JBL L52 Classic vs. MartinLogan Motion 15i

JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers MartinLogan Motion 15i Bookshelf Speaker
$1000 $900
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.00” × 7.74” × 8.51”
330mm × 197mm × 216mm
11.40” × 6.80” × 9.50”
290mm × 173mm × 241mm
Power Type
Passive Passive
Frequency Response
47-24,000 Hz 60-25,000 Hz

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the arena of high-fidelity audio, the JBL L52 Classic and MartinLogan Motion 15i bookshelf speakers represent two philosophies. The L52 Classic channels vintage vibes with its retro design and the timeless warmth of its acoustic signature, paying homage to JBL's storied legacy. The walnut wood veneer and Quadrex foam grilles evoke nostalgia, while the pure pulp cone woofer and titanium dome tweeter deliver a robust, lively sound. In contrast, the Motion 15i by MartinLogan exudes modernity, with its sleek cabinet and distinctive Folded Motion tweeter offering precise, articulate highs. These speakers are a fusion of meticulous engineering and aesthetic elegance, promising an immersive, detailed audio experience.

Speaker Comparison

Greetings, fellow audiophiles! Today, we've got a delightful sonic showdown between two champions of the bookshelf speaker world: the retro-styled JBL L52 Classic and the sleek, modern MartinLogan Motion 15i. Both are compact, yet they promise an outsized performance that could make them the centerpiece of a modest-sized listening room or a significant addition to a larger audio ensemble.

Design and Build

The JBL L52 Classic immediately strikes a nostalgic chord with its vintage-inspired design, reminiscent of the company's storied history. It features a walnut wood veneer cabinet and the iconic Quadrex foam grille in a variety of colors, giving it a distinct 70s vibe. Conversely, the MartinLogan Motion 15i adopts a more contemporary aesthetic, with a precision-built, high-gloss cabinet and the signature perforated steel grille. Both models exude quality, but the decision here will likely hinge on personal style preference and how they blend into your living space.

JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers
JBL L52 Classic arrow (at Amazon.com)

Sound Signature

When it comes to sound, JBL's L52 Classic is known for its warm and punchy bass that doesn't sacrifice clarity, thanks to its 5.25-inch pure pulp cone woofer. The highs are well-represented by a 0.75-inch titanium dome tweeter, which offers a smooth and expansive soundstage. On the other side, MartinLogan's Motion 15i is lauded for its crisp and articulate audio performance, courtesy of the Folded Motion tweeter. This unique design delivers precise and detailed high frequencies that can make listening to vocals and acoustic instruments a revelation. The Motion 15i's 5.25-inch aluminum cone woofer ensures tight and controlled bass, rounding off a sound profile that is both accurate and engaging.

Power and Performance

The JBL L52 Classic is an easy load for any amplifier, given its sensitivity of 85dB and nominal impedance of 4 ohms. This means that even with a modest amp, these speakers will sing. The MartinLogan Motion 15i, with a sensitivity rating of 92dB and impedance of 5 ohms, is also quite efficient, though it can benefit from a bit more power to fully exploit the capabilities of the Folded Motion tweeter. Both speakers perform admirably in their respective rights, but they will shine brightest when matched with the appropriate amplification to suit their individual characteristics.

MartinLogan Motion 15i Bookshelf Speaker
MartinLogan Motion 15i arrow (at Amazon.com)

Imaging and soundstage are areas where both speakers excel, though in different ways. The JBLs offer a broad soundstage with excellent instrument separation, making them great for rock, jazz, and complex orchestral pieces. The MartinLogans, with their outstanding transient response, offer pin-point imaging that makes them exceptional for intimate acoustic sessions, where the placement of instruments in the stereo field is critical.

In terms of versatility, both the JBL L52 Classic and MartinLogan Motion 15i can be integrated into various systems. The JBLs are at home with vintage gear and vinyl setups, exuding a warmth that complements analog sources. The MartinLogans, with their revealing nature, pair beautifully with high-resolution digital sources and can truly showcase the nuances of lossless and high-definition audio streams.

Ultimately, the choice between the JBL L52 Classic and MartinLogan Motion 15i may come down to a matter of taste and the specifics of one's existing setup. The JBLs offer a tribute to the past with a sound that's as classic as their look, suitable for those who favor a warm, full-bodied presentation. The MartinLogans are the choice for the detail-oriented listener, someone who seeks transparency and a modern, crisp sound. Both sets of bookshelf speakers stand out in their field and will undoubtedly elevate the listening experience for any true audiophile.

Check Current Prices:

JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers
JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers
MartinLogan Motion 15i Bookshelf Speaker
MartinLogan Motion 15i Bookshelf 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.