Author Topic: ML3 Reference  (Read 2449 times)

Offline bhobba

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ML3 Reference
« on: June 02, 2011, 06:02:56 AM »
Hi Guys

Richidoo asked me to do a post about my new ML3 Reference's.

First some details about my system.

Speakers:    ML3 Reference
Amplifier's:  15W Leben CS300XS
                8W Trafomatic Experience 2 SET
                50W Audiosector Patek Amplifier
USB DAC's: WFS DAC 2 (looking to replace it with a Killer)
                PDX with John Kenny Hiface
                Base Level Tranquility  
                Tranquility Signature
USB Cable: Essential USB Signature
Computer:  Mac Mini with software otimisations and Oyen Digital Firewire Drive
Cables:      Ribbontek interconnects and speaker cables

Here are some pictures of my system
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?action=gallery;sa=album;id=7168

ML3 References are the new top of line speakers made by Lenehan Audio, the maker of the ML1's some may have heard out at the RMAF a couple of years ago.  89db sensitive, Peerless 8inch Woofer, Morel Supreme Tweeter, crossover about 2.4 khz (unsure exact value), Duelund capacitors and resistors in crossover, proprietary port tuning, cabinet lined with steel to reduce resonances, flat to 25hz.

Here is an interview with the designer:
http://www.stereo.net.au/articles/mike_lenehan_interview/

Alright how does it sound.  Probably due to the steel lining and Duelunds the first thing I noticed is how quick and detailed this thing is - every little nuance is easily heard.  Midrange has an electrostatic like quality to it - not full, rich and opulent like you hear in some speakers but rather lean and neutral so you may think it is lacking - but careful listening shows it isn't.  When I first heard the prototypes at a DAC shootout I was a little concerned about this until I spoke to a recording engineer and he explained it was not actually lean but rather dead neutral.  Still a good friend of mine actually preferred a version that had Mundorf Silver In Oil which gave it a richer more euphonic quality.  But to my ears the speed and neutrality of the Duelunds wins out once you get used to it.  I can't say I am such an experienced Audiophile that my opinion is highly reliable.  Some of you may know Hugh Dean the maker of the Aspen amplifiers.  He has heard a lot more stuff than me and has been involved in the design of his own speaker - here is what he said about the midrange of the ML1 which is very close to the ML3 - 'and it's very clear to me that Mike has put a huge amount of work into the midrange, which is exceptional, an absolute standout'.  Its probably worthwhile quoting the rest of what he said when comparing it to the ML1:

'Here we have an even better speaker, with an effortless ability to seamlessly fill quite a large room with tight, focussed imaging and a brilliant sound stage. The ML3 is capable of a large sound field, and draws no attention to itself, neither is it fatigueing. The top end was sparkling, without any 'heat' to cause fatigue or irritation; the midrange was clear, punchy and accurate, and the bass was strong, natural and highly addictive. I have been involved with Laurie Menogue in the development of a speaker, a transmission line kit using the SEAS CA22RNY 8" driver, called the VSonics, and I am bitterly aware of just how much effort and time is required to deliver the sort of presentation so evident with the ML1 and the ML3. It is extremely hard work and very demanding, particularly the crossover design, but more, you have to know what to aim for, what is possible, what correlates with what, and when to stop. I can clearly tell that Mike has put hundreds, possibly thousands of hours into these speakers, and they are a testimony to extreme effort, and they deliver blistering, world class performance.'

Now we come to the bass.  This is not your usual ported design - it is a proprietary down-firing port alignment that sounds more like a transmission line to me - it certainly has the bass extension of one being flat to 25hz.  I spoke to Mike about this and he said he has built transmission line speakers and could have designed this one like that but it would cost a lot more to build and render inert and the bass would not be any better.

These speakers have also been designed to outperform small speakers in what small speakers do best - namely imaging and sound-stage.  In fact one of the design goals was to be better than the ML1 in every area.  From my listening I think he has largely succeeded.

I can't really think of anything more to say except these are the finest speakers I have ever heard.

Oh cost.  I got them when it had an introductory price of $14K.  I think that has now ended but I am not 100% sure.  While I don't know the price now I have heard something like $22K being bandied about - but don't hold me to it.  That is not cheap but I can tell you the quality of parts is second to none - I have been told each pair has $3.5K worth of Duelund capacitors alone.  Normally you don't find those capacitors in speakers at this price point - at least I don't know of any.

Because I have gushed so opulently you may think I have some commercial connection to Lenehan Audio.  I don't.  I am simply a retired guy with time on his hands and a bit of superannuation money to indulge his interests.  It also helps Lenehan Audio is only about 40 minutes away so I tend to use them as my local audio store.

Thanks
Bill

« Last Edit: June 02, 2011, 07:34:24 AM by bhobba »

Offline richidoo

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Re: ML3 Reference
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2011, 07:25:12 AM »
That's a great review Bill!  Thanks!
I liked the interview too.

evan1

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Re: ML3 Reference
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2011, 01:45:53 PM »
Didn't you have a pair of Spirit 1 SE's on order ?

Offline bhobba

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Re: ML3 Reference
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2011, 04:02:38 PM »
Didn't you have a pair of Spirit 1 SE's on order ?

Still do, still do.  They will be completed soon.  Bob Smith has been a bit slow with that one.

Thanks
Bill

« Last Edit: June 02, 2011, 04:06:21 PM by bhobba »