Martin Logan make the fabulous (and massive) Neolith electrostatic loudspeaker and it is electrostatics they are best known for, but they also produce a wide range of smaller and more accessible loudspeakers and here Dan Worth takes a listen to the company’s £899 Motion 15 standmounter.
When I was offered a pair of Martin Logan speakers for review I thought great! Now I need to just assemble a team of lumps to help me get them up the stairs to my place. So when I actually realised that I was to receive a pair from their Motion range I knew my back was not going to be in harms way.
The set of Motion 15s I received had already done their rounds and were subsequently ready for the review process, so I can’t convey any burning in period.
A folded ‘Motion’ ribbon tweeter looks great adorning the upper section of the 15’s front baffle and the 5.25″ aluminium mid/bass driver with its bullet dust cap/phase plug compliments a very sleek and pleasing on the eye design. Binding posts are of the wing nut variety making connection using spades or bare wire an easy affair allowing for great clamping and grip of the speaker cable ends, 4mm plugs are also accepted.
The Motion 15 are of a diminutive size, just about sitting on my stand’s top plate fully. Measuring 173 x 290 x 242mm and weighing in at 5.4kg each their 92db sensitivity is rated at 5ohms but ML state that they are fully compatible with 4ohm and 8ohm amplifiers rated between 20-200wpc.
The 15s are rear ported for extended bass response which can of course be a hindrance sometimes regarding placement. I didn’t feel as if they really suffered from being close to the front wall and moving them about a bit didn’t really affect the overall performance much, apart from having them right up against the wall of course which is great as smaller speakers will often be used in all sorts of situations from bookshelves to desks to stands.
The first track up on my playlist was Fink’s ‘Sort Of Revolution’ – Live version. Slightly after the short intro there is a periodic snare drum, which Dom and I argue about sometimes, he states that the drums dynamic intensity and weight should often be greater than he hears it in my system but I disagree and state that as I have solid walls and floors and his are plasterboard and floorboards that he is hearing a greater heft around this frequency which perceivably adds to the weight of the snare.
The Motion 15s are a small standmounts and therefore will not produce all the bass of a larger speaker, although my room by its very nature gives a tighter bass response I found the MLs to produce a nice rich bass note – the amount of bass they produce and the way they extend was admirable. Yes the crispness of the snare wasn’t as apparent as say the ATC SCM7s or 11s, but the bass weight, detail and flow of the smoother response was more pleasing to my ears with acoustical music and vocals.
Next up was Loreena Mckennit’s ‘The Mask and the Mirror’ album which has a vocal that allows you to sink into your seat and be washed over with pure emotion. The combination of the wonderfully controlled and smooth Motion ribbon with the aluminium mid/bass driver gave a fully intense and natural vocal which has nice inflections and harmonics with great situational awareness.
I didn’t expect Pop or Dance music to be a correct match for these speakers after my initial listening tests and I was right. Bass comes over really quite thin and the speakers become mid to top dominant and this leads to a forwardness. In their favour though, what I was hearing wasn’t ever hard, bright or grainy and it did show that the ribbon has some good speed. The Motion 15s excel so well with natural instruments and vocals that anything heavily manufactured or synthesized just fails to impress. You could simply state that these are voiced for ‘real music’.
I spent a few hours with the likes of Chris Jones, Fink, Derrin Nuendorf, Sean Lakeman, Damien Rice and Ben Harper. Each male vocalist was greeted with a fleshed out lower midrange response that gave the impression that the sound could have been coming from a larger cabinet, although when AB-ing with larger speakers revealed that there was more to be had, it took this process to remind the mind.
I was, in my system, happy with soundstage height and front to back staging from the little Logan’s allowing for nice amounts of reverb, conveying spatial awareness and, dependant on recording, I heard many details outside of the speakers boarders across the front of the soundstage.
The combination of all of these areas gives a wonderfully cohesive and involving presentation, a balance which honestly reflects cabinet size yet reaches into the room and grabs the listener’s heart at any volume.
I wouldn’t conclude the Martin Logan Motion 15 speakers to be lively and subsequently not a punchy little speaker, but what they do offer is a strong and vibrant well staged sound, with crisp and controlled treble married to a strong stable midrange – for their price and size they do a remarkable job and have a sheer enthusiasm for instruments and vocals rather than punchier electronica.
They won’t ever get caught in a speed trap, but the top-end has great pace and the bottom-end doesn’t lag behind or ever seem slow, balancing nicely for a more natural presentation.
Overall characterisation is slightly smooth, un-offensive and particularly pleasing in a smaller sized room. The design and finish is great and the included grills protect the delicate ribbon from little hands and is also non-offensive or detrimental to the sound.
Build Quality: 9/10
Sound Quality: 8.7/10
Value For Money: 8.7/10
Price at time of review – £899
Great controlled top end
Strong rich vocals
Very natural balanced presentation
Lack a bit of punch
Character doesn’t compliment energetic music