MartinLogan reQuest Speakers: The Yang To My Vandersteen 2C
The last few weeks have been extremely difficult, to say the least. Although my injured right hand showed signs of improvement from 3 months ago, the bad encounter between Tyrion and the other dog left it uncomfortably curled up, making writing and editing much more difficult. On top of that, stealing my iPhone was a very frustrating experience and I’m still contemplating how to punish Verizon Wireless for how badly they handled the situation.
Our oldest child is only 12 months away from graduating from an excellent college with two degrees and zero debt. Our 16-year-old son is already applying for college, and soon we’ll be left with a nine-year-old with a growing TikTok empire (she has 15 followers) and a cheeky West Highland terrier.
All this made me feel very old; which I am not, and this will probably be the last time it is mentioned.
Nostalgia is the best word for it.
Finding a pair of Vandersteen 2C speakers in a trash can less than 3 blocks from our house was a very strange moment to say the least, but I’m glad I did it. John Rutan of Audio Connection here in New Jersey is helping with the restoration and I plan on using these iconic audiophile speakers, which are older than any of my children in good health, in my new home office.
Gratitude is another thing that comes to mind; especially at a time when everything seems to be out of whack on the planet and people must be damn lucky with what we have.
I ask you to turn them off…
On the other side of the 19ft x 17ft x 11ft room there will be a pair of these extended 4ft from the wall.
I distinctly remember the day I leafed through the copy stereophile at a newsstand and saw his first pair of MartinLogan speakers. Having inherited a family stereo in 1983 as a bar mitzvah gift, I was already on the audiophile journey, but I wasn’t ready for the MartinLogan Sequel II speakers that would inspire me to make high-end sound my career. The Sequel II was my first high-end speaker, but just the beginning of a journey that culminated in the MartinLogan reQuest speakers.
Before I spent almost $5,000 on a couple of requests, I spent almost 8 years with Aerius, Aerius i and a pair of original CLS speakers. I was such a big fan of the company that I called their Lawrence, Kansas office in 1989 because I had a question about a pair of my Sequel II speakers.
Imagine my surprise when MartinLogan founder Gail Sanders answered the phone and spent an hour on the phone with me. I was 18 years old and considering college applications, including the University of Kansas at Lawrence. Israel and GWU were supposed to be my final destination, but this hour of talking on the phone cemented my future in high quality audio and my love of electrostatic loudspeakers. I just didn’t know it at the time.
Fast forward to 2019 and the last true high quality audio show in Rockville, Maryland before the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the planet.
PR queen Sue Toscano and I have been friends for many years, but she didn’t know about my history with Martin Logan and how Gail Sanders influenced it in 1989.
Gail Sanders sold MartinLogan many years ago and retired from the audio industry to enjoy the fruits of her 25+ years of hard work and success. Those who knew him understood that he would return, which he did with Akon Audio.
Gail Sanders and I finally met in 2019 and it was a very memorable day for me to meet the person who set me going. He was as accommodating as I remember him from our only phone call.
Akon Audio introduced a new two-way system at Capital Audio Fest 2021 that Gail and I discussed on our recent podcast.
Now that you know the history, let’s take a look at MartinLogan reQuest loudspeakers, which have been out of production for many years but are one of the most used electrostatic loudspeakers if you can find them.
In 1999, when I bought them, the orders were very large, and I’m sure most people would recoil with some hesitation if they came across a pair today.
At 71″H x 18″W x 13″D and weighing 95 lbs each, large transducers are required.
Also read: Podcast: Get Blown Away by JBL Sound Again, Interview with Jim Garrett
The 48-inch CLS electrostatic converter panel has a service life of about 12-15 years; and that’s something you need to vacuum regularly to keep fit. You definitely hear it when the panel starts to show its age. MartinLogan will sell you replacement panels, but they don’t cost $100-$200; so there is something to think about if you find a pair in good condition with original panels.
The 12″ long-travel woofer was a big improvement over the smaller drivers in the Sequel II, Aerius and Aerius i.
What really made the reQuest the best speaker and one of my favorite MartinLogan models is the integration of the woofer and the electrostatic panel – many electrostatic speakers that try to combine both fail miserably.
Another interesting feature of the reQuest was its 90 dB sensitivity and impedance (4 ohms).
With 4 other pairs of MartinLogan speakers, power is definitely an issue. You can use tube amps as requested, but they must be stable into 4 ohms and at least 50-75 watts/channel.
I definitely recommend CJ (solid state), Pass Labs, Mark Levinson (1980s or 1990s), Bryston, Adcom, Aragon and older Krell with these speakers.
The amp that worked for me was a huge surprise. Blue Circle BC6 SET Hybrid Amplifier with only 25 watts per channel. Gilbert Young and I have been friends for several years when I was still living in Toronto, and I traveled regularly to Innerkeep to listen to his new amps and go out to eat. The BC6 didn’t perform like any 25 watt amp I’ve ever heard, and it almost fit the bill.
Gilbert used the MartinLogan CLS and CLS IIz in his listening room, so I wasn’t surprised that the BC6 worked so well.
It didn’t have bass control like the Bryston, Aragon or Krell, but the midrange resolution and tonal balance were so good that I could listen to the speakers for 3-4 hours at night and wake up in my listening chair at 1am. 2 or 3 am, almost longing for another session.
The transparency (the reason you buy this type of speaker) was amazing on some of the recordings. There was an ethereal quality to the human voice that made you sit and pay attention to every little thing. The soundstage was also quite wide and deep in my space, and the reQuest played music with scale and presence like few other speakers.
If you don’t have room for a large pair of electrostatic speakers, these speakers won’t work for you. They don’t need to be 5 feet from the wall behind them, but I wouldn’t consider them unless you can move the speaker back at least 3 feet and give them 36-48″ from the side walls.
I have done my couple of requests in 3 different apartments and my smallest listening space was 20ft x 16ft x 9ft and always hardwood floors with rug.
They benefited by breaking up the hard surfaces behind them, placing two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with books and other forms of absorption. I made sure the windows in my room had heavy velvet curtains and left them partially open to deal with reflections from the back wall and ceiling.
The MartinLogan request came with some pretty sharp spikes (mandatory), and I upgraded the power cords (they require electricity) from the cheap ones provided on the $100 model from Blue Circle Audio; they had a significant impact on reducing speaker noise and improving panel clarity. I hate audiophile power cords, but these were the ones that worked.
I know this sounds crazy but it never looked or felt like overkill for the simple reason that the sound quality I was able to achieve with them was the best I’ve ever had and I wanted to would go back. watch and assemble the same system again.
I’ve seen used reQuests online for between $1400 and $1800 and I’d say they’re worth it if the panel has been changed in the last 5 years or less.