Floor-standing Speakers

Martin Logan Theos Hybrid Electrostatic Speakers

ARTICLE INDEX

The Martin Logan Theos Electrostatic Speakers In Use

Once integrated into my system, I put the Theos through their paces with a wide variety of music. Leading off was the recent 45 RPM remastered version of Rumours from Fleetwood Mac. I had never been a big Fleetwood Mac fan, but I'd also never listened to them much as I just assumed it wasn't my style of music. Once this release was announced I went back and listened to my wife's copy of Rumours and then went ahead and ordered this set. I've been glad that I did as the sound quality is just fantastic and it's been a go-to recording for evaluating a component, or impressing friends, since.

With the Theos, there was a clear delineation between instruments, but more impressive was the rendering of the instruments themselves and the detail. On one of my favorite tracks, "Never Going Back Again," the upper end had wonderful sparkle of detail, but was not harsh at all.

Listening to Broken Social Scene's self-titled record was another great test, as they are a band with a very dense, busy sound that can easily come across as a muddled bunch of instruments.  On "7/4 (Shoreline)" the opening few seconds are filled with a couple of guitars that play back and forth, and each had their own distinct location on the stage with the Theos. What was very impressive is once the drums kicked in after a bit, they were set well back in the soundstage, just a touch to the right of center, and I could clearly see exactly where all the members of the band were meant to be on stage when this was recorded. Being able to clearly pinpoint the instruments and performers in a band with a dozen people was quite a feat for the Theos.

Tea for the Tillerman is the first vinyl title from Quality Record Productions, and boy is it a good one. The album is dead silent in the background, very nice treble extension, and solid bass all around. Cat Stevens voice comes out from the Martin Logans anchored in the center, and the rest of the band surrounds him well. When "Hard Headed Woman" kicks up a gear, the Theos packed a punch with the drums while keeping the strumming of the guitars detailed and not blurring the sounds together.

Since ORG released Nirvana Unplugged on vinyl, it has been an album I keep going back to. The Theos brings across details I hadn't noticed before when I listened to the album, such as Cobain slightly clearing his throat at the start of a song. Fingers moving over guitar strings come across with the metallic edge that they should have, without being edgy and harsh as they often sound on some speakers. Solo guitar sounds just wonderful and natural with the reverberation of the strings hanging in the air. This can be a depressing album to listen to, recorded so shortly before Cobain took his own life, and the Theos brings across the emotion in his voice that makes it even more touching.

With my diverse musical tastes, I eventually made it onto some Metallica, as I had an idea that this would be a challenge for the Theos. To test just how well the woofer was integrated with the panel, I skipped ahead to "One" on the …And Justice For All album. At first, it was very impressive as the Theos brought across the lower quality of the CD recording. There was a bit of high-end noise and a bit of harshness at the top end on the album, which was recorded before they went huge with their Black Album. What I really wanted to hear was the drumbeat that kicks in during the middle of the track, and once I got there it was a bit of a disappointment.

This was the first place where I could hear a bit of disconnected between the panel and the woofer. With the fast drumming of Lars Ulrich causing the 8" woofer to sound a bit fat and bloated, and a bit slow and out-of-step with the panel which was still handling the guitars and vocals. The rapid fire pace of the snare drum was just too much and broke up the illusion of a single, cohesive source. Of course, other speakers will suffer from similar issues, but the incredibly fast response of the panel just made the bit of slowness in the woofer that much more evident.

Unfortunately there are no bench tests for the Theos as when I was preparing to run them, my amplifier shut down and is currently being repaired/replaced, so I don't have those available for you.