"Little boxes on the countertop,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the countertop,
Little boxes all the same."
With apologies to Malvina Reynolds, that little paraphrased ditty runs through my head every time I survey the landscape of Bluetooth and AirPlay speakers on the market.
"There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same."
I'm not saying there aren't exceptions, of course. I'm merely saying that this is the general temperature of the water into which MartinLogan dips its toes with its latest statement: its first wireless speaker, the Crescendo.
Take out the LED status light on the front, the Bluetooth and WiFi antennae within, and of course all of the modern connections on the back (the Ethernet port, the USB port, the digital/analog aux jack), and the Crescendo would look right at home in Don Draper's office, with its gorgeous piano gloss or walnut veneer cabinet and its striking mix of curves and angles. One need only remove the front grille to reveal another wholly modern component of the Cresendo: its pair of Folded Motion tweeters, borrowed from the company's Motion Series loudspeakers. Interestingly, the tweeters are toed out, at what I would estimate is roughly a 30-degree angle. The result of this is a wider soundstage with more stereo separation than you'd normally get from a pair of tweeters located a mere 10 inches apart. Between the tweeters lies a single 5x7-inch woofer providing monophonic bass and midrange frequencies.
Bass is further enhanced by a pair of down-firing tuned ports, just inside the Crescendo's metal stands. The down-firing ports have the interesting effect of making the Crescendo in some ways less dependent on placement than other similarly priced ported wireless speakers (I'm thinking specifically of the Audio Pro Allroom Air One), but in other ways actually more so. By that I mean that the Crescendo doesn't interact strongly with surfaces behind or beside it, so it sounds pretty much the same a few inches from a boundary as it does three or four feet out in the room. However, I quickly discovered that it interacts pretty strongly with surfaces below it, and the consistency of those surfaces has a huge impact on the bass output of the speaker.
Click over to page 2 to begin the audition, plus High Points, Low Points, Competition and Comparison and Conclusion . . .