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ESL15A Break in

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patounet

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Hello friends, I apologize first for my poor english, I am french and live n Paris... I am found of ML speakers for a long time, Request, Prodigy and now ESL15A. I had always appreciated the silky and smooth medium, the magical resolution and 3D from the ESL pannels but angry with the bass reproduction, too slow and not articulated. What a pity ! I use high end CELLO electronics and MIT Shotgun MA cables, LYRA Etna phono cartridge on Golmund turntable, Wadia and Esoteric CD transports, Emmlabs DAC2X Dac. One month ago I purchased a pair of Renaissance ESL15A speakers, they have a great feed back anywhere, and I am very disappointed of the sound they give for the moment, after 50 hours break in. Yes, the bass reproduction is better, more articulated and less boom-boom, but the global presentation is very different compared the previous ML speakers. First, the ESL 15A is not a better Prodigy... the reproduction is different and more like a cabinet speaker (small and focused) and not a ESL pannel which was large and silky. I get more speed and resolution in bass, medium frequencies but timbre is missing, with a reduced palette of sounds in this part, hardness on voices and saxophone, with projected frequencie. So, I heard that a break in is necessary for these speakers but I did not found more details about that, from ML, reviews or posts. I am very worried, even if I know that ML presentation went to a new direction since Micro Perf pannels. And smaller sizes of pannels, micro perf ESL get a kind of stiffness from Summit and new generation ML models. So, I dreamed about a Prodigy with better bass integration and reproduction, but I am affraid the ESL15A is not. Please tell me I am wrong and I have to be more patient with the break in time... 300 hours I have read ? If any body has some experience with that, it is important to post it, thank you to tell me more. Regards to all of you.
 

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roberto

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Hola patounet,

The new Micro Perf stat panels offer to be exposed to the air about 40% more than the previous old panels. These offer more dynamics, more high frequency extension, and more low frequency extension. I had the Prodigy model before my CLXs, and making a comparison it is unfair for the Prodigy model.

Your new model ESL 15A has two power amplifier to drive each woofer and you can adjust the intensity of the bass for your room bass boundaries and standing waves control. You are able to adjust precisely the quantity of the bass for your golden seat position. Also the Micro Perf stator have much better sound dispersion, the stage presentation is much wider. Also it is not too narrow as the old technology.

The frame of your new ESL 15A is totally absent of voices and musical instruments coloration. There are no bad resonances. The new panels are showing exactly what is on your recordingshttps: The wooden frame of my Prodigies, as an example of coloration, Rebecca Pidgeon singing My Spanish Harlem, had a lot of bad coloration. Here is the tune for your test: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6snbRzGleI

Let your ears to get accustomed to your new improved sound. The detail and the resolution is breath taking with these new stat panels...just be more patience.

Your new ESL 15A can play an organ church with much realism, having much better bass integration and frequency response. Just play more music... and let your ears to get accustomed to your new improved sound!

Happy listening!
 

Gordon Gray

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Room is compromised (opening between the speakers) and they need to come out from the back wall. Surprised you got acceptable results with the Prodigy assuming it's the same room. I think my friend Roberto is a bit optimistic but hopefully, with break in and speaker adjustments (including woofer contouring adjustments), you can get them to sing for you. Max 150 hours of playing should get the woofers broken in and get you 90% + of what the speaker can do. Bon chance.
 
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roberto

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Hola Patounet,

Can you change the position of your system? Having openings on the speakers back and side is not a good idea. I assure you that this will improve the performance of your new ESL 15A.

Happy listening!
 

ttocs

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Regarding break-in you can view the progress I experienced with my 13A speakers HERE.

My room is very different, except that the Right speaker is in a corner with a wall of windows to the right of it. I put absorption on the front wall and the right wall, about 1 meter wide each and 2+ meters high. Both speakers are toed-in very much, with flashlight reflection 1/4 from outside edges of panels. It looks extreme, and it is, but sounds great. With the extreme toe-in there is no problem with rear wave from the left speaker so no absorption, only absorption for the right speaker. Wood floors with area rug from speakers to seating.

It doesn't look like you would be able to do same as me, but you might try it just to see how it sounds.

At minimum, you need absorption in those corners. Bring the speakers more into the room closer to seating and away from wall behind them.

Here is something to try. I have done this and it works well but looks terrible. If you have two shelf boards that are about as long as the panel it high, or even stiff cardboard from boxes, wrap them with soft blankets and rest them behind the panels on top of the woofer cabinets. This will give you idea of what the sound could be like with absorption on the walls behind speakers.
 

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Gordon Gray

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Please tell me I am wrong and I have to be more patient with the break in time... 300 hours I have read ?
FWIW, my CJ ET5 preamp and my Luxman D06U CDP both took a minimum of 400 hours of break in before they started opening up.
 

Lightloopy

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Hi Patounet,
I am 2 months into my new ESL 11A's which replaced 20 yo SL3 (new panels 10 yrs ago). I agree with your comments completely regarding bass and midrange presentation. Bass is incredible but mid range vocals are on the dry side, not as lush and palpable. Do not make any judgements at 50 hrs though. Ttocs assessement is spot on. Agree w/ the placement issues noted by members.
I am going to give it a year and see where things are. This may be the new ML sound indeed.
 

zigman

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Sounds like a placement issue. Have you toe-in the speakers a little bit? How close are you sitting to the speakers? These have massive panels and if you want to get the full range you
need to be hearing top to bottom of the panel.

Speakers seem pretty large for the room, as mentioned above room acoustics are playing a large part in this. Room treatments may help.

One thing I noticed with my 11As is the amp makes a big difference in the sound characteristic you get out of the newer more neutral MLs. When I went from a Luxman 509X to the Vitus RI-101 the mids went from flat and dry to lush and lifelike. The more power the amp the more 3D effect as well.
 

James

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Room size was key for me. Those need a big room to work with. I went from Aeon to Ethos to 15a's. Firs two were used but I bought the 15A's from a ML dealer. I started with an integrated tube amp and then upgraded to a MC275 for the Ethos. I was initially not impressed with the 15a's. It did take a long time before I feel t break-in was complete. I upgraded to a MacIntosh Tube Preamp and 302 Amp. More stuff but No life or magic. I moved, much larger room, big difference, they came to life and filled the room but still none of the delicate magic I like ML for. I tried some very expensive cables, nothing, went back to a set produced by the local audio shop. I got a Sanders Magtech Amp, the panels came to life and sounded great. I when worked a long time on placement. I found the ML placement suggestions did not work the bet for the room but once I found the right place it worked well. The size of the panels in the right position make for a great 3D stage. My latest has been room treatment. Now complete,I finally feel the speakers perform to the standard I would expect at the price point. Without the room reflections the stage and clarity of the panels are heavenly. I should have done the room treatment before the gear upgrade.
 

ttocs

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I when worked a long time on placement. I found the ML placement suggestions did not work the best for the room but once I found the right place it worked well.

Without the room reflections the stage and clarity of the panels are heavenly. I should have done the room treatment before the gear upgrade.
100% agreement!

Placement is the best first step, and it's free.
Treatment is second, and doesn't need to cost a bunch.
Everything else is last.
 

Lightloopy

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Placement, placement and more placement. A few inches here or there affect the presentation significantly.
Also don't forget tilt. I slipped a hockey puck behind each speaker -huge difference.
 

Hear Here

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Placement, placement and more placement. A few inches here or there affect the presentation significantly.
Also don't forget tilt. I slipped a hockey puck behind each speaker -huge difference.
There are limits though. I couldn't find a suitable placement in my large room unless I moved them towards the perimeter. I wanted my speakers mid-room and Martin Logans won't be happy there however much you adjust tilt, toe-in, distance between, etc. They need a wall or other reflective surface relatively close behind them.
 

Robert D

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There are limits though. I couldn't find a suitable placement in my large room unless I moved them towards the perimeter. I wanted my speakers mid-room and Martin Logans won't be happy there however much you adjust tilt, toe-in, distance between, etc. They need a wall or other reflective surface relatively close behind them.
It seems though that so many on here recommend putting up sound absorption materials on the wall behind the speakers. I personally don't have any, but most on here do.

So what is the optimal placement for the speakers, hypothetically?
 

Hear Here

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It seems though that so many on here recommend putting up sound absorption materials on the wall behind the speakers. I personally don't have any, but most on here do.

So what is the optimal placement for the speakers, hypothetically?
Look at the design of these speakers. The panel emits as much of its sound energy backwards as it does forward. Ditto the subs as one faces forward and the other backwards. Unless there's something behind the speakers so some of the back-firing energy can be made use of, the speaker won't fulfil its potential. What this reflective surface should consist of and how it should be treated, I won't comment on, but having no reasonably close surface renders MLs a poor choice. But the good news is that 99% of listening rooms will have a wall behind the speakers - mine is the 1%!
 

ttocs

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It seems though that so many on here recommend putting up sound absorption materials on the wall behind the speakers. I personally don't have any, but most on here do.

So what is the optimal placement for the speakers, hypothetically?
5-1/2 feet from the wall, and toed-in to the 1/3 flashlight method. That's what works in my room with plaster walls. I gained back 3 feet of room layout by going with the more extreme toe-in that I posted above which allowed the speakers to be closer to the wall.

4 feet from panel to wall will "work", but I found that more was better. It's one of those diminishing returns things. According to ML in the past, 3 feet or more was recommended. Well, with the much deeper woofer boxes 3 feet is pretty much the minimum.

I'd suggest taking a day and going nuts with moving the speakers around. Get some furry furniture moving pads from the home store, these make it easy to slide the speakers without floor damage. Better yet, get two friends to move the speakers while you sit and listen!
 

Robert D

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5-1/2 feet from the wall, and toed-in to the 1/3 flashlight method. That's what works in my room with plaster walls. I gained back 3 feet of room layout by going with the more extreme toe-in that I posted above which allowed the speakers to be closer to the wall.

4 feet from panel to wall will "work", but I found that more was better. It's one of those diminishing returns things. According to ML in the past, 3 feet or more was recommended. Well, with the much deeper woofer boxes 3 feet is pretty much the minimum.

I'd suggest taking a day and going nuts with moving the speakers around. Get some furry furniture moving pads from the home store, these make it easy to slide the speakers without floor damage. Better yet, get two friends to move the speakers while you sit and listen!
My Prodigies are probably about 4 feet out now. The part Im unsure of is putting up the sound deadening material on the walls behind. To me that is taking away from the reflection of those sound waves and so you will never hear that anyways. Wouldnt that be a bad thing? So I just have bare walls behind mine and it sounds good to me. I do use Audyssey for room correction. So my question is, if you dont want sound reflecting off the rear wall and you put up material to absorb it, why does it even matter if you have a wall behind it? Is that just if the wall is too close?
 

ttocs

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My Prodigies are probably about 4 feet out now. The part Im unsure of is putting up the sound deadening material on the walls behind. To me that is taking away from the reflection of those sound waves and so you will never hear that anyways. Wouldnt that be a bad thing? So I just have bare walls behind mine and it sounds good to me. I do use Audyssey for room correction. So my question is, if you dont want sound reflecting off the rear wall and you put up material to absorb it, why does it even matter if you have a wall behind it? Is that just if the wall is too close?
First off, the most important consideration in your sound system is: Do you like it? If so, then that is paramount.

When my Vista speakers were 2-1/2 feet from the wall in a different configuration of my house, the rear wave was too strong and caused audible problems in the upper frequencies. Moving out to just 3 feet was much better. Then I tried every few inches out to 6 feet which ended up being farther than was needed. At that time I had the space to keep them 5-1/2 feet out, so I did. Less space worked, but it was very solid farther from the wall.

Since I've had my Expressons I did the usual experimentation but ended up at 4 feet, but, I also had absorption panels behind, so even less space worked. My main consideration was to the woofers. Enough about me.

As long as you like the sound, keep them where they are. You may tweak things once you start running the ARC program to see how the woofers respond.
 

Lightloopy

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I use one ASC Tube Trap behind each panel. I used to have absorption panels on the wall behind the speakers but these eventually came down. Part of the fun is tuning and experimenting. Good luck!
 

patounet

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Hello, first thank you all for reply, I appreciate ! I got an answer from Martin Logan too ; about the new micro perf generation speakers... This gives, from Summit launch, a new approach or presentation, more accurate and fast, better everywhere as we can imagine from a manufacter... but what about the timbre of sound ? My break in is about 50 hours now and I bought he ARC to play with. I will run it every two months and compare until my speakers are totally broke in... Anyway, a little bit softer in medium now, I tried different rakes and stop at -3° backward, and put AC phase of the speakers the same way that the electronics, amps. Nobody talks about this... For the moment, the sound of the 15A is not as silky and rich than my old Prodigies - it will not and never I can imagine - some projected hardess on voices still exist... Of course the bass and articulation is much better, but do not tell that the ES15A bass is "world class", I got high efficiency loudspeakers with paper suspension woofers in the past, horns, these gave a very tight bass reproduction and articulation. No comparaison ! I will come back latter to give my feeling once break in is over on my speakers. Thank you again to all of you for sharing. Regards from France
 
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