|MartinLogan Aeon Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Augie Bettencourt|
|Saturday, 01 February 2003|
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I can still remember my first experience with electrostatic speakers many years ago, along with the intrigue they created. Since that time, electrostatic speakers have evolved, solidifying their strengths and addressing their weaknesses. As a MartinLogan customer, I was specifically curious as to how the much smaller and lower-priced Aeons would compare to both my personal Prodigies and to other comparably-priced speakers in the same category.
Since my first listening experience with these speakers more than 10 years ago, MartinLogan has risen to become the most popular electrostatic speaker manufacturer, having earned a reputation for building some of the best-sounding speakers in the world. The MartinLogan Aeons are floor-standing hybrid electrostatic loudspeakers that can either be used as your main loudspeakers or as surround speakers in a complete MartinLogan theater setup.
The Aeons have a reported frequency response of 43 Hz – 22,000 kHz, a sensitivity rating of 89 dB and a four-ohm impedance rating. The Aeons stand 57 inches tall, 15.5 inches deep, 10.25 wide and weigh 56 pounds each. They’re not small speakers by most standards, but they’re a far cry from the MartinLogan Statement E2s, MartinLogan’s flagship speaker, which weighs in at a trim 1,800 pounds. The Aeons came to me with standard black rail trim, with the rest of the speaker finished in MartinLogan’s standard black matte. MartinLogan offers 15 different trim options, enabling you to integrate the loudspeakers into a wide variety of decors, some included as standard and some as upgrades for an additional cost. The MartinLogan Aeons retail for $2,995 per pair. Overall, I found the fit and finish of this loudspeaker to be of acceptable quality in this price range.
The final placement of any MartinLogan speaker is critical. Ideally, as with most dipole speakers, the Aeons should be pulled away from the front wall as much as two or three feet and at least one or two feet from the side walls for a starting point for optimal performance. Your sitting position should also be farther than the distance between the speakers if possible. A small amount of toe-in towards the listening area will also change the tonal balance slightly and will affect the speaker’s imaging. Detailed fine-tuning of placement will be required for the best sonic results. You’ll notice that as the speakers are toed out, they will become slightly brighter and not image as tightly as when they’re toed in. Generally, the ideal listening position is with the speakers slightly toed in, so that you’re listening to the inner third of the panel. Both spikes and flat metal feet are included and, although spikes are recommended, applications on fine flooring could require the optional flat feet. Like all MartinLogan speakers, the Aeons use an internal power supply to energize their electrostatic cells with high-voltage DC, and therefore must be connected to an AC power source.
If you’ve never actually seen MartinLogan speakers, you owe it to yourself to check a pair out. As a hybrid design, the speaker is part electrostatic panel and part dynamic speaker. Unless you’re familiar with electrostatic speakers, they’re probably like nothing you’ve seen before and they probably work differently than anything you’ve heard before. A run-of-the-mill dynamic speaker uses cone drivers with a voice coil that really only moves at the apex of the cone, while the rest of the driver loafs along for the ride. With the Aeon, the top two-thirds of the speaker consists of a thin, transparent, polyethylene membrane that is pulled tight between two, curved and perforated metal panels called “stators.” The electrostatic panels generate sound by moving back and forth between the stators, producing as much sound behind them as they do in front of them as the entire panel moves. The Curvlinear Line Source (CLS) allows the Aeons to achieve a smooth dispersion pattern, which is a problem for all loudspeakers, but particularly for large panel transducers. By curving the electrostatic panels, MartinLogan has achieved a smooth dispersion pattern without degrading sound quality. The top electrostatic section of the speaker is attached to a woofer enclosure that houses an eight-inch-high excursion woofer, which handles the speaker’s lower frequency information. The binding posts on the Aeons are paddle-type knobs, designed to be hand-tightened, providing a very secure and solid connection. The Aeons can be either bi-wired or bi-amped, a configuration that can provide very favorable results. Overall, I found the owner’s manual to be very comprehensive, as it includes numerous tips including hook-up, speaker setup, bi-wiring or bi-amping, “extra tweaks,” and even an electrostatic history section.