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MartinLogan 60XTi floorstanding speakers Review

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MartinLogan, founded by Gayle Martin Sanders and Ron Logan Sutherland in the 1980s, made its mark with electrostatic speakers. I remember listening to their Aerius speakers for the first time in 1992 and being very impressed.

The Motion 60XTi floorstanding speaker, the subject of this review, is the flagship of the MartinLogan Motion series. The Motion series uses the company’s folded motion tweeter as opposed to the full-length electrostatic drivers used in other series. The XTi features a folded motion XT tweeter, a 6.5-inch aluminum cone midrange driver, dual 8-inch aluminum cone woofers with rear-firing bass ports, and a proprietary Vojtko crossover network. Performance is claimed to have been enhanced relative to earlier designs by the drive-stabilizing dust cap design, a stiffened motor suspension, and low-mounted woofers to reduce floor bounce. The speaker’s enclosure includes increased internal bracing, a reinforced baffle, and a fabric grille. Available in three stylish finishes: gloss black, matte white, and red walnut. My review sample came in a beautiful gloss black, which blended nicely in my living room.

If you read my California Audio Show 2019 report, you will see that the MartinLogan room was one of my two favorite rooms. At the T.H.E. Show in Long Beach, Sunny Components (Covina, CA) also had a packed room featuring MartinLogan speakers. When my publisher asked if I would be interested in reviewing the new MartinLogan Motion 60XTi, I jumped at the chance.

I owned a pair of ESS AMT-1 speakers in the 1970s, which used the legendary Heil Air Motion Transformer for the midrange and high frequencies, combined with a CTS woofer for the bass. The MartinLogan Folded Motion tweeter, while based on the same concept as Oskar Heil’s air motion transformer (circa 1972), is very different from the original Heil driver. Modern materials, including powerful magnets, allow MartinLogan to offer extremely compact folded motion tweeters that perform consistently and with high levels of accuracy. I enjoyed my ESS speakers for nine years, although they were a little bright and a bit raggedy in the bass. How will these new MartinLogans stack up?

I started by placing the MartinLogan XTi in my living room system, which includes a Goldring GR1 turntable with a Talisman A phono cartridge retipped by Soundsmith, an inexpensive Sony CD player,  NAD Monitor 1000 preamplifier with built-in phono stage that also includes a moving coil step-up,  and a Parasound HCA 1200 high current power amplifier. The Motion Xti speakers are bi-wireable, but I connected them with a single run of speaker cable and used the jumpers provided.

My first impression was that these sound nothing like what I remember of the ESS AMT-1. First of all, these are not bright at all and they have much deeper and cleaner bass. Placing the speakers about four feet from the rear wall and six feet apart seemed to work best; even though I normally position speakers facing straight ahead, these sounded better toed-in towards me, which was consistent with the instruction booklet. Once the speaker positions were dialed in, they gave me a big wide soundstage that went beyond the edges of the speakers. Coupled with pinpoint imaging, the MartinLogans had the ability to disappear sonically. Handel’s Water Music from Christopher Hogwood conducting The Academy of Ancient Music on the Oiseau-Lyre label is one of the most beautiful pieces of music on CD. The midrange with the MartinLogans was pure and natural with first rate resolution. The bass was not as deep as the Audio Solution Figaro L speakers that I reviewed awhile back, but it was still deep enough to communicate the full weight of an orchestra, and went deeper than my Alons. My living room has a modern open floor plan with vaulted ceilings, so there are not a lot of walls to reinforce the bass. Nevertheless, the bass still sounded full. Highs were very sweet, as opposed to detailed, which gave the music a very natural and musical sound. I enjoyed listening to these speakers in my living room where the large size of the room helped to transport me into the music, the speakers disappearing as if they were not there at all.

Next, I connected the MartinLogan Motion 60 Xti to my main system (in my office): AR turntable with Sumiko Premier MMT tonearm and Ortofon MC1 Turbo high output moving coil cartridge, NAD PP1 phono stage, Audio Alchemy transport and Audio Alchemy DAC, Antique Sound Lab tube line stage, and Quicksilver 25-watt tube power amplifiers using KT77 output tubes. I connected the MartinLogans, rated as 4 ohm speakers, to the 4 ohm taps on the Quicksilvers. This is a small room, so I pointed the speakers straight ahead. These 94 dB speakers are a better match with these 25 watt Quicksilver power amplifiers than any other speakers I have used with them. The Quicksilvers had no trouble driving the speakers to full volume. I connected the MartinLogans using AudioQuest speaker cable bi-wired as I do with the Alon speakers I normally use in this system. Even in this small room the soundstage was decent and I had the same pinpoint imaging I heard in the living room. The low powered tube amplifiers combined with speakers such as the MartinLogans gives you that warm tube magic. Again, the midrange had clarity without sounding harsh. The bass had a nice full sound but, being closer to the back wall, might have been a little overpowering. The treble remained very sweet sounding without sounding too recessed.

Then I put my relatively new Wyred 4 Sound mINT integrated amplifier in the system, replacing the Audio Alchemy DAC with the much better built-in mINT DAC. This little integrated amplifier was a great match for the MartinLogans. The mINT has a tube-like sound to it but with more bass. A pure, natural, refined sound was evident with the mINT, its superior DAC offsetting some of what was lost in going to solid state from the Quicksilver tube amps.

No matter which amplifiers and preamplifiers I used, I was given a nice warm sound with no harshness at all. I am astonished that you can get this quality of sound for $3,200 per pair, sound that is better than a number of very costly systems. Overall, I preferred the MartinLogans in the larger room as opposed to the nearfield listening in my office, the larger room supporting the wide open sound these speakers can give you. The MartinLogan’s smaller Motion 20i would probably be a better match in a smaller room such as my office.

I have to do some preliminary listening before I review any pair of speakers, since I have to spend hours listening to them for the review process. This is why the last thing I want to do is review a pair of poor sounding speakers. I said earlier, the MartinLogan room was one of my two favorite rooms at the California Audio Show 2019, just like the Audio Solution Figaro L was one of my two favorite rooms at the T.H.E. Show 2019 in Long Beach, CA. I also have an extensive listening history with Magnepans. This is the reason these speakers were selected for review. The hours listening to these speakers (Audio Solution Figaro L, Magnepan LRS and Martin Logan XTi) gave me a lot of enjoyment. They not only represent a great value in three different price categories but their performance greatly exceeds what would have been possible 20 years ago at these prices.

The patents for the Heil air motion transformer expired in 2004. In the following 15 years, several manufacturers have begun offering speakers incorporating tweeters based on this technology. There are now several companies that use this type of driver, the MartinLogan Motion series (first launched a decade ago) was among the first and today is one of the best known.

I recommend you listen to the MartinLogan Motion speakers at good audiophile stores where they are properly set up using good components because, even though they don’t require much to sound great, you should be able to hear the spectacular wide open soundstage they can deliver.

Whether you listen to a turntable such as me or stream your music, with the MartinLogan 60XTi you can put together a system for under $6,000 that will give you a wonderful listening experience for years, if not decades to come. Listen to these MartinLogans for yourself and I think you will agree.



Copy editor: Dan Rubin

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5 Responses to MartinLogan 60XTi floorstanding speakers Review

  1. Fantastic write up. We at Sunny’s have made 3 systems below $10K in our store.
    Must encourage new exciting music lovers to quality listening.

  2. Dennis says:

    Byron, I’ve read this review several times because I’m doing research and critical listening regarding upgrading my present speakers. I’m wondering how appropriately matched these Motion XTi would be with a McIntosh MA5200 integrated amp. This amp has been bench-tested and shown to be able to output somewhere between 180 and 200 watts RMS at 4 ohm resistance. As such, my concern is that this amp may not be able to get everything out of these speakers that they can truly provide.

  3. Byron Baba says:

    I have not listened to that amplifier with these speakers, although McIntosh makes outstanding equipment and the 180 watts should be more than enough power to drive these 94db speakers. I did prefer the sound of these speakers in a larger room to take full advantage of the big wide open sound so you may need some extra power in that situation. The best way to be sure, is to go to your local high-end store that carry MartinLogans because they will have a number of compatible amplifiers to audition these speakers. If possible bring in the Mcintosh amplifier.

  4. James says:

    Will my 75 watt SS Belles Aria be able to bring a disappearing act to my music in a 18 ft x 12 ft room with 9 ft ceilings with the Morgan 60XTi’s or would I be better with the smaller Motion 20i. Thanx Byron.

  5. Byron Baba says:

    These are 94db speakers so 75 watts should be enough power depending on how loud you listen. Proper placement of the speakers would help make the speakers disappear as opposed to the amount of power. I play a lot of orchestra and big band so I would probably prefer the larger 60XTi’s. When purchasing quality speakers such as these MartinLogan, it is better to listen for yourself at one of the many quality audiophile stores such as Sunny’s in Covina, CA mentioned in the first post. If possible make an appointment to bring in your amplifier for a listen with these speakers.

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