Floor-standing Speakers

MartinLogan Spire Floor-standing Electrostatic Hybrid Speakers


In Use

I tested the Spires with a McIntosh MCD-201 SACD player, McIntosh MT10 turntable with Clearaudio MC cartridge, Bryston BP-1.5 phono stage, Manley Labs Steelhead phono stage, Musical Surroundings Phonomena Nova phono stage, BAT VK-5i preamplifier, and McIntosh MC-1201 monoblock power amplifiers. Cables were Legenburg and Nordost.

Currently, I am writing a technical series on Vinyl vs. CD, and the Spires are some of the speakers that I have been listening to during these tests.

I have to say first of all, that the Spires are some of the best ESLs I have yet heard, and they belt out an amazing amount of SPL, all the while maintaining clarity, for their size. I really did not expect them to be able to play this loud. Obviously, lots of engineering developments have occurred over the years.

I listened to about a dozen albums with the Spires, including both LPs, CDs, and SACDs. Here are some highlights.

When one thinks of classical organ, E. Power Biggs comes to everyone's mind. I obtained an SACD release of his 1977 recording of serveral Bach works, played on four antiphonal organs in the Freiburg Cathedral (Sony 6-9699-87983-6-6).


I don't think I have ever heard organ music like this. The ESL panels delivered the intense upper registers of the pipes, with fine detail, and the woofer did not break up with the pedal tones. And, I cranked things up quite a bit, expecting to hear noticeable distortion, but it just did not occur. The clarity was simply amazing. Very natural too, no odd timbre. Of course, ESLs have to be carefully placed, and I had them several feet out from all walls.

EMI recently released some of Herbert von Karajan's legenary works with the Berliner Philharmoniker on a two-CD set (EMI 5-099951-593421).


The music on these CDs is all terrific, of course, but let's take the opening track of CD-1, Ravel's Bolero. The opening is so quiet, you have to check to see if the Play button on the CD player was actually pressed. Snare drums tap the rhythm throughout the piece, but one by one, other instruments join the melody until a huge climax at the end. The Spires kept each instrument separate and easily distinguishable, never losing their composure as the music continued to build. It started out at just a watt or two, and by the end, the meter on the McIntosh was reading about 120 watts per channel. That is a lot of dynamic range for a speaker of modest size to deliver. But, they sure did the job.