MartinLogan’s Motion Vision Soundbar benefits greatly from the Folded Motion tweeter, incorporating three of them along with four 4-inch extended-throw bass drivers for a total of 7 channels driven by a 100-watt amplifier. Soundbars, long considered the redheaded stepchildren of the CI industry, are experiencing a renaissance, with many respected speaker manufacturers embracing this fast-growing product category. and when a company with a pedigree like martinlogan delivers its first soundbar, you should probably take note.
The name MartinLogan likely conjures images of artistic, oh-so-sexy electrostatic panels that look like they should be playing sophisticated jazz in a MoMA gallery. But the manufacturer recently revisited the proverbial drawing board and developed its current Motion line with a new Folded Motion tweeter design. Besides offering eight times the surface area of a typical 1-inch dome, it produces the open, airy, fast sonic qualities similar to the company’s electrostat panels.
The Motion Vision Soundbar benefits greatly from the Folded Motion tweeter, incorporating three of them along with four 4-inch extendedthrow bass drivers for a total of 7 channels driven by a 100-watt amplifier.
The speaker comes well packaged, shrouded in a soft sock that preserves its sleek, high-gloss black cabinet finish. The speaker’s design is stylish, with a curved rear design that reminded me of a recurve bow (maybe because I’m reading The Hunger Games). However, as many TV designs are now sub-2-inch-thick, the Vision’s near 6-inch depth might be a concern for some clients. Also at sub 40-inches wide, it may look small under larger sets.
Included with the Vision is a mounting bracket and installation template, which allows you to show clients exactly where the speaker will be positioned on the wall before you start puncturing drywall. I mounted the Vision in my bedroom below a 46-inch Samsung LED TV. All of my audio sources connect to the TV, and the TV’s optical digital output connected to the Vision. My install required no input switching on the Motion Vision and gave access to my DISH Hopper, Kaleidescape, and Control4 digital media library, and will probably be the most common install method. The Vision includes three digital inputs (2 optical/1 coax) and 1 analog input and decodes Dolby Digital and DTS audio.
For added bass, the Vision includes a subwoofer output, but some MartinLogan subs can go wireless by utilizing the Vision’s built-in SWT-2 transmitter. MartinLogan included the Dynamo 1,000W sub–an SWT-2 capable model–with the Vision. Unfortunately, I had issues with the wireless operation in my install; the sub would pop and thump when pausing or fast-forwarding or sometimes when sitting there doing nothing. Even in different locations and trying a second sub, I couldn’t get reliable wireless results. Obviously–as with any wireless system– your results may vary. Fortunately, the hard-wired connection resolved these issues.
As luxe as the Vision speaker looks, the credit card-sized remote is not. For such a high-end product, it feels cheap. Fortunately, customers will rarely use it as the Vision can learn commands from any other remote, allowing you to integrate your wand of choice. There are some minor set-up options, such as simulated surround on/ off, bass level, adjusting the speaker’s blue LED display, naming sources, etc. The Vision also has three EQ listening modes: Normal, Bass+, and Night. I left it in Normal for virtually all of my listening. Also, buttons on top of the Vision allow local control.
MartinLogan’s Vision Motion features a curved rear design. Now, we get to the heart of it: How does the Vision sound? In a word, awesome. As a soundbar, the Vision’s primary mission will be playing back movie and TV content, and it did this with aplomb. Far more than merely being a step-up to anemic TV speakers, the Vision delivers sound that will likely exceed that of many front L/C/R systems for range and clarity. Dialog was always sharp and easily understandable without being too forward or strained. While the sub definitely improved the lowest octaves, I felt the Vision delivered amazing bass on its own. Volume was never an issue either, as the Vision played back movies like Predators at cinematic levels without distorting or running out of gas.
In my bedroom install–with one sidewall far from the speaker and an armoire just a couple of feet away–the surround effect wasn’t very aggressive. I would say that the Vision created an audio image that extends far wider than its physical footprint, but it did not place sounds to the side or behind me.
The Vision is competent with music as well, again doing a great job with lyrical clarity. The Folded Motion tweeters love strings and cymbal strokes as well, adeptly handling these delicate instruments. Though, again, the speaker surprised me with its prodigious bass output. I did feel like the audio image was more confined when listening to music than movies, sounding more like speakers that were sitting roughly 4-5 feet apart.
With the Motion Vision, MartinLogan demonstrates that the words “soundbar” and “high-end” can be synonymous. And while a “bar” won’t replace a true surround system, the Vision gives installers an exciting, no-compromise offering in this popular category.
Terrific sound that offers great dialog reproduction and surprisingly full bass
Subwoofer wireless issues; unit size
• Includes four 4-inch fiber cone drivers, and three 1 x 1.4-inch Folded motion Transducers
• 100 watts total power (200 watts peak) combined across 7 amplifier channels
• Frequency Response 43–23,000 Hz +/- 3dB
• Built-in SWT-2 wireless transmitter compatible with select MartinLogan subwoofers
• Decodes Dolby Digital and DTS digital audio formats
• Inputs: Optical digital (x2), Coaxial digital, Analog audio; Subwoofer linelevel output
• Dimensions: 5 x 39.9 x 5.85-inches (HxWxD); Weight 20.5 pounds