TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 31, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $5,600 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: CLS Xstat electrostatic transducer • Folded Motion XT tweeter • Dipolar panels

I hate MartinLogan.

That’s right. I hate MartinLogan with a passion that borders on the obsessive. And there’s more to it than the fact that the company’s headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas, are just a hop, skip, and a third-and-long TD pass away from KU. (As a graduate of Mizzou, I say, “Pluck the Jayhawks.”) What gets me is that every time I see those tall, translucent, slightly curved, hard-to-believe-they-actually-work panels that are the hallmark of a MartinLogan electrostatic speaker, I want a pair.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 17, 2012 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $950 At a Glance: Folded Motion tweeter • Custom five-way biwire/biamp binding posts • Aluminum cone drivers

For the first 20 years or so, MartinLogan was just a geeky, tweaky speaker company that made electrostatic speakers—that’s just as in Stephen Hawking is just a physicist—with a few very serious (and very hexagonal) subwoofers in the lineup to take over the job of reproducing the lowest bass frequencies that even the best electrostatic panels simply don’t have the wherewithal to generate on their own. During that time, admission to the MartinLogan electrostatic club was never cheap. That, as you can imagine, put the dynamic, open, and airy sound that is a signature aspect of an electrostatic speaker out of reach for lots of people.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 12, 2013 7 comments

MartinLogan Motion 40 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 

Dynamo 1000 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $4,550 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Folded Motion tweeters • Dual 6.5-inch aluminum cone woofers • Custom five-way bi-wire tool-less binding posts

A couple of years ago, I took a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vermont. Whilst there, I heard the tour guide refer to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as super-premium. I was intrigued because: 1) I’m thinking about using it as a nickname for myself; 2) I’d never heard the term used in reference to ice cream before; and 3) I wondered if there were additional levels of premium-ness. (Ultra-super premium? Super-duper premium? Maximum-ultra-super-duper premium?) I was disappointed to discover that, although the FDA sets standards for the use of nutrient descriptors. Less air and more butter fat promotes higher premium-ness—all the way up, I assume, to the heart-valve-clogging, airless, 100-percent pure, frozen-block-of-butter-fat variety.

In the case of loudspeakers, it’s the opposite. More air and less fat—no one likes tubby bass—results in super-smooth, premium sound.

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Michael Trei Posted: Oct 22, 2015 7 comments

Motion 60XT Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Dynamo 1500X Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $6,695 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, punchy sound
Excellent sonic match among speakers
Fine upper-octave detail
Minus
Clunky interface for Perfect Bass Kit
Marketing not withstanding, they can’t image like ML’s dipole speakers

THE VERDICT
While they don’t have much in common with MartinLogan’s electrostatic offerings, the Motion XT speakers let you keep a foot in both the music and home theater camps with little compromise.

Coming up with a good slogan for your company can be tricky. You want something that tells people what you do, but you don’t want it to tie your hands as the company evolves. For years, Burger King ran commercials using the catchphrase “Have It Your Way,” but they had to drop it when they wanted to reduce the bottlenecks being caused at restaurant counters by custom orders. Now they’re back to being the “Home of the Whopper.” Of course, you could simply ignore the historical inaccuracy of your catchphrase, as the H.J. Heinz Company has done; after all, they probably have 5,700 varieties today, not just 57.

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Jerry Kindela Posted: Dec 27, 2000 Published: Dec 28, 2000 0 comments
The MartinLogan hybrid electrostatic speaker system delivers a distinctive aural panorama that throws you into the movies.

A core tenet of stellar home theater reproduction calls for a system's ability to re-create infrasonic bass—the kind that drops so low that you no longer hear it, but you can feel it throughout the length of your alimentary canal. The kind of bass that threatens to shatter your gallstones. Of course, getting this kind of gut-whomping bass is relatively easy today, depending on your room's resonance nodes and the amount of greenbacks you can muster for the purchase of a foundation-rattling subwoofer.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
They're cool—really cool!

MB Quart's new Vera Series speakers have redefined cool. They're cool-sounding, for sure, but I also mean cool, as in low-temperature cool. Heat, you see, is the enemy of good sound. When you're rocking with Aerosmith's ballistic blues bash Honkin' on Bobo or crankin' Master and Commander, your speakers' voice-coil temperatures shoot up. In extreme cases, they can heat up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The excessive temperature does bad, bad things; it can raise the voice coils' resistance by as much as 25 percent. Distortion creeps up, dynamics flatten out, and transient response goes to hell. Worse yet, sustained overheating can lead to driver meltdown. Ouch!

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 10, 2007 0 comments
Back when surround sound meant Dolby Pro-Logic, most informed enthusiasts preferred dipole or bipole surround speakers. Since Pro-Logic was an analog matrix system that derived four channels from two, resulting in a monophonic surround channel, the idea was to create as diffuse a surround sound field as possible to avoid "localizing" the position of the speakers and to prevent the creation of a "phantom" center channel for those sitting midway between the surrounds.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 10, 2007 0 comments
Back when surround sound meant Dolby Pro-Logic, most informed enthusiasts preferred dipole or bipole surround speakers. Since Pro-Logic was an analog matrix system that derived four channels from two, resulting in a monophonic surround channel, the idea was to create as diffuse a surround sound field as possible to avoid "localizing" the position of the speakers and to prevent the creation of a "phantom" center channel for those sitting midway between the surrounds.
Chris Lewis Posted: May 01, 2005 Published: May 17, 2005 0 comments
Turn on, tune in, strap down. I was standing in an area of last year's Home Entertainment Show in New York that had no demonstration rooms anywhere nearby. It started with a boom and a rumble, like the gathering of a distant but powerful storm. It wasn't enough to shake me yet, but it was enough to grab my attention. Then came another boom, another rumble, and enough curiosity that I felt compelled to find a tactful way out of my conversation and make my way toward this growing intensity. Not only could I feel the floor moving under my feet as I got closer, but I even started to believe I was seeing Sheetrock flakes on the floor, steadily gathering into a distinct trail. Soon enough, the rattling of the walls, the low-frequency energy waves hammering my senses, and the shaken but excited looks of people coming the other way told me I had arrived. MiCon Audio, the door announced. Curious, I thought—or tried to think, before another sortie ripped out from inside—and a belief that the door might literally be blown off its hinges began to monopolize my thoughts. Finally, the door opened, and the answer to all of the riddles awaited me inside—but, for that, you'll have to read on.
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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Jan 01, 2003 Published: Jan 02, 2003 0 comments
M&K's latest delicacy brings out the sweetness in a film soundtrack.

Am I the only one who finds it strange that the maple tree and maple syrup are two very different colors? I bet I am. Ketchup and tomatoes are the same color, and most jellies and jams are the same color as the fruit they're made from. Mustard looks like…the mustard plant? OK, forget that last one.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 15, 2007 Published: Oct 15, 2007 0 comments
Surround that stretches for miles.

Although they're now owned by Klipsch, Mirage continues to follow their own ears. The Toronto-based company's name derives from a key design goal—to make speakers so immersive that the listener forgets the product is in the room. In addition to a goal, Mirage also has a method: to favor more omnidirectional sound over direct sound using an unusual reflector assembly built into the top of the speaker, creating a spacious feeling that is the company's sonic signature.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 10, 2007 0 comments

Omnidirectional speakers have an uneven history in the audio marketplace. They've always been few in number, but persist because a few designers believe in their unique capabilities. Whether or not you accept the validity of their theory of operation, they do offer a perspective on reproduced sound different than that provided by conventional, forward-radiating designs. Among other things, they almost invariably sound bigger and more spacious than their physical size suggests. For more on the background of omni speakers, go <A HREF=" http://www.ultimateavmag.com/images/newsletter/206uav.html ">here</A>.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 08, 2004 0 comments

Until the introduction of the Mirage M-1 a decade or so ago, all audiophiles knew what dipolar radiation meant. It was an inherent characteristic of flat, planar, enclosure-free speakers in which the rear radiation was 180&#176; out of phase with the front, producing a null at the sides. This null made the spacing from the sidewalls less critical. Beyond this, open-baffle dipole designs attracted a strong following for their unique spatial characteristics and a sound free of cabinet colorations.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 15, 2006 0 comments
Sometimes it's better to be indirect.

Mirage has been, ahem, reflecting on the influence of room acoustics for nearly two decades. In the process, this distinguished Canadian speaker maker has birthed some unorthodox designs. The common thread running through all of them is a determination to make room reflections work for loudspeakers rather than against them. That determination bears fruit in the second-generation Omnisat series.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 03, 2007 Published: Aug 03, 2007 1 comments
Melodious metal.

Monitor Audio has the metal thing down. I remember thinking that after my first encounter with a pair of Monitor Studio speakers in the mid-1980s. In those days, metal drivers had a reputation for adding an annoying metallic zing to the sound, but the Monitors were as sweet as could be. Over the years, Monitor continued to hone the technology; even now, when there are a lot of great-sounding speakers with metal drivers, to my ear, nobody does it better. Monitor's current product range includes a healthy selection of custom-install models and the heavy-metal contenders, which run from the entry-level Bronze, the Silver, the Gold, and up to the flagship Platinum speaker lines.

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