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Weakness of Electrostatics

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conrad

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I was at a showroom listeining to a pair of B&W 603 today with a friend. I was pretty amazed at the tightness and strength of the bass beats and depths. Something I have never heard of on my Odysseys. The bass was "alive" and more pronouced than planars I thought and I just want to seek feedback on confirmation of my sentiments from fellow ML owners here.
 

Jeff Zaret

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Conrad,
This has always been "the debate" over electrostatics and conventional speaker design. What many of have stated and experienced here is that electrostatics do produce low frequencies and very accurately. Having said that and don’t shoot me but, they do not produce the “thump” which many are used to hearing from conventional speaker designs. This I equate to the amount of actual air which is moved from a diaphragm regardless of the frequency produced.

Electrostatic designs seem to be more “choosy” with either the type of power and/or the amount of power and current which is supplied to them. They also are very revealing as to weaknesses within the entire system. Now I am not “knocking” B&W at all and I would probably own a pair if ML did not exist but for me I prefer the sound and exactness of electrostatics.

What was the difference in electronics and music in the demo versus what you have at home? The room also plays an important part. There are so many variables. I own two pairs of ML’s and primary set is CLSiiZ’s with a Depth sub and there are times when I actually have too much bass!!.

Just my 2 cents

Jeff :cool:
 

Joey_V

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That thump you heard is probably at the 60hz level. No reason why the Oddysey cant reproduce that bass frequency. What I think you heard was a peak, perhaps, a bass peak at that frequency due to either the speaker itself or the room interactions.
 

roberto

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conrad said:
I was at a showroom listeining to a pair of B&W 603 today with a friend. I was pretty amazed at the tightness and strength of the bass beats and depths. Something I have never heard of on my Odysseys. The bass was "alive" and more pronouced than planars I thought and I just want to seek feedback on confirmation of my sentiments from fellow ML owners here.
Hola Conrad. The eternal debate. Listen to a live unplugged double bass, or any live piano or guitar, listend carefully the bass notes...then make up your mind who is close to it. There are a lot of good speakers that produce deep and well control bass. Your Odyssey are capable to produce tremendous bass energy. All depends of your electronics, cables and signal source. With all respect, the stationary waves, the standing waves sometimes produce a room resonace that we might think it is right, but it is not. I strongly recommend to you to move your speakers to the back wall at least one feet, this will encrease your bass energy. Remember, it´s the qulity, not the quantity! Trust your ears, happy listening,
Pura vida,
Roberto.
 

kach22i

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roberto said:
Hola Conrad. The eternal debate. Listen to a live unplugged double bass, or any live piano or guitar, listend carefully the bass notes...then make up your mind who is close to it.
The thing is, even in a small venue like a book store or coffee shop there will be a cone driver speaker/PA system. Therefore if you are trying to recreate a typical intimate "live music" experience would you not also use cone drivers? I love my Martin Logans, but I've always wondered about this.

I once had the experience of hearing some B&W 501's cranking out at very loud levels at a stereo store. I stood about 12 feet away in front of one speaker in the large room and thought I could dive into and float on the bass wave coming at me. My whole body resonated - I loved it. Very different from any horn or electrostat I've ever heard.
 
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roberto

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kach22i said:
The thing is, even in a small venue like a book store or coffee shop there will be a cone driver speaker/PA system. Therefore if you are trying to recreate a typical intimate "live music" experience would you not also use cone drivers? I love my Martin Logans, but I've always wondered about this.

I once had the experience of hearing some B&W 501's cranking out at very loud levels at a stereo store. I stood about 12 feet away in front of one speaker in the large room and thought I could dive into and float on the bass wave coming at me. My whole body resonated - I loved it. Very different from any horn or electrostat I've ever heard.
Hola. Yes, I do understand your point of how difficult in now days is to find an unplugged instrument. If you listend through a speaker system, no matter the brand, you are no listening it right! Go to a concert hall, or to a musical instruments store. There, you will listen how a piano or a guitar or any instrument sounds. I undertand also that B&W is one of the best cone speakers available and also I do like them. But, compare them of what I do get from my logans, it is like water and oil. The size of the instruments, the scenario, the image that I get, no other speaker, of what I had paid, gives me as ML. The thing here is to get to the real thing...and ML, to my liking and to my ears is almost there, it is not quantity, but quality! happy listening,
Pura vida,
Roberto-
 
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kach22i

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roberto said:
The size of the instruments, the scenario, the image that I get, no other speaker
Agreed, M/L is it for me too. It's the whole meal, not just a slice of the pie.

Still, there was something cool about waves of bass energy that could be surfed on. The levels the B&W's were being played at would not make my wife happy, nor the rest of the neighborhood.:D
 

Joey_V

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Wouldnt adding something like a Descent easily give you waves of bass that you can swim in, too? ;)
 

kach22i

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Joey_V said:
Wouldnt adding something like a Descent easily give you waves of bass that you can swim in, too? ;)
I don't know. Could be the waves of bass is higher in frequency than a subwoofer and it is the 60hz peak which has been noted. Again this has little to do with accuracy or "live" music and everything to do with a Disney-like or Home Theater like experience.

There is entertainment in feeling a mass of air rush towards you, don't think I want to do that every day though.:)
 

Robin

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Massive Bass with ML electrostatics...

Joey_V said:
Wouldnt adding something like a Descent easily give you waves of bass that you can swim in, too? ;)
Joey, Roberto, Kach22i, Jeff and conrad,

IMHO, I believe you can have the best of both worlds. ML's providing unsurpassed, beautiful highs and mid range as well as powered coned subwoofers to give you Disney-like HT bass waves to set sail on... :D

My Descent gives 600 watts and 30 inches of aluminum cone powered subwoofer bass for me to surf in my HT all day long, if I want to. I need Disney-like power in my HT, it one of the reasons I sound proofed my HT. My hair is blown back all the time and I don't use moose or a hair dryer... :D I'm totally agreeing with you conrad as well as roberto, jeff and kach22i we need both. IMHO, ML believes that too. IMHO I think it is why they powered the woofers of their new line-up - Vantage and Summit. ML improved their Hybird speakers to provide the best of both worlds electrostatics as well as powered cone drivers. Do you all agree?

Cheers

-Robin
 
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jfm

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I thought MLs would be weak in the bass too. Then I added bass traps and echo busters and now turn off my Depth for most music as my Aeons produce a lot of bass. I noticed that adding tubes to the chain also fleshed out the mid to upper bass portion in my system.

Last month I came back from listening to a friend's system, which uses Living Voice speakers. Those things produce great bass. I admired how full-bodied the tenor sax of Stan Getz and the voice of Joao Gilberto sounded on his system. Since then I added a tube-output cdp, a line conditioner, and an audiophile power cord. Voila, the sounds of Getz and Gilberto fleshed out quite satisfyingly, with the added benefit of the stats' speed.

Having said that, stats will still sound somewhat lean compared with cones. Whichever is closer to the real thing is a matter of debate.
 

conrad

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Dear Jeff,

It was not so much whether the B&W was pumping out more "volume", it was really the "punch factor". My Odysseys use paper cones compared to B&W's kevlars, maybe the reason why MLs now come with aluminium cones....I don't disagree the MLs gives a more enriching and broad-ranging listening exprience....but in this age, we also need really first class tight bass to go with electrostatics which in my opinion gives the best trebles and mids......I think the "solution", is (and not necessarily just the Descent) to add on a "very musical" and very fast front firing subwoofer, with the cone made of a strong material.

Rgds,

CONRAD
 

twich54

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conrad said:
Dear Jeff,

It was not so much whether the B&W was pumping out more "volume", it was really the "punch factor". My Odysseys use paper cones compared to B&W's kevlars, maybe the reason why MLs now come with aluminium cones....I don't disagree the MLs gives a more enriching and broad-ranging listening exprience....but in this age, we also need really first class tight bass to go with electrostatics which in my opinion gives the best trebles and mids......I think the "solution", is (and not necessarily just the Descent) to add on a "very musical" and very fast front firing subwoofer, with the cone made of a strong material.

Rgds,

CONRAD
along those lines that is why and how I settled for my pick of the Vantage over the B&W 803D. I listened to both for hours on end at Overture, Wilmington, DE (arguably one of the BEST place to audition anything on the East Coast), and I came home with the M/L's granted It was so damn close. That being said the Vantage was the bargain because it was three grand less(god bless that Euro !). I would never poo-who B&W though and those that do don't know their you -know-what from third base !!!!!
 

Jeff Zaret

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Conrad,
I do agree with you. Aluminium cone does react faster than paper. I aslo think we agree about the electrostatic "quality". I would listen to the Depth and the Decent and see which one suits you better with your setup if possible. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised

Good luck, have fun, and always enjoy the music!
Jeff :cool:
 

Craig

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The Odysseys are capable of producing plenty of quality bass but ony when placed just right in a room that is acoustically bass friendly, powered adequately for bass and recieving the right signal. I previusly owned Odysseys then moved to Sonus Faber Cremonas and now I'm using the Summits. I found the Cremonas to have better bass that was easier to drive than the Odysseys and were easier to place in my room than the Odysseys. However, the Odysseys were no slouch in the bass dept when everything was setup right.

The Summits will allow you "tune-in (or out)" as much bass as you desire and the bass is seamless with the panels. The Cremonas were more dynamic than the Odysseys but I find the Summits to be very dynamic as well and they are still breaking-in. These Summits are much more holographic and transparent than the Cremonas.

Room acoustics have a lot to do with bass impact and quality not to mention other aspects of sound. I've moved equipment to 3 different rooms in my house and my bedroom consistently sounds the best. I find each room effects the sound differently. My main listening room tends to "suck-out" the bass. I would like to acoustically treat this room but aesthetics make it more of a challenge. However, the Summits give me a lot of flexibilty to tune the bass without resorting to acoustic treatments. This is just one of the reasons why I changed to the Summits.
 
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JonFo

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upper bass to lower midrange issues

My take on this debate is that it’s not just low bass we’re talking about, but the critical mid-bass to lower midrange frequencies of 80 to 500hz. Frankly, this is a difficult frequency range for any dipole speaker, not just ML’s.

The issue is two-fold, the first is back wave cancellations. As frequency goes down, the wave length grows, making it easier for the back wave of the panel to ’see’ the out of phase front panel wave and cancel out at ranges from around 250Hz on down.
Secondly, this is also right in the core range of the ML lines panel to dynamic woofer crossover. (Monoliths at 150 up to Clarity at 450hz) As most of you know, a passive crossover has ‘interesting’ phase and frequency response compromises that will affect the sound at and around this point.
An ETF measurement of an ML in-room almost always has some serious dips in the 80 - 400 range.

Now, how does the above affect the ‘sound’ when compared to dynamic speakers? First, my experience has been that the upper bass, lower midrange suck out at the lower end of the Panel FR is the primary culprit. Remember the ASC-BackBox ( http://www.asc-hifi.com/whats_new.htm )? It would damp the rear wave. I recall someone commenting that it made a big difference in the FR we’re talking about as well.
I personally put an absorber (Auralex Corner bass trap) on the rear shelf of my monoliths to help dampen this range. It is measurable in ETF, and I’ll go dig out the graphs to post.
Therefore, if the speaker system is not putting out enough energy at the listening position in this FR, it will not sound as powerful as one that is flatter and more uniform in dispersion (at these frequencies)

The second way this issue affects the sound is due to what I believe is the power compression curve differences between electrostats and dynamic speakers. My take is that an electrostat is very clean with very low compression artifacts above 500hz. Whereas most dynamic speakers have crossover FR/Phase issues above 500hz along with the natural tendency of a 1” tweeter to start to either distort or power compress as the SPL’s go up. An electrostat has such consistent mid’s and highs that they tend to mask the actual power of the bass and mid-bass in a comparison with a dynamic speaker, whose mid-bass is usually steady, but the highs are getting compressed (in relative SPL), thus tilting the perception towards ‘punchy‘.

Therefore, adding a sub is never the full fix. It’s definitely part of the equation, but as stated, I believe the perceptual difference is in the upper bass and lower mids. Fixing this through room acoustics, placement and judicial use of EQ are all valid ways to deal with it.

For instance, I was never happy with the original Monolith passive xover. After I switched to active, it was a whole new world across the board, but especially in the 80 to 300 range, it was much smoother and better integrated (fewer phase issues for one). After switching to the DriveRack speaker processor, even more benefits accrued and FR is the smoothest yet as now I can adjust delays, adjust phase and pick the right slopes and xover models. Oh, and I can EQ away as well. But I still have significant dip around 250 (-6 to -8 DB) that is primarily back-wave cancellation.

To my mind, the fix is to do what ML has already done in the Statement e2 and use a ‘midrange dipolar array’ (or a monopole array might work as well). To get the kind of ‘punch’ one hears from dynamics, I guess you just have to find a way to blend them in.

As always, audio is the art of using science to arrive at a compromise you can enjoy.
 

abhijit

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JonFo said:
My take on this debate is that it’s not just low bass we’re talking about, but the critical mid-bass to lower midrange frequencies of 80 to 500hz. Frankly, this is a difficult frequency range for any dipole speaker, not just ML’s.

The issue is two-fold, the first is back wave cancellations. As frequency goes down, the wave length grows, making it easier for the back wave of the panel to ’see’ the out of phase front panel wave and cancel out at ranges from around 250Hz on down.
Secondly, this is also right in the core range of the ML lines panel to dynamic woofer crossover. (Monoliths at 150 up to Clarity at 450hz) As most of you know, a passive crossover has ‘interesting’ phase and frequency response compromises that will affect the sound at and around this point.
An ETF measurement of an ML in-room almost always has some serious dips in the 80 - 400 range.

Now, how does the above affect the ‘sound’ when compared to dynamic speakers? First, my experience has been that the upper bass, lower midrange suck out at the lower end of the Panel FR is the primary culprit. Remember the ASC-BackBox ( http://www.asc-hifi.com/whats_new.htm )? It would damp the rear wave. I recall someone commenting that it made a big difference in the FR we’re talking about as well.
I personally put an absorber (Auralex Corner bass trap) on the rear shelf of my monoliths to help dampen this range. It is measurable in ETF, and I’ll go dig out the graphs to post.
Therefore, if the speaker system is not putting out enough energy at the listening position in this FR, it will not sound as powerful as one that is flatter and more uniform in dispersion (at these frequencies)

The second way this issue affects the sound is due to what I believe is the power compression curve differences between electrostats and dynamic speakers. My take is that an electrostat is very clean with very low compression artifacts above 500hz. Whereas most dynamic speakers have crossover FR/Phase issues above 500hz along with the natural tendency of a 1” tweeter to start to either distort or power compress as the SPL’s go up. An electrostat has such consistent mid’s and highs that they tend to mask the actual power of the bass and mid-bass in a comparison with a dynamic speaker, whose mid-bass is usually steady, but the highs are getting compressed (in relative SPL), thus tilting the perception towards ‘punchy‘.

Therefore, adding a sub is never the full fix. It’s definitely part of the equation, but as stated, I believe the perceptual difference is in the upper bass and lower mids. Fixing this through room acoustics, placement and judicial use of EQ are all valid ways to deal with it.

For instance, I was never happy with the original Monolith passive xover. After I switched to active, it was a whole new world across the board, but especially in the 80 to 300 range, it was much smoother and better integrated (fewer phase issues for one). After switching to the DriveRack speaker processor, even more benefits accrued and FR is the smoothest yet as now I can adjust delays, adjust phase and pick the right slopes and xover models. Oh, and I can EQ away as well. But I still have significant dip around 250 (-6 to -8 DB) that is primarily back-wave cancellation.

To my mind, the fix is to do what ML has already done in the Statement e2 and use a ‘midrange dipolar array’ (or a monopole array might work as well). To get the kind of ‘punch’ one hears from dynamics, I guess you just have to find a way to blend them in.

As always, audio is the art of using science to arrive at a compromise you can enjoy.

Dear All , I am very happy with the SL3's bass reproduction with Infinite Baffle design. Amp makes a lot of difference in controlling the bass. I earlier had B&W 802 Sr III, but I found the sound of ML much faccinating in terms of presence and imaging compare to other conventional speaker
 

kach22i

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JonFo said:
My take on this debate is that it’s not just low bass we’re talking about, but the critical mid-bass to lower midrange frequencies of 80 to 500hz. Frankly, this is a difficult frequency range for any dipole speaker, not just ML’s.

The issue is two-fold, the first is back wave cancellations. As frequency goes down, the wave length grows, making it easier for the back wave of the panel to ’see’ the out of phase front panel wave and cancel out at ranges from around 250Hz on down.

Secondly, this is also right in the core range of the ML lines panel to dynamic woofer crossover. (Monoliths at 150 up to Clarity at 450hz)
JonFo, it's clear to me that you really know your stuff - thanks for writting this down so clearly for us all. I could not (would not) purchase M/L's until the Aerius came out and still like them over the larger models. From what I understand this may be because of the high cross over point or so called integration.

http://www.martinloganowners.com/~tdacquis/forum/showthread.php?t=38
Crossover Frequency:
Aerius: 500 Hz 12dB per octave
Aerius i: 450 Hz
 
D

Dion

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Hello all. I am new to forum. Have been an ML user for 3years now ( Ascents)for 2 channel system.
I guess that like most electrostat users I forgive them their weaknesses for their consumate strengths which, for me, are all about delicacy and transparency in the mid/treble range, which, with a good recording of vocal/choral music can be as close to live performance as you are likely to get.
Here in the UK the majority of electrostat users own Quad speakers. I initially tried Quad 989s but in my room ( 32' x 18' with slanted ceiling rising from a low of 8' 6'' to max 15') they were too polite and lacked bass. The MLs are certainly much more dynamic and by careful room placement and addition of a subwoofer ( REL Stadium 3) with crossover set at 28hz I think that I have achieved a happy compromise. My biggest problem with the MLs was amplification. I have, over the years built a Naim based system ( cdx/xps, 52/supercap, 2x 135 monoblocs.) and thought that the speed and control of the Naim would be a happy match with the Ascents. Unfortunately I had not take an account of an impedance curve on the panels that goes down to 0.7ohms ! the sound was fabulous but the amps would always shut down wnen the going got to hard for them. I had them back to Naim for servicer, recapping, rebiasing etc but to no avail. My compromise has been to use the Naims on the bass and I currently use a Musical Fidelity power amp A308cr on the panels.
I think I have now reached the stage when the biggest impediment to sound quality is the room itself- having a grand piano between the speakers probably doesnt help much either!
I look forward to hearing the new Summit at some time- not easy in the UK,but from the reviews I have seen it sounds as though it addresses may of the perceived weaknesses discussed in this thread. I think I prefer the look of the older series though!
 

ted betley

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Is the 260 dBx a digital processor/equalizer? Does it have provision for simply throughput for high pass or must it be processed as well?
 
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