MartinLogan Motion Speaker System Reviewed

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I spun up an old favorite test disc, XXX (Columbia Pictures) on Blu-ray. I like to see how a system transitions the bolt shot into the locked back door of the club in Prague in the opening scene. Well, it has been a while since I watched this movie, and I wanted to see how the Motion speakers handled volume and dynamics, so I turned it up quite a bit during the early part of the scene. When the bolt was shot and ultimately hit the door - I jumped! It was so loud I feared I might have blown a driver, or risk blowing one. Once I realized I hadn't done any damage to the speakers, I turned it back up for Ramstein's performance and was impressed. The Motion speakers were very dynamic at high volumes and with the subwoofer, could output bass to extreme levels. The bass was a bit punchy, but to output bass into the 100 plus dB level for this price is impressive. The surrounds blended perfectly with the other speakers making for smooth transitions across the soundstage even at the extreme volume I initially witnessed, as well as at decent theater volumes. I found I liked these speakers at higher more so than at lower volumes as they seemed to open up a bit. They clearly could handle large dynamics and volume and no matter what part of the film I was in, the Motion system portrayed a very large soundstage with just a bit of forwardness that I really appreciate for movies.

For multichannel music I played the Allman Brothers Band, Eat a Peach (Island) on SACD. From the start of "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" it became clear I liked these speakers at higher volumes more than lower. When playing this track back at low levels it seemed somewhat constrained, even a bit muffled, but raising the volume opened up the music significantly making for a more enjoyable presentation. The cymbals and vocals were a bit forward but not to the point of being edgy. The bass lines in "Les Brers in A Minor" went deep and sounded solid if only a little blurred, though the Dynamo 1000 was able to keep up with the system even to very high listening levels. The Motion speakers again threw a huge soundstage that was impressive both in its depth and width, as well as its detail.

I took both the Motion 12s and 4s into my reference rig in a much larger room and with much higher end gear including the EMM Labs TSD1/DAC2 CD/SACD playback system, Classe' SSP800 AV preamp and Krell Evolution 403 amplifier and spun up the Allman brothers as well as Elvis Costello's My Aim is True (Hip-O-Records). The Motion 12s had surprisingly good bass output, though still a bit punchy. The midrange was smooth and the treble slightly forward but not overly bright, which wasn't such a big deal on the Allman brothers as this disc is recorded so well, but to smoothly portray an old Elvis Costello track like "Miracle Man" was impressive for a speaker of this price point. The space and definition of the instruments were not up to my reference but were enjoyable. During "Mystery Dance" the bottom end was significantly better with the Dynamo 1000 subwoofer added in with the Motion 12s and would be mandatory for those using the 4s as main speakers.

Comparison and Competition
Compare MartinLogan's Motion speaker system against its competition by reading our other reviews, including the
Paradigm Signature Reference S1 loudspeaker review and the Orb Audio Mod4 home theater system review.  Also, see how the Motion speakers stack up against other MartinLogan products by reading the MartinLogan Descent i subwoofer review and the MartinLogan Purity Hybrid loudspeakers review.   You can learn more about MartinLogan by visiting our MartinLogan brand page.

The Downside
The Motion speakers are entirely four-Ohm resistance, so some smaller receivers may have trouble powering them. They offer only two angles for wall mounting, zero and 20 degrees off axis, and this could limit placement options, though with creative mounting I could see how one could easily expand this. The insert in the back of the MartinLogan Motion 2, 4, 6 and 8 are standardized as to accept many aftermarket mounting options.

The Motion speakers lacked the nth degree of separation and bass and will benefit from a subwoofer for true low-end extension. They seemed to open up more at higher volumes so those looking for low level listening might not get the most out of the speakers, while those
looking for a rocking system on a budget will love them.

With Motion systems starting at under $1,600 and going up to just a tad over $4,000 MartinLogan has opened up an entirely new market. Having a line of speakers that sound as good as these do, they are sure to sell a ton of them. These are solid performing speakers, designed to work with a receiver-based system or to be used with the bigger MartinLogan
systems allowing one to easily expand a two channel system into a full home theater on a budget. Their four-Ohm load could be problematic for some lower end receivers, but most these days will handle the lower impedance and offer owners increased power as a benefit.

I was impressed by just how comfortable these speakers were playing at high volumes, and in fact often sounded better at these levels. If you want a home theater and music system to rock on a budget, these are speakers to seriously check out. Their high efficiency and low
impedance help them maximize output from receivers, allowing one to have the volume and dynamics found in truly great home theaters and music systems at a budget price. For those with higher end MartinLogan speakers in a two channel or even multichannel rig, this new line offers smaller, more economical models that are timber matched to the rest of the line, allowing you to easily add surrounds, or additional surround speakers for an even more engaging experience at a reasonable cost.

Additional Resources

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