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You may not want to hear everything Clarkson says, but the ‘speakers also brought deep analysis to the Dolby stereo sound track, complementing the TV’s own bright, sharp rendition of a well produced programme. The BBC are now putting effort into video and audio quality, so although stereo is rare and surround-sound almost mythical, the pictures look good on current HD TVs and the sound track, much of it comprising dubbed-in music, the Electromotions showed to be of very good quality.
    This was even more apparent with the sound track behind Professor Brian Cox, also in the southern U.S.A (Wonders of Life, BBC HD). The twanging strings of a guitar jumped at me with a finely honed sense of speed and precision that was attention grabbing.
    Centre stage imaging was so good a Centre channel loudspeaker was not necessary, but Martin Logan make the EM-C2 for this purpose. They also make EM-FX2 as matching Surround speakers.Marantz SR-8002 AV receiver
    HD TV was made dramatic by the Electromotions. Their sense of lightning speed and razor sharp imaging you won’t find elsewhere, except from ribbons. But ribbons have a fraction of the working range of this panel, so you miss out on the Electromotion’s utterly breathtaking midband clarity.
    Because the bass/midrange unit lacks prominence I was rarely aware of its contribution and this suited me. With Fleetwood Mac in 24/96 though bass was firm, fast and very supple. As Martin Logans get more expensive bass increases in prominence and panel dispersion improves too, but I was happy with the Electromotions in these areas. They perfectly matched settee / ear height, but if a moved down or stood up, the sound lost its high treble. The same happened if I walked around, but this doesn’t worry me as I am not concentrating on listening when moving around. The more expensive XStat panels have better dispersion I recall, albeit at greater cost.
    The Electromotions are sensitive so they don’t need the power full-range electrostatic panels demand; around 40 Watts will do fine. As we said in the original review their low impedance of 1 Ohm at 20kHz – a feature of most electrostatics – is only a problem if you play music with a lot of treble really loud. Then, amplifier protection circuits may trip, or worse, depending upon the design of the amplifier. The speakers didn’t make the Marantz protection relays even murmur, but then I don’t play very loud. Nor do I play compressed MP3s that can also be troublesome because they contain strong treble.
    Out of interest, I put 2.2 Ohm resistors in series with each loudspeaker to raise minimum impedance closer to a more common 4 Ohm value but this dulled upper treble strongly (-10dB at 20kHz), as expected because of falling impedance, resulting in a dark and lacklustre sound, even though the speakers still measured flat to 8kHz. Although series resistors also affect electrical damping, bass quality changed little in practice, because acoustic damping is strong.
    So there are no quick fixes to low impedance, but it is unlikely to be a problem unless you turn up the wick using a low power transistor amplifier.
    Quality wise, these ‘speakers demand the best there is from amplifiers and a valve amplifier of good quality suits fine. Older transistor amplifiers – the one you’ve owned for ten years or bought from eBay – won’t suddenly shine. Quite the reverse, their groggy midband and crude treble, ably disguised by a box loudspeaker, will suddenly be revealed. Electrostatics peer right into everything, so as I listened to those HD TV programmes, I was made aware of changing environments the microphones were detecting and could tell, without looking, when Brian Cox walked into a shed that he’d done so from the reverberation. These are horribly insightful loudspeakers, like no other, that don’t flatter mediocre transistor amplifiers by pulling their limitations out into the open. The pay back is that when you get it right they are a breathtaking audio experience, like no other. A good modern amplifier costing £1000-£2000 will suit.
    It isn’t just amplifiers they find wanting. CDs suffered too. Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Monday Morning’ sounded horribly coarse, shaky and dated; no wonder we all disliked CD; the Electomotions showed me why. Jumping up and putting on Rumours, in 24/96 on DVD-A, had Dreams sounding stable and clear in front of me, the sound stage elevated and images solid, stable and free of ambiguity. The Electromotions made dramatic the difference between early CD and high resolution digital.
    Classical music fared no better. Teldec digital recordings made in the 1990s of Wagner shrieked, but switching to a recent 24/192 of Percy Grainger playing Greig’s Piano Concerto, from 2L on Norway, again brought in a solid and stable quality, the performance wrought large across the end of my lounge.
    With these loudspeakers you hear everything, warts and all, painted up on a big, wide sound stage between the loudspeakers. Their extended treble helps highlight digital nasties, spotlighting old recordings in rude fashion. The absence of crossover between drive units makes for a very even, consistent sound free from phase problems.
    Using Electromotion ESLs in my lounge for a few weeks reminded me how dramatic electrostatics can be. I’ve only owned Quads in the past. For some reason, I have never taken home KingSound or Martin Logan electrostatics, both of which I really like. Now, having found how living-room friendly Martin Logans are, how they make HD TV sound dramatic and how ruthlessly revealing they are, especially to poor digital, I am more than impressed. They may not be perfect – the light tonal balance won’t appeal to everyone – but otherwise there’s little to argue against here; for £2500 this is an amazing loudspeaker, way ahead of most others at the price. Living with Electromotions is a good thing to do!


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