Speaker Review

Motion 15i Speakers From Martin Logan 

Including a Folded Motion tweeter, Paul Rigby reviews the Motion 15i stand-mounted speakers

A relatively small speaker, the essence of the entire design boils down to its Folded Motion tweeter technology. This thin-film transducer design crimps light-weight film into an accordion-like structure. The idea being that you can squeeze more surface area into a smaller physical space.

Spanning 2.6 x 3.6cm, the Folded Motion tweeters incorporate neodymium iron boron (NIB) rare-earth magnets, with field strengths, “…almost 20 times those of conventional magnet materials,” said the company.

Motion 15i Speakers From Martin Logan 

Under that is an aluminium coned mid/bass driver spanning 13cm. This is a custom built unit. Notice the concave dust cap design. That’s there to add strength to the cone. 

Tripping off the tongue with gay abandon is the Vojtkotm crossover that uses polypropylene and low-DF electrolytic capacitors, custom wound inductors and thermal and current protection.

Mid/bass unit with concave dust cap

During listening, I toed in the speakers so that each channel skimmed the outer ear. So, for example I positioned the left channel speaker’s tweeter pointing at or ever so slightly outside the left ear.

Strictly speaking, these are 5 Ohm speakers but they’re compatible with 4 Ohm – 8 Ohm amplifiers, so don’t be concerned about that.

Motion 15i Speakers From Martin Logan 

Spanning 290 x 173 x 238.25mm and weighing in at 5.4kg, the speakers provide custom 5-way binding posts and can handle amplifiers from 20W-200W.

Presented in Gloss Black, Matte White and Red Walnut, the rear-ported speakers also offer a wholly admirable 92db in sensitivity. 

SOUND QUALITY

I began with Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Thanks to You from the album, Love (Capitol). The first, rather brief, first impression was how easy (in relative terms, at least) the Motion 15i speakers were to drive. I had to lower the pre-amp’s gain by a couple of notches right from the off. 

The most long-lasting impression I had in those first few seconds was two things.

Firstly, the huge amount of space that the speakers were creating in and around the stereo image. The Cole vocal was a case in point. There was so much air infusing the Cole delivery that his performance appeared effortless and full of enthusiasm.

The air and space ventured right across the soundstage from this central point, providing plenty of room for detail to roam.

Motion 15i Speakers From Martin Logan 

On that point, the Cole vocal was brimming with detail. The midrange insight was just superb via the Motion 15i speakers. There was a sense on texture, lucidity and, above all, focus that really cut to the core of the vocal delivery here. Cole’s voice was packed with a focused texture that tracked the tiny changes across his vocal chords with no problems at all.

Crossover

That focus was also notable in terms of the later trumpet solo where the precision of the instrument combined easily and effectively with the human aspect. There was no doubt that a human was playing the thing, that there were micro-faults in and around the performance that only added to the organic nature of the solo and that there was real emotion to be had, even during a cursory listen.

Bass, in terms of heft and mass, was good. Nothing more than you might expect from a speaker cabinet of this size. Again, though, the focus from the 15i speakers meant that heaps of low frequency information was forthcoming and what bass was available was delivered with impact and strength. 

Treble was a joy here, that tweeter had a large part in the creation of the air and space in and around the upper frequencies while the cymbal hits were quite ethereal in nature. 

I then turned to Thin Lizzy’s Having a Good Time from the LP, Chinatown (reissued via Back on Black).

And the result? Glorious! Truly lovely. In a word? Layers. Lots of them. This rock effort provided a delicate, detail-infused acoustic guitar with metallic filigree emerging from it. Underneath that? A chopping electric guitar (from Mr Snowy White, no less), bass was next door and under that? Percussion. Tonally spot on and realistic and the Phil Lynott lead vocal? Detached, singing in his own space, allowed to express himself without interference from other frequencies, every nuance of his delivery spotted and absorbed by the ear. The Motion 15i speakers also plugged into the emotion of the overall track so it was very easy to tap the foot and nod the head here. The production quality of this pressing is pretty good but the boxes seemed to enhance that basic quality. Never a bad thing.

I then turned to CD and Leo Kottke’s sublime acoustic guitar work on Regards From Chuck Pink (Private Music). This sort of sound source is both simple and complex, at least for a set of speakers because the plucked guitar strings are quite complex in sound terms when plucked. They produce a host of minor sonic fractures that spin off in all directions and it takes a pretty capable hi-fi system to track them all. 

The 15i speakers did just that. Kottke, a true student of the John Fahey style of craftsmanship, manipulated his guitar in a host of imaginative ways producing an orchestral suite of sounds. Each were tracked well, retaining both form and structure and without losing control and resorting to a messy smearing, skidding action in order to keep up. The inherent focus meant that detail was delivered to the ear intact, while excellent instrumental separation also means that the shy percussion lying at the rear of the mix could also be heard.  

CONCLUSION

The ability of the 15i speakers to remain naturally open, spacious and airy in the midrange without the designers having to resort to hardware tricks, such as pinching and brightening to retain a focus and enhance detail, meant that the Motion 15i  speakers sounded more expensive than they really were. The detail and clarity allowed a bucket load of information to reach the ear with no effort at all while bass precision and power was retained.  Offering a neutral presentation, the Martin Logan 15i speakers will provide an ideal fit for any musical genre and any hifi chain. Buy with confidence. 


MARTIN LOGAN MOTION 15i SPEAKERS 

Price: £795

Tel: 01767 686300

Website: martin-logan.co.uk

GOOD: low noise, balanced output, airy mids, open treble, focus

BAD: nothing

RATING: 9


[Don’t forget to check out my new Patreon Page at www.patreon.com/audiophileman, for exclusive postings, giveaways and more!]

REFERENCE

Pro-Ject RPM3 Carbon turntable

Trichord Dino phono amplifier

Audiolab 6000A amplifier

Spendor A1 speakers

Benchmark DAC2 HGC

Leema Essentials CD Player

Tellurium Blue Cables

Gutwire Consummate Grounding Cable

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner 

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Ben
    14th April 2020 at 11:43 am

    Hi Paul,

    Hope you are well!

    Thanks for your advice previously for the Martin Logans. I have found a store close to me with the older Motion 15 in stock, which I plan to go give a listen (eventually!..). I just wondered if you had compared the 15 and 15i, and whether you know of a big difference between the two? I havent found anywhere near me with the new model, so not sure I’ll be able to compare.

    Many thanks

    Ben

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      14th April 2020 at 11:49 am

      I prefer the more recent ‘i’ model Ben which enhances sound quality offering more finesse in the upper mids.

      • Reply
        Ben
        15th April 2020 at 3:33 pm

        Thanks Paul, I’ll try to find somewhere that I can give them a listen in that case.

        All the best

        Ben

        • Reply
          Ben
          24th May 2020 at 1:42 pm

          Hi Paul,

          Hope you’re well. I recently listened to the Scansonic M10, which I was quite impressed with. I just wondered if you had listened to these, and how you find them in comparison the Martin Logans? I still have not been able to listen to the latter, so I am unable to compare. Considering my current listening room is quite small, which do you think would be better suited?

          Many thanks
          Ben

          • Paul Rigby
            25th May 2020 at 9:27 am

            Hi Ben – although the 5s were well received, I don’t know anyone whose looked at the 10s. I haven’t, I’m afraid. I was impressed with them during casual listening at shows but that’s hardly definitive, of course. Is it possible to request a home demo? I think that’s not unreasonable, especially now.

  • Reply
    Ben
    25th May 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Yes there doesn’t seem to be much information around on the Scansonics! I’ll see what I can do in regards to listening to the Martin Logans.. Thanks again, I appreciate all your help!

    Many thanks
    Ben

  • Reply
    Enrico
    24th July 2020 at 10:36 pm

    Hi Paul,
    thanks for this very informative review. Did you happen to compare those to B&W’s little standmounters (607, 707)? I’m currently running a pair of 607 S6s that I “tamed” with an Arcam A19 but they still retain a little bit of sparkle in the mid-highs, and when the source’s sound is ever slightly bright (case in point: Bluesound Node 2i and its poor dac) they became so harsh that they pierce my ears. I’m searching for something with good clarity, wide soundstage but also with a smooth treble, but I’m afraid these ML may end up being too thin… My listenings span from hard rock/metal to classical music and piano pieces.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th July 2020 at 9:46 am

      Hi Enrico – ‘thin’ is sometimes judged by the listener’s perceptive. What I mean by that is, your sense of ‘thin’ might be my ‘tonally balanced’. Which is why a demo is always good thing 🙂 The 15i speakers don’t have bass emphasis but they use bass well, it’s balanced in the mix and doesn’t dominate. Neither should it. They’re well behaved and highly recommended and, frankly, should be priced higher than they are.

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