A year and a half on...
I'm not a shop-talking audiophile, but I know what sounds good and what doesn't, at different volume levels. Speakers are only as good as what they are connected to. In my case, Onkyo TX-NR-809.
My last home stereo of 14 years or so was a Sony 5xxx series receiver with Bose 401 towers in an apartment. The Dony passed of old age in 2009. In 2012, I finally \had the opportunity to refresh and upgrade.
I'm still playing with the myriad low-level adjustments provided by the Onkyo. But for critical listening levels, the ESL model speakers are twice as good as the Bose, at the very least. The 401 models were great for their time, and still work great and sound fantastic...for 20 year old technology.
The ESL's are the next level. Mine are coupled to the Dynamo 500 subwoofer. They are 3 times what i paid for the Bose at the time, but sound better and can handle the power of the Onkyo.
If you've always wondered what the 'good sh&8' sounds like, the ESL's break it down for you. If you're wondering, "...are the ESL's worth it...?", I tell you hand over heart, every penny.
Interestingly, after some time researching many high-end speakers - by spec only -, the ESL's were on the low end of the price spectrum. And having heard not a single example of these high-end speakers, save the ESL's, I needed no other option after hearing them at a 'Magnolia' Best Buy, Snellville, GA. (shout-out. gimme some points.)
I purchased the speakers, installed them 2 months later. used them for about 2 months, then they sat for about 8 months. I started using them again in November 2013; 16 months after initial purchase.
i tried to adhere to the break-in period, but by my perception, I can't take the recommended volume level of 70db. maybe for a song or two...if I'm really drunk. So, like you make brownies - lower the temp, lengthen the cook time - I've spent a lot of time at 60db. They seem to sound better than out of the box. But then, the Onkyo has great ability to compensate for sonic deficiencies in the listening environment, thus improving the overall listening experience. So hard to tell which is really creating the great sound I'm hearing...and seeing with my 'ear's eye'.
The principal upon which the speakers operate direct your attention to things you might not have thought to listen for, before. Such as, the echo of the drummer coughing, ricocheting off the wall behind him.
No, I hadn't thought of listening for, or to, that. But strangely, the fact that I can now hear this man clear his throat is 'really cool'.
I'm a smoker, and as such, keep the black covers that came with the speakers on them all the time. I think they DO sound better without them, but for TV and low-level volumes, the covers keep the dust off them, and hopefully the smoke.
I don't 'game', so can't comment on video game sound.
All in all, the longevity is the question. So far, after 18 months ownership, the ESL's have been flawless. To be frank, I'm expecting 20 years minimum life span for the cost. i don't know if that's reasonable or not.
The Dynamo sub is tight and fast. I don't like boomy bass, so this one's tight, I promise. They make a 700 Dynamo. I would recommend that for those with full concrete floors only. Joisted floors like mine carry the bass from a 500 plenty fine.
The only concern i have is, tho, with the Dynamo. I never turn it off. It powers up on detection of an audio signal. Fine. But, if I were a purist and wanted to physically use the power button on the back of the Dynamo, there is a LOUD pop when flipping the switch on and off. It makes the sound of frying bacon...one loud POP. There should be better protection in the circuity to guard against that. The Onkyo, Dynamo, and ESLs are plugged to a Panamax 4100 power regulator.
Martin Logan, you guys are the best kept secret, albeit to your chagrin maybe, in the home audio industry. From an arm-chair engineer, the technology is beyond my full understanding but the results are amazing.
World-class sonic artisans. Martin Logan ESL.