Disadvantages of Electrostatic Speakers

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Allen Marshall, Mar 28, 2004.

  1. Allen Marshall

    Allen Marshall Supporting Actor

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    I was auditioning some fronts today, Martin Logan Aeons, Clarity, Mosiac and Montage. Also Sapphires, and Vienna Acoustics Beethovens.

    I wasnt impressed by the Sapphires until if ound out there price, but even before then i new instantly they sounded so much better then my fronts. So anywho i was "AB" testing the Beethovens and the Martin Logan Aeons. Im not very good at comparing the sound of speakers, specially when i have to put it into words. All i could gather at the time was the Aeons sounded better in the highs and the Beethovens were rougher, they had a quality i really liked but so did Martin Logan, like the color red and blue, i like em both. Then i got my barings straight and went ok "I'd rather have Beethovens for music, and Martin Logan for movies". There were minor Imperfections i detected, that are in my speakers and most speakers i've heard under $1,000 a pair and i thought the higher end speakers were free of that.

    Im talking about the letter S. Snake, Special, Super that rolling split second ssss in in movies always has a sort hiss to it that you dont hear when people talk in real life. Am i crazy or does anybody else know what im talking about cause sometimes in bothers the hell out of me, It's 50 times worse on tv or Tapes. If im the only one can some watch a movie and listen to people saying words with Ss in them and tell me if it sounds like that.

    Anyway, im not saying the speakers i listened to did it specifically, just wondering if speakers are incapable of reproducing that right.

    So basically i liked the Martin Logans, lack of some bass (atleast compared to the Beethovens) but who gives a damn. I didnt know they were that BIG! i expected the Prodigies to be that big. I liked the sound of Mirage to. I was very happy with what i was hearin from all the speakers. Can somebody tell me how Martin Logans (electrostatic speakers) work in nutshell. It was so cool seeing sound come out of panel instead of a driver. Which makes me wonder if there's any disadvantages? Cant handle alot of power? Takes to much power? Cant handle high volumes? Any kind of distortion?
     
  2. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    ML's take on their line can be read here.
    While IMO I don't see there to be disadvantages per se with the ML's, one should keep in mind that any low impedance speaker with a dropping impedance in the upper frequencies as these are, is going to require amplification that can handle the requirements. IOW, I wouldn't count on your run of the mill 8 ohm receiver or 8 ohm amp as being up to the task. Depending upon what you have, that may necessitate you making additional expenditures. Also given that sound is radiated through the rear, you may well benefit from well placed wall treatments to the rear of the speakers. Personally, I'd favor a monoblock approach, but that's just me.
    As far as what volumes you can expect from those or for that matter any of the speakers you auditioned, that's highly dependent upon your room size, where you're sitting, and what you levels you listen to. Given that you've heard them in stores you should consider auditioning whatever it was that you liked in your own home and spending whatever time they gave you in placing them in the best possible situation to give yourself a fair shot at finding what you like. If the electrostatic sound appeals to you, then you might also want to investigate planars also and see if other brands are available in your area.
    Spend some time and I don't mean a week listening to what's out there.
     
  3. DannyL

    DannyL Stunt Coordinator

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    what is your listening preference? mostly home theater or two channel music?

    i own a pair of martin logan SL3's and i did audition the vienna acoustics beethoven speakers. in my opinion if you are into home theater i wouldn't go with the martin logans. they have a very narrow sweet spot and are very sensitive to room positioning. they also require a decent amp; don't even think about using a receiver. i use my logans purely for two channel listening.

    i am currently using b&w n804's htm1 center channel for my home theater. i did listen to the beethovens when i was auditioning various speakers. to my ears they have a very smooth high end and warm midrange. i thought they were very pleasant to listen to. i obviously went with the b&w's but another speaker you should audition is the von schweikert vr-2. i heard them at CES two years ago- phenomenal sound. i missed CES this year and was not able to listen to the new vr-4jr- this is supposed to be an absolutely incredible speaker. the vr4jr i think is in the same price range as the beethovens. just my 2 cents.
     
  4. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    The term is "sibilance". Room acoustics is a major cause of this phenomenon (i.e. it may not be the speaker). A room with hard surfaces (wood/tile floor, glass windows, etc.) will cause excessive sibilance.

    ML has a good description of how the panels work on their website. Some disadvantages of MLs & other electrostats are:

    - Hard to drive (you'll want a beefy amp)
    - Poor bass extension (that's why ML augments their panels with a bass driver).
    - Not as dynamic as traditional cone speakers.
    - Rear wave reflections (off of the front wall) must be dealt with, either with placement or room treatments.

    BTW, I'm not bashing electrostats... each speaker has it's own advantages and disadvantages.
     
  5. Alan Pummill

    Alan Pummill Screenwriter

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    Do youself a favor and audition some Magnepans!!
     
  6. Allen Marshall

    Allen Marshall Supporting Actor

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    Even thought i listen to music more then movies (i get about 2 movies every other week and i get new music all the time) home theater sound is more important to me Danny. Thanks for the term Greg, now do you mean "hard to drive" as in it needs like 200 or more watts or hard drive meaning it needs like 500 watts! With the amps im lookin to get in a few months they'll be in the 300-400 watt range into 4 ohms, depending on what i go with.

    My choices for speakers everywhere in the 30 minute driving distance is (Sony, Pioneer and other HTIB type speakers etc) Klipsch, Athena, JBL, Infinity, Celestial, Vienna Acoustics, Mirage, Martin Logan, Velodyne, B&W, Meridian, PSB, and Sapphire. Havent hit the big city yet in my speaker listening journey but it will all come in time. I dont plan to get fronts and a center until the end of the year and when i do it's gonna be a doozy. I dont think i gave the Martin Logan's a good enough listen, and i only heard both ML and Viennas on music. I listened to the Martin Logans for just one song and then the Viennas for two songs, since i wasnt gonna buy anything or soon i didnt really want to waste the guy helpin me's time so i was just skimming through the liter of speakers basically. The MLs did seem very different from anything i've heard, i memorized the differences between the MLs and the Viennas in my head and have been thinking it over of what i really really think of them.
     
  7. Robert_Dufresne

    Robert_Dufresne Stunt Coordinator

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    Alan

    great sound system but you need a better camera[​IMG]
     
  8. HoiT

    HoiT Agent

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    Allen,

    Hard to drive does not necessary means it require huge amount o wattage. In the old days, electrostatic speakers have a "bad habbit" of dropping their impedance below 4 ohms at the low frequency region - where large quantity of curent are needed. For e.g. some Apogees have an impedance of below 2 ohm. The lower the impedance, more current the speaker will drawn. Most amplifiers are built for speakers with impedance above 4 ohms(of course there are a number of expensive speakers that are stable down to 1 ohm e.g. Krell). These amp will become unstable while supplying large amount of current to a load below 4 ohms.

    If I remembered correctly, today's ML's are quite amp friendly. However, the better the amplification you provide, the better the sound. To me the best feature of panel speakers are the way vocals are portrayed - the voice seems to float in air provided you placed them properly.

    HoiT
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    It's friendly only if you consider a nominal impedance of 4 ohms with an impedance of 1.32 ohms @ 20kHz as a benign load. Granted it's not as bad as the Apogees but more amps get into trouble with low impedances at high frequencies rather than low frequencies.
    BTW, don't be afraid to 'waste' the salesman's time. It's your money.
     
  10. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    Agreed, but on the same token if you go and audition multiple times for a decent amount of time each instance, then buy the speakers on the used market, you've totally wasted his time. You have no idea how many people do this; I really hate to be mean to people but people who do crap like that are assholes, plain and simple. They don't get paid to give out free information and auditions....
     
  11. HoiT

    HoiT Agent

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    Chu,

    Please enlighten me on this topic. How much enrgy (current) is needed to drive a tweeter as compare to a bass driver? Most tweeters require very little juice to drive and would get fry quite easily as compare to the relatively large voice coil in the base driver. The tweeter therefore behave as a "fuse" (albeit an expensive one)and will be knocked out before something bad happen to the amp.

    HoiT
     

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