System #544 (ESL9)

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RAH

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MEMBER NAME:
Rehan.

LOCATION:
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.

MARTIN LOGAN MODEL:
Classic ESL 9.

DATE OF PURCHASE:
March 13th, 2019.

MODIFICATION:
None.

ASSOCIATED ELECTRONICS:

I acquired Anthem STR integrated amp approx. year ago. Furthermore, I employ Anthem MCA 225 power amp to power the woofers of Classic 9. The electrostatic panel is powered by Anthem integrated amp. In other words I biamplify Classic 9. Anthem variable pre out is linked to power amp inputs via 0.6m Nordost Blue Heaven rca interconnect. Panel speaker cable is 2m Nordost Blue Heaven with bananas on both ends. Woofer cable is 6 feet DHLabs silver sonic with spades on both ends. Source is Dell desktop. Desktop linked to integrated via 1.5m Shunyata Research Venom USB cable. For both amplifier I use power cables that were supplied with integrated amp. Except for USB cable which was not available at time of purchase in shorter length all other signal transfer cable lengths have been intentionally kept short to prevent excessive signal degradation that takes place over longer lengths of speaker cable and to a lesser extent in interconnects.

MARTIN LOGAN CLASSIC ESL 9, LISTENING TO NEAR PERFECT LOUDSPEAKER, MY EXPERIENCE:
Sunrise:

Big improvement in overall dynamics when I biamplified Classic 9 when compared to only biwire via single integrated amplifier. Listener can easily tell music comes from the loudspeaker. And to a lesser extent from space between the speakers. Biamplified, the sonics are comparatively effortless and far more open with space between different music instruments. The integrated driving both panel and woofers does not have enough power at moderate volume levels to produce open sounding, powerful in presence, dynamics from Classic 9.

Sunshine:
On the positive side, low frequency’s reach high levels. Rattles the music room entrance door glass panes. Classic 9 similar to CLS has live midrange and unlike CLS does not have understated treble. The highs are done right. Classic 9 are neither bright nor dull however just right. If a mix of music instruments are being played then each instrument sonics are clear without any congestion. Instruments have sonic presence. Loudspeaker is quite dynamic and sounds like a dynamic speaker. Though with greater transparency, detail, purity and micro dynamics when compared to dynamic technology transducers at this price point.

Clouds:
I find hard to fault ESL 9. However few things need improvement. First, sonics can be heard to come from the loudspeaker. Second, the bass is not like the bass from a well made acoustic suspension loudspeaker. No wonder, since one of the woofer is bass reflex. Third, similar to most dynamic speakers at Classic 9 price point, weak at painting a changing aural landscape. No magic in presentation unlike CLS. Sonics are presented in a straightforward manner. Finally, compared to Classic 9, CLS was better at reproducing transients.

Overall sunshine:
On comparison of Classic 9 to CLS, I prefer the sound of CLS. If someone were to buy my Classic 9 I would then buy with the acquired funds new CLS panels. On the one hand, I have tried to be accurate in my review. On the other hand, desktop been in operation for the past 5 years unlike rest of my recently acquired hardware and cables. Stabimatic power supply been in operation for the past 8 years. The desktop and power supply are the weakest link and may cause qualitative understatement error in evaluating Classic 9. Meaning if the desktop and voltage regulator were recently acquired too then my review may have been more favorable.

Anthem STR integrated is too expensive, unreliable and power output over rated. Anthem has made this amp too complex meaning too many unnecessary software controlled features. One such feature is ARC. ARC software works imperfectly and when ARC functions makes the music to my ears sound less pleasant. Integrated sounds far better with ARC deactivated. This has been my experience not necessary others have had same experience.
Rehan system 4.jpg
 
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RAH

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Introduction:
This post is made to update above post with recent developments that occur after cables are fully run in and 9’s are fully run in.

Some additional sunshine and removal of cloud cover:
Now the music comes in addition from the speaker from the space between loudspeakers. Bass blends well with ESL panel, is abundant and sounds quite good. ESL 9 image fairly well.

Conclusion:
As far as ability to thrill is concerned Classic 9 take a close second place after CLS.
 
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Robert D

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So it sounds like it took awhile for the speakers to "break-in"? Wondering how long it takes for new panels to go through that break in period.
 

RAH

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So it sounds like it took awhile for the speakers to "break-in"? Wondering how long it takes for new panels to go through that break in period.
I do not have the answer to your question. My guess is for panels, woofers and digital and woofer cable a time period equal to in my case one year 4 months. Music system during winter season sounds better compared to summer season.
 

JonFo

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When I replaced the Monolith panels and put in the new SL3 panel for the center, it took a few weeks of playing a few hours a day (on avg) to get them broken in (I used measurements & ear).
So a lot depends on how much they are used daily.
But the shift is rather small, yet noticeable. So best run them for a few weeks, tweaking positioning and treatments before really given them a critical listen.

Music system during winter season sounds better compared to summer season.
Yep, ESLs are affected by humidity, so run then in an air-conditioned room. Some of us even added dedicated mini-splits to help with that.
 

RAH

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I listen to music on average 9 hours a day. Some days 6 hours and other days 12 hours.

If only one variable was being considered holding others constant I may have been able to know how long it takes for new panels to break in. In the roughly one year 4 months I have had my 9’s I initiated 4 additional variables. Such as new str integrated amp, new digital cable, new woofer speaker cable and lastly some room treatment. All done at different times during this one year 4 month period.

My CLS I bought used. The dealer then told me it will take a year for the used panel to be fully broken in.
 
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Robert D

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When I replaced the Monolith panels and put in the new SL3 panel for the center, it took a few weeks of playing a few hours a day (on avg) to get them broken in (I used measurements & ear).
So a lot depends on how much they are used daily.
But the shift is rather small, yet noticeable. So best run them for a few weeks, tweaking positioning and treatments before really given them a critical listen.


Yep, ESLs are affected by humidity, so run then in an air-conditioned room. Some of us even added dedicated mini-splits to help with that.
So, if using something like Audyssey, its probably best to run it a second time after they sound like they are broken in. In your case, about 1 month would be long enough if they are used frequently? I use mine for television and music playing both so they get used many hours a day.

Im looking to get mine refurbished soon, and figure they will need some break in time.
 

RAH

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So it sounds like it took awhile for the speakers to "break-in"? Wondering how long it takes for new panels to go through that break in period.
I asked a expert who has been in the industry for more than three decades. He said takes 40 hours of listening time for panel to break in. His view was more or less same as Jonathan regarding panel run in time.
 

ttocs

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I kept a log when I bought my speakers last year. At 65 hours almost all of the sound from the panels was really great! But, the sound wasn't perfect yet. It was extremely apparent when listening to one specific guitar note on a Santana album, a piercing, sustaining guitar note that would ZING right at my ears, sounded terrible. There were other examples also where this piercing audio would exhibit itself. Even at 110 hours there was something still not quite settled down, but did go away soon after.

My log can be found HERE in the first post.
 

Jazzman53

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I kept a log when I bought my speakers last year. At 65 hours almost all of the sound from the panels was really great! But, the sound wasn't perfect yet. It was extremely apparent when listening to one specific guitar note on a Santana album, a piercing, sustaining guitar note that would ZING right at my ears, sounded terrible. There were other examples also where this piercing audio would exhibit itself. Even at 110 hours there was something still not quite settled down, but did go away soon after.

My log can be found HERE in the first post.

I suspect the zinger you hear is somewhere between 2-3kHz, and has nothing to do with whether or not your panels' diaphragms have settled into their stable tension. In fact; I've experienced the same issue with every pair of ESL speakers I've ever built, and the fix requires a precise and judicious application of EQ. ESLs, especially tall thin panels like ML's (and the wire type panels I build also), have a naturally rising frequency response that can be downright shrill if not precisely EQ'd to balance. ML does a really good job with passive crossovers and notch filters, but it's a tall order to exactly counterbalance that harsh spot in the response using a set/passive filter.

To find out just how good an ESL can be (better than you imagined); bypass the passive crossover entirely and bi-amp the speaker with a DSP upstream of the power amps. Having done that; then play certain tunes known to have some shrill notes around 2.5kHz, to aid fine tuning the response. Once you find the shrill spot in the response curve, it's a simple matter to overlay a parametric EQ to tamp it down. A song I use a lot for tuning ESLs is Erin Bode's "Holiday" -- she has a crystal clear voice that can cut diamonds at the peaks she hits in that song. But once I cut the harsh edge off her peaks, nothing else I play after that will sound shrill.

Absent bypassing the passives and bi-amp'ing, I suspect you could still kill that harsh note with a good line level EQ in the preamp loop.
 
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ttocs

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I suspect the zinger you hear is somewhere between 2-3kHz, and has nothing to do with whether or not your panels' diaphragms have settled into their stable tension. In fact; I've experienced the same issue with every pair of ESL speakers I've ever built, and the fix requires a precise and judicious application of EQ. ESLs, especially tall thin panels like ML's (and the wire type panels I build also), have a naturally rising frequency response that can be downright shrill if not precisely EQ'd to balance. ML does a really good job with passive crossovers and notch filters, but it's a tall order to exactly counterbalance that harsh spot in the response using a set/passive filter.

To find out just how good an ESL can be (better than you imagined); bypass the passive crossover entirely and bi-amp the speaker with a DSP upstream of the power amps. Having done that; then play certain tunes known to have some shrill notes around 2.5kHz, to aid fine tuning the response. Once you find the shrill spot in the response curve, it's a simple matter to overlay a parametric EQ to tamp it down. A song I use a lot for tuning ESLs is Erin Bode's "Holiday" -- she has a crystal clear voice that can cut diamonds at the peaks she hits in that song. But once I cut the harsh edge off her peaks, nothing else I play after that will sound shrill.

Absent bypassing the passives and bi-amp'ing, I suspect you could still kill that harsh note with a good line level EQ in the preamp loop.
The "zinger" (great word to describe it) stopped happening somewhere around 120-130 hours. Now life is beautiful. I just went through some construction in the house so my system was down for a few weeks. So when I sat down to listen for the first time, I was blown away at how good the sound is! Frankly, I'm amazed at how often I keep being amazed at how good the sound continues to be. It's just so gosh darned good!

But those are good suggestions for anyone having continuing problems. I'll lookup the artist you mention.
 

roberto

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Hola Chicos,
I am with RAH here. Usually 40 hours of brake in time is enough. The brightness goes away and that edgy unnatural timbre starts to shade. I had a customer that his ML took over 100 hours to smooth over... the truth is, the exact time is unknown. At 40 hours of a normal listening level, pleasant level, not the level that makes your ears to bleed, your ML speakers usually had change for good dramatically. To say the right time to be full broken in, is uncertain.

Happy listening!
 
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mentorron

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as an aside, I have found that most of my electronics "sound better" after they have been powered on (and usually working) for about 20 minutes or so. Now, my electronics aren't "new". They were made in the late 1980s up to the end of the 1990s. They are NOT top line, just what I could afford at the time, mostly used or demos. Sometimes it's annoying to wait that 20 mins, but then sometimes I'm not listening that intently so it doesn't matter so much. At one time I thought of swapping my CD player for a Cambridge Audio with Wolfson DAC, but listening to it at the audio shop didn't convince me of anything I could discern in my selected CDs. But then I'm 78, and my hearing is no longer perfect: can't hear over 10kHz due to tinnitus :-(
 

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roberto

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Hola Mentorron,

I am with you too. It is important to have on your system at least 20 to 30 minutes...the components temperature is quit important. Also they are designed, taking in care this working and desirable temperature. The stage opens up, and the harmonic texture of the musical instruments and voices is more evident. The warmth, the time decay of the musical notes, the feeling of the musician(s), the quality of the recordings...etc.

Don't you worry about your hearing loss. What it is important is that you can hear! I have a little recommendation for you. You must change the position of your TT. It is not wise to have it near any speaker. Do your best, and try to locate it not so close to your wonderful Aerius. I do know that you are not asking for any advise, but I do know, by my own experience, your set up will improve giant steps.

Happy listening!
as an aside, I have found that most of my electronics "sound better" after they have been powered on (and usually working) for about 20 minutes or so. Now, my electronics aren't "new". They were made in the late 1980s up to the end of the 1990s. They are NOT top line, just what I could afford at the time, mostly used or demos. Sometimes it's annoying to wait that 20 mins, but then sometimes I'm not listening that intently so it doesn't matter so much. At one time I thought of swapping my CD player for a Cambridge Audio with Wolfson DAC, but listening to it at the audio shop didn't convince me of anything I could discern in my selected CDs. But then I'm 78, and my hearing is no longer perfect: can't hear over 10kHz due to tinnitus :-(
 

mentorron

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Hola Roberto,
I agree that that is not the best spot for a turntable, but this room is not (and cannot) be set up properly for good 3D stereo. Everything is in a place where the boss (my wife) aggrees it can be placed (within reason, of course). At first, she didn't want the Aerius' placed 3 feet from the rear wall (bookcase), but gradually I convinced her it would not be in the pathway from the entrance to the kitchen, since there is a 1/2 wall at the right. So I placed them so the fronts were at the edge of that wall. It isn't perfect, but marital happiness is more important ;-) P.S.: it isn't a terrific turntable: cost $72. But it has a nice static balance tonearm and a moving magnet cartridge with elliptical stylus. I rarely play LPs, almost always it's CDs. I can no longer afford the quality I had when I was young (in my 30s): a Thorens TD124 turntable with SME arm and Dynavector moving coil cartridge. 2 photos of the new tone arm and one of my previous Thorens tt (1970s), attached.
 

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