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MartinLogan Ethos Loudspeakers Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers
Written by Andre Marc   
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Article Index
MartinLogan Ethos Loudspeakers Review 
Set Up
Listening Part One
Listening Part Two
Conclusion

Even more impressive was the ability to hear how close or far Buckley was from the microphone and, startlingly, if he turned his head one side to the other. Remarkable.  I must point out once the initial fixation with this three dimensionality and natural rendering of dynamics passed, I was able to enjoy “performances”, not recordings. Performers just seemed to occupy a space approximately eight feet in front of me.  This applied to naturally recorded, mostly acoustic music.  For more fabricated rock or pop recordings, the effect was as good as the illusion created in the final mix. 

Another album I streamed and know intimately, The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys, by Traffic, was also magnificently presented. I have had this record in every conceivable format, including LP and multiple CD versions. The last remaster from Island Universal is excellent, and through the Ethos it was frightening how much was revealed. On the title track, I actually, for the first time, heard faint remnants of previous vocal takes that had bled through the microphones during tracking.  On the opening track, “Hidden Treasure”, the acoustic guitar, conga drum, and flute seem to float in the air like vapor, and the legendary Steve Windwood’s lead vocal hovers in the center of the speakers.  This type of rediscovery of familiar music was the heart of what the Ethos was all about.

MartinLogan Ethos passive bass

One of the last albums I listened to was Trading Snake Oil For Wolftickets, by the unfortunately overlooked Gary Jules.  The second album by this unique San Diego bred singer songwriter is very nicely recorded, and features instantly memorable melodies that draw their inspiration from Paul Simon, and other great artists from the analog era. Through the Ethos, the deceptively complex arrangements are easy to untangle. Ironically, Jules is best known for his cover of Tears For Fears 'Mad World', which was featured in the film, 'Donnie Darko'. His version is utterly mesmerizing, with just piano and voice, with some added ambiance. The Ethos provided a direct connection to the haunting emotion that Jules extracts from this song.

I did not feel confined to any one type of music with the Ethos. It did just as well with amplified, heavy rock. Deep Purple's In Rock is one of the legendary British band’s early efforts, featuring pummeling tempos, soaring vocals, and dramatic guitar solos by the great Richie Blackmore. I was able to crank this album as loud as I desired, with the full impact of the band in full flight. On the heavy ballad, "Child In Time", all the elements came together, including the late Jon Lord's organ, and vocalist Ian Gillan's throat shredding crescendos.

I can sum up what it was like living with the Ethos with the following. Instead of listening to music, it was very much like being surrounded by the music, and almost like being in the center of the sound. There seemed to be no typical artificially extreme distinctions between channels, unless the recording had hard panning, it was more like a single, organic sense of being a whole performance.

The only operational note I have for the Ethos, which was a joy to live with, is a prospective buyer really needs a high quality amplifier to match to these speakers. The same applies to speaker cables as well. Downstream weaknesses will be exposed rather easily.  It is clearly worth investing time in experimenting with set up, as one you find the optimal toe in, spacing, and amplifier you will be richly rewarded, in spades, as I was.  



 

 
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