MartinLogan Neolith Electrostatic Loudspeaker Review

GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#41
You have a very narrow and self-righteous point of view. Telling ML how to run their business, well, that's as misguided as when I read the financial analysts who write, "Apple should have done this..." or "Walmart should have done this...". ML sells just 50 pairs and that's $2M in revenue (assuming a 50% gross margin),and since the technology is essentially the same as in the higher-volume $15K/pair models, the incremental R&D is probably not all that oppressive. I know they sell quite a few of the $15K pairs, because my local dealer has sold a surprising number. (I thought it would be something like four, and it was well into double digits.)

As for the Neolith being relevant only to marketers and non-audiophiles, I don't follow that at all. What if you are someone who has a 15,000 cuft listening room and wants awesome music reproduction? There is a viable market of those folks, and that's where Wilson, YG, etc, aim their flagships. I don't think these products are hobbies or vanity exercises; I think they actually sell.
I'm a consumer and have a POV. Stating this POV is more helpful to companies than remaining silent and turning one's back on companies and their products.

Audio businesses aren't exactly Fortune 500 firms. They cater to a relatively narrow market. So freely providing information helps them to hone their focus.

Statement pieces are for marketers and image influencers. That's how they work.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#42
From now on you're my BFF!

I could say I see slightly more reason to statement pieces.

First of all there’s the buyer himself. The perception of a company that only does huge series is often rather bad. This is truer in some fields than others. Music sometimes having something to do with art, is one of those fields that get frowned upon for mass-produced. (I’m also guilty of this, I admit. Although I don’t have the resources to avoid it.) Sony often had to prove it can actually deliver by producing some very, very good amps and CD players. Still the perception of Sony as a kitchen radio-clock producer is very high. So this is one reason why companies do statement pieces. You give people cheap quality and they just end up yearning for expensive quality of the same quality :D


Then there’s this prototype business. A minute and crappy Fiat Punto costs billions to develop, but you end up with a finished prototype that you can’t sell nowhere near the cost of developing it. And most importantly; there is such a thing as trickle down, but trickle up is next to impossible.

It makes more sense to pair your research with a statement piece, sell off some of those and get some research money back, trickle the rest down the production line and sell those in larger numbers to stay in the game.

That way you underline that you’re not a kitchen radio-clock company, that you’re a serious manufacturer that can dance all over the reference field and that average audiophile benefits from this through improvements made while developing the prototype model.

Although I mostly agree with you, I think that, for example, Magico is much more deserving of this type of criticism that you put forward.

Most of the winemakers I’m close to will tell me that top end wines barely ever pay off, but being a producer of cheap wines can leave a long lasting damage and being a mass-producer of cheap wines is a noose.


Well, Phil and Salk wouldn't meet the cryteria of an upstart in this case. Even if they started their companies yesterday, that wasn't the start of their audio expertise.
Thanks... I think!

You make a really good point about the perception of large electronics firms. They certainly can be trapped by "transistor radio" images. They also have deep pockets and, therefore, have the capacity to produce exceptional products if they choose. That's why I look at specs and read reviews instead of being mesmerized by brand.

Big brand, small brand, niche brand... they're only as good as the performance of the stuff they make at any particular time.

Wine is similar, in some respects, to audio. For some, audio/wine is a product/beverage. For others it's a statement of self worth/discerning taste. The divergence is how they are marketed and priced.

With wine, old world producers (generally) gain extra points even when their products slip. With audio, the small niche players seem to attract a very loyal (almost messianic) following.

Advertising dollars and margin/dealer mark-up likely play a bigger role in all of this than audiophiles would like to admit.
 
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Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,631 7 7
#43
I'm a consumer and have a POV. Stating this POV is more helpful to companies than remaining silent and turning one's back on companies and their products.

Audio businesses aren't exactly Fortune 500 firms. They cater to a relatively narrow market. So freely providing information helps them to hone their focus.

Statement pieces are for marketers and image influencers. That's how they work.
You're so right, I bet every audio company is just waiting breathlessly for the next wave of your business advice.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#44
You're so right, I bet every audio company is just waiting breathlessly for the next wave of your business advice.
Not at all. But they try very hard to understand market preferences, in as many dimensions as they're able to capture.

So if you want to help them out, post your views on their products, Irv.

In the meantime, I've passed your feedback on me to my brand manager. He or she (I don't ask) has ADD and a raging substance abuse problem. So they'll be sure to capture every nuance of your brilliantly insightful post or psycho analysis and enter you into our draw for a free set of high end speaker cables made from the finest coat hangar wire used in the dry cleaning industry.
 
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GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#45
I am not sure who would consider the science of psychoacoustics to be invalid. Pretty much every serious person in the audio business uses psychoacoustic principles to develop products. That would be like a biologist not accepting the principles of evolution.
There are many audiologists and neurologists that regard psycho-acousticians views on the human perceptual range to be incorrect. Some of the disagreements are founded on procedural differences. Others are based on differences in findings.

While there is broad agreement on human hearing range (20-20kHz, declining with age especially in men),there is very little agreement on whether our perceptual range is 30, 40, or more kHz. There is also no definitive scientific view on our sensitivity to harmonic distortion other than generalities on even and odd order preferences and dB limits drawn from hearing (vice psychoacoustic) research.

None of this has stopped manufacturers and service providers (re: hires audio) from drawing conclusions from unproven (or, at least, weakly demonstrated) psychoacoustic theories.

It would be fair, therefore, to say that psychoacoustics is an immature field of research with far less scientific consensus than, for example, acoustics.
 
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everettT

everettT

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
1,232 9 16
#46
There are many audiologists and neurologists that regard psycho-acousticians views on the human perceptual range to be incorrect. Some of the disagreements are founded on procedural differences. Others are based on differences in research.

So while there is broad agreement on human hearing range (20-20kHz, declining with age especially in men),there is very little agreement on whether our perceptual range is 30, 40, or more kHz. There is also no concensus on our sensitivity to harmonic distortion other than generalities on even and odd order preferences and dB limits drawn from hearing (vice psychoacoustic) research.

None of this has stopped manufacturers from drawing specious conclusions from psychoacoustic theories though.

It would be fair, therefore, to say that psychoacoustics is an immature field of research.
The question becomes how much harmonics play in the upper frequency. I can definitely hear differences between the all the different tweeters I own against the beryllium that has a high range. Just seems to have an airiness that's hard to explain.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#47
The question becomes how much harmonics play in the upper frequency. I can definitely hear differences between the all the different tweeters I own against the beryllium that has a high range. Just seems to have an airiness that's hard to explain.
It's totally about harmonics because traditional instruments' fundamental frequencies are firmly in the audible range.

Some drivers are better than others at reproducing high frequencies. This is easily measured but there's still a lot to consider before closing the book on tweeter design and performance.

A research scientist would try to match source levels and eliminate any knowledge (confirmation bias) of which tweeter type and have you listen at various room locations, on/off axis etc to eliminate some of the variables that come to mind.

Others would then try to determine whether you are perceiving more high frequency "airiness" because of the lack of masking (a well established human auditory response) from a weaker mid/low range driver.

Or, it could be that the loudspeaker manufacturer chose to spend more time and energy refining that particular Be driver more than the manufacturer who threw a ferry-filled Al or ribbon tweeter in an enclosure and called it a day.

None of this is questioning your observations, likes or dislikes. They obviously hold some degree of personal validity. It's just an example of how difficult it is to remove variables from the equation to move the discussion beyond personal likes/dislikes.

This is why measured performance is so important to the advancement of audio.
 
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everettT

everettT

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
1,232 9 16
#48
Perhaps. Some drivers are better than others at reproducing high frequencies. This is easily measured but there's still a lot to consider before closing the book on tweeter design and performance.

A research scientist would try to match source levels and eliminate any knowledge (confirmation bias) of which tweeter type and have you listen at various room locations to eliminate the few variables that come to mind.

Others would then try to determine whether you are perceiving more high frequency "airiness" because of the lack of masking (a well established human auditory response) from a weaker mid/low range driver.

Or, it could be that the loudspeaker manufacturer chose to spend more time and energy refining that particular Be driver more than the manufacturer who threw a ferry-filled Al or ribbon tweeter in an enclosure and called it a day.

None of this is questioning your observations, likes or dislikes. They obviously hold some degree of personal validity. It's just an example of how difficult it is to remove variables from the equation to move the discussion beyond personal likes/dislikes.
Setting up a dbt is hard for me as the speakers are in different homes. The ones I have tried are always level matched with a switching abx, but no other participants.
 
killdozzer

killdozzer

Audioholic General
Ratings
631 6 11
#49
:D:D Me calling you a BFF is nothing to thank for.

For some, audio/wine is a product/beverage. For others it's a statement of self worth/discerning taste.
When you say for some, are you thinking of producers or buyers (please don't say both, please don't say both, please don't say both...)

I was thinking mainly of buyers. It is them who producers try to fascinate. I think that the entire Formula 1 world is fueled by the similar idea. I remember teasing a friend of mine for having a Renault Clio, back than Renault did pretty well in F1, so he blatantly said; we're winning F1. People do think this way and function this way.

I don't like it, but I doubt that stirs the proverbial surface of the lake in marketing business. I often see companies investing a lot in fighting the notion of them being cheap and even more important for this conversation – cheap with quality. People simply don’t think that “real quality” can be cheap.

I think I got the message in the post where you mention the psycho acoustics and Bose. So I’m going to build on that idea; (first I’ll apologize for not being able to quote the exact research, but I promise I’ll try to find it and provide a link) there was this test done with wine where subjects were given the exact same wine in two different glasses and were told that one of them is cheap and the other is expensive. Now, less important was the fact that subjects graded the “expensive glass” with a higher mark, but the scary part was that they measured higher levels of serotonin and endorphin.

Since you mentioned porn; it’s like picturing an adult actress while making love to your lady or looking at a picture while self pleasuring.

People think of 80k speakers while listening to their 2k speakers and they DO feel like they belong to the club of the selected few.

The entire “genius” of Freud’s nephew Bernays consisted in making peoples’ transfer of libidinal power onto objects usable in shaping their opinion on products. People praise themselves by means of buying exclusive and esotheric. It was never about how good the product is, but how they can't do without the said product being so special and all.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#50
Setting up a dbt is hard for me as the speakers are in different homes. The ones I have tried are always level matched with a switching abx, but no other participants.
Sure. It's hard for most, myself included. Audio manufacturers do some abx testing as part of product development but not as much as they should. Many rely on abx testing in lieu of instrumented tests in truly controlled environments. There is a lot of crap-shooting going on out there... some of it even resulting in a broadly pleasing product.
 
killdozzer

killdozzer

Audioholic General
Ratings
631 6 11
#51
There are many audiologists and neurologists that regard psycho-acousticians views on the human perceptual range to be incorrect. Some of the disagreements are founded on procedural differences. Others are based on differences in findings.

While there is broad agreement on human hearing range (20-20kHz, declining with age especially in men),there is very little agreement on whether our perceptual range is 30, 40, or more kHz. There is also no definitive scientific view on our sensitivity to harmonic distortion other than generalities on even and odd order preferences and dB limits drawn from hearing (vice psychoacoustic) research.

None of this has stopped manufacturers and service providers (re: hires audio) from drawing conclusions from unproven (or, at least, weakly demonstrated) psychoacoustic theories.

It would be fair, therefore, to say that psychoacoustics is an immature field of research with far less scientific consensus than, for example, acoustics.
Don't get sidetracked here. You found yourself as one talking to many and that destroys the conversation. You and Shady strayed slightly and it's no one's fault. Shady's smart.

  • Psychoacoustics are AT LEAST reliable enough to be used by Bose for more than good income. Obviously some consensus exists.
  • Still, using what you learn through psychoacoustics to „tickle ones fancy“ rather than acheiving a high level of faithful reproduction may attract comments of you not being a hifi brand.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#52
:D:D Me calling you a BFF is nothing to thank for.


When you say for some, are you thinking of producers or buyers (please don't say both, please don't say both, please don't say both...)

I was thinking mainly of buyers. It is them who producers try to fascinate. I think that the entire Formula 1 world is fueled by the similar idea. I remember teasing a friend of mine for having a Renault Clio, back than Renault did pretty well in F1, so he blatantly said; we're winning F1. People do think this way and function this way.

I don't like it, but I doubt that stirs the proverbial surface of the lake in marketing business. I often see companies investing a lot in fighting the notion of them being cheap and even more important for this conversation – cheap with quality. People simply don’t think that “real quality” can be cheap.

I think I got the message in the post where you mention the psycho acoustics and Bose. So I’m going to build on that idea; (first I’ll apologize for not being able to quote the exact research, but I promise I’ll try to find it and provide a link) there was this test done with wine where subjects were given the exact same wine in two different glasses and were told that one of them is cheap and the other is expensive. Now, less important was the fact that subjects graded the “expensive glass” with a higher mark, but the scary part was that they measured higher levels of serotonin and endorphin.

Since you mentioned porn; it’s like picturing an adult actress while making love to your lady or looking at a picture while self pleasuring.

People think of 80k speakers while listening to their 2k speakers and they DO feel like they belong to the club of the selected few.

The entire “genius” of Freud’s nephew Bernays consisted in making peoples’ transfer of libidinal power onto objects usable in shaping their opinion on products. People praise themselves by means of buying exclusive and esotheric. It was never about how good the product is, but how they can't do without the said product being so special and all.
Both... ha ha.

I think that manufacturers see these things at the product level. Or at least they should if they're taking a disciplined approach to their development work! (It's as dangerous for a loudspeaker manufacturer to get wrapped up in a specific product as it is for a drug dealer to start using).

Once the product is developed, the marketing team is unleashed in full fury, trying to establish a strong link between the product and perceived need -- many of which are (ahem) far down the Maslow scale.

I find it amusing when people take the bait so firmly that they turn into product evangelists for the company who sold them something while stimulating their weakest pleasure zones.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#53
Don't get sidetracked here. You found yourself as one talking to many and that destroys the conversation. You and Shady strayed slightly and it's no one's fault. Shady's smart.

  • Psychoacoustics are AT LEAST reliable enough to be used by Bose for more that good income. Obviously some consensus exists.
  • Still, using what you learn through psychoacoustics to „tickle ones fancy“ rather than acheiving a high level of faithful reproduction may attract comments of you not being a hifi brand.
Since we're on an audiophile oriented forum, it's probably fair to assume that issues are being discussed from that specific perspective.

One shouldn't confuse commercial success with audio excellence. Sales success and technical superiority are often different things (as we learned during the Beta VHS wars).

So judging gear on the basis of its popularity (or exclusivity) is rather shallow. Let's judge gear on how the gear performs using as many indices (including, but also beyond, simple gratification)..

The problem with psychoacoustics in a commercial context is disentangling the purely psychological marketing aspects with the psychoacoustic ones. ABX tests demonstrate this to a certain degree.
 
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killdozzer

killdozzer

Audioholic General
Ratings
631 6 11
#54
I find it amusing when people take the bait so firmly that they turn into product evangelists for the company who sold them something while stimulating their weakest pleasure zones.
This is gospel, I tell you. Gospel! And actually this is the way a con works. I tried to explain this here some time back saying that the fooled always become the loudest Kerber in defending the devil who chained him in the first place. (Just type Kerber into the searchengine:D:D:D I'm probably the last one to mention it here.) Admiting to yourself and others that you've been fooled is always a path less travelled. It is actually easier to say; No! I hear it because I have golden ears.

I just don't find it amusing. I obviously still have a surplus of energy big enough to get frustrated over things like this. It's because I see it being heavily used in elections since the begining of the age of big data. So it's even detrimental to democratic procedure.
 
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killdozzer

killdozzer

Audioholic General
Ratings
631 6 11
#55
Since we're on an audiophile oriented forum, it's probably fair to assume that I'm raising issues in that specific context.

So it's reasonable to expect that we shouldn't confuse commercial success with audio excellence. Otherwise, we might as well quit the discussion and run out to Best Buy and load up on as much Bose, Sonos, Beats, and Monster Cable gear as we can afford. (Maybe they're having a sale?)

The problem with psychoacoustics in a commercial context is disentangling the purely psychological marketing aspects with the psychoacoustic ones. ABX tests demonstrate this to a certain degree.
Yes, yes. Don't raise your defenses, you won’t hear me. You’re BOTH right, because Toole who is obviously heavily invested in the project of finding common nominators for SQ in the business of speaker production, also uses psychoacoustics.

I’m sorry to come off as condescending. I’m not all high and mighty; I just had a feeling that I managed to follow this particular Ariadne’s thread to where it got entangled. Here comes; what I thought you were saying is that Bose is not highly appreciated by a certain type of buyer because of WHAT THEY DO with findings in the field of psychoacoustics.

I didn’t think you were trying to disprove psychoacoustics.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#56
This is gospel, I tell you. Gospel! And actually this the way a con works. I tried to explain this here some time back saying that the fooled always become the loudest Kerber in defending the devil who chained him in the first place. (Just type Kerber into the searchengine:D:D:D I'm probably the last one to mention it here.) Admiting to yourself and others that you've been fooled is always a path less travelled. It is actually easier to say; No! I hear it because I have golden ears.

I just don't find it amusing. I obviously still have a surplus of energy big enough to get frustrated over things like this. It's because I see it being heavily used in elections since the begining of the age of big data. So it's even detrimental to democratic procedure.
I am exactly the same way. The stupidity of the fanboy evangelist irritates me to death. It's not the love that gets to me as much as the total absence of critical thinking... which affects other aspects of how our society functions.

DEVO was right... humans are de-evolving.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#57
Yes, yes. Don't raise your defenses, you won’t hear me. You’re BOTH right, because Toole who is obviously heavily invested in the project of finding common nominators for SQ in the business of speaker production, also uses psychoacoustics.

I’m sorry to come off as condescending. I’m not all high and mighty; I just had a feeling that I managed to follow this particular Ariadne’s thread to where it got entangled. Here comes; what I thought you were saying is that Bose is not highly appreciated by a certain type of buyer because of WHAT THEY DO with findings in the field of psychoacoustics.

I didn’t think you were trying to disprove psychoacoustics.
Toole is an accomplished and respected acoustician, so any of my ham fisted analysis of his work is an attempt to work out what he's saying.

I hear you... Bose is highly appreciated by their base. I just find it hard to join that base because of what I don't see (or are not allowed to see).

It's like the Land of Oz, only we're being told not to worry about any silly men behind curtains. The wizard is in control.

I'm first trying to understand psychoacoustics. If it makes sense, I'll accept it. If it doesn't, I'll know how and where to best deconstruct it.
 
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JerryLove

JerryLove

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
653 1
#58
Well, Phil and Salk wouldn't meet the cryteria of an upstart in this case. Even if they started their companies yesterday, that wasn't the start of their audio expertise.
Are you sure? Let's run Salk against the list. For fun: let's assume this is 10 years ago.

-Limited histories : Check. He was a hobbiest builder who started building professionally.
-flaky patents : No patents at all.
- no serious R&D : "Serious" is undefined.
- lab facilities : No lab at all I am aware of.
- anechoic chambers : check. None.
- engineers : I don't believe Salk has an egineering degree, though I could be wrong.
- without pedigree in audio : The company had no pedegree at that point.
- third world assembly : Failed this test: he builds himself.
- no or incomplete product specs : It's not like he was putting down waterfall plots.
- over-emphasis on form, finish or esoterica : You can get curley maple for a bit more (I might be reaching on this one).

So: who (reasonably) *would* fit the criteria.

I've been attempting to get him to clearly state his point so I don't straw-man his position. He seems to be saying "established = good, non-established = bad" and "It takes a large company to build a good speaker"; both of which I would disagree with.
 
everettT

everettT

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
1,232 9 16
#59
Yeah Salk was producing a few proven DIY designs and had Dennis and Paul producing some fine work with TLs with high quality drivers. No R&D other than Kings math sheets and Dennis's brilliant crossover work.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
210 9 7
#60
Are you sure? Let's run Salk against the list. For fun: let's assume this is 10 years ago.

-Limited histories : Check. He was a hobbiest builder who started building professionally.
-flaky patents : No patents at all.
- no serious R&D : "Serious" is undefined.
- lab facilities : No lab at all I am aware of.
- anechoic chambers : check. None.
- engineers : I don't believe Salk has an egineering degree, though I could be wrong.
- without pedigree in audio : The company had no pedegree at that point.
- third world assembly : Failed this test: he builds himself.
- no or incomplete product specs : It's not like he was putting down waterfall plots.
- over-emphasis on form, finish or esoterica : You can get curley maple for a bit more (I might be reaching on this one).

So: who (reasonably) *would* fit the criteria.

I've been attempting to get him to clearly state his point so I don't straw-man his position. He seems to be saying "established = good, non-established = bad" and "It takes a large company to build a good speaker"; both of which I would disagree with.
You want somebody to give you an answer on the companies you have purchased from, when the means are at your disposal to answer the question yourself. In many ways you have, which appears to be the source of your ennui.

You could argue that some of the criteria listed are nonsense, which would logically require you to make a cogent counter point. [I've left a blindly obvious one for you, but you seem to be more concerned with your particular speakers than the broader issue of using critical thinking skills to develop an approach to making good future choices. Hint: it has to do with manufacturing.]

It takes expertise, dedication, and resources to build good speakers. Not a large company, though large companies tend to have both in abundance due to their economic capacity. (I think this is a more accurate reflection of what I've been posting.)

I don't know how a company, of any size, can achieve excellence without some sort of academically qualified and experienced members on staff, a lab, and an appropriately configured space to objectively measure and record performance. The best they can do is "imitate" or "guesstimate". But they can not reliably innovate or compete with companies making the right investments in product development.

None of this should surprise you, or anyone else who takes the time to think things through.
 
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