Martin Logan Trainer & Set-Up Expert Joel Lopez - "It's My Passion"
My wife and I purchased Martin Logan Expression 13A loudspeakers from the Magnolia Audio & Design Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
Nick Hufford the store manager put me in contact with Joel Lopez at Martin Logan regarding questions I had about rake angle and set up.
My first contact was in March of this year.
I had already seen several YouTube videos with Mr. Lopez about setting the speakers up.
I sent to Mr. Lopez an email containing material from the Cardas website regarding speaker set up.
Their calculator was the most helpful.
Thank you for contacting Cardas Audio.
I recommend using the standard calculator to start. This will help to maximize bass performance. If you also mark the spot for the dipole calculator you could try any location between the two to improve imaging also.
Imagine my surprise when there was a message on my cell phone from Mr. Lopez offering to speak to me via telephone regarding my questions and concerns. In the course of that conversation Mr. Lopez offered to come to our home to personally set the speakers up and implement the Anthem Room Correction, a program built into these speakers designed to take the room out of the equation; identifying and removing room nodes and standing waves; essentially allowing the speakers to perform at their best without being compromised by interaction with anomalies caused by the room. Frankly, I was flabbergasted by his offer.
He wrote back after reviewing the numbers: When looking at the calculator it looks as though his calculations are correct and also what we would recommend as well.
The only downside with using technology for speaker placement is it doesn't take into account things like type of flooring, thickness of sheetrock, type of paint weather flat or gloss, and objects in your room that will absorb or diffuse sound waves. My personal suggestion would be to use the calculator as a starting point for placement but be aware that minor adjustments in placement and or toe in can have a big effect on your overall sound.
My offer still stands to come to your home and insure your speakers are performing to the reference level we intended.
I simply could not believe my ears. This was personalized service unlike anything I had read about in the industry other than knowing about Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio going to the home of a customer after a sale to set up speakers and of course dealer set up.
The set up team from Magnolia did an outstanding job using the results generated by the Cardas calculations.
Even before the speakers had 100 hours on them it was hard to imagine how much better the response could be even though I had read reviews which testified to the difference the ARC made.
Moreover Mr. Lopez sent instructions for achieving a rake angle of one degree (almost exactly perpendicular to the floor) something I desired, to improve imaging even further so I would have them to give to the install team.
He added “Once I get a chance to travel back to Madison, your speakers will have played for the recommended break in period and I can then lend my expertise by making adjustments in placement to squeeze out every ounce of performance as possible.”
Mr. Lopez came to our home on July 25th and I played for him 9 selections from vinyl, several from Redbook CD’s and two from an SACD so he would get a good feel for how our system sounded before he started.
I thought, somewhat pridefully, that the system sounded very good but was looking forward to witnessing to what degree it could be improved.
He felt the soundstage was too small and went to work knowing that my priority, if I had to choose between a large soundstage versus focus, I would choose focus.
There was a great deal of speaker movement before the ARC was implemented. He asked my wife to sit in what looked to me to be a very near field listening position and yet it was at the apex of an equilateral triangle. My wife could immediately discern that the new position was much better. Specifically, instruments appeared and sounded a great deal more present and alive than our previous listening position. My wife had to leave to go to the library and when she left I shared that I knew, despite the clear improvement, that she was unhappy about the set up because the seating position was too close, so Mr. Lopez had to start all over again; moving the speakers further apart so the sofa could be further back and still achieve an equilateral triangle.
Mr. Lopez started the ARC process and I could clearly see on his laptop the response caused by the room. To say that the frequency response was not linear would be a tremendous understatement.
There are degrees of knowing; for years I have read that the room really impacts the sound; take care of room interactions first. The graph on his laptop hardly looked like the frequency response curve of the speakers shown by testing in an anechoic chamber. It is generally taken for granted that it is almost impossible to replicate outstanding results in the real world but the deviation in our living room was not to be believed.
When Mr. Lopez was done he asked us to choose a selection from the original ones we played and it was IMMEDIATELY discernible, immediately, as in less than two minutes just how improved was the sound; specifically the entire sound spectrum was balanced! We had not heard the presentation like that before so of course we could not know what we were missing. Choral voices to my ears were even more individuated and defined and yet the presentation became, for lack of a better descriptor, relaxed. It was ironic to me how we could be hearing more information with greater definition and at the same time the presentation was relaxed; not laid back in any way; just relaxed; there was also an effortlessness to the presentation.
Mr. Lopez’s experience (he has been with Martin Logan since 2002) cannot be underestimated; the software did not do the work; it was Mr. Lopez’s implementation, that achieved such an accomplished result.
In that sense what took place can be described as art, assisted by technology; Mr. Lopez’s artistry was evident as was his craft, and make no mistake it was craft too. The speakers were tilted a bit to the right and left, meaning from side to side respectively for each speaker and he worked tirelessly to make the lack of perpendicularity disappear. I am guessing most people would have been content to leave them as they were.
Mr. Lopez said “we are seeking perfection.”
I said “I am sorry you are working so hard” and he immediately and yet casually replied “it’s my passion!”
What more could I have asked for “it’s my passion” says it all; how many people do you meet that can claim the work they do is their passion?
Martin Logan is lucky to have him because he is insuring customer allegiance one at a time; the old fashioned way, via unparalleled dedication to results.
In the interest of clarity I want to emphasize that Martin Logan speakers are not finicky or difficult to set up; they are great from the get go, but with the extra attention comes extra-ordinary, extraordinary results.
Since Mr. Lopez cannot be cloned, owners would do well to inquire regarding his availability, since his primary responsibility is training dealership personnel.