Recommended Reference Component: MartinLogan Motion 60XTi Loudspeakers

Recommended Reference Component“It’s fair to say that MartinLogan is at least partially responsible for popularizing the electrostatic speaker,” Diego Estan pointed out in his review of the MartinLogan Motion 60XTi loudspeakers, published last month on SoundStage! Access. But the 60XTi ($3499.98/pair, all prices USD) is not one of the electrostatic models for which the company is still best known. Instead, it’s the flagship of ML’s entry-level Motion series, which comprises speakers with dynamic drivers at prices more people can afford.

The Motion 60XTi has two 8” woofers, one 6.5” midrange driver, and one 1.2”W x 1.4”H FMT XT air-motion transformer (AMT) tweeter. The woofers are crossed over to the midrange at 400Hz, and the midrange to the tweeter at 2.2kHz. MartinLogan specifies the 60XTi’s nominal impedance as 4 ohms, its sensitivity as 94dB/2.83V/m, and its frequency response as 35Hz-25kHz, ±3dB. The impedance and frequency-response specs align fairly well with our own measurements of the Motion 60XTi, though we measured a lower sensitivity of 88.15dB/2.83V/m. This is typical of a speaker of this size and driver configuration, and means that you’ll need a more powerful amplifier than ML’s spec indicates.


The Motion 60XTi’s cabinet measures 48”H x 11.4”W x 14.4”D, and its top panel slopes down a bit toward the back. Diego liked the look and was impressed by the build quality: “The cabinets of my review samples were finished to a high standard that belied the relatively modest price. The real-wood veneer was immaculate and beautiful, with no visible joins.”

Throughout all of his listening for this review, Diego felt that the 60XTi “produced a quality of sound worthy of more expensive designs.” He began with “Hotel California,” from the Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Geffen): “I could tell that the Motions didn’t lack midrange transparency, detail, and presence. The leading edges of the guitar notes had bite and sparkle, followed by long, delicate decays. When the bass drops 32 seconds into the track, I was again not disappointed, assailed by generous amounts of chest and even leg slam. . . . Using my UMIK-1 calibrated microphone, I measured the -3dB point at 22Hz -- nearly full-range sound.”


With this track, Diego also found “an effortless ease to the sound” that made him want to increase the volume and play it again, this time “LOUD.” When he did, he “measured peaks of around 100dB SPL” at his listening position, while the needles on his McIntosh Laboratory MC302 amplifier’s wattmeters “seemed to be bouncing into the 100W area.”

When he moved on to “One Light Left in Heaven,” from Blue Rodeo’s The Things We Left Behind (16/44.1 FLAC, Warner Bros.), Diego heard this: “Jim Cuddy’s lead vocal had very good presence, palpability, and realism. . . . The acoustic guitars -- one mixed just to the left of Cuddy, the other well to the right and behind him -- were reproduced with a perfect combination of leading-edge bite and delicate nuance. The 60XTi’s hid no detail from me, making it easy to hear the subtle backing vocal of singer-songwriter Oh Susanna (aka Suzie Ungerleider), which first appears about 45 seconds in.”


Diego’s reference speakers were Bowers & Wilkins 705 S2s: two-driver, two-way stand-mounts ($3000/pair including dedicated stands). Among the B&Ws’ strengths is their imaging -- yet the much-larger Motion 60XTi floorstanders held their own against the 705 S2s even in this, their specialty. When Diego played the Blue Rodeo track again, “The sizes of aural images carved out by the imposing MartinLogans -- e.g., at 1:08, the violin that appears halfway between the left speaker and the center of the soundstage, behind Cuddy’s voice and the acoustic guitars -- were just about as small, precise, and well delineated as those I’m used to hearing from my B&Ws.”

It was also obvious to Diego that the Motion 60XTi’s could play much deeper and louder in the bass: “No surprise -- I was comparing a fairly large tower speaker with a much smaller minimonitor. . . . But above the bass range, the overall sonic signatures of the MLs and B&Ws were quite similar -- which explains why I so liked the MartinLogans.” In fact, the MLs’ greater bass weight aside, back-to-back comparisons revealed no clear winner -- Diego’s preferences shifted back and forth with the music played.


In his “Conclusion,” Diego wrote: “At $3499.98/pair, the MartinLogan Motion 60XTi is an exceptional value. I really enjoyed my time with the pair, and found their sound signature to be just the kind I lust after. . . . Were I in the market for a pair of floorstanding speakers, I’d definitely look to buy a pair.”

MartinLogan’s flagship Motion model, the 60XTi, is a fabulous speaker that’s not only worthy of the Reviewers’ Choice award it received when Diego’s review was published, but also of being included in our list of Recommended Reference Components -- the first MartinLogan product to win that honor.

Manufacturer contact information:

MartinLogan, Ltd.
2101 Delaware Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 749-0133
Fax: (785) 749-5320