My MartinLogans have an annoying tendency to "scream" in the mids... is this normal?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Javier_Huerta, Aug 19, 2002.

  1. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Hi all!

    After finally upgrading the amp on my system (I bought an Adcom GFA-5400), I decided to listen to my MartinLogans at full sonic blast. Something weird happened.

    The mids. They are terrible at high volume. They sound so harsh, they hurt your ears. It's as if they developed a resonance I had heard before, but now, with the higher power rating, it's even worse.

    I have been thinking about what could be going wrong. Here are the options I have thought about.

    1) The speakers are damaged. Highly unlikely, because *both* speakers would have to be damaged at exactly the same point, because both sound identical.

    2) My room is too "live". The back wall is made of heat-treated bricks (ie, not porous, but ceramic-like). The side walls are carved stone. Right in front of them, a glass table might not be helping much.

    3) The preamp I'm using (the variable outputs from my Luxman CD player) is not up to the challenge of powering the Adcom. I have never seen the amp distort, BTW (it has LEDs in front to tell you if you are overdriving it.

    Any ideas? I'm getting very confused here as to what is wrong with my system.

    Thanks!
     
  2. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    could be your amp giving out.

    What model ML do you have and how hard were you driving them? Loud, very loud, insanely loud?

    Do you only hear this when playing loud?

    ps - your room does sound pretty live, you may be having trouble with your back wall/placement.

    Also, you can try contacting Martin Logan customer service.
     
  3. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    MartinLogan Scenarios. The second smallest member of the family. I wouldn't say I was playing them insanely loud - I didn't have my SPL meter handy, but I could listen to the phone ringing some 3 meters away from me, for example.

    I don't think the amp's clipping, because as I said, the distortion LEDs were completely off, and bass was still taut and nice at that point. But the mids were too strident... as if something was resonating.

    I wrote ML technical support. I'll see what they suggest. I was thinking about the following tests:

    1) Use my headphone amp (a tube based Musical Fidelity X-CanV2) as a preamp, to see if it's my CD player the one that's distorting, and

    2) Put some pillows around the walls and cover the glass table too, to see if my problem is because of resonance.
     
  4. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Maybe reaching limits of the speakers, don't know.

    For your reference I can drive my reQuests to very loud (100 db) but I start running out of amp juice. The speakers themselves can take much more.

    Just checked ML web page, looks like you have a 23" panel. The request is a 48" panel if this helps in your troubleshooting.

    I'm interested in what ML has to say.
     
  5. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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    I would imagine that it is placement/ room acoustics. The leds on the front of your adcom would be lit like christmas trees if you were overdriving it. I would try moving the system into a different room. It may sound like a pain but when it really comes down to it, probably the fastest and most effective way to determine what is going on.

    -rob
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    try, on a temporary basis, hanging a thick blanket behind each speaker and hear what happens.
     
  7. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Thanks chu, I was thinking wall behind speakers but mistakenly called it "back wall".
    Front wall...yeah..err...that's what I meant to say. yeah..front wall. [​IMG]
    I like the thick blanket behind the speakers idea just to check.
     
  8. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Hey, no fair! I typed in a lenghty response, and the server crashed! [​IMG]
    Anyway, the ML representative told me the panels should not be damaged, since strident mids are not to be expected. Since I already exchanged amps, this leaves the culprits as:
    1) The variable output from the CD.
    2) The listening room.
    I like the drape / furniture / pillow idea, if only to see its the reflections what's killing my system. If this is true, it's the first time I have heard a room completely *destroying* sound in the worst possible way.
    I hope it's the room, though... I hope my equipment is fine... [​IMG]
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    you take the best system, and put it in a room that has 'issues' and you come up with a system that has issues. truly, what other sensible reason is there when people complain after they've carefully selected a system, buy it, place it in their room, and suddenly they're saying my speakers are too bright, my soundstage isn't there, how do i break in my speakers, etc. next they're off chasing cables when they ought to be focussing on their room.
    check your PM, I sent you something that may be of use to you.
     
  10. Carl Gaff

    Carl Gaff Second Unit

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    I have Martin Logan Sequel II's and had a similar problem right after I purchased them. The culprit turned out to be a combination of two things:

    1. A "bright" amp

    2. A "bright" room.(i.e. hardwood floors, semi-bare walls)

    I changed to a B&K amp, put a couple of rugs on the floor, and put some thin acoustical foam on the wall on behind my speakers and the problem went away.
     
  11. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Hmm... my floor is hardwood, too. And the walls are bare. Hmm... Carl, were the mids so terrifyingly strong they hurt your hearing? If so, I think you had the same problem I'm experencing right now.
     
  12. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    I've demoed Martin Logan Odysseys powered by high end Krell equiptment and power conditioning in a dedicated listening room.

    The result I got at high volumes (100-110+db) was mids and highs that blended together and it sounded a bit harsh and distorted. Even with 600 watt monoblock Krell amplification.

    ESL speakers just didn't fit my taste. The Martin Logans planars produce out of phase music behind the ES panel that reflects off the back wall. This could be a reason why it sounded bad if you have something like bricks behind them.

    This isn't problem related but have you ever considered bracing the panels or even angling up towards the listener's ear?

    If you think I was listening to the Odysseys too loud at over 110db it's nothing compared to being in a club for a couple hours with music playing at over 120DB with horns and tens of 18" pro drivers.
     
  13. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    which is a marvelous way to permanently cause damage to your hearing...its the room Javier...it'll take some time to deal with it, but if you tackle one issue at a time, you'll come to a greater appreciation of your system. out of curiousity, what characteristics of an amp make it 'bright'? if it's an overempahsized top end frequency response, why would one buy such a poorly designed piece of equipment?
     
  14. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    Hey I don't listen at high volumes often, my average listening volume is about 85db.

    Whenever I leave a club or rock concert my ears feel like someone stuck cotton in them. I know this isn't a good thing, especially when It starts to feel like someone is shoving their finger in my ear and applying pressure.

    I definitly don't take my hearing for granted because when ever I watch movies with family they are closed captioned because 2 need hearing aids.

    I bet 90% or more of the ppl on this forum don't check for close captions on the DVDs... hehe maybe because almost all of them have it.
     
  15. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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  16. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Chu,

    I tried a little experiment tonight. I padded parts of the back wall, the back of the speaker with pillows and the glass table with lots of towels. My listening room looked like a sauna!

    Although mids were a bit less prominent, it was nothing spectacular. So I decided not to "toe-in" the speakers, so that the panels weren't firing directly into my ears. I also separated the speakers from the wall some 10 inches more.

    It has to be the room. Now I only get horn-like mids at very specific frequencies, and that's at 100 dB peak. And yes, the amp isn't strained (at all). Neither is the CDP output.

    I've noticed badly mastered material is also to blame here. Madonna's "Immaculate Collection" is very, very, very harsh and painful to listen to, but remastered CD's (Rod Stewart, Buddy Holly, The Benedictine Monks' "Chant") have less of a problem. I could turn the volume up a bit more and not be *that* hurt (except at specific frequencies).

    Chris, your post made me think. Are all ESL speakers prone to mid / high distortion at high levels? If so, I might think about exchanging my speakers for a good pair of Energys... but I'd lose the electrostatic magic.

    Choices, choices, choices. Hmm.
     
  17. Luis C

    Luis C Stunt Coordinator

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    Javier,

    Is this system primarily for audio or HT use?
     
  18. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Oh, it's exclusively used for audio. It's a minimalistic system, with only the CD player and amplifier (no preamp - the CD player has a variable output).

    I wired it using standard Radio Shack Gold connectors and 10GA zip wire using the shortest runs possible (for the speakers: 5 feet. Interconnects are 3 feet each).
     
  19. Carl Gaff

    Carl Gaff Second Unit

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    Javier,

    Be paitent. Elecrostaic speakers can be a pain to dial in, but I guarantee that once you get them right, you'll never go back to box type speakers. When I began lookng for new speakers(1988)I too was lookng for speakers just for two channel listening. I auditioned many brands for months. Finally I went to a dealer who offered Martin Logans and Vandersteens. When I heard the Vandersteens I was really impressed. But...then listening to the same cds (Tracy Chapman and the Eagles) through the Martin Logans was like night and day. The clarity and richness blew me away. I now have a home theater setup with all Martin Logans and couldn't be happier. Stay with the Martin Logans. Just be paitent. I have too have heard that Adcom amps are very "neutral. I have never tried Adcom amps with my Sequels. Once I tried the B&Ks I never thought about changing amps. The sound of electrostaic speakers is very dependent on the electronics you use ( I.E amps, pre/pros). I think you problem is your room acoustics. If you can't get them the sound right yourself, pay one of your local home theater/stereo dealers for a consultation. It will be worth it in the end.

    Carl
     
  20. Luis C

    Luis C Stunt Coordinator

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    The amp is an NAD unit... what model?
    And the CD player is a...?
    IMO, what you are experiencing is the unfortunate side affect of a speaker that is very revealing of the supporting product. Although the Scenarios are the lower end of the price spectrum for ML speakers, they are still MILES ahead of any conventional piston speaker in their price range. Thats obviously both very good and very bad... [​IMG]
     

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