Frequently Asked Question: Advanced Thin Film Speakers | MartinLogan

FAQ: Advanced Thin Film Speakers

MartinLogan Preface floor standing hybrid Advanced Thin Film speaker.


Please refer to your product's manual. Manuals can also be viewed online by visiting the literature archive.

How does the Advanced Thin Film design work and what are the advantages?

See the Advanced Thin Film technology brief.

I've heard that MartinLogan speakers are hybrid speakers. What is a hybrid speaker?

That is correct. This means that they use both advanced thin film (or electrostatic) and dynamic transducers to achieve maximum detail, imaging, and dynamic range. Only MartinLogan provides you the best of both worlds. Whether you are listening to a delicate violin concerto or a blistering rock concert you will experience the living performance.

Do MartinLogan speakers require big or expensive amplifiers?

Absolutely not. MartinLogan speakers are quite efficient and are capable of providing from 89-91 dB output from only 2.83 volts of input. This makes them suitable for use with a wide range of discrete and integrated amps, receivers, and A/V receivers. Our hybrid designs will perform well with either a tube or transistorized amplifier, and will reveal the sonic character of either type.

Will amplifiers rated at 6 or 8 ohms work with MartinLogan electrostatic speakers?

All MartinLogan speakers are compatible with receivers rated at 4, 6 or 8 ohms. We have tested several mainstream, high quality receivers and have found all are more than capable of driving 4 ohm speakers. The limitations of an amplifier rated at 6 or 8 ohms only becomes obvious at extremely high sound volumes over a very extended time period. For most every other application an amplifier rated at 6 or 8 ohms will perform perfectly with MartinLogan speakers.

What size (power) of an amplifier should I use?

The power amplifier is one of the most important elements in any A/V system, as too little power will not allow your system to live up to its full potential. In general, we recommend an amplifier with 100 to 200 watts per channel for most applications. Probably less would be adequate for our smaller hybrids or when used in home theater where a subwoofer is employed. Our hybrid designs will perform well with either a tube or transistorized amplifier, and will reveal the sonic character of either type. However, it is important that the amplifier be stable operating into varying impedance loads: an ideally stable amplifier will typically be able to deliver nearly twice its rated 8 Ohm wattage into 4 Ohms and should again increase into 2 Ohms.

That said, you should consider both your musical tastes and the size of your listening room. What type of musical content do you prefer and what listening level do you like the best-ambient, loud, or somewhere in between?

For instance if your listening preferences lean more toward chamber music, solo, or acoustic performances, then a smaller power amp will be adequate. On the other hand, if you enjoy symphonic music or rock-particularly at live listening levels-then you will need a larger power amplifier. This is because, for the most part, chamber music doesn't require the extended volume range that symphonic or rock music performances do to fully reproduce the performance. Another important consideration is the size and character of your listening room. Character refers to its acoustic qualities. Does your room have a bright (reflective) or dull (absorptive) quality? Bright rooms are distinguished by their large flat hard surfaces, and dull rooms by their draperies and wall-to-wall carpeting. As a general rule larger rooms and duller rooms require more power to get the same live performance level.

Also, most multi-channel home theater/music systems incorporate amplified subwoofers (the .1 in 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 channel home theater)which rely on your processor's bass management calibrations to reproduce the lower bass and sub-bass frequencies (80-100Hz and below). In this case, a portion of the power amp's output will be handled by the subwoofer amplifier, leaving more power available to the rest of the system. This allows the use of more moderately powered amplifiers while maintaining high levels of performance.

Your amplifier should also be capable of stable operation into a varying impedance load-delivering more power into lower impedance loads. This is because most musical content presents a constantly varying load to your amplifier with power requirements tied to the frequency of that content-as frequency rises, impedance drops and power requirements increase. The main idea is to have enough reserve power to handle transients like explosions, cymbal crashes, and other loud passages without overloading your amp.

Your MartinLogan Specialty Audio retailer has experience with a wide variety of amplifiers and receivers and can recommend the best components for your particular room size, listening habits, and MartinLogan speakers.

Could you suggest a list of power amplifiers and components that will be ideal for MartinLogan speakers?

With numerous excellent amplifiers available and the list growing practically each day, we can't recommend one amp over another simply because we haven't had the opportunity to audition them all. This is also true of each component in your A/V system-there are many great components to choose from. Your MartinLogan specialty audio retailer is experienced in assembling and installing a wide variety of MartinLogan loudspeaker systems and can recommend a system that suits your requirements.

Since MartinLogan speakers are capable of resolving subtle details, you can actually hear the differences between components as you swap them while listening to a familiar piece of music. Because of the signature that each component can add an individual character to the sound, it's important to take the time to match each one to your personal tastes.

Above all, trust your ears and carefully audition each element before making a final decision.

Will your electrostatic speakers harm my balanced amplifier?

No — all MartinLogan speakers are compatible with balanced amplifiers and will not damage the amplifier in any way.

Can you suggest a list of speaker cables that will be ideal for MartinLogan speakers?

Many people are surprised to hear that speaker cables and component interconnects can have a significant impact on the quality of sound. Just as with the amplifier questions above, there are many types and designs of cables to choose from and we haven't had the opportunity to extensively test them all. Therefore the best approach is to speak with your MartinLogan specialty audio retailer. They can recommend a variety of cable and interconnect options and work with you to find the best solution.

In fact, the cables should be matched to your components and speakers to assure that any additional sound signature or coloration is minimized or eliminated. Take the time to audition different cables and, as always... trust your ears.

What is the warranty period on a MartinLogan speaker system?

MartinLogan speakers have a 90 day warranty which can be extended to 5 years (3 years for subwoofers) by simply returning the warranty card along with a copy of the sales receipt, within 30 days of delivery. To read the complete warranty information click here.

How do I clean my speakers?

Use a dust free cloth or a soft brush to clean your speakers. We recommend a specialty cloth (available through the Xtatic Shop) that cleans better than anything else we have tried. If your speaker features EcoSound, please refer to the following FAQ.

Is there likely to be any interaction between my speakers and the television in my Audio/Video system?

Actually, there is less interaction between a television and an electrostatic speaker than between a television and a conventional system. An unshielded ATF transducer can effect a CRT television. However, we do recommend that you keep your speakers at least one foot away from the television because of the dynamic woofer they employ. Certain center channel speakers are fully shielded and can go anywhere (see specs).

Will exposure to sunlight affect the life or performance of my speakers?

We recommend that you not place any loudspeaker in direct sunlight. The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause deterioration of grill cloth, speaker cones, etc. Small exposures to UV will not cause a problem. In general, the filtering of UV rays through glass will greatly reduce the negative effects on the electrostatic membrane itself as well as woofers and other transducers.

Will excessive smoke or dust cause any problems with Advanced Thin Films speakers?

It is never a good idea to expose high-performance equipment to excessive dust or smoke. However, Advanced Thin Film transducers are much more tolerant than electrostatic speakers when exposed to such an environment.

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