Just auditioned Martin Logan ESL vs 60xt

I just left my Best Buy Magnolia HT and did A/B comparisons between these two speakers. I really wanted to walk away shocked at the ESL electrostatics but was left very disappointed.  They were just muddy and boring compared to the 60xts right next to them.  It was as if someone turned off the tweeter too.  I felt like there was almost nothing over 7k hz like cymbals, upper guitar string plucks, etc. 

Now, the 60xts did sound muddy in male vocals down low but they definitely peaked my interest more than the electrostatics. 

Now, if I ONLY owned the ESL's, I'd probably be happy, get used to the sound and think they sound good.  We're all subject to that trickery, but I just thought there should be more..

I was listening to some of my favorite tracks through Tidal, into a Marantz sr7705 receiver.. 

I know the amp/situation wasn't perfect but the sonic characteristics between the two would be unchanged in a more optimal situation.

Anyone else kinda feel this way?
What you describe as the sound you heard from the ESL is completely contrary to my experience hearing ML speakers in general. Even my ~20 year old Aerius i model sounds extremely transparent and dynamic especially from mid-bass and up. They do need to be paired with a proper amplifier and are somewhat placement sensitive to deliver good sound so I suspect the receiver and room placement combined caused the sound you heard. No experience with the 60xt.
Maybe they weren't plugged in?  I'm not kidding.  I've seen them unplugged sounding like garbage, but just enough sound/high notes that some don't realize they're unplugged.
Nah they were plugged in.  Had i not had the 60xts right next to them, my ears would have warmed up to them and probably thought they were pretty nice... But you never know what you're missing until you A/B them next to something else.  

Also I'm not interested in a $3000 speaker that requires $30,000 of amplification, $50,000 of room renovations just to make them happy and sound better.  
Magnolia demo's the ESL using recievers with poor current delivery. The ESL as with other Martin Ligan ESL's will dip to 1 or 2 ohms in the high frequencies. What you heard is the rolling off of the highs due to the loudspeaker not getting what it requires. It affects the whole audio bandwith as well. Buy the ESL's, if a reciever is your budget, go to the nearest high end audio store and ask to see their used equipment. A buddy of mine just picked up a Jeff Rowland model 1 amp for 700 bucks to drive his ESL X's. The sound is a spiritual experience. 
dtximages OP

Give this dealer a wide berth, he stinks.

All ML esl’s go down to 1ohm in the treble, and to drive them with a surround sound amp Marantz sr7705 receiver.. is just ludicrous, it’s as if he wanted you to buy the 60xt instead. ML ESL’s sound like this with most tubes also rolled off no extension, unless they have a 2ohm tap then volume becomes an issue.

Cheers George

Just went through Magnolia’s amplifier range, there’s nothing there that will drive ML ESL’s well.
They even have the ML Neoliths advertised!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  
What are they even doing stocking ML ESL’s, what a crap hifi?? shop?

Cheers George
BB Magnolia shops are for people with more money than discerning taste. They don’t have proper amplification and the speakers are set up poorly. I heard the ESL’s set up properly at a friend’s shop and they were terrific. So much transparency and air. Then I listened at a local Best Buy and they sounded terrible. 

They sell some pretty high end names and they have McIntosh amps in their main rooms mainly driving B&W and Martin Logan (not the ESL).  

We were listening on the Marantz AR8805 (or whatever their big $5k receiver is).  Sure probably not ideal, but I've never heard an amp just sound awful then sound great on a pair of normal speakers.

I'm sure it was a part but the fact that I was A/Bing on the same amp is the thing that makes me think the amp wasn't really it.

Set up?  Sure.. They did the best they could and separated the speakers off, brought away from the rear wall, etc.  

 but I've never heard an amp just sound awful then sound great on a pair of normal speakers.
That's because it couldn't handle the ESL's loading.
You needed to hear the ESL's again with an amp that can take 1ohm loading and do it comfortably without rolling off or becoming unstable, then you would have been very impressed with the highs and their extension.

Cheers George 
...speaking of amps for electrostats: is there a danger in using inappropriate (i.e. unable to cope with the <1ohm load in the high frequencies) amplifiers with such speakers? I have a pair of Martin Logans (the Classic 9) and I was thinking of trying some other amplifiers with them. Do I risk a nasty surprise if the amp gets unstable or whatever (apart form less than great sound)?

As for the topic of this thread: in my (limited) experience, at least as far as my speakers are concerned, they seem to roll off slightly starting from ~ 9kHz in my quite absorbing room, but the amount of treble (not only the last octave) depends a lot also on the room acoustics. Less absorption and you get plenty of treble (perhaps even too much lower treble in my setup).
A lot of it might have to do with setup. The panels radiate front and back. They rely heavily on ambience from the area behind the speaker and proper spacing. They're also very directional despite the curved panel. If they sound dull that might be why.

You can try different amps with them. I'd expect driven into a low load impedance some amps will either go into protect mode or start to sound constrained or compressed. There are some marginal designs out there that could die but I'd think you'd know it wasn't happy before that.

I don't think you could kill a tube amp with one. There are a lot of good amps for not too much money that will run them all day. 
Martin Logan recommends amplifiers that double in power each time you go down in ohms (all the way to 2ohms or better. Example: 120w/ch @8ohms, 240w/ch@4ohms, 480w/ch @2ohms. The difference in the sound with this in mind is jaw dropping. I have gotten the ESLs to sound good with a Class D NuPrime STA-9 though ($659). I run a tube amp and it just didn't give the instruments realism. I bought a Krell amp used and serviced, and my world went into a real sound system that gave a sound that was one of those "regardless of price" quality. I have since bought more powerful Krell amps and upgraded to a much more expensive ML Montis that I bought used. Also with (2) REL S3 subs sitting on the inside of the Montis, I have dialed the system into a finished state of the art sound system. Martin Logan base models ESLs need some sub love as well. Going up to the Anthem Correction ML models will give you the proper bass in medium sized rooms. But don't underestimate the magic of the REL sub systems. Don't bother with electrostatics if you can't give them proper amplification. I learned this thru experience. Don't be afraid to buy some items used for your sound system. Most of us..... it is the only way to afford "high end" sound. My 2 cents.
I stumbled on this older thread helping a friend to do a proper evaluation.

It’s great folks here truly recognize you cannot just walk in to a BestBuy Magnolia type store and hear what the Motion or ESL Martin Logan speakers can do with a lame HT receiver through a junk speaker switcher with layers of poor interconnects daisy changed with garbage speaker cabling, bad connectors, and limited source components and expect it to perform correctly. Garbage in, Garbage out, and weak links end-to-end for sure.

They do the best they can with rushed A/B comparisons and lots of surrounding noises going on in a retail chain store. Pull the same speakers out and put them in a worthy setup at home. Much different.

Take the same Motion 40XT, 60XT, and ESLs, hook them up at home with a high quality dedicated 2-ch amplifier (solid state or really good tube system) with some real transformers and nice tubes behind it and experience a very different type of result and musicality from the exact same speakers. There are some very good speakers out there that sound much better in a worthy system at home.
The best buy near me didn't have the 60xt with separates, just ran them off their receivers and they sounded muddled without the necessary amp to run them. I bought them at a ridiculous clearance price and they sound a hundred times better (yes a hundred) on my cheap outlaw mono amps.  
I’ve tested my Martin Logan Motion 40s from my HT setup on my audio separates including a 100wpc Cary tube amp, a Cary solid state amp, a 10wpc Triode tube amp, then QS monoblock tube amps, and a high powered Outlaw Audio amp, bi-amped. Not muddy at all.  ALL tests sounded MUCH nicer than anything I ever heard at a BestBuy/Magnolia on a receiver there.

Garbage in = garbage out for most good speakers. A demo at home on good 2ch audio gear can make a notable difference.  
I have the 60 XTs which I had gotten a smokin' deal on from Crutchfield which I could not refuse. I feel that the muddiness in male vocals is due to their natural 80 Hz resonance frequency. It's recommended to read Brent Butterworth's review, he explains this. He's one of the most knowledgeable and senior people I can think of in audio. His exact words: "I heard some of the best midrange I've heard from any speaker": good enough for me to make a decision. I have a power amp that had cost $800 second hand: these speakers are so revealing, that my Quad and NAD amps, hadn't cut it anymore. They're both gone.

I heard Metallica on the ESL11As  at Best Buy in Frisco, TX: that was, without a doubt, the cleanest bass, I've ever heard. But, for a price.
Demoing with lame power / source / amplification at BestBuy-Magnolia stores is extremely limited.

Take the same speakers home and evaluate on a worthy setup and hear a different result.