panels: SL3 vs Summit

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JohnA

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I am at crossroads with my 20-year old SL3s. The panels are well down on high frequencies, despite washing, hoovering etc.
REW graph was a wakeup call, they are down well over 10db above 15K Hz (not that I can hear that high any more lol)

Replacing the panels is expensive with ML's new pricing policy.
For a bit over twice the cost of replacing them I can get a pair of Summits.
The thing is that the Summits are already 13 years old, so I guess they'll need replacement panels in the near future, right?

I biamp the SL3s, and have an extra 18" sub with DSP (below 80Hz) so low frequencies are nice and tight.
So I am not desperate for the Summit's dual 10" woofers and integrated class D amps.

Looks aside, for me the question is panel size and performance: will the replacement SL3 panels be better than aged (or even new) Summit panels?
I understand the Summit panels are a bit smaller, and the replacement SL3 panels will be using newer technology

What do you guys think?
 

Robert D

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I spent a little over $2800 on my new Prodigy panels and have zero doubt I made the right decision. The change in the sound is night and day. Buying 13 year old Summits, you'd end up buying new panels for that within 5 to 7 years anyhow.

The only way I'd replace my Prodigy speakers would be if I bought new MLs. Not prepared to spend $15,000 or more on a pair. If I could afford it, I probably would have bought new. Maybe try to find a set of 15a or 13a speakers just a few years old. Still going to be big $$$.
 

JohnA

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Thanks Robert

Are the Prodigy replacement panels micro-perf or whatever they call them now?
 

JonFo

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Are the Prodigy replacement panels micro-perf or whatever they call them now?
No, all Gen1 panels, including replacements, all use the original perf spacing. Even a brand new Neolith uses Gen1 perf-spacing, as it is the same size as a Monolith panel.
Only new models from the original Summit model onwards (Gen2) use the smaller perf spacings.
 

JohnA

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Thanks Jonathan.

Panel for panel, what is your take on SL3 vs Summit?
If you were to use a panel for a project and had a choice, which one would you go for assuming both were of the same age?
 

JonFo

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will the replacement SL3 panels be better than aged (or even new) Summit panels?
Since I have replaced SL3 panels for my Center channel (based on an SL3), you are better off getting new panels.

If you want to take your pair to a new level, then replace the passive crossovers with an active unit with time delay abilities, such as a DBX Venu360. That will do both the SL3 XO and the sub in a single box.
The guide for what to do to edit the passive is in my SL3XC thread, and I can send you the config from my DriveRack 4800.
 

JonFo

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If you were to use a panel for a project and had a choice, which one would you go for assuming both were of the same age?
Looks like we cross-posted, so already answered one question. If I had the choice, and both the same age, I might still go for the older panel as it is a taller line source.
If space were a constraint, then the Summit panel. But the difference is not huge.
 

JohnA

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Thanks Jonathan.
I have entertained the active Xover idea in the past, decided against the extra complexity for now, but may well go for it with the new panels.
I'd really want to avoid passing the high frequency signal through any electronics if possible - but this may change
 

JonFo

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I understand the concern, but the DBX's are very transparent, and the improvements in mids and highs are totally worth it. being able to time-align the panel to woofer is also a huge benefit.
 

rhd1953

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Consider new Magnepan full range electrostatic speakers.

My CLS (I and II) had 13 db treble roll off...replacement panels are more than the CLS IIs' cost new in 1989.

I prefer full range electrostatic speakers, I purchased the Magnepan LRS last year. In a small room w/bunglow sloped ceiling(room is 12'x30', using a 12'x12' portion) the LRS ($650) sound better than the CLS II did when they were new in 1989. In fact, I have replaced my CLS with Magnepan 0.7 ($1500) in my home theater (room is 11.5'x19'), still using the ML subs. These full range Magnepan speakers now have a quasi ribbon (since 2010) attached to a mylar diaphragm and a range of affordable prices. I immediately noticed much better sound stage and clarity in all my music. Loud or quiet music has excellent bass (vibrant double bass), mid-range, and treble. A receiver would not be adequate to drive these.

Larger rooms may require larger speakers. Note the size of the Magnepan 0.7 along side the CLS in my home theater room.
 

JohnA

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Interesting alternative.
I'm in the UK where Maggies are more 'exotica' and less common.
What about dynamics, are they more dynamic than ML panels?
Below 250Hz let's assume a sub will be helping anyway
 

JohnA

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There is someone selling a pair of MG-3 currently in the UK. They're asking for *less* than ML ask for replacement panels.

They are 6ft tall, so may produce some dynamics due to size alone
Would the age (40 years?) that be too old to own? Would they decay/corrode like the electrostatics?
 

coherent

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Since I have replaced SL3 panels for my Center channel (based on an SL3), you are better off getting new panels.

If you want to take your pair to a new level, then replace the passive crossovers with an active unit with time delay abilities, such as a DBX Venu360. That will do both the SL3 XO and the sub in a single box.
The guide for what to do to edit the passive is in my SL3XC thread, and I can send you the config from my DriveRack 4800.
May i ask how much paid for the panels?
 

Stereonerd

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I'm not sure about the verdict above that with a pair of Summits, because of the age, that you'd be up for panel replacement within a few years. Surely it would be entirely dependent on the condition of the panels. If they've been well cared for, then surely the Summit (or any other ML panels) could have many, many years left in them.
 

Robert D

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Thanks Robert

Are the Prodigy replacement panels micro-perf or whatever they call them now?
No. They use the same metal panel design as before. The coating on the mylar is the new one they use now and supposed to be better.
 

rhd1953

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There is someone selling a pair of MG-3 currently in the UK. They're asking for *less* than ML ask for replacement panels.

They are 6ft tall, so may produce some dynamics due to size alone
Would the age (40 years?) that be too old to own? Would they decay/corrode like the electrostatics?
I'd do a search on MG issues for pre quasi ribbon (2010) speaker problems! Why buy used when there's a wide price/size range available new.
MG details:
"Jim Winey created Magnepan speaker technology in his basement in 1968. He opened shop in White Bear Lake, Minnesota in 1969. The technology began with an extremely thin, low mass Mylar diaphragm stretched across an open frame. Thin wires were glued to the Mylar. Signal was fed
into the wires, which were induced to move by their proximity to bar magnets.

In 2010 Magnepan technology took a big jump from the above “magneplanar” technology to “quasi ribbon” technology. Starting in the SEVEN series, the metal voice coil was improved to wide strips of foil instead of skinny “piano wire.” Everything about Magnepan speakers improved substantially.


Today all of the models below utilize the QUASI RIBBON technology! Grill material is available in black, off white or gray. Sides can be aluminum (silver or black), or wood (oak, cherry, black oak)."

Quote is from the "Audio Emporium" site. Note: I've found my new MG 0.7 (2020) just as dynamic as the CLS II (which I first bought in 1989), despite the smaller MG size. I'm also hearing far more "detail" in all my music.
 

JohnA

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After a lot of head scratching I've decided to go for replacement panels.
Quite pricey here in the UK at $2K, and 2-3 month lead times add insult to injury

My (very) close second was to sell them and get new 1.7i maggies. They retail for £3K here in the UK, almost 50% more than the US.
Older MLs are not as attractive now that I've realised how easily these panels age.
I guess it doesn't help that some sunlight could go through the back of them, especially the right one that is a couple of db down on volume as well. I do have curtains and shades, but still it's a very big window and not a wall.

I'm hoping that brand new panels will make the SL3s better than I've ever heard them, since they were 7 years old when I first bought them.
I'm also hoping that they will sound better than new maggies, since they are slightly easier to place in my room and their conductive mylar is bound to be lighter than the maggies' mylar with foils stuck on it. Plus there's more mylar surface area and electrostatic forces push-pull more uniformly (speculating here!)

I've also ordered two pairs of pillow cases to cover the new panels from now on when not in use. The soft microfiber cases will be on the inside, the others on the outside with a persian rug pattern to look better. Protection from light, dust, humidity, elements in general. Wish I had been doing that with the existing panels, but live and learn eh..
 
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Russr

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I have a pair of SL-3's, with a spare set of panels waiting fgor when they are needed. Something just occurred to me.. if the comparison between newer & older MLs has anything to do with all the fancy new ARC electronics, etc. (and if you already have base handled by a sub), I might have stumbled on a cheapie (yeup, that's me) way of getting a nicely set up, great sounding config without breaking the bank.

Say for example you have a set of SL-3s. If you happen to have a Anthem Pre/Pro or receiver, you're already set (the parent company of both Anthem and ML is Paradigm).

If that's NOT the case, Paradigm seems to have been dumping the DTS-Play-fi enabled pre-amp boxes (PW-Link). Here's the thing... it comes with ARC! It might not be at the same level as you get with the high-end pre/pros, but it'll do a pretty decent job. For $199 ( PW LINK ), it's worth experimenting with... I just bought one to play with. Admittedly, I wanted to see of DTS Play-Fi has progressed much, and the PW link might be limited (have to use Play-Fi app, etc.), but for one-time setup... who cares?!

I might start a new thread on this, too...
 

JohnA

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Not sure I'd be happy with my high-frequency signal going through ARC and then to the panels.
It smells like analog->digital-conversion, and then yet another digital->analog conversion.

with just sub frequencies I have no problem, they are no audible distortions below 80Hz with modern digital electronics.
I have 24/96 equaliser but will not dare use it on the signal path of the panels
 

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