About the MartinLogan ElectroMotion® ESL
Electrostatic speakers have always had their own niche on the outskirts of a more conventional “box speaker” world, presumably a bit too exotic to fit into the average Joe's system. So when we recently auditioned the MartinLogan ElectroMotion® ESL speakers in our cavernous product training room, we were not only impressed by their dramatic sound, but surprised by how effortlessly they played with some of our more affordable audio gear, including a mid-priced receiver. Our takeaway: you don't need a rack full of uber-expensive components or a fancy, dedicated listening room to enjoy fantastic sound with these speakers.
The secret to transparent sound
Unlike speakers that use domes and cones to reproduce treble and midrange, the EM-ESL features an ultra-thin polymer film, or diaphragm, suspended between two electrically charged, perforated steel plates. The diaphragm's ultra-low mass allows it to move very efficiently back and forth between the plates thousands of times a second in response to the music signal creating enticingly transparent, low-distortion sound with a lifelike sense of immediacy. The panel is visually transparent, too, so it makes an unforgettable impression when seen in person.
Throwing a curve into the equation
Controlling a speaker's sound dispersion in a room is crucial to creating realistic sound. MartinLogan's signature 30º curved electrostatic panels allow for ideal dispersion in your home listening environment and minimize reflected sound off of the side walls that can muddy detail and stereo imaging. This design helps take the room out of the sonic equation.
Less crossover equals better sound
Even the best crossovers can add distortions that negatively impact sound quality. The EM-ESL's hybrid design uses its electrostatic panel to operate all the way from the highest audible frequencies down through the crucial midrange (where our ears are most sensitive) to 500 Hz without a crossover for the purest possible music reproduction. A high-excursion 8" woofer takes over from there, seamlessly blending in to provide taut, accurate bass that rounds out the speaker's low-end end response.
Impressions from our Labs
We first heard the EM-ESLs in the Crutchfield Labs, where they looked and sounded like no other speakers to ever visit our listening room. Their tall sleek panels yielded exceptional levels of detail and clarity, with a huge soundstage that extended not only from wall-to-wall but from floor-to-ceiling, as well. The effect was intoxicating, almost as if the musicians were sitting right there in the room.
- 34" x 8-5/8" CLS (Curvilinear Line Source) XSTAT electrostatic transducer for wide sound dispersion, excellent clarity, and low distortion
- 8" high-excursion paper cone woofer (reproduces frequencies below 500 Hz)
- bass-reflex (ported) woofer enclosure
- external low-voltage DC power supply (included) requires AC outlet connection to energize electrostatic panel
- high-performance Vojtko crossover network with custom air core coil, low DCR steel laminate inductors, polyester film capacitors, and low DF electrolytic capacitors
- frequency response: 42-22,000 Hz (±3dB)
- sensitivity: 91 dB
- impedance: 6 ohms
- recommended amplifier power: 20-300 watts
- Black Satin finish
- included adjustable floor spikes with removable protective covers
- spring post speaker terminals accept bare wires, pins, and banana connectors
- 9-5/16"W x 53-1/8"H x 16-1/2"D
- weight: 35.5 lbs.
- warranty: 5 years (with product registration)
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # EMESLD
What's in the box:
- Floor-standing hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker
- AC power adapter (w/ attached 10' DC cord)
- Cloth grille (installed)
- 4 Pre-installed feet
- User's Manual (En/Fr)
- Product Registration Card
MartinLogan ElectroMotion® ESL reviews
First, they are beautiful to behold. Excellent design. After the 72-hr "break-in " the sound quality is magnificent. We have tested all genres of music at different sound levels and have not been disappointed. Truly a welcomed addition to our family entertainment!
0 of 0 found this helpful
Excellent sound. These speakers provide an audio experience. I don't have the vocabulary to express how these have changed the way we listen to music, movies and shows at home. As someone else described, its the closest thing to being there in front of the musician and his/her instruments. There is a level of definition i haven't heard before. My wife and i go over our music library and play tracks for hours just to hear how they will sound. Its just beautifully articulate, crystal clear sound and movie noises. Near perfect.
Pros: perfect sound for the size of my room and amplifier
Cons: speaker size may not be suitable for small places
4 of 4 found this helpful
Amazing life-like reproduction of sound. Set-up is not hard at all. Just a couple minutes of tweaking positioning starts to bring these speaker to life. Because the top part of the panel is semi-transparent the speaker blends into the living room. It's a totally different and a conversational piece vs your traditional speaker box. I am running these speakers with a Def Tech center channel and rears. Honestly, I don't hear much or any difference with a mixed pairs like this. When I watch movies I am not critically listening like music so I can "compromise" with matching electrostatics. I narrowed down to these ESL's after listening to the new Bowers line and ML Motion 40s. I found the folded tweeter design best for long listening sessions and didn't cause ear fatigue. It takes a few hours of listening and these speakers keep sounding better. Lastly, I didn't find I needed a subwoofer to bring out the bass of these speakers, but for TV watching a subwoofer couldn't hurt. I am using the JL Audio Dominion 108. The JLs are an amazing sub and blends amazingly with the ESL. I am using Bluejeans 4S11 Canare cables and an Emotiva power amp (4 OHM rated) however my Denon purchased at Crutchfield is the pre-amp/processor. The Denon is so versatile which is how I was able to build this set-up. Also, I listen to a broad range of music and found these speakers didn't compromise with rock to classical to jazz.
Pros: Life-like sound reproduction No ear fatigue Visually interesting design
7 of 7 found this helpful
What can I say WOW !!! The details unbelievable. These speakers sounded much better play on Tidel app , Flack files or DSD files. When I first got them. I spend hrs listening my song collection. As for adding a sub with these would not hurt. But they do has great bass response. I set my sub 80hz below. ( perfect Sweet Spot). Breaking in after 72 hrs. The sound becomes more open and sound stage as well. I had to adjust toe in or toe out the speakers. More toe out wider sound stage. Give time to adjust its worth it. The price yes there $$$$ but its worth it. As for Crutchfield customer service A+. Free shipping service excellent deliver. It was a white glove treatment. I live in souther Ca it tooked 3 days.
Pros: To many to say
Cons: None !!!
4 of 4 found this helpful
I auditioned these speakers at a local retailer and was greatly impressed. However, you leave with the thoughts of how their room was setup, power of their source, etc. and it probably won't sound that good at home. I discussed in detail (my current system -Polk and Yamaha) with the Crutchfield advisor and I was convinced to give these speakers a try. It was an excellent decision. I am not close to the 72 hour break in yet but the change in the size of the sound stage and clarity is remarkable. They even make my Polk center channel (CS 400i) sound great. Overall I am very impressed and love the sound. I am sure it will only get better. Now I am trying to Not buy the ML center to go with it. I am not sure I can handle too much improvement all at once! It is great looking speaker, with great sound, I made a great choice.
Pros: Vastly increased sound stage and noticeable increase in clarity.
Cons: Nothing to do with the speaker itself but it would be nice to do the warranty registration online vs using mail in card.
8 of 11 found this helpful
I'm very happy with my choice. Almost done with the 72 hour break in. Just starting to turn up the volume. As you increase the volume the sound field fills the room and suddenly they come alive and your family room is now a concert hall. Still tweaking the placement, only 2' from front wall and like the other reviewer can't move them too far forward. The clarity is amazing. The biggest surprise is the variety in the quality of my music library. Will need to delete some of music on my computer and down load again in higher quality. My ESL are part of my home theater, now movies are at a whole new level..
Pros: Falling in love with music again, the details you never heard before.
Cons: Non so far
20 of 20 found this helpful
Not completely satisfied with my existing tower speakers for two channel listening, I called Crutchfield for a recommendation on an upgrade. After a good deal of time on the phone explaining my likes and dislikes, my space, and my budget, we decided the MartinLogan Electromotion ESLs might be a good fit. Now, after a day of listening to them, I couldn't be more pleased. The clarity and detail are amazing and the soundstage is beautiful. Closing your eyes and listening to live performances transports you right into the audience. I am also hearing new things in my favorite recordings. These speakers are easily powered by my Marantz MM7025. Bass is decent (the hybrid design is definitely nice), but I did add a MartinLogan Dynamo 500 and would definitely recommend a sub.
Pros: Great sound, stylish looks, and easier on the budget compared to more traditional speakers delivering the same quality of sound.
Cons: Not really a con, but these speakers will reveal both the good AND the bad hiding in your recordings. Sweet spot seems narrower than conventional speakers. Finally, they do need a bit more room to breath than my previous speakers, but if you have the space that's not an issue.
19 of 21 found this helpful
I bought/auditioned 4 different speaker sets before sticking with the ML ESL home theater (including these ESL's). I was hesitant at first because of things I have heard about electrostats. I heard that if they're not positioned perfectly they don't sound good. That's not true. I found their perfect placement and it's about 5 ft from my front wall. The wife disapproved, and the wife won. However, now that they're only just under 2 ft from the wall, they still sound better than any speaker that I've had. I heard that they're hard to drive. That is not true, I borrowed my friends cheap sony receiver and they played plenty loud and still sounded great. That being said, I have them running from a separate pre/pro and amp, and they sound even better when driven properly. They said they're not durable. I dropped them (oops), they still work, however I haven't had them long, so I can't speak to their long term reliability. I have no doubts that they will last as long as any other speaker. Last thing I've heard is that they're not loud enough and don't sound good with some music. As far as being loud, unless you're trying to blow out your ears, they're loud enough. They can play loud enough to make my ears ring, and I have a large listening area (25x20x11ft). As far as music, all my music sounds good on them, however my choice of music may change only because these speakers really do bring out everything (the good and bad) in the recording. These speakers are amazing!
Pros: Look and Sound amazing. Until you hear electrostats, you don't know what they're missing. Try them out, you won't regret it.
Cons: Flimsy feeling speaker wire terminals.
32 of 32 found this helpful
More details on the MartinLogan ElectroMotion® ESL
Features & specs
|Tweeter Size (inches)||8.6x34|
|Midrange Size (inches)||N/A|
|Woofer Size (inches)||8|
|Woofer Composition||Doped fiber|
|Built-in Powered Sub||No|
|Connector Type||Spring post|
|Parts Warranty||5 Yrs w/ Registration|
|Labor Warranty||5 Yrs w/ Registration|
|Frequency Response||42-22k Hz|
|Subwoofer Amp Power||---|
Electrostatic Technology (How it Works): Where traditional loudspeaker technology incorporate cones, domes, diaphragms, and ribbons that are moved with magnetism, electrostatic loudspeakers employ charged electrons attracting and repelling each other. An electrostatic transducer consists of three pieces; stators, the diaphragm, and spacers. The diaphragm is what actually moves to excite the air and create music. The stator's job is to remain stationary and to provide a reference point for the moving diaphragm. The spacers provide the diaphragm with a fixed distance in which to move between the stators. As your amplifier sends music signals to an electrostatic speaker, these signals are changed into two high-voltage signals that are equal in strength but opposite in polarity. These high voltage signals are then applied to the stators. The resulting electrostatic field, created by the opposing high voltage on the stators, works simultaneously with and against the diaphragm, consequently moving it back and forth, producing music. This technique is known as push-pull operation and is a major contributor to the sonic purity of the electrostatic concept due to its exceptional linearity and low distortion.
Hybrid Electrostatic Speaker: The MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESL X is a hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker that features a XStat CLS electrostatic transducer panel, an optimized Vojtko crossover, and two passive 8" woofers. Electrostatic panels are perfect for reproducing high, midrange, and midbass frequencies. However, both the size and the power requirements of deep bass frequencies are best served by traditional cone woofers. A phase and amplitude optimized Vojtko crossover (400Hz) ensures a seamless transition between the two sound reproduction philosophies. As a result, this speaker offers the best performance for high, mid, and low frequencies.
XStat CLS Transducer: The MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESL X features a 8.6" (w) x 40" (h) XStat CLS Transducer. This new XStat transducer builds upon the legacy of MartinLogan's electrostatic heritage with the incorporation of a myriad of technology and design innovations including CLS, MicroPerf, Generation 2 Diaphragms, ClearSpars, Vacuum Bonding, and AirFrame technology. Through rigorous testing, this curvilinear electrostatic panel has proven itself to be one of the most durable and reliable transducers available today. Fabricated from a custom tool punched high-grade steel, the patented panel is then coated with a special polymer that is applied via a proprietary electrostatic bonding process. This panel assembly houses a membrane just 0.0005" thick. Ruggedly constructed and insulated, the panel is rated to easily handle 20 to 300 watts of power.
- CLS (Curvilinear Line Source): MartinLogan engineers discovered a simple solution to achieve a smooth pattern of dispersion from a smaller electrostatic transducer without degrading sound quality. By curving the horizontal plane of the electrostatic transducer, a controlled 30° horizontal dispersion pattern could be achieved, yet the purity of the almost massless electrostatic diaphragm remained uncompromised.
- Generation 2 Diaphragm: The diaphragm used in the ElectroMotion ESL X XStat transducer employs an extremely sophisticated conductive coating applied to the polymer surface at an atomic level using a plasma bonding process. A proprietary compound is driven into the surface of the polymer film in an oxygen free argon chamber. This process allows extremely uniform surface resistivity characteristics, an optically transparent surface, and a nearly massless diaphragm. This uniform surface resistivity controls the electrostatic charge on the diaphragm surface and regulates its movement.
- MicroPerf Stator: Although stators are the elements of an electrostatic driver that are supposed to stand still, they carry the audio signals that do the work of propelling the diaphragm back and forth to move air and produce sound. Because the stators sandwich the diaphragm between them, they must be perforated to allow sound to pass through. Yet they must also be rigid enough to remain absolutely stationary despite the strong electrostatic forces pushing and pulling at them during operation. MartinLogan's MicroPerf design optimizes this tradeoff by reducing the size of the individual holes and using many more of them than in a traditional electrostatic panel. MicroPerf almost doubles effective diaphragm radiating area without compromising structural integrity. The resulting increase in output capability and efficiency allows the XStat CLS panel to be made much smaller without sacrificing performance and lets you enjoy a substantial leap in bandwidth and dynamics.
- Vacuum Bonding + ClearSpar Spacers: To achieve the power, precision, and strength of the XStat transducer, two insulated high-purity carbon steel stators along with a proprietary plasma bonded diaphragm and ClearSpar spacers are fused into a curved geometry with an aerospace adhesive whose strength exceeds that of welding. MartinLogan's proprietary Vacuum Bonding process guarantees uniform diaphragm tensioning and extremely precise construction tolerances, resulting in precision, linearity and efficiency.
- AirFrame Technology: The XStat CLS panel is secured to speaker cabinet using MartinLogan's AirFrame technology. The extruded aluminum and composite AirFrame makes the panel extremely rigid while maximizing playable surface area and dipole sound radiation. At the same time, it provides electrical and acoustical isolation, minimizing intermodulation distortion caused by vibration and resonance. Overall, AirFrame technology enhances imaging, low-level sonic detail, accuracy, and efficiency.
Controlled Dispersion Sound Radiation: A key attribute of the ElectroMotion ESL X is its naturally dipolar radiation pattern. A true dipole, the EM-ESL X radiates sound with equal intensity from the front and back of its diaphragm, but the outputs are in opposite phase. As a result, sound waves rippling out toward the sides meet at the speaker's edge and cancel. That and the relatively large size of the ElectroMotion ESL X's electrostatic panel cause output at the sides to be very low relative to that of a conventional loudspeaker, which in turn minimizes side-wall reflections that tend to muddle sonic detail and stereo imaging. While the reduction in output to the sides contributes to the astonishing clarity, the energy reflected off the wall behind the speaker opens up and deepens the sound.
Full-Range Operation: Another significant advantage of MartinLogan's exclusive electrostatic transducer technology is that no crossover networks are used above 400Hz, because they are not needed. The ElectroMotion ESL X consists of a single, seamless electrostatic membrane reproducing all frequencies above 400Hz simultaneously. This eliminates the crossover phase aberrations that are associated with traditional tweeter, midrange, and woofer systems. The result is a dramatic improvement in imaging and staging performance.
Dual 8" Woofers w/ Ported Cabinet: Two precise 8" high-excursion, perfectly balanced, audiophile grade, doped-fiber cone woofers have been custom designed exclusively for The EM-ESL X by MartinLogan's in-house engineering team. These woofers precisely optimize cone suspension and magnetic flux field to produce high levels of bass output and simultaneous precise midrange. The custom woofers' rigid light-weight diaphragm eliminates cone flexure and maximizes response time to achieve remarkably low-distortion. The 8" woofers are housed in a non-resonant asymmetrical cabinet with a down-firing bass port for additional bass extension.
Note: When you first begin to play the ElectroMotion ESL X speaker, it will sound a bit bass shy. This is due to the high-quality, long-life components used in the passive woofer. The custom-made woofer requires approximately 72 hours of break-in at 90 dB (moderate listening levels) before any critical listening. The break-in requirements of the crossover components (and, to a lesser degree, the stator) are equivalent.
Proprietary Vojtko Filtering: To seamlessly blend audio output from the high- and mid-frequency electrostatic panel to the low-frequency woofers the ElectroMotion ESL X features a proprietary Vojtko topology filter utilizing custom air core coil and low DCR steel laminate inductors, polyester film capacitors in series, and low DF electrolytic capacitors in parallel.
Bi-Wirable Binding Post: The ESL X features bi-wirable binding posts and provide the ultimate level of flexibility for connection and setup. MartinLogan's proprietary tool-less binding posts simplify cable connection and management. Two sets are supplied; one connected to the electrostatic panel and the other feeding the woofer. You can choose to bi-amp the ESL X, or use jumper clips between the binding post sets for a single wire-connection. The binding posts will accept bare wire (16- to 8-gauge), pin-connectors, spade-connectors, and banana plugs (single only).
Low-Voltage DC Power Supply: The ElectroMotion ESL X speaker uses an external low-voltage power supply to energize its electrostatic panel. The included power supply firmly inserts into the "DC Power In" receptacle on the rear-panel of the speaker and then to an AC wall outlet. The ElectroMotion ESL X speaker features a signal sensing circuit which will switch the ElectroMotion ESL X off after a few minutes of no music signal, and requires less than two seconds to recharge the panels when a music signal is present.
- Input: AC 100-240V~50/60Hz, 0.2A
- Output: DC 15V, 0.4A
Applications: The MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESL X floor-standing speakers can be used as stereo speakers or home theater front/surround speakers. The ElectroMotion ESL X speakers are ideal for medium and small rooms.
Placement: The ElectroMotion ESL X speaker should be placed approximately 2' to 3' from the front wall (the wall in front of the listening position) and about 2' from the side walls. Your sitting distance should be further than the distance between the ElectroMotion ESL X speakers themselves. This will allow you to attain good center imaging and stage width. Generally, it is found that the ideal listening position is with the speakers slightly toed-in so that you are listening to the inner third of the curved transducer section.
Note: The front wall surface ideally should be one long wall without any doors, windows, or other openings. If you have openings, the reflection and bass characteristics from each channel can be different.
Interchangeable Feet: The MartinLogan ESL X floor-standing loudspeaker includes four pre-installed rubber feet for tile and hardwood floors. You can remove the rubber tip from the pre-installed feet to reveal four metal spiked feet for carpeted flooring. The feet are threaded into the base of the speaker and can be adjusted to non-level surfaces.
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