MartinLogan meets Bryston
Asked to name the top three drawbacks of electrostatic loudspeakers, the knowledgeable audiophile will listnot necessarily in this orderrestricted listening area, inability to play loud, and limited bass extension. Although the last criticism can still be applied to the new MartinLogan CLX (its claimed bass 3dB point is 56Hz), the speaker's design has gone a major way toward addressing the other two criticisms.
Introduced as the successor to the famed CLS (or CLZ), the CLX strikes me more like an altogether different speaker. It's quite a bit wider than the old CLS, but it's not as big as I thought it would be based on pictures I've seen. It follows the curvilinear driver design of the original CLS, the consequent wider dispersion creating a wider sweet spot.
The CLX certainly delivers on the promise of being more than a one-listener-in-the-sweet-spot speaker, but what but what really blew me away were the dynamics. Aided and abetted by a pair of Descent 1 subwoofers ($3000 each), the rest of the system made up of Bryston components (BCD-1 CD player, BD-A1 DAC, BP26 preamp, 28B SST2 power amps), this system kicked ass in a way that was difficult to credit to electrostatics. I suspect the Bryston amps (1000W!) were a major contributor here. I understand that, in typical electrostatic fashion, the impedance of the CLX goes very low in the treble, a characteristics that many amps have trouble dealing withbut not the Brystons. The sound was loud and clear, with a tremendous "punch."
Criticisms? Well, I would expect a speaker that costs CN$22,000/pair (about to be increased to $25,000) to be full-range, or, if not full-range, the price should be lower to allow budgeting for a pair of subwoofers.