Help Talk Me Out of Upgrading 11A's to 13A's

MartinLogan Audio Owners Forum

Help Support MartinLogan Audio Owners Forum:

MisterB

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 19, 2021
Messages
50
Reaction score
20
Location
NE Illinois
So lately I have not been able to get the thought of upgrading my 11A's to 13A's out of my mind. 13A's would likely be my final move as I don't have the space (or funds...) for 15A's. My problem is that no one near me has both the 11A's and 13A's to compare side-by-side. When I moved up from the ESL X to the 11A, it was a very significant upgrade. That was an increase in both panel height and width. Moving from 11A's to 13A's only increases panel width, and there's not as much of an overall surface area increase. Wondering just how much of a difference in sonic characteristics there is between the 11A and 13A, and what those difference are.

Does adding 2" to the panel width makes enough of an audible difference to justify the cost? I know I'd also gain 10" woofers, but the 8" woofers in the 11A's don't seem to be lacking in my room. Looking for advice from anyone who may have made this move, or who have compared the 11A's and 13A's side-by-side, and can share their impressions (no pun intended...) of the sonic differences between the two.

As the thread title says, please help talk me out of wanting to upgrade again... ;)
 

BDH55

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
293
Reaction score
178
Location
Ohio
Well, my advice would be if you are going to upgrade from 11A's... then 'really' upgrade... skip the 13A's... and go all the way to 15A's (42.5% increase in panel size vs only 18% going to the 13A)!!! And if you can't swing the 15A's right now, then I would just skip the upgrade and save the money until you can. Hope that helps... :unsure:
 

MisterB

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 19, 2021
Messages
50
Reaction score
20
Location
NE Illinois
Well, my advice would be if you are going to upgrade from 11A's... then 'really' upgrade... skip the 13A's... and go all the way to 15A's (42.5% increase in panel size vs only 18% going to the 13A)!!! And if you can't swing the 15A's right now, then I would just skip the upgrade and save the money until you can. Hope that helps... :unsure:
I appreciate your response. That's certainly an option. I'm just not sure if I have enough space for the 15's. My room is only 11-1/2' wide and a weird L-shaped layout. 20' deep front to back on the right side, and 14-1/2' deep on the left side from the front to a doorway. The rest of the room behind MLP is an enclosed 7-1/2' W x 5-1/2' D alcove that extends past the doorway. I couldn't move the 15's any closer together than I have the 11A's now, so that would put the outside edge of the 15A panels 4" closer to the side walls. My 11A's are 25" off the side walls now. Not sure how much of a concern it would be to have the 15's 4" closer. (I would have the same placement limitation with the 13's.) Do you think the 15's would dominate my ~1650 cubic foot room?
 

BDH55

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
293
Reaction score
178
Location
Ohio
I appreciate your response. That's certainly an option. I'm just not sure if I have enough space for the 15's. My room is only 11-1/2' wide and a weird L-shaped layout. 20' deep front to back on the right side, and 14-1/2' deep on the left side from the front to a doorway. The rest of the room behind MLP is an enclosed 7-1/2' W x 5-1/2' D alcove that extends past the doorway. I couldn't move the 15's any closer together than I have the 11A's now, so that would put the outside edge of the 15A panels 4" closer to the side walls. My 11A's are 25" off the side walls now. Not sure how much of a concern it would be to have the 15's 4" closer. (I would have the same placement limitation with the 13's.) Do you think the 15's would dominate my ~1650 cubic foot room?
Hmmmm... I thought you wanted talked OUT of doing an upgrade?? :unsure: Now, in addition to needing to upgrade your 11A's to 15A's... it appears you also need to increase your actual room size! :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

I didn't realize your room was tight. I am also in a 'weird, L-shaped room' but definitely have more space as my front wall is approximately 25' wide and my system is largely centered on it so in effect, I don't really have side walls (it's approx eight feet from the outside of each of my 15A's to my side walls). Also, my 'L shape' is flipped when compared to yours with my left side being approximately 37' deep, and my right side being just over 16' deep. If I did my math correctly, my total is approx. 5500 cu ft (with about 3000 cu ft in my actual AV room).

When you ask if 15A's would 'dominate your room'... well, you won't be able to hide them, that's for sure! :oops: You know how your 11A's currently look/fit in your room, so think about a pair of 15A's that are nearly 10" taller and 4" wider. Or, if you've got a big piece of cardboard that you can cut out the front face of the speaker, that will give you a good idea of how they'll look. Keep in mind that they are also a couple inches deeper.

Not sure if this is helping but there are plenty of people way smarter than me up here, so maybe one of them will have another idea. Good luck! (y)
 

MisterB

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 19, 2021
Messages
50
Reaction score
20
Location
NE Illinois
Hmmmm... I thought you wanted talked OUT of doing an upgrade?? :unsure: Now, in addition to needing to upgrade your 11A's to 15A's... it appears you also need to increase your actual room size! :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
:LOL::ROFLMAO::LOL: Well...the "talking me out of it" part was a little bit tongue-in-cheek... The room I'm using is basically the size of a one-car garage. In some of the models in my neighborhood, it's the 3rd-car garage. In others, like mine, it's a den. It was the most uniformly shaped room (relatively speaking) compared to the rest of the house, which is kind of an open floor plan design with very high ceilings, and divided up in such a way that I don't really have any large, contiguous areas to accommodate speakers sitting 4' - 5' out into the room.

So with that in mind, I do think the 13A's are the biggest I can go, and so the question really becomes whether or not there are any sonic advantages of moving to the 13A's from the 11A's, or if I am at the point of diminishing returns.
 

BDH55

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
293
Reaction score
178
Location
Ohio
:LOL::ROFLMAO::LOL: Well...the "talking me out of it" part was a little bit tongue-in-cheek...

So with that in mind, I do think the 13A's are the biggest I can go, and so the question really becomes whether or not there are any sonic advantages of moving to the 13A's from the 11A's, or if I am at the point of diminishing returns.
Well, my response started out 'tongue-in-cheek' as well. Usually, no matter how I phrase a question... I'm close to having my mind made up, and am mostly looking for confirmation that I am headed the right direction and not overlooking anything.

I'll be zero help in advice between the 11 and the 13's, but I am sure there must be several up here who either have owned both, or at least, heard both. Good luck and I'm sure you will let us know what you ultimately decide... (y)
 

Northy

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2012
Messages
283
Reaction score
54
Location
Canada
I also highly recommend keeping your powder dry for the 13A. Do you have a Balanced Force subwoofer? If not, I highly recommend getting a 210 or 212. It will completely change your music in terms of deeper bass (naturally) but also in stage presentation and subtle differences here and there. I have a pair of Theos coupled with a 210 and do not foresee any upgrades soon - not at least the next generation of ESL from ML are introduced. Also how about upgrading your upstream gear, I see you have HT pre/pro. Do not get me wrong, I like Anthem and Rotel, but if you really want to squeeze the best performance out of the MAC and ML, I would also go with a dedicated 2-channel preamp from MAC or Pass Labs. Your jaw will drop when you here these preamps. I think the role of a preamp has been sadly under-stated in the audio universe.
 
Last edited:

sleepysurf

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 11, 2005
Messages
2,615
Reaction score
62
Location
Tampa, FL
... Does adding 2" to the panel width makes enough of an audible difference to justify the cost? I know I'd also gain 10" woofers, but the 8" woofers in the 11A's don't seem to be lacking in my room.
I had legacy Summits (essentially same panel size as 11A's) prior to upgrading to the 13A's. Aside from better bass, the main impact of the 2" wider panel has been a slightly wider sweet spot. The overall tonality of the mids/highs is otherwise similar, with, IMHO, no discernible improvement in dynamics or sound stage depth.

Unless you really need a slightly wider sweet spot, I think you'd get more "bang for your buck" by adding a 210 or 212 sub (assuming you can optimally place it in the room).
 

Leporello

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
58
Reaction score
24
Location
Albany, NY
Does adding 2" to the panel width makes enough of an audible difference to justify the cost?
Sounds like an angels on the head of a pin argument. If you can't audition them side by side, you should at least wait until you can. The cost of these speakers certainly justifies long distance travel. The potential for making such a sale should also incentivize a dealer to arrange such an audition. If you hear them side by side and decide the answer is yes, don't expect us to save you from yourself :)

Also your dealer should have a reasonable return policy, keeping in mind transporting them to your home isn't free. You can't ultimately make the decision until you've heard them in your room. Saying your room can handle one but not the other is pure speculation.
 
Last edited:

MisterB

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 19, 2021
Messages
50
Reaction score
20
Location
NE Illinois
I also highly recommend keeping your powder dry for the 15A. Do you have a Balanced Force subwoofer? If not, I highly recommend getting a 210 or 212. It will completely change your music in terms of deeper bass (naturally) but also in stage presentation and subtle differences here and there. I have a pair of Theos coupled with a 210 and do not foresee any upgrades soon - not at least the next generation of ESL from ML are introduced. Also how about upgrading your upstream gear, I see you have HT pre/pro. Do not get me wrong, I like Anthem and Rotel, but if you really want to squeeze the best performance out of the MAC and ML, I would also go with a dedicated 2-channel preamp from MAC or Pass Labs. Your jaw will drop when you here these preamps. I think the role of a preamp has been sadly under-stated in the audio universe.
All good suggestions, thanks. So many options... My dealer has also suggested that I consider adding a 212 to my 11A's. May have to look into that.

I'm good to go with upstream gear. The Anthem/Rotel combo is just for the HT part of my dual duty system. For 2-channel music, I am using McIntosh preamp and amp separates with HT passthru. But to your point, my streaming source (Node) is a possible candidate for upgrade at some point.

I had legacy Summits (essentially same panel size as 11A's) prior to upgrading to the 13A's. Aside from better bass, the main impact of the 2" wider panel has been a slightly wider sweet spot. The overall tonality of the mids/highs is otherwise similar, with, IMHO, no discernible improvement in dynamics or sound stage depth.

Unless you really need a slightly wider sweet spot, I think you'd get more "bang for your buck" by adding a 210 or 212 sub (assuming you can optimally place it in the room).
Thanks for your insight. Your experience confirms what I was thinking might be the case -- little to no tonal improvement from the extra 2 inches. Probably wouldn't benefit from the slightly wider sweet spot, either. It's just me, so I always get the best seat in the house. Seems like adding a 210 or 212 to augment my 11A's would be the smarter route.
 

ttocs

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 10, 2014
Messages
672
Reaction score
277
Location
Highland Park, IL
I was in your shoes, kind of. I hadn't yet purchased the 11A, but went to the dealer to audition and specifically NOT listen to the 13A because of being 50% more. So I listened to the 11A, loved them, bought them, was walking out of the store when my buddy said, "well, you might as well just listen for a few minutes, right?". It only took two minutes, but I waited until the first song was finished and told the sales associate to write up the 13A.

Your situation is different because you've already got the 11A and need to consider what to do with them. But, like you, I was wondering what the 13A would be like - and it was no contest for me. I would've been wondering forever had I not compared side by side. Yes, the sweet spot is marginally larger, the bass is much better, but this is what I consider to be my last pair of grand speakers. No "Regerts" (as was the tattoo in the Snickers commercial).

So in your room, great subwoofers - plural - would probably do more to get you even beyond what "just" a pair of 13A speakers would give you, at least, up to 300Hz anyway.

If you only had the choice of just the 13A and no subwoofers, or, 11A and subwoofers, I'd do the 11A and subwoofers and dial-in everything possible into a great setup. More bang, less buck.
 

whtloh

New member
Joined
Apr 10, 2022
Messages
2
Reaction score
6
Location
Minneapolis
...Wondering just how much of a difference in sonic characteristics there is between the 11A and 13A, and what those difference are...
Reminiscent of conversations with my wife about every stereo upgrade.

ME: It's going to be so much better...
WIFE: I doubt I'll be able to hear the difference.
ME: But the dog is really going to appreciate the flat response...
 

MisterB

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 19, 2021
Messages
50
Reaction score
20
Location
NE Illinois
So in your room, great subwoofers - plural - would probably do more to get you even beyond what "just" a pair of 13A speakers would give you, at least, up to 300Hz anyway.

If you only had the choice of just the 13A and no subwoofers, or, 11A and subwoofers, I'd do the 11A and subwoofers and dial-in everything possible into a great setup. More bang, less buck.
Great info, thanks. I'm curious about the subwoofers angle. I've got two subs in there now - a Velodyne DD15 and a ML Dynamo 1100x. I've got them dialed in with a miniDSP so that they're flat down to about 18Hz, but I'm only using them for movies through my HT processor's LFE channel. I haven't thought about how I might integrate them into my 2-channel rig as well. (Again, dual duty system here.) Maybe it's as simple as running an RCA from the sub out of my 2-channel preamp into the second input on the miniDSP and adjusting the settings accordingly. Sounds like a good project for the weekend.

So you mentioned the bass is much better from the 13's. Can you expand on that at all? Is it deeper, cleaner, more articulate? On paper, there's only a 5Hz difference in the extension, but I'm sure the dual 10's in the 13A vs the dual 8's in the 11A must contribute more than just a bit more extension.
 

ttocs

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 10, 2014
Messages
672
Reaction score
277
Location
Highland Park, IL
Great info, thanks. I'm curious about the subwoofers angle. I've got two subs in there now - a Velodyne DD15 and a ML Dynamo 1100x. I've got them dialed in with a miniDSP so that they're flat down to about 18Hz, but I'm only using them for movies through my HT processor's LFE channel. I haven't thought about how I might integrate them into my 2-channel rig as well. (Again, dual duty system here.) Maybe it's as simple as running an RCA from the sub out of my 2-channel preamp into the second input on the miniDSP and adjusting the settings accordingly. Sounds like a good project for the weekend.

So you mentioned the bass is much better from the 13's. Can you expand on that at all? Is it deeper, cleaner, more articulate? On paper, there's only a 5Hz difference in the extension, but I'm sure the dual 10's in the 13A vs the dual 8's in the 11A must contribute more than just a bit more extension.
Well, the song I listened to didn't have any instruments that would've involved that extra bass extension that the 13A has vs 11A. A double bass goes down to barely just above 30Hz. So, that day, it was just the ease at which the 13A handled the bass that made me almost instantly drop my head with the realization that I just HAD to get the 13A. I believe the same effect can be had with great implementation of subwoofers and 11A.

I've got a not so usual implementation of 5 subwoofers for two channel music. Each 13A has its own pair of stacked 1100X subs, and there's a 800X sub in the back of the room to help narrow a wide null. It's still not perfect, but it's better with the 800X. So what does tossing a bunch of subs do for me? It adds quite a bit of dynamics! Again, it's the ease at which the low stuff, and mid-bass, is produced. Nothing sounds like it's struggling.

I don't use subs for "more" bass. It's all about working easy. When you think about the fact that every woofer has its own amp, there's 9 amplifiers making bass for two channel music, and the 13A amps are loafing compared to how hard they would be expected to work if no subs were helping. So the woofers that are expected to make the frequencies from 100-300Hz sound great, don't need to worry very much with 20-100Hz, even though they are producing those frequencies (I use the 13A full range, so the Bass Control on the speaker is turned down to -10dB which applies a shelf filter below 150Hz that levels out around 75Hz).
 

Big Dog RJ

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 3, 2022
Messages
142
Reaction score
82
Location
Melbourne The Best City in the world!
Some very valid points here, a different dimension it is overall. I've auditioned all the Masterpiece line up at great lengths, also did a few home trials on the 13A's and ended up with the Ren15a's on my final short list. However, I ended up with CLX's as these were my dream speakers, and that's all she wrote!

On the Classic 9 and 11A the presentation is fantastic but within their limits. Very good for small to average rooms, and can be powered with fairly decent gear, it's not necessary to go over the top in amplification.

The 13A's take this level of performance further, in terms of higher definition, resolution, transparency and greater soundstage depth. It also captures more of the low notes and can handle larger dynamic swings and has better transient control, provided the amplifiers are upto par... This overall performance elevation is quite apparent from the first few notes, so it's not subtle.

The Ren15a's takes all of that a step further and in the case of both the 13A's and Ren15a's they really need top notch gear to perform at their optimum. Entry level to mid-fi gear isn't going to cut it, no matter what ESL you upgrade with, if your main gear is not upto par you're going to end up with mediocre sound...

The amplifiers that were used in these systems were:
Pass Labs, Momentums, Plinius, Dartzeel, CJ, VTL, ARC and VAC. So nothing mediocre to average here... a very important point to consider.

The 13A's can fit into an average size room, although they prefer bit more space to unleash their full potential. Whereas the Ren15a's are considered, they are more suited for much larger rooms equivalent to the Neoliths, simply because the scale at which they're capable of reproducing music is engaging only when that adequate space is provided. Otherwise, it's like listening to a boombox in a cupboard!

Cheers, RJ
 

BigGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 21, 2011
Messages
192
Reaction score
63
Location
Connecticut
Reminiscent of conversations with my wife about every stereo upgrade.

ME: It's going to be so much better...
WIFE: I doubt I'll be able to hear the difference.
ME: But the dog is really going to appreciate the flat response...
WIFE: (No oral response. )

Were you badly hurt?!
 
Top