CEDIA 2010: MartinLogan Shows New ESL and Motion Series Speakers

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MartinLogan Theos (right) and ElectroMotion ESL (left)
The 2010 CEDIA Expo came to a close today, but one company’s offerings at the show still bear mentioning. I spent quite a bit of time in MartinLogan’s booth checking out two new hybrid electrostatic speakers, as well as a new edition to the Motion Series line.

Undoubtedly the grandest of MartinLogan’s introductions at the show was Theos, a new $5000 hand-built CLX hybrid electrostat with an eight-inch aluminum cone woofer and Vojtko crossover. The Theos’ 9.2-inch wide by 44-inch tall XStat electrostatic transducer boasts thinner-gauge steel stators and an aluminum AirFrame, as well as custom bi-wire toolless binding posts and a choice of three finishes: black ash, dark cherry, and zebrawood (the latter of which is downright striking).

I have to admit, though: I heard the Theos demoed right beside and right before MartinLogan’s new sub-$2000 ElectroMotion ESL, and although I have no complaints about the sound of the Theos, ironically the ElectroMotion ESL was sonically more to my liking — a little smoother in the very highest frequencies, with an overall tonal balance that I preferred. That’s subjective, of course; not everyone likes the sound of electrostats at all, and not everyone agrees on what makes for a good sounding ESL, but it’s interesting to say that least that MartinLogan isn’t hesitant in the slightest to demo speakers at such disparate costs together and happily allow such comparisons to be made. When I told Marketing Manager Devin Zell that I rather preferred the sonic characteristics of the the less-expensive speaker, he didn’t bat an eyelash. Devin Zell with MartinLogan's new Motion FX surround speaker“I’m happy to hear it,” he said. “The ElectroMotion ESL is the most compelling sub-$2000 electrostat we’ve ever brought to market and will likely be one of the most effective recruiting tool the audiophile community has known. I’ve helped bring a lot of great speakers to market in my career but can not remember being this excited about the possibilities of a new model.”

Of course, one has to wonder what the ElectroMotion ESL, with its full-sized electrostatic panel and eight-inch doped fiber cone woofer, is going to mean for the Source — previously MartinLogan’s entry-level ESL, which carries a higher price tag than the new ElectroMotion ESL, but without the full-sized electrostatic transducer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it at blow-out prices come this holiday season.

And although I didn’t get to hear it, I did get to see the new Motion FX: a new dedicated surround speakers joining the Motion Series line that features dual Folded Motion tweeters in a wide dispersion array, as well as a neat looking cabinet design to work great with corner placement.

The company also had the new Motion C center channel on display. They weren’t demoing it, but I got a chance to check it out a few months ago as part of my Motion Series review for Home Entertainment, and I’ve updated my review with thoughts on the larger center speaker now that it’s officially announced.

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