When most people think of MartinLogan, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the company’sfamous electrostatic speakers like the CLS or any number of hybrid electrostatic speakers with subwoofers below the electrostatic panel, but in recent years the company has shifted some of its focus to speakers that look like traditional dynamic speakers but have an AMT or folded motion tweeter that has many of the advantages of an electrostatic panel without the need for so much space.
MartinLogan released the Motion series first, and has updated it over time, leading up to the new Motion XT line. These speakers feature a 1.25- x 2.4-inch Obsidian Folded Motion XT Tweeter , and the XT F100 under review today also features a 6.5-inch midrange driver and three 6.5-inch woofers. This is also a bottom ported speaker, which can allow you to place these speakers a little closer to the back wall than you might with a, rear-ported speaker. At $4,500 per pair, you are moving into the mid-range price for audiophile speakers, so let’s get into it and see if these speakers are worth your hard-earned money.
What Makes the MartinLogan Motion XT F100 Loudspeakers Special?
- You can get a lot of sound out of these speakers without needing as much amplification, which makes it ideal if you’re someone who wants to build their audiophile system from the speakers back.
- The Motion XT F100s are sonically very revealing. On more than one occasion I found myself having to listen to tracks that I have listened to on many occasions as I was picking out sounds that I hadn’t noticed in the background before. The term revealing can seem cliché at times, but I kid you not: these speakers can reintroduce you to your music in unexpected and wonderful ways.
- The XT F100 is definitely a full-range speaker. With low-frequency extension down to 31 Hz, you are certainly looking at a speaker that doesn’t demand a subwoofer to allow you to hear the lowest notes in nearly all of your most favorite music. Additionally, with rated high frequency response going all the way up to a beyond audible 25 kHz, you’re not going to miss anything at the top end either, and the folded motion tweeter renders sounds at the top end clearly and accurately.
Why Should You Care About the MartinLogan Motion XT F100 Speakers?
The audiophile speaker market at or around the $4,500 price point is one that is quite competitive. There are dozens of companies that build speakers in this price range with strong competitors coming to market all the time. At this price, I expect to find a well-built speaker that can play any genre of music faithfully. I love what subwoofers add to an audiophile system, but when I am spending nearly $5,000 on a set of speakers, I don’t want to set them up and then think about how much more I need to spend on a subwoofer to pair with it right away. The Motion XT F100 delivered on all of these expectations and more.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the MartinLogan Motion XT F100 Speakers
- It’s heavy! Each speakers weighs 76 pounds. You are going to want to get some help with unpacking and getting the feet on them, and getting them to your listening room, unless you have a moving cart handy.
- The larger size of the MartinLogan Motion XT F100 won’t be for every room. With these speakers standing nearly four feet tall (without the feet attached), 12 inches wide, and 15 inches deep, they can too big in a smaller room.
- There isn’t a grill that can be removed. The speakers come with what MartinLogan calls “Secure Lock” grills that protect each individual driver; however, if you’re someone with younger kids in your house, they won’t protect the fronts from finger prints. I’m not sure I would want to have a full grill on these speakers, though, as it would greatly change the sexy look. They do come with soft fabric bags that you can put over the speakers when they are not in use (I lovingly call them pajamas for the speakers). Just be prepared that if you don’t put the pajamas on, you might find yourself wiping off fingerprints regularly.
Listening to the MartinLogan Motion XT F100 Speakers…
When I was thinking about the bass output of the XT F100, the Arcade Fire track “Chemistry” (buy on vinyl from Amazon) from the Everything Now Day Version really stood out. This track can feel at times like a mish-mash of random instruments and tones, but in its chorus you can really feel the bass of the MartinLogan Motion XT F100s stand out and in the best possible way. The bass becomes very present even when played at lower volumes and the speakers blend it in beautifully. The song also features a lot of saxophone, which never feels bright even as it pushes its way up the octaves.
The soundstage that you can hear on “Down in a Hole” by Alice in Chains from their MTV Unplugged (buy from Amazon on CD) album was undeniable. I barely needed to close my eyes to be able to picture Layne Staley, Jerry Cantrell, and company and feel like they were playing this haunting song right in front of me. The Motion XT F100s proved themselves to be quite revealing as well with this track. You can easily pick up the different vocals during the harmonies between Staley and Cantrell, as well as the two different guitars on the track.
While certainly not the most popular track from Pink Floyd’s legendary album The Wall, “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” (streaming from Qobuz – 240bit 96 kHz) (buy at Amazon) really shows off how dynamic these speakers are. This is the segue between “Another Brick in the Wall Part 1” and “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2.” The combination of the bass guitar and the bass drum that is played over the gentle guitar at the start of the track really showed the dynamics, as it almost felt like the air was being sucked out of the room before the bass notes come in with a boom initially on the sixth beat in the 4/4-time signature before hitting on every second note.
Do the MartinLogan Motion XT F100 Speakers Have Any Resale Value?
There is no doubt in my eyes that these speakers will have strong resale value. MartinLogan is a well-known and well-respected audiophile brand, and these are great speakers. At the time of writing there is a used pair on Audiogon priced at $3,000 plus shipping (which won’t be inexpensive at 150 pounds), which is about two/thirds of the retail price. This fits my expectation of what these should sell for secondhand.
Who Is the Competition for the MartinLogan Motion XT F100 Speakers?
The Wharfedale AURA 3 ($3,718 per pair) uses a similar AMT tweeter And is a little bit less expensive, but features one less driver. If you’re looking to check out a pair of speakers with this style of tweeter but don’t have quite the $4,500 budget, then this one could be worth checking out.
The GoldenEar Triton Two+ ($5,500 per pair) is a little bit more expensive, but still in the same ballpark pricewise as the MartinLogans. It features a similar tweeter to the MartinLogan Motion XT series, which GoldenEar calls a “High-Velocity Folded Ribbon” (HVFR) Tweeter. What makes this speaker interesting is that it features seven total drivers (the HVFR tweeter, two 4.5-inch mid/bass drivers, two 5-by-9-inch subwoofers, and two 7-by-10-inch planar infrasonic bass radiators. With all of this, the company reports a frequency response of 16 Hz to 35 kHz, which on paper at least is fantastic.
RBH Speakers from just outside Salt Lake City makes some of the most under-the-radar good audiophile speakers on the market today and many of them come with AMT tweeters just as these MartinLogans do, making them a good comparison. Eric Forst just completed a soon-to-be published review of the RBH 6500-SF, which is a comparably priced and similarly sized floorstanding speaker but lacks the AMT tweeter in that configuration, although there is a configuration with the AMT for a little bit more money. While the MartinLogan’s dynamics are excellent, I hear the RBHs are just as good if not even a little more visceral.
Final Thoughts on the MartinLogan Motion XT F100 Speakers
One of the worst parts about reviewing products is that after you’re done, the goodies often need to go back to wherever they came from. The MartinLogan Motion XT F100 Speakers are among those products I have truly enjoyed getting to use, and it may have even left be putting off doing this review a week or two just to avoid having to send the speakers back. They’re simply fantastic speakers that I expect nearly any audiophile would enjoy and love having in their home.
The XT F100 speakers were able to articulate the full spectrum of sound beautifully from very low bass to an open and gorgeous high end. My biggest concern when I initially received these was what would they sound like when you were not directly in front of them. Let me tell you while they sound their best in the sweet-spot listening position, they are still quite enjoyable from nearly anywhere in my midsized listen room. I know my girlfriend was initially concerned about the size of these speakers when they first arrived, but once I had them set up in my home and she had a listen, she won’t be looking forward to seeing them depart either. The MartinLogan Motion XT F100 speakers have won us both over with a best-of-all-worlds value proposition that delivers at basically every audiophile speaker level.