System #383 (Ascent, Cinema i, Aeon, Descent)

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Well-known member
Dec 26, 2010
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New Zealand
1. Member Name: F Jeff

2. Location: Middle Earth, New Zealand

3. ML Model(s): Ascent (L/R), Cinema i, Aeon (rears), Descent

4. Year Purchased: 2003, 2005, 2006

5. Mods/Changes: None

6. Associated Electronics:


Sony 2x TA-P9000ES passive preamps
Sony TA-E9000ES processor
Sony 3x TA-N9000ES (Bridged 200watts) power amps
Transparent Wave 200 cables


Sony BDP-S550 Bluray
Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD
Pioneer CLD-2950 Laser Disc
Sony PS3 with Hi Def TV Tuner


Denon DVD-2900 Universal player DVD-A
Sony S-TD777ES DAB Tuner


Draper Targa 150 inch (3 metres across) electric screen – gain 1.4.
Sony HW-10 LCOS projector

7. Comments and/or stories about your Martin Logan experience: Home Theatre for me began around 1993 with a single box Yamaha and small Koss Dynamites squeezed into the spare room of a small German apartment. NTSC Laser Discs from US trips for jazz concerts were my staple, not movies, how standards change!

Along the way I figured this was a serious sideline after hifi and music and I set about re doing the electronics. Finding that the DVD audio codecs were heavily compressed, I decided against ‘esoteric’ gear but still wanted to take the ‘hifi’ approach to system design (separate amps etc). I found out about a project within Sony by their HIFI Division to create a Home Theatre system that could do both, it was the 9000ES series with separate processor, via a passive preamp (Alps pot and relays only) and bridgable power amp plus other matched audio and video components.

I initially put Danish Jamo speakers for this system but the lure of doing the whole system in Martin Logan speakers was too great! I was able to get end of the line Ascents and Aeons and the rest came slowly. It was clear I would need more amps (literally) to drive these and so 2 more power amps were imported and bridged to 200 watts RMS to drive the MLs. If I am really honest these amps extract about 80% of what the MLs can do but I simply cannot justify the cost with such highly compressed audio codecs on DVD.

Meanwhile, I have graduated to BluRay and am watching the HD audio codecs (= might have to upgrade the power amps!) starting to appear on some concert material.

Occasionally I put on a SACD on the multichannel Sony SCD-XA777ES via the passive preamp for grins and find some of the recordings interesting but since it is a failed standard, I cannot get excited on upgrading the power amps just yet.

Back to BluRay and DVD concerts, I really love the MLs in this way, movies of course are a lot of fun, the BluRay resolution is superb at the screen size and the only HDMI cable is going to the LCOS projector. This Sony system is ‘old school’ in that there are no HDMI connectors, only SPDIF and 5.1 analogue paths between the stages with separation between the Home Theatre and HIFI aspects of the system.



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Work in progress

My apologies for the unfinished state of the Home Theatre, it is work in progress, with cables to be hidden, blackout curtains to come, lights to change.

Basically, I am running the BluRay 5.1 HD analogue audio using the player's onboard DACs via one of the passive preamps but routing its SPDIF along with the DVD player's via the processor for Home Theatre. Likewise for the 5.1 analogue audio on the HiFi side of the system, the SACD and DVD-A players via the second passive preamp.


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Woof Woof

Whilst not the ideal placement for the Descent sub next to one of the rears, it is a superb sub which scares the hell out of us whilst watching movies due to its close proximity.

I tend to have it turned down a tad on the passive preamp when listening to 5.1 SACD or DVD-A in 'HiFi' mode.


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Sony's HIFI Division HT project

In line with best practices for architecting a hifi system, I have used 3 of these Sony power amps in bridged mode, each at 200 watts RMS per channel. Not exactly hi current delivery american style but none the less this all Japanese separates system gives those with aspirations of combining hifi with home theatre an opportunity to keep the two signal paths separate from each other.

I have not seen another Japanese system bringing both a 5.1 HT processor and passive preamp together with this much flexibilty around the power amp.

A musician recently listened to some classical material off a SACD on the 2 channel Rowland system, I then played back on the other (identical) SACD player in 5.1 mode via this Japanese multichannel setup. It took about 20 seconds and she comments that the notes seem to run together compared to the Rowland system, this is a sure sign that there is not enough current to drive the MLs.

One day, I will upgrade the power amps but in reality, this is entertainment for me, I wanted a home theatre with hifi aspirations for Laser Disc/DVD/BluRay based concerts and it beats most systems I hear and see despite its modest Sony pedigree.



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Welcome. Suggestion: Pull those speakers out a bit.

Good call, it is just as bad on a couple of other systems due to returning to average sized New Zealand housing after oversized living abroad.

I will be installing curtains behind to diffuse and then see how far into the room I can get away with the MLs before "domestic distortion" makes itself heard!

Oh to get back to large rooms with concrete and block and be able to tune the room myself instead of GIB and wooden frames and suspended wood floors!

Light at the end of the Tunnel

Not yet, I have done it with my main system with good results.

Because this HT is "shoehorned" into a living area I have had to accept a lot of compromise in this house.

Last time around, I had them away from walls, toe'd in, the works in a dedicated room that was 1.5 times larger.

Is the Krell processor worth the money? I ask in light of emerging HD audio codecs on BluRay.

Also, your new Oppo, what were the improvements you like most? It is sort of on my list to consider.

Stoned again?

What do you have your Ascent's / Aeon's sitting on top of? Just pieces of wood?

Hi RedRaider,

I use 3cm granite, the kind one finds in kitchen tops. Heavy as hell. All speakers and amps sit atop with oversized spikes and copper coins between the two. I would prefer to use carbon pads for their inertness instead of copper but have not found an affordable supply for so many.

The granite puts some predictability into the sonic equation, instead of adding suspended wooden floors to the acoustic mix and also keeps the vacuum cleaner away from knocking and marking the speakers when cleaning.

I would head to your local kitchen maker and look for offcuts or a stonemason.

Take care