MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 Floorstanding Speakers Reviewed

Price: $1,999.00

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$2,000 for a pair of floorstanding speakers might be the most competitive price point in all of the audiophile market. $400 wireless Bluetooth headphones can give this two-grand speaker category a run for the money for a brutally competitive audiophile market, but when it comes down to what people want to buy when they walk through the door of their local audiophile dealer, it is often $2,000-per-pair floor-standing speakers. As a product category, $2,000 floor-standing speakers normally offer a nearly full-range sound, and don’t have any of the topple issues that higher-performance smaller audiophile speakers do when mounted on a stand and placed in an audiophile listening room. Across this group, finishes, colors and fittings vary, as do technologies to fit the needs of the tens of thousands of people that are in the market today. There are so many quality speaker options in this space that it is hard to keep track, even for savvy industry professionals. With that said, I am planning on bringing in some of the best $2,000 floor-standing speakers to my listening room in 2024, as we want to have more robust coverage of this group of speakers. 

MartinLogan's Motion Foundation F2 Speakers in their three finish options.
MartinLogan’s Motion Foundation F2 Speakers in their three finish options.

The MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 is a bit of a hybrid solution that is a little different than their ESL speakers that we’ve reviewed, which are priced from $2,500 and up. MartinLogan ESL speakers match a traditional low-frequency driver in a cabinet with the iconic MartinLogan ESL curved electrostatic driver neatly placed and angled on top of the woofer cabinet. The MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 is a more traditional, rectangular box form factor of a speaker, but what makes it a hybrid or “a real MartinLogan” speaker is the use of an AMT tweeter. This massively popular tweeter brings a lot of the openness that people love from the MartinLogan ESL line of products, but it isn’t as large (tall, really) and doesn’t suffer from the directionality issues that you get with the ESL line. With a ported design and plenty of bass drivers to go with that sexy AMT driver, is this a speaker that can make your audiophile day? Let’s get into it. 

MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers installed in Jerry Del Colliano's media room between an 85 inch 4K Sony set and powered with Marantz and Halcro electronics.
MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers installed in Jerry Del Colliano’s media room between an 85 inch 4K Sony set and powered with Marantz and Halcro electronics.

What Makes the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 Loudspeakers Special? 

  • The reason why most audio enthusiasts will be drawn to the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 is the AMT tweeter. The way the technology works is to use a thin membrane for the square tweeter that is installed into a small, grid-like design that shouldn’t sound as wide and open as it does, but it delivers on its sonic promise quite beautifully.
  • Normally, I am no fan of horn speakers (with one pro audio exception that no audiophile really knows about or pays attention to). The MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 is not a horn speaker per se, but it does borrow some design cues from horns in that it has a Folded Motion Waveguide. This larger. tapered square acts like a horn around the AMT tweeter to project a wider, more open high- and mid-frequency sound to the listener. It doesn’t come across “honky” (put both hands on the side of your mouth and talk to hear the effect), but it does disperse the sound nicely from the more traditional, tall floor-standing speaker form factor. 
  • With a nearly two-year-old child at home, safety is a constant issue in our house when it comes to AV equipment. I just boxed up some really affordable speakers from Tekton Design (their Lore Reference, for a mere $880 per pair, which also come in custom colors), but one place that the nearly twice-the-price MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 win is their feet or outriggers. These feet are a next-level perk that looks great and provides not just superior decoupling between the speaker and the floor but, because of the way that they are installed so easily but thoroughly, they provide a much higher standard for possible physical tip-overs. We have additional white fabric straps bolted into the wall that add even more protection, as I wrote about in my Baby Proofing Your Audiophile System article a few months back.
  • While not part of MartinLogan’s Custom Shop, which is one of the coolest, bespoke concepts in audiophile speakers, the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 come in three finishes, including a Satin White, Black and a Walnut finish. This last has a somewhat retro-looking, bronze trim.
  • At 92 dB sensitivity, you can drive the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 from a small-to-modest tube amp, a mainstream AV receiver or basically whatever power amplifier that you like or can afford. These are very easy to drive speakers by anybody’s measure. I used everything from a Marantz receiver to a Halcro 200-watt amp in my listening sessions. 
  • The driver complement includes multiple 5.5-inch aluminum cone drivers with trickle-down driver technology that comes from higher-end MartinLogan XT speakers. The three bass drivers are 6.5-inch aluminum, supported by two rear ports. As we discussed earlier, for the high frequencies, we have the AMT tweeter at the top of the nearly 45-inch-tall speakers that weigh 55 pounds (a pair – not each). 
A single MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 in white with its three bass drivers.
A single MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 in white with its three bass drivers.

Why Should You Care About the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 Speakers?

Anybody that walks into one of the roughly 250-plus Magnolia stores inside of a Best Buy retailer in the United States is likely to see and hear some more traditional MartinLogan ESL speakers. They are so cool-looking and sound quite unique. I know this as a fact, because Brian Kahn lent me his $15,000 pair of legacy MartinLogan ESL speakers (the Summits), right before COVID in very early 2020, and I used them in my theater for a good 18 months. There’s lots to like about these audiophile electrostatic classics, but they also come with big downsides, as they always have. For example, traditional MartinLogan ESL speakers have a notably small listening “hot spot,” thus a wide dispersion of premium sound is not on the table for many people sitting side by side. The MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 don’t have this issue at all. The second issue with traditional MartinLogan ESL speakers is that, when you stand up, the imaging and bass is impacted negatively. Again, this isn’t the case with the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers. Basically, for $1,995 per pair, you get the best of all worlds, and that is a value and performance proposition that most audiophiles are interested in these days. 

Some Things You Might Not Like About the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 Speakers

  • The rear ports for the speakers are great to help get bass energy out of the speaker and into the room, but you need to be mindful of your placement, specifically in regards to the back wall. If you place them too close to the back wall, the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 can sound a little boomy or bass-heavy. I recommend that you always physically treat or tune your room as best you can before using any type of room correction (sister company Anthem’s ARC room correction is very good, and is part of my reference stereo preamp, the Anthem STR, but that’s in a different system). My Marantz SR-8002 has Dirac, which is also a very powerful room correction tool, but I left it mostly off for my evaluations of the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers. 
  • I am fond of the various finishes on the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers, but you need to be careful with them, as they can be damaged in the unboxing process or if your speakers get any drive-by wear and tear. I was very careful with my review samples, but you can see how you might ding the corners of the speakers if you aren’t mindful. I used a moving blanket to help with the unboxing process to add just a little bit more cushioning beyond the carpet on the floor of my media room. 

Listening to the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 Loudspeakers… 

I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve heard “Signe” Eric Clapton’s MTV Unplugged or used it as a demo track in my early days as a teenaged audiophile salesman back in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Today, I am trying to put Clapton’s controversial political/medical views aside (this goes for Roger Waters, too – tone it down, guys), as I can’t afford to lose their music from my life, and this track is a great way to hear what the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers perform so well. The sound of the audience was live and realistic to start off the record when listening to the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers. I like that old Slowhand actually misses one of the early notes in the track around the 1:09 point of the instrumental song, which makes the performance even more sonically endearing. I could hear the gentle percussion pop with a sonic resonance and liveliness that I don’t always hear from other speakers in this all-important price category. 

The opening track from Eric Clapton’s iconic MTV unplugged record…

In a more complex and up-tempo track “Getaway” from Earth Wind and Fire’s The Best of Earth Wind and Fire compliation at CD resolution, the attack on the bass was nice and tight when I wiggled the speakers a bit to find the Goldilocks spot in my room, meaning the perfect distance from the backwall. These speakers have solid bass but, like all speakers in this category, they can benefit from even a small subwoofer. The percussion on this track again caught my attention, as it sounded notably open and detailed, as opposed to other speakers in this price category, which I ascribe to the AMT tweeter. Other speakers were good, but the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 are really open-sounding and engaging, which I just loved.  

“Getaway” from Earth Wind and Fire on YouTube.com for your audiophile listening pleasure…

I’ve been a Tom Morello fan since the first moment that I heard Rage Against the Machine in the 1990s. Roll the tape forward, and Audioslave was even better as a musically important super-group project, featuring his out-there and often percussive effects-laden virtuoso guitar playing. These days, Morello is collaborating with more and more of today’s most exciting pop and rock artists with his beyond-unique and way out-of-the-box guitar stylings. The song “Let’s Get This Party Started (featuring: Bring Me The Horizon)” from The Atlas Underground Fire Album is a little Gen-Z “I might kill myself” depressing in terms of lyrics, but it is an all-out, pedal-to-the-metal jam that allowed me to tell my Halcro amp to wake the F**K up, which it absolutely did. The chorus of this poppy-metal track has “guitars turned to 11,” as well as nearly screaming lead vocals, driving bass and bombastic drums – and all of this happens at once, which should be a musical disaster, but on these MartinLogans, it isn’t. The fact that a $2,000 speaker can hold it together on a track that is this demanding is a true audiophile compliment. Feel free to drive the hell out of a pair of MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers, because they can handle it without even flinching. The same goes for movie soundtracks, as I have the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2s in the same room as my 13.1 surround system. Nearly all of my listening is in two-channel stereo, but don’t worry, the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2s can rock a Marvel movie just as easily as they can rage with Rage’s guitar player and his young friends. 

“Let’s Get This Party Started (featuring: Bring Me The Horizon)” from The Atlas Underground Fire Album by Tom Morello

Will the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 Speakers Hold Their Value?

MartinLogan is one of the most lauded audiophile loudspeaker brands in the business today, and has a fan base that is in the hundreds of thousands of AV enthusiasts, thus there is always somebody looking to pick up a pair of MartinLogan speakers on the used market. They also are sold not just in some of the elite best specialty AV retailers, but in Magnolia as well, thus adding to the brand’s appeal and awareness. 

The MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2s are physically light and certainly reasonable to repack and ship, thus they are perfect for eBay.com or Audiogon.com, depending on how you like to sell your gear when you upgrade. Rest assured, for the above reasons and my personal experience selling Brian’s MartinLogan Summits, you should be in good shape if you ever want to resell some MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers.

While the AMT tweeter on the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speaker sounds like a horn, they use a wave guide form to make the open highs beam to a wider/taller listening "hot spot".
The AMT tweeter on the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 sounds nothing like a horn speaker (thankfully) but it does borrow some wave guide technology to get a wider/taller soundstage in a $2,000 per pair audiophile floorstanding speaker.

What Is the Competition for the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 Speakers?

SVS’ Prime Pinnacle Speakers (1,789) is one of the better value plays in the audiophile world. There is no AMT tweeter in this speaker, thus a more traditional sound, but it does have a single midrange driver and then three bass drivers. Unlike the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2, the SVS tweeter is placed below the midrange driver in the SVS speaker configuration. The biggest sonic difference between the SVS speakers and the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2s will be the sound of the AMT tweeter versus the more traditional dome tweeter. Read the review of the SVS Prime Pinnacle speakers by Eric Forst here.

Bowers & Wilkins 602 S3 speakers ($2,500 per pair – buy at Crutchfield) are just coming to market, and have an even more refined finish than the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2s. They have a midrange driver that looks a lot like the one used in the big-dollar Bowers & Wilkins 801 D4 speakers, which are the house monitors for places like Abbey Road Studios and Skywalker Ranch. The Bowers & Wilkins 603 S3s have one less bass driver than the SVS and MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2, thus perhaps expect a little less bass from the speakers alone. 

There are many brands using AMT drivers, as I saw at least six or seven at the recent Capital Audiofest show outside of Washington D.C. One if the best options in the market is the GoldenEar Triton Seven speakers ($2,200 per pair – buy at Crutchfield). For about the same amount of money, the GoldenEar product delivers an AMT tweeter, fewer midrange drivers and a bipolar woofer configuration that operates in a side by side design that is still room-dependent, but perhaps the back wall is a little less of a factor than with the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers. This is possibly the closest analogy on the high-frequency performance of the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers, and a close comparison in terms of price. 

The feet or "outriggers" on the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers are simply next-level for speakers at this price and worthy of serious audiophile kudos.
The feet or “outriggers” on the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers are simply next-level for speakers at this price and worthy of serious audiophile kudos.

Final Thoughts on the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 Speakers

When giving advice to new audiophiles, one of my constants is to try to suggest that one invests in blue-chip audio gear whenever possible. The MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers are just that – blue-chip, audiophile-grade speakers that most enthusiasts can afford, or at least dream of affording. They have ample bass, punchy midrange and all of the benefits of an open high frequency that only an AMT tweeter can deliver. You get all of this as a $2,000 pair of well-crafted, audiophile-grade loudspeakers that come in three appealing finishes. They are easy to drive, thus there are no hidden costs like those that would come if you needed to upgrade an amplifier along with a pair of speakers. 

While the MartinLogan Motion Foundation F2 speakers can play back the most demanding movie soundtracks, they have the finesse, control and openness to make even a jaded audiophile smile from the gorgeous sound emitting from them. The modern yet non-off-putting design and the really thoughtful outrigger feet are even more of a bonus. For those looking for a retro statement from a new-school-designed speaker, the walnut and gold package appeals to even more music enthusiasts. At the price, there are different speakers in the $2,000 range that perform with their own advantages, but few speakers in this competitive price category sound better. 

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