ESL 15A vs CLX ART+sub ?

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patounet

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I have been living with Prodigy for 10 years, I love them for resolution, magic presentation of the ESL but I hate them for the bass reproduction specially in a small room. Too boomy, too much bass and not tight enough, that's a pity. So it is time to change now. I have been dreaming about a full range electrostatic speaker, the only way I guess... but it does not exist in a small size at a moderate price. So, the solution would be to buy the Renaissance 15A that I heard, a kind of a better Prodigy, with active bass... or a pair of CLX Art, ESL full range indeed, passive, but what about the bass reproduction with jazz or pop music ? They need a subwoofer add I think, or I am wrong ? All the sub woofers experience failed with ESL speakers (CLS) for the moment ; what about now with the new Martin Logan sub as the model 212 ? Any body tried to put a 212 subwoofer with a CLX Art for example ? Thank you to share your experience to help me. Regards from France. Patounet
 

peacefulcargo

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I can give you some of the answers. I owned SL3 , Quest then CLX. Did have four ML Depth i's on the back of my CLXs. In the end I actually preferred the natural textured bass of the panel on its own - there was an issue that when the subs were on I lost the naturalness of the treble, mid how ever-much I played with it all. What is critical for the CLX bass to fool you into thinking there is a sub there is using good power chords and speaker cable and a relatively good power amp. I listen to 90% Dark Ambient music which has immense amounts of sub bass in it and I love the presentation of the bass as its full height from the panel, its deep and textured and enveloping with zero room modes. That said I have not heard the CLX with the 212 or 210 with the CLX crossover and I would love too at some point. There are so many good cables out there which makes it easy. Personally I use Nordost Odin Powercables and Odin speaker cable.
 
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twich54

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Your ears be the judge, but if your room can facilitate the 15a's then it can handle the CLX's and IMO, a pair of 'properly integrated' subs.
 

GW1800

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I think I can shed some light on the subject.

I have had two visitors from out of state about 2 years apart to help my dealer out doing this exact same exercise. My dealer had the 15's and I had the CLX with 2-212's. Both listened to the 15's first and then came to my place to hear the CLX's w/subs. In both cases they knew in a very short time that the CLX was the clear winner. In fact the first one ordered with my dealer as he left in his car I found out later and the other within a few days it was that quick. I've heard the 15's at his place and twice at Axpona. They sound good but come up short in my opinion. The CLX is a full panel more like you have been using so far with just one low octave missing which the subs fill in real good. The second guy is very much into bass and he was so impressed with how the bass sounded. At the time he said it was the best bass he had ever heard and still comments on it to this day. He was using 13's and was looking at 15's or the CLX with Subs.

Concerning the subs. I still have a pair of Descent i's in my media room that were once in my music room. They are great subs at the time I was using them with Summit X's. I liked the additional bass but was never completely happy with the results. There were a number of adjustments on the subs and Summit's but never really got it right. I actually liked the design of the Descent's with three cones Vs the 2 on the newer ones so was very skeptical. However once I got them and use the ARC feature there was no looking back. The bass is so good and with the custom crossover its a great integration. Also I would go with the 212's not 210's. My son had a single 210 with 13's and then updated to the 212 and it was more then huge in the difference. The pictures are deceiving the 212 does not look all that much bigger then the 210 but if you place them side by side like we did the 210 looks so tiny. The 212 also has dual amps with besides larger cones just makes a huge difference. Placement in my room is not ideal but with the ARC software it does a great job in fixing my room issues.

Listening without the subs can be done and actually is not all that bad but there is something special how the subs seems to not only hit the low notes but bring something extra above. I would never do it without but I know some have and are happy. I suppose it depends on the type of music you like to listen to also.

If you like the maple finish I think I know someone that has one in stock at a good price if interested. See system #503 if interested. I have not updated in a bit but still accurate where it ended up.
 

Brad225

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Absolutely agree with GW1800.
The CLX is, in my opinion, a far better sounding speaker. I listen to Mike's CLX speakers and then drove to Shawn's @ DiVinci Audio and listened to the 15A speakers. It was immediately obvious to me the CLX was a much more capable speaker. Even given they were in different rooms.
Don't miss understand though. The 15A is a wonderful speaker but not the same presentation as the CLX.

I am a bit surprised that you didn't like the CLS with subs. I have had 5 different pairs of CLS and same as Peaceful I ran 4 Depth i subs with them and thought they sounded wonderful.
I use the same Depth i subs, with the CLX electronics board installed in each one now.

Possibly you have some room issues or need some help with the proper set up of them. If you don't have proper test equipment for a frequency response sweep and tracing I would look for help with that.

A good as I thought mine sounded. An EE friend brought his equipment over and we worked on them a couple of hours. In the end we discovered that the left side subs was a farther distance from the front of the CLX panel than the right by 3". Once we moved them to be in the same relative location as the right side it made an amazing change in a low notes that would hang on a bit to long on some songs. That was the only thing that we changed.

The other thing I would recommend is running them all Mono and fed to their speaker connections from your amps not the line level from your preamp.
 

patounet

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Thank you so much all of you for your answers. That is clear that the CLX sings in an other league, the best one, upper class, like a full range speaker and not any hybride speaker can compete with it. The ESL 15A is good, much better than my Prodigy, active and ARC, but it is not what I read in reviews as "a world class bass". A little bit "heavy" again I found. So we shall see if the new 212 sub is necessary with CLX. Because we have to manage the purity of full electrostatic reproduction. I do not know if you listened to the lambda wood version of the CLX Art or alu 25th anniversary of the CLX... Regards
 

GaryG

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Everything you're are looking at I have owned or do own. Everything I'm about to say is my opinion. First I had the Prodigy's as my mains from 1999 until the CLX (Anniverary's) were released. For its day and the price the Prodigy's were great. However, they lacked in bass and bass integration. The sound came together best when the volume was cranked up or the material lacked a lot of bass. The CLX's are much better. Much, Much better than the Prodigy. Let me say that again in a different way. Every day I listened to my CLX's with two Descent subs I had a huge smile on my face. Next up I purchased a pair of Neolith's (I got the first pair of Neolith's delivered in the U.S.A.). Okay, Okay I can brag a little. Nothing else compares but that comes with a heavy price tag. When the Renaissance 15A's came out I purchase a pair and for the next month or so I compared them closely under same equipment and room with the Neolith's and the CLX. Of course the Neolith's was the clear winner but there was no winner between the CLX and 15A's. My choice is CLX with subs if you have space and can integrate the subs properly. If you don't want to use or don't have the space then 15A's would be my choice.
 

peacefulcargo

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Absolutely agree with GW1800.
The CLX is, in my opinion, a far better sounding speaker. I listen to Mike's CLX speakers and then drove to Shawn's @ DiVinci Audio and listened to the 15A speakers. It was immediately obvious to me the CLX was a much more capable speaker. Even given they were in different rooms.
Don't miss understand though. The 15A is a wonderful speaker but not the same presentation as the CLX.

I am a bit surprised that you didn't like the CLS with subs. I have had 5 different pairs of CLS and same as Peaceful I ran 4 Depth i subs with them and thought they sounded wonderful.
I use the same Depth i subs, with the CLX electronics board installed in each one now.

Possibly you have some room issues or need some help with the proper set up of them. If you don't have proper test equipment for a frequency response sweep and tracing I would look for help with that.

A good as I thought mine sounded. An EE friend brought his equipment over and we worked on them a couple of hours. In the end we discovered that the left side subs was a farther distance from the front of the CLX panel than the right by 3". Once we moved them to be in the same relative location as the right side it made an amazing change in a low notes that would hang on a bit to long on some songs. That was the only thing that we changed.

The other thing I would recommend is running them all Mono and fed to their speaker connections from your amps not the line level from your preamp.
This is a very good point made by Brad225 I had 4 X Depths without the CLX crossover. Which in retrospect I should have tried.
 

GW1800

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Gary G. makes the point that the Neolith is superior to the CLX. I take him at his word for but I can't say that for a fact quite yet for me. Mostly because I have only heard them once at Axpona in a very small room stuffed with Mac electronics. The room was painfully to small. Since then the larger rooms ML has been in at the old and new venue were absent the Neolith plently of 15's. Seems curious that they did what they did. Who knows maybe this year they would of but we will never know. Would like to hear them in a room that makes sense sometime to form my own opinion. I do question one serious flaw with the Neolith in that it does not have the ARC correction included. I know the low end is not powered but the ARC process does make some serious necessary changes to the bass that is very dependent on the room. You would think for a speaker of that price point they could of figured out something.

Most likely they are working on the replacement for the CLX not sure when or what but its happening. The CLX is a tough act to up it but I"m sure they will figure out something. Most likely just wider and much more expensive for sure. Also the 210/212 subs are about due for a overhaul as the rest of the sub line has been updated. Who knows maybe if the shows this year were not cancelled in Munich one or both would of been the talk of the show. The present 210/212 have a couple things that could be improved from a user standpoint. The volume control and phase setting adjustment. Both are way to course in my opinion. Concerning the volume I played for days to get the volume correct with such a course adjustment with no clicks or stops its fussy. Same with the phase control not sure if its variable or just the 4 settings I guess I never asked. What I do know is getting the phase set correctly has a major impact on how good your bass is. Mine ended up at 180 deg. for whatever reason. The new subs have an app so you can adjust the phase at your sitting position. This adjustment is very much variable so way more settings are available then the standard 4.
 

GaryG

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I do question one serious flaw with the Neolith in that it does not have the ARC correction included. I know the low end is not powered but the ARC process does make some serious necessary changes to the bass that is very dependent on the room. You would think for a speaker of that price point they could of figured out something.
When ML designed the Neolith They did not include ARC or internal bass amplification for the same reason. At that price point they assumed most customers would prefer to provide their own room correction and they could customize the bass amplification. I'm running with the Trinnov Amplitude32 and I use its 3D room correction. Likewise I am passively bi-amped on them and use the Altitude to balance. Thus the lack or ARC was not a flaw but a conscious marketing decision.
 
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GW1800

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Point taken. I guess I was looking at it from a cost and complexity standpoint. An ARC would of certainly cut the price of getting started with the full Monty worked on over time. The whole thing hilites ML need to fill the void from mid 30k with CLX and subs Vs the all out Neolith with dual mono amps, cross over along with additional cables probably looking at easily 100k +. ML surely needs something to fill this vast cost difference. Part of it will be just like we have seen not long ago to raise pricing but the gap is still huge. Time will tell if they will or just come out with the replacement CLX in the 50k area
 

Timobi

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I'll chime in! Back in 2017 I flew up to Shawn's (Davinci Media) & Mike's home (GW1800) & also demo'd the CLX Art & 15's.

No question. CLX with subs. The 15s were really good. But there was something about the imaging and effortless nature of the CLX. In addition to that the mid bass was more natural and realistic. Some details in that mid area missed on the 15s was audible on the CLX.

I flew home to Monroe, Louisiana with an order for CLX Art & two Balanced Force 212 subs.

Also, the experience I had with Shawn @ Davinci Media was & is first rate. Highly recommended!

:)
 

brd78

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Salut Patounet,
I own a pair of CLX 25th anniversary fired up by 2 Electrocompaniet Nemo 600 amplifiers. In November I have added a pair of REL Acoustics 212 SE. I'm really pleased with the combination although fine tuning was far from easy.
 

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