MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Thin-Film Bookshelf Speaker

Item #ML:MO35XTI

MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Thin-Film Bookshelf Speaker

$749.98
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Overview

Powerful bookshelf speaker featuring a Folded Motion XT tweeter and 6.5-inch aluminum cone woofer with a rear-firing bass port.

High Notes

Motion Tweeter Technology

Martin Logan’s folded Motion Tweeter dramatically reduces distortion while giving your highs more speed and accuracy.

State of the Art Components

Not only is the tweeter state of the art, but the woofer, crossover and cabinet design are also what you would expect on a speaker costing twice this much.

Huge and Effortless Soundstage

Set these right and you’ll be amazed at the size of the soundstage. Their totally effortless sound will also make you smile.

Company & Product Overview

When Gayle Martin Sanders and Ron Logan Sutherland formed Martin Login in 1980, they probably had no idea how successful their start-up would eventually become over the next 40 years.  From their dream of producing more natural sound through the use of high technology, they have grown to be one of the most coveted speaker brands around.  Their “see-thru” electrostatic panels have amazed listeners for years with effortless sound that is totally free of any coloration.  

While electrostatic speakers offer incredible sound, they are out of the reach of many music lovers as it just simply costs a good deal of money to make one that sounds great that will also last for years.  As Martin Logan became more successful, they wanted to create a line of speakers with that color free electrostatic sound, but at a price point that was more affordable.

In 2010, Martin Logan came up with the solution in their Motion series of speakers.  These used a new tweeter they developed that offered most of the advantages of an electrostatic speaker, without the price tag.  Martin Logan recently revealed a new Motion series at a few select dealers in August of 2019 (Audio Advice being one of the first).  

The subject of today’s review is the new Motion 35XTi.

Design & Build Quality

The 35XTi is a medium-sized bookshelf speaker.   These are some of the prettiest speakers we have seen at this price level.  Fit and finish is top-notch with a beautiful black high gloss paint option, matte white, or red walnut. The cloth grill includes a small MartinLogan logo which looks pretty cool to us.

The cabinet is not a perfect rectangle which does two things.  First, it just looks sleek, but more importantly, the non-parallel cabinet walls help reduce cabinet resonance.  It costs more to make a non-square speaker and you’ll see this tech trick used in a lot of higher performance speakers.

While you can put the 35XTi on a bookshelf, you’ll get the best performance if you stand mount them.  They are about 13 ½” tall, by 7 ½” wide, and almost 12” deep.  And at close to 20 pounds each, you’ll need a substantial speaker stand or table.

When you rotate around to the rear of the speaker, you’ll see some ultra-high quality dual binding posts for bi-wiring and a very solid connector should you choose to just single wire them.  

Many other reviewers have noted they feel the 35XTi just looks amazingly well built for the money and we have to wholeheartedly agree!

Features & Technology

One of the big deals that makes the 35XTi sound so great is the Motion tweeter.  The 35XT uses their largest Motion tweeter.  So just what is a Motion tweeter?  Imagine a roughly 2 ½’ high by 4” wide piece of super lightweight piece of a very thin film.  This is etched with conductive material, then folded up like an accordion.  It is put in a neodymium magnetic field and the current causes the accordion-like film to squeeze in and out, reproducing the high frequencies.

You get the benefit of a very lightweight electrostatic driver with a lot of space and cost savings.  Plus the surface area of the one XT Motion tweeter in the 35XTi has roughly the same surface area as 10 conventional dome tweeters!  The end result of this design is a tweeter that is super low mass with far less distortion than a conventional driver.  The speed at which the Motion tweeter can respond to audio changes is much faster than a conventional tweeter as well. 

martinlogan motion 35xti tweeter

Martin Logan couples this great XT tweeter with a 6 ½” aluminum cone woofer.  They spent a great deal of time designing a woofer with a long excursion and low distortion.  The rear-ported cabinet uses a low turbulence port.  Both the woofer and tweeter are decoupled from the ¾” MDF cabinet with a solid aluminum panel.  Once again, this is something you see in much more expensive speakers.  

Great speaker drivers without a crossover (the circuitry that sends the highs to the tweeter and lows to the woofer) at the same level is like putting ketchup on a great steak.  Martin Logan chose very high-quality polypropylene and low-DF electrolytic capacitors coupled with custom-wound inductors.  While this sounds like a mouthful, it means they spared no expense to make sure the crossover quality matched that of the drivers. 

The high-quality crossover and output power of the Motion tweeter and aluminum cone woofer enabled this speaker to come out with a very high-efficiency rating for a modest-sized bookshelf speaker.  The Motion 35XTi is rated at 92 dB sensitivity which means they are very dynamic and able to bring real-life to your music.

As you can tell, this is not your ordinary bookshelf speaker.  Every single component of its design has qualities you normally see in much more expensive speakers.

Performance

If you pair up the Motion 35XTi with a good set of speaker stands and a decent amplifier, it's pretty easy to hear why the earlier 35XT won the Absolute Sound Editor’s Choice Award for 2017, 2018, and 2019.  The new 35XTi is continuing that winning tradition with most reviewers saying they just make you want to keep playing all kinds of music, which is a very good thing!

These just sound far better than most $1400 a pair or so speakers normally sound.  We paired them up with a Cambridge CXA61 integrated amp and a Rega P3 table for our listening tests.  

First, they have one of the sweetest top end presentations you will find.  The design of the Motion XT tweeter allows for a very controlled dispersion pattern.  Not only do you get blazing fast and clean highs that are never harsh, but a huge, wide soundstage with pinpoint accuracy.  Of course, you need to spend a little time on set up to achieve this, but the result is well worth the effort.  When you hear a cymbal sound so accurate and feel like it is right in front of you, that is when you start grinning ear to ear and think, this is really some speaker for the money.

The bass tones reach fairly low for a modest bookshelf.  Martin Logan specs them out a 50 Hz plus or minus 3 dB which is very impressive for a box this size.  We love the fact they went for a fast and tight bass character rather than a big boomy bass type sound.  You can listen to these for hours without any fatigue and just get really drawn into the music.

When you start to push them hard, they respond very well with a great sense of dynamics for a bookshelf speaker.  Do they fill up the room like a $15,000 Logan? No, but for what these cost, they do about as well as anything we have heard.  

After spinning all kinds of different music, the thing that really strikes you is how well they present a natural soundstage with this totally effortless quality.  If you appreciate shutting your eyes and imagining a small jazz band is in front of you, these will certainly make you smile!

Overall Recommendation

The Motion 35XTi is one heck of a bookshelf speaker.  We have loved them at Audio Advice since their introduction.  They can be the cornerstone of a great system for two-channel audio, and should you want to use them for home theater, MartinLogan has a perfectly matched center channel to go with them.

Details & Specs

The Motion Legacy

The Motion Series is inspired by the performance of MartinLogan’s ultra-high-end electrostatic loudspeakers, and features cutting edge Folded Motion tweeter, exceptional components, and hand-built crossovers. They deliver a richly detailed audio experience at an unrivaled price.

Engineering, Without Compromises

What makes the Motion Series sound so amazing? MartinLogan's dedicated in-house engineering and design team started by utilizing and refining the most advanced, compact technologies and combining them with innovative engineering and time-honored cabinet construction techniques. The result is an emotionally engaging sound that rivals (and most times trounces) traditional loudspeakers of similar size and price. Their ‘no compromise’ philosophy gives Motion Series a unique sound you won’t find anywhere else.

Sound Inspired by Electrostatic Speakers

The success of the Motion Series is directly attributed to its close relation to MartinLogan’s legendary ultra-high-end electrostatic loudspeakers. The desire to transmute that level of performance into a more traditional speaker at a more affordable price drove the initial design imperatives that created the Motion Series.

Folded Motion Tweeters

MartinLogan’s signature Folded Motion tweeter utilizes an extremely low mass diaphragm that “squeezes” air, thus demanding significantly less excursion than the typical 1-inch dome tweeter. Its folded design allows for a much larger surface area (compared to that of a regular 1-inch dome tweeter), controlled dispersion characteristics, and vanishingly low distortion. It’s a miracle of audio engineering that’s able to deliver much of the high-frequency detail and speed of a large, dynamic electrostatic panel in a small space.

Motion 60XTi, 50XTi, and 35XTi feature Folded Motion XT tweeters, with a 40% larger radiating surface and 80x30-degree controlled dispersion. This tweak increases audible bandwidth without sacrificing details and minimizes distortion to an unprecedented level while increasing efficiency and the tweeter’s already lightning-fast response time. The result—superior realism and alarming specificity is aurally astounding, and only by MartinLogan.

Powerful Aluminum Cone Mid-Frequency and Bass Drivers

Custom built, low-distortion drivers pair high-power magnet structures with aluminum cone diaphragms to deliver massive excursion and sound output, preserve minute bass details, and maximize power handling capability, all without a hint of distortion. A unique concave dust cap design reinforces the strength and rigidity of the cone while reducing break up modes.

The use of aluminum for cones maximizes the rigidity and strength of the drivers without adding excessive weight. This, along with the exceptional damping properties of aluminum, ensures the smooth, non-resonant response necessary for seamless blending with high-resolution Folded Motion tweeters. An added benefit of aluminum is its outstanding thermal conduction capability which allows cones to serve as efficient heat sinks for voice coils.

To deliver accuracy in the critical midrange, mid-frequency drivers feature a specially engineered "stiff" suspension. Stiffening the suspension (the spider and surround) raises the driver's resonant frequency and optimizes its performance to achieve a natural roll-off and inherently operates within an ideal range for a mid-frequency reproduction (as opposed to a comparably sized woofer).

Low-Mounted Woofers Minimize Floor Bounce

Floorstanding Motion models utilize 2.5-way designs that feature woofers positioned low in the cabinet and close to the floor. This deliberate design addresses a phenomenon known as floor bounce where sound reflected off the floor (from drivers positioned high on a cabinet), and those aimed directly at the listener interfere with each other. Without addressing these issues, listeners would experience bloated bass and massive increases and decreases in sound levels throughout critical midrange frequencies. Through careful crossover design and driver positioning, floorstanding Motion speakers deliver a flat, balanced response through the bass and midrange regions. Such considerations are crucial when seeking to achieve accurate reproduction of vocals and instruments such as kick drums. Proprietary Vojtko Crossover Networks Premium Motion Series speakers feature proprietary Vojtko crossover networks using polypropylene and low-DF electrolytic capacitors, custom-wound inductors, and thermal and current protection. Vojtko crossovers are named after MartinLogan's chief audio technologist, Joe Vojtko. His unique approach to crossover design is as big of a part of the “MartinLogan Sound” as are electrostatic and Folded Motion thin-film driver technologies. A Vojtko crossover isn't so much a set of design requirements as it is a philosophy. Vojtko crossovers are designed in such a way that all drivers are kept within their optimal frequency range and balanced with one another. The drivers themselves are as much a part of a Vojtko crossover as are capacitors and resistors. Before the design of any crossover begins, drivers are carefully selected or designed to operate within a very intentional frequency range and with precise and predictable performance parameters. Vojtko crossovers are always built from high-quality parts, and care is taken to avoid overly complex topologies—a straightforward objective due to the careful selection of woofers and tweeters. The final (and most critical) aspect of a Vojtko Crossover is that final voicing is conducted in a space that is indicative of a real-world environment. This pragmatic approach allows MartinLogan speakers to sound their best in real-world rooms.

Modern Design Featuring Luxurious Finishes

Discreetly hidden behind fabric wrapped magnetic grilles, Folded Motion and aluminum cone drivers are held securely in place beneath matte black trim that masks tweeter and woofer mounting hardware for a clean, modern aesthetic. Solid cabinets, designed to eliminate fidelity robbing vibrations, are constructed from 18mm (0.7-inch) MDF with 31mm (1.2-inch) thick front baffles. Motion 60XTi and 50XTi feature additional internal bracing to further reduce cabinet resonance.

These new Motion Series speakers are available in three luxurious finishes and matching metallic trim—gloss black with black grilles and gunmetal grey trim, matte white with silver grilles and silver trim, and red walnut with black grilles and champagne-colored trim.

Custom 5-Way Tool-less Binding Posts

Premium gold-plated 5-way tool-less binding posts assure a stable connection while accommodating a wide range of connections. Select models feature two sets of binding posts accommodate bi-wire connections to increase signal carrying conductors and allow each portion of the crossover to be directly coupled to the amplifier.

  • Application: Bookshelf
  • Frequency Response: 50–25,000 Hz ±3 dB
  • Dispersion: 80° x 30°
  • Sensitivity: 92 dB @ 2.83 volts/ meter
  • Impedance: 4 Ohms. Compatible with 4, 6, or 8 Ohm rated amplifiers
  • Crossover Frequency: 2,200 Hz
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1.2” x 2.4” (3.2cm x 6.1cm) Folded Motion Transducer with 4.5” x 2.75” (11.4cm x 7cm) diaphragm
  • Low-Frequency Drivers: 6.5” (13.3cm) aluminum cone with cast aluminum basket. Non-resonant asymmetrical chamber format. Rigid structured dust cap to reduce cone break-up modes.
  • Components: Custom air core coil and low DCR steel laminate inductors. Polypropylene film capacitors in series and low DF electrolytic capacitors in parallel. Tweeter thermal/current protection.
  • Recommended Amp Power: 20–250 watts
  • Binding Post Inputs: Custom 5-way tool-less binding posts
  • Weight: 17 lbs. (7.7 kg)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 13.5” x 7.56” x 11.68” (343 x 192 x 296.75 mm)
More Information
Series Motion
Weight 19.00 lbs
Crossover Frequency 2,200 Hz
Dimensions 13.5” x 7.56” x 11.68” (343 x 192 x 296.75 mm)
Frequency Response 50–25,000 Hz ±3 dB
Impedance 4 Ohms. Compatible with 4, 6 or 8 Ohm rated amplifiers
Sensitivity 92 dB @ 2.83 volts/ meter
Total Amp Power Recommended 20–250 watts
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