MartinLogan, McIntosh, AudioQuest | FLAX 2020

I’ve had a lot of recent seat time with MartinLogan, McIntosh and AudioQuest. I just finished a review of the MartinLogan 35XTi monitors with the Dynamo 800X subwoofer, which should be published soon. I just reviewed the McIntosh MCD 600 SACD/CD player in Part-Time Audiophile, and I have the astounding McIntosh MC2152 power amplifier on the cover of the upcoming issue of The Occasional. And I’ve been using all sorts of AudioQuest products over the last few months–I’ve got two version of the Niagara power conditions in for review right now, and I covered two of the DragonFly headphone amps/DACs in The Occasional as well.

Sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V
Florida Audio Expo 2020 coverage sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V
Sponsored by Living Sounds Audio
Florida Audio Expo 2020 coverage sponsored by Living Sounds Audio

At the 2020 Florida Audio Expo, these three brands presented plenty of products that I haven’t heard, such as the McIntosh MA352 integrated amplifier ($6500) and a pair of the new ESLs from MartinLogan, the Impression 11a ($10,000/pair). While I really enjoyed my time with the 35XTis–they’re a wonderful monitor for just $1400/pair–all I could think after I sent them back was “maybe they’ll send me some big ESLs next time.” I’ve always enjoyed MartinLogan panels with their speed and their big, open sound.

The Impressions were capable of plenty of excitement in the room, especially with familiar tracks from Hugh Masakela (whooo-WhooOOOOO!) and Boris Blank. I felt something I haven’t experienced in a while–the flapping of my pants legs from all the moving of air, thanks to the MartinLogan Balanced Force 210 subwoofer ($3500). In addition, the Impressions still have plenty of that speed and transparency you expect from ML.

The rest of the system included some familiar components such as the McIntosh MT500 turntable ($6500) and the MPC500 power controller ($2500) and of course all those AudioQuest cables. But if I learned one thing from this room, it’s that I still occasional crave the sound of big panel speakers. The Impression 11a sounds easily as satisfying as all the ML speakers I’ve heard in the past, and for a reasonable amount of money.

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