Martin Logan are at the forefront of designing some of the best ESL Speakers in the world and that is quite clear with the examples
that I have given above, and with this new found love I seek out trying to obtain a pair that would be suitable to review for The Speaker Shack.
My room is not extremely large so it limited me somewhat, the ESL 15A Speakers were out of the question unless I wanted to obliterate my place completely. So I had to look at the next best option and up popped the Montis which are perfect for my sized room and bigger in fact, but they would be ideal for reviewing and would hopefully give me a taste of what Martin Logan XStat panels are so good at, and in my room.
Features and Build Quality
The Martin Logan Montis ESL Speakers feature in the Reserve series of speakers in the Martin Logan range, these are more or less at the top of the range and the Montis sits below the Summit X which are some of their premium speakers. The list of features is so long on the Montis and the technology that goes into making up these speakers is incredible with advances in ESL panels being made by them over many years and they hold a lot of trademarks for unique manufacturing skills and techniques. The Montis features one of the largest XStat panels made up by the latest aluminum Airframe technologies, with vacuum bonding and MicroPerf-Stators, with a Curvilinear Line Source electrostatic transducer or CLS for short.(more information can be found on the advances on ESL technologies in this link).The strength and quality of these panels is just extraordinary with them being so rigid and strong. They are really nice to handle when setting up as they feel so secure and strong, which is one thing I was concerned about when first handling them, but they can be handled like most speakers and pulled around as normal. The 10" Powered Force woofer is in a beautiful sealed wooden cabinet which can be finished in a number of finishes.
Powering this aluminum cone woofer is 200 watt Class D Amplifier and at the heart of the circuitry is a 24-bit Vojtko DSP engine with advanced filtering and a 100-Hz level control. One of the biggest features of the Montis is that it is a hybrid speaker, part active and part passive which allows the large XStat panel to be crossed over at lower 340Hz Mid-range frequency which brings more of the ESL clarity to the mid-range. With the high tech DSP Vojtko engine it allows for seamless blending of the active woofer which is one of the most difficult parts of integration with ESL type speakers. Martin Logan have certainly nailed this one. On the rear of the cabinet thereis a single set of 5 wayspeaker binding posts which give good grip and are great for my spade terminated Transparent speaker cables, also there is a gain knob for setting the subwoofer level and dialing it in to suit your size room. On top of the cabinet there is a Martin Logan logo etched into the cabinet and when the speakers are active this glows neon blue but at the back of the cabinet is a small switch which you can turn this on and off if you so wish. Some nice touches which all make this package very tidy and more appealing as they are so easy to use and designed that way.Montis Panel & Woofer Specifications
Frequency Response 2923,000 Hz 3dB
Horizontal Dispersion 30
Vertical Dispersion 44" (112cm) line source
High Frequency Transducer XStat CLS electrostatic transducer
Panel Dimensions 44" 11.3" (111.8 28.7cm)
Radiating Area 497 in 2 (3,209 cm2)
Low Frequency Transducer10" (25.4cm) cast basket, high excursion, aluminum cone with extended throw drive assembly, non-resonance asymmetrical chamber format.Setting Up
Getting the speakers ready and set up is not so hard as they are one of the easiest speakers I have had the pleasure of calibrating into my system. They come with a set of rubber feet and spikes, the best way is to get them into position with the rubber feet and then spike them once you are happy with the position. Getting them into the correct position takes the process of using a torch and pointing the beam from your main listening position so that it reflects off the inner nearest panel of each speaker, it is clearly defined in the handbook or guide that is online and provides the best way of getting them situated so that each panel is pointed at you angled slightly inwards, or toed inwards. Once this is done you can then spike the speakers and then adjust the angle/tilt of the panel so that you get the best response or sounding image that you think sounds best to your ears. Performance and Sound Quality
For listening tests I will be using my Prima Luna Dialogue Premium HP Integrated Amplifier, my Chord Electronics QuteHD DAC and for sources I will be using my modified Oppo BDP-93 as a Transport for CD and the Aurender X100L Music Server to stream my music from. Speaker cables are from Transparent Cables and Interconnects are from Crystal
For my listening tests I have got some new CD's that I will be listening to through the Martin Logan's and am quite excited to hear how they sound, the first is an old album but one that I have seen a lot of people talking about on social media and that is from Anne Bisson - Blue Mind (2009), the other is a newer album from the Jazz funk genius that is Dr Lonnie Smith - Evolution from Blue Note records (2016), both albums were bought from Amazon with the Anne Bisson being an Import only from Germany. Finally I will be listening toHommage a Eberhard Weberin high resolution 24bit 48Khz which is a brilliant combination of talent from the likes of Pat Metheny, Jan Garbarek to name a few artists on this album.
I start off listening to the beautiful album by Anne Bisson - Blue Mind (2009) Fidelio Musicon CD and it is wonderfully laid out album which she wrote, sings on and plays the piano too, accompanied on Strings by Bassist Normand Guilbeaut and on Drums is Paul Brochu which make up a great trio who's sound is just wonderful. The Martin Logans reproduce the sound from the album with exquisite fluidity and a real sense of depth to the image that they project into the room. The tonal balance is also very good as they just do not veer off in any untoward direction in quality, with Anne Bisson's vocals having great dynamics and range. Her Piano playing is just mesmerizing and captivates you with fast shifts in pace and the Martin Logans timing is spot on.
Track 3 - Hoping Love will Last is lovely written piece of music which starts off with some great vocals and keyboard from Anne Bisson before the percussion and strings kick in, and the Montis just sound so musical in their presentation and the tone is just so lush with the bass and mid-range harmonising throughout the song, the speakers seem to create a wonderful woven imagery of music which unravels in front of you. The XStat panels seem to sparkle with energy and are really beautiful to listen to.
Track 6 - September in Montreal starts off with a slow piano and then a drum beat comes in and the Montis hit hard enough when the song gets into full flow, they really do have the dynamics and bass that normal floorstanding speakers have, that 10" Powered Force woofer keeps up with the XStat panel as they both gel so well together and the imaging is excellent, this is one of my favourite tracks on the album and one that I keep listening to as it has such a good drum beat to it, and is a lovely written song which has some good vocals from Anne Bisson, which ispowerful and strong in presence. Montrealis also a great City which I know well and the same place Ms Bisson is actually from, so it brings back some nice memories for me of September in Montreal. It's a greatalbum and really does shine with the Martin Logan Montis speakers.
My next album is from the Jazz funk master of the electronic organ, Dr Lonnie Smith - Evolutionwhich has been re-released this year by Blue Note Records. Smith has been said to have recorded on no less than 70 albums over his 50 years of playing theHammond B-3 organ. He has played with some of the greatest artists on the planet over his career and has also been hailed as the inventor of acid Jazz.
Track 1 - Play it Backstarts off with a real funky jive to the song and some great piano work from Dr Lonnie Smith, also playing in there is the percussion and strings which have real snap to the music. The Martin Logan Montis reproduce this so well with crisp and visceral dynamics and a real clarity that only the ESL panels could reach, this is not at the expense of imaging as all the instruments are well placed within the sound stage and kept in focus at all times as the music goes on. The detail is also excellent as every nuance is picked up by the Montis and I love the deep tone of the bass from the electric piano which is so retro and reminds me of years gone by but still sounds so good.
Track 3 - For Heaven's Saketakes on a nice slower approach to the music and shows off the more delicate side to the electric piano and also the way the Montis handle the different pace of the music. Saxophone and the electric guitar feature more on this track with finer detail and XStat panels really shine with these types of instruments bringing them to life with real energy and the imaging is superb on this track as you listen with the guitar off to the far right of the sound stage, while Smith plays the piano center stage. Showing how good they are at projecting the sound and imagery that is needed to convince you of a great speaker that the Montis are.
Track 6 - My Favourite Thingsis one of my favorite tracks on this album as it has it all, from the start it begins slowly with some deep bass and slow percussion and then all hell breaks loose with the big band. It is an incredible track to hear in full flow as it just sounds so wonderful and the harmonics are powerful and wowing in just how fast and just how well the Montis handle this track as they sound so effortless in the way they portray the music, great dynamics and clarity with an even tonal balance when all hell is going on. The XStat panels are just so good at reproducing the sounds and lightning fast too. One of my must have albums this month !
My final album is Hommage a Eberhard Weberwhich was a live event, the jubilee concert at the Theaterhaus in Stuttgart in January 2015 to mark the 75th Birthday of the great German Bassist Eberhard Weber. It incorporates Big Band arrangements of Weber compositions as well as new music from Pat Metheny and Jan Garbarek. This is in 24bit 48Khz high resolution streaming via the Aurender X100L Music Server.
Track 2 - HommageIs a wonderfully composed piece of music with all that goes with a big band and a fantastic brass section, it is delightful to hear the flutter of the cymbals playing through the Montis as the reproduce them in an uncanny way. The track plays for over 30minutes long and it is a extravaganza of music and if you like Pat Metheny then you will love this. Approx 11:45 minutes into the music the brass section really kicks in and it sounds so right through the Montis that it really is a delight to hear and one that I will not forget as it is one track that you want to listen to with the volume turned right up. The Martin Logan's at there best blasting out some great Jazz. It does not get much better than this, sublime imaging and clarity with great bass definition.
Conclusions and Final ThoughtsAfter spending some considerable time with the Martin Logan Montis Speakers I have really appreciated what they can do and what they really excel at and that is true Hi Fi at its best, the bass may not be as hard hitting as say my Wilson Audio Sophia Speakers but what they might lack very slightly in this area they certainly make up for in the midrange and upper frequency clarity. They truly are remarkable theseXStat panels as they produce some of the finest music I have heard to date and for the money you get some of the finest High Fidelity speakers on the market, period.Price of Speakers at time of review approx 10,000