ELAC ARB51 Navis vs. MartinLogan Motion 40i

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers MartinLogan Motion 40i Tower Speaker
$2000 $2600
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.58” × 7.44” × 9.45”
345mm × 189mm × 240mm
42.50” × 7.60” × 12.80”
1080mm × 193mm × 325mm
Power Type
Powered Passive
Frequency Response
44-28,000 Hz 40-25,000 Hz

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the realm of high-fidelity sound, the ELAC ARB51 Navis and MartinLogan Motion 40i represent two distinct philosophies. The compact ARB51 embodies precision with its tri-amped design, offering an all-in-one solution that boasts tailored amplification for its drivers. The MartinLogan Motion 40i, a floor-standing behemoth, brings a room-filling presence with its larger cabinet and signature Folded Motion tweeter. While the Navis champions space-saving and nuanced detail, the Motion 40i is all about scale and dynamic range. Choosing between them hinges on personal preferences for aesthetics, space, and whether one values the simplicity of powered speakers or the tradition of passive towers.

Speaker Comparison

When considering the world of high-fidelity audio, it's impossible not to come across a plethora of options that cater to the diverse preferences of audiophiles. Two such stalwarts in the realm of sonic excellence are the ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers and the MartinLogan Motion 40i Tower Speakers. These two speaker systems, though designed with the same underlying principle of delivering superior sound, cater to different listening environments and stylistic preferences. The ELAC ARB51 offers the compactness and convenience of bookshelf speakers with a built-in amplification system, while the MartinLogan Motion 40i, as a floor-standing model, promises a grander presence and possibly a more expansive soundstage.

Design Philosophy and Usability

ELAC's ARB51 Navis, with its sleek design, encapsulates the modern ethos of 'plug-and-play' convenience. The active design means each speaker comes with its own tailored amplification, making these bookshelf units a favorite for those with limited space or a preference for a cleaner setup without the need for external amplification. In contrast, the MartinLogan Motion 40i, with its statuesque form, requires a separate amplifier or receiver, but provides the visual impact and aesthetic appeal that many audiophiles seek in their listening room. The slim, elegant floor-standing shape is not just about looks; it also serves to enhance the acoustic performance of the speakers.

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis arrow (at Amazon.com)

Sound Characteristics

The ELAC ARB51 tends to offer a tight and focused sound, with an inherent smoothness that suits a wide range of music genres. The custom-designed drivers, with a concentric midrange-tweeter arrangement, create a point-source effect that delivers a more unified sound field. The integration of the drivers results in a coherent and precise audio presentation. The MartinLogan Motion 40i, however, is renowned for its Folded Motion tweeter, which yields a lightning-fast transient response and a detailed top end without the harshness that some traditional dome tweeters can exhibit. The larger cabinet and dedicated bass drivers of the Motion 40i provide a more pronounced low-end response, delivering a full-bodied sound that may be especially appealing to enthusiasts of orchestral, rock, or electronic music.

Power and Performance

One key difference between the two models is their approach to power and amplification. The ARB51's built-in amplifiers are specifically designed to power each of the speaker's drivers optimally. This synergy between the drivers and their amplifiers results in excellent control and dynamics. With the power coming directly from the internal components, the sound is consistent and tailored to the speaker's capabilities. On the other hand, the performance of the MartinLogan Motion 40i is partly dependent on the choice of external amplification. This provides the user with the flexibility to shape the sound according to their personal taste and the characteristics of the amplifier, which can be an alluring prospect for tinkerers and audiophiles who love to mix and match their audio components.

MartinLogan Motion 40i Tower Speaker
MartinLogan Motion 40i arrow (at Amazon.com)

Connectivity is another factor to consider between these two contenders. The ELAC ARB51, being active speakers, have a variety of inputs, including analog and digital options, accommodating most modern audio sources without fuss. This direct connectivity, alongside their wireless control capabilities, aligns with contemporary trends in music consumption. Conversely, the passive nature of the MartinLogan Motion 40i means they rely on traditional speaker wire connections from an external amp, leaning towards the classic side of hi-fi setups where the ritual of physical connectivity is part of the listening experience.

Room placement is a practical aspect that can influence the decision between these two speaker types. The ELAC ARB51's compact size allows them to be placed on bookshelves, desks, or stands with relative ease, suitable for smaller spaces or multi-use environments. The Motion 40i, with its larger footprint, requires more dedicated space and is sensitive to room acoustics. Ideal placement can dramatically improve their performance, so a listener willing to experiment with positioning will reap the benefits of a more immersive soundstage and balanced output.

In conclusion, the ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers and the MartinLogan Motion 40i Tower Speakers present two different philosophies in delivering high-quality audio. The ARB51 offers a self-contained, space-efficient solution with a modern touch, while the Motion 40i opens up a world of customizability and grandeur in both appearance and sound. Ultimately, the choice between these two excellent options comes down to personal preferences in aesthetics, usability, and sonic character, along with the practical considerations of one's listening environment and enthusiasm for component matching.

Check Current Prices:

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
MartinLogan Motion 40i Tower Speaker
MartinLogan Motion 40i Tower Speaker

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Disclaimer: the speaker data listed on this website are correct to the best of our knowledge, but we do not guarantee the accuracy of the data. Please double-check any measurements with the manufacturer before making a final purchasing decision.