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MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 Soundbar Review

MartinLogan is a company known for state of the art electrostatic speaker designs.

Check out the MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESL X Floorstanding Speaker review.

Now the company has introduced a new speaker to compliment modern wall mounted TV’s without compromising sound quality. The MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 is a new slim wall mount ready speaker that will blend visually into the room. The Motion SLM X3 features high performance drivers as well as high efficiency to deliver the best possible sound for video enthusiasts. It is also a very reasonably priced speaker considering the superior performance on voices and music that I experienced.

Highlights

MartinLogan Motion SLM X3

  • Three Folded Motion Tweeters
  • Six Mid-range/Bass Drivers
  • Slim, High Gloss Non-Resonant Cabinet
  • Easy to Wall Mount Frame
  • High Efficiency Design
  • Audiophile Quality Crossover
Introduction

With the introduction of wall mounted flat TV screens, loudspeaker manufacturers have been challenged to provide speakers that blend into our modern decors. MartinLogan, a high-end loudspeaker manufacturer is offering a new Motion Series speaker, the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3, as a solution for the modern video enthusiast. The Motion Series speakers have proven to be benchmarks for performance, design and value in the audio marketplace.

Read our review on the MartinLogan Motion 40 Floorstanding Speakers

MARTINLOGAN SOUNDBAR REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
Frequency Response:

120-23,000 Hz +/- 3 dB

Sensitivity:

93 dB @ 2.83 volts/meter

Impedance:

4 Ohms. Compatible with 4,6 or 8 Ohm rated amplifiers

Crossover Frequency:

3,000 Hz (2-way design)

High Frequency Driver:

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

Low Frequency Drivers:

Six 4” paper cone.

Cabinet:

Sealed

Components:

Custom air core coil inductors. Polyester film capacitors in series and low DF electrolytic capacitors in parallel. Overall system thermal/current protection.

Recommended Amplifier Power:

20-140 watts

Binding Post Inputs:

Push style

Weight:

13 lbs. (5.9 kg)

Dimensions with wall bracket (HxWxD):

6.3” x 48” x 2” (16.2cm x 122cm x 9.8 cm)

Warranty:

5 years

MartinLogan MSRP:

$999.95

Company:

MartinLogan

SECRETS Tags:

MartinLogan, Surround Speakers, Home Theater, Motion, Motion SLM, Surround Speakers Reviews 2017

The MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 is a single 3-channel speaker that offers high tech sound design in a sleek, good looking cabinet that will fit neatly under a wall mounted Flat screen TV. If you dear reader have heard the sound coming from current flat screen TV’s you know that this is a very good thing.

My wife and I upgraded to our current flat screen TV a few years ago and we were delighted with the picture. What I soon experienced was that the sound was dismal compared to our previous set (one of the big DLP TV consoles). I enjoy movies and I think that 50% of the experience is the sound. The sound I hear from most new TV’s is so bad that sometimes it is hard to hear the voices. This is frustrating because the voices carry the story. The best solution is to add a good surround system. But what if you don’t have the floor space or budget for a surround system? In that case MartinLogan’s Motion SLM X3 may be the right choice for you.

MartinLogan’s Motion SLM X3 is a member of a new series of Motion loudspeakers. They are called the Ultra Slim Folded Motion Speakers because the three new models all incorporate the Folded Motion Transducer for reproduction of the high frequencies. The focus of this review is on the longest model, a 3-way (left, center, right channel) speaker.

Design

MartinLogan began as a no compromise ultra-high-end loudspeaker manufacturer that specialized in electrostatic designs. MartinLogan still makes great electrostatics, but they now offer more options for the audiophile in their Motion Series line. The Motion Series is a no compromise line that utilizes high tech cone materials and the famous Folded Motion Transducer (or tweeter) for reproduction of the high frequencies. The Motion SLM X3 and the new Ultra Slim Folded Speakers are built to the same standards as the rest of the Motion Series line.

The design goal for the MartinLogan SLM X3 was to produce a speaker that could blend into the décor by having the capability to be wall mounted under the TV. Size becomes very important because visually the speaker shouldn’t be deeper than the TV. MartinLogan opted for a design that was slim, but long. Long enough to appear like it is part of the design of most large screens.

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The emphasis on sound design of the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 was the mid-range and treble. Incorporating the Folded Motion Ribbon Transducer, the Motion SLM X3 offers some of the best treble performance available at any price. The Folded Motion Transducer is an “air motion transformer” tweeter. This type of transducer or driver can respond rapidly to the music sound wave form. This speed exhibited by the Folded Motion Transducer is sometimes called transient speed. The perfect tweeter would have little to no mass allowing it to have perfect transient speed. It would move effortlessly to reproduce any musical harmonic information. Folded tweeters have very low mass so that they can accurately reproduce the source material. The MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 uses 3 Folded Motion Transducers.

To complement the high frequencies, the MartinLogan Motion SLMX3 uses six specially treated paper cone mid-range drivers. The Motion SLM X3 is a 2-way design that functions as a left, right, and center speaker. If the owner wanted to add rear speakers, the system could then function as a true surround system. An excellent choice would be the new Ultra Slim Folded Motion Speakers in the Series.

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To reproduce the full frequency range the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 needs to be paired with a quality subwoofer. By design, the Motion SLM X3 covers the mid-range and high frequency sounds only. True, accurate bass is not possible in such a slim, compact speaker. MartinLogan did this by design because a true surround system needs to have a subwoofer. Of course MartinLogan offers a line of excellent subwoofers (the BalancedForce and Dynamo series subwoofers). I didn’t have a MartinLogan subwoofer on hand, but I did have good one available for this review.

Setup

When I received the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 I was not prepared for the size lengthwise of the speaker. In the box, it looks like a formidable speaker. Once I opened the box I of course saw how well packed the speaker is and even though it did appear smaller, the Motion SLMX3 is a long speaker. It is also rather tall if compared with most current soundbars. I decided to connect the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 to a Yamaha RX-A750 receiver for auditioning; a receiver would be the most likely amplifier used by the consumer. Plus, I wanted to see how the combo would perform.

The MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 has three pair of speaker terminals arranged in an arc behind the lower center of the speaker and are well marked by colored caps (black and red) to insure correct polarity in connecting the speaker wire. The connectors are a push spring type with a round opening towards the bottom that will easily accommodate 16 to 14-gauge speaker wire (potentially the most common cable to be used with this speaker). The speaker terminal bay is inset so that when the speaker is installed on the wall it will be as flush as possible. I found the speaker terminals easy to make connections even though the terminals are closely spaced to one another. Convenience and appearance clearly are the choices the MartinLogan designers took to accomplish their goals.

The MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 not only comes with an easy wall mount frame, but it has a provision for sitting on a shelf or mantle too. The Motion SLM X3 comes with two metal brackets that screw into the back of the speaker. The brackets have a short extending “foot”, or perhaps “toe” for supporting the Motion SLM X3 upright. Each support “foot” has a screw bolt for adjusting tilt on the speaker. Adjusting the tilt will help the speaker provide the best dispersion into the listening room.

Since I could use the MartinLogan SLM X3 on top of my audio shelf I used the bracket “feet” on the back of the speaker for placement. I left the tilt angled back since the speaker was well below my ear level as I sat on my sofa.

For the bass I had on hand the excellent Golden Ear Supersub X subwoofer. As with most good subs I could adjust the frequency to blend in with the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3. The low frequency spec for the Motion SLM X3 is 120Hz. I set it slightly above that to make sure I had a good blend. Finally, I did an auto calibration thru the Yamaha receiver and I was set to listen.

Listening

Harry Potter

My favorite movie of the Harry Potter series is the first, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I am particularly fond of the stirring music score by John Williams, and the movie is filled with special effects both visually and sonically. The movie has an innocent quality to it that I find appealing and the storytelling takes the viewer on a delightful journey.

As the film began I found that the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 preserved the mystery and magic of the music. I noted that the massed voices of the choir and the orchestra had a dynamic quality. A note, my volume was healthy but not overpoweringly loud (a comfortable level for relaxed viewing of this movie). So far, I noted much better extended highs than on most sound bars I have heard.

Bells and violins sounded clear and magnificent, no doubt a result of the superior high frequencies delivered by the Motion SLM X3’s Folded Motion Transducers! Most important for me while watching movies is the ability of the sound system to deliver the articulation of voices. Although modern movies have wonderful soundtracks and spectacular sounds, if for some reason I cannot hear the voices or follow the dialogue I cannot follow the story. Through the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3, voices were clear and distinct.

On the train to Hogwarts we meet Hermione Granger for the first time. Even though the voice is familiar, thru the SLM X3 I was reminded how talented the young cast was and is – Young Emma Watson’s superb diction and clever inflection is on display through the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3. What a treat!

In addition, the SLM X3 presented a wide soundstage, and good pin point imaging of voices and sound objects. I heard very a natural timbre reproduction of a young Daniel Ratcliff’s voice. When recreating the sounds of Diagon Alley, the MartinLogan SLM X3 beautifully created the noises and voices as the camera follows the action. Another environment that was well reproduced was the echo in the caverns of the Bank vault where the MartinLogan SLM X3 created a good sense of size and space. During the Quidditch game, the “swoosh” of the flying brooms were breathtaking as they flew across the screen left to right and top to bottom. Overall there was a clean, clear presentation to the sound.

Game of Thrones

On the opening of Game of Thrones Season 2, King Joffery is having a brutal celebration for his “Name Day”. During the fight scene between the Hound and his unfortunate competitor, the percussive whacks of the mace on the shields were awesome.

When the dead knight is dragged away the scraping of the armor on the cobblestone is vividly reproduced (as was the sound of the blood gurgling and oozing out of the dead knight). King Joffrey and Sansa Stark are on a pavilion atop the castle walls. Subtleties like the flapping of the drapes or the robes worn by the characters are well reproduced as are the call of the birds flying overhead. These are small details that on first watching viewers are not actively aware of, but that help create a believable environment and help create an emotional response in the audience.

Still, best are the reproductions of the voices. I love hearing the different English dialects that the characters have in the show. The actors also display masterly inflection when they deliver their lines. The MartinLogan SLM X3 allows the soundtrack and voices to be heard in a way that I would say is delicious! One example is when Little Finger is letting Cersei Lannister know that knowledge is power by informing her that he knows about the relationship between her and her brother. Much of the scene depends on the looks and eyes of the characters to convey intent. Just as important though are the way the characters say their lines. There is fine acting craft work by the cast and the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 lays bare the abilities of the actors. Game of Thrones, one of my favorite shows, depicts how well the MartinLogan SLM X3 can play with demanding material. Larger MartinLogan speakers may have a greater sense of scale, but the Motion SLM X3 gives the listener more than a taste of the larger speakers.

Moulin Rouge

One of my favorite musicals is Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece Moulin Rouge. A creative re-imagining of what a movie musical should be; I love the stylistic approach and the campy use of modern pop music and lyrics. The opening song, a melancholy rendition of Nature Boy, was beautifully reproduced by the MartinLogan SLM X3. The voice was reproduced with proper sweetness and with delicate detail.

During the manic scenes where Ewan McGregor’s character meets the bohemians (Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Eric Satie, etc.) the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 preserves the clarity of the voices and sounds. On lesser speakers the details are blurred or lost, but not on the Motion SLM X3. Even though I have seen the scene many times, there were audible surprises for me.

On the large scenes and crescendos, like the Spectacular production, the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 remains composed and clean. Larger, more expensive speakers will provide a broader soundstage, and more dynamics, despite that however, the clarity of the sound though the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 will be hard to beat.

Conclusions

THE MARTINLOGAN MOTION SLM X3 is a slim, compact speaker that gives high-end performance at a very reasonable price for owners of large flat screen TV’s.

Likes
  • Outstanding sound
  • Clean, compact size
  • Well-designed wall bracket
  • Flexible placement
Would Like To See
  • None

The MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 is wonderful solution for the movie lover that has not the floor space or budget for large speakers. Featuring the Folded Motion Transducer and advanced mid-range divers, the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 delivers highly detailed sound for movie and video soundtracks. When I started the review, I had no idea what the cost would be for the MartinLogan Motion SLM X3 (since it had not been formally released). I was not surprised, I was shocked when I found out it is priced at only $999.95! I had thought it would be priced at about $1700.00. Even if it sold for double its price, I would still consider it a bargain for the sound. If you need a surround speaker or just better sound for your TV, do not hesitate. Buy it now!

Categories: Soundbars
Tags: FeaturedHome TheaterMartinLoganMotionMotion SLMSurround SpeakersSurround Speakers Reviews 2017
Francisco Licon: Francisco grew up in the west Texas town of El Paso and developed an early crush on audio systems when he was a young teen listening to the great masters (King Crimson, CNS&Y, Jethro Tull, Blind Faith, and of course the Beatles). He built his first pair of good loudspeakers in his family's garage during high school as part of a drafting project (a large bass reflex enclosure for Electro-Voice 12" coax). Francisco's higher education was nourished at UTEP (where he received a BA in Drama) and later in life at UTSA (he received a Masters in Educational Leadership). During his college years he discovered theatre and worked as a teacher and performer in improvisation and mime and also DJ'd for a Jazz and Classical radio station. Francisco resides in San Antonio, Texas with his wife, son, and dog and teaches Theatre Arts at Tom C. Clark High School. In his spare time he plays guitar and harmonica and sings. Thanks to the River City Audio Society of San Antonio, Francisco's passion for High Fidelity and music has found a new outlet. As always though, music is what matters and to that end he has enjoyed the LP renaissance especially with so much now available to the music lover in different formats. You know, it makes an old guy feel young all over again!

View Comments

  • I got the ESL electrostatics and the Motion 8 center channel. ML makes great speakers, for sure. Friends are amazed at the sound.