Motif Center Speaker Was Sick

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ttocs

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For the last few years I've been thinking about getting a new center speaker because I figured it would easily be bested by any new speaker that might even cost less than what the Motif cost new. I've been thinking that the Motif hasn't been sounding as good, but it's been good enough to get enjoyment from watching movies. So I've been gearing up for an early 2023 purchase of a Focus, most likely. My room isn't large enough for an Illusion.

Last week I began doing some measurements as simply a test of some Isoacoustics ISO Pucks I had laying around that were for a subwoofer I had a few years back. I hadn't used the pucks since as I wasn't convinced they did much, at least not for subs. So I started experimenting with the Motif on 3 of the pucks with granite slabs for added so the weight was within the spec the pucks are rated for. So I'm going through with things and I began tailoring how the testing is being done for repeatability etc, then began to see that the Motif has some odd frequency response curves. Normally I use Dirac for all the HT stuff, so never really noticed these odd things being as pronounced as now.

The electrostatic panel seems to have lower output than I remembered it to have. Lower than where it meets the woofers at 450Hz, and lower than where it meets the tweeter at 4000Hz. Plus it seemed a bit ragged. Dirac always fixes this stuff, and for HT it seemed ok, so I never thought about it more than that.

Also, the woofers exhibit a big "bump" between 100-200Hz, and I've seen this since I started using REW a little less than 3 years ago. I just figured it's a design flaw. Anyway, with the tests I did last week this bump was different than a few years ago and dropped off above 100Hz quite sharply, so this is new, not good.

How to fix this?
I vacuumed the stat panel, but more intensely and for much longer than usual. Still no good. I cut some thin, stiff, cardboard to use for a custom vacuum cleaner nozzle extender. This is to attempt to get the vacuum nozzle into the very tight spaces on the back of the stat panel, which is otherwise impossible. I then was extremely diligent about getting that vacuum nozzle everywhere possible in back, and on the front, and vacuumed a long time. I think this helped a tiny bit with panel output, but problems remained.

So I opened up the back to look at the capacitors and check them. They looked ok. Took out my ESR meter and they all checked out REALLY GOOD, I mean really low ESR. Next I re-seated every wire connection by pulling it and pushing it back onto its connector. Then I tightened all the screws on the wiring terminal strip, and about half the screws were not tight. Then I noticed the back panel was a little warped between each screw location, so I suspected that the back might not be sealing well and is maybe affecting the woofer output. So I added some thick pliable tape to the perimeter of the routed recess the back panel inserts into and sealed it back up.

Prior to opening up the speaker cabinet I measured each stat "strip" with a mic less than 1/4" away, and did the same for the woofers. I then did the same after the fixes and found improvement. The stat strips each seemed better. The woofers looked about the same as before, but I think this is because there's nothing wrong with the drivers, and with the mic that close the mic is really only hearing just the driver and not much of the box.

The first acid test with the mic at the MLP which showed good improvement in both the panel (mids) and the woofers (bass). So I mounted it back on the wall and began comparing pre and post fix. Now the bass is much better, and the frequency response from the panel is smoother, and like I said before just a bit more output. No single part of the fixing is responsible, but everything together made this a very good outcome.

As I'm writing this I'm listening to music through only the Motif. Due to that big bump I have the speaker setup as Small and the crossover setting at 140Hz to tame the bass, otherwise it just sounds like too much bass bloat. No subwoofer, just the Motif. Surprisingly the bass still extends below 100Hz at a level that's higher than the stat panel just above its crossover of 450Hz. That'll tell 'ya how much bass is boosted between 100-200Hz on this speaker.

So the speaker sounds very good. I'm still going for a demo of the Focus tomorrow, but the Motif is doing ok for now.

edit: I just realized one subwoofer is operating. I forgot the one in the rear that's wireless. I unplugged everything else. So my statments above about the extended low bass are not correct when I was listening to music while the Motif was setup as Small. For all the tests it was setup as Large so there was no possibility of subwoofery. edit2: I was half smart, the miniDSP that controls the subwoofers for BM and LFE had BM turned off, so it's only LFE being passed through.

I realized my mistake when I began watching a movie and heard lots of really low bass sound effects, LFE. So when I setup the speaker as Small, that subwoofer kicked in. Only LFE was operating, no Bass Management.
 
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ttocs

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Have fun with the focus c18 demo Scott!
My sales guy was off the last couple days, back today. He said they don't have a Focus on display. bummer.

I'm probably going to order one anyway. They have a good return policy, which I don't think would happen, but it's there just the same.

The biggest issue I foresee is mounting on the wall. If I keep my system arranged like it is, I'd have to move everything below the tv to have a safe way of working on ladders to lift the speaker onto the wall mount. If I mount below the tv, then some things will need to move away. Either way, it's not terrible, but something I'll need to wrestle with during the week or so it'll take to get the speaker.

This is just me thinking out loud trying to convince myself to order.
 

BDH55

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For the last few years I've been thinking about getting a new center speaker because I figured it would easily be bested by any new speaker that might even cost less than what the Motif cost new. I've been thinking that the Motif hasn't been sounding as good, but it's been good enough to get enjoyment from watching movies. So I've been gearing up for an early 2023 purchase of a Focus, most likely. My room isn't large enough for an Illusion.
If you have any chance of working an Illusion in, that would be my vote. You would be doubling both the size of the panel as well as number of low frequency drivers... plus you get ARC. I went from a Logos center all the way to an Illusion and as expected, it was night and day. Of course if you have no other option than mounting to the wall, then an Illusion is definitely out. Good luck! (y)
 

ttocs

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If you have any chance of working an Illusion in, that would be my vote. You would be doubling both the size of the panel as well as number of low frequency drivers... plus you get ARC. I went from a Logos center all the way to an Illusion and as expected, it was night and day. Of course if you have no other option than mounting to the wall, then an Illusion is definitely out. Good luck! (y)
Would love to get one of these! But my room simply isn't deep enough to allow good space behind.
I ordered the Focus today.
 

Robert D

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My sales guy was off the last couple days, back today. He said they don't have a Focus on display. bummer.

I'm probably going to order one anyway. They have a good return policy, which I don't think would happen, but it's there just the same.

The biggest issue I foresee is mounting on the wall. If I keep my system arranged like it is, I'd have to move everything below the tv to have a safe way of working on ladders to lift the speaker onto the wall mount. If I mount below the tv, then some things will need to move away. Either way, it's not terrible, but something I'll need to wrestle with during the week or so it'll take to get the speaker.

This is just me thinking out loud trying to convince myself to order.
This is what I did with mine. Sounds great. It has a switch on it for wall mount or sitting on shelf. Not sure how that changes the sound.
20210920_151255.jpg
 

ttocs

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This is what I did with mine. Sounds great. It has a switch on it for wall mount or sitting on shelf. Not sure how that changes the sound.View attachment 22507
That's an EQ switch that gives a range of frequencies below a certain point more or less output, same like my Motif. The contour switch on my Motif, when in "On Wall" position, cuts bass by about -3dB at the low end, and gradually less cut up to about 850Hz.

I've got a table with four sources on a rollout shelf. Things can be placed on top, and that could include the Focus. But I really like having the center speaker above the tv, so that's the primary consideration. Second is on wall below the tv. Third is on the table at the leading edge of it on some isolation, because I already know the table contributes some resonance that I'd like to avoid. And by the way, the wall resonates also, but has been less problematic. I'll have to just try the different spots and hear what happens.

Here's the room. This photo was taken when I was experimenting with measuring and moving around the subwoofer stacks. It's quicker and more exacting to just leave the three mics alone and choose each one for 3 quick sweeps. This was to find out good spots for the subs when listening at the MLP, and if the left/right would suffer more or less with various subwoofer locations.
AV-room-stereo-stacks-cropped.jpeg
 

Robert D

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My theater i was above my tv for the last setup I had. It sounds MUCH better now with the speaker under the tv screen. I think because it is so much closer to ear level, whereas up top its farther away and the sound did not seem to be coming from the center of the screen as much as it does now. Right now with my setup, it sounds like a regular tv with speakers in the tv. Much more natural.

If I were you, id try to find a way to get the center channel speaker under the screen. I propped mine up slightly at a shallow angle too. It aims so much closer to my ears really.
 

Robert D

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Funny, our walls are painted the same color. What size screen is yours? It looks about the same as mine, a 77 inch OLED.
 

SKY888

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My theater i was above my tv for the last setup I had. It sounds MUCH better now with the speaker under the tv screen. I think because it is so much closer to ear level, whereas up top its farther away and the sound did not seem to be coming from the center of the screen as much as it does now. Right now with my setup, it sounds like a regular tv with speakers in the tv. Much more natural.

If I were you, id try to find a way to get the center channel speaker under the screen. I propped mine up slightly at a shallow angle too. It aims so much closer to my ears really.

Mine is only a motif-x and someday I would like to upgrade to focus c18 like yours

I agree with all the stuff u mentioned, since I tried them too and ended up just putting the center channel below tv. Also propped to a slight angle :)
I’ll place the focus at the same position of my motif x as well
DB7685E4-4097-435C-AC06-5A3AB5BA1F4C.jpeg
 

ttocs

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Robert, the tv is 85".

I had the Motif on an av cabinet for years, setup similar to yours. Then I cleared out all components from between the left and right speakers and mounted it on the wall below the tv. Finally, in its current location.

Center speaker above the tv gives me more flexibility for what is below the tv.
Center speaker below the tv means all the components directly under would move away.
Center speaker on front edge of table might work.

As always, I'm comfortable with trying multiple spots to see what suits the speaker. On the table is the easiest to try first.

edit: One thing just occurred to me. Table mounted would allow for the tv to be swung out from the wall for Movie Night!, closer to the viewers, which is the same as having a larger tv. My tv mount is extendable and tilts.
 
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JonFo

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I should have the new Focus within a couple weeks.
Congrats, good choice.

My take is the C18 is a great center speaker, being a sealed monopole is the key. For clear dialog and such, it needs to be.

As for mounting, I'd recommend on-wall just below the screen.
Next would be on the cabinet.
 

Robert D

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Congrats, good choice.

My take is the C18 is a great center speaker, being a sealed monopole is the key. For clear dialog and such, it needs to be.

As for mounting, I'd recommend on-wall just below the screen.
Next would be on the cabinet.
Why doesn't ML just make all of their electrostats sealed? It seems like everyone is always trying to cancel out the rear wave anyhow. That confuses me.
 

Furbyland

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Why doesn't ML just make all of their electrostats sealed? It seems like everyone is always trying to cancel out the rear wave anyhow. That confuses me.

A sealed dipole speaker would sound like ***t ? My guess.
 

JonFo

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A sealed dipole speaker would sound like ***t ? My guess.
Uhm, because that's an oxymoron. A dipole is a speaker that radiates from both front and rear, and a sealed speaker, well doesn't, it just radiates out the front.

Sealed ESLs sound just fine, the Janszen line is sealed, as is the C18 and the ESL C centers from MartinLogan.
 
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JonFo

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Why doesn't ML just make all of their electrostats sealed? It seems like everyone is always trying to cancel out the rear wave anyhow. That confuses me.
Well, they did design a sealed lineup, but do not seem to have gotten around to releasing it (yet) ;) . MartinLogan announces breakthrough Monoray ESL line

For multichannel setups, sealed speakers are the best option.
I'm converting all of mine to monopole as soon as I have some time, or if ML actually sold the Monoray, I'd load up on seven of those.
 

Robert D

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Well, they did design a sealed lineup, but do not seem to have gotten around to releasing it (yet) ;) . MartinLogan announces breakthrough Monoray ESL line

For multichannel setups, sealed speakers are the best option.
I'm converting all of mine to monopole as soon as I have some time, or if ML actually sold the Monoray, I'd load up on seven of those.
Hum, so in your opinion having them sealed sounds better. It kinda seems that way because most setups I see on here, the owners put sound absorbing material on the rear wall to absorb as much of the rear wave that they can. Why not just block it right on the speaker?

Personally Ive not done anything to my wall behind the speaker and I think it sounds good this way, but im not that technical. I did have some big pictures mounted behind each speaker, with glass on them, and took those down. I think it does sound a bit better now. Less harsh to the ears.
 
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