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jpwden

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Hey group! In a modern world where forums seem to be dying off, its nice to see a forum here!

Just purchased a pair of Electromotion ESL Xs. For the last 15ish years, Ive had Tannoy Eyris DC3s powering the great room. With a theater area coming to completion in the basement, the ESL X pair sits downstairs with the Tannoy 10" sub and a decent pair of Polk Audios taking up rear in the ceiling. Picked up a Denon AVR-X3700H to power it all...And it would seem that I will be investing in a small additional amp as volumes fee a tad bit low with the 3700 cranked up pretty high.

At any rate, looking forward to checking things out and hopefully learning a bit more about the best ways to enjoy these amazing speakers!

Josh
 

Lightloopy

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Welcome Josh! You will find a lot of helpful information here. Look forward to hearing how it all goes.
Enjoy!
 

Russr

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Welcome aboard.

My recommendation would be to get a "not so little" power amp ASAP - sounds like you might be at risk of overdriving your receiver, which never turns out well! I'd recommend something in the 150W (into 8 ohms), and make sure the amp is rated for loads down to 2 ohms. ESLs are taxing on amplifiers - your 'Xs dip down to 1.6ohm @ 20KHz, so whichever amp you end up wiith should have a lot of Ooomph in reserve (normally translates to big power supplies/capacitors, etc.) Lots of quality options on the second-hand market (I'm sure a bunch of folks will jump in here, in 3, 2, 1...!).

For my old Aerius's, I used Bryston 3B ST (stereo) and 9B ST (5 channel), tho' I am not too familiar with the ESXs. I've also had good experiences with Anthem power amps. For my larger SL3's and Theater/Stage centres, I use Brysotn's bigger brothers - the 4B STs)

Welcome, and enjoy - once you get those ML "singing with authority", I'm sure you will enjoy them even more!

Russ
 

jpwden

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Welcome aboard.

My recommendation would be to get a "not so little" power amp ASAP - sounds like you might be at risk of overdriving your receiver, which never turns out well! I'd recommend something in the 150W (into 8 ohms), and make sure the amp is rated for loads down to 2 ohms. ESLs are taxing on amplifiers - your 'Xs dip down to 1.6ohm @ 20KHz, so whichever amp you end up wiith should have a lot of Ooomph in reserve (normally translates to big power supplies/capacitors, etc.) Lots of quality options on the second-hand market (I'm sure a bunch of folks will jump in here, in 3, 2, 1...!).

For my old Aerius's, I used Bryston 3B ST (stereo) and 9B ST (5 channel), tho' I am not too familiar with the ESXs. I've also had good experiences with Anthem power amps. For my larger SL3's and Theater/Stage centres, I use Brysotn's bigger brothers - the 4B STs)

Welcome, and enjoy - once you get those ML "singing with authority", I'm sure you will enjoy them even more!

Russ
My Denon X3700H is here to stay, but I am definitely considering getting some other amp to put into the chain. The main problem is that I cant simply bi-amp the speakers because I have the wires routed through the walls and as it was done, it will be impossible to run another set of wires to the speakers without tearing out a bunch of drywall. So the question is, what is available these days, that I can throw in either before or after my X3700H to boost power, and properly handles all the inputs that the Denon is currently dealing with (Roku, Blu-Ray, HEOS/Spotify, etc)?


Forums seem to be dying off? Where? I see quite the opposite.
This forum is doing great! But 10 years ago, "forums" like this were all the rage--I think I had 10 or 15 forums I visited on a daily basis. Most of that seems to be encapsulated in places like Facebook "groups" now. The "forum population" is no doubt lower than it was at some time in the past.
 

Russr

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Yeah, just take your main L + R line outs from the 3700, use that signal to drive the new amp, put the amp next to/over/under the 3700 (make sure it's not going to cook your receiver), and use the speaker cables as they are...
 

jpwden

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ok, so there doesnt need to be any particular type of specification of amp? ie, any old amp can take the output signal from the 3700? ie, I see lots of amps called pre and power amps; is there any actual difference in the product itself, or is the pre-amp literally just the first amp in the chain?

Would it be a waste to throw a tube amp on after the 3700?

Searching the classifieds right NOW! ;)
 

Russr

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OK, so a bit of a backgrounder:

Yes you get Pre Amps, and Power Amps. You also get "Pre-Processors", which are a combination pre-amp and multi-channel (home theater) processor (Dolby, THX, DTS, alphabet-soup-fits-here).

Now, let's look at what you have in the Denon 3700: It is both a pre-processor AND power amp in ONE box. This is what a Receiver is.

The pre amp/processor part of things allows you to select which source you want, adjust "tone", adjust volume, etc. If present, it can also take a very low-voltage Phono level signal (as in ye olde turntable cartridge output), and amplifies it SLIGHTLY to get to the same level as the inputs from CD/DVD, tuner, Bluetooth, etc. (that's probably why they were called "pre-samplifiers" in the fist place).

The Power Amp portion of things takes (low level, low voltage) signal (think of it coming out of the volume control of the pre-amp, sorta like a light dimmer), and AMPLIFIES the living heck out of the signal that is coming out of the pre-amp/processor. Like from 1.5Volts amplitude to let's say 10Volts (in reality it's more). The increased power coming out of he Power Amp is what is needed to drive the speakers.

Now, MLs are generally fairly inefficient - I'm not sure about the newer ones like you have. What does that mean? Well, for a given amount of output power, they will not be as loud as other speakers.

THIS IS DANGEROUS! Not because you'd have to strain to listen.. no, rather the risk is that you try drive a power amp (or receiver, etc.) harder than you should. THEN the power amp cannot serve up the properly shaped audio wave on its output (going into the speaker), and you get what's called a "square wave". Square waves kill speakers. People will say "oh, there are protection circuits and things"... doesn't matter - just a generally bad idea.

So, when trying to match a power amp to speakers, you ALWAYS want an amp that can exceed the pwer rating of you speakers.. sounds weird, but unless you just constantly blast the crap out of your system, it is highly unlikely you will blow your speakers.

Do you research BEFORE you go shopping. In the meantime, just keep the volume on your 3700 at about 50% of max.

My $0.02 - just get a solidly performing, heavy-as-heck (not kidding - the power supplies of Good amplifiers weigh a ton!) solid state amp. I like Bryston - you'd be fine with a 3B ST (125W into 8 ohms, 250W into 4 ohms (like the MLs), or a 4B NRB or 4B ST (250W into 8 ohms, 400 into 4 ohms), but there are a LOT of good amps out there.

I think any amp that has a rating of 120W or more into 8 ohms, AND IS RATED TO RUN 4 Ohm and 2 Ohm speaker loads, should be fine. It should also weigh 30lb or more!

I would not suggest messing about with tubes just yet - get all this straightened out first!

Hope that helps.

Russ
 

Chops

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10 years ago, "forums" like this were all the rage--I think I had 10 or 15 forums I visited on a daily basis. Most of that seems to be encapsulated in places like Facebook "groups" now. The "forum population" is no doubt lower than it was at some time in the past.
Some of the forums I'm on I've been a member of for 13 years or more, and they seem to be doing better now than they were back then. Even ones that I've been a member of for the past 5 to 8 years are doing better now than then. Oh well.
 

jpwden

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All good info so far, thank you!

Spent some time looking around and heres where Im at:
1. Seems like the Bryston 3B and similar are better overall amplifier designs in terms of accurate sound recreation than the amp that is in my 3700 (Class A or Ab versus D--Having trouble verifying what circuitry is actually in the 3700). Does it make sense to add another stage of amplification after the 3700, or would it be better to try to find something powerful enough to just connect the pre-outs on the 3700 for my MLs to something new and do *all* amplification through something else? That is, if the sound is already been adulterated to some degree with the 3700, then that is the best I can get, regardless how nice the following stage is.

2. Regarding tube amps, Im a bit unsure what the big deal would be here to go with? We are still just talking about an amplifier. I play guitar and use strictly tube amps for amplification there--Aside from differences in materials and power ratings and the way it sounds, its all just the same thing. Is there any reason that isnt the case here?

Lastly: While Ive been out of the A/V realm for many years, I did Bachelors and Masters work in EE and understand intimately electrical designs with regards to amplification, etc so please dont be bashful about being overly technical in explanations.

Thanks in advance!
 

Russr

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Hi again

I'd say this is a great case for the "KISS Principle"! Use the 3700 as your pre/pro, and probably amplification for the surrounds. Position something like a 3B ST (or 5B ST if you plan on updating the center-channel with an ESL of sorts and need 3 "equal" amplification channels) close to the 3700 to keep your RCA interconnects relatively short, and be able to leverage your in-place speaker cables.

I'm not a tube aficionado, but it's a bit like "Vinyl vs. digital" - incredibly subjective. I think you will realize a significant improvement by going to one of the amps mentioned above, and once you get there, "make it yours", enjoy it, bask in it... and Then play around with upgrades after a while.

Sorry if my previous post came across as condescending in any way - I'm an "ex-would-be-EE" - maybe I overcompensate for that!

All the best

Russ
 

Stefan_DR3

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Most of that seems to be encapsulated in places like Facebook "groups" now. The "forum population" is no doubt lower than it was at some time in the past.
Hi Josh,

I hear you. I had to leave the Martin-Logan Facebook group because it was getting so repetitive. Too many "my Motians shipped" type posts and, due to the nature of Facebook feeds, lazy posts about the same subject.

Anyway I agree with what Russ said about finding a used Bryston or Anthem amp. You might want to look at a 3-channel amp, in case you get a Martin Logan centre speaker some day, like the Bryston 5B-ST, Lexicon 312, Anthem MCA30 or MCA325.

edit: he beat me to it. Regarding tubes they are high maintenance and generate a lot of heat. Not recommended for a HT system that is going to be used for many hours a day. Remember they are not solid state and can fail catastrophically - replacement tubes can be hard to find and good ones are very expensive. They can sound wonderful in the right environment if you are so motivated.

Stefan
 

jpwden

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Russ, not condescending at all. As I said, Ive been mostly out of the A/V world for the last 10-15 years; between a radically changed space, and a good bit of forgetting, Im happy to receive any and all info thats being handed my way! And always nice to chat with another EE-minded individual! :)

With that said, I think I have a good game plan in place now. Only question left: Is the 3B going to be enough? The 3700 is rated at 105W per channel. The 3B looks like 125W. If the 3B is doing sole amplification for the MLs, is an extra 20W per channel really going to cut it?

Stefan, appreciate the reply. Hearing that the tubes are rare is one really good reason I didnt consider...
 

Russr

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Hiya.

OK, did a bit of research on the ESL-X's. They're a lot newer than the MLs I have had/worked on. It would be GREAT if some ESL-X owners weighed in here on what amplification they're using.

In general, I'd say that the 3B ST (or 5b ST for 3-channel, or 9B ST for 5 channel) should be better than "fine" for now.

IF, however, this turns into one of "those" itches, you will probably find yourself looking at a bigger set of Main ESL's, a center channel, maybe using the ESL-X's as rears.... it happens! If that scenario rings any bells/tugs on any heart strings, then think a bit more about the 4B ST / 6B ST "bigger brothers" from Bryston, or 250W/channel into 8-Ohm amps from a good amp vendor. I shouldn't be saying this, 'cos I'm about to start looking for a 4B ST/6B ST combo myself (on a limited budget!).

So, if your environment potentially lends itself to "playing" with different components, and it's in your nature to "tinker", the bigger amps will give you more flexibility. If your physical setting (room, wiring, etc.) will make that difficult, then Bryston (or other) 125+ W into 8 ohms rated amps will really do better than "fine"!
 

Russr

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@ OP - just messaged you with a listing for a Bryston 5B ST (if Lexicon garb).
 

Lightloopy

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With all due respect, I would not discount the tubes for those reasons. That may have been true in the past.
Tubes are not rare and easily obtainable online. They are priced like cables -reasonable to ridiculous.
Modern tube amps have protection circuits, auto bias, run at a reasonable temps based on design, and easy to maintain.
and like your guitar amps, can sound very nice.
I stayed with SS for many years for those same reasons. You should at least consider them and if you don't like the sound then fine.
For AV Home theatre, I agree with our members that they may not be the best choice but for 2 CH would not write them off.
Good luck in your quest!
 

jpwden

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Lightloopy, a couple follow-up questions if you dont mind:

1. In terms of tube amps for 2ch then, what would you recommend to power the ESL-Xs? What makes sensein a similar price range as the Bryston 3B?
2.The statement on not using for home theater? I run my guitar tube amps for hours and hours. They do get hot, but...I guess so what? Like, are home audio tube amps so bad that they cant run for a few hours and deal with the heat? For the home theater purposes, if Im running other channels off my 3700, what is the harm in letting the tubes run my MLs for a few hours straight? I *will* be using the MLs for both home theater as well a 2ch audio listening...

TIA!
 

Lightloopy

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The ESL-X has the same panel with the notorious impedance dip. So as the other members say, power reserves are key, doubling watt power, etc. I personally feel they need at least 150+watts but price jumps exponentially. That being said there are members very happy with lower powered amps. TTOCS uses Bob Latino Monoblocks 125 watts that are very reasonably priced. Rogue, Conrad-Johnson(Roberto's fave), McIntosh all highly respected. Primaluna also interesting.

2. Tube amps can run all day! I was deferring to our more knowledgable members regarding 3 and 5 CH amps and your HT needs. Just wanted you not to write them off completely. There are many devoted tube fans and SS fans here. Whatever moves you best!
 

Ticat

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Hey, welcome! I too am fairly new to this forum but have two cents to donate, having powered my ML ESL's with, amongst many other amplifiers, both an Anthem and tubes. The advice here, from the many experienced members on this site, can and will, save you a lot of time and money.
The Anthem is definitely the way to go for "ease of use" in a "mixed use" system (that is if the system is both AV and 2 Channel). Both Anthem and Bryston make stable, powerful and articulate amplifiers. Using your AV receiver as a preamp is a great way to "dip your toe" into a higher end system. Having said that, the tube amplifier is more fun and can be "better" for 2 channel, IF USED WITH AN AUTO-FORMER. (It is not an amplifier band aid, it is a speaker fix that allows for an otherwise mediocre speaker/amp match to blossom). You being an EE, I am sure you will investigate, crunch the numbers and come to the conclusion that is best for your situation.
Unfortunately, as much as I love electrostatic speakers (owned Quad 57's for 20+ years) they are a complicated compromise. The low/variable impedance and efficiency limitations create problems unique to the species. Veer "off the path" ( toward tubes) at your own risk. Initially, you would be well advised to avoid the lure of tubes until you try the more traditional solid state amplifiers.
For myself, the Anthem is now paired with Paradigms for AV use and in my 2 channel system, I use a tricked out Elekit TU-8340 with Anti-cable Auto-formers powering ML ESLs and it is Glorious!
Again, Welcome and Enjoy The Ride!!!
 

BigGuy

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I might suggest the Emotiva amps...built like battleships and sound really good. Great bang for the buck!
 

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