MartinLogan Purity Review Columbia SC
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MartinLogan Purity Review
February 2, 2010 By Dennis Burger
Worth the Effort
Being a serious beer connoisseur is a lot of work. Different styles of ales, for example, like to be cellared at different temperatures and all would rather be cellared upright, making the usual storage solutions available for wines unsuitable for us beer geeks. Then there’s all the shelf space required for glassware—because who would ever think to drink a Christmas Ale from a Weizen glass or an American lager from anything other than a plastic Dixie cup? Experience the complex bready, caramely, raisiny, figgy flavors of a Chimay Grande Réserve properly stored for a year or two, served at the right temperature in a beautiful tulip glass, and I guarantee you’ll be hooked for life, fuss be damned. But even I have to admit, I can almost understand why most beer drinkers would prefer to merely fill the back of the fridge with corn-filled American macro-brews and be done with it.
For similar reasons, after spending a month or so with MartinLogan’s Purity—their first hybrid electrostatic speaker with built-in amplification—I suppose I can see why many people might opt for a simpler speaker.
Those people are missing out on something special.
If you’re unfamiliar with electrostatic speakers, it’s perhaps best to begin with a discussion of what makes them so different. Simply put, whereas traditional speakers rely on cones of various sizes pushed and pulled by magnets to compress and rarify air, electrostatics consist of an ultra-thin film sandwiched between two differentially charged screens, which force the film forwards or backwards depending on their charge. Since the film covers a much larger surface area than a cone would, it doesn’t have to move nearly as far to compress as much air. And since the film doesn’t have nearly as much mass as a cone, it can move much more quickly.
As a result, electrostatics are capable of unrivaled clarity and detail. Unfortunately, even ginormous electrostatic panels don’t generate low frequencies as well as a traditional cone, which is why most electrostatic speaker manufacturers, like MartinLogan, have developed hybrid designs that mate electrostatic panels with woofers that handle the bottom end.
Another quirk of electrostatics is that they’re difficult to drive, and therefore require oodles of amplification. With the Purity, MartinLogan solves this problem by building a high-quality 200-watt amplifier into each speaker, opening up a world of possibilities in terms of how they can be used. Route an iPod or iPhone dock’s outputs into the Purity’s RCA inputs, for example, and you’re done—you’ve got a fully functional, self-contained, high-fidelity digital audio system. (In fact, in a recent cross-promotion with Bon Jovi, MartinLogan gave away several such systems pre-loaded with the Jersey rocker’s new album.)