|MartinLogan Aeon Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Augie Bettencourt|
|Saturday, 01 February 2003|
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Music and Movies
I warmed up my listening session with the late, great John Lee Hooker’s Chill Out and the Song “Annie Mae” (Pointblank Records). I was immediately struck by the Aeons’ ability to produce a huge soundstage, with depth, clarity and detail that’s seldom heard from a speaker in this price range. I’ve always been amazed by an electrostat’s ability to reproduce acoustic string instruments or vocal music with such lifelike quality, and the Aeons did not disappoint. When Hooker cried out for his Annie Mae, I literally felt the emotion in his voice, buying into the idea that he was right there in the room. I was compelled to run out and help John find her. Every time Charles Brown tickled the ivory, I heard tonal accuracy and had a sense of the size of the piano as an instrument; this was largely due to the Aeons’ ability to produce a soundstage large enough to do a piano justice. Next I listened to “Serves Me Right” from the same CD. Van Morrison accompanies Hooker on this track, which really gave me the impression those two enjoyed jamming together as they banter back and forth while singing and playing the guitar together. Again, the Aeons produced a deep, detailed soundstage that created an excellent ambient experience with midrange and timber clarity that’s to die for, with tight, accurate bass response that’s just shy of the ultimate in bass extension.
The next CD I listened to was Dave Matthews Band’s Busted Stuff (RCA Records), choosing the song “Digging a Ditch.” The sound of Matthews’ voice had a very natural, open quality, and the speakers imaged so well that I had to double-check to make sure my center speaker wasn’t playing. Dave’s vocals came alive and the speakers created a specifically wide, seamless soundstage. Next, I listened to “Bartender” from the same Dave Matthews CD and was again impressed by the natural timber of Matthews’ guitar strumming and the Aeons’ ability to reveal the complexity of this musical number. I could hear guitars, drums, flute, sax and violin, all with very distinct clarity that lent itself to a very convincing presentation. The snare drum in this number also had all the snap and crack I remember from my distant days as a drummer.
The last CD I listened to was Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head (Capitol Records) and the song “The Scientist.” This song starts with a beautiful, slow piano solo that the Aeons reproduced with all the harmonic texture and realism that electrostatic speakers are so great at, with coherent musical reproduction across the entire frequency spectrum. Just as the sound of Chris Martin’s voice slowly begins to accompany the piano, you hear an image deep and three-dimensional enough to make me feel as if I could put my arm in it. I heard every nuance of Martin’s voice and even his breath – clearly a strength of electrostatic loudspeakers. The next song I listened to was “Warning Sign.” I was again reminded of the Aeons’ ability to convey a sense of realism, emotion and the presence of an almost scarily convincing soundstage. When compared to a comparably-priced pair of speakers like the Paradigm Studio 100s, the Aeons proved the winners when it came to resolving detail, midrange presence, and soundstage height, width and depth. The Studio 100s did out-perform the Aeons in both bass extension and off-axis listening, but I feel the strengths of the Aeons outweighed their weaknesses in this comparison and I enjoyed the Aeons more overall.
Next up, I decided to try out the Aeons on some movies. I started with “Minority Report” (DreamWorks Home Entertainment), which is an aggressively mixed soundtrack and probably Steven Spielberg’s best work since Saving Private Ryan. All channels were active for most of the movie, which created a 360-degree soundfield that completely drew me in. John Williams’ score was beautifully rendered with a huge, open soundstage. Yes, from every discrete effect to every subtle ambient sound, the Aeons performed admirably.
I then watched “Gladiator” (DreamWorks Home Entertainment). The epic starring Russell Crowe sounded incredible through the Aeons. From the gentle pluck of guitar strings to the dramatic Battle of Carthage in Chapter 15, the Aeons had the ability to reproduce unrivaled detail and believable dynamics. I had the sense of being right there in the middle of the battlefield, with the sound of bows twanging and arrows whizzing by overhead. Again, I compared the Aeons to the Paradigm Studio 100s and felt the Aeons’ midrange detail and larger than life soundstage more than justified some of the bass and off-axis listening deficiencies mentioned earlier. The MartinLogan Aeons supplied me with a more engaging overall experience than the Paradigms did.