|MartinLogan Prodigy Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Friday, 01 June 2001|
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For years MartinLogan has produced electrostatic loudspeakers that have been considered by many to be at the top of their respective classes. The Prodigy is MartinLogan’s top-of-the-line speaker under their very-respected Statement E2 loudspeaker system. The Prodigy has been in production for close to 18 months. Although it utilizes technology from the Statement Loudspeakers, it does so at a much-reduced price.
The Prodigy measures 67 inches tall, 16 inches wide, 28 inches deep and weighs a hefty 133 pounds per speaker. The MartinLogan Prodigies retail for $10,995 per pair in standard wood trim finishes.
It’s hard to deny that MartinLogan loudspeakers have a unique look. The upper two-thirds of the loudspeaker consists of a thin transparent perforated panel, with the bottom portion of the loudspeaker containing the low-frequency enclosure. The Prodigy shares a similar size and position in MartinLogan’s speaker lineup with the ReQuests of the past, but that is where all similarities end. The Prodigy loudspeaker comes with a much-updated electrostatic panel and low-frequency technology.
The walnut side-panel veneers are a very elegant accent. Another intriguing addition is an illuminated Martin Logan logo that sits just above the bass enclosure, obscured nicely by the perforated panel. This looks to me like a distant neon sign that is subtle enough to disappear when it is not sought, yet providing a very cool detail for those who notice it. The Prodigy has bi-wire binding posts with paddle-style thumbnuts. This makes for an outstanding and convenient connection.
Electrostatic technology is not new. It has been around since the 1920's, yet only in recent years have many of the problems associated with this technology been ironed out. MartinLogan is clearly the leader in finding solutions. The electrostatic panel employs a very thin transparent sheet of conductive-coated material similar to Mylar, which has been stretched between two perforated metal panels. These then charge the panels with very low levels of high voltage. By supplying each of the perforated panels with signals of opposite polarity, the MartinLogan both pushes and pulls the thin membrane panel, creating music. In early years, there were too many problems to make this technology practical. Panels were insensitive and very hard to drive and couldn’t take large amounts of power. Creating electrostatic speakers that could generate low frequencies was a challenge and called for the speakers to be enormously large. Because of this particular issue, MartinLogan has developed a hybrid electrostatic loudspeaker that utilizes a traditional electromagnetic driver, which is crossed over at lower frequencies, in the case of the Prodigy at 250 Hz. Although this has solved both the physical size issue and power requirements of a full range electrostatic loudspeaker, it has created the very difficult task of matching the two technologies so that they have no sonic differences or disassociation.
MartinLogan’s newest low-frequency design incorporates what is called ForceForward technology. To understand the basic theory behind this technology, you must first understand the effects of room resonance and the theory behind frequency cancellation. In simple terms, resonances surround us at all times. In the case of your entertainment room, there are points of greater pressure, most notably behind and beside your speakers. These resonances can be responsible for increasing individual frequencies or in many cases canceling them, creating less than adequate bass performance. The theory behind the ForceForward design is to complement the front-firing 10-inch electromagnetic driver with a similar rear-firing 10-inch driver, which sends its signal out of phase, timed so that the two signals arrive simultaneously in phase at the listener’s ears. This causes an absence of energy to the rear of the speaker, which in theory creates a virtual null, eliminating both cancellations and lumpy bass response and at the same time strengthens forward traveling bass waves.