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MartinLogan SL3 Loudspeakers Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 March 1998
Article Index
MartinLogan SL3 Loudspeakers
Page 2

The Magic Disappearing Act
When set up properly, the SL3s will disappear for you, sonically as well as physically. The SL3s require very precise placement to operate at optimum performance. Like most speakers, many factors effect the speaker's ability to perform. I found the SL3s somewhat friendlier to position than many conventional box speakers. Okay, to a point ...

Given optimum flexibility for system and speaker placement, you can position these speakers, short of a couple dozen small adjustments, in just a few minutes and have them performing like champs. However, since many of us do not have the luxury of a special room for listening, I recommend that you have the ability to place the SL3s approximately 40 inches from the front wall. In addition, the use of ASC Tube Traps at the first reflection points of both the front and side walls yielded considerable imaging benefits.

MartinLogan supplies their speakers with spikes for speaker support and the best cabinet grounding. As tweaky as it sounds, I found that Black Diamond Racing's carbon fiber cones/Round Things made a very noticeable improvement to my SL3s.

The Downside
The MartinLogan SL3s will expose the very best in any recording, and for that matter any equipment. On the reverse side, they will also expose the flaws in both your recordings and your equipment, down to your last cable. I find that nearly all well-recorded music lends itself wonderfully to these speakers. However, there is an acclimation period with the SL3s stunning reality and accuracy that other, less resolute speakers pleasantly mask.

When considering MartinLogan SL3s, be sure to have plenty of amplification to drive them. Although not inefficient at 89 dB sensitive, they are not necessarily the easiest speaker to drive, either. SL3s seem to perform at their best with when lit up by a moderately powered amp. I recommend a minimum of 100 or more watts of solid power to drive SL3s to their potential. I use tubes to power my SL3s via an Audio Research VT 100 with great success.

SL3s perform best in small-to-medium rooms and will lose considerable dynamic impact when placed in very large areas. These speakers will also give you best results when positioned off the wall several feet with a somewhat near-field listening position.

Can I use the SL3's in my Theater?
Can you ever! The SL3s' ability to accentuate extraordinary levels of detail in your movies make them a choice with few competitors. Movies come alive. Effects as simple as raindrops become engaging elements of the movie. I was taken by the life that these speakers injected into movies. One must consider the MartinLogan Logos ($1995), or Cinema ($1295), for a center-channel speaker, as it can be extremely hard to blend conventional speakers with electrostatic drivers. MartinLogan also has a host of speakers for your rear channels ranging from their Scenario ($1995) to the lesser expensive and diminutively sized Scripts. I have yet to hear a better and more exciting home theater sound system than one consisting solely of MartinLogan loudspeakers.

The MartinLogan SL3s are speakers that can reproduce the live experience better than any speakers that I have yet heard or even imagine. I think that they are an excellent choice for anyone looking for the very best in detail and sonic clarity. I have used the MartinLogan SL3s as part of my reference system for a couple of years now. I made my decision based on the SL3s' uncompromising clarity and their ability to disseminate the finest of sonic details in music. My MartinLogan SL3s are a component of my reference system that I rarely consider upgrading. Every time I consider another loudspeaker, I am confronted with the reality of wondering how I would live without the resolution and excitement of my SL3s.

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