MartinLogan Motion 15 Bookshelf Speakers Review

Last updated on: 2-22-19
Bottom Line: has a folded ribbon tweeter, a newer and highly performant technology. Otherwise very solid specs all around. They look really great too. Comes at a premium though – similarly specced competitors are less expensive and might sound just as good to a less discerning listener.
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Comes with removable metallic grill covers

Important Specs Overview

Speaker type: passive, 2-way, back ported
Continuous power handling: 60 W*
Peak power handling: 200 W
Impedance: 5 ohms compatible
Sensitivity: 92 dB/W/m
Frequency response range: 60 – 25k Hz (+/- 3dB)
Driver size: 5.25 in
Unit weight: 12 lbs
Cabinet dimensions: 7 x 9.5 x 11.5 in (width x depth x height)
Warranty: 5 years

*When nominal/RMS power isn’t specified by manufacturer, we use an approximation of ~30% of the specified peak/dynamic power for comparison purposes.

Review And Discussion

MartinLogan is a boutique audio company that specializes in elite-tier speakers, some of which cost the same as a luxury car or a house in the Midwest just to give you an idea. But they also make a variety of speakers that aren’t prohibitively expensive for the non-wealthy majority. Their Motion series is their longstanding entry level line up that consists of a full variety of home theater speakers. The Motion 15, reviewed herein, is currently their flagship compact bookshelf speaker.

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”350″ identifier=”B009JZ09DA” locale=”US” src=”https://www.makeitsoundgreat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/51PPKx6qMnL.jpg” tag=”outdoorspeakersreview-20″ width=”233″]The distinct feature of this speaker is their proprietary Motion tweeter, which the series’ name so comes from. While most bookshelf tweeters are ~1 inch domes, the Motion tweeter is a folded ribbon tweeter. It’s a relatively new and uncommon technology, but we’ve seen it start to appear on more and more non-elite speakers in recent years. The advantage of a ribbon tweeter is that, with more surface area, it can achieve a greater response range while maintaining an even curve. While most tweeters top out at around 20k Hz, and often with significant drop off before then, the Motion 15 gets up to 25k Hz while maintaining an industry standard 3 dB differential. The ancillary benefit is that this range will extend downward as well, allowing the woofer to focus more on the mids and low bass, which is the proverbial limitation of two way bookshelf speakers.

The woofer itself is a polypropylene cone, which is a fairly standard rubber/plastic material used for speaker drivers since it’s easy to reproduce consistently, without one off deformities or other such defects. The response floor all in all is solid, but not stellar. However these are almost certainly intended to be paired with a subwoofer, as most bookshelf speakers are, though they could certainly sound decent on their own.

The power specs are solid – a speaker that can handle up to ~200 W with 5 ohms of impedance will get plenty loud for most rooms. However, the lower impedance will definitely require a better than average receiver to sufficiently power them.

The cabinet is standard 3/4 inch MDF, but they look fantastic, the wood colored version in particular. Sheen finishes have a propensity to look dated and tacky, but the Motion 15 is neither. The upward angle is a nice deviation from the boilerplate box look. The grill cover that keeps the bezel exposed also looks great in this case. If left uncovered the yellow ribbon tweeter might look a little jarring to some, but all in all the Motion speakers look great in our opinion.

Size and weight wise these run pretty middle of the road for passive bookshelf speakers. They’ll also need room in the back for the port to breathe, but otherwise shouldn’t be too difficult to place. The Motion series comes with a five year warranty which is top of the line for non-elite speakers.

Our Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition

These are well built speakers with great technology that will thus be highly performant. They also look great, and you don’t see too many speakers with the gloss finish anymore.

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Really the question is if all that is worth the premium – the Motion 15s run multiples more expensive than similarly specced competitors that really focus on keeping the price down, like Klipsch for example. Also consider that these will likely be overkill for near/midfield listening. These speakers aren’t exorbitantly priced by any means though – some will deem the technology and marginal sound improvement worth the premium, others will think the more economic competitors sound just fine. No wrong answer here. Check out the links below for some less expensive alternative recommendations

Relevant Links and Resources

The best overall budget bookshelf speakers