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Many solutions have been developed to prevent ESLs from being damaged from overload, and to allow them to play louder and to exhibit realistic bass performance. Reinforced panels, advanced materials, and overall better construction are the norm today. Many ESLs in the modern era also employ active bass modules. Allowing a passive or powered woofer to handle the majority of low end solves many issues and allows the panel to work stress free, and seems to be the best way to make full range ESLs affordable.
MartinLogan has a slew of proprietary innovations that make their speakers different than most other ESLs. A basket of technologies make up the actual transducer, which they call XStat™. AirFrame™ Technology employs “ultra rigid extruded aerospace-grade aluminum” to maximize performance of the electrostatic panel. perhaps MartinLogan's crown jewel innovation, uses a curved panel to achieve controlled dispersion without compromising sound quality, but its unique simplicity is also quite ingenious.
Last, but not least, MartinLogan touts PoweredForce™ Bass technology, which is used in the active module at the base of the speaker. They claim distortion free bass down to 34 Hz. They also used sophisticated DSP and a powerful 200-watt onboard amplifier. An 8" passive polypropylene radiator augments the 8" aluminum cone woofer. The woofer modules are finished in attractive wood veneers, and my review sample arrived in a lovely cherry finish.
There are a few things to consider when setting of Electrostatic speakers. Although the Ethos proved to be pretty hassle free, dipoles, which radiate sound front and back, generally like lot of space around them. MartinLoglan claims that, due to the unique dispersion characteristics of their panels, they are much more forgiving and workable in more confined listening areas. They do however suggest that surfaces be neutral -- not too reflective, and not too soft. I was able to manage around three feet around all surfaces of the speaker.
After installing the supplied high quality spikes, the rest of the set up included plugging in both speakers into my Audience power conditioner and connecting the speaker cable. I used a pair of Shunyata Venom power cords, and Transparent MM2 Super speaker cable. I initially started with very little toe in, but over the course of several hours I increased the toe in angle until I felt
I had a good center image.