The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

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The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 am

Greetings music enthusiasts, audiophiles and electrostatic lovers- especially Martin Logan owners.

That time has come, and I thought it would not happen so soon. I have finally parted with my Quads, and closed the deal for a brand new pair of Ethos. The speakers arrive on Monday!

From the very first note and basically the third serious audition with the Ethos, I knew straight away that this was the full sound I was looking for. My Quads served well (apart from the reliability issues...) and they delivered many hours/ years of musical bliss. I thought that was going to be the end of the road since the Quad + CJ sound was heavenly matched. BUT when I seriously spent more time with the Ethos, it just left me in awe. It was as if someone had taken a veil or cloth off their face and mouths and started to sing, belt out dynamics of tonal accuracy and a very high level of transparency that the Quads are not capable of.

Apart from the loudness factor, which I will never use at that level, it is a solid build! Using ML's latest X-stat technology with vacuum bonding air frames, the voltage tolerances are none that I have ever experienced. I have fully refurbished my Quads and I'm sure that it will find a good caring home. They are extremely fragile and require maintenance down the road, therefore the right person will continue to enjoy these. Although I cannot afford both types, which would have been a wonderful idea, I am grateful for all the valuable service it had provided. The advice given in reference to stats (their pros & cons) and especially to Mr. Kostas for his outstanding demonstration of the CLX's, I can begin to fully understand the ML philosophy and its quest for musical purity.

Not only was the speaker far ahead in terms of ruggedness and construction but also superb value! It was less than half of what I paid for the Quads, and this goes to say that expensive necessarily doesn't mean better. I was nearly looking at the MG3.7i but I think this is one of those very special experiences one could possibly have in your home and one that delivers absolute value with a true refinement in sound.

I truly hope the road ends here, as I will not be able to afford the CLX's due to other commitments & priorities. Apart from that, I don't think I would ever need the CLX's as the Ethos gives me all that is required and plenty more in the Low frequency, allowing it to be matched according to room characteristics. Although a FR stat like the CLX would be the perfect line source, that is a far dream away...

Might as well sit back and enjoy the music!
Cheers to all, RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by plurn » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:18 am

Congratulations RJ. I've enjoyed reading about the virtues of your Quads. It is a shame they have not been reliable. I am glad you found a suitable replacement.

Cheers,
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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by admin » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:33 am

Great to hear RJ! My previous speakers were a set of Martin Logan Vantages. A slightly older model but very similar in design/size of the Ethos. I've always loved planar speakers but it was through Martin Logan speakers that I really "fell in love with planar sound." Although my current set of speakers are magnepan, one thing I have to give full credit to martin logan for is the the way the meld the stats to the traditional woofer. I have never heard a better integrated traditional low end speaker coupled with a planar speaker.

I even have to admit that I often miss the more prominent low end of my vantages compared to my 20.1's. I'm sure your are going to get a tremendous amount of enjoyment from these wonderful speakers. Congrats on the purchase!

PS- I'm not sure if you are aware of this already but there is a very active forum for Martin Logan owners. You may want to check out that community as well: http://www.martinloganowners.com/forum/
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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Sat Nov 05, 2016 10:40 pm

Cheers Anthony and Admin;

Yes, I believe the ML Ethos will revive my listening experience to what I was looking for in the long term. I thought I might as well do this change over since the Quads are in perfect working condition. The Quads will always be my all time favourite speaker. My biggest concern is that after it was founded and designed by a legend, Peter Walker, that design of the basic structure was only improved upon since lately around 2005. That's when the new 2905 series was introduced after the 989 series. Moving production to China was not a good move. It not only made the reliability factor a question but the chaps producing them over there have no idea of what a Quad electrostat is all about. Its design features, the special dispersion pattern and how exactly these can be repaired and fully refurbished to sound really good. The materials they use and the quality glues, plus workmanship is shocking, especially for a stat speaker that costs twice as much as the Ethos- you cannot even compare the build quality!

Even though Quad may have a very serious reliability issues, the service companies who receive these stats for service should be able to "win" back the customer by providing exceptional service. But sadly this is not the case. I have a very good friend who also changed over from his 2912's to the ML CLX's. His pair was under warranty and had multiple panel failures. All 6 panels were replaced in one speaker, and still there are some panels that are faulty. These are brand new panels replaced from the Quad factory but are faulty! It has taken now over 4 months to get his speakers working, and still they cannot seem to figure what's wrong with the panels.

If I was this chap, I would have contacted John Hall and done a full refurbish with his panels, that are far more reliable and built with genuine Australian and British parts, not Chinese standard. I have nothing against the Chinese production, I think they are very hard working people with long term goals and aspirations BUT they are a long way off when it comes to "quality standards."


Although the ML's are still built in North America and some models in Canada, they also have the other smaller series being manufactured in China. All of these facilities are of the highest standards set by ML, and they swear by their quality control. The ML company is owned by Paradigm, and they make the same speakers and gear as Anthem in the same factory. I have a known contact who happens to also be an audio dealer, who was planning on taking up the ML stat line for his dealership. They were invited by Paradigm to visit the factory, and he now understands how these are made and the some of the best quality control standards he has ever seen for an audio brand of companies. That was another reason for my assurance in ML.

I am very pleased with this new purchase and know it will last a lifetime, plus ML's have been around in Australia for quite a while, and they have never had any issues compared to what I have experienced with Quad's service. The ML dealers also deliver and set up your speakers, to make sure that they delivered them in perfect working condition, this is another standard set by ML. It was a fairly sad parting from Quad, that I still do love dearly but when the time is right, you just have to make that move.

I know they will go towards a good home, where someone who can tolerate the service issues will find them quite suitable to retain. I will also provide the contact for John Hall who will continue to look after them during his special 3 year warranty plus 5 year panel replacement at no charge.
I don't want to just dump the Quads with someone and hope for the best. I do actually want that person to enjoy their Quads for what they're worth and will continue to support this person to best of our ability. Afterall, they are truly great stat designs.

Wish IAG, and Quad service had similar ethics, perhaps they would start winning back customers...

Yes, I am aware of the ML owners forum. I was thinking of joining once I receive the Ethos on Monday. That will be a whole new dimension for me, and probably a good learning process. Cheers to all,
RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by adeep42 » Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:11 pm

Congratulations on the new MLs. Just back from the New York Audio Show and one of the most intriguing demos was ML. They've definitely started me thinking about an upgrade. Please keep us informed about them and CA45.

Best regards,

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:02 am

Yes, no doubt I will. My Ethos arrive tomorrow.

The CAV45 is a perfect match for "active" bass type panels. Since active the active bass already has built in Class D amplification of 200 plus watts, the bass is controlled to perfection with the speed of the panel using two bass drivers. These drivers are only 8" in diameter, allowing them to respond with speed and accuracy compared to larger drivers. larger drivers will allow for more bass and bottom end but would have to have a fairly powerful amplifier backing it.

The CAV45 rated at 45 w/ch is more than plenty to drive the ML panels. It can not only drive and control them/control, plus responds effortlessly but also the musicality and dynamism from the panels is superb! We also tried Prima Luna and Divaliet amps, all were equally great sounding. Therefore, the level of realism is not an issue with ML's hybrid designs, the choice of amplification is only suited towards the panels, hence you can select the type of sound you wish for. Whereas the bass is just in full control with its dedicated amplifier on board.

I plan to run the Ethos in for at least 72 hours as the manual states, and then do an actual comparison with the Quads. In the demo it was just breath taking, a far higher level of detail, resolution, speed and dynamism with tremendous impact. They can play really loud upto some 500 watts of power handling, and they can also tolerate upto 10,000 volts on their panels. Arcing is never an issue with these new "X stat" panels which are vacuum bonded by ML in their Canadian factory. Vacuum bonding is supposed to be far stronger than welding, and is more secure long term, plus their conductive coating receives a full 100% coverage during the vacuum bonding process, covering every square inch of the myler required for conductivity.

With their new "Air Frame" technology, more rigid than standard steel, using a special aluminium alloy, the panels are thinner and stiffer, plus allows more signals to transfer through the panel, weighs less and is far more secure in holding the perforated stators, which are also clear spars. Hence visually stunning, you can see right through the panels than ever before, making them absolutely disappear when music is playing.

All the way down to their first model, which is the Theos is also very good and superb value. The only draw back is the Theos does not have active bass, but has biamping, allowing the user to use a dedicated amplifier for the bass. This is very important to get that bass right, otherwise you will over energise the room. During all the demo's I turned down the bass controls to -2, this was the most perfect bass to panel integration for that demo room. Therefore, this would be a critical factor to adjust in your own listening room, and this is a very important piece of the puzzle to get that bass to panel integration just perfect. Once you're got this right, as CJ says, "it just sounds right!"

Cheers, and I will post an update in due course.
RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:39 am

Well it looks like I took the simplest approach, keeping perspectives in mind that more expensive is necessarily not better, and to find I was rewarded in more than many ways!

The Ethos arrived at 11am sharp, I must say packing the Quads, although took nearly a good hour, I was feeling a bit sad to see the old big fellow out the door. The chappy had to make two trips, since his van was just able to handle the pair of ML’s but not the Quads. Anyway, as soon as he took off on that first trip, I lifted the Ethos boxes single handed and placed them in the room. I thought all those gym workouts certainly paid off, to only learn the Ethos is less than half the weight of the Quads, so I stopped flexing in the mirror.

During unpacking, I found the workmanship and quality to be impeccable. Each speaker had a QC certificate/card attached to the speaker terminals, with the initials of a techie, this is certainly something I was not expecting at this price point!
I had previously read the entire manual the night before, so I was fully versed with setting up, level controls and what the LED’s stand for. It has clever protection circuitry, along with a genuine standby mode that repels dust when not in use. Cloths and plastic wrap included, again something not expected at this price. Durable double box with well supported foam braces, a solid packing design in every regard. Easy to set up and place, I am used to 22kg bicep curls; therefore a speaker of a total weight of 19kg was like lifting a wafer. I was wondering how this fairly light speaker is capable of delivering stunning bass as they claim... Since I’m used to Infinities, Maggies, Wilsons, and the Quads, all required at least two people to handle.
Got the set up right, did the spike placements, turned on the system and biased the output tubes on the CAV45 EL34's- and WOW! What a blast!

What an enjoyment from the first note, I actually cried! Tears started flowing not only because I knew for sure I had purchased something of immense value but a speaker system that delivers every musical detail one could ask for, and superbly balanced with its active bass. The CAV45 rated at 45w/ch was cruising in heaven! The level on the volume control was far less compared to driving Quads full range. The mids and highs were so smooth, and the integration of the bass was seamless after a few adjustments.

I have placed the Ethos about 5ft away from the front wall, 2ft from the sides and 8ft apart. Listening position is about 12ft but I have toed them in fairly good which provides solid imagining with a floating soundstage that is spectacular! Since the panel starts a fair bit off the ground, the level of the soundstage is very noticeable and grabs your attention with superb focus and realistic scale. I have heard systems that offer far more thump and a wider sound-stage but this makes the singers look like they have 10ft wide mouths! All else seems a bit over exaggerated. I also found the Quads and Ethos to have very realistic levels in scale and definition.

Played a couple tracks of Larry Carlton, Bob James, Fourplay and Robben Ford, my golly! I nearly took off the sofa. The impact and realism is remarkable! The level of resolution from the CAV45 is very good on the Quads, and I thought this was at its best but the Ethos takes this to another league. Absolutely effortless transient response, speed, linearity and naturalness are delivered with sheer musicality. Forget the levels of finesse, which is plenty, just the resolution and detail is so remarkable that these ML’s do actually disappear from your room altogether. My daughter came home from school and couldn’t quite place the sound, asked me where’s the music coming from? She didn’t realize the panels until she actually saw the bass driver at the bottom.

After a few more hours of running in various CD’s & SACD’s, which I am starting to enjoy once again on many levels, around 8pm I started with the serious stuff on LP. Played the usual Patricia Barber, D Krall and Nat Cole, all I can say is that this certainly wasn’t the usual performance. This was one of the most transparent, awe inspiring experiences I have ever encountered in my home system. The smooth tones of Nat Cole, and his trio was simply superb! All musicians were in their zone doing their thing and when Nat kicks in with his vocals and piano, it’s almost as if you can literally see him getting ready to play...

Patricia Barber on MoFi- (plays Cole Porter mix)- was another whole new experience for me. The Quads still had all these details and finesse no doubt, it’s just that the Ethos takes the overall performance and places it on a higher pedestal. It sort of elevates the whole performance to a level of realism that is utterly captivating. On one of these tracks, Patricia Barber sings about Mrs. Otis- the lyrics go- as this lady wakes up one day and finds her man missing. She hunts him down and shoots him dead. She is then thrown in jail, and the mob picks her up and drags her out of jail. They hang her on the old willow tree and just before she dies, she lifts her head up high, and cries “ Mrs Otis regrets she won’t be able to lunch today...” this tune and lyrics are so spooky on the Ethos, you can actually see this lady being tied up and crying that very verse- Awesome resolution!

On D Krall’s (Love Scenes)- the opening tracks on double bass is totally articulate and absolutely linear. No distortion, no boom, pure thick thumps of strong accurate double bass with speed. I guess the active drivers play an important role here, plus the passive driver does its job when called for. The drop and thud in bass is very apparent when the track /musical passage requires it, you will feel it!

I just thought I’d throw in an old CD of Norah Jones (chasing pirates). Another level of bass I had not experienced before, although quite familiar with. It was very natural, full of detail and plenty of weight to it. Played the usual Pat Methiney & Charlie Hayden (under the Missouri Sky) superb level of detail in the strings, grabs your attention to follow the actual flow and the way they play. You can follow each and every finger movement along the strings, and not just the “there in front of you” mode that all high end systems would manage to do.

Apart from the extended highs that go far beyond the Quads would ever produce, and the bass being phenomenal; an equally phenomenal feature of these ML’s is their mid-band. An absolute pleasure to experience! What beautiful music it produces in the midrange. It is neither too thin nor too bright as I had found in previous ML stats dating back to the early 90’s. The mid range is so transparent and linear; it can play from utterly soft to blistering loud in the blink of an eye. I guess the new Air Frame technology helps to transfer this speed and sheer energy, keeping the musicality in focus without losing anything in tonal accuracy regardless of volume.

I can just go on forever but I must close this as I am getting very distracted whiles music is playing in the background. All I can say is with the Ethos and perhaps other active ML hybrids, they do not require massive levels of amplification to sound their best. I have only heard the tip of the iceberg and a level of performance at the surface level because after a few weeks/months of posting this- it only gets better!

This is no doubt one of the BEST purchases (apart from the CAV45) that I have ever made in my entire audio journey of craziness. And I dedicate this post to my dear good friend, Mr Kostas because without his invite to audition the CLX’s, I would have never experienced the new line of Martin Logan. Thanks Kostas, and thanks to other fellow ML owners and enthusiasts, you just made my day!
Cheers, big woof! RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by admin » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:38 am

RJ, great to hear. What a wonderful time you must be having. Nothing like experiencing a new set of wonderful speakers when you can immediately tell that the quality and performance exceeds your expectations. ML is a great brand and of the highest quality. I was very fond of my Vantages and they performed so well with all kinds of music. Even to this day I sometimes miss that more prominent but well balanced low end integration that I've only heard ML get right.

I would also suggest you play around a little with their placement. You know how sensitive planar speakers are to position and I found that even small movements of a few inches would effect the sound-stage considerably. Same thing with the "toe in". Sounds like you got them in a pretty good position (definitely recommend the 5 ft from the front wall, that's exactly the distance I had my Vantages and found the sound-stage to be optimal at that distance).

ML's build quality is 2nd to none. I would put that up against speakers that cost 10 times as much. It's nice to hear that they are including little luxuries like the cloth panel cover. I didn't find the panels on my vantages to be "dust magnets". I always expected them to attract a lot of dust but they really didn't. Granted my entire house is hardwood flooring although I do have area carpets (including the home theater), no pets, etc... so I typically don't have too much dust around the house. Even so, I never found any significant dust accumulation on the panels. You should feel free to leave them uncovered.

Also, it's vitally important to have them uncovered if any guests come to your house! Everybody that had seen my Vantages always asked "what are those" and it was a great conversation piece. It just looks so different than a conventional speaker, people who are not familiar with high end audio always had tons of questions about it.

Also, despite "looking fragile", the membranes are rather robust. They also play well even if damaged. I remember reading something from ML (can't recall where now) that you can punch holes in the membrane with a nail and they will stay play fine. Please do not do try this! :) When I did clean them, I typically just used a vacuum cleaner with a litter separation distance from the panels. I think this was more than adequate to clean off any small dust particles that were on the panel.

And you have not told us what finish is on your speaker. ML has some of the most beautiful wood veneers for their cabinets. Once they are set up, please post some pictures.

Again, congrats on the purchase.
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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Tue Nov 08, 2016 11:53 pm

Hi Admin, thanks for the cheers and good advice.

Yes, I do leave them bare as they are powered up in standby mode. This is a very clever circuitry done my ML, also doesn't allow for dust build up. Only if the system is fully off at the mains, then they recommend to cover them up with the cloths provided for longer periods. Again, not required, unless vacuuming, which as you pointed out is recommended.

Yes, these panels are super rigid. ML test benches have punched over 100 holes into the membranes and they still played without flinching. It is the awful look when you see gaping holes in the membranes, so they just replace the entire panel, and replacing the panels are very easy, not like the Quads! That takes about 3-4 hours to get to the bottom panel, and absolute nightmare!

The finish is the Dark Cherry, I took some photos and last night and posted them on Stereo net. I''ll try to get some later on as I'm not very good with these things. Will check if my daughter can do the needful.

I must say with the CAV45 and the Ethos, it's as if CJ made this amplifier for these speakers and as if ML made the Ethos for this amplifier! Superb sound, just leaves me in awe and a couple tears, when the emotions of music hits you. Tracks such as River man, time after time, ain't no sun shine by Eva Cassidy- what a level of realism and transparency!

Cheers and have a good one, RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by admin » Wed Nov 09, 2016 8:05 am

RJ requested I post these pictures of his system for him:
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Really looking great! I had my Vantages in the Dark Cherry veneer as well. These pictures really bring back memories of some wonderful listening. Enjoy!
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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Wed Nov 09, 2016 1:11 pm

Cheers Admin, thanks for that.

I only now realised that I hadn't taken the cloth cover (pillow case) off the Rega TT! Me and my obsession with dust, and having to cover every component... it seems to drive the wifey nuts! but then she admits that I do look after my system, and hence able to sell when the time comes since they still look in mint condition.
I plan to give the cabinets a good polish with pure linseed oil in a few weeks as I noticed the finish is not as rich as I hoped for. It is still beautiful but doesn't have a very "rich effect" to it compared to other speakers that I have owned with real wood veneers. I think the best finish I had was on the Infinities and maggie MG3.5/R. I used the same linseed oil once every 6 months and they looked stunning!

Since this is a fairly small cabinet, not much time is required with this task.
Have a good one and cheers to all, RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:33 am

Hey Admin, I was just curious to know after you had the ML's in your system, what were the following reasons to change:

1. Why did you want to change from ML to Maggies?
2. What was lacking in the ML's?
3. What more do the maggies offer?
4. If you were after more power and dynamics, plus a more expansive soundstage- did you consider the Summits or CLX's?
5. I do understand that CJ amplification with maggies is quite good (I used to have a similar system- PFR and Premier 11A with MG3.5/R) BUT with CJ and ML- this is at another level altogether that honestly speaking, maggies are not capable of. Would you agree or disagree? and your reasons?

Just wanted to know your thoughts, would be nice to learn from a different perspective, especially from a previous ML owner.
I was actually quite surprised when you mentioned that you previously owned ML's.

Cheers mate, always good to hear from you.
RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by admin » Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:39 pm

Big Dog RJ wrote:Hey Admin, I was just curious to know after you had the ML's in your system, what were the following reasons to change:

1. Why did you want to change from ML to Maggies?
It wasn't really a "want", I found a really good deal on a highly customized Magnepan 20.1 and I was interested in trying something new. The 20.1's were the top speaker that Magnepan produced at that time so I was hoping for an "upgrade." I had auditioned many magnepan speakers before I had bought my original ML Vantages so I was very impressed with their sound. It certainly was not because I was not happy with the ML's. They were awesome speakers and I miss them.
2. What was lacking in the ML's?
Absolutely nothing. They had great highs, a wonderful midrange, and an extremely well balanced low end. I've said it before and I will say it again, nobody incorporates a woofer with stats like ML. Nobody.
3. What more do the maggies offer?
One thing that the makes the 20.1's sound different is the huge soundstage. Not just wide but vertical. It really sounds like you are sitting front row seats to a concert. I can't describe it. It sounds like the speakers are 15 ft tall (even though they are no where near that height).
4. If you were after more power and dynamics, plus a more expansive soundstage- did you consider the Summits or CLX's?
Yes. I don't play my music that loud, and the Evolution 2000 is a really powerful amp (200 watts into 8 ohm) so I have never experienced clipping. The maggies are much harder to drive. And they are very low sensativity (85 db). I think the Summits or the CLX would be a better choice. The CLX however is really damn expensive. If I could try an upgrade from the 20.1's, I would love to get my hands on a CLX. I think the new CLX is over $25k new,... so that's going to have to wait. :)
5. I do understand that CJ amplification with maggies is quite good (I used to have a similar system- PFR and Premier 11A with MG3.5/R) BUT with CJ and ML- this is at another level altogether that honestly speaking, maggies are not capable of. Would you agree or disagree? and your reasons?
I tend to agree,... although I think it has a lot to do with power requirements and speaker sensitivity. I think maggies are generally much more power hungry and thus harder to drive. Most of CJ's offerings for amplification are tube based so inherently they are not going to put out as much power as solid state (most of the time, and there are exceptions, like my Evolution 2000). Again, speaker sensitivity also plays a role in this. 20.1's= 85 db, CLX= 90 db. Summit= 91 db. Not to mention that the ML's have their own amplification circuits so that takes some of the burden off of an external amp.

Also, the 20.1's are harder to setup properly and even more restrictive than the Vantages were. The 20.1's are notorious for being one of the most difficult speakers to place in rooms. I've heard audioshop owners tell people that unless you have a massive room, don't even bother with them. The listening position space for the 20.1's is ridiculously small. I think all planar speakers suffer from this inherently, but the Vantages had at least a window where I felt two people could sit really close at 15 ft out and enjoy the music without a huge soundstage shift. I think this is owed to their curvalinear stat design that is better at diffusing the sound than any other planar speaker that I have ever heard. I can't say this for the maggies. At 15 ft out, I have a center listening position that gives me 3-4 inches of left to right head movement (at most) before the soundstage goes wildly off axis. It's really crazy when you first experience it as literally moving your head a few inches off center causes the soundstage to shift by 20 or 30 degrees. After listening to them for a long time now, I can appreciate shifts with even a 1 inch lateral movement of my head. The maggies are also much more sensitive to walls and object placed behind them. Frankly, it's a huge pain-in-the-butt to get them placed for optimal listening. And you need a huge room. If the room is not at least 20'x20' and over 8' ceilings, I would flat out not recommend 20.1's. I think their lower models are very good in smaller rooms BTW, so this does not apply to all their models.
Just wanted to know your thoughts, would be nice to learn from a different perspective, especially from a previous ML owner.
I was actually quite surprised when you mentioned that you previously owned ML's.

Cheers mate, always good to hear from you.
RJ
I don't view Magnepan or ML to be superior or inferior. It's kind of like asking which one of your kids do you love the most. I view both of them as the best planar speaker manufacturers. They are both made in North America (except for some of the low end consumer models of ML I believe) and the quality, workmanship, and support is absolutely great. I loved my Vantages, I love my Magnepan and if some great deal presented itself I could see myself going back to ML (and vice versa).
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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:49 pm

Hey Admin,

Okay, now I understand your reasons, certainly makes sense.

Infact, I had a very similar scenario; Started out with Quads, then onto ML for a short while, until the panels sort of perished in our humid/tropical climate, so did the Quads. Ventured into ribbons (maggies, lasted quite longer than stats) before that several iterations of dynamic designs, such as Paradigm & Infinity. Then I changed countries! and went back to Quads, and now finally back to ML!

Yes, the CLX is quite pricey. Infact the MG20.7 is around 20k and the CLX goes for 30k upwards in Aus. When the CLX was first introduced over here, it was close to 40 grand for a pair!
ML had a new distributor few years back, they've managed to offer prices according to the closest suggested retail after the $USD exchange rate, and finally now they are more affordable.

It is Quad who is the most expensive now, and maggies still do cost quite a bit, ordered through Sydney, as there are no dealers in Melbourne. The MG3.7i goes for around 10k and Apogee's are much more, they start at 16k for the smallest version. Similarly, Audio Analysis is another expensive range. Their smallest one, referred to as the Omicron, starts at 14 grand! The Omega and the next ribbon in line start at 28k; as you can see we pay high prices for this kind of gear.

The Ethos beats all of these put together, except for the CLX and Summit. In terms of value and overall sound, what it is capable of is beyond its price point. For me the train stops here mate, as I am extremely happy with the Ethos and what it delivers. Also the CAV45 is an absolute gem of an amp. Matches so well with the Ethos, and reproduces music effortlessly. The subtle shadings, nuances and depth in detail is just remarkable with the CAV45's resolution. This is something CJ designed specially for the CAV45 around the EL34's.

Although the CAV45 was able to drive the Quads quite well, when comparing side by side, the Quads sounded as if someone was covering their faces/mouths whiles singing, sort of holding a muffler and trying to play. Music would be reproduced but with a very "warm" and soft touch to it, sort of fuzzy like but highly addictive and pleasing to the ear.

With the ML, this veil or muffle is non-existent! It's as if someone literally stood upright and sang their best note at the highest level with the greatest impact and resolution without any hindrance whatsoever. The level of transparency is far above what I had expected and it will identify virtually any weak link on the recording. Therefore, now the system is well balanced and very well matched. The EL34's on the CAV45 are handling the panels beautifully, reproducing wonderful natural tones with a natural level of impact and realism, never sounding overpowered like dynamic systems or horns. If you really want to turn it up and shake the room, the CAV45 is well capable of doing this with the Ethos.

Over these few days, I have also noticed the bass levels have made the most significant improvement of all. Hence, I have had to turn it down further to -8. This seems to be the best overall panel to bass driver integration, plus room interaction settings so far... I keep forgetting that the Ethos similar to the other ML hybrid line up, has two bass drives and not one. One fires directly forward and is active, the other is downward firing and is passive. Therefore, whatever bass is left over from the active driver, the passive driver picks up and takes over. This causes that deep tight bass to be reproduced with a linear effect, superb transparency and with great speed. It captures every possible note from your recordings.

At one point I was thinking whether the CAV45 would be adequate but then I realised if it was able to drive a pair of big Quad stats full range, having to focus only on the panels with its best effort would certainly be a breeze, and my golly it is!

Would be interesting to see what CJ replaces the CAV45 with down the line...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feedback Admin, we shall now continue to enjoy the music and most of all our through our CJ gear!
Cheers, RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by admin » Sun Nov 13, 2016 7:50 pm

Wow, that's some pretty expensive prices for those speakers.... not that they are cheap in the US, but still, looks like there is a premium "in the land down under."

I usually look for deals and I often buy used. I have had some good experiences with buying on the 2nd hand market. I also have mods on much of my equipment and one of the reasons I was attracted to the listing for my 20.1's was the heavy duty custom base that the previous owner had made for them as well as upgraded components in the crossover. I think each base weights over 100 lbs and really gives a much greater stability than the stock speaker base. For the modded speakers, base, and shipping across the US I paid a total of $6k,.. which I felt was a really good deal.

Overall I'm very happy with the maggies,... but of course I was very happy with the ML's as well. Who knows what the future holds? I'll probably stick with the maggies for awhile but I'll keep an eye out for something new. Who knows, maybe a CLXart will pop up for good price one of these days!

Take care RJ, and enjoy your wonderful new speakers!
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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Tue Nov 15, 2016 8:00 am

Hey Admin, okay now I understand the differences in your maggies.

That's a definite sonic upgrade you got there. Although standard maggies are superb value for money, both in sound as well as overall performance, what they deliver is quite good but that's about all. It is only when you upgrade certain components, such as caps, cross overs, internal wiring and layout, plus frame rigidness, improves their sound tremendously!

This is about the same thing people pay for such high end stuff like Wilsons, Magico's, Sonus Faber, YG Acoustics, Genesis and so on, most of the cost is for the cabinets. Solid wood, steel, aluminium alloy's, heavy internal bracing etc., priced quite high due to their internal parts. Then comes along panels, and you cannot do too much over bling to make them sound any more superb for what they are because they are at a particular price point and offer the best value in overall sound. If ML or Magnepan were to use absolutely the best internal components and wiring, plus rebuild frames to support an earth quake, they will sound truly spectacular at equally spectacular prices.

For what they can reproduce without too much costs in upgrades is simply superb right out the box, and therefore can be upgraded as a DIY project in improving parts as time passes by the user. I heard a pair of standard Audio Analysis with built in cross overs and thought they were great partnered with Naim Statement amplifiers ($200K for monoblocks). Until I then heard the same AA ribbons driven with a cj ARTsa with upgraded Dueland caps- wow! And the price was way over my affordability. The cross overs alone were the price of a pair of ML's!

I know the maggie bass and still love that ribbon bass- tight, fast and very responsive to low end grit, requires a high voltage amp to control it though. Your Evo 2000 is one hec of a combination. Then I do prefer full range stat, from top to bottom tonal accuracy, speed and finesse, plus super tight bass like no other- and this is the sound of the CLX Art. Requires a solid state amp with class A output to take full control, especially the bass, and that amp is the Pass Labs XA30.8- this will always be my reference system, and one that does sound the best, to my ears so far, with a tube preamp.

Although I still do love Quads and were probably my all time favourite stat speaker, I can only hope that IAG gets their act together to resurrect and win back customers, otherwise might as well close shop! I am now the 7th person in Melbourne who has changed from Quads to ML's and will probably never look back. The value of the speakers, the performance and their rigid build just cannot be beaten at this price, and most of all the musicality with cj amplification, just superb music reproduction at its best.

It would certainly be interesting to see what Quad is going to come up with next year. Whereas ML is concerned, they have already introduced their new line up. My ML dealer is planning on getting a few items down, and has invited me over for an audition in early December, I will definitely check them out just to see what they can deliver and how they perform, what improvements have they come up with and what is lacking if any... Would be a great comparison to the current line up because they are very hard to beat.

Till then, have a good one to all, and enjoy your music!
Cheers, big dog siging off- woof! RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:10 pm

I just returned from work, quite a late night shift that was, and now it is nearly 4am.

I meant to post this earlier but never got to it. Earlier during the day, I happened to audition the Pass Labs INT150 integrated amplifier with the Ethos. The sound was superb in terms of the following:
1. Power and dynamics were far greater, obviously at 150w/ch plus 30w of Class A output.
2. The bite and sizzle were tremendous, and proved that these new ML panels are capable of some serious wallop!
3. Midrange textures were very apparent, and had quite a seductive tone to it.
4. Highs were well extended and quite smooth for a very powerful solid state.
5. The bass was outstanding, captured all the LF required from any recording playback, rock solid, tight and very fast.

In Summary: The Pass Labs INT150 performed extremely well with the Ethos and seemed to be another perfect match based on amplification to speaker, also being an active driver type. All in all, I would have been very pleased to take this home. However, compared to the CAV45 and CJ in general for that matter, it did lack some of the musicality presented from CJ tube designs. I was wanting more of that warmth and enveloping connection between musical passages, not just a thump and lightening speed transients and then onto the next note... No, I wanted more of the music and the pleasure of those extended airy highs and glorious midrange transparency that CJ is known for. Therefore, I came away from that audition a happy man, mostly since the wifey also adores the CAV45 and nothing else! Hence, in order to make her remain happy, I better listen to her, after all "it just sounds right!"

She did claim that the Pass Labs sounds more "doof doof..." I disagree but I can clearly see where the musicality is lacking though and this is something very special to that CJ sound. The moment that is taken away, it will not be a true CJ classic signature sound.
Do you all agree?

RJ

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Wildcat » Tue Jan 31, 2017 1:19 pm

Hey, Big Dog!

I'm glad to hear you like your Ethos. I have been a fan of planar speakers ever since hearing the CLS-II way back in the summer of 1987. At $2,350 US, I thought they were a bit pricey and out of reach. Had I only known! I currently own a pair of the Sequel II that I bought very inexpensively with the intention of refurbishing them, but haven't had the time to do it yet. (Plus, I am having a problem finding a suitable woofer--the recommended replacement is not the right size for the cabinet and has weak bass.) I do see a couple of newer, used MLs for sale that look promising however. And, someone nearby has a pair of CLS-IIz available, although I need better bass than those panels have, and don't really have room for subs at the moment.

At AXPONA last year, I heard the new Renaissance ESL 15A and was quite impressed--it was one of my favorite sounds at the show. (I was hoping to hear the monstrous Neolith, but they were trying to introduce this new series.) The only thing that didn't impress me were the amps. I have never been a big fan of McIntosh, and these huge monoblocks did nothing to change that--I felt they add a somewhat cold/hard characteristic to the sound. The same room had another system across the room that used a tubed McIntosh, and would have liked to have heard that amplification through the MLs.

While they are not planar speakers, I fell for a pair of ProAc Response D48R speakers at the show. Despite having only a pair of 6½" woofers, they were quite meaty in the bass. And the highs, imaging and soundstaging were superb, using ribbon tweeters. Like the best ML speakers, these just totally disappeared in the room. The representative putting on the demo surprised me a bit, saying that he was primarily a fan of planar speakers, and these came the closest to the sound of planars. No wonder I liked them! But the price at $14k for the pair was a bit much to swallow.

And I have to say that in the short time I have owned them, my current Vandersteens are also becoming a favorite. A different flavor, in other words.

You really can't go wrong with any of Pass's designs--of all the solid state amps out there, Pass's are one of the closest you can find to tube-like sound. I have an older piece of his, the Nakamichi PA-7, which uses Pass's Stasis design. (Comparing schematics and the internal layout, the Naks look frighteningly similar to the Threshold S-series amps.) Mine may be due for a little bit of a refresh in terms of capacitors, but otherwise it sounds really smooth with my C-J preamp.

Yet of course, I still want to experience a tube amp, and there are a few tempting pieces for sale at the moment which I may follow up on. And as much as I like C-J products, I have to say I was duly impressed by the VTL tube amps, and like that you can switch between pentode (ultralinear) and triode modes. I do need power, since I do like to turn it up a bit every so often. The Premier 140 is on my short list of amp candidates, provided I can find one in my budget. Premier 12s would be nice but I really don't have room for monoblocks at the moment. I see a few Premier 11s available here and there, but am afraid they won't give me the volume I'm after.
C-J PV-14L/C-J Premier 11/Vandersteen 2Ce

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Re: The Martin Logan Ethos- one superb value in electrostats

Post by Big Dog RJ » Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:14 am

Hey mate,

Wonderful journey you've had, and very similar experiences along the way...

Agreed! Specially the Pass gear, very life like and close to tubes, sound best when warmed up and deliver superb dynamics in the most natural way. The only issue is Pass and other high-end, especially CJ, cost a fortune down under. I was extremely lucky to get the deal on my Quads and trade in for the Ethos. Now the Ethos retails for around 8 grand, and the new ML Masterpiece series forget that! They start at around 15 grand for the smallest one and go up to 45 grand for the Ren15, even more than the CLX!

Now they are offering Quads for around 22 grand, and they still have issues. Anyone going for Quads for 20k upwards is a noose around your neck... I've been there and it wasn't pleasant! Probably the worst purchase I ever made in my life. Apart from that- soundwise- it was a match made in heaven with CJ & Quad, marvellous reproduction of music.

My CJ dealer also offers Vandy's. Infact they are the main importer for Vandersteen in Melbourne. I know the Vandy's sound very well and they are VERY good speakers for the money. Also quite transparent and give you that low bottom end with a sublime midrange, very captivating sound, and does allow you to relax when called for. Also very smooth driven with tube amps. The last audition I had at his place was actually with CJ's LP125m momoblocks partnered with an ET5 pre, and McCormack CD player, sounded real nice. I didn't like his other digital set up though, with Weiss DAC's and streaming using various software, the output was very low and didn't give me that overall lively presence compared to a dedicated digital playback system, such as CD/SACD player.
Whenever I go there, I always tell him to demo through the McCormack or CJ's UDP1 sounds FAR better than his PC-digital rig. He's into PC's and servers and downloads and now streaming... just doesn't give me any emotions in music whatsoever, just sound.

Listen to an LP/vinyl through CJ with stats, and you're in heaven mate!

Totally agree on the Proac's they are AWESOME speakers. Their musicality and imaging is top notch! The Harbeth C7's are also capable of similar sonics, and most Harbeths for that matter. The C7 has a special way of recreating the soundstage in your room when properly set up, they sound wonderful.

My last most highly musical experience, just before migrating from tropical land, was actually with a Premier 11A and a pair of Proac Tablet's, through a Musical Fidelity CD player, listening to Diana Krall's Girl in the other room- superb!

Nice to hear from you mate and enjoy those Vandy's!
Cheers, RJ

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