Martin Logan ESL X (and so on)

I was in Sweden last week and wandered into a HiFi shop (as one does) and was presented with a pair of Martin Logan ESL X speakers.

As is normal with me when being sold to, I was blown away by their sound and outright coolness factor. The sound stage was to die for and the curved design made the sweet spot problem with electrostatics less of a deal killer. 6,000 Euro is painful, but that sounds… the depth… OMG

Can someone please bring me back down to earth before I go an order a pair to go with my Nova?

I’ll help a bit to pull you back to the mothership.

Have you listened to various kinds of music?
Did you notice that there is a subwoofer in the loudspeaker and that integration in your room might be an issue?

What would ground me a bit is your phrase
“As is normal with me when being sold to, I was blown away”

That gives me pause…

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Well, you know the problem. The sales guy is well informed and has all the numbers at his finger tips. Then he puts on some music (Carolin No in this case) that he knows is going to sound great. And it does. You sit there and fall in love for a while. You can practically hear Carolin’s heart beating and you notice that yours is beating in sync…

The ESL X has a subwoofer built in with two big drivers. The base is there. The mid range is perfect…

He then played some mild rock (I forget who) and it sounded ok.

Fortunately my car did not have enough room in it and the wife was out there spending the money on furnishings and clothes… So no sale today.

But still… And it’s only money.

Has anyone also heard these speakers? Do they play well with the Nova?

Back when shopping for my first system in 2011 I listened to some ML’s that looked very similar to those ESL X’s. My initial impression was that the midrange was VERY “transparent” in a good way; vocals were beautiful. Very good imaging/soundstage as well. But I have learned over the years that you really need to listen a while…and absolutely in your own home…before spending money like that on speakers. Initial impressions are often not long-term attributes, in retrospect.

The deal-killer for me on those was zero WAF; my wife really didn’t like the look. I ended up buying Devore Nines; they were a bit more expensive, are rectangular solid cherry cabinets that look like speakers, and they produced midrange / vocals and imaging very close to what I was hearing with the ML’s.

I would usually take my own records…chances were slim a dem would play music I knew well and loved, at least back when I heard dems regularly
( tho Sound Org usually had good stuff…)

And…reminds me, tho only partially relevant, when we had a home dem of a well-known vacuum cleaner, and I discovered that the collecting bit seemed to have been preloaded with dirt! To say that the demonstrator was discomfited was an understatement…we didn’t buy it, natch.

:small_blue_diamond:@ThomasD,…I like that :grin::+1:t2:.

Martin Logan can play fantastically well.
A friend has the previous top-model.

The problem I have with Martin Logan,.is that it is difficult to integrate the base unit with the top (treble and midrange).
It’s a tuning thing…

But if you get it right,.so they play incredibly well. My advice is to listen properly to them again with your own music.
And your own Nova.

Martin Logan is a little special,.either you love them or vice versa.


This is very very true.

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But is the integration not already done by ML when they build the darn things? There seems to be no further adjustments possible other than room location…

I dropped in at my dealer a year ago or so and listened to a pair. First a sting quarted and that was - unsurprisingly - very good. I asked him to put on some organ music and while listening to it, I started to ‘see’ the woofers. These loudspeakers sounded disintegrated to me on heavy music. Now, organ music is pretty demanding for hifi. I think that the MLs can work well but I would consider a home demo first to see if you can get them working in your room.

My Ovators have the same silky smooth mid / high but integrate well … Just saying …

I would love to hear some Ovators … But I cannot find anyone in Germany where I can go and listen to them…

:small_blue_diamond:@ThomasD,…It should it be,.but the integration is very difficult to get right,.into this kind of construction.

That’s why you get to work with speaker-tuning, different speaker-cables and powercables.
Even spike’s,.soft feet…or other types of feet under the speakers may be worth trying.

But when you have arranged all this,.and they work in the room,so they usually play wonderfully well.


They are a bit controversial. I love them, but I can also see that people don’t like them. For some reason Bach Cantatas, Singer / Songwriter music / Rock / Organmusic works brilliantly, but I have not been able to get symphonies sounding as good as on my SBL’s.

I use Martin Logan Summit X driven by a NAP 500. The speakers are astral. I have not heard anything that comes close. The integration between the panel and cone speakers is excellent and nothing to cause concern.
There is nothing to fear with Martin Logan. They are wonderful once you have them in the right location.

Oh Lordy… I am now more than confused. Some call the speakers great and nothing to worry about… Others say that they are tricky and not good for all types of music.

Seldom have I heard such diverse views.

I guess I will have to go back and listed again. With a playlist.


:small_blue_diamond:@ThomasD,…Of course you should listen to the speaker yourself,.it has both me and @Ardbeg10y said.

What I and Ardbeg10y raised about the integration between the base-module and the screen,.it also recurs in many,many tests.

The speakers are amazing,.but you should be aware of this with the integration.
As I’ve written before,.you can get around this if you hear such a problem.
Then work with the speakers,.as I have told you earlier in the thread.


Peder… Thank you for your wonderful input. Are you in Sweden? Tack för dina synpunkter!

Now to go hunting for a distributor…

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:small_blue_diamond:@ThomasD,…:grin::joy::grin:,.Ja jag är i Sverige.

And for our English friends,.I wrote…Yes I am in Sweden.


This. The very best ML speakers manage to integrate the sound of the sub with the music from the panel. The more affordable speakers in the range are less able to do this, not least because they have had to save cost on the sub and it is not fast enough for the wonderful music coming from the panel above it.

The initial impression is usually very positive but once you listen to them for a while, the lack of integration between sub and panel becomes increasingly evident, leading to a lack of long term musical satisfaction. You may not notice it though, in which case, they will be perfect for you!