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Martin Logan Mikros 70 Review

  1. jnorris
    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:
    Brookstone Dual-Drive
    Sony MDR-EX600, EX310, XBA1, 7506, DR-ZX701
    Etymotics ER6i
    Superlux 668B
    Grado SR80
    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
  2. soundstige
    Informative review, thanks. Comparisons to ER6i?
  3. jnorris
    The ER6i were my first "expensive" in-ears and hold a special place in my heart.  But there is no denying the fact that they are bass-shy.  Yes, the highs and mids are clean and extended, but a large part of the music is missing - even as high as the lower registers of a female voice.  I found myself rationalizing the lack of bass and the price I paid for them and not paying attention to the music.  "Analytic" they call it - a better term might be "Anemic".
    Going from the Etys to the MLs (or vice versa)  is a complete paradigm shift - night and day - and it may take a significant amount of time for your brain to re-train and listen to what is there instead of what isn't.  But once you adjust to the MLs you'll find yourself relaxing and enjoying the music more than you could with the Etys.
  4. gnarlsagan
    It sounds like you weren't getting a perfect or deep seal with the etys. I find perfect tonal balance in female voices and drums and most bass guitars. It's only around 30-40Hz that it seems to start lacking. Also this is with the ER-6 which has even less bass than the ER-6i.
    At any rate thanks for your review. Your descriptions of classical are quite informative. The mikros sounds like an interesting iem and I might pick up a pair myself tomorrow. 
  5. UniversalRemonster
    A very thorough review: http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/blog/2012/11/12/review-martinlogan-mikros-70-ear-headphone
  6. gnarlsagan

    Thanks. Treble appears quite rolled off, otherwise it looks to be relatively flat.
  7. Inks
    According to my source, those graphs shouldn't be relied upon all that much, more details when new graphs are done. I will be getting these later today ; )
  8. gnarlsagan
    Good info. I might pick up a pair today too in that case. 
  9. UniversalRemonster

    LOL What "source" is that?
  10. Inks
    You'll know once it's out. 
    I received these, they are a bit rolled off. Warmer than neutral, something about these is unique though, can't put my finger on it. 
  11. gnarlsagan
    Listening to mine now too. Definitely rolled off in the highs, but not as much as the ASG-1.1 or 1.2. I think elevated mid-bass and recessed upper-mid/treble is tilting the signature to the point of losing accuracy. The tonality is just too dark. 
    Edit: A/B'ing with the RE0 shows the RE0 to be much more balanced with a bit more bass than neutral. Throwing the GR07 into the mix, seems the RE0 is missing the treble peaks that give the GR07 its clarity. But even with a smooth FR, I'd predict the RE0 to have a somewhat poor impulse response, giving it a kind of analogue tube sound. The mikros sounds linear but in a down slope kind of way.   
  12. Techno Kid
    Nice little review, I was looking at these a few months back and while they have a warmer signature which I like I just don't think they'd work well with edm but there's a few IEM's that were not supposed to be good with edm but sounding great imo like the R-50 and my new BA200 so you never know.
  13. Inks
    Ya, it's rolled off and it makes it sounds close in. Performance wise, it isn't great, but theres something about them...idk. RE0 has more bass? I was expecting them to have less....
  14. gnarlsagan

    The RE0 has much less bass than the mikros but more bass than neutral. More than the ER-6 anyway.
  15. Inks
    Makes sense, RE272 has about the same as ER6 as well, haven't compared side by side yet though. 
    I need to check if the FXD70 has less bass than the M70. Surprisingly the bass on the FXD70 is much tighter and controlled than the FXD80

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