Last Friday I attended a press preview for the new Martin Logan Neolith electrostatic speaker at the Stereo Exchange store in New York City. It's a statuesque beauty, standing 74.8 inches tall (190cm), and weighing an impressive 385 pounds (174kg), the Neolith is a force to be reckoned with! Decked out in brilliant Rosso Fuoco gloss red paint, with a large transparent electrostatic panel, the Neolith certainly looks like an exotic ultra-high-end speaker.
Listening to a pair of these beauties unleashing the full force of Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," with the volume peaking at 107 decibels left no doubt about the speakers abilities. That's really loud, but it didn't feel that loud, probably because the Neoliths were merely cruising at that volume, so distortion remained low. I don't usually like listening that loud, but the Neoliths were so easy on the ears I didn't mind. Resolution is superb; if you crave maximum detail, the Neoliths deserve a serious audition. Big speakers like this do large scale music better and far more realistically than smaller speakers.
The Neoliths's huge sound field projected forward into the room and well out to the sides of the speakers, so with my eyes closed I couldn't tell where the sound was coming from. Soft-to-loud dynamics were tremendous, and the bass power from the Neoliths' front 12-inch (30.4cm) carbon fiber woofer, and rear-mounted 15-inch (38.1cm) aluminum woofer were truly visceral in their impact. The two woofers handled frequencies from 250 Hertz down, frequencies from 250 Hz up to 22,000 Hz were generated by the Neolith's curved 22x48-inch (122x56cm) electrostatic panel. That technology has been used in every Martin Logan electrostatic speaker since 1983, but the Neolith's panel is the most advanced and largest ever produced by Martin Logan.
The entire, front and rear, surface of the massive electrostatic panel radiates sound. Which is part of the reason the panel produces lower distortion than cone and dome drivers. The Martin Logan website has a detailed explanation of how electrostatics work.
The proof is in the listening, and even a cursory audition of the Neolith reveals its extraordinary performance capabilities. The Neolith is a statement product, designed to advance the state of the art of sound reproduction; the US price is $80,000 per pair and production will commence early next year. Martin Logan speakers are available through dealers in the UK and Australia, and though the Neolith's price has not yet been set for those regions, a direct conversion would be about £51,100 or AU$96,400. Additionally, Martin Logan offers a complete line of far more affordably-priced electrostatic and conventional speakers.