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Article: MartinLogan Motion 40i Review


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1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Hi George - Thanks for the review. Very concise. 

 

I have a soft spot for MartinLogan and I'm always interested in its speakers. ReQuests were one of my first real high end speakers and I'll never forget that sound :~)

 

Same here...passed them on to a family member and he is absolutely thrilled with the Requests. They still sound great and Dirac Live takes care of any room issues.

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> "bi-wiring if one believes in such a thing"

 

Have you ever tried bi-wiring? It made a significant and easily noticeable difference in the two pairs of speakers I tried it on. The sound also changed when I single-wired with jumpers on the tweeters vs. jumpers on the woofers.

 

Martin Logan speakers would definitely rate a look if I were shopping. The price is reasonable and the AMT tweeter is an amazing device. Quite a few designs used an AMT at the Toronto audio fest. I'm not a fan of ported speakers either. I would want to block the ports and cross over to my subs.

 

I am not a fan of previous ML speakers. Crystalline highs but no body. 

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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On 12/20/2019 at 8:02 PM, audiobomber said:

> "bi-wiring if one believes in such a thing"

 

Have you ever tried bi-wiring? It made a significant and easily noticeable difference in the two pairs of speakers I tried it on. The sound also changed when I single-wired with jumpers on the tweeters vs. jumpers on the woofers.

 

Martin Logan speakers would definitely rate a look if I were shopping. The price is reasonable and the AMT tweeter is an amazing device. Quite a few designs used an AMT at the Toronto audio fest. I'm not a fan of ported speakers either. I would want to block the ports and cross over to my subs.

 

I am not a fan of previous ML speakers. Crystalline highs but no body. 

Bi-wiring doesn’t really do anything positive. As far as cable is concerned, it’s like upping the gauge to the wire, but if you are splitting the woofer and tweeter by removing the shorting straps at the speakers and connecting them back together at the amplifier, all you are really doing is moving the place where the woofer and tweeter are joined from the back of the speaker with just a very short, low-resistance strap to a long, higher resistance cable. Sure it can change the sound, but I assure you it is subtracting something rather than adding anything. If you like that better, well, that’s up to you. But you really should know what’s actually going on. Also, while we’re on the subject, bi-amping a speaker that won’t let you bypass the built-in cross-overs, is also, mostly futile. For proper bi-amp performance you want a small signal crossover BEFORE the amplifiers. Now you’ve got the true advantages afforded by bi-amping! There is an exception to that. Even if you are stuck with the speaker’s built-in crossover, you will still get benefit if, for instance the two amplifiers you are using have vastly different sonic signatures. For instance, if you prefer the bass of a solid-state amp, you might want to put that on the woofer, but if you prefer the sweet open high-end often attributed to tubes, then you might want to use a good-sounding tube amp on the tweeter (perhaps even a low wattage SET).

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7 hours ago, Ralf11 said:

Dick Vandersteen likes bi-wiring...

I don’t think that changes the physics, do you? It has to take something away. I mean you have replaced a very short strap with a long piece of wire. That adds resistance, capacitance and  inductance. It has to change something, and since wire is passive, not active, it can only attenuate, not amplify. Therefore, some portion of the tweeter’s passband has to be attenuated. So, if Mr. Vandersteen or anyone else hear’s an improvement, it’s because they like a certain portion of the high frequency spectrum being reduced in volume. Am I not right?

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On 12/25/2019 at 10:37 PM, Sonis said:

Bi-wiring doesn’t really do anything positive. As far as cable is concerned, it’s like upping the gauge to the wire, but if you are splitting the woofer and tweeter by removing the shorting straps at the speakers and connecting them back together at the amplifier, all you are really doing is moving the place where the woofer and tweeter are joined from the back of the speaker with just a very short, low-resistance strap to a long, higher resistance cable. Sure it can change the sound, but I assure you it is subtracting something rather than adding anything. If you like that better, well, that’s up to you. But you really should know what’s actually going on. 

I asked if you had ever tried biwiring, you responded with reasons why you believe it isn't worthwhile. I assume that you have not tried, and are therefore working with limited information. I investigated biwiring my system with dual and single 10' runs of Linn K400 13ga cable. Every configuration sounded different; single run to tweeters with short K400 jumper cable to woofer, same except connected to woofers first, and finally biwired. 

 

I have 12ga zip wire, Linn K400 single and biwire runs and Cardas Neutral Reference bi-wires. There are significant and easily heard differences between them, all in favour of the more expensive options. The opinion often stated by "objectivists" is just to use 12ga from a hardware store does not hold.

 

You agree that capacitance, inductance and resistance change with biwire vs single run. These base parameters are enough to change the sound, IMO, but there are other potential factors as well, e.g. phase effects: 

http://www.empiricalaudio.com/computer-audio/audio-faqs/bi-wiring-speaker-cables

 

and IM effects: https://www.qacoustics.co.uk/blog/2016/06/08/bi-wiring-speakers-exploration-benefits/

 

Biwiring is in no way essential, but if I have speakers with dual terminals and biwire cables, I will definitely use them. 

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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On 12/25/2019 at 10:37 PM, Sonis said:

Also, while we’re on the subject, bi-amping a speaker that won’t let you bypass the built-in cross-overs, is also, mostly futile. For proper bi-amp performance you want a small signal crossover BEFORE the amplifiers. Now you’ve got the true advantages afforded by bi-amping! There is an exception to that. Even if you are stuck with the speaker’s built-in crossover, you will still get benefit if, for instance the two amplifiers you are using have vastly different sonic signatures. For instance, if you prefer the bass of a solid-state amp, you might want to put that on the woofer, but if you prefer the sweet open high-end often attributed to tubes, then you might want to use a good-sounding tube amp on the tweeter (perhaps even a low wattage SET).

I intend to start a new thread on this topic, as I find it fascinating and complex. I will link the new thread here.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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10 hours ago, audiobomber said:

I asked if you had ever tried biwiring, you responded with reasons why you believe it isn't worthwhile. I assume that you have not tried, and are therefore working with limited information. I investigated biwiring my system with dual and single 10' runs of Linn K400 13ga cable. Every configuration sounded different; single run to tweeters with short K400 jumper cable to woofer, same except connected to woofers first, and finally biwired. 

 

I have 12ga zip wire, Linn K400 single and biwire runs and Cardas Neutral Reference bi-wires. There are significant and easily heard differences between them, all in favour of the more expensive options. The opinion often stated by "objectivists" is just to use 12ga from a hardware store does not hold.

 

You agree that capacitance, inductance and resistance change with biwire vs single run. These base parameters are enough to change the sound, IMO, but there are other potential factors as well, e.g. phase effects: 

http://www.empiricalaudio.com/computer-audio/audio-faqs/bi-wiring-speaker-cables

 

and IM effects: https://www.qacoustics.co.uk/blog/2016/06/08/bi-wiring-speakers-exploration-benefits/

 

Biwiring is in no way essential, but if I have speakers with dual terminals and biwire cables, I will definitely use them. 

Now, I've tried most everything, including bi-wiring. And yes, it definitely changes the sound of the top end. No doubt. Using an audio spectrum analyzer, I found that in the case of the speaker cable I was using at the time (Symo), the lower treble region was  attenuated about 1.5 dB from around 4KHz to about 6.5KHz compared to single wire. Not a lot, but did it change, on direct comparison, the character of the sound. That's why I say that bi-wiring cannot add anything to the sound, only subtract something from it as it must. Sure, capacitance, inductance and added resistance do, indeed change the sound, but measurement wise, not for the better  (unless it is taming a peak in the speaker's frequency response). But unless you have access many different brands, models, and gauges of wire with which to experiment and some fancy measuring equipment, finding a combination that will improve the sound of one's speakers by attenuating peaks in the FR, for instance,  it's almost impossible to predict the results. Most likely it will makes the speakers sound worse than they did with single wiring. Bi-amping with a low level adjustable crossover before the amplifiers, of course, is a different kettle of fish altogether. 

Mostly, with cable swaps, and bi-wiring schemes it's a crap shoot, and I have found that many audiophiles, impressed that the sound changes, automatically assume that it's a change for the better, whether it is or not because in their minds, different is always better.

George

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I agree that cables are subtractive, but they can also be used to flavour the stew, with subtle but important changes in tonality, detail, soundstage and PRaT. 

 

It is commonly stated that long interconnects with short speaker cables is preferred over the opposite. At a very minimum, biwiring is equivalent to halving the length your speaker wires. The IM and phase improvements vs. single wire are a bonus.

 

Judging the value of a cable swap is best determined with extended listening time. Initial impressions can be misleading, it takes time to determine a cable's strengths and weaknesses. Quick changes and A-B testing are useful but not definitive.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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  • 1 year later...
Quote

MartinLogan is an American speaker manufacturer (although its main factory is in Canada)

Not any more...

On May 13, 2019, Paradigm Electronics in Mississauga Ontario, issued a press release that stated "Scott Bagby and John Bagby announced the purchase of Paradigm Electronics, Anthem Electronics, and MartinLogan Loudspeakers, effective May 10, 2019."

Scott Bagby, one of the original founders of Paradigm Electronics, will continue as Chairman and will assume the role of CEO. John Bagby, who has always been active in Paradigm daily business, takes on the role of Managing Director.

 

The electrostatics are now all manufactured in Mississauga, Ontario and the Motion series are built in China.

(edited to correct bone-headed spelling error)

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On 12/30/2019 at 6:37 AM, audiobomber said:

I agree that cables are subtractive, but they can also be used to flavour the stew, with subtle but important changes in tonality, detail, soundstage and PRaT. 

 

It is commonly stated that long interconnects with short speaker cables is preferred over the opposite. At a very minimum, biwiring is equivalent to halving the length your speaker wires. The IM and phase improvements vs. single wire are a bonus.

 

Judging the value of a cable swap is best determined with extended listening time. Initial impressions can be misleading, it takes time to determine a cable's strengths and weaknesses. Quick changes and A-B testing are useful but not definitive.

Long term listening is great for getting used to changes between any new configuration or hardware over the previous configuration or hardware. It also helps the memory of the previous configuration or hardware fade. 

George

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2 hours ago, gmgraves said:

Long term listening is great for getting used to changes between any new configuration or hardware over the previous configuration or hardware. It also helps the memory of the previous configuration or hardware fade. 

I listen for flaws. If a cable does something poorly, it will become evident with extended listening.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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3 hours ago, audiobomber said:

I listen for flaws. If a cable does something poorly, it will become evident with extended listening.

all cables are lossy, so in reality, all cables do something poorly if they change the sound. Cables that change the sound are designed to suppress some portion of of the audio spectrum and they charge a good amount of money for the privilege. My opinion backed by a Masters in EE.

George

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8 hours ago, gmgraves said:

all cables are lossy, so in reality, all cables do something poorly if they change the sound. Cables that change the sound are designed to suppress some portion of of the audio spectrum and they charge a good amount of money for the privilege. My opinion backed by a Masters in EE.

My opinion is backed by decades of listening in my room, with my system and my music.

 

There are a gazillion examples of "Masters in EE" who disagree with audiophiles, and I would point out, with designers, some of whom also hold Masters in EE. I like to hear all opinions, from all sides. In the end I decide for myself what I like best.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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8 hours ago, gmgraves said:

Cables that change the sound are designed to suppress some portion of of the audio spectrum and they charge a good amount of money for the privilege. 

I use Cardas Neutral Reference bi-wire speaker cables. Tonally, they are a little warmer than neutral, which suits my system and preferences. The other characteristic they have is a deeper soundstage compared to the Linn K400 bi-wires and generic 12ga cables I own.

 

The Cardas speaker cables, which I purchased second-hand, provide a complementary tonal balance, along with resolution that allows subtle depth details to come through. There may be some cheaper cable that I would like just as well, possibly even better, but I don't know where I would find these among the multitude of choices, because measurements unfortunately do not tell the whole story. 

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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1 hour ago, audiobomber said:

I use Cardas Neutral Reference bi-wire speaker cables. Tonally, they are a little warmer than neutral, which suits my system and preferences. The other characteristic they have is a deeper soundstage compared to the Linn K400 bi-wires and generic 12ga cables I own.

 

The Cardas speaker cables, which I purchased second-hand, provide a complementary tonal balance, along with resolution that allows subtle depth details to come through. There may be some cheaper cable that I would like just as well, possibly even better, but I don't know where I would find these among the multitude of choices, because measurements unfortunately do not tell the whole story. 

Like I said. It’s just an incontrovertible fact of physics that if two interconnects sound different, it’s because the two cables are attenuating different portions of the audio spectrum and both are wrong. Speaker cables are different in that the impedances involved are low; less than  1 Ohm usually for the amplifier (assuming solid state here), and nominally four or eight Ohms for the speaker.   That means that the longish cable runs add significant resistance to the overall impedance characteristics of the amp/speaker interface. Again, different brands of cables affect the speaker sound differently. I use Sewell Direct “Silverback” speaker wire in six foot (only) lengths. This cable is 12 Ga, 259 strand, OFC cable and in such short runs, changes the overall impedance of the system by less than a quarter of an Ohm. It has minimum effect on the system’s sound. My opinion is that using cables, either interconnects or speaker cables as a fixed “tone control” is wrong-headed. 

George

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On 12/26/2019 at 2:13 PM, Ralf11 said:

Dick Vandersteen likes bi-wiring...

Mr. Vandersteen is a wonderful person to talk to. I had breakfast with him at AXPONA once. He is a great story teller and a generally nice gent.

 

On the other hand, I am not a fan of his speakers and have had a pair of 2ci's. Not my cup o' joe.

 

I think he designs the cabinets more than the innards of his speakers because he was a truck driver before his speaker days. Not saying he is not smart enough, his business acumen is stellar, but not sure of his engineering background.

Current:  JRiver 26 on Win 10 PC (AMD Ryzen 5 2600 with 32 GB RAM) or Daphile on an AMD A10-5700 with 8 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Amplification - Bow Technologies Wazoo Integrated (great amp - silly name)

Speakers: Wharfedale Linton Heritage - KEF LS50 - ELAC unifi UB5's - Linn Tukans - others......

Cables: Tara Labs RCS Reference speaker cables and DiMarzio Interconnects

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3 hours ago, gmgraves said:

Like I said. It’s just an incontrovertible fact of physics that if two interconnects sound different, it’s because the two cables are attenuating different portions of the audio spectrum and both are wrong.

 

Dear me, George, that's pushing it 😉 ... first, why are "both wrong" - the possibility that one is right, and the other wrong, is not in the picture? And secondly, the fact that one cable is better at, say,  rejecting RF interference than the other is not part of the equation?

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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1 hour ago, fas42 said:

 

Dear me, George, that's pushing it 😉 ... first, why are "both wrong" - the possibility that one is right, and the other wrong, is not in the picture? And secondly, the fact that one cable is better at, say,  rejecting RF interference than the other is not part of the equation?

They are both wrong only if they both change the sound! One advantage of Integrated amplifiers is no interconnects.

George

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19 hours ago, gmgraves said:

Like I said. It’s just an incontrovertible fact of physics that if two interconnects sound different, it’s because the two cables are attenuating different portions of the audio spectrum and both are wrong. Speaker cables are different in that the impedances involved are low; less than  1 Ohm usually for the amplifier (assuming solid state here), and nominally four or eight Ohms for the speaker.   That means that the longish cable runs add significant resistance to the overall impedance characteristics of the amp/speaker interface. Again, different brands of cables affect the speaker sound differently. I use Sewell Direct “Silverback” speaker wire in six foot (only) lengths. This cable is 12 Ga, 259 strand, OFC cable and in such short runs, changes the overall impedance of the system by less than a quarter of an Ohm. It has minimum effect on the system’s sound. My opinion is that using cables, either interconnects or speaker cables as a fixed “tone control” is wrong-headed. 

I measured the resistance of my right speaker cable out of curiosity: 0.2 ohms, including connectors. Here are the rest of the specs:

Outside Diameter: .600"
Dielectric Type: Teflon®, Air
Inductance uh/ft/loop: .034
Capacitance pf/ft: 117
Cable awg: 8.5
Conductor Type: Golden Ratio, Constant Q, Crossfield, Pure Copper, Litz

 

I am 100% confident that the Cardas cables let info through that your inexpensive cables lose. IME, it's pointless to argue with someone who believes there's "one true way" to build a audio system, and this is all off-topic, so I'll leave it at that. 

 

 

 

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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3 hours ago, audiobomber said:

I measured the resistance of my right speaker cable out of curiosity: 0.2 ohms, including connectors. Here are the rest of the specs:

Outside Diameter: .600"
Dielectric Type: Teflon®, Air
Inductance uh/ft/loop: .034
Capacitance pf/ft: 117
Cable awg: 8.5
Conductor Type: Golden Ratio, Constant Q, Crossfield, Pure Copper, Litz

 

I am 100% confident that the Cardas cables let info through that your inexpensive cables lose. IME, it's pointless to argue with someone who believes there's "one true way" to build a audio system, and this is all off-topic, so I'll leave it at that. 

 

 

 

Uh, DC resistance of a speaker is irrelevant and not the same thing as impedance. Also, speaker impedance is spec’d as “nominal”. Because it changes with frequency.

I have no doubt that speaker cables can change the sound of a speaker. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that different cables let different amounts of “info” through or that price has anything to do with it. The physical characteristics of the wire determine the performance of the cables, not the price. Of course, the larger the cross-section of the cable (AWG) the lower the cable’s impedance (resistance, capacitance, inductance). This will affect the frequency response curve of the speaker by attenuating the signal less. But again, we are dealing with an AC signal so, no speaker cable is not going to affect the entire audio spectrum linearly. Some frequencies will be attenuated more than others, and this depends upon the cable’s AC characteristics. But in any case, the amount that any speaker cable will affect a speaker’s sound will be minuscule, often less than a dB over any given frequency range. One can believe what one wants, but if one does the maths, they tell the story.

Believe me, this subject is neither rocket science nor magic. There is sound, relatively simple physics behind this. If you have speaker cable that changes the sound of your speakers dramatically, then you’ve bought cables that were designed to do so (like those hyper-expensive cables from the likes of MIT, with their in-line boxes which have controls on them). Remember, wire is a passive component. It cannot have gain, it can only have losses; it can only attenuate signals, and all wire does this to some extent! In most cases, it doesn’t apply significantly to audio due to the lengths involved, coupled with the very low frequency band width of an audio signal. As length and frequency increase, wire characteristics become a larger and larger component of a system’s overall performance. For instance; a length of RG-59 coax (of the kind usually used between audio components) of 50 ft, will attenuate a 20 KHz signal by just about 1 dB. But that same length of RG-59 will attenuate a 100 MHz signal by more than 10 dB (IIRC)! 
 

I’m not going to go so far as to say that the audio cable business is snake oil, (i.e. fraudulent), but I will say that it’s engineering provenance is “dubious” at best. A lot of their success is due to the “emperor’s new clothes” syndrome coupled with the fact that human aural perception is extremely suggestible.

George

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