Martin Logan placement issues. Some help please. [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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07-28-2004, 04:34 AM
Hi everyone. I got the ML speakers and a NAD 370 amp. I dont think I have them placed properly. I think it could be the room. They sound thin, not right somehow, there is no sweetspot. The only room in my house that is "kid proof" is a room with cinderblock walls and a carpeted floor. Its and old Florida house so its built from cinderblocks. Could these walls be the problem? The room is 12X18 feet. The ML's are about 24" from the walls right now and 8 feet apart. They are about 10ft from the listening posistion. Thanks for any help here.

07-28-2004, 05:52 AM
First off, the cinderblock walls might be reflecting a lot ot the mid/highs and overpowering whatever bass they do put out. ..not to mention the phase cancellations from the speaker's relative close proximity to said walls. You might try hanging some decorative carpeting from the rear wall at least. A Velvet Elvis might be nice. ;)

Secondly, Since this type of speakers (planar) radiate sound pretty well equally from both the front and back, they tend to sound best in open space. That's to say well away from the side walls and away from the back walls. The reflected sound from the rear walls could easily cancel out the sound from the front. My 1.6's sounded best about 4' in from the back wall and about 3' (or more) from the side walls. Likewise, play around with toe in a bit. This can help "focus" the sound somewhat.

Finally, bass. Bass is a tricky animal and, when dealing with full range speakers, it almost always seems that they image and sound best exactly where the bass sounds the weakest. I wound up using a sub, which was placed independently from the mains, for anything below 50 hz. Since you have built in cone woofers this may or may not be needed.

Some speakers are so placement critical that they simply won't work their best in some rooms. Planar speakers are among the most critical. They might look impressive, but when the rubber meets the road, they might not sound worth a dang.

Play around with these but keep in mind that just because "everybody" says so and so is a great speaker, your particular tastes might simply not agree with "everybody" and, even more importantly, you might not be able to get the best out of the speakers by not being able to position them for optimum sound.

07-28-2004, 06:06 PM
When I was younger, err 24 or so, I was a sound fanatic and got some Magnapan's and nice electronics. My living/sound room was 11'-6"x21'-0". The sound wasn't right so i got some buddies who built sound rooms for a living and we did the following.
We searched the local Goodwill's and found about 15 or so old heavy wollen blankets for 2 to 5 dollars each. Some had smaller holes, or tears, and that was fine as long as they were small. We hung the blankes on the walls behind where I wanted the speakers to be and around the sides of the room. The ceiling was acoustic already and not too reflective. Then, with the sound fairly deadened, we moved the speakers around till I had the sound I Wanted from them. Next we started removing the blankes starting from the farthest on the walls from the speakers. I listened to and adjusted the speaker placement if needed every time I removed a blanket. Finally I got to where the 2 blankets on the corners of the room behind and alongside the speakers were all that was left and I replaced the last 2 blankets with some sound deadening foam stuff directly behind and to the wall closest to the speakers. Comes in 1' squars I can't remember the name but I know it is still used to kill sound. Later I also reused the 4 best blankets. I dyed them and stapled them to 5'x5' plywood with some 1/2" foam behind the blankets. Kinda looks interesting placed like diamonds on the side walls and kills sound fairly well also.
This sounds like a process I know. But If you are gonna spend 1000's on speakers it is worth doing some work on the room as well. That lasted me for 20 years, till my cat decided to kill my old pans. I am remodeling now and am going to replace my 20 year old scratched magnapans with some Martin Logans soon for a new theater system I want. So I will be repeating the procedure before too long.
This system will work well if you take the time to walk thru it all. It is time consuming but is a lot cheaper than many other methods I have seen. I also like helping the goodwill folks out when I can. I returned the remaining blankes for free to be sold again. Basicly good sound for cheap and someone may get a dinner or some cloaths they would have missed otherwise. Can't beat it in my opinion.
Just as idea

07-29-2004, 04:25 AM
There is a contradiction in the optimum placement for getting the best bass and getting the best "imaging" especially from bipolar panel type speakers. Because of reinforcements and cancellations, "pedistal speakers" in the the middle of a room yield the weakest bass. On the floor in the middle of a room yields more yet. On a wall yields still more. On the floor next to a wall increases it still further, and on the floor in the corner yields the most. The more room wall/floor/ceiling intersections your speakers are near, the more relative bass output, or to be more precise, the more acoustic reinforcement of bass you will get.

This is often exactly the opposite of what many people say is optimal for imaging. For bipolar loudspeakers like Martin Logan, optimal placement is usually at least three free from the front wall, the wall sound from the back of the panel will be reflecting against. If there are any contols allowing you to adjust the relative balance between the electrostatic panel and the woofer section, adjust it for reduced output from the electrostatic panels or increased output from the woofers. If the woofer is self powered, check to see that the amplifier is operating. (Check to see that the woofers are operating in any event. If there are jumpers, be sure they are properly installed.) Then increase the preamp gain if necessary which will drive the woofers harder. Check your owners manual to see if such a control is provided.

You can also check with ML's customer support or service department. They will probably advise you to install a subwoofer. Want to bet they suggest one of theirs? My personal feeling is that you should always use subwoofers in pairs for high fidelity use and that each subwoofer should be placed as close as possible to the main speakers. This avoids problems with cancellations and reinforcements resulting in uneven frequency response in the transition region. Be aware that due to the relatively high cost of manufacturing electrostatic panels and the special attributes they have which attract customers, most of the money you spent went towards the cost of those panels, not the woofers. If you bought one of the less expensive units, the maximum performance you can expect from its bass may be modest without a subwoofer.

If room treatment is used, it will increase bass by absorbing treble. Sound absorbing material are almost always most efficient at absorbing middle and high frequencies and only fair to poor absorbing low frequencies. Manufacturers of this material provide specifications for their products and you will see that this is invariably true.

Finally, you should consider whether or not this type of speaker is really what you want. Panel type speakers can't generally play very loud unless they are enormous. They have relatively weak bass unless supported by excellent subwoofers, and require careful placement usually at a complete sacrifice of room decor. You should consider the type of music you customarily listen to and your expectations. If you are looking to play loud rock music there are undoubtedly better choices. For smaller ensembles and most acoustic instruments, they usually produce a clear accurate sound. Even for big orchestral works and pipe organ music, only the largest most ambitious models are often sufficient, require subwoofers, and also usually require large powerful expensive amplifiers. Getting the best electrostatic or magnetoplanar speakers have to offer is never cheap or simple. Compromising by getting an "entry level" model to get a taste of what makes these types of speakers unique may not be adequate for your tastes.

08-09-2004, 03:47 PM
From an old Magnaplaner owner and soon to be new martin logan owner you need to keep in mind the basic premise these speaker types started from when adding subs to them. It will help you in the long run. Time for the "way back machine here" lol.
I fell in love with panel sound as a kid. The idea 20+ years ago, 70's, when I first got my old pans was really two fold:
1.) Flat speakers have one aligned driver point for all but any additional woofer's, if any, that are added. All sound except the very bottom is generated from a single "plane" and this minimized time differences in the sound eminating from different drivers in different locations, both vertically and horozontally. This is similar to what the old "time frames" and a few other speakers were focusing on at the same time also. Weather or not you hear the difference is up to you.
2.) Flat speakers have much less overall mass they are actually moving to produce the pressure levels of cone speakers. Ok this one is simple to see if you think about it. Less mass moving less distance should and usually does equate to faster response time for the actual sound to be reproduced. Wether or not you can hear the difference is up to you.

So when you add a subwoofer to a Magnaplaner, Martin Logan or other panel type speaker as I used to call em you need to get a very very fast subwoofer to keep up with the response time of the panel speaker. I know this sounds weird and some will surely kill me for saying this. But I tried numerous subs on my old pans back in the 70's when I baught em. Almost none back then could keep up. I could heard it clearly, here is the panel sound and right behind it was the sub sound. There was next to no real mixture of the sounds. It is a speed issue as well as a properly used crossover/amp/placement issue. The slow "boomy, fade in and out" sound of some subwoofers can really degrade that fast panel sound you get from the Logans.

I used some AR's on pedestals as rear speakers with the maggies originally. The AR's had fast and tight low bass with a smooth high treble response. As rear speakers on stands they blended with the old maggies maggies in front. Worked well 20+ years ago. But the new Martin Logans have taken a major step forward in refining the panel sound in my opinion. The Pans have improved greatly too and are still close but for me the Logans have the smoothest/speedy sound now. I am reviewing subs for the Logans I will purchase soon as my remodle is done. I am told the Revel 3k model is outstanding for the money, also the B&W. Probably others I havent heard as well. It's your call as always. But be carefull you don't kill that panel sound with a sub that just can't keep up.
I am not an engineer and I can't give you all the technical goodies to verify this. I am just an old audiophile who loves music and has seen and made a few simple mistakes before.

Take care

08-09-2004, 04:10 PM
Hi everyone. I got the ML speakers and a NAD 370 amp. I dont think I have them placed properly. I think it could be the room. They sound thin, not right somehow, there is no sweetspot. The only room in my house that is "kid proof" is a room with cinderblock walls and a carpeted floor. Its and old Florida house so its built from cinderblocks. Could these walls be the problem? The room is 12X18 feet. The ML's are about 24" from the walls right now and 8 feet apart. They are about 10ft from the listening posistion. Thanks for any help here.


Which MLs do you own?

I own the ReQuests (one of the larger ones) in a room about the same size as yours with very good results. Once you tell us which model you have we can better serve you :)

In addition, you may want to try posting this question on the Martin Logan Owner's website:

It's a real cool website with lots of very experienced ML owner's that can easily help you out. In particular, there is a gentleman named Roberto there who is very knowledgable with the complete line of past and present MLs.

Here is a tip from their website that may help you with getting a better sweet spot. Hope to see you there!

Jim Power's Toe-in Technique
Sent in by Ken Henegar - as told to him by Jim Power of ML.
Posted on March 13, 2003
My technique for ideal toe-in is pretty low tech but extremely accurate. Get a flashlight. Sit in the listening seat. Hold the flashlight directly above the top of your head. Aim the beam of light at the electrostatic element of each SL3. You will see a vertical streak of light reflected off of the film inside the grid. It will be a very narrow and distinct vertical streak. As you change the toe-in of the speaker, the vertical streak will move across the front of the speaker. Toe the speaker until the light streak is between 1 ? to 2 inches from the edge of the wood trim on the inboard side. In this position, the SL3s will be aimed past you to the outside. In other words you will not be facing the dead center of the speakers. You will be facing the inner 1/3rd of the panels curve.

This technique works extremely well regardless of the distance to the speakers or even between the speakers. It will also provide you with the flattest response across the bandwidth.
Hope it works for you,