Review: Martin Logan CLS IIZ Speaker

Category: Speakers

The Martin Logan CLS 2Z is a niche speaker. It is capable of startling depth, clarity and amazing speed. It is not just a glimpse of audio truth it is standing right on top of it. The speaker reveals every change of component, wire and even cleanliness in power. I personally value imaging and clarity; the speakers have those in spades. If the phase is incorrect, if the recording has no ambience, if there is excessive processing it is revealed.

However, the speaker also has issues. If you are a Who fan that likes concert levels look elsewhere. It will play no louder than about 93db. The speaker has no deep bass. Subsequent iterations have more of the low end but only the latest will make you think you can live without a sub. And if one runs the speaker full range it is very difficult to drive. Only amps rated into low impedance loads with more than 150 watts per channel need apply.

Did I mention subs. Only very fast subs will sound integrated with these speakers. Setting up the sub may take some time. This speakers' transient response and speed are to die for.

I have heard from some that tubes sound best with them. My experience has been that only amps without veiling sound good with these speakers. and only amps with high current ability will be able to survie their combination of capacitance and low impedance.

The reward is worth the time spent. I have heard this speaker against some highly touted designs and some very expensive designs. I have heard very few equal or surpass it in sound quality. Ithink many will play louder and without as much fidgeting to get the best sound.

To sound their best they need at least three feet from any wall and one needs to be at least ten feet away. This is not a many monitor. It does image like a many monitor but with a real image size.

Associated gear
Marantz 700's
Odyssey Stratos Mono Blocks
Adcom 555 Series I Power
Adcom 565 Pre
Electrocompaniet 4R
Genesis Metal Cone 12 Sub
Audio Pro A50 sub
Marchand xm9 electronic sub
Linn Valhalla with ittok and Sumiko Blue Point Special/ Shure V15 Series 5
NEC 830/ Audio alchemy XDP and DTI
Revox A77
Teac TN400/Stax ua7/ Shure V15/Supex 900
Tandberg 3031
Denon MR3
Musical Fidelity xlp2

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Thiel cs5
Some other thoughts re: CLS vs. CLSII vs CLSIIz... the originals are considered better, though nicely enough they are usually cheaper. I found my pair for well under $2000, and that's with 3-yr-old panels, a recent checkup by ML and the rather rare Walnut frames.

The reasons some of the earlier models (across the ML line, not just CLS) wore out panels quickly is they had the panels charged at all times, not just when playing. Later iterations had a current sensing part to the circuit that shut the panels down after 5 min. of no music. I have mine on a switched outlet so they are not charged when the system is off. Most of hte changes from generation to generation are in the electronics box on the back of the speaker.. the panels themselves I think are pretty much identical between the various versions of CLS.

For subs - try crossing it as low as possible. I think mine is crossed at 18db/octave @ 40 hz or lower.

Anyone know which finishes these speakers came in? Black and light oak seem to be the most common. I've never seen another pair in Walnut. Have seen some in I think one other wood, but i forget which it was... I asked ML if they would make frames in maple but they said no. (Too bad, as a pair of these in a figured or birds-eye maple would be a sight to behold...) Custom frames would always be an option but probably a bit pricey.

I was wondering if anyone is using the ML etc spikes on their speakers and opinion about them.

Does anyone raise the speakers off the floor.

Do they respond favorably to a dedicated circuit?
Ed - I have seen a pair of CLSs (not sure what model) in painted white (seemed to be factory, but maybe done by owner), with black grills - ugly to me, but to each his own. Most factories won't use maple because it's pretty soft and damages easily. I've seen a picture of a pair of Scintillas in birdseye maple - gorgeous!

Yada - always spike your speakers. There are exceptions, but they're rare. Spike 'em, you'll be happy you did.
hi Nalu -

in my experience, Maple is one of the harder woods available... at least as hard as walnut/oak,etc... and with denser grain... It tends to be expensive vs. oak etc., however.

ML does do aniline dye finishes - I find them ugly too, but who knows? They do several colors... (check their site).

I have to disagree re: spiking too - I find Vibrapods to be a good thing under my CLS. (suspended wood floor in 2nd floor room.)