Article Index
Martin Logan Summit X
page 2
page 3
page 4, Sound quality
page 5, Conclusion
page 6, Measured Performance
All Pages

The Summit X stands 61in high to the top of its panel, so it is high by any standard, but at 32.2cm wide (nearly 13in) and 21in deep including rear terminals, it can be squeezed into a room of modest size, unlike bigger panel speakers. I’ve run  Electromotions for some time now in my 17-foot long lounge and they blend in and work well (with acoustic absorption panels behind). The Summit X will suit rooms of medium size like this, or larger of course, and its bass controls facilitate room tuning. Although large, the Summit X is easy to accommodate, its transparent electrostatic panel blending in nicely. Having once run Quad ESL-63s for many years I appreciate this; full range electrostatics like the Quads are visually dominant and the ESL-63s ate up too much of my precious lounge floor space I decided in the end.

Martin Logan’s XStat panel is truly innovative and – better – it doesn’t just look the part, it works flawlessly in practice. Over the years, the company has steadily smoothed its response our measurements show, and they’ve improved its consistency over a wide forward angle, so the panel sounds the same sitting down or standing up.A big panel like this one moves a lot of air and projects well across a room and the Summit X was superb in this respect. Like the Montis I have reviewed, it does project strongly right up to 20kHz and can be very analytical. That makes it a great reviewer’s tool, but you do have to bear in mind that it does not flatter poor digital in particular, like compressed MP3, m4a  files and such like.You ideally need top-quality sources, both LP and digital, and a suitable amplifier because the panel connects directly to it (well, through an audio transformer), even if the bass bin does not.

There are many problems big electrostatic panels can suffer – from poor dispersion to limited power handling, film damage and flashover. My Braun electrostatics, for example,  would crackle and spark merrily as I played them and were barely usable, but they still sounded amazing and were an education on just what electrostatic loudspeakers can (could!) do. The Summit X panel has moved the game well ahead since the Brauns (Quad ESL-57s) existed. They can accept amplifier powers of up to 300 Watts, Martin Logan say, and their curved front minimises phase cancellations and improves lateral dispersion of the sound. And because the stators are coated, they cannot and do not flash over, so no blue sparks in everyday use!
    Apparently, no vacuum sweeper can tear the film because it is so tough, and even a sharp object poked through it will cause damage but little affect on the sound, Martin Logan say (download the Summit X User Manual and read the Q&A section for further information).

Comments (2)
summit x noise
2Friday, 24 October 2014 14:52
I really enjoy the sound quality the Summit delivers, but has anyone recognised the noise both of the digital amps produce?
Summit X
1Thursday, 13 February 2014 21:46
Bruce Low
Very interesting review re the above especially in the context of Noel's love of dipole bass. As a former Quad 57 and 63 listener but current martin logan Spire owner I was particularly struck by Noel's far more positive comments re Summit X bass, (and indeed overall performance) in contrast to his comments on the Montis bass performance. Did I pick you up right? Should I upgrade to Summit X if that is the case. Did Noel find any difference in the xStat performance in Montis compared with Summit X eg soundstage .... Or was this essentially identical given same panel. If it had gains here that would also interest me in terms of potential upgrade. With the Spires I find the slightly soggy and texturally undifferentiated bass (by the highest standards) its only real weakness. It is so good I have hesitated to make any upgrade move up until now,

Yes, the Summit X does have better bass than the Montis, although it isn't perfect perhaps. There is less disparity between panel and box, they seemingly integrate better. That "textural" lack of differentiation remains, but it is less apparent. The Summit X seems to have lighter and drier bass, although it goes very low and subsonics are obvious.
I heard no difference in the XStat panel, and its imaging remains superb.
The Summit X is a step up on the other models and bass is improved. It has become more academically correct, as it were. Big bass form a small box will forever raise problems DSP cannot eradicate. The big issue is internal energy emerging through the cone time delayed (overhang). There's little that can be done about this, other than Isobarik loading. NK

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