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Martin Logan Electromotion review
Page 2
Sound Quality
Conclusion
Measured Performance
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MARTIN LOGAN ELECTROMOTION HYBRID ELECTROSTATIC LOUDSPEAKER REVIEW

From Hi-Fi World - October 2011 issue

 

 

martin-logan-electromotion

 

MOTION

 

SENSING . . .

 

Alvin Gold tunes in to Martin Logan’s latest affordable electrostatic hybrid loudspeaker, the ElectroMotion...

 

There are only two really important brands of electrostatic loudspeakers, and Martin Logan is the other one. Many years ago, when Martin Logan was a fledgling, the company was hamstrung by talented but sometimes flakey drive units, and by hybrid moving coil bass drivers that didn’t match the aspirations of the electrostatic mid and treble drivers. In the end, the solution was not to get rid of the moving coil bass drivers, but simply to do them better. In fact MartinLogan has been on a trajectory of increasing refinement with all their drivers, and also with the physical structure of their speakers which look and work better than ever.

   The first model in recent times that really set a high standard was the Summit, which also set a new standard for affordability and stereo imagery at the time. The more expensive models now integrate much better than before, and handle the crossover region between bass and mid/top with greater aplomb. Over the last few years new models have been introduced at progressively lower prices levels, and the ElectoMotion, reviewed here, which is a completely new model, is a remarkably fine newcomer that takes the formula one step further. It is by any standards an unusually cost-effective design, and it is also beautifully packaged and presented.

 

Like earlier models in the MartinLogan range, it is tall, slender, and sports a slimline electrostatic panel that tilts gently backwards. The panel (which covers everything north of 500Hz) takes up the top two thirds of the speaker, and is radiused to control imagery. In common with all MartinLogans in recent times, the bass section houses an 8 inch bass driver mounted in a heavy bottom vented section of the enclosure. As with all electrostatics, the electrostatic panel needs a polarising voltage and it is supplied by a high voltage circuit that shares space with the bass driver and crossover.



 
Comments (17)
AudioNote and ML Electromotion?
17Sunday, 19 January 2014 00:41
Claudio
Would an 8W single-ended AN OTO SE amp drive the Electromotion in a 4x5m room?
Thanks

8 Watts will produce 96dB at 1 metre and at 4dB loss per metre in a furnished room, around 84dB at 3m. With two loudspeakers this will rise to around 87dB total. It isn't shatteringly loud, but it isn't soft either. These figures reflect my experience in my own lounge (5mx6m) using an oscilloscope to measure true peak levels. Low powers can give quite good volume from 87dB and above.
Be aware that the high output impedance of an SE feeding the falling impedance of the Electromotion will roll down upper treble a little, but subjectively the speaker is quite light and bright, so it will not become dull. The loveliness of an SE suits a speaker like the Electromotion; it needs a clean, smooth source.I would expect the two to work well together (I use a zero-feedback PP 300B, by the way, see http://www.hi-fiworld.co.uk/index.php/world-audio-design/332-300b-amplifier.html). NK
Counterpoint SA-5000 preamplifier
16Thursday, 25 April 2013 14:22
Luca
Hello. Does someone have the SA-5000 Service manual? Thanks in advance, Luca
martin logan electromotions esl
15Thursday, 11 April 2013 15:35
keith
Will they work with a class a valve of 25 watts i am also looking at the theos my room is 13 x 11 feet with thick carpets on walls wool fitted carpet. Keith

Hi Keith. Yes, they will work with a 25W valve amp as they are reasonably sensitive at 87dB, but do not expect really high volume. Valve amps are the best choice for electrostatics. The room isn't large and you will have to listen at one end of the room and position at the other to get 12ft between you and panels, but with rear absorption it should be OK. If Theos is an option try a get a demo first. As Martin Logans get more expensive bass output goes up and a bigger ML may cause your room to boom. The Electromotion is quite dry and light in its bass so will suit. NK
Placement
14Thursday, 14 March 2013 22:31
Haff
Hi - thanks for the great review.

I got the EM ESLs recently (just over 30 hours in - waiting for the magical 72 hour+ moment). I'm running these with a Bryston 3B SST, which in turn is fed by my trusty old Counterpoint SA-5000. For serious listening, there's the Anthem CD-1 and for background, there is Wadia with ipod (all lossless content) and a Cambrdige Audio DAC.

The soundstage and imaging is brilliant. My only limitation is placement and I wonder if you can advise on this.

The room is small (18'x10') and I've had to place along the long wall. The speakers are 8' apart and listening position is just over 6' from the center. The manual says distance to the listening position should be greater than the distance between the speakers. I've always placed other speakers in this manner and have got excellent results. Changing things around will take a lot, but before I embark on that - do you think it will make a huge difference?

Thanks

Hi Haff. You have two problems with this arrangement. The rear wall is too close, and you are too close to the 'speakers.

Large area electrostatic panels vary in radiation across their surface and integrate best at a distance. When measuring we have to move the measuring microphone back 2m-3m away, against 1m or so with a two-way box loudspeaker. Then we can measure the designer's intended result and you can see this is our frequency response analysis. Ideally you should listen at a distance, and electrostatics support this. You can reach your own conclusion about this though simply by moving up and down at the listening position to see how the sound balance varies.

Open panels fire sound backwards and are best placed well in front of a rear wall (7ft or so - see another letter here). You can experiment with rear absorbent panels, rugs on the wall and such like (I once hung a curtain of heavy carpet felt 6in behind Quad ESL-63s).

First, however, I suggest you simply move the Electromotions so they fire down the room, sit on a temporary stool 10ft or so away and see what you think. They can be close to the side walls. You will then know whether the effort of re-arranging the room will be worthwhile.

Finally, don't be too intimidated by placement instructions. They are generalised good-sense guidance, to avoid disastrous misplacement. Rooms are modally complex, as are human preferences! Best to experiment quickly first; you may need to jury-rig a longer lead to one loudspeaker so you can move it across the room. Have fun! Noel Keywood
Electromotions on the list Part Two
13Thursday, 14 March 2013 14:34
Tony
Ni Noel

I auditioned a pair of Electromotions up at KJ West One last Saturday. I started off with the New Sonus Faber Venere 2.5 diven by a Devialet with Theta Transport and was suitably unimpressed. They were lacking bottom end and were "flat" as a pancake image wise. I was actually very disappointed, having read a couple of very good reviews.
Anyway, out came the Electromotions and quite frankly they blew the Vere's into the weeds - lively, great bottom end (tuneful rather than super deep), outstanding imaging and transparency. In short I looked across at "The Bank" and thankfully she was smiling! My pair arrive tomorrow in Piano Black. I'll let you know how I get on but for those of you who are unsure about these, don't be - they are absolutely fantastic speakers and astonishing value for money. Speak to Joachim at KJ West One and be prepared to divert the summer holiday funds....:-)

Lovely to hear about your experiences Tony. Thank you for writing in. They are not bass heavy disco machines, but those electrostatic panels are divine and the bass bin good enough to keep up. As you say, fantastic value for money – they shade a lot of high-end, at a just-affordable price (perhaps: bankers would sneer!). Let us know how you get on, because real life experiences and views are always fascinating. Noel
Inclination panel
12Tuesday, 05 March 2013 22:05
Michele
Hello Noel,
My doubt about the Electromotion is the inclination of the panel. I cannot understand the philosophy of Electromotion on this aspect. When designing a speaker it makes sense to tilt the panel if the speaker is 60 or 70 cm. But Electromotion are 130 cm high and then tilting the panel the issue of the high frequencies are not addressed to the ears of the 'listener but toward the ceiling of the listening room, in fact loses directionality with the risk of losing the vertical dimension of the sound because the panel is tilted and is not straight? Is my view wrong or is there something I'm missing? Thanks in advance.Kind regards, Michele Rossini.

Hi Michele. Radiation from the panel in the vertical plane is broad, although there is a "sweet spot" where high treble is strongest and it corresponds to ear height of 110cms (43ins) at a 12ft listening distance or so in my set up. They could well be fitted with adjustable feet to alter tilt, or cups put under the rear feet to fine adjust tilt. It isn't such a big issue I feel; I take care to check on vertical dispersion and the Electromotions with their tilt do deliver ideal results at a typical listening position I find, even though tilt adjustment would offer fine tuning. NK
ml purity
11Saturday, 02 March 2013 04:29
rob smith
I have Martin Logan Puritys. I like tight bass and detailed sound. Would Electromotions offer a significant upgrade? Or should I upgrade my Cambridge 840a amplifier ? Are One Thing audi?

o ESL 57 more revealing and leaner bass ?

Hi Rob. I would not call the Electromotion a significant upgrade upon the Purity. It is a budget hybrid electrostatic, offering all the lovely properties of an electrostatic at a very low price.
You could upgrade the 840a to a Creek Evolution or Destiny 2, that have a fuller bodied sound. Valve amplifiers are best suited as they can cope with the load and provide superior sound: think Quad or Icon Audio.
Are One Thing Audi? Hmmm... I don't understand! They tune Quad ESL-57s and the result is fantastic.
Quad ESL-57 has light bass, but it is electrostatic bass, meaning fast and clean, at least when in the right room with space behind the panel. A One Thing ESL-57 is lovely, but I hesitate to say better than an Electromotion or Purity. "Different" might be a better word. NK
Electromotions on the list
10Sunday, 17 February 2013 16:59
Tony
I am on the verge of going for these but wonder what your thoughts are on the rest of the system; Gyro, Audiomods, Benz Micro Ace Medium output with AT transformers, Copland CSA28, VRDS T1, MDAC. PC streaming from NAS, Linn K20 speaker cables in bi-wire (room layout forces 12m of cable each side). Room is 12 x 20 with normal height for 60's flat and the speakers fire across the room. I currently use XTZ 99.26 which replaced a pair of Martin Logan Aerius with tired panels. Trouble is I miss the image height and width of the Aerius so rather than spend £800 on new panels, I think the Electromotion is the way to go. Do you have any thoughts?

Hi Tony. If you are firing across the room then that's 12ft (I presume you mean feet and not metres!) – and it isn't much for a dipole. You'll need sound absorbing panels behind I suggest, because you likely will have the speakers close to the wall. Otherwise, the Copland will drive them well and the Electromotions will not over-excite the transverse mode of the room that, at 12ft, will be 45Hz. This set up should work well – and as you say the height of the Martin Logan image is impressive. NK
EM ESL vs ML Clarity or Source
9Saturday, 16 February 2013 21:52
Michele
Hi Noel,

I wanted to know if the ESL EM are really top models such as the Source or Clarity and what parameters: in short, there 's something very innovative compared to previous entry-level of ML or is it just a business transaction?

Thanks in advance
Michele

Hi Michele. The Electromotion ESL is a budget electrostatic hybrid, far less expensive than just about all else, so you can't expect the sophistication of more expensive ML models, in the electrostatic panel at least. The ESL XStat panel is more directional than the more expensive panels, and there is a midrange lift that gives a light balance. Having said that, the simple reflex loaded bass bin works surprisingly well: it plays a bass 'tune' clean and fast. Just don't expect big bass or subsonics. With an AV receiver there is usually a bass control or graphic equaliser that may usefully change the balance – just a small bass lift of a few dB would warm things up without detriment elsewhere. The point about this loudspeaker is that you get to to hear an electrostatic for less money than elsewhere – and believe me electrostatics do things other loudspeakers can only dream about. The Electromotion ESL is a genuine attempt to make an electrostatic affordable. Always though, listen first. NK
Building my system with the ESL's...feedback?
8Tuesday, 05 February 2013 01:25
Rob
So I just bought the Pioneer Elite c-61 and a pair of ML ESL's. Would the ML Motion 8 be good for a center speaker? What sub would recommend? Seeing that I have a 7.2 Channel receiver I'm thinking at somepoint to have 2 subs.


Hi Rob. Martin Logan make the matching EM-C2 Centre loudspeaker for the Electromotions, that they say has 92dB sensitivity. The Motion 8 Centre loudspeaker, purposed for the Motion Series, is similar to the EM-C2 so will have a similar acoustic signature, but at 89dB sensitivity it isn't matched in this respect. You can increase gain of the centre channel to compensate, so the Motion 8 will suit if that's what you desire or perhaps need for home cinema.
Of all loudspeakers the Electomotion ESL least needs a Centre loudspeaker, because it sets up sharply defined images across the sound stage, left to right. If you turn the Centre channel off in the receiver it directs Centre signal into Left and Right channels, so you get a phantom centre image as in normal stereo. It's in the right position, in front of the screen, not above or below it, and it has the character of the Left and Right speakers.
Centre 'speakers usually sit below the TV, in which case vocals drums and any centre stage images come up from the floor, and this isn't very convincing. Martin Logan picture their Motion 8 above the TV, for a celestial sound. That's all very well, but it means drilling into the wall to fix it, then you have to run the wires. So you may like to try the system without a Centre loudspeaker initially to see what you think about this arrangement. Centres are a cinema thing; they carry speech and are not strictly necessary in the home where Left and Right loudspeakers like the Electromotions are able to set up a sound stage with a strong central image. NK
M L Electromotions
7Wednesday, 02 January 2013 16:25
Rob Sumsion
My sources are, Xerxes LP, Attessa 2 CD, MF Xplora, MF A5cr pre, Quad 909 pwr.

Do you feel these would do the Martin Logan justice ??

Many thanks.

Basically, yes. The Quad 909 power amplifier will handle Electromotions and complement them. You do not mention the cartridge used in the Xerxes; if it has a treble peak as so many do then you will be made very aware of the fact. Ideally, you should update your system to items with an easy, full bodied sound, free of harsh or prominent treble. NK
Compatibilty
6Friday, 30 November 2012 09:23
Mark Rai
Hi. This is Mark from Horley in Surrey. I like the sound of the Electromotions. Will the Krell 300si be a good match for them?

Hi Mark. Your Krell S-300i looks like a good match technically. It has low output impedance and a high damping factor, so will control the bass bin well.
It is specified as delivering 15A maximum, which means it can deliver 225 Watts into 1 ohm, and that's plenty enough headroom at 20kHz where the Electromotion's electrostatic panel descends to 1 Ohm (see our impedance plot).
Subjectively, Krells sound powerful and clean, having plenty of dynamic drive, so you should be OK on this front too. In the UK Krell and Martin Logan come from importer Absolute Sounds so don't forget to speak to them about your options of a demo. NK
Speaker match to Magnepan.
5Monday, 26 November 2012 11:04
M.Hamied
Hi,

Thank you for the review. I have small inquiry about ElectroMotion speakers, i have Magnepan MG-20 speaker using it as fronts speaker, and I want to add center and surround speakers, my friend recommend Electro Motion C2 and FX3 as center and surround speaker as good match for MG-20.

May I ask are C2 and FX2 sound very transparent and close to Magnepan MG-20?

Many thanks. Hope someone will answer.


We have not reviewed the C2 Centre or FX3 Surround 'speakers, with their interesting folded ribbon tweeter, so cannot make an informed comment on sound quality. I can see that Martin Logan have tried to match the sound of their electrostatic panel with a ribbon, mounted in a compact enclosure, but it only works down to 2.3kHz, leaving much of the crucial midband handled by the paper cone drive units. Try and listen to them if you can. They do seem like a good choice as Martin Logan will surely have tried to match them to their electrostatics, and there are similarities to Maggies. However, neither electrostatics or magnetic-planar panel loudspeakers (dipoles) will ever match box loudspeakers (monopoles); you can only get close. Hope this helps.
Source.
4Wednesday, 31 October 2012 16:34
Bjoern
Hi Noel.
You write that the Electromotion can give problems with poor sound quality.
Do you think Naim 200, 202 and Hegel HD 20 converter can be suitable or is it something else they need?

Bjoern
Denmark

The Naims are suitable, in that they offer strong bass drive and good bass timing, so will keep the bass bin under control. You will get the classic smooth, slightly warm sound as the Electromotion electrostatic panel is very revealing of amplifier character. The Naims will withstand low impedance at high frequencies too.

That is one slight 'problem' with good electrostatics: you hear the amplifier more. If auditioning at a dealer, ask for the amplifier to be changed to hear differences. This illustrates the point, and the need for a good amp. Enjoy! Noel
Peachtree and Martin
3Tuesday, 23 October 2012 05:53
John
Do you think my iDecco will be a good match with this speaker? Have you listened to the electrmotions predecessor, the voice? If so, how do they compare?

Hi John. It will likely drive the Electromotions and give good volume, as they are sensitive and 45 Watts from your iDecco is enough. The electrostatic panel plunges to 1 Ohm at 20kHz and it is impossible to predict whether the iDecco will cope, but it probably will. Be careful about playing compressed MP3 music files loud, as this can push a lot of hf current and is a common cause difficulties I am told. NK
ML Electromotions compared to Eminent LFT 8bs
2Thursday, 12 April 2012 20:43
RT
Hi Noel, Intriguing how elements of this review remind me of your LFT 8b review from a year or two back.

How would you contrast the two loudspeakers? In particular with music that is a mix of indie, rock, acoustic and jazz.

Source will be a mix of CD and computer audio, with high quality files in the main.

My current situation precludes high volume listening.

Long term amplifier choice to be confirmed, though I do have my eye on the new Westlake when it's available later this year. Conversely the Icon Audio reviews you've written in the last few years have left me with a desire to 'scratch the valve itch'. Appreciate that those two are very different and it may be that my choice of speaker leads me to one rather than the other.

One concern I do have is the quality issues you seemed to suffer with the LFT 8bs baby brother the LFT 16 recently. Have things improved I wonder - would value your thoughts on the level of risk here. I certainly don't have the ability to measure the frequency response to make sure all is well. Which might suggest that I stay away from the LFTs?

RT

Ouch - that's a difficult choice! The Eminent LFT-8bs are great loudspeakers and similar in some ways the the Electromotions, both being high quality open panels of course. The bass bins are different though. Martin Logan like "big" bass, and from a small cabinet it can be a bit over-blown. Eminent keep bass tight, but there's less of it. Use a very good amplifier because they will reveal what it is (isn't!) doing. Quad II-eighty or Icon Audio 845 amps are fine. I hope this helps. NK
What front end...and is Theos as well integrated?
1Saturday, 21 January 2012 13:04
Simon
Great review. You mention the need for a decent front end. Would a Linn Majik DS suit? And I'm wondering whether the Theos has the panel and bass driver as well integrated as the EM-ESL.

Simon

Will the Linn Majik DS suit? The answer is "yes" and "no". Providing you play high resolution WAV, FLAC, ALAC or AIFF lossless files from a computer the Majik is a good network player and the music suitable for the loudspeakers. Just remember that Martin Logan panels reveal all, and a lot of computer music files aren't so good sound quality wise.

Theos is as well integrated – or not – as ElectroMotion. Martin Logan are still improving their loudspeakers here and some of the more expensive models with powered bass aren't so convincing in this respect. You need to listen and judge for yourself.

By the way, we have Martin Logan Montis in for review and will discuss this more soon, likely in the April 2012 issue. Classical violinist Rafael Todes admits his Amati sounds good through Martin Logan's X-Stat panel, but he doesn't like cellos through the Class D powered bass unit ML use. Will he like the new Montis?

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