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Martin Logan Electrostatic vs Magnepan Planar Magnetic Speakers

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I realise this is Head-Fi and the main focus is on headphones, but I've been curious about full-size speakers recently. I had the chance to go to a Magnolia Hi-Fi section of a local Best Buy and to my surprise they had a pair of Martin Logan electrostatic speakers in a room to demo. With my iPhone being the source of music (Yes's Fragile album in ALAC), I can't say I had an accurate demo of the speakers, but they sounded okay to me. The bass seemed a bit loose and the highs a bit sharp compared to what I'm used to with headphones. I do own a pair of STAX electrostatic earspeakers, so I'm somewhat familiar with how electrostatic speaker operate.

For people with more experience with these electrostatic speakers and Magnepan's planar magnetic speakers, I was wondering which one you prefer and why. The Martin Logan electrostatic speakers use a dynamic subwoofer in addition to the electrostatic "tweeter," so I was wondering how the full frequency spectrum of a Martin Logan electrostatic speaker sounds compared to the single-diaphragm Magnepans.
post #2 of 10

Hi!

I have owned both Magnepans and Martin Logans.  Actually, the Maggies are made close to where I live here in MN.  I realize both have their supporters.  Personally, I preferred the MLs by a huge amount.   I found them way more transparent, "smoother" and also to have radically better imaging.    The MLs are just great with tube amps.  

 

By the way, my  audiophile days have moved from overpriced cables and tonearms to overpriced CIEMs (just kidding regarding the over priced part).   

post #3 of 10
M-Ls are still mid-bass down lite. Their sub will be necessary for smooth integration of music. I use a Velodyne HGS 15 and it's not good for music but great for HT. You also have the issue of small sweet spot. But if imaging and details are your desire, they are worth an audition. I use them for my home theater and music setup. Ya wanna hear something special, listen to the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joncirca57 View Post

Hi!
I have owned both Magnepans and Martin Logans.  Actually, the Maggies are made close to where I live here in MN.  I realize both have their supporters.  Personally, I preferred the MLs by a huge amount.   I found them way more transparent, "smoother" and also to have radically better imaging.    The MLs are just great with tube amps.  

By the way, my  audiophile days have moved from overpriced cables and tonearms to overpriced CIEMs (just kidding regarding the over priced part).   
Even though the MLs have a dynamic subwoofer, you still thought the MLs sounded more transparent? I'm not too informed about speaker technologies, but wouldn't the dynamic driver have some sort of crosstalk (I think this is what it's called) with the electrostatic driver? I would have thought the uni-driver MPs would sound a bit more transparent because of this. XD

At least from my experience with electrostatic and planar magnetic headphones, I would say the electrostats tend to sound more transparent to me but their bass response is a bit lacking in control.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post

M-Ls are still mid-bass down lite. Their sub will be necessary for smooth integration of music. I use a Velodyne HGS 15 and it's not good for music but great for HT. You also have the issue of small sweet spot. But if imaging and details are your desire, they are worth an audition. I use them for my home theater and music setup. Ya wanna hear something special, listen to the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.
Interesting to hear. Yes's music doesn't have a lot of bass so if I go back to that Best Buy, I'll be sure to have music with lower notes handy. I've watched Saving Private Ryan before, but I don't quite recall the beginning.

What is HT if I may ask?
post #5 of 10
A properly calibrated subwoofer should sound transparent even when used with high-end speakers, but of course the subwoofer being a dynamic driver can't keep up with the transients of the electrostatic speakers.

A good sealed sub should keep up with either the Martin Logan's or Magnepan's. Also, I'm not sure if you're aware but Magnepan's aren't single driver, they have a crossover to a quasi-ribbon tweeter in the lower end models and a full ribbon tweeter in the higher-end models.

I can't contribute much else since I've never heard anything but dynamic speakers, but since I've been looking at Magnepan's as a potential purchase I thought I would comment.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddTheMetalGod View Post

A properly calibrated subwoofer should sound transparent even when used with high-end speakers, but of course the subwoofer being a dynamic driver can't keep up with the transients of the electrostatic speakers.

A good sealed sub should keep up with either the Martin Logan's or Magnepan's. Also, I'm not sure if you're aware but Magnepan's aren't single driver, they have a crossover to a quasi-ribbon tweeter in the lower end models and a full ribbon tweeter in the higher-end models.

I can't contribute much else since I've never heard anything but dynamic speakers, but since I've been looking at Magnepan's as a potential purchase I thought I would comment.
Ah, no I didn't know the Magnepans use a ribbon tweeter as part of their design.

Are there any particular reasons why the MLs use a supplementary subwoofer and the MPs a supplementary tweeter? From Tyll's article on Innerfidelity about how planar magnetic headphones work, it sounded like planar magnetic headphones often have trouble with the higher frequencies whereas electrostatic speakers often have trouble with the lower frequencies (electrostatic forces are generally weak and cannot push the large amounts of air for low bass notes).
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/how-planar-magnetic-headphones-work
post #7 of 10
It's true that electrostatics in general have weaker bass than dynamics and planars. From what I've read electrostatics have the best bass definition and texture. Planars have the best extension and linearity, and dynamics have the most impact and thump.

As far as high frequencies, I know that electrostatics are great with them... I'm not sure how planars fare though. Ribbon tweeters apparently sound smooth and detailed, but lack the sparkle people like in metal and ceramic tweeters. Of course, any well designed tweeter will sound good regardless of type or material. Magnepan tweeters have a large surface area, helping give them their large soundstage and great imaging.
Edited by ToddTheMetalGod - 6/2/14 at 2:34am
post #8 of 10
HT- Home Theater

The trouble with the 15" it's not subtle. It comes on and there is a noticeable infusion of low end energy.

The beginning or SPR is the gaining of the beach head in which projectiles are coming from all directions. The different projectiles with their unique sound going everywhere. I think it was pretty cool anyways. tongue.gif
post #9 of 10

I've listened to ML's on a few occasions (usually at Best Buy, though also at a defunct Tweeter Audio store). To me, the panel and the dynamic driver do not seem to blend that well - at least while listening somewhat in the nearfield. The best way I can describe it is that the sound from the woofer seems to travel along the floor while the midrange and treble frequencies seem to radiate along a separate plane above.

 

Magnepan also sells bass panels in case you find their low-end response lacking. http://www.magnepan.com/DWM_and_DW_1_Woofers

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by yage View Post
 

I've listened to ML's on a few occasions (usually at Best Buy, though also at a defunct Tweeter Audio store). To me, the panel and the dynamic driver do not seem to blend that well - at least while listening somewhat in the nearfield.

 

Oh, but the current ML's have a magnitude better 'stat/woofer integration compared to their older models, which were horrific examples of how not to integrate 'stats with woofers.  

For those who find huge and expensive 'stat panels to still lack bass impact yet find ML woofers too audible, make sure to audition Innersound 'stats.  

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