MartinLogan Motion 60XT Tower Speaker Review Highlights
MartinLogan is one of the best-known, and longest running electrostatic loudspeaker (ESL) manufactures in the world. And while ESL’s are still the company’s specialty, they have been manufacturing conventional “box” speakers since 2003. MartinLogan has sent me the new Motion 60XT, poised at the top of their non-ESL lineup. Featuring a huge Air Motion Transformer tweeter paired with dual 8” bass drivers and a 6.5” midrange.
MartinLogan Motion 60XT Tower Speaker Highlights Summary
- Strong bass response from the dual woofers
- Excellent imaging and soundstage
- Elegant finishing complements the huge size
- Engaging and exciting sound reproduction
- Designed to match all the other Motion XT speakers.
Introduction to the MartinLogan Motion 60XT Tower Speaker Review
All speaker types work on the same principals to convert electrical energy into mechanical movement, thereby compressing the air to create sound pressure waves. However there are many ways to accomplish this, with each method having inherent strengths and weaknesses. After living with the MartinLogan Vista electrostatics glorious open spacious midrange and smooth top end for the past 5 years, I have also been exposed to some deficiencies common to all large panel type speakers. Bass reproduction difficulties and an ultra-narrow sweet spot are the two most common challenges with using electrostatics.
MARTINLOGAN MOTION 60XT TOWER SPEAKER REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: Floor-standing (Tower), Ported
- Drivers: One 1.25″ x 2.4″ Folded Motion Ribbon Tweeter, One 6.5″ Aluminum Cone Midrange, Two 8″ Aluminum Cone Woofers
- Frequency Response: 35–25,000 Hz ± 3 dB
- Dispersion: 80° x 30°
- Sensitivity: 94 dB @ 2.83 Volts/Meter
- Impedance: 4 Ohms
- Crossover Frequency: 400 Hz, 2.2 kHz
- Recommended Amp Power: 20–400 Watts
- Weight: 66 Pounds/each
- Dimensions: 48” H x 11.4” W x 14.4” D
- MSR Price: $2,995.95/pair USD ($3299.95 CDN) + $200 for Black Cherrywood Finish
- SECRETS Tags: MartinLogan, MartinLogan Motion 60XT Tower Speaker, Tower Speakers, 60XT, Secrets 2015 Speaker Reviews
Design of the MartinLogan Motion 60XT Tower Speaker
Still designed in the MartinLogan US offices, manufacturing is done off-shore with their long-term partner facility in southern China. This 4 four foot tall elegant tower is finished in either piano-black, or high-gloss black cherry wood (+ $200). It is a dual rear-ported design with two 8” bass drivers and a single 6.5” midrange driver. The tweeter is a large 2.4” tall 1.25” wide air motion transformer. This is the tallest AMT used in the motion line, which does restrict vertical dispersion but also increases power handling and frequency response.
An Air Motion Tweeter is unique in that it is not a dome and not a ribbon. It works by squeezing the air between folded ridges, similar to an accordion. The tweeter’s outside measurements are 1.35” x 2.4”, but the actual diaphragm is 2.75” x 4.5”. The benefits of a larger diaphragm are reduced excursion, distortion and a lower frequency response. A variant of this tweeter has been used in every Motion speaker since 2010.
The version found in the 60XT is larger all other models, (save for the 35XT which uses the exact same tweeter), 1” taller and 0.25” wider This allows the crossover point to be 400Hz lower than the next model. This larger size does however restrict the vertical dispersion to 30 degrees (compared to 80 degrees for the other models). This will affect the high frequency response when seated off the vertical axis (i.e. sitting too low).
The 60XT uses a 6.5” aluminium cone with rigid dust cap in a sealed chamber to produce the midrange and is crossed over to the bass drivers at 400 Hz. From there on down dual 8” aluminum cone drivers with rigid dust caps and cast baskets mounted in a ported chamber handle the bass. All drivers are mounted from inside the box, this leaves a clean appearance under the removable metal grille.
The MartinLogan Motion 60XT Tower Speaker In Use
For this review I used the MartinLogan Motion 60XT tower speakers in my blended 2ch/HT system. For 2ch playback I employed a Bryston BP17 Preamp, and a low power music server running Daphile (www.daphile.com) as my source. The home theater system used a Marantz AV7005 processor and an HTPC running Windows 7 for multichannel music and movies. Power for both came from a Parasound NewClassic v.2 power amp (385watts per ch. @ 4 ohms).
The rest of the home theater system included a Totem Model 1 signature center, Totem Lynx surround speakers, two MartinLogan Depth i subwoofers and one Velodyne in-ceiling subwoofer. The system was in a large open room, roughly 14 feet wide by 30 feet long. The speakers were played both full range and with my subwoofer system engaged to get a good feel for what the speakers were capable of. The subwoofer system handles 60Hz and lower, and is equalized to create flat even bass from 10-60Hz over multiple listening positions.
For comparisons I used my MartinLogan Vista Electrostatic speakers, a pair of Totem Model 1 signature bookshelves and I recently had on hand a pair of Bryston Mini T’s. I would often switch my speakers around as each pair have their own sonic signature. With the Electrostatics having a very focused sound stage and warm midrange, and the Model Ones having a wide dispersion and great dynamic range.
Another area that both the Mini T’s and my Model 1’s excel at is creating a wide spacious sweet spot, partly due to the excellent off-axis frequency responses of both speakers. Both of those are designed that way, and the Vista (like most electrostatics) has poor off axis response which results in less room interactions and a tighter sweet spot. The “Head in a Vise” sweet spot is my biggest issues with electrostatic speakers. But once you’re in that spot it is incredible and the imaging is virtually unmatched.
I found the Motion 60XTs had a wider sweet spot, on the horizontal plane, but vertically they were still tight due to their tall height and tight vertical dispersion. Sitting just slightly lower than the tweeter provided the smoothest sound, and sitting too low caused the sound to roll off too much.
For music playback I started with some 2ch SACD rips played through my Daphile music server. I particularly like to test with an excellent yet slightly aggressive recording, Pixies Doolittle on SACD by Mobile Fidelity. This recording can be brutally honest and it is easily unplayable on the wrong system. The top-end of this recording sounded sublime with my Model 1’s, yet slightly forward with my Vistas.
I found the recently reviewed Mini T’s to provide the best overall presentation with a strong midbass and smooth top end, however the Motion 60XT’s under review exhibited too much glare and made the recording too bright. However the midbass and lower bass were excellent, and overall the speakers were able to reach louder volume levels without audible compression.
On to a cleaner more balanced recording, Annie and The Beekeepers In The water available online at www.mastersfromtheirday.com, a 24bit recording with minimal compression or post processing. This song, due to its raw nature and incredible dynamics, can really stress a system. With my MartinLogan Vistas, there can be compression at high volumes. Once you hear the dynamics being squashed it is easy to recognize, yet I found no limit with the Motion 60XTs.
If you have ever heard a live banjo up close you understand just how dynamic it can be and the 60XT’s had no issue. In fact they were on par with what I heard from the Bryston Mini T’s in terms of power handling and output. There was still a slightly hard edge to the guitar solo which is not present with my Model Ones or the Mini T’s.
This edge seemed to be present on most songs I played back, and after running some basic in room measurements I could see why. The following graph was created by the free (and excellent) Room Eq. Wizard and my Behringer ECM8000 mic placed 1 meter from the tweeter. In the absence of an anechoic chamber I used a gated measurement technique to reduce the room interactions. Accurate bass measurements are near impossible as the room will always influence the low frequency response. There was a rise in frequency response over 10 kHz, indicative of the hot forward sound I heard.
Switching the speakers into my Home Theater system I first ran some basic listening tests with no auto EQ engaged and no subwoofers. Using the same music selections as before I could still detect the hot top end. Engaging my subwoofers and crossing the speakers over at 60Hz improved the balance over all, and without direct comparisons to my Totem Model 1’s the sound would have been more than acceptable.
However once I compared the 60XTs, the Ones flat and smooth top end combined with excellent horizontal and vertical dispersion made the 60XTs sound slightly forward/aggressive. I then ran the Audyssey auto eq. in the Marantz Processor (and left the Dynamic Volume off). The presentation certainly smoothed out (with and without the subwoofers). I ran it with the auto eq. Enabled for the remainder of the review and found the speakers to be much more enjoyable.
For multichannel music I used a wide variety of music, with the standout being the BluRay Audio disc from Primus, Sailing the Seas of Cheese. This three piece band lead by the excellent bass player, Les Claypool, combines incredibly detailed drum work with unequalled bass guitar. I played track 6, titled Eleven, with Herbs huge drum-kit tracking from the far corners of the stage, and with the Motion 60XTs you can clearly hear the attack and snap of the skins. When Les slap-bass came in the tonal balance was clean end excellent.
Next I put on the SACD version of Tom Waits 1985 masterpiece, Rain Dogs. I have used this recording in its original CD format since my first review over 12 years ago and when I had the chance to grab the limited edition Japanese SHM SACD I jumped on it. Specifically I used Walking Spanish as the saxamaphone is presented just behind other performers and when done right you can track its movement’s through the stage.
The 60XTs had no issues recreating the depth of this track. The stand up bass had excellent definition through the Motion 60XTs and Toms voices came through in all its smoky glory. When the band took over near the end and the brass kicks it up there was a slight forward presentation on some notes, but otherwise the timing and pace was excellent.
Conclusions about the MartinLogan Motion 60XT Tower Speaker
Overall I enjoyed the MartinLogan Motion 60XTs despite some quirks. The strengths included great imaging, excellent bass and midbass presentation. I found them a tad forward in the high frequencies for my tastes and a smaller sweet spot than other similar designs. The speakers would do very well in a home theater setup, as they have great dynamic range and integrate well with subwoofers. Their sheer size precludes them from working in small room, and people of shorter stature (such as myself) require more careful placement. All and all they are a well-built, elegant speaker worthy of audition.