It’s been a long-standing dream of mine to own a pair of Martin Logan speakers, and to have a listening room that would do them justice. Sadly, that may never happen, so when I saw that they were selling in-ears at a reasonable price I got excited.
Out of the box, I stuck the Mikros 70s in my ears and put on Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in Dm. Coming from a set of Sony MDR EX-600, which I really liked, the ML’s sounded like the treble was turned all the way down. I figured it was just another disappointment and I steeled myself for that embarrassing trip to BestBuy’s return counter. I gave them a few more minutes and suddenly realized that the strings were actually more natural sounding than on the Sonys, and I was also getting a sense of the room acoustic in the recording. Moving on to Return To Forever’s latest release, the initial piano intro again sounded like the highs were reduced, but when Lenny White’s brushes hit the drums the sound was clean, bright and vibrant. When he switched to sticks the ride cymbal sounded crisp and very clean and tightly localized just left of center. It became apparent that the MLs were only portraying what was actually there and weren’t adding anything, and the drivers were not over-reacting to high frequency stimulation so inner detail and overtones were coming through more easily. Bass response was in good proportion to the rest of the frequency range, tight and tuneful - that is to say that the notes of the bass were clearly distinguishable. Midrange may be slightly laid back, but again it depends on the recording.
At this point, I went back to my beloved Sony EX-600 and they sounded harsh, spitty and cartoonish. The same cymbals that were so clean and focused on the MLs were sibilant and smeared across the left side of the soundstage. I got out the rest of my headphone collection (see below) and started comparing them to the MLs and found that none were as overall satisfying and neutral.
One of my favorite recordings is Michael Rabin, Paganini: Concerto No. 1 in D and Wieniawski: Concerto No. 2 in Dm (Seraphim S-60222). On this recording, the orchestra is nicely spread across the soundstage and the violin is slightly left of center and is recorded with stunning fidelity. It's the kind of recording that commands your attention and sucks you into the performance. I played this through the MLs and sat transfixed through the entire record.
Needless to say I won't be heading for BestBuy's returns counter. These are a keeper.
Some of the other music that was used for auditioning the MLs was:
Ian Anderson: Thick As A Brick 2
Dire Straits: Love Over Gold
Imelda May: Love Tattoo ("Knock 123" especially for the solo vocal intro)
Victor Wooten: Palmystery
Peter Gabriel: Shaking the Tree (SACD)
Various Classical including Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Mahler
Various Jazz including some magazine samplers
Plus many other recordings on CD, some Hi-Res downloads, and records.
My Headphone Collection:
Sony MDR-EX600, EX310, XBA1, 7506, DR-ZX701
Sennheiser PX-100, HD-201s
AKG K-240, K-27i
SkullCandy Ink'd, Titan
Various Philips, JVC, and others
Vintage: Sennheiser HD-400, Audio-Technica ATH-7