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  1. #1
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    What’s your favorite ESL?

    What’s your favorite ESL speaker? Quad? KLH Model 9? Or a hybrid ESL like ML or MurAudio? Other?

    Although planar magnetics are similar, I’m speaker purely of ESL’s.

    For me, the Quad 63, 57 and 2912 are my faves.

    I’m definitely looking forward to hearing this new Anniversary 60 Quad ESL.




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  2. #2
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    The 57's. Feed by Marantz 8b
    Chris

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  3. #3
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    What’s your favorite ESL speaker? Quad? KLH Model 9? Or a hybrid ESL like ML or MurAudio? Other?

    Although planar magnetics are similar, I’m speaker purely of ESL’s.

    For me, the Quad 63, 57 and 2912 are my faves.
    I have never had the pleasure of listening to the speakers on your list, other than many Martin Logan models and a $20,000 prototype Jantzen (2009?) that captured the rear wave and sounded like a mix of sealed box and ESL dipole in a most favorable way. Oh, and an smaller Acoustat in a store early 1990's, almost forgot that one.

    The mid-range suck out from rear wave interference that leaves a skeletal presentation with little oomph behind it on hard Rock & Roll is usually not attended to in a listening room at a store or at a hotel room audio show.

    One must tune the acoustics of their living/listening space to get the most out of these types of speakers.

    And in that context, the higher crossover frequency of the sealed box woofer in my first generation M/L Aerius speakers got most of that oomph back in my smaller room. They lowered the crossover point in subsequent models and missed the mark in my opinion.

    I've heard 4 or 5 other M/L club members home systems, and in each case it was a more expensive model with more powerful amplification. They could play louder and do a grander scale but overall I liked the intimate balance that could Rock that I achieved in my own room.

    ESL's can do grand scale grander than most dynamic drivers because of the way the sound wave is launched, but often at the cost of doing small scale intimate recordings right if other equipment upstream is not properly matched.

    It seems like many stores want to WOW you with power and scale and neglect the finer points.

    This is one of the reasons I've always wanted to hear some Quads (63, 57), they are supposed to be grand at small things without applying a grandness to all.

  4. #4
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Mike, I agree, looking forward to the Quad 60's, agree with Chris on 57's, but as a former Logan owner (Vantage / Spire's) if I were to buy back into stats today it would be a pair of ML 13a's
    Cheers ! …. Dave

  5. #5
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    I’ve always wanted to hear Soundlab speakers. I think they need some room to breathe but if some of the past reviews are accurate, they could be heavenly.
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  6. #6
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Ohhh....This hits me in my weak spot. The short answer is - I love them all, differently. My introduction to high end was a pair of Acoustat Xs, driven by their own tube amp. They were a quantum leap from anything I had heard before, however, I felt as they went to the transformer and then hybrid route, they headed in the wrong direction. I had a pair of CLS's with Vandersteen subs - beautiful and magical. Wandered on to Sound Labs. I felt they were the most tonally accurate but were unreliable and lacked dynamics for years - both problems now solved. I love the Quad sound, but the Chinese panels had such a bad reliability history, maybe they are better now. What finally did me in was the sheer oppressiveness of big slabs in my living room, but then, I am an aesthetics guy. Martin Logans appeal to me due to their see through screens. In the past I found their hybrids to not be my cup of tea, but their current top of the line I find to be superb. The Janszens are superbly natural, if you don't like the dipole presentation. Roger Sanders also makes a great hybrid esl for the solo listener.

    Cheers,

    Mark

  7. #7
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by joeinid View Post
    I’ve always wanted to hear Soundlab speakers. I think they need some room to breathe but if some of the past reviews are accurate, they could be heavenly.
    As a former Sound Lab owner (A-3s) they are all that...for the time being I make do with Quad 57s driven by a Marantz 8B
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  8. #8
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    I recently heard a pair of Magnepan 1.7i driven by a McIntosh MC303. Holy cow that was awesome. I loved it.
    Wharfedale Linton w/ stands, Avantgarde Duo XD, Klipsch RB-75, Klipsch RP-160M.

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  9. #9
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Martin Logan 13As or 15As. With the right amps and subs (for synergy ML BalancedForce 212s) they are wonderful.
    Sincerely,


    Joe
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  10. #10
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    For me, it's been Sound Labs for over 20 years, with a preference for planars going back 55 years. Prior to Sound Labs, I auditioned Martin Logans, Quads and Magnepan. While I am a home based dealer, I consider myself to be more of an enthusiast. I am located in San Francisco, and would welcome a visit from any AS member who would like to hear them.
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  11. #11
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quad 63s w Gradient SW63

  12. #12
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    What’s your favorite ESL speaker? Quad? KLH Model 9? Or a hybrid ESL like ML or MurAudio? Other?

    Although planar magnetics are similar, I’m speaker purely of ESL’s.

    For me, the Quad 63, 57 and 2912 are my faves.

    I’m definitely looking forward to hearing this new Anniversary 60 Quad ESL.




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    Thoughts on King Sound, Have you heard them ..?

  13. #13
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    BTW , Best ESL loudspeakers i have ever heard were Acoustats and mirrored closely by Sound labs...


    Regards

  14. #14
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    I've heard some good set ups with Martin Logan. I like Sanders.

    I only heard Quad once, I forget the model. It was at Axpona in the Mobile Fidelity room when they became the..... I think distributor.

    Anyway, they engaged me like no other ESL. Like I told a friend who was with me, I could criticize but for some reason I just want to sit and listen. The music played wasn't even that great, LOL
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  15. #15
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by a.wayne View Post
    Thoughts on King Sound, Have you heard them ..?

    I've owned two pairs; earlier models of the King and Prince. Incredible resolution with the King. Really showed how deficient dome tweeters are. Unfortunately reliability issues hurt the earlier models. They may have since improved though.
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  16. #16
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi_1282001 View Post
    I've owned two pairs; earlier models of the King and Prince. Incredible resolution with the King. Really showed how deficient dome tweeters are. Unfortunately reliability issues hurt the earlier models. They may have since improved though.
    Not quite fair to lump all non-electrostatic/planar drivers in to one basket as there are some really fine dome designs that compete quite well in the resolution department.
    Magico's beryllium /diamond driver comes to mind.

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  17. #17
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene View Post
    Not quite fair to lump all non-electrostatic/planar drivers in to one basket as there are some really fine dome designs that compete quite well in the resolution department.
    Magico's beryllium /diamond driver comes to mind.

    My experience has been that even the very best of dome tweeters do not come remotely close to the resolving abilities of well-engineered ESL’s or plasma tweeters for that matter either. I encourage you to audition for yourself. I find that extremely light ESL diaphragm’s have superb transient response and musical transparency and are capable of serving up music with spooky levels of realism. ESL’s are not for everyone though. The bass is observationally quite different to a cone woofer (and sometimes feels deficient vs. the later); they take up a fair amount of floor space and are demanding on amplifiers.
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  18. #18
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    My experience has been that most ESL transducers sound like someone's scratching a chalk-board, not to mention the limited dispersion and higher power requirements.
    Resolution is one thing...Higher bandwidth and faster transient response at the expense of musicality and listen-ability is unacceptable,imo

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  19. #19
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene View Post
    My experience has been that most ESL transducers sound like someone's scratching a chalk-board, not to mention the limited dispersion and higher power requirements.
    Resolution is one thing...Higher bandwidth and faster transient response at the expense of musicality and listen-ability is unacceptable,imo
    Obviously, you haven't heard Sound Labs (at least not in a proper setting). Everything about them is the opposite of what you just wrote! Musicality and listen-ability is only one of their
    many strengths!
    Tom
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  20. #20
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by MtnHam View Post
    Obviously, you haven't heard Sound Labs (at least not in a proper setting). Everything about them is the opposite of what you just wrote! Musicality and listen-ability is only one of their
    many strengths!
    Fair enough. I would be open to listening again to what would be considered the latest in ESL design. I based my opinion on
    bad past experiences from 20-25 years ago I've had with Non-cone/dome drivers,especially the ones that were paired to conventional drivers in a hybrid design.
    I just think its wrong to throw out an entire type of driver in a sweeping illogical statement,especial one made by a representative of a certain brand.

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  21. #21
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi_1282001 View Post
    I've owned two pairs; earlier models of the King and Prince. Incredible resolution with the King. Really showed how deficient dome tweeters are. Unfortunately reliability issues hurt the earlier models. They may have since improved though.

    Thought them fantastic too ...

  22. #22
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene View Post
    Fair enough. I would be open to listening again to what would be considered the latest in ESL design. I based my opinion on
    bad past experiences from 20-25 years ago I've had with Non-cone/dome drivers,especially the ones that were paired to conventional drivers in a hybrid design.
    I just think its wrong to throw out an entire type of driver in a sweeping illogical statement,especial one made by a representative of a certain brand.
    very few early Martin logans were listenable IMO, nothing like soundlabs , acoustats or King Sound, ESL ‘s ....

  23. #23
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Gene, I suspect you were hearing some bad digital and or poor amplification at work. Bad pairing as they say.

    M/L's kind of expose anything bad up front, including poor recordings.

  24. #24
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    I love my Martin Logan Montis speakers. I have spent ton of time optimizing location of the speakers, and treating the room. I have been to many $100K system demo's and none of them sound as good or better than my set-up (IMO) and I have a fraction of that invested in my system. I have yet to hear better sound or "see" / hear better imaging.
    hikerneil

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  25. #25
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Very sad to have to give up my martin logan summit x , they were the most awesome speakers i have ever had . still managed 4 years before swmbo decreed they must go
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  26. #26

    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Calvin View Post
    Martin Logan 13As or 15As. With the right amps and subs (for synergy ML BalancedForce 212s) they are wonderful.
    Interesting. I bought a pair of Martin Logan 13As after hearing them (and some used Summits) in a showroom with the intention of replacing my 18 year old Agantgarde horns.

    I'd earlier bought a pair of Quad 2905s (with 2912 mods) to see if I liked electrostatics. I was impressed although these "barn doors" could not remain in my home for aesthetic reasons. The MLs looked a godd proposition as they sounded great in the showroom. However, they didn't like my room one bit. Despite buying a Sanders Magtech to power them, a visit by the importer and a couple of runs of the Anthem room correction via the PBK kit, they were no match for my ancient horns. I have them for sale at a good price!

    So I bought slightly newer AG Duos to replace the Unos.

    However, I'm sure that the MLs would sound great in many listening rooms - just not mine. The Quads sounded much better.

    The electrostatics I'd really like to audition are these tube-based active ones -

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  27. #27
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    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hear Here View Post
    ...I'd earlier bought a pair of Quad 2905s (with 2912 mods) to see if I liked electrostatics. I was impressed although these "barn doors" could not remain in my home for aesthetic reasons. The MLs looked a godd proposition as they sounded great in the showroom. However, they didn't like my room one bit. Despite buying a Sanders Magtech to power them, a visit by the importer and a couple of runs of the Anthem room correction via the PBK kit, they were no match for my ancient horns. I have them for sale at a good price!

    So I bought slightly newer AG Duos to replace the Unos...!
    Its hard to un-hear a good set of horn speakers, harder still to replace them with 'stats. What stats do well, they do exceptionally well but horns aren't too far behind and over-all are the most satisfying (for me). So don't fight it, if you can have both! I'm on my 4th and last pr of Quad ESL 57s and they come out of the closet every so often when the urge is there.
    Linn Kilmax LP12 | Channel D | Valvet | Muse Elec. | Innuos | Klipsch

    "One of the great challenges of this world: Knowing enough about a subject to think you are right, but not enough about the subject to know you're wrong" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

  28. #28
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,751

    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Quad 2912s.
    _______________

    Mike

  29. #29
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Northern California Coast & San Francisco
    Posts
    246

    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Once again, I feel compelled to bring up Sound Lab electrostatics, as they are rarely mentioned in discussions like this. Yes, I am a dealer, but for the simple reason that they have been my favorite for the last 25 years, after having auditioned all the more popular and always mentioned stats, which in my opinion do not compare. Yes, they are not easily auditioned, and require a well matched amp to perform well. I am a music lover 1st, and and an audiophile 2nd (for over 65 years) and a dealer (home based) only because I am enthusiastic about the product, and not for any real profit. If profit was my motive, I would have been bankrupt many years ago.

    If anyone is seriously considering any of the previously mentioned stats, they owe it to themselves to audition Sound Lab ELS speakers, even if it requires traveling some distance to do so, and it probably will. I have two different very SL models at two different locations, one in San Francisco, and the other in the boonies, two hours away from SF in the Wine Country. Please contact me if you are interested in hearing what I and many other audiophile/music lovers (almost an obscure cult) consider to be the best in Electrostatic speakers.

    Yes, several previous posters mentioned SL ELS speakers, but the focus of this thread seems to be elsewhere. No one has contacted me about a visit. Even though the current SIP situation makes this unlikely, the offer is still open.
    Tom
    Ultimate Audio
    SoundLab Dealer

    "Sometimes I live in the country,
    Sometimes I live in town,
    Sometimes I have a great notion,
    To jump in the river ....."
    from GoodNite Irene


    Country System:
    SoundLab Ultimate-1PX Electrostatic Speakers
    Pass Labs XP-20 pre, Pass Labs XA60.8 Amps
    ARC REF2SE Phono
    SME 20/2 table SME V arm, Stillpoints LPI
    Minus-K BM-8 passive vibration control under tt
    Koetsu Rosewood Signature cartridge, Klaudio RCM
    Roon Nucleus+
    Lumin A1 Network Music Player
    Skywire balanced IC's, Teo liquid speaker cables
    3 dedicated AC lines
    Shunyata Triton v2, 3 Typhons, (one QR), and
    Various Shunyata Alpha & Sigma PC's throughout.
    Stillpoints under everything.

    City System:
    Ayre KX-R Twenty Pre
    Pass Labs X-260.8 Monoblocks
    Esoteric K-03 SACD Player
    Roon Nucleus+
    Lumin X-1 Network Music Player
    Sound Lab Ultimate-545PX Speakers
    Shunyata Hydra 8, Typhon QR
    Various Shunyata Alpha & Sigma PC's throughout
    Stillpoints under everything. Multiple room acoustic panels.

  30. #30

    Re: What’s your favorite ESL?

    Most interesting Electrostatic ???

    Tube Active full-range panels

    Blanko Nu.jpg

    Blanko No 2.jpg

    I'll plan on hearing them when Europe eases travel restrictions as I'll be in the area they are built.
    Last edited by joeinid; May 18, 2020 at 12:32 PM.
    Sources - NAD M50.2 (streamer, CD player, CD ripper, hard drive music store)
    Amplification - NAD M32, NAD M12, Accuphase A36, Consonance Cyber 845, Gamut D200 Mk III
    Speakers - Avantgarde Duo (aesthetically modified), Martin Logan Expression 13A

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