Imaging, on the other hand, was exceptional; the kaleidoscope of panned vocals and images zipping across the soundstage from Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “It Can Happen” were startling in their movement and clarity. Soundstage dimensionality—at least laterally—was well resolved, but depth was a little lacking. The speaker has a tendency to emphasize and press forward a recording’s backgrounds—for example, the backing singers, principally Michael McDonald harmonizing behind Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen during “Hey Nineteen.” Similarly the vast ambience and the depth of the soprano soloist within the Turtle Creek Chorale on the Rutter Requiem were not fully revealed; rather everything was pressed forward and flattened slightly.
Outside of the lowest octave—the 20–40Hz range is beyond the grasp of the 35XT—bass response was faithful and tuneful, with good tonality and pitch specificity. And to its credit, the bugaboo of port overhang was all but non-existent at any rational listening level. Predictably, the 35XT had limits on large-scale dynamic shifts in the midbass regions, and its mid and upperbass were a bit shy of ruler-flat. Although the duet for bass violin and trombone from Pulcinella indicated some suppressed macrodynamic energy, the 35XT still managed to more than pull its own weight (and that of the instruments)—quite an accomplishment for a compact barely topping thirteen inches.
Keep in mind that the quality of bass response performance will be commensurate with positioning in the room, meaning the 35XT needs the reinforcement of the wall directly behind it. In my room, midbass and upper bass response smoothed out appreciably at a distance of about 28" from the backwall to the speaker’s rear panel.
Driver integration, a critical aspect of the listening experience, becomes ever more significant with hybrid designs such as the 35XT. Mixing driver materials, types, and technologies can be a little like stirring oil and water—the drivers struggling to integrate with each other and to sing with one voice. In other words, the heavier (read: slower) woofer can be heard to be operating at a disadvantage to the feather-light folded diaphragm of the tweeter. Fortunately evidence of this familiar divide was negligible in my listening sessions with the 35XT. The human voice is excellent at exposing inter-driver irregularities, but the 35XT proved its mettle to my ears. It managed to strike a canny musical balance. An impressive achievement, to say the least.
All told, the Motion 35XT offers some stiff competition to battle-hardened rivals like the Sonus faber Venere 1.5 with its espresso midrange, or the Focal Aria 906 with its punchy bass response and all-around dynamism. But of these contenders only the ML has the virtue of its sweet tweet, and offers such a high level of overall transparency and musicality. The 35XT is a worthy heir to the proud tradition at MartinLogan.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Two-way, bass-reflex, hybrid ribbon/cone, stand-mount loudspeaker
Frequency response: 50Hz–25kHz +/-3dB
Drivers: Folded Motion XT Tweeter (4.5" x 2.75" diaphragm), 6" aluminum mid-bass
Sensitivity: 92dB @ 2.83 volts/meter
Impedance: 4 ohms
Dimensions: 13.5" x 7.6" x 11.8"
Weight: 18.5 lbs.
2101 Delaware St.
Lawrence, KS 66046
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