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Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

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  • Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

    Hi, this all started when I decided to put together my first DIY soundsystem. I had just decided on a TriTrix HT build and discussed it with members in another thread. Not having listened to a decent system for a while I decided to demo some speakers today. I started with the Bowers and Wilkins CM9GB (a 6.5" 3 way pair for $3000) which sounded a little harsh to me. I listened to a few other sets, both cheaper and more expensive that sounded similar to the CM9GB. The Definitive Technology - SuperTower 4-1/2" would be my "choice" of the conventional systems I listened to. However, I thought I'd be more impressed considering the price of the speakers I had demoed.

    Then I came across Martin Logan electrostatic speakers. The Summit X ($15,000/pair) was hooked up to a McIntosh tube amplifier and the sound really drew me in, it was much more relaxing to listen to and sounded the way I expected a speaker to. There were some cheaper electrostatic speakers from Martin Logan (the Electromotion ESL, $2200/pair) hooked up to a conventional amplifier, that didn't quite match the Summit X but had the same style of sound that really appealed to me.

    My question is, for anyone that has heard them, is the sound typical to electrostatic speakers? Is there perhaps a DIY kit (conventional or electrostatic) that has a similar style of sound to them? I'm wondering if I should reconsider my TriTrix plans, or maybe build TriTrix mains, relegate them to surround duty after a while and then build some speakers similar to the Martin Logan's for mains.

    I know this is very subjective, but I'd appreciate any feedback you could offer.

  • #2
    Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

    I am not aware of any electrostatic style DIY speaker designs, and I do believe this question has been asked before.

    Are you wanting stereo or surround sound? Budget?

    If you are wanting a flat thin option, I think Megapan speakers would be the best choice. I haven't heard $15,000 Martin Logan speakers before, but I have heard some costing thousands and I wasn't impressed. As you said, its subjective, so I don't know what you heard that you liked. It could have just been the tube amps. Those are a DIY option as well, but others will have to chime in.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

      there are several plannar, stat, ribbon DIY websites. try a search and see what comes up.
      craigk

      " Voicing is often the term used for band aids to cover for initial design/planning errors " - Pallas

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

        Originally posted by generic View Post
        I am not aware of any electrostatic style DIY speaker designs, and I do believe this question has been asked before.

        Are you wanting stereo or surround sound? Budget?

        If you are wanting a flat thin option, I think Megapan speakers would be the best choice. I haven't heard $15,000 Martin Logan speakers before, but I have heard some costing thousands and I wasn't impressed. As you said, its subjective, so I don't know what you heard that you liked. It could have just been the tube amps. Those are a DIY option as well, but others will have to chime in.
        I'm looking to build a system for both HT and music. The cheaper set of ES speakers I listened to were hooked up to a standard amplifier and still sounded appealing to me.

        The form factor isn't such a big issue, although my listening environment is far from ideal acoustically. I'm just looking to achieve a similar sound, it doesn't have to be an ES speaker (not sure if that's even possible). What I'm really trying to ask is, do any of the projects on Paul Carmody's, Curt Campbell's or the PE sites have a similar sound to the ES speakers I heard?

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        • #5
          Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

          you can not get stat sound from cone drivers
          craigk

          " Voicing is often the term used for band aids to cover for initial design/planning errors " - Pallas

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

            If the style of the speaker doesn't matter then I'd go boxed speakers. Save some serious cash.

            Off the top of my head, DIY surround sound options are (not in any order).

            The overnight sensations, the Tritrix, Zaph Audio ZA series (available at madisound) and the most extreme and expensive would be the Statement series.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

              Sheldon D. Stokes made a pair of ESL's for himself, and used a W18 in a floor-loaded TL underneath them for sound reinforcement and bass needs. ESL's usually take a LOT of voltage to operate, and they are likely lethal in voltage level. Nothing to just play around with for the uninformed. ROT would be 600-900V.

              Website used to be quad-esl.com I think. Might be able to wayback it.

              Later,
              Wolf
              "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
              "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
              "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
              "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

              *InDIYana event website*

              Photobucket pages:
              https://app.photobucket.com/u/wolf_teeth_speaker

              My blog/writeups/thoughts here at PE:
              http://techtalk.parts-express.com/blog.php?u=4102

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

                As a mechanical engineer I don't mind distancing myself from high voltage. After looking into it further, ESL's seem much too involved for my experience. It's a shame that cone drivers can't mimic the sound, they were heavenly. I didn't think I'd hear such a difference today while demoing different speakers. At least it gives me something to look forward to down the track, and who knows, maybe some of Paul C's and Curt C's speakers will have a sound that appeals to me more than an ESL.

                Thanks for the feedback.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

                  Originally posted by Kristian_AUS View Post
                  maybe some of Paul C's and Curt C's speakers will have a sound that appeals to me more than an ESL.

                  Thanks for the feedback.
                  Or mine, or Jeff B's, or many others DIYers on this site.
                  Later,
                  Wolf
                  "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
                  "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
                  "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
                  "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

                  *InDIYana event website*

                  Photobucket pages:
                  https://app.photobucket.com/u/wolf_teeth_speaker

                  My blog/writeups/thoughts here at PE:
                  http://techtalk.parts-express.com/blog.php?u=4102

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

                    Several folks with ESL in their blood hangout at:

                    http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/planars-exotics/

                    Also you should checkout the various planar magnetic forums for panel type sound and DIY projects.

                    You may consider the various DIY open baffle designs which operate as dipolar speakers. The out-of-box sound is much more open and airy vs. boxed sound. Many references and projects on various speaker forums. The sound produced by open baffle cones, magnetic planar, and electrostatic speakers appeals to my taste.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

                      [QUOTE=Kristian_AUS;1974758]

                      The form factor isn't such a big issue, although my listening environment is far from ideal acoustically.


                      If you can't set them up pretty much the way you heard them in the store,,,,, than don't bother! You'll be very disappointed when you fire them up at home.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

                        +1 to Jim Griffin's suggestion. The closest you will come to ES sound with regular cone drivers is with dipoles. Paul has the Sunflowers on his web page which might be a good starting point for you.

                        If you want something even more full range dipole, consider John K's site:
                        http://www.musicanddesign.com/index.html

                        or Sid Linkwitz's site:
                        http://www.linkwitzlab.com/

                        -Bob

                        WARNING: Visiting either of those sites will consume many days of your time. Visit at your own risk!
                        -Bob

                        The PEDS 2.1 mini system
                        My A7 Project - another small desktop speaker
                        The B3 Hybrid Dipole - thread incomplete and outdated

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

                          Take a look here. http://www.magnepan.com/
                          I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
                          OS MTMs http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...d.php?t=220388
                          Swope TM http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...d.php?t=221818
                          Econowave and Audio Nirvana AN10 fullrange http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...d.php?t=216841
                          Imperial Russian Stouts http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...=1#post1840444
                          LECBOS. http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...ghlight=lecbos

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

                            I would agree that a dipole speaker would be the first thing to try. You might look at some of the dipoles using planars. I have listened to quite a few Martin Logans and really liked the sound at first (with acoustic or easy listening types of music) but when I put on some of the more complex stuff I have (like metal or large ensamble blues bands) they sounded really harsh to me. You might want to go back in and have another listen with the full range of music you normally listen to. The other thing about them is the seemed to have a small vertical listening window. With some of their smaller ones, when I stood up in the room the sound changed pretty dramatically. But I would assume a well regarded open baffle using a planar mid and tweeter would probably be pretty close to the overall sensation you get from the electrostats.
                            -Kerry

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Martin Logan Electrostatic Speakers - comparable sound from DIY?

                              I originally designed the Aethers because the "live" sound of my dad's MLs fascinated me. So I understand what the OP is saying, and I was aiming for just that sound with the Aethers. Unfortunately, the Aethers are kind of EOL because the that woofer is discontinued.

                              The Sunflowers are similar, but many steps more refined than the Aethers.
                              Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

                              Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
                              Twitter: @undefinition1

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