Martin logan vs. B&W

Anyone has experience with both brands or done some A/Bs? (especially B&W 800s and larger logans- ascent or higher)

what are the main differences and + and -s
what made you choose one over the other?
what kind of music did you use to compare them?

thanks for your input
You are comparing apples to oranges. The Logans are a hybrid planar and the B&W are cones.

What are your musical preferences? This would help.

If you like "slam" in vocals and instruments, the B&W's would be the obvious choice. If you are a detail freak the Logans will be more your style.


Paul :-)
my music preference is 90% classical; the remianing 10% consists of Jazz and contemporaries

Well Stravinsky's the Firebird would sound better on the B & W's, a Beethoven piano concerto would sound much better on the Martin Logan's. That said, I really have trouble with hybrid speakers in general. The sound differences between the very, very fine panels of the ML and it's cone woofer always sound mismatched to me. The only hybrids that I have heard that really seem to get this right are the Innersounds. Otherwise, I really think that planar speakers such as Soundlabs, Quads and Magnepan's are light years ahead of the hybrids.

As far as traditional speakers, I really, really like the B & W's. The build quality is spectacular, and the sonics have a great consistant tonality. Very musical. I agree with Beemer in that they are very different. If you like a warmer, detailed sound, full orchestra, B & W's are great. If you tend towards more intimate music, I would suggest the planars or hybrid. Before you buy the ML's I would suggest that you audition the Quads, Soundlabs, and Magnepan's. At the very least listen to the very fine Innersound speakers, if you really want a hybrid.

Good luck.
Both posters above said it all. One other thing to consider is that B&W require a lot of power and it should be solid state. Martin Logans love tube power, although solid state will sound very good. B&Ws will be easier to set up in the room & will play louder. Martin Logans will require more work to set up due to the dipole design and will arc when played very loud. I always felt if I had the room & money I would love to have a second setup w. planar or electrostatic speakers. Now go listen as that will truly answer your questions. PS once you can hear the crossover / transition on the Martin Logan between the woofer & the panel you will always hear it. I used to own them & sold them for that reason. I hear the new designs are much better. Listen to each for a while will really do the trick
As a former owner of ML SL3s (sold because we moved to a smaller house and still missed), I can agree with much of what's been said, but I question the statement that they "will arc when played very loud". I believe that that may have been the case with far earlier models, but I know that I was never able to make mine arc with ~380 wpc (McCormack DNA 1/B).
Thanks guys for your inputs

I guess what I wanna specifically find out sooner or later is how the Summit and the 803D (or 802D) comopare.
My dealer's doing the local premier of the Summit soon, so I guess I'll see..
I'll keep in mind the intrinsic differences you guys mentioned between the two brands

thanks for sharing
Jay :-)
My recommendations are simple. Buy a pair of grado sr-60 or sr-80 headphones; listen to any of your music the headphones this is exactly what you will hear if you choose to audition martin logan speakers. lots of detail but no sound stage; you will not be able to tell the source or direction of singers or musicians. i personally love my thiel 2.3's they completely disappear in the room with most 3 dimensional soundstage ever.

Enjoy, Dave

Dave - I wonder if the Martin Logans you heard were not set up properly, one of the things I love about my ML SL3 is the soundstage, they very precisely locate the instruments. I have them 5 feet from the rear wall and 4 feet from the side wall, and toed in so they face directly to the listening position, about 7 feet away. If you are in the sweet spot the Martin Logans disappear.

I have a 2nd system with Sonus Faber Signums (which I guess might be more comparable to the B&W). The Martin Logans do better on imaging than do the Signums, and the midrange might also be better on the ML, they are outstanding for jazz, folk music and string quartets. But overall I prefer the Signums to the ML, it seems to me that the SF Signums have a more natural and musical sound and also better integration of the base, while the ML have the problem of the directionality and small sweet spot. For "dedicated" listening in the sweet spot I might lean more to the ML, if you are moving around the room or have guests, or listen to rock I'd recommend the cone speakers.
Davewav1, I don't think I could agree at all with your statement about the soundstage of MLs being like listening with headphones. I have owned a lot of speakers in recent years, including Thiel 2.2 (while not the 2.3, they are very close). I liked the Thiels (especially for the couple hundred bucks I paid for them). They imaged and soundstaged well, where quite detailed (which I like) and had an overall very good presentation. I also own Wilson W/P 5.1s which do everything the Thiels did only much better (which they better do considering the price difference). I love the W/P. I also owned Wilson Duettes, also an excellent speaker which I prefered over the Thiel. I also owned VS VR 4 JR and several Totem models and some B&W speakers, none of which were as good as the Thiels.

However, my conflict is with your sound staging statement. The size, width, depth and focus of the sound stage with the Martin Logan speakers is in my opinion much better than I experienced with the Thiel speakers (though I did find a pair of 7.2 did a marvelous job of these attributes as well and would probably rank the 7.2s above the MLs). My reference is ML Quest Zs only.

I would not say that all around the MLs are better speakers than Thiels as this is purely a subjective matter and taste of sound one is seeking. MLs have their weeknesses no doubt and for some (possibly even me, I am still determining this), the Thiels and many other brands of speakers will be more favored, for others, not.
Jay..IMO..there are much better speakers at that price point..If you allow your ears to guide you im sure you will come to similar conclusions..cheers
Not sure if it is necessarily fair to say there are much better speakers at these price ranges. Speakers are so subjective. I agree there are very different speakers than both the ML and B&W speakers at and below this price range and many people will have no problems finding equally and even lower priced speakers that they prefer over the two. Both the B&W and the ML speakers have in my mind a house sound - some like and others don't.

On the otherhand, based on the used market, both the ML and B&W speakers (assuming you like their house sounds) are very good values due to the fact that they are both very common on the used market. If you are looking at making a speaker purchase, I would suggest a couple of different brands, known for different sound characteristics and try to listen to them (even if the brand available to auditon may not be your target brand - you can at least get an idea for that sound type and your preferences). As a note, I would include the following speakers to audition to get a feeling for what one likes:

B&W (in my book a bit subdued) and ML (unique - love or not)(as they are the subject of the thread so they should both be audtioned, both are common with lots of retailers to make this fairly easily possible). I would also add:
Thiel - detailed more forward sounding speaker (fair number of dealers as well), you could add Totem to this style as well, but a bit less so in terms of detail and forwardness.
Vandersteen - a bit more neutral, but gets everything very good but does not totally excel at any one given area as a best

In my opinion, listening to the 4 above brands will give people a pretty good sense of what type of sound they like and will allow them to better narrow the variety of speakers they want to pursue based on these sounds. Since I have not listened to all speakers (obviously), perhaps others can chime in with different speakers that have "stereoptypical characteristics" to expand the auditioning and find appropriate dealers in your area.