My thoughts on MartinLogan's Scenario speaker

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Arnel Enero, Jul 15, 2002.

  1. Arnel Enero

    Arnel Enero Stunt Coordinator

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    I thought that my search for a speaker that is both finely detailed and musical would keep on going 'round in circles. But I'm thankful for the day that I ran into a demo of MartinLogan speakers. To put it simply, I think I'm hooked.
    My Boring Story
    My first "high-end" speaker was the B&W CDM 1NT. I was amazed, and I still am, by its ability to resolve details while maintaining a sweet balance. Bass sounds a bit dry, but very tuneful, midband is transparent and open. However, its tonal balance is rather tweeter-biased, but I refuse to call it "bright" due to the term being commonly associated with treble harshness. Still, this is my favorite minimonitor under $2000.
    Then I got bored by details, and sought musicality. I found it in the Sonus Faber Concertino Home. Its midrange was its best asset. It is capable of bringing out instrumental textures (harmonic structure), although apparently colored. This, coupled with a warm tonal balance, makes for much of its musicality. However, its treble sounded a bit recessed, its upper bass a bit too warm and less articulate, in contrast to the B&W's tonal character. Not as detailed as the B&W, but very musical indeed.
    My idea of the ideal speaker to fit my budget (no more than $4000) was a good compromise between details and musicality. I never imagined that for under $4000 I can have both detail and musicality in extremely good measure... until I found the MartinLogan Scenario... not for $4000, but for $2000!
    The Good...
    Its electrostatic panel resolves much more details than the B&W does. Not surprisingly, due to its intrinsic resolution, the Scenario doesn't need expensive amps in the league of Mark Levinson and Krell's big stuff in order to resolve intricate details, whereas most dynamic speakers do.
    There is airiness that I only heard in very expensive dynamic speakers like B&W Signature 800 and Revel Salon. Add this to the big soundstage created by the dipolar radiation and sheer size of the panels compared to point-source speakers.
    The fast transient response makes piano and percussion sound more tactile, just like in real life. I've only experienced this tactile sound with expensive dynamic speakers such as Wilsons. Its tonal balance is as neutral as a $2000 speaker gets, and categorically falls right between the treble-biased B&W and the darkish Sonus Faber.
    The bass, although not as deep or punchy as that of competing floorstanders (such as B&W's CDM 7NT), is about as taut and articulate as a dynamic driver can be. Sure, an electrostatic bass driver would deliver a more articulate bass, but that panel would be huge. The sealed-box design, with its gradual roll-off, makes it more room-friendly and its "faster" speed compared to ported designs make it a better match to the ultra-fast electrostatic panel.
    ... The Bad ...
    Now for the cons. Some people may not like its forward-biased soundstaging. As for WAF, even the "smallest" electrostatics such as the Scenario are still big, although the see-through panel makes it less imposing, not to mention gorgeous. It requires more careful placement because of the dipole radiation and limited dispersion (small sweet spot). For my smallish 9' x 16' room, I positioned the Scenario along the long wall, about 2 feet away from back wall and well away from any side wall. It doesn't go as loud as some $2000 floorstanders out there. The sensitivity rating is tricky... 89 dB/2.83 V/m is not the same as 89 dB/1W/m! And it needs current, as the impedance drops to 2 ohms. Although my beloved, but under-appreciated (by some elitist audiophiles), Sony ES receiver handles it quite well in my small room, I might need to go separates when I move to a bigger apartment. Oh, did I mention that it needs to be plugged in?
    ... And The Musically Detailed
    I've always thought of musicality as an excuse for excess warmth or any such colorations that make the sound more pleasing to the ear. I never thought that musicality through accuracy is actually possible, at least not for $2000. With the Scenario, I now enjoy the inner musicality in many heavily-layered, complex recordings that I thought sounded "bad" with the B&W. The key is the Scenario's ability to resolve inner detail and complex passages in an unforced manner. Other "musical" speakers will just smooth-out these intricate details into an ear-pleasing whole, whereas the Scenario reproduces each part as an individual sound and layers them in a natural way that's pleasing to the ears. Technically, this is because of the superb start-stop response of the electrostatic panel. In this regard, most "detailed" dynamic designs are more amplitude-biased (the louder layers overpower the softer ones), so you tend to hear edgy, less refined detailing.
    Ah, Finally The Conclusion!
    I think I will stick with electrostatics for a long, long time. Not that I promise never to look at (and listen to) dynamic speakers ever again. I wonder what's the point of going back to dynamic speakers, though, when I need to spend at least about four times the price to get equal amounts of unforced detail and transparency from a dynamic speaker, not to mention the latter's longing for expensive amps to extract such fine details while maintaining transparency.
     
  2. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Supporting Actor

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    Good review, Arnel! Enjoy your Martin Logans!

    I have the now-discontinued SL3's across the front and the Cinema center channel in my HT, and have been very happy.


    Matt
     
  3. Arnel Enero

    Arnel Enero Stunt Coordinator

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    ATTENTION, MartinLogan owners!

    A friend of mine also bought the Scenario for his home theater. Problem is, even if he was such a copycat that he has almost the exact same gear as I do (except for cables and my surround speakers), his Scenario doesn't seem to work fine in his room. He was so "furious" when he heard my setup, which actually worked perfectly in my living room.

    Now, here's what I noticed when I went to his place: There was a noticeable (but not exactly awful) coloration that makes the "eeee" more pronounced than normal and adds more glassy sound to piano playing around three octaves above middle-C. The good side is that this makes guitar sound more articulated, both acoustic and electric types.

    To me the problem with his room is quite tolerable, but since he expects similar sound as in my totally different room, I promised to help. Problem is, I'm not much into room treatments... which I think is where his problem lies.

    So, did anybody here who owns any MartinLogan have a similar problem? How did you solve it? Room treatments, positioning???
     
  4. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Martin logan's are all about placement and listening position.

    Took me a week to setup mine (reQuest) and i still play around with toe in and what not. Make sure his speakers are far away from any walls (3 or more feet). You might be dealing with reflections as well - you can try a diffuser on the back wave of the panel or take a blanket and drape it over the sidewalls and see.

    Also what amp and what volume do you hear this? ML will expose any and all weaknesses in your upstream components - source, amp, cables. His amp my be having trouble with the higer frequencies/lower impedances.

    -ps- Man I hate it when buddies copy your setup. has happened numerous times to me.
     
  5. Arnel Enero

    Arnel Enero Stunt Coordinator

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  6. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    If the components/cables are the same then I'd start thinking placement/room?
     
  7. Arnel Enero

    Arnel Enero Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks. [​IMG]
     
  8. Carl Gaff

    Carl Gaff Second Unit

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    I also love my Martin Logans. I have SL-3s for my mains, a Cinema for the center, and Scripts in the rear. I use B&K amps to power them and couldn't be happier with the combonation. martin Logans have the best clarity and sounstage you could ask for in stereo for music listening or in surround for movies.
     
  9. Arnel Enero

    Arnel Enero Stunt Coordinator

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    Carl,

    Glad to hear from another happy MartinLogan owner. It must be nice to have the "Full Martin".

    Unfortunately, living in an apartment and having to move frequently keeps me from having five big speakers. For small apartments, I guess even the "small" Script would seem physically too big.

    Cheers,
    Arnel
     

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