Can a high-end company make a great $499 speaker?

Can the MartinLogan Motion 4 really be considered a bona-fide high-end speaker if it sells for a mere $499 a pair? Jeff Dorgay at Tone Audio magazine thinks it can!

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read

The MartinLogan Motion 4 answers the question, can a speaker be considered a high-end design if it retails for $499 a pair? Jeff Dorgay at Tone Audio magazine thinks it can!

MartinLogan made a splash with audiophiles in the early 1980s with its electrostatic panel speakers. The clear, 5-foot-tall panels were remarkable for their "see-through" transparency of sound. The company still makes big-panel speakers but has branched out into home theater, and now with the Motion 4, it's making overachieving small speakers.

The Motion 4's tweeter is pretty special; its Folded Motion transducer works by moving air, similar to the way an accordion works. Its low-mass diaphragm "squeezes" air and produces almost 90 percent less back and forth movement than a dome tweeter. The Folded Motion tweeter also has a large surface area; eight times that of a 1-inch dome tweeter. The Folded Motion technology is said to minimize distortion.

The Motion 4 is a small bookshelf design, 5 by 5 inches and just over a foot tall; it has a 4-inch woofer.

A detail of the tweeter behind the Motion 4's grille. MartinLogan

Dorgay listened to the Motion 4s with a few different amplifiers: a Naim Uniti receiver, Prima Luna Prologue 1 vacuum-tube integrated amp, and a Denon AVR 3910 receiver. In a small room placed near a corner, the Motion 4s had a surprising amount of bass. MartinLogan concentrated on making a great speaker that only goes down to 75 Hz cleanly, instead of a mediocre speaker that goes down to 50 Hz. Need more low-end oomph? Add a subwoofer to provide deep bass.

Dorgay's friends and family were all amazed by the speakers' natural sound, and even a couple of MartinLogan panel-speaker-owning friends really liked these little ones. Dorgay said he never felt like he was listening to a pair of "budget" speakers; he thinks the Motion 4 is one of the best buys in high-end audio today.

The ML Summit X panel speakers MartinLogan

You can read the complete Motion 4 review on the Tone Audio Web site.

Motion Series speakers are also available as tower, center, and ultracompact bookshelf models. The Motion speakers can be mixed and matched with any of MartinLogan's high-performance subwoofers in two-channel or multichannel home theater applications.