MartinLogan Motion 60XT Speaker Review

When you think MartinLogan, you probably think of giant electrostatic panels. As wonderful as those speakers sound, many people have neither the room nor the budget for a full sized electrostatic speaker. MartinLogan has addressed this market with their Motion line of speakers. Using an Air Motion Transformer (AMT) for the tweeter instead of a conventional dome, the Motion series looks like what most people think of when they think of a speaker.

The largest model in the Motion series, and the newest, is the four driver, $3,000/pair 60XT tower. It pairs the MartinLogan’s largest AMT driver, the Folded Motion XT Driver, with a 6.5” midrange driver and dual 8” woofers. This lets the 60XT play full-range in a room, with frequency response hitting down to 20Hz. With a couple of considerations, the MartinLogan Motion 60XT is a dynamic loudspeaker that pairs clear treble with room filling bass.

Room Filling Sound

Specs
Manufacturer: MartinLogan
Model: Motion 60XT
Drivers: 1x Folded Motion XT AMT, 1x 6.5" Midrange, 2x 8" Woofers
Dimensions: 48" x 11.4" x 14.4"
Weight: 66 lbs.
Review Date: December 15, 2014
Price: $1,497.95 Each
Company Website

Buy From Amazon

Why Amazon Links?

I gave a good listen to the Motion 60XT at the 2014 CEDIA Expo. Often listening demos at those shows are where you go in, hear a track or two, and then leave to move on. So often it’s music you don’t usually listen to or know how it should sound, so you cannot take much away from it. This time, MartinLogan was playing the entire Stop Making Sense Blu-ray from Talking Heads in their demo room. Having heard this soundtrack countless times, I sat down and enjoyed track after track on the Motion 60XT.

With dual 8” woofers, the Motion 60XT is not a small speaker. Standing 4’ tall and weighing 66 lbs. it is a sturdy beast. My sample is an attractive piano gloss black that looks great in the room but does pick up a fingerprint if you have to touch it. Since my theater room has carpet, I also use the included outriggers with floor spikes. It has dual bass ports in the back, so I make sure to keep them 2’ away from all walls in the room to avoid excess bass. For my listening I use an Anthem MRX-510 as a preamp with a Parasound Halo A31 amplifier.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What makes the AMT shine during listening is the speed and clarity that it offers. Beck’s “Lost Cause” offers up a big, huge soundstage. The attack after the pluck of a guitar is precise, with the right amount of snap. Moving onto Belle & Sebastian, the vocals have a clear, almost detached feeling through the 60XT. It sounds as though he is recorded separately from the band, which he might have been, and mixed in. The AMT is providing a great amount of detail, and able to illustrate the different recording spaces.

On the vinyl reissue of Cat Steven’s Tea for the Tillerman, there is an incredible amount of bass on “Where Do the Children Play” I didn’t realize was there before. The dual 8” woofers on the 60XT hit hard and fast but the bass remains tight. During some of my listening I find that the tweeter on the 60XT can be a little bright. At normal listening levels it sounds good, but when the wife and kids are away and I push the volume way up, it starts to grate on my ears.

The vinyl release of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories offers none of these issues. the bass line from “Lose Yourself to Dance” fills the room and all the complex electronic sounds are easy to pick apart. What blows me away through the MartinLogan Motion 60XT are the recent Beatles Mono vinyl reissues. Despite being almost 50 years old, “What Goes On” from Rubber Soul makes as good a demo as I can imagine. The pace and rhythm of the song come through with far more detail than I expect to hear from. Even compared to the mono CDs the vinyl has far more detail that the 60XT and its AMT bring across.

Fixing the Flaw

The main flaw in my listening to the MartinLogan Motion 60XT is that the treble can be bright at times. When Bob Dylan starts playing a harmonica during Blood on the Tracks, those notes are brighter than you expect them to be. So after running them in a pure direct mode for a couple of weeks, I ran Anthem Room Correction on my Anthem MRX-510 receiver. 10 minutes later, the treble issues are gone.

As you’ll see later in the speaker measurements, there is a bit of a treble peak past 10kHz which my ears register as being extra bright. Most speakers have a natural roll-off past 10kHz, and many designers aim for this. Using ARC, or any other room correction system, you usually aim for a flat treble response or a gentle roll-off. Room correction, or a tube preamp or amp, will introduce this gentle roll off. This makes the AMT sound detailed and clear, but not harsh, in that 10kHz-15kHz frequency range.

Much Smoother Treble

Post-room correction, I go right back to Bob Dylan and Blood on the Tracks. That top-end sizzle is gone and instead I just have clear, clean treble. Pet Sounds from The Beach Boys is loaded up with chimes, bells, and other instruments with lots of treble. The MoFi SACD sounds just wonderful, as the chimes that open “Sloop John B” are crystal clear without the harshness I heard before. ARC has tamed that slight treble rise down to a flat response that sounds much better to my ears.

The Boy With the Arab Strap from Belle & Sebastian is full of melancholy, which I don’t usually associate with thumping bass lines. On “Sleep the Clock Around” there is a pounding bass line and the Motion 60XT fills the room with it. I can see the woofers move up close, but I also feel the bass line in my chair. There is plenty of bass to spare with the Motion 60XT, leaving no need for a subwoofer to fill the low end. For great imaging, I keep going back to Let It Be. Done right, you hear Paul singing right in front of you, as the drums build, and that guitar line kicks in to a song that is far more than the sum of its parts. Each part here is clean and distinct, as you can pin-point where it is in the mix. Once they all kick in the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” effect lets the music come out of the 60XT and fill the entire room.

Measurements

Our in-room average of the MartinLogan Motion 60XT is generated using RoomEQ Wizard with a UMIK-1 calibrated microphone. I take a series of measurements around the room, with multiple measurements at each location, and average them together. This method, detailed by Brent Butterworth, produces a frequency response curve close to what you can do in an anechoic chamber and reduces room nodes.

We see that the 60XT has flat treble from the 2200Hz crossover up to that rise just past 10kHz. Below 400Hz, where it moves to the dual woofers and ports, we see more noise in the frequency response as room nodes become more of a problem. The four bass sources also make it harder to measure with this method. We do see that the frequency response dips down to 20Hz without an issue.

motion 60xt in room average

The next chart is a single direct measurement of the 60XT. This illustrates just how flat the response of the AMT is. The less even response on the previous chart is influenced by how much more it rolls-off when you move off-axis. If you are sitting aligned with the 60XT you see that the response is flat from the midrange up.

motion 60xt 1m single measure

The MartinLogan Motion 60XT is rated as a 4 ohm speaker and the measurements confirm that. It drops down to 2.25 ohms at 300Hz and has another dip at 100Hz. Below 80Hz and past 2.5kHz it remains above 4 Ohms, but using a receiver or amplifier that is rated for 4 Ohm loads is a good idea.

Martin Logan Motion 60XT Impedance Cropped

A Winning “conventional” MartinLogan Speaker

MartinLogan will always be associated with their electrostatic speakers in my mind, but those do not work for everyone because of their price, size and positioning demands. I imagine the Motion series is as close as we’ll get to a traditional box speaker from them with the AMT instead of a dome tweeter. The AMT excels with its speed and clarity. The dual 8” woofers provide plenty of bass in my 12’ x 25’ listening room, even with bass traps installed to help reduce it a bit.

With a matching Motion 50XT center channel speaker available for the 60XT, it can make a superb home theater system or a stereo system. Since every receiver now has some room correction built-in to it, the hot treble won’t be an issue. Instead you’ll get clean high-frequencies along with solid bass response. If you are using the 60XT in a pure two-channel system, then I would pair them with a hybrid integrated like the Peachtree Nova to bring out the best in them. The Motion 60XT is a different approach for MartinLogan, but one that is very successful when paired with the right amplification and sources.

Review Summary
Product: MartinLogan Motion 60XT
Reviewer:
Pros: Very good bass; fast and dynamic tweeter with great clarity, great finish and build quality
Cons: Treble rise might not suit all systems, prefers a powerful amplifier, tweeter position might be high for some seats
Summary: MartinLogan has a speaker that is wonderful for home theater and very good for music in the Motion 60XT. If your system has any room correction, the 60XT is almost flat from 20Hz to 20kHz and can fill almost any space.
Value: 4.5/5
Performance: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Buy From Amazon

Why Amazon Links?

 

  • Allan Marcus

    Thanks for the review. Can you coment on the sound dispersion (80°x30°) vs 80×80 on the motion 40s? Does that have any real effect on listen when not in the sweet spot?

    • Sorry, I haven’t heard the Motion 40 so I can’t comment on that. Usually the dispersion is given in horizontal x vertical, so the 40 might sound better if you were very high or very low compared to the tweeter. With all Air Motion Transformer tweeters I find you’re best to be in the sweet spot. They are very flat there, but fall off more off-axis than dome designs with a waveguide.

      • Allan Marcus

        Thanks Chris. The 80×30 is the same as MLs electrostats, which worry me. Simply standing when listening to the electrostats results in significant sound loss. With the 40’s that is not an issue.

        • It appears the smaller driver used there has better vertical dispersion. The ML electrostatic are certainly best when sitting in the correct position. The image can really shift if you aren’t sitting down for example. I love those speakers, but if you aren’t going to be listening to them at that location, they probably aren’t the best.