A full range floor-standing loudspeaker, the MartinLogan Motion 40 is both musical and revealing. Great for Jazz and Classical music, the Motion 40 loudspeaker can also rock hard when called upon.

With a small footprint and beautiful finish, the MartinLogan Motion 40 will be welcome in the finest of music and home theatre systems. The MartinLogan Motion 40 is a great sounding slim, sleek floor standing speaker from one of high end audio’s premier brands. The high frequencies are as good as it gets at this price due to the use of the folded motion tweeter. Bass response is very good for the small footprint, and the speaker has a big sound when called for. The MartinLogan Motion 40 offers a luxurious cabinet and superior sound for an attractive price.

MartinLogan Logo Below Speaker

Highlights

MartinLogan Motion 40 Floorstanding Speakers

  • Aluminum Cone Drivers
  • High Gloss Cabinet Finishes
  • Folded Motion Tweeter
  • High Sensitivity
  • Bi-Wire Terminals
  • Rear Port Design
Introduction

MartinLogan Motion 40 Side View

MartinLogan is an American speaker manufacturer that has since its inception been identified with the best products available on the market. I fondly remember the first time I heard one of MartinLogan’s seminal products, the CLS. It was during the flowering of the High End in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. I was attending the Las Vegas CES and I was visiting the Threshold suite. Nelson Pass was still at the helm of the company he made famous, and Threshold was debuting the legendary Stasis “E” series amps and pre-amps.

MARTINLOGAN FLOORSTANDING SPEAKERS REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
Frequency Response:

40–25,000 Hz ± 3 dB

High Frequency Driver:

1” x 1.4” (2.6cm x 3.6cm) Folded Motion Transducer with 5.25” x 1.75” (13.3cm x 4.4cm) diaphragm.

Mid Frequency Transducer:

5-1/2” (14cm) aluminum cone woofer in a non-resonant asymmetrical chamber format. Cast polymer basket.

Low Frequency Transducer:

Two 6-1/2” (16.5cm) aluminum cone woofers in a non-resonant asymmetrical chamber format.

Sensitivity:

92 dB @ 2.83 volts/meter

Impedance:

4 Ohms

Crossover Frequency:

500 & 2,600 Hz

Weight:

49 lbs. (22.2 kg)

Dimensions:

42.5” x 7.6” x 12.8” (107.9cm x 19.2cm x 32.6cm)

MartinLogan Motion 40 MSRP:

$1999.95 pair

Company:

MartinLogan

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MartinLogan, Floor Standing Loudspeaker Review, Tower Speakers, Speaker Reviews 2017

Nelson was proudly describing his active acoustic treatment for listening rooms with the MartinLogan CLS. The CLS was important in the development of loudspeakers in that it featured a curved electrostatic panel for full range music reproduction. I and the other folks in the room were stunned by the authority, bass, attack, and speed of the sound.

Known as a manufacturer of electrostatic speakers, the Motion 40 is a dynamic cone speaker system that features a Folded Motion tweeter. I was curious to see how much of the performance of the electrostatics the Motion 40 could offer. Because of cost, size, and décor a music lover may not consider an electrostatic speaker for home use. Could the Motion 40 be an attractive alternative?

Secrets Links

MartinLogan Impression ESL 11A Electrostatic Speakers

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Design

MartinLogan has designed the Motion 40 as a slim, small footprint tower speaker. The Motion 40 is a true three-way design with a dedicated tweeter, midrange, and dual woofer drivers. The cabinet is rear ported with the port located below the binding posts, close to the ground. The Motion 40 speaker cabinet works like a bass reflex design which helps make the output or efficiency of the speaker quite high at 92db @ 1m. Lower powered tube amp owners may find this speaker appealing as they should get decent output into medium sized rooms.

MartinLogan Motion 40 Woofers

The high tech mid-range and bass drivers are made of aluminum and feature a cast polymer basket. An advantage in using aluminum drivers is the increase in rigidity while reducing weight of the cone. This generally results in a clearer reproduction because the lighter cone can respond to the musical waveform more accurately while also maintaining rigidity to keep from distorting the signal. In addition, the Motion 40 uses dual 6.5” woofers to give full musical range response while maintaining a slim profile.

The smaller woofers will also give a cleaner bass because the smaller lighter woofer will respond in a quick fashion to the bass signal. I was curious to see how these speakers would sound on music. In the past, I found metal drives to sound hard and well, metallic.

MartinLogan Motion 40 Tweeters and Mids

The tweeter is a Folded Motion ribbon type. I first saw this kind of high frequency-driver on the Heil Air Motion speakers. This kind of ribbon will also respond more accurately to the highs than most cones or dome tweeters. The Folded Motion ribbon diaphragm is light and will produce airy highs from the musical program material. From experience, whenever I have heard speakers with ribbon tweeters I have been treated to sweet, detailed highs without hardness or harshness sometimes heard on other kinds of tweeters.

MartinLogan Motion 40 Terminals

MartinLogan Motion 40 and puppy

The Motion 40 cabinet comes with adjustable spikes to help decouple the cabinet from the floor. I recommend the spikes for absolute best sound, but the speaker also comes with soft dome feet for those homes where the floor is not carpeted. The Motion 40 has terminals for single or bi-wiring. Although the speaker will work fine with single wire, there are advantages sonically to bi-wiring and or bi-amping. Eliminating the common ground from the mid-range/tweeter driver and the bass drivers will deliver better sound by improving the amp to speaker electrical relationship, and avoiding any detrimental interface between the crossovers. Bi-amping will allow the listener to add an additional stereo amp or pair of mono block amps for better power reserve and improved dynamics.

Setup

I easily unboxed the Motion 40 speakers by myself. The speakers are not too large or heavy, in fact the speaker is a good size for my listening space. I would venture to guess the Motion 40 will easily slip into any room. My pair came in a gorgeous High Gloss Black Cherrywood. My wife took one look and said let’s get rid of the big, ugly Klipsch Cornwalls. “Not so fast”, said I. Looks are important, but sound is my number one criterion.

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My Klipsch are single wired so that is how I connected the Motion 40’s to the Rotel RB-1552MkII amp and Rotel RC-1590 pre-amp. The owner’s manual has excellent suggestions for setting up the Motion 40 speakers. I started by placing the speakers 25” away from the back wall and 6 feet apart. As I listened I adjusted the speakers slightly by moving them further out and towing the speakers inward slightly.

Right away the speakers sounded compelling. With some adjustments, the speakers disappeared sonically in the room. I noticed that the soundstage had good depth. Sounds seemed to come from around, behind and out beyond the edges of the speakers. The bass was extended and clean. Good bass extension from such a slim speaker.

Listening

Letter to Evan

David Benoit “Letter to Evan”

I began my critical listening with a David Benoit favorite of mine, Letter to Evan (GRD-9687 CD on GRP Records). Right away I heard the added sparkle of the Motion 40’s Folded Motion tweeter.

The highs were airy and delicate. David Benoit’s piano had good attack, and the high notes had a shimmering quality. The snap of the drum and cymbals was precise. There seemed to be good integration between the bass, mid, and high frequency drivers. In terms of perspective the Motion 40’s was not forward sounding. They were slightly laid back in their presentation. Overall the speaker had a clean sounding quality.

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On this music, which I am very familiar with, the speaker had a tonal balance that favored the highs. This must be the result of having such a fine tweeter, and the fact that the Motion 40 has two 6” woofers. I like a fuller sound, but it is likely that this speaker will be mated with a good subwoofer since it should find a home in a very good surround or music system. I will say that the bass response of the Motion 40 by itself is very good considering the size of the drivers and small foot print.

Holst’s The Planets

Holst “The Planets”

I next turned to Andre Previn and The Royal Philharmonic’s recording of Holst’s The Planets (Telarc CD-80133). On Mars, the Bringer of War the Motion 40’s preserved most of the scale and dynamics on this disc. For a slim, moderately sized floor stander it did quite well. Hearing this music on larger speakers, I know how much of the sound and scale the recording engineers put on this disc.

The musical lines, and the sections of the orchestra were well defined. Larger more costly speakers may get you more dynamic scale at the loud and soft end of the musical spectrum. At my normal listening levels though, the Motion 40 was revealing and very enjoyable to listen to. The perspective given on this recording is mid-hall. The sound of hall itself, Watford Town Hall in London, is nicely preserved by the Motion 40’s. Overall I would say that the Motion 40’s had cool, neutral sound on this recording.

American Tunes

Allen Toussaint “American Tunes”

Turning to LP I decided on Allen Toussaint’s American Tunes record (Nonesuch 554656-1 LP) On the track Waltz for Debbie, the piano is warm and full sounding, tonality is wonderful. The kick on the drum is visceral. The perspective is close-up and intimate, just like it would be if you were in a Jazz Club in New Orleans.

Sound is fabulous. On the track Big Chief, I can hear the deft finger work of Allen Toussaint so clearly that it is easy to visualize him playing in the room. The highs were good, but what impressed me was the quality of the lower notes from Toussaint’s piano. My wife heard the music from the kitchen and exclaimed “What is that, the sound is beautiful!” I must concur.

The sound was so compelling that I kept listening by going to side C, my favorite of this album. On Rosetta, the fine drum work is striking because the tone of the sticks as they hit drum skin and metal is so realistically done. The bass is great too, the strings vibrate and you can hear the wood of the instrument resonate. The vocals on Come Sunday are vivid as the Motion 40’s capture the sounds coming from the vocalist’s mouth as well as her head resonance tones. Allen Toussaint’s solo on Southern Nights simply reminds the listener that Toussaint is a national treasure. Simply magnificent performance from the artists and the Motion 40’s on this record.

Growing Up in Hollywood Town

Lincoln Mayorga and Amanda McBroom “Growing Up in Hollywood Town”

Excited to see if another LP could be as amazing as the Toussaint record I dug out an old audiophile favorite, Lincoln Mayorga and Amanda McBroom on Sheffield Lab’s direct to disc recording Growing up in Hollywood Town (Sheffield Lab 43 LP). This LP showed how fast and detailed the Motion 40’s can be.

The spectacular sound of this recording can be a challenge for any system, and the Motion 40’s did an admirable job. On the big dynamic crescendos, the system gracefully gave up, while maintaining a clear and punchy sound throughout.

Conclusions

THE MARTINLOGAN MOTION 40 FLOORSTANDING SPEAKER is a luxury product for a modest price having a strong musical voice to go with a beautiful, well-made cabinet.

Likes
  • Stylish Cabinet
  • Clear Sound
  • Good Bass
  • Nice Speaker Terminals
Would Like To See
  • N/A

Based on the listening I did with the MartinLogan Motion 40’s I would say that they are definitely analog ready! I did not enjoy they digital recordings as much as the vinyl, but could it be that the Motion 40’s revealed the short-comings of my digital playback components? Perhaps the Martin Logan’s revealed the short-comings of the digital recordings? I will say that the Motion 40 speakers are capable of being used with superior components. The Martin Logan’s will reward the listener when care is paid to matching the components of the system.

Consider that the MartinLogan Motion 40 is in a competitive price point. I know that there are many, very good speakers in the $2000.00 a pair range. However, the MartinLogan Motion 40 speakers offer superb construction and cabinetry for the price. In addition, the MartinLogan’s have superior drivers and technology. The result is a speaker that belongs on a short list for prospective buyers. Give them a look and a listen, you might just get hooked.

  • Jim Milton

    Beautiful looking speakers, but do they come with grills?

  • geoffrey vanhouwaert

    Lovely speakers. On my shortlist. How far did you have to pull them back from the back wall eventually? And yes they come with very nice grills.

  • Jon

    Great review, I would be interested to see how these stack up against the Revel F36. They are at a similar price point and the Revel’s are receiving great reviews as well.

  • Francisco Licon

    Hello, thanks for asking, I settled on 24″ from the back wall. Although I experimented with pulling them out further, from my listening position I felt that the drivers blended best at this distance. The tonal balance was best at this distance too. And yes they do come with very nice grills, but being a techie nut I sure do like looking at those drivers. Best of luck in your audio quest, and happy listening!

  • Francisco Licon

    Thanks! I have not heard the Revel F36, but I think the Motion 40’s are definitely worth a listen. I have found that really good speakers are more similar or alike in overall performance. Speakers are such a personal choice, you really have to trust your ears.Have fun in your audio journey!

  • Francisco Licon

    Yes, they have very nice grills Jim. I get so fascinated by looking at the drivers though. I just think it’s cool that all this lovely sound comes out of something man-made.

  • geoffrey vanhouwaert

    Thank you for your answer!

    2017-06-29 0:37 GMT+02:00 Disqus :

  • John Meyer

    Thanks! Totally agree with your review. I’m an enthusiastic fan of Heil-type AMT tweeters. You could purchase Goldenear Triton series speakers with their High-Velocity Folded Ribbons or the rarer Aurum Cantus speakers with their ribbon tweeters, but what I’ve seen/heard you can’t beat the price/performance of the MartinLogan Motion speakers. In comparison, I’ve read the ML Motion’s larger 60XT speakers may produce more bass, but their AMT vertical sound dispersion is more limited than the 40’s AMT. Did you experience any “out of the sweet spot” tweeter problems with the Motion 40 speakers during your review?

  • Frank Fraterrigo Jr

    Um, my apologies for mentioning something un-audiophile related and being persnickety, but at the finish of your review I believe you meant “prospective” buyers, as opposed to “perspective”. Perhaps the editor deserves a little kick in the butt. My thanks for such a nicely revealing review on a pair of speakers I’ve been considering for a while. Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July! God bless America!

  • MC2

    If you’re going to critique the grammar here, you’re going to be busy. That was just one of many such errors.

  • Francisco Licon

    Hello, thanks for your comments. I did not notice an “out of the sweet spot” tweeter problem with the Motion 40’s. What I noticed is that the Motion 40’s have good dispersion into the room. If you position them well in the room the “sweet spot” is about as wide as I have heard and even if you are well to the side of the speaker (or standing), there is little if any loss of high frequency information. Audiophiles will still want to sit between the speakers for best soundstage and overall balance, but the fine performance of the Motion 40 speakers can be enjoyed anywhere in the room. Thanks again and Happy Listening!