MartinLogan Motion Home Theater Speaker Options

If you are the lucky owner of a pair of MartinLogan Motion series towers or bookshelf speakers and have been considering expanding into home theater, you will be delighted to know, MartinLogan has you covered!

Since their introduction in 2010, the Motion series has delivered a pure transparent sound their large electrostatics are famous for in a much more compact and cost-effective package.  Whether you have one of the towers or bookshelf models, you know what we mean about their sonic value.

One of the secrets is their Folded Motion tweeter design used in all the models that gives you that effortless sound of an electrostatic panel in a much more compact speaker.  MartinLogan also makes use of exotic materials, super high-quality crossovers, and well-braced cabinets.

If you want to learn more about the Motion towers, check out our review here, or for you bookshelf speaker enthusiasts, we just love the Motion 35XTi you can read about here.  

This review though is all about the other speakers you might consider adding to your main left and right Motion speakers to put together a perfectly matched home theater speaker system.  

MartinLogan Dynamo Subwoofer lineup

First, we will start out with the center channel options.

In a home theater system, the center channel speaker is super important. Without a great center speaker, you will never be able to understand the dialog track.  If possible, you get the most seamless soundstage across the front three channels if the speakers are as close as possible to each other in design.  Heck, the ideal setup is to have three of the exact same speakers across the front, but for most people that is just not practical.  

The MartinLogan Motion lineup makes use of two different folded motion tweeters in the models.  We think it is great they offer up two center channels with the different tweeters so you have an exact match to the Motion speakers you are using for your main left and right channels. 

Motion 30i Center Channel Speaker

For the Motion models in the 40, 20, or 15 series, the Motion 30i will be the center channel you should consider.  It has the same sized Folded Motion tweeter as your main speakers.  The dual 5 ½” woofers used are of the exact same material as your speakers as well.  They are aluminum cones with a Vojtko crossover just like the one in your left and right speakers.

The new ‘i” series offers up more finishes, so you will have a choice of gloss black, matte white, or red walnut all with cosmetically matched fabric grills.

Cabinet construction is super solid on the 30i with internal bracing and the use of non-parallel walls to reduce cabinet resonance.  Vocals will sound just as effortless and free of any distortion as they do on your main Motion models.  With a sensitivity of 92db, the 30i is very dynamic and able to handle some of those large transits the audio engineers throw at the center channel from time to time.

A side benefit of the cabinet design is you have two mounting choices.  The 30i has a flat side and an angled side.  Since it is a perfectly symmetrical design, you can set it up either way with zero change in performance, but the different sides let you adjust it to your system setup.

If it will be placed at or just slightly below ear level, you’ll want to put it on its flat side.  On the other hand, if you are placing it where most center channel speakers wind up, below ear level, set it up on the angled side which will aim the sound up towards the listening area. And in either case, be sure to use the little feet MartinLogan included with the speakers.

  1. MartinLogan Motion 30i Thin-Film Center Channel Speaker MartinLogan Motion 30i Thin-Film Center Channel Speaker

Motion 50XTi Center Channel Speaker

The 50XTi uses the same larger Motion tweeter found in the 60XT and 35XT series, so if you have one of those models for your main speakers, this is without question, the correct choice for you.  

Just like the 30i, you have the same cabinet finishes.

MartinLogan Dynamo Subwoofer lineup

With the larger Motion tweeter, the 50XTi steps up to dual aluminum 6 ½” woofers with a bigger and even better braced cabinet.  These offer bi-wiring as well, which the 30i does not.  Sensitivity jumps up to 94db which is pretty astounding for a center channel speaker.  Dynamics really come to life with the 50XTi and that bigger Motion tweeter sounds just so effortless.  

Some of you with the 20, 40, or 15 models may wonder if the 50XTi is a better choice than the exact matching 30i.  If you have the room and budget, we would say yes.  Using the level settings in your home theater receiver, you’ll be able to account for its higher sensitivity and while the tweeter is not an exact match, we feel what you give up in a perfect match is made up for with it’s increased deep bass and dynamic capabilities.


Main Lower Surround Speakers

With Dolby Atmos and it’s incredible object-based surround sound, this speaker category is more important than ever.  MartinLogan has a big range of choices with something for just about any situation.  

For Dolby Atmos, you need at least one pair of lower surround speakers and one pair of upper Atmos speakers.  Ideally, you would have two pairs of lower and two pairs of upper Atmos speakers for a super immersive experience. 

For the lower surround speakers, they can be either a stand-mounted bookshelf type speaker, a wall-mounted smaller speaker, or an in-wall architectural speaker.  

MartinLogan Dynamo Subwoofer lineup

Stand Mounted Options

If you have the space in your room, using one of the MartinLogan bookshelf models in the Motion line up is just a great choice.  Either the 15i or the 35XTi are fantastic and on a solid speaker stand will serve up great surround sound effects.  You can check out our guide to speaker placement to find the best location for them, depending on how many immersive surround sound channels you plan to do. 

  1. MartinLogan Motion 15i Thin-Film Bookshelf Speaker MartinLogan Motion 15i Thin-Film Bookshelf Speaker

  1. MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Thin-Film Bookshelf Speaker MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Thin-Film Bookshelf Speaker

Wall Mounted Options

If space is a premium or you’d like to spend a little less on the surround speakers, the Motion 4i or 2i can be a good option.  These are fairly thin models that use the Folded Motion tweeter and are much less expensive than the 15i or 35XTi bookshelf speakers.

With the Folded Motion tweeter they will mate up well to your main speakers.  One thing we really like about these is they have a pretty slick wall mounting bracket that is included with the speaker.  Ideally, you want the lower level surround speakers to be close to ear level, but if the way your room lays out precludes this and you need to put them up higher, the bracket provides up to 30 degrees of tilt.  

In Wall Option

MartinLogan has packed a lot of the same tech from the bigger Motion speakers into the ElectroMotion IW.  You’ll get the Folded Motion tweeter and an aluminum cone 6 ⅕” woofer.  These are perfect for mounting on the sides as your main surrounds or even better add another pair in addition for rear surrounds.  With the same driver tech used in the Motion models, you will have a fantastic acoustic match.

Upper Dolby Atmos Speakers

In the perfect world, the upper Dolby Atmos speakers would be mounted on your ceiling firing down towards your listening area.  For many people though, this is not practical as it requires getting wiring into the ceiling.  This caused a new category of speakers to emerge that sit on top of your main front and/or rear speakers and aim the sound up at the ceiling to have it bounce back down into the listening area.

Home theater receivers companies have made adaptations for this new type of speaker in the software and you now tell your home theater receiver if you are using the Atmos speakers that aim up or ones that are mounted to the ceiling.  

MartinLogan AFX

The MartinLogan AFX comes to the rescue with their version of this speaker type, and guess what, yes it uses the great Folded Motion tweeter for another match to the rest of your MartinLogan speakers.  

The only caveat with the AFX is it currently only comes in a glossy black finish so it might not be a perfect match cosmetically if you have one of the new “i” models in a different color.

We do have to say, on a flat ceiling these work really well for Dolby Atmos upper effects. Just sit them on top of your Motion speakers, make a quick connection, and you’ll have Dolby Atmos in your theater!

ElectroMotion R

If you are able to get the wiring to your ceiling, the ElectroMotion R is just a fantastic Dolby Atmos speaker.  It uses an 8” aluminum cone with the Folded Motion tweeter, and has the Vojtko crossover found in the Motion models.  The 8” woofer can put out some seriously deep bass and with a sensitivity of 92db, this guy can rock!

The drivers are angled inside the enclosure so you can perfectly aim it at your listening position for amazing Dolby Atmos effects.  

We feel the ElectroMotion R is the very best choice for a Dolby Atmos height speaker if you own Motion speakers, you just have to be able to get wiring up to your ceiling and cut it in, making it more practical for new home theater builds.  

ElectroMotion IC

The ElectroMotion IC is another in-ceiling model that is great for Dolby Atmos if the ElectroMotion R is pushing your budget. It is basically the same speaker with a 6 ½” aluminum woofer instead of the 8” found in the R model.  The Folded Motion tweeter is identical and you also get the Vojtko crossover.  They are a little less dynamic with a sensitivity of 90db, but for small to medium-sized rooms work quite well.  


As you can tell now from all these different choices, MartinLogan makes it super easy to put together a perfectly matched home theater speaker system.  No matter what kind of room limitations you may have in your space, they are likely to have a solution.  

The sound you will get from a Motion home theater system is something to be experienced.  Those Folded Motion tweeters are so fast and effortless that you will be smiling ear to ear as special effects whirl around your room.  Dialog from either of the center channels is superb as well.

MartinLogan Dynamo Subwoofer lineup

The final icing on the home theater cake is one or more subwoofers.  We were so impressed with the MartinLogan subwoofers we did a complete article on them you can check out here.

If you are beginning to plan out your home theater, be sure and check out our free home theater design tool.

And as always, if you have any questions about home theater or home audio feel free to drop by one of our stores in Raleigh or Charlotte, give us a call, shoot us an email, or pop into chat.


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