Martinlogan Dynamo 1100X Subwoofer Review Page 2

Unlike a typical subwoofer where you have to make adjustments by leaning over and twiddling knobs on the rear panel, the Subwoofer Control app lets you make adjustments from the listening position. This simplifies the setting of crossover point and phase—you evaluate small changes as you make them to hone in on the optimal settings. A subwoofer may be a set-and- forget part of your system, but in this case app control makes the “set” part of the process so much easier.

Tuning Up
I set the Dynamo 1100X up in the front left corner of my room, which is where most fully adjustable subs tend to perform their best. To take advantage of its dual inputs, I connected the LFE output of a Denon AVR-X8500H receiver to the RCA LFE input, and the front left and right preamp outputs to the stereo line-level input. I normally run my PSB Synchrony One speakers in full-range mode anyway, so with this setting I was able to optimize the subwoofer's crossover for music playback.


When I reviewed MartinLogan's Motion 60XT speakers with the Dynamo 1500X subwoofer three years ago, the sub used a room EQ system called Perfect Bass Kit (PBK) that at the time was kind of clunky and had a pretty steep learning curve. MartinLogan must have noted both my concerns and the concerns of their customers, because the whole process has now become an object lesson in simplicity.

While the subwoofer itself is controlled using the Martin- Logan Subwoofer Control App, the room correction functions require a separate iOS/Android app called ARC Mobile. This generates a series of low frequency sweeps that you measure from various positions in the room. Correction filters are then generated by the app and uploaded to the subwoofer via a Bluetooth connection to automatically fine-tune frequency response. While all that might sound a bit convoluted, I found the app to be very intuitive and easy to use. In its standard form, ARC Mobile uses the built-in microphone on your iOS or Android device. To take things to the next level, you can add an optional external microphone, or even go with the full PBK which has its own calibrated microphone and software for making corrections. I used basic ARC Mobile with my phone's built-in microphone and found it did a great job of flattening out the 65Hz peak that I often end up with in my listening room.

One of my favorite music tracks for testing subs is “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” by Béla Fleck and The Flecktones. Bassist Victor Wooten's solo, played on a five-string fretless Fodera bass, has him moving up and down the scale and reaching incredibly deep notes. Any discontinuity between your main speakers and the subwoofer is instantly heard, and only a tight, fast sub can sound tuneful as Wooten plumbs the bottom end of his instrument. Streaming the track on Qobuz, the 1100X had plenty of power to shake the floor, yet there was no hint of a one-note quality or overhang. Even though I was using the Subwoofer Control app's supposedly lower-impact but more tuneful Music setting, the 1100X was able to move plenty of air and cause my listening chair to thrum and vibrate along with the bass. There is one additional Subwoofer Control app adjustment I didn't mention—a Deep Bass level setting that allows you to boost or cut the very bottom half-octave from 20Hz to 30Hz by up to 10 decibels. I found that by carefully tweaking this setting I was able to dial in a perfect amount of heft to the sound without introducing boominess or bloat.


Of course, subwoofers and action movies go hand in hand, so I next switched to the Movie setting and loaded up Lone Survivor. A scene from the movie where the Taliban shoots down a Chinook rescue helicopter provides an exhaustive workout for any subwoofer, with plenty of gunfire and rocket grenades punctuating the pulsing thump of the helicopter's rotor blades. In my moderately sized 17 x 14-foot home theater, the 1100X showed no signs of stress,
even when I cranked the level up to well past what I normally consider comfortable. In fact, the sub's clean impact and dynamic wallop made me want to turn the volume up even more.

When doing initial research for this review, I was surprised to learn that subwoofers have become MartinLogan's best- selling product. I've always thought of MartinLogan as the electrostatic speaker company, but with a subwoofer as great-sounding and flexible as the Dynamo 1100X, it's no wonder that subs have become a key part of their business. This latest generation of Dynamos will surely consolidate that success, and with the company's app-based remote control and Anthem Room Correction, you won't need a youngest-child helper to turn the knobs.

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GG's picture

The sub measurements were a great way to get a general picture of bass extension for a particular product. Please bring them back.

kevon27's picture

Please stop reviewing speakers and audio gear without details measurements.