AXPONA 2012: Martin Logan, Krell, Transparent, The Tape Project

The Martin Logan demo at AXPONA was new for me on several fronts.

  1. I’d never heard Martin Logan’s CLX panels before.
  2. I’d never heard 7 subwoofers in a single system before.
  3. I’ve never stumbled out of a demo before, surprised to have survived.

Let’s do the numbers:

  • Five Martin Logan CLX ART loudspeakers. $12k each/$24k a pair.
  • Five Martin Logan Depth-i subwoofers with CLX crossover (@47Hz) to make the CLX “full range”. $2200 each (crossover board is another $150).
  • Two Martin Logan Descent-i subwoofers. $3500 each.
  • One Krell EVO-707 3D Surround processor. $31,500.
  • One Krell EVO-403e three-channel power amplifier. $25k.
  • One Krell EVO-402e stereo amplifier. $18,500.
  • One Krell Cipher SACD/CD player. $12k.
  • One fully tricked out tape deck: “Phase 1” from United Home Audio.
  • One full reference line cable loom from Transparent Cables. ~$250k.
  • One seriously happy Martin Logan rep (Dennis Chern, below) who got to play some awesome music on an awesome system.

The sound of the CLX is, in many important ways, exactly like the sound of every ESL that Martin Logan makes. Blisteringly fast transients. Insanely transparent sound. Mid range clarity and warmth that was to die for. An admittedly lean mid bass. And with those seven subs? Bass that will crush your internal organs from 3 floors away. It was as if the Iron Giant had just stomped us all flat. Talk about control and SLAM!


I was whimpering a little bit. I’ll admit it. I have never heard bass like this before. EVER. A couple of thoughts:

  • I’m going to die here.
  • I have got to get me some more subs!
  • The Martin Logan subs are fastfastfast.

In general, I think that Martin Logan is probably not my go-to for surround sound music. The lateral dispersion just wasn’t there, which meant that the sweet spots were rather few in number, and if you were out of line, you were out of luck. That said, image lock was not a problem for those in the sweet seats. I’ve never heard such precision in a sound stage. EVER. But … as with the AIX Records demo, images themselves weren’t always proportionate, especially when we went to sound in the surround. Of course, as with the AIX Records demo, I couldn’t have cared less! This was seriously cool! Pink Floyd DSOTM? Woohoo! Bring it!

But my favorite part of the demo were the stunning — and I’m not using the word lightly — stereo recordings from The Tape Project. The one-off-master of Bill Evans may well have been the best reproduction I’ve ever heard, anywhere, of anything. It was breathtaking.