Discussion About the Differences Between Different Panel Sizes

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barjohn

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My experience is limited. I recently purchased a pair of Classic 9's and prior to that I has the ESL's. I have listened to a comparison between the Expression 13A's and the Neolith in a dealer show room. My general conclusion is that as the panel area increases, the sound seems fuller, especially in the mid range, and better balanced. Without A-B comparing them you might not be aware of the difference. Some of that difference may also be attributable to the difference in the woofers and woofer cabinet size but in most cases these don't come into pay until below 400Hz. Of course the larger panels can play louder but most audiophile listeners don't play at those levels for listening.

There is a large jump in price as you move up models. In my opinion the law of diminishing returns is rapidly at play in the Masterpiece series. I'm curious whether anyone has a similar opinion in terms of what you get as you move up. Generally bass response is only improved 5Hz or less between models. a pair of very high end and fast sub woofers could be purchased for less than the difference in price. Those of you have that have gone up the line, what did you think you were getting when you purchased and what did you find you actually got when you put it in your home?
 

sleepysurf

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I upgraded over the years from Aerius i's, to Summit's, to Expression 13A's. Aside from progressively deeper and better integrated bass, I found each step up in panel size widened my soundstage a bit. I can't definitively say the sound was fuller, at least in the sweet spot. In fact, I think the midrange of the Summit's was actually slightly fuller than my Expression's, which I attribute to implementation of DSP in the latter. However, I never compared them side by side, and the net benefit of DSP/ARC with the Expressions, IMHO, outweighs any minor loss of midrange fullness.

BTW, if you're in Sarasota, you should check out the Sarasota and Suncoast Audiophile Societies!
 

barjohn

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It's logical that the sound stage would widen, as well as the sweet spot since 30 degrees of a larger circle is a larger space, especially as one is likely to be further removed as the speakers get larger and also occupy a larger room.

I was able to directly compare the Classic 9's to the ESL's in my room in nearly the same location and I remember my first thought was that the highs in the ESLs was not present in the 9's but as I listened more and to different tracks I realized the highs were the same, it was the mids that were more pronounced. Of course, one issue that may account for that difference is the fact that the panel is the same distance from the front wall for each at 26" but the cabinet end with a bass driver in the 9's is now only inches from the wall whereas the ESL's have much more distance behind the cabinet to the front wall and no woofer firing into the wall. I can't bring them further out without intruding into the walk space.

On the other hand, I heard the Neoliths and the Expressions in the same room with more than 5' to the front walls. I could definitely hear a tonal balance difference. The Expressions seemed thin and lacking the warmth of the Neolith but in all fairness I didn't listen that long as I did not want to tie up the salesman's time when I knew I wasn't a customer for the Neoliths.
 

twich54

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for me, if I were to go back to M/L it would be the 13a's, given my room size. But if I had a big enough room and IMO the sweet spot in the line up is the CLX's combined with a pair of subs. I suspect Brad would concur with this ..... ;)
 

JonFo

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The Monolith has the same size panel as the Neolith, and I find that the width (24") allows for a wider sweet spot, which improves dramatically when you mitigate the rear reflections (listening to mostly direct sound from the front of the panel).
The larger panels are also able to more authoritatively produce midrange and even the upper reaches of the mid-bass. Even though I cross over at 340Hz with a sharp 24dB / octave. I see the diaphragm vibrate (modulating the reflected light) even when not playing very loud (avg low 80's dB). So the larger panels have more output in that range, leading to a better balance.
The downside is with all that surface area radiating the same signal, there is progressively more comb filtering as it goes up the freq. range. So a 9 will have a cleaner >1.5K Hz in that respect.

Comparing the SL3 panel in my SL3XC center to the Monoliths, I find that the center can keep up, but mostly because I shift the mid-bass to the woofer line array (XO at 425Hz 48 dB / octave these days), so the panel is not stressed by those frequencies.
Once the room corrector is applied, the front soundstage has very smooth pans, in spite of radically different panel sizes.
 

barjohn

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@JonFo, your post brings up an interesting thought for further discussion. In looking at who besides Martin Logan produces Electrostatic speakers today, the other three vendors all seem to only produce a large panel size. The Sander's Sound System, the Model 10e is a flat panel hybrid with a 15"x42"=630sqin and incorporates DSP which is about the same as the ML 15A at 46"x15"=690sqin. The Sound Lab Speakers are pure curved large panel Electrostatics. The Quad ESLs are flat panels like the Sanders but are pure ESLs like the SoundLabs. Interestingly, both the Sanders and the Soundlabs claim to solve the problems created by dust, oils in the air, and high humidity salt air environments. I have never had the opportunity to compare these various approaches to ESLs and I am curious as to the findings of others that have had that opportunity and can comment based on first hand experience.
 

Brad225

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I can't say enough about, for me the quality of the sound of full panel CLX's. They aren't for everyone but I haven't heard a sound I enjoy more.
Panel size definitely is a factor in the sound quality.
I was instantly sold on SL3's when I heard them at a dealer shortly ofter they first entered the market.

Probably 10 years later I bought some CLSIIz's, replaced the panels and used them with a pair of Vandersteen subs. The SL3's never had a chance. Not that the SL3's aren't great speakers just the large panels have a different sound.

barjohn if you want to listen to newer full range panels let me know. Wesley Chapel is not to far away.
 

barjohn

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I may take you up on your offer in early August. I have my daughter and grandson coming to visit this week and they will be here for a week then they and my wife go to CA and Hawaii for 3 weeks and I will be here by myself so I will have time to take a ride up and listen.
 

Brad225

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My wife and I will be leaving town next Monday to continue an around the country RV trip. We flew in from Seattle for a grand nephew's 2nd birthday.
We are planing to be home by the end of August but nothing is set in stone. I realize this week is short notice for you or I will reach out to you when we return.

I totally understand spending as much time with children as you can. We spent more time looking at videos and face timing with them than we would ever have imagined while traveling.
 

gvera

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Twenty years ago I compared the Prodigy to the odyssey.
My feeling was the opposite to most posts here, I found the Odysseys warmer sounding than teehee bigger Prodigys, and bought them.
 

GW1800

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I’ve had the Summit X’s , 13’s and CLX. I have heard the Neolith a couple of times with Mac amps at shows. Was never that impressed with the Neolith in fact if I move on beyond the CLX they would not be on my list.
The CLX like Brad said is just hard to top. Which questions again the logic to discontinue them but that fight is over. The CLX w/subs is just a great setup. I had Stirling here a few months back to set my speakers and I’m in love with them all over.
 

JonFo

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Which questions again the logic to discontinue them but that fight is over
My guess is it's the cost to build the double diaphragm bass panels vs the annual sales volume (guessing low at that price point) is what did it.

A shame, as that is very cool tech.
 
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