Martin Logan is a brand that is famous for its innovative high-quality electrostatic speakers integrated with a high-performance woofer that works together seamlessly. The Martin Logan ESL is one such speaker, a worthy successor to the Aerius, and shares a similar pricing range but with better sonic performance. Are you currently looking for a matching amp to power your Martin Logan ESL speakers? Then look no further, as we will be planning to list out the best amps that you can go for and pair them with your Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL electrostatic loudspeakers.
To find the right amplifier, we must learn more about the Martin Logan ESL. By finding out their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their sound characteristics, we will be able to find matching amps that can really make them sound their best. With such information, you’ll be able to find amps on your own and customize the sound quality to your own liking.
Sound Characteristics and Merits of Martin Logan ESL
The Martin Logan ESL looks stunning and elegant, the 34″ tall curvilinear XStat electrostatic transducer gives that premium flair and these speakers will definitely be the talk of the town at parties. At the bottom of the loudspeaker, you will find the low-frequency woofer which the shape and angles of the cabinet fit nicely with the electrostatic transducer. Thanks to the 8″ woofer, the Martin Logan ESL can go quite deep into the bass extension. The frequency response is 42Hz–22kHz (+/-3dB) which is really impressive for an electrostatic speaker at this price point. Still, there is a high probability they will need an additional subwoofer.
Aesthetically it will fit in well with most homes and should be easier to get spouses’ approval. It will look great with most amplifiers too, including valve tube amplifiers which may even look more awesome when paired with the ElectroMotion ESL. The speaker sensitivity is 91dB which is great as well. The impedance will be at 6 Ohms and the recommended amplifier power range of 20-300 Watts does indicate that the Martin Logan ESL will need high-powered amplifiers. This does filter out low-powered amplifiers from the list of potential amps. These speakers will require plenty of breathing space of about a meter away from the side and rear walls. You will need to trial and error on the best distance (listening/wall) and toe-in angle though.
The high-resolution sound quality immediately engages you and you will be impressed by how natural they sound. The Martin Logan ESL is able to deliver massive details, including subtle musical nuances, leaving no stones unturned. The insight of these speakers does show the flaws of bad recordings but never sounded overly analytical. The bass performance is fantastic as well, it has slightly more weight and fuller sound than most electrostatic speakers at the same price range.
The low-frequency reproduction of the Martin Logan ESL may not be as prominent when it comes down to the deep bass level or having the bass impact of big floor-standing speakers. There are still good enough for music, more importantly, detailed and agile, able to keep up with the rest of the higher frequencies, providing a well-balanced music delivery. The overall sound reproduction also has amazing clarity and doesn’t sound hard/harsh when playing at loud volumes. It is smooth and clean, with that sweet airiness that makes the music delivery sound immersive and alluring.
The stereo imaging is exceptional as well, musicians and instruments are highly defined on the wide spacious soundstage. Even at loud volumes, the various instruments are still clearly distinct. The level of loudness that the Martin Logan ESL can achieve, does make them ideal front left/right speakers in a home theater setup which is quite rare for electrostatic loudspeakers. The spatial sound quality and ample bass output, all for such a sane price point. What the Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL electrostatic loudspeakers need now are the best amps to match and power them up.
Martin Logan ESL Specifications
- Speaker Type: Hybrid Electrostatic Loudspeaker (Down-Firing Bass Port)
- Drive Units: XStat CLS electrostaic transducer, 8″ (203mm) high excursion, high-rigidity paper cone woofer
- Frequency Response (+/-3dB): 42Hz–22kHz
- Recommended Amplifier Power: 20-300 Watts
- Impedance: 6 Ohms
- Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 91dB
- Dimensions: 1323mm x 229mm x 414mm | 52.1″ x 9″ x 16.3″
- Weight: 16.1kg (35.5lbs)
Best Amps to match with Martin Logan ESL
The Peachtree Audio Nova300 is one of the best amps that have more than enough power to really drive the Martin Logan ESL speakers, we are looking at 450 Watts (4 Ohms) which is really high for an integrated amplifier at this price point. It uses a newer generation of ICEPower amplification which is slightly more musical sounding but has the efficiency of the Class D amp with clearer sound quality. The preamp section of the Peachtree Audio Nova300 is accurate and warm sounding in nature, with lower noise than its predecessor. Furthermore, there are a plethora of modern features such as an ESS Reference 9018K2M Sabre DAC, Home Theater Bypass, Moving Magnet Phono input, and more.
An amazing entry-level electrostatic speaker like the Martin Logan ESL will need equally impressive entry-level preamps and power amps such as the Parasound NewClassic series. The Parasound is popular for its high sonic performance but is sanely priced without compromise. For the preamplifier section, you can go with Parasound NewClassic 200 Pre, which comes with features like a built-in Burr-Brown DAC, 80Hz low pass sub output, dedicated headphone amp, and more. Match with the Parasound NewClassic 2250 v.2 which is a THX Ultra2 certified power amplifier. You got a sound system that is ready to make your Martin Logan ESL speakers sing.
If you prefer to go for an integrated amplifier, the Parasound Hint 6 will be one of the best amps to go for. The Hint 6 belongs to the Parasound renowned Halo series and is a high bias class A/AB amplification operation for greater sonic purity. Furthermore, the current capacity of the Hint 6 goes up to 45 amps per channel, along with the 270W RMS into 4 Ohms, it can drive your Martin Logan ESL with ease. It is a very well-balanced amp with incredible low-end management that packs a punch and the sweet sound quality is produced with plenty of details. A worthy amp to match your Martin Logan ESL electrostatic speakers.
The Wyred 4 Sound STI-500 v2 will make a great entry-level integrated amp for your Martin Logan ESL electrostatic speakers. The STI-500 has plenty of muscles and uses two mono amps built into one chassis for a cleaner and more dynamic sound quality. The sonic imaging is impeccable, along with the spacious soundstage, you’ve got a highly accurate and entertaining amplifier. Not to mention, there is great control over the bass reproduction which is taut and agile. The midrange is one of the amp’s greatest strengths which matches well with the Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL. It is recommended to hear them out first.
The Marantz PM-KI Ruby is one of the finest integrated amplifiers that has been tuned by the sound master Ken Ishiwata and his team. If you are a big fan of the legendary Ken Ishiwata then you should definitely find the opportunity to audition the Marantz PM-KI Ruby. With a power output of 200 Watts (4 Ohms), it is more than sufficient to drive the Martin Logan ESL. This is a revealing amp that unravels a massive amount of details including the subtle ones, producing them out in spades. Even with such insights, it doesn’t sound clinical and the overall sound quality of the Marantz PM-KI Ruby is a suitable match with the smooth and clean sounding Martin Logan ESL electrostatic loudspeakers.
Wyred 4 Sound also makes amazing power amplifiers that are well within the price range of the Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL. The power amps also use ICEpower audio technology. If you prefer Class AB amplification, you can check out Cambridge Audio Azur 851W and Parasound Halo series power amps. Parasound Halo power amps will be the better choice if you have a higher budget. Emotiva is also an excellent power amp choice and worth the time to check them out. Planning to get an additional subwoofer for that extra low-end oomph, then the MartinLogan Dynamo 800 X will be an ideal choice. As both speakers and subs are from the same company, they should work well together with similar sound signatures.
To Sum It Up
The Martin Logan ESL is a hybrid design electrostatic loudspeaker that provides you the sweet treble of an electrostatic transducer with the bass performance of a traditional speaker box. We will still recommend getting a subwoofer to supplement the bass though. The listed amps are some of the best that you can match with your ESL speakers. You can also use them as references when hunting for other brands/models. Just remember to hear them out before making any decision.