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System #45 (Monolith IIIx, SL3XC, Sequel II)

MartinLogan Owners (MLO)

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JonFo

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1. Member Name: Jonathan Foulkes - AKA: JonFo

2. Location: Big Canoe, GA (Atlanta Metro)

3. ML Model(s): Monolith III Active X-over, Sequel IIb, SL3XC

4. Year Purchased: 1993 - 1995, 2006

5. Mods/Changes: DriveRack 4800 speaker processors as active X-over / Delay / EQ for Monolith’s, center and sub. DriveRack 260 speaker processor for rears. Updated woofers on Monolith, see description of update to new Peerless units at the thread on this forum.
Built my own Center Channel based on an SL3

6. Associated Electronics:
- Marantz AV8802A pre-amp with Atmos support, Audyssey Pro calibrated (by me)
- Sanders Sound systems ESL amp 2x330 for Monolith panels.
- Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature 5x400 for center and rear panels
- Sunfire Cinema Grand 5x200 for overheads and center mid-bass array
- Sunfire stereo 2x200 for Monolith Woofers
- Crown XLS602 2x600 (4Ohm) for Infinite Baffle sub
- Crown XLS2500 2,500w (4Ohm) for rear 18" sub
- QSC GX 5 500wpc for nearfield MidBass Modules
- DBX DriveRack 260 speaker processor (Rears )
- DBX DriveRack 4800 speaker processor (Monolith,SL3XC, MBMs)
- Guitamer Buttkicker 1000w amp and Tactile Transducer (on couch)
- Denon DVD2930ci Universal player
- Toshiba HD-A35 HD-DVD player
- Oppo BD-103 Blu-Ray player / Network player
- Apple TV
- Amazon FireTV 4K
- Panasonic BP-UB820 UHD BD player
- Sony PlayStation3 - Car sim games (GT HD)
- DirecTV Genie HD-DVR
- Pioneer Elite CLD-97 (w/AC-3 upgrade) LaserDisc player
- HTPC - Core i5 mini-ATX running Jriver MC 24, HDMI to processor
- JVC DLA-RS4810 4K front projector
- Stewart Studiotek 130 micro-perf acoustically transparent screen 100" diag. 4:3 (to cover 4' tall center)
- SurgeX Axess Elite power sequencer
- Custom relay-controlled Power Distribution Unit (build thread)
- Balanced Power subsystem - EquiTech 5Kva toroid
- Full home and AV automation controller based on HomeSeer, Zwave lighting, GlobalCache IR and relay control, Philips Hue system
- Harmony Elite (w/hub) universal remote, with HomeSeer integration
- RealTraps and RPG Acoustics room treatments
- Custom acoustic treatments
- Salamander Design racks (twin 7' units) in dedicated, cooled equipment room

6.1 Additional speakers
- Custom Infinite Baffle subwoofer with 4 15" drivers housed in the first in-room manifold ever deployed
- Custom sealed sub, Dayton Ultimax-18 driver in re-purposed Velodyne ULD cabinet, 2,500w Crown amp powers it
- Custom vented nearfield MidBass Modules behind MLP with 12" HiVi M12 drivers, powered by QSC GX5 500wpc amp
- Atmos overheads 4x JBL SCS-8

7. Comments and/or stories about your Martin Logan experience:

Love the sound quality of these large Electrostats, when hosted in a room designed for them, they really come alive.

Now with a full room treatment using >45 commercial products from RealTraps, RPG and my custom side treatments, the sound is superb and it looks wonderful as well.

I finally got the center channel I always wanted by designing and building it myself. The results are incredible.

Bass performance is incredible thanks to the large Infinite Baffle sub paired with an 18" sealed sub symmetrically placed at the rear of the room and augmented by dual MidBass Modules behind the main seats, there is deep extension along with the sensory impact that makes music and movies come alive.

8. An image of your system.

Here are front and rear views of the home theater:

HT Front 2020.jpg

HT Front3qtr view 2020.jpg
 
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JonFo

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[edit] 20018.5.5 - Updated graphic to once again reflect changes.
The list above is kept current
[\edit]

XStatic Connectivity 2018.jpg

Jonathan
 
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E

EricE

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Hi Jonathan,

Glad to see you here again. I posted your pic from the IB cult a while back as I am very interested in a IB setup for my HT as I think I have a perfect setup for it.

Your setup looks and must sound amazing!
 

Robin

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Beautiful System...

JonFo said:
The pic is old, it shows the old subs on the sides and is missing the Hush box over the projector. Will post updated pics when I get some spare time.

Jonathan
Jonathan,

You have an excellent system! I was reading your most recent posts on a thread I started regarding, 'why we like mono blocks so much'... ;) I was intrigued by your views, so I wanted to see your system. Wow, you are a Sunfire poster child, my friend. :D I was considering the Sunfire Cinema Signature Grand seven ~ 400 for a very long time, and you have not one, but two Signature Grand five ~ 400's. Your Sunfire amplification is just amazing.

So you bi-amp most of your speakers? You must have additional dedicated electrical ampheres - circuitry for your HT, just to power in all?

I love the ML Monolith III Active X-over... :D

Beautifully powerful system.
 

Robin

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Newer Photo's...

Jonathan,

Back in march of last year, you had eluded to posting some more photos of your system, when you had the time... ;)

I almost forgot to ask, if you could please post some newer / up-dated photo's of your fantastic system... :D
 

JonFo

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Robin said:
...

So you bi-amp most of your speakers? You must have additional dedicated electrical ampheres - circuitry for your HT, just to power in all?

I love the ML Monolith III Active X-over... :D

Beautifully powerful system.
Hi Robin,

Yes, as noted in the diagrams at my web site, I bi-amp (or more, depends on the channel). For example, the Left / Right have highs, lows and sub crossovers.

I run a very complex power management system I designed myself. It is based around the Equitech (www.equitech.com) line of Balanced Power transformers.

I run a 5KVA transformer that feeds my entire A/V system. It has made a noticeable difference in the audio and the video. Primarily, a lack of noise and ‘grime’ in the low level audio and reduced noise-bars in the video.
Plus, the huge reserves of the big torodial transformer smooth any peak demands from the five power amps (15 channels total, some biamping and a 7.1 layout).
The voltage meters never vary, even under the most intense demands (movie explosions, with full field white on the big CRT projector and all channels driven hard).

While I originally ran multiple 20 and 30 amp feeds into my HT from the breaker box, I wound up hooking up the Equitech to a 30 amp dual phase line and creating my own local power distribution network in my HT equipment room. This eliminates any RFI or other interference picked up along the way to the HT equipment room (50’ from mains box).

The rig is controlled by an automation system (HouseBot) through a bunch of custom relay’s I put into the outputs of the Equitech. This lets me perform sequential startup and shutdowns of the system under full automation control. This is a requirement when peak inrush for the entire rig is somewhere north of 50 amps :eek:

I also wired the power outlets for the MartinLogan speakers into the Equitech fed network. This eliminated some slight hum and buzzes they were picking up from dimmers in the house. No problem with Balanced power, and much more effective than any power cable ‘upgrade’ in term so what the speaker can do.

Since we’re talking power management and conditioning, I also added a set of Powergy PowerMax (http://www.powergy.com/) power factor correction and whole house surge protection to my mains panels. These power factor correctors made a huge difference in the noise generated by electric motors in the house (refrigerators especially) and since my main kitchen built-in fridge is over the HT, I appreciated the results.
They also attenuate the noise side effects of dimmers throughout the home.
And they help save money to boot. Should pay for itself in about five years ( or less time if you live in California ;)

Thanks for the kind comments.

PS- the whole room was designed around the Martin Logans, and all wiring was specified by me. It was so over the top (HT and the whole house) that the orginal electricians quit on the very first day of the job :D
 
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Robin

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Awesome Electrically Distributed / Conditioned HT & Home...

Jonathan,

Your description of totally up-grading, designing and modernizing your HT & home electrical distribution / surge protection and power conditioning, with Equitech Balanced Power Transformers as well as Powergy PowerMax power conditioning / whole house surge protection is just truly incredible. ;) Wow! what a home improvement project. I had to laugh when you said that the electrician quit after the first day. :eek: It is amazing how some "professional" service folks just are not up to the task. I have found that is so very true, anything else is the exception. I appreciate and find it rather interesting that most of the electrical improvements you described, would not be very visible in a photo, so thank you for taking the time to explain what is behind your wonderful HT System. But if you get the chance, I would love to see more of your current system in photographs, as for one thing, other than a high-end audio store, I don't think I have ever heard of so many "Sunfire" amplifiers in one HT system before...
Your HT system and experience has given me fresh ideas for better sounding HT. :)

You have an incredibly awesome HT system... :D
 

Kruppy

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All I can say is "Holy Cr@p".

How much time have you devoted to your system? Looks like a lifetime from your website.
 
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Robin

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Far-Out Wow...

Kruppy said:
All I can say is "Holey Cr@p".

How much time have you devoted to your system? Looks like a lifetime from your website.
Jonathan,

Kruppy, you can say that again. Jonathan your web-site is the extreme in audio cool. Excellent photo's too... :D You give audiophiles a good name Jonathan. Thank you for sharing... :D

Wonderful HT and system. :D
 

JonFo

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Kruppy said:
All I can say is "Holy Cr@p".

How much time have you devoted to your system? Looks like a lifetime from your website.
Ah, time, yes lot's of that and cash I'm afraid ;)

Hey, it's a hobby. I sometimes think I'm going for the 'Most Complex System' award.

Been putting this particular system together since 1998. Pieces get upgraded here and there, but mostly I just keep adding stuff.

The most fun thing to add in the recent years was the Infinite Baffle Sub. That thing is amazing. It is sooo clean and plays sooo deep it really adds a new dimension to music and movies. It’s the perfect match to the MartinLogans. :cool:

The reason an IB totally surpasses a good sub is that low-frequency reproduction at high SPL is all about moving enough air, my IB has 15.24 liters (or 870 cubic inches) of volumetric displacement, whereas a Velodyne ULD-18 only has 2.15 liters (or 131 ci) of displacement. That’s 6.5 times the displacement as the driver in the Velo. :eek:

All sealed box subs create distortions and need massive amp power to compress the air in the box. The velo's use servo feedback to fight (quite effectively) the distortion, but they have to give up something, and that something is SPL.

An IB in contrast needs very little power, as it's ultimately driver excursion limited, they do not waste effort or create distortions trying to compress anything, as the air mass is roughly equal front and back of the driver.
Now, mind you I still think the world of Velo's and I moved one of my ULD's to the loft system and it's awesome there. I also would get a DD-18 in a heartbeat if I could no longer have an IB.

But unless you've actually experienced (not just heard) a really good IB setup, you just have no idea how much better it can be. I know I sure did not before I built mine.

Cheers.
 
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JonFo

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Updates to list

Finally got around to updating the Pic and the list to reflect the latest in the efforts to lock down that coveted 'most complex system' award ;)

Nothing like designing and building a three way center channel speaker to match my Monoliths to really challenge the skill set. But it was a ton of fun to do. And the results are absolutely incredible.
The front soundfield balance is near perfect and the mid-bass power of the system is like no other ML rig I've ever heard.
Very happy.

Bedsides the new center, I’ve updated the Monolith panels as well.
The Logos was sold.

HD Video and HD Audio are totally awesome in this theater now. I've had guys over who have very nice systems (each worth >$60K ) and they all walk out shaking their heads and wondering why theirs doesn’t keep up. That big Infinite Baffle is one reason, but the rebalanced MLs are the other.

Well, I'm off to enjoy a movie and music day.

Cheers
 
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johnwa

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Amazing

undefinedI have been a ML fan since the first time I saw a pair of Sequel's in a high end audio store. I was first struck by the design and then when the owner fired them up I could not believe what I was experiencing. That demo left a huge impression on me but finances and priorities at the time (I know they were screwed up) did not allow me to purchase them the. However, I never forgot that experience and as soon as I could I bought a pair of Sequel II's and have never looked back. I used my Sequel's) as the core of my two channel dream system for about 6 years and they remain the front end of my HT system. They are complemented by a ML Center channel but I am now completely humbled by your genius and ingenuity as what you built is brilliant. The rest of the home theatre speaker set up is made up of four M&K surrounds and a Volodyne sub (again humbled as by your discription you have managed to harnessed thunder itself).

In any event, I am new to this amazing site and stumbled across it as I was searching for information on Monolith III's as I am looking for a pair (found them by the way) to have them service as the focal point of a new/old new deam two channel system. I have been pouring over this site for a few days now and am completely in awe of what so many people have done and amazed at what you have in your head that I would love to apply to the Monolith's that I hope will soon grace my home office area. With that in mind I would love to get some more practical advice on the active cross over path you have taken. I read the thread and will probably pass on the ML active cross over and go with the DBX DriveRack260 speaker processor you use. Do you have a "how to" guide for me to follow?

I am so happy to have stumbled into this incredible forum and see so many people share this passion. I will fill out the profiles with pictures etc soon but any advice you might pass on would be greatly appreciated.
 

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johnwa said:
... I have been pouring over this site for a few days now and am completely in awe of what so many people have done and amazed at what you have in your head that I would love to apply to the Monolith's that I hope will soon grace my home office area. With that in mind I would love to get some more practical advice on the active cross over path you have taken. I read the thread and will probably pass on the ML active cross over and go with the DBX DriveRack260 speaker processor you use. Do you have a "how to" guide for me to follow?

I am so happy to have stumbled into this incredible forum and see so many people share this passion. I will fill out the profiles with pictures etc soon but any advice you might pass on would be greatly appreciated.
John, welcome aboard and thanks for the kind words.

We are all here to help each other and share some good times around our little hobby.

I have been giving some thought to posting a ‘How To” guide for doing active crossovers and then tuning the system, as it seems popular enough and I sure keep preaching it ;)
It will be a fairly lengthy document, as this is no easy subject, but there are ways to tip-toe into and learn progressively.

What I’ll do is start out with a bit of a community effort, with an open thread in the DIY forum where we can start out and chat about the goals of this guide and even some drafts of elements for it. That way people can either contribute content or seek further clarifications before final publication.

Enjoy your new Monoliths and make sure you see all my posts about tweaking them (just look for posts I’ve made on the forum using the advanced search by user name, or click this). Some have pics and tips for updating panels and woofers.
 

johnwa

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Thanks for the response and I did look at some of your mods which is what drew me to explore this venue in more depth. I am sure there are a few people out there like me that would love to do the tweaks you have done but just do not have the knowlege. The woofer replacement assembly looks straight forward but is this something you recomond I do out of the gate?

I have a choice on whether or not to purchase a pair of Monolith's with the factory active cross over or passive. There are two pairs and someone has first rights on the Actives but based on what I read I should go with the DBX DriveRack 260 anyway. I looked up the dealers in Seattle (that you for the link that made that easy) and based on your notes the costs are about a wash. The delta between the active and passive option for the Monolith's are about $1,000.

Any advice and guidence would be appreciated as I am a complete novice when it comes to anything outside of writting the checks.
 

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Hi John,

Wow, it’s rare to have the choice of passive or active, the market for Monoliths is generally more constrained. You’re lucky ;-)

Of course, I’ll recommend the passive set, as it’s a) cheaper and b) you can use a better crossover/processor on it.

I am concerned about your statements of expertise, as using any active, factory or not, requires a bit of learning how to setup. As long as you are willing to learn and ask questions, you should be fine.

The factory exos crossover is a well built piece and is likely a much better sounding set up than the passive, so if you want simplicity and good sound, then get that for starters, then graduate to a processor. I’m sure someone here would pay a reasonable amount for a factory active.

However, tweaking can be a lot of fun. And since every room and system is different, the flexibility afforded by a speaker processor is a huge advantage.

I can help out with both knowledge and little accelerators like a pre-defined configuration for your drive rack. That way at least a baseline setup will be done and all you’d have to do is refine it for your room.

But this does bring up a couple of points / questions:
- You have to bi-amp (required for actives). What amps do you have / are considering?
o That can be (and has been) a whole thread unto itself ;)

- Sounds like you’re willing to update woofer, highly recommended, are you up to it?
o It’s fairly simple to do, just requires some care to not mar the leather finish.

- What state are the panels of the two sets you are considering?
o That might be a factor in your decision as well, as the set with panels less than four years old would be worth about $700 more in my opinion.
o If neither set has had panel updates, and they are >8 years old. Plan on spending about $1000 on new panels (incl shipping) either now, or in the near future. The new panels do sound great once you update.

Cheers,
 

johnwa

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I was completely amazed to find the first pair (passive) as I never see Monolith's. The second pair (Active) apparently come from the same person who owned the first (I would love to see what they are trading up for) so I think they are both about the same age and condition. I have only seen the passive pair and age is more than 8 years but in prestine shape. There is a person ahead of me and has first right of refusal on what ever pair he wants but I get what ever he doesn't take. Don't like it but I am just happy to be in a spot to pick a pair up at a decent price.

I am hoping for the passive set now as I have seen them and am now convinced I need to go with the DriveRack if I can get myself over the learning curve. The room they are going in is going to be dedicated to them and a new two channel set up. I will probably pull the McIntosh 2205 amp from my HT set up to drive the panels and will have to get something to drive the woofers. I have a very old Phase Linear but I will probably have to go shopping immediately or as soon as I can afford it. The place I am picking up the speakers has a decent B&K and or a Sunfire at good prices but I am thinking of new amps anyway. To that point I am now reading about amps on the site so open to suggestions on the subject.

If you don't mind with helping with a litlle knowledge transfer and the pre-defined configuration for your driverack you mentioned that seems like a great start. The room is decent size (about 14ft wide and 21ft long) and I have some flexibility.
 
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JonFo

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kach22i said:
With a system like that, do you ever leave the house? :)

You know, now that you mention it, I rarely do ;)


Actually, I'm very lucky to live in a resort area, so I rarely need to travel to enjoy walks in the forrest or rowing a canoe on a lake. But then, whenever the weather is not cooperative, there is this really nice high-tech cave...
 
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JonFo

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Equipment list just keeps getting longer.

Just added 2 DirecTV HR20 high-def DVR's, as my HR10 HD-TiVo can't receive the MPEG-4 HD locals. Therefore, add new DVR that handles MPEG4.

One unit goes in the theater, second unit goes to loft system. I now have six active DVR's on account, so I need to drain content from some older TiVo's and decommision. Four active should be more than enough for two people. :eek:

The HR20 is no TiVo from a usability standpoint, but it gets the job done and has great video quality.
 
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