Once & for all-Panel Degradation over time?

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Jodet

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About 8 years ago (approx) I bought a pair of Aerius I's. They sounded great for about two years. Over time, they didn't sound as good. After two and a half years they didn't sound very good at all.

I have read, and been told that the sound quality on ML panels degrades over time, sometimes rather quickly. I was talking to one of the salesguys at the local ML dealer, he's an ML fanatic, been selling and owning them for years.

We were talking about the newer models (Vantage, etc) and he told me that the new design has 'fixed the sound degradation problem'. I said, 'you mean where you spent thousands of dollars on a pair of speakers and in a few years the don't sound so good? That sucked'. He looked me right in the eye and said, 'Yeah...THAT SUCKED'. He was dead serious about this.

I called ML about this once and hit some tech guy on a day when maybe he wasn't thinking so much about the company line. He told me about 're-paneling speakers' every so often. I forget the time he mentioned but it was closer to 'every few years' than 'every ten years' (which might be reasonable).

So.....what is the deal with ML panels loosing their sound quality over time?
Is there a problem? Have the new speakers 'solved it'?

A friend of mine and I think about getting ML's but this issue really stops us cold.

All comments welcome.

-J
 

robertawillisjr

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Well there is a lot of reading that you can do here about panel sound degradation. You will see that clean, dry and smokefree envirnments are the best.

You will also see that there are numberous techniques for cleaning panels. Electrostatic panels do need to be cleaned regularly. How much depends upon your environment and how anal you tend to be (a friend of mine cleans his ML's twice a week and has one of those tricked up air cleaners in his room).

So my suggestions is to look here and in the tweaks section for all of the information you need to keep your panels clean and sounding good.

Welcome aboard the site. :D
 

attyonline

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You are grossly exaggerating the time it takes panels to typically degrade. My brother in law has original Quests he bought over ten years ago and they sound great. My Aerius i were over six years old when I got my Aeon speakers, and they sounded as good when I sold them as they did when I bought them. Even if panels do need to be replaced, they run around $500 a pair, which is a bargain for seven or more years of ML sound. Course you are free to listen to an inferior speaker that never needs to be repaired, but I never would do this. BTW, I have heard nothing about panel improvements on the new speakers eliminating the need for panel replacement. I am skeptical of this but am willing to hear from those with first hand knowledge on the matter.
 
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cfrahme52

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Well, I'm the original owner of the Aerius speakers, purchased in July 1996.
Over the years they've gotten their share of playing-probably 2 hrs. every night and more on weekends. Classical, jazz, rock, chamber-you name -at pretty good volume levels. They sound just as good as when they were newly broken in. My wife and I notice no degradation in their sound. Now, they reside in a smoke free enviroment, out of direct sunlight and I've vacuumed, dusted and occassionally have damp mopped them down. That's it. Still going strong and we wouldn't think of replacing them. That's 10 yrs., original panels, woofers, etc.
 

JonFo

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Two and half years is way to short a life-span. Even older panels (circa '93) can and do sound great today. Not at peak performance mind you, but very listenable.

For a panel to noticeably degrade that fast it must have been in the sun, never vacuumed or exposed to serious dust and smoke.

I recently replaced 13 year-old panels on my Monoliths and while the difference was notable; they did not sound horrible before the swap.

My calculus is that ML panels that are well cared for will sound great for at least eight or more years. Then they will still be acceptable up until about a dozen years. After that, it's more of a crap shoot regarding adhesive durability, dust build-up and whether the stator charge is still at original specs.

Looking at a common size (4'x13" of an SL3 / Ascent ), replacement is only $550/pair. This is very reasonable to totally update the entire 250Hz on up reproduction system.

Price out the cost of replacing a midrange/tweeter on any other >$3K speaker system and let me know if they can do it for $550/pair.

Now, most dynamic speakers do not need a driver replacement every dozen years, however, it's a lot easier to burn out a tweeter, or have a misbehaving midrange (do some searches on AVS or audioholics).
And, those older tweeters and midranges are not performing at original spec, trust me on that.

ESL's are not for everyone, but then the performance they give is absolutely unique and worth every effort to obtain the max from them.
 

edwinr

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The Summits and Vantages have new technoloy in their panel construction. I'm also wondering if they will actually last longer than earlier panels.
 

enilsen

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I know at first hand that panel degrading was true for those built in the 80's. In fact it was quite significant after the first year of ownership. Listening at a distance you would forever be trying to find that sweet spot only to realize that the high frequencies were more predominant on the right half of the panel and left side was somewhat dull.

At that time there was no internet to give you any answers and there were so few people who owned these speakers it was hard to exchange ideas and fixes. Of course panel replacement was an option, but at a price and if you lived outside the US expect that price to be double due to freight and import taxes. Not a cheap solution at all. In fact the only viable solution would be to purchase brand new speakers due to advancements in electronics and better manufacturing materials.

BTW. I'm still using my original 19 year old CLS panels and they sound fantastic.
 
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amey01

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It depends on the environment the speakers are in, and the maintenance they have had. If they are in a dry, smoke free, dust free environment - and you vacuum them regularly (say every month or so) they should last upwards of 10 years - the older ones or the new ones.

Alternatively, if they are in a humid, tropical, smoky, dusty environment - and you neglect them by not cleaning them - I'd say you'd be lucky to get 2 years!

It is all about these pollutants attaching themselves to the panel, making it heavier and less able to respond to the music signal. Operate them in a pristine environment (say, an infection control room) and I dare say they'd last indefinantly?
 

TomDac

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amey01 said:
It depends on the environment the speakers are in, and the maintenance they have had. If they are in a dry, smoke free, dust free environment - and you vacuum them regularly (say every month or so) they should last upwards of 10 years - the older ones or the new ones.

Alternatively, if they are in a humid, tropical, smoky, dusty environment - and you neglect them by not cleaning them - I'd say you'd be lucky to get 2 years!

It is all about these pollutants attaching themselves to the panel, making it heavier and less able to respond to the music signal. Operate them in a pristine environment (say, an infection control room) and I dare say they'd last indefinantly?
Amey hit the nail on the head. This has been discussed on the site before.. Please use the SEARCH function - It works!

:)

Panel Life Span
When to Replace your Panels
How long do panels last?
 
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