Martin Logan CLS IIz Floorstanding Speakers

CLS IIz

Curved, visually transparent 1 x 4 ft electrostatic panel

User Reviews (30)

Showing 1-10 of 30  
DJ Magic Mike   AudioPhile [Nov 01, 2017]

I picked up my CLS IIz speakers used, and they were still fairly pricey. With that said, they are some of my favorite speakers of all-time. However, like numerous others have stated, electrostats are not for everyone. In summary:
You need a proper sized room with proper placement.
You need proper components that not only have power but can drive speakers with lower impedance.
You need a subwoofer.

If your room is too small, you will choke the speakers. They need room to breath. I have mine spaced apart by about 8 feet and spaced from the wall about 2-3 feet (even more would be better).

If you dont have a quality amp, you wont be able to drive them at louder volumes and you run risk of damaging your amp. I use an Odyssey Stratos amplifier and it is a perfect match with these speakers.

If you dont have a subwoofer, you're missing out on all the lower frequencies. Simply put, these speakers are terrible at bass reproduction. Dont worry, most mainspeakers are. This is why we have subwoofers, and this is why you should own one... or more! I am running two Martin Logan Descent subs between the panels.

If you can use a high-pass crossover for the panels, I would advise it. I've found that crossing them over above 100hz takes a lot of stress off the panels and lets them focus on the easier to reproduce frequencies. I have mine crossed over at 140hz and that allows me to play them at very loud volumes.

The most unfortunate part of owning these speakers is the insanely high-cost of replacement panels. The great thing about Martin Logan is that they still offer replacement stators for their legacy products such as the CLS. The downside is that they are extremely pricey (over 2000 USD/pair). Thats A LOT of money for a sheet of stretched mylar that is sandwiched between 2 perforated metal panels. Unfortunately, there are very few speakers that sound this good and very few companies exist that still support legacy products.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
Bill Fuchs   AudioPhile [May 09, 2009]

I have many Martin Logan products in my home but the CLS IIZ are by far the most accurate and sonically finest of the bunch. It is best used for Jazz especially piano listening. It is only short in the deep bass reproduction but a subwoofer can make up the difference but alost any sub is going to colour the purity of the listening experience from this ML Classic. The do require quite a bit of amplification to operate accurately.

i use a matched pair of Rowland Research Model 7's with a matched and calibarted Coherence II preamp. When measured sometimes the CLS IIzs drop down below 0.01 ohm and only the Model 7s are capable of keeping up without clipping or going into thermal shutdown. Speaker wires are also important in this system and only the finest will do as they need to carry all of the signal integrity all the way to the CLS IIz.

I do suggest they are elevated on a pair of Arsisi metal stands.

BILL

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bobzilla   AudioPhile [Dec 23, 2005]
Strength:

Amazing clarity, emotional involvement in the music, a feeling that the performers are in the room with you. No question that they will either bring out the best of your great equipment (and music), or expose the weaknesses.

Weakness:

Although I measured in room response at nearly flat levels to 35hz, the feeling of bass below 50hz isn't there. Need the aforementioned sub to bring the palpability of the bass up. That said, best results when the sub is out of the picture no hgiher than 50-60hz, so use a 24db/octave crossover slope

Absolutely amazing at what they do well (everything other than low bass), and astounding when paired with a subwoofer that can keep up. Amazing soundstage, rock solid imaging, and timbre accuracy that is unequalled in the ML line. The IIz is a distinct step forward from the previous series in the CLS line. No question that the IIz has better bass extension than the original CLS, and IMO, better soundstaging due to the differential panels. Too bad that ML is no longer making a pure electrostatic speaker - would seem to be a market for a no holds barred halo product out there.

Similar Products Used: Have had or heard a great number of ML, Magnepan, B&W, Quad, KEF, etc.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
yhm23280   AudioPhile [Jul 13, 2004]
Strength:

Matching CDs sound very good.

Weakness:

Many CDs sound bad.

"Bad recordings sound even worse" "They excel at strings, brass,and percussion but not with rock music" The complete understanding of the real meaning of the above comments copied from CLSII reviews may be very important in reducing the number of audio exchanges. What would lead to the above comments? Lack of lower midrange or upper base, according to my 20 years of audio experience. In this case, good recordings from RR or Sheffield having balanced tones and harmonics sounds more natural than the natural sound when lower midrange's hazing is reduced: Reviewers seem to describe this phenomenon "startling vivid". So far so good! Who minds the artificial element if it always makes pleasing sound? .... Why does ordinary recording sometimes sound OK, sometimes unacceptable? Or, why does a recording sound good in System A but unlistenable in System B, while System B is reviewed highly by a pro-reviewer? After careful review of the review, don't you often find the comment, "Good source or system matching" as an essential requirement? If a recording is slightly deficient in that tone or has slightly rough highs, sound reproduced by a system which slightly lacks lower midrange is likely to be like trees having stem but no leaves; rock music has no body in this system. If the system kills harmonics too, then sterile sound. Inherent merits of CLS with its characteristic tonal balance will take maximal advantage of audiophile recordings at Hifi shop. If you confine your listening experience to audiophile recordings, CLSII will give you more pleasure than other loud speakers. You may find yourself listening to those good-sounding but mediocre performing CDs all the time and sometimes other CDs to see if they still sounds bad. What I would recommend for years of unfrustrated listening is to buy a system with good tonal balance (warm). Look at impedance curve of speakers; high or at least not low impedance between 70-300Hz. Good cables faithfully preserves musical information in this frequency range.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Kent   AudioPhile [Jul 09, 2003]
Strength:

True "you are there" presentation. Clarity. Holographic soundstage/imaging. Absolute revealing of details. Tonal balance.

Weakness:

Difficult load on amps. Fussy placement. (mucho experimento!) Reveals system flaws. (weakness?)

I wish I still had my CLS IIz speakers. I sold them about five years ago because the amps I had at the time just didn't cut it. I could only play them at low volume and when there was drum "whacks" the panels touched the stators. I will (have to!) find another pair again. Even though I had to keep the volume very low there was a magical sound to them that no other and I mean no other speaker system is capable of! Nothing else has the same "you are there" feeling as the CLS. Decibals are not the only factor for the experience. They do indeed play loud when matched with proper amplification. By the way I have heard them on numerous occasions with proper amplifiers driving them and the sound is absolutely fantastic! And now for the fellow who called them crap? I am not going to bash Quad or you for that matter. I think you have likely never heard the CLS set up properly. Quad is nice but they just don't have the clarity or presence of the CLS. Make sure you get amps that are up to the job, proper cables, and take the time to experiment with placement. Also make sure they are placed exactly the same in relation to one another and room boundaries. I currently have a pair of JM Lab Electra 920.1 speakers because my amps can easily drive them and they have a fast coherent sound to them (very musical). Although they do sound great in their own way they still can't do that "transport you to another world magic" that only the Martin Logan CLS can! You CLS owners know what I mean!!!

Similar Products Used: Martin Logan Aerius, Monolith, Acoustat model X, Totem Mite, JM Lab Electra 920.1 (current)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
edwinlefevre2001   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 02, 2003]
Strength:

Stunningly lifelike sound when properly supported. Gorgeous to look at.

Weakness:

Finicky placement,needs gobs of power, tiny sweet spot, needs sub for low frequencies.

I listened to 16 pairs of speakers before finally settling on these. The CLS is a classic electrostat(not a hybrid). It requires high, clean power, pinpoint placement and top notch equipment to support them. When set up appropriately there is no speaker I've heard that can match it in terms of pure crystalline sound. The best midrange period. Voices sound so real it can be eerie. They excel at strings, brass,and percussion but not with rock music. These speakers are at their best with jazz, r&b, classical. Because there is no bass enclosure they are light on the low frequencies. You must use a sub with them. Another problem is the tiny sweet spot. Once you find it, lock your chair in place. Lastly they need to be raised about a foot off the floor and slightly angled. I know this all sounds like a pain in the neck but when I have people hear these speakers for the first time...they are stunned! I will never give them up!I use the Mcormack DNA 1 to drive them, Melos shagold reference preamp and a sunfire true sub.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
yawg   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 03, 2002]
Strength:

Totally natural sound, very realistic soundstage

Weakness:

Need excellent gear to drive them, bad recordings sound even worse, the foils don't last forever and are expensive.

These speakers are definitely my last, they are the best, period. I borrowed a pair of old CLS from a friend who complained that they needed too much power. I found out that the foils were totally used up, they could play only at very low volume but the sound was so intriguing that I began looking for a more recent pair of used CLS IIz. I couldn't believe my luck when I found a mint pair for only 2000 euros. You need an excellent amp that can drive 1-Ohm loads. I use German AVM MOS-FET monos that do the job nicely without being over-expensive. The source is absolutely critical, the speakers show all the strengths en weaknesses of the recordings and all the weak links in the chain. Tweakers eat your heart out. Now I found I need a better phono-stage, with my former speakers I simply didn't realize how bad the phono of my AVM pre-amp is. I just had to quit listening to my vinyl (I own about 450 LPs). I listen to Drum & Bass, Dub and Electronic stuff which has lots of (deep) bass and in the beginning this wouldn't work at all, I could hear the foil hitting the stators (I like it loud sometimes). Then I bought an excellent active sub with an active crossover so now the IIz have only to cover the stuff from 80 Hz on up. Perfect! I can have room-rattling bass and the speakers can play louder without straining my amps (and my ears and nerves). Classical music sounds also much better with the sub even when there is no deep bass on the recording. You have to set the speakers up very carefully, the left and right must be placed at exactly the same angle and distance from side and rear walls, otherwise you won't get that holographic soundstage.

Similar Products Used: Heco, JBL, Elac, Canton
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
Q-surf   AudioPhile [May 09, 2002]
Strength:

MUSICAL. Wonderfully seamless top to bottom, transparent insofar as the sound directionality. Supremely detailed uppper bass, mids, and highs - all combined, this makes for some hair raising ''auditory hallucinations''. They look just like they sound (if that makes any sense...). And not to be dicounted is the: "Wow - are those really speakers?!!!" factor.

Weakness:

Very finicky about their surroundings, setup, and associated equipment. They blatently reveal imperfect recordings (strength?). I guess if I were really forced to knock them somehow I might say that rock music and some drums are not delivered with the same punch as with high-end cone speakers.

Interesting to find out that the owner/founder of Mapleshade Recording Studio (truly hi-fi) has a pair of CLSII''s for his reference system (albeit modified). I''ve had CLSII''s speakers for a long time now. At one point, I was saddened to find that my original ''stat'' panels had degraded to the point of needing to be replaced. ML informed me that their original panel design has been improved to greatly extend the life expectancy of the metallic deposition - so be careful about purchasing older, used CLSII''s. Panel replacements are ~$900. Mr. Powers at ML Service Dept. should get a raise - he''s awesome (hear that Mr. Sanders?). Although I have occaisionally looked around at changing to some other speakers, nothing has come close to persuading me away from CLS''s. I won''t wax on too much about them as many reviewers have nicely captured my sentiments, but these amazing speakers can do things I have never experienced outside of live music - period. After recently reading some reviewers having positive results from raising the panels, I made simple brick platforms 10" high and tried it out. I used (2) 10" x 16" x 8" blocks for each stand. More solid and ''sound dead'' than any steel frame I could imagine. Stand up! I''m surprised that there hasn''t been a bigger to-do about raising the CLS''s. With the stands, the ''sweet spot'' is now not just limited to that magical 6" x 6" window while seated, and centered. I can stand up at 6'' tall and get the same hair-raising sound curtain. Walking around, I notice the sound is MUCH better dispersed throughout my entire listening room. Even the output volume and curiously, the mid-bass have been appreciably increased. The seated, position is still as sweet as ever, maybe even with a degree of added detail - so I haven''t lost anything by doing this. After fixing on the 10" height, I found it necessary to tow-in a bit more (perhaps that is where my added detail came from) and I also decreased the top to bottom slant slightly. Voila! Now even my standing guests can be mesmerized by these crazy things, making a great thing even better. Now I feel like a dork for not having tried it sooner. Then I upgraded to Accoustic Zen Satori 8'' cables and DIY Belden 14 guage AC power cables and found myself up on another realm of musicality. Don''t skimp on the cabling!

Similar Products Used: I''ve home reviewed various Magnapan and other Martin Logan series speakers.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
erike   AudioPhile [Mar 26, 2002]
Strength:

Top-to-bottom purity, openess and genuine naturalness when run in.

Weakness:

Not easy to get an idea on what they are capable of in a hi-fi shop environment. Low impedance treble region favours tubes over solid state. Many solid state amps have problems running then.

I used to own an original pair CLS - a unique speaker for their day. I now own the current IIz version. I will not go on about the differeces beween the old and the new other than to say the IIz are better in every way. I have had many speakers throughout the last decade in a near-vain effort to find something as musically truthfull and fulfilling as I really wanted. Highs are smooth and clean, only ever getting hard if partnered with brighter than neutral equipment. The problem for some is the CLSIIz show too much of the character of the up-line components. You will find you will need to spend at least as much on the source as on the speakers to take full benefit of what the CLSIIz are capable of. The CLSIIz are not designed to pressurize a huge room with punchy bass, you cant seriously expect that. However in a real sized room and st up correctly, very deep, tunefull and even bass is possible with correct timbre. Midrange is free from colouration and completely open. One of the best mids on the planet The challenge in these speakers are with setup and the need for great partnering equipment. Anyone who says thge CLS are crap simply have not heard them at their full potential, because they will sound particularly bad if done wrongly.

Similar Products Used: Original CLS. Otherwise there is not much similar to the CLSIIz!
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
barry levinson   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 19, 2002]
Strength:

none

Weakness:

everything

These speakers sound like total crap. They tortured me for over two years. It doesn’t make any difference what kind of Amps your using. The only reason you might think that they sound great is if you’ve never listened to Quad speakers before.

OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
1
Showing 1-10 of 30  

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