ML fans think? Will my room be too tight? Any other speakers in the line (for reasonable $$ :)) that might work better, but still give me that nice, transparent and pure sound (I am scared of that hybrid woofer thing!).

Thanks in advance!

Brian
Hola Brian. Well I had long time ago the Tympani 3B (8 panels) from Magnepan and I changed them for the CLS...I was touched by their magic sound. The main difference was the size of the instruments and the scenario. Please note that the Magneplanars that I had at that time, were the biggest model available, and as soon as I listened the CLS, I swap inmediately! You can't go wrong with the CLS, specially if you are a music lover. They do the best with small orchestra like chamber music, jazz or no too many musical instruments. The best voices available even today. Scenario and image it is one of the best. If you use other speakers, you hear music, with the CLS, you listen the musician making the music for you...there...in your own place...with magic. Don't expect big sound preasure levels, they are not ment to play very loud, but you don't need to. You can listen hours without any stress or ear fatigue! They don't produce any distortion. Go for sure, try to listen a pair near you...perhaps you could find somebody that might have a pair to demo you their fantastic sound! Trust your ears! and not in specs...they produce a very good bass if you set them right! they will show you the kind of system that you have, even a connector. ML is complete different of what you have now. They are not perfect...but they are the closest thing to the real world. Piano a guitar are unmatch, like voices too. Play a trumpet or a clarinet and you will understand what I'm saying here...cymbals are mmmmmmmmmm, and percussion instruments like drums and timbales are one of the best too...you can't go wrong!!!
Hope this can help!
Regards from Costa Rica,
Roberto.
 
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bk12

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Thanks for the input guys. What do you think about the small amount of seperation I would be able to get (25"-30")? I think I might pass on the set I was looking at....I would have had to drive to Phoenix....on a weekeday this week...tough for a working man. It was going to be a good deal, but only a limited time because the owner was moving to China for 5 years-leaving this weekend!

I will keep an eye open in SoCal for a listen. Jeff-I might take you up on your offer. I will mail you if I have a good weekend coming up and see if it will work for you.
 

DTB300

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bk12 said:
I would have had to drive to Phoenix
I drove 9 hours each way to pick up my CLSIIz's :eek:

Everyone here has given some great input on the CLSIIz's. Best purchase I ever made.

Dan
 

alexl911

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For most people CLS ownership is a love/hate relationship. I've had mine for the better part of five years (see Member system #16) and really love the way they sound but hate the hassle of equipement matching and set-up -they really do limit your choices. Although I guess I don't hate them enough to get rid of them! These speakers really require top-notch equipement, especially amplification -more than any other ML speaker. When people say they don't like the sound of these speakers it's usually the result of poor set-up and/or amplification that does not have enough current to handle the CLS'es (very) low impedances. Also, be brutally honest about the type of music you listen to -any kind of heavy rock, techno, etc. just does not sound right. Even if you don't listen to heavy bass music, I found that adding a sub really opened up my speakers since they panels no longer were burdened with full range.

Also, I would be more concerned about the age of the panels and not worry to much about the electronics.

Hope this helps!
 

roberto

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small rooms...

bk12 said:
Thanks for the input guys. What do you think about the small amount of seperation I would be able to get (25"-30")? I think I might pass on the set I was looking at....I would have had to drive to Phoenix....on a weekeday this week...tough for a working man. It was going to be a good deal, but only a limited time because the owner was moving to China for 5 years-leaving this weekend!

I will keep an eye open in SoCal for a listen. Jeff-I might take you up on your offer. I will mail you if I have a good weekend coming up and see if it will work for you.
Hola. Cls loves small rooms. And this is because they are not too good to push a lot of bass enery. I'm not saying that they don't play any bass...mines gives to me the best bass that I have ever got (real double bass at the scenario) in my listening room. But this depends on your liking. So, don't worry about how close they are going to be. Listen and try to be at least the same distance that they are going to be separated as a starting listening place. Trust your ears...and happy listening,
Roberto.
 

nsgarch

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Please bear with me

Please bear with me, I have a few comments to make on your inquiry, plus a lot to say on the subject of speaker placement. First my credentials: CLS owner since 1991, architect, MIT graduate with a minor in acoustics.

RE: the speakers themselves: The CLS panels are pretty much the same (not identical, but close enough) through all models. The biggest panel difference is between the original CLS and the CLS II series. Bigger differences are in the electronics; and the biggest of those is between the CLS IIa and the CLS IIz (the IIz being a whole newly designed electronics unit, which includes among many other things, automatic stator-charge turn-off when no signal is present (eliminates dust build-up.)

CLS's benefit greatly from being raised a foot off the floor. Not tilted forward or back, but raised straight up. Here are the two main reasons why: 1.) What bass they do produce is much cleaner if it's not reflecting off the floor (most woofer cones, you'll notice, are always 12"+ off the floor unless they're down-firing) 2.) Though they are tall speakers, getting them a foot off the floor puts their (vertical) center at 44" which is the height (approximately) of your ear when seated! Producing a better image/soundstage. You can use two cinder blocks under each spike (16" total) however, I recommend the Sound Anchor CLS stands ($550/pr.) which have the additional feature of bracing the top of the panel and keeping it from rocking back and forth -- resulting in even better transient response (if you can believe that's even possible!)

As for bass reinforcement, please see the comments on my system on AudiogoN under member ID "nsgarch".
I've been through it all -- and "no sub" is a perfectly acceptable solution; certainly better than any "sluggish" subwoofer. With the CLS, the sub needs above all to be REALLY FAST, or forget it! The two best I've used personally have been Wilson Puppies (1991 - `96) and (currently) the ML Depth. If you use a Depth (which is faster than a Descent, because of the smaller woofers) you can get away with just one unit, due to the omnidirectional woofer layout. Just put it in between the panels on the floor and you won't even know it's there (which is exactly what you want!)

Now (as I warned you in the beginning) for my little prepared speech on speaker placement:

If the SHORTER dimension of a listening room is 15 feet OR MORE, I strongly urge you to place your speakers on the LONG WALL. Here's how it works and why you need at least 15 feet (minimum) for the short dimension in order to do it this way:

For a home listening environment, speakers should be no more than 9 feet apart (maximum) between the high frequency transducers (dome, ribbon, panel center) no matter how wide the room is. 7 feet center-to-center (+/-) is about right for electrostatic panels.

Center the pair of speakers in the middle of the long wall. With dipoles (Maggies, or ML's) you need to be 3.5 feet minimum forward of the wall. OK, so now you've burned up 4 feet of your 15 foot dimension. Your ears, when you're seated in your chair or couch, should be roughly as far from the midpoint between the speakers as the tweeters are apart. OK you just burned another 7 to 9 feet and there's still 3 feet left over for the back of the couch (6") + a little walk space behind the couch (18") + a book/record shelf (12" -- and a great diffuser!) TOTAL = 15 feet!

Now, here's the KICKER: The LONG DIMENSION of the room is (I'm assuming) MORE than 15 feet, let's say at least 16 feet. If the high frequency part of the speakers are 7 feet apart, that means that if you measure the distance from each tweeter (or high frequency portion of the panel) to the middle of its respective sidewall (5 feet) and from there back to your ear in the middle of the couch, (about 8+ feet) the total distance travelled by the FIRST REFLECTION is 13 feet. The distance travelled by the DIRECT SOUND is 8 feet, a DIFFERENCE of 5 feet. Therefore, it takes that first reflection an extra .0045 seconds (4.5 milliseconds) to travel the extra 5 feet. Psychoacoustic studies have shown that if the direct sound arrives AT LEAST .003 sec. (3 milliseconds) BEFORE the first reflected sound, our brains will hear the reflection as a GENUINE ECHO, not mixing them together (which destroys the audio hologram.)

What does all this mean? It means that if you will (if at all possible) place your speakers on the long wall, you won't need sound absorbers to soak up those nasty reflections because they'll arrive at your listening position too late to affect the soundstage or the image of the soloist. The usual carpeting, stuffy furniture, drapes and book (or record) shelves behind your listening position should be all you need to damp your room sufficiently.
 

DTB300

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nsgarch said:
CLS's benefit greatly from being raised a foot off the floor. Not tilted forward or back, but raised straight up. Here are the two main reasons why: 1.) What bass they do produce is much cleaner if it's not reflecting off the floor (most woofer cones, you'll notice, are always 12"+ off the floor unless they're down-firing) 2.) Though they are tall speakers, getting them a foot off the floor puts their (vertical) center at 44" which is the height (approximately) of your ear when seated! Producing a better image/soundstage.
I currently have my CLSIIz's raised up, not 12", but as you stated, to my ear level height based on the center spar of the panel - I think mine was 8". And I would agree, it produced better image and soundstage with the change.

I made custom stands out of oak step treads (sides as they had rounded edges) and oak laminated wood (top) all screwed and glued together. I drilled two holes in the front of the stand top for the spikes and use the flat rug foot in the back. I put the spikes in the holes (holes are just big enough to let the bottom of the spike go through but not the entire spike), and adjust tilt with back flat foot. The spikes in the holes keep the speaker from slipping or moving around on the stand. I was thinking of staining it, but I liked the look of the raw Oak with my light maple trim.

Worked great for me and it was fairly cheap.

Dan
 
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zaphod

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I was thinking of staining it, but I liked the look of the raw Oak with my light maple trim.
a nice clear coat will preserve the oak, give it a "finished look" without losing the qualities that unstained oak has.

use tremclad. really.

it's not water based, so it doesn't raise the grain, and three light coats from the spray bomb will give you a great result. comes in gloss or satin, your call.

most of the stuff i build for the home theatre has oak on it somewhere. it matches up nicely with the oak on the CLS.
 

DTB300

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Thanks for the info...I tried some clear coat product (cannot remember name at moment) on some extra wood and I did not like how it looked - slightly darkened. So being that it was VERY CHEAP for me to create these stands, I left them as is.

I will see if I can find the product you spoke of....Tremclad. I still have extra pieces around to try it on first.

BTW, my CLSIIz's are Light Maple, not Oak - but I could not find light Maple at the place I bought the wood and the Oak was a close as I could find.

Dan
 

Jeff Zaret

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Dan,
DO you have any pics? I can not remember. It must be CRS again. I was thinking of building something also.
Ideas?

Also what about washing the CLS panels. Thoughts? Since I have never done it does the panel stretch at all or is it still intact?

Jeff
 

zaphod

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Also what about washing the CLS panels. Thoughts?
I'm glad you brought this up.

two things in life scare me: the first is taking out the left panel and washing it.

the second is taking out the right panel and repeating the process on it.

i've seen posted (Roberto i think) the technique for removing the CLS panel from the wood frame. it involved laying the frame on a side edge and pushing the center of the panel with your knee.

brrrrrr.

but even if i were to do that, my particular CLS have packing tape along the back of the top and bottom panel edge. i've always assumed that it was there to keep things together, and don't want to find out the hard way. because i do know what happens to tape when it gets wet.

i don't think i'll ever wash the panels. just too darn frightening.
 

Jeff Zaret

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I am a bit concerned and agree with you 100%. I think I could justify buying new panels first even though that may not be the smartest way to go. I do vacuum them on a regular basis and they are in a smoke free environment.
It is scarey to say the least.

Jeff :eek:
 

zaphod

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DTB300 said:
I will see if I can find the product you spoke of....Tremclad. I still have extra pieces around to try it on first.
Tremclad is rust paint. might be called tremco. i can never remember which is the product name and which is the company name. so it's either tremco by tremclad or viceversa.

but it's rust paint, and the best spray paint around for my money. lots of colours, good coverage, durable.

i was working on an amp stand for my MC60 and needed to clear coat it (2" solid oak) and a metal plate with labels for the connexions. i tried about 6 different clear coats and each failed for one reason or another. then i grabbed the can of tremclad clear coat and it worked like a charm. didn't raise the grain on the oak, didn't rust the metal plate under the clear coat, didn't melt the lettering on the plate, didn't rot my brain like lacquer.

my wife got real nervous when she wanted the house painted and i discovered that some of the tremclad colours were sold by the gallon :D
 

zaphod

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Jeff Zaret said:
I do vacuum them on a regular basis and they are in a smoke free environment.
It is scarey to say the least.
i also use an Oreck air filter. it really keeps the dust down in that room.

when you vacuum, how long do you keep them unplugged before vacuuming.
 

Jeff Zaret

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I either unplug them before I leave for work and do them when I get home. So typically 8 to 10 hours or I unplug them over night and do them when I drag my tired body out of bed which is about the same amount of time.
I live in the desert so humidity is not an issue but dust can be. Also, with mine I have a slight buzz in my right hand speaker. I have done the heat method and it has improved. What I have noticed is that I do get large temperature swings in the winter and I think when it is less the 65 degrees the warm up time is slower. I did not have this problem last summer. I set the temp in my house at 65 degrees in the winter when I am not home and I think this may have contributed to that problem.
My panels look clean as far as I can tell and they appear to be fairly transparent. In comparison to my Sequels they seem about the same just much more panel. :rolleyes:

Jeff
 
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