JBL L52 Classic vs. MartinLogan Motion 4i

JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers MartinLogan Motion 4i Bookshelf Speakers
$1000 $250
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.00” × 7.74” × 8.51”
330mm × 197mm × 216mm
12.60” × 5.60” × 5.70”
320mm × 142mm × 145mm
Power Type
Passive Passive
Frequency Response
47-24,000 Hz 70-23,000 Hz
ASR Score
n/a 1.5
ASR Score w/Subwoofer
n/a 5.1

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the spirited contest between JBL's L52 Classic and MartinLogan's Motion 4i, each bookshelf speaker reveals a distinct sonic philosophy. The L52 Classic pays homage to vintage aesthetics and presents a warm, dynamic sound signature with its 5.25-inch woofer, courting the nostalgic audiophile. Conversely, the svelte Motion 4i, with its Folded Motion tweeter, offers a crisp, detailed high-end that caters to listeners craving modern precision and room-filling soundstage. In choosing between these two, the listener's preference for either the robust, retro charm of the L52 or the articulate, contemporary clarity of the Motion 4i will be the deciding factor.

Speaker Comparison

When it comes to choosing bookshelf speakers for your audio setup, the balance of size, performance, design, and price is always a delicate dance that audiophiles must navigate. Two notable contenders in this arena are the JBL L52 Classic and the MartinLogan Motion 4i speakers. Both of these bookshelf speakers carry the legacy of their respective brands, promising high-fidelity sound and an aesthetic that can blend into or stand out in a room, depending on the owner's preferences. As we dive into the details, it's clear that each speaker brings its own distinct flavor to the listening experience.

The Heritage and Design Aesthetic

The JBL L52 Classic captures the retro vibe of the 70s with its walnut wood veneer cabinets and Quadrex foam grilles, which come in a variety of colors to match your style. It's a design that's not only nostalgic but also works beautifully in modern decor. The MartinLogan Motion 4i, on the other hand, opts for a more contemporary look. The sleek, high-gloss piano black or white finish and the unmistakable perforated steel grille give the Motion 4i a sophisticated and futuristic edge that's sure to appeal to those with a taste for the modern.

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

Sound Signature and Performance

The JBL L52 Classic boasts a 5.25-inch pure-pulp cone woofer paired with a 0.75-inch titanium dome tweeter, which are elements inspired by the brand's legendary loudspeakers. The result is a warm, rich sound that emphasizes the musicality over analytical listening. It's particularly well-suited for rock, jazz, and classical genres where the authenticity of instruments is key. In contrast, the MartinLogan Motion 4i features a Folded Motion tweeter, which is a unique transducer that delivers incredibly precise and detailed high-frequency response. Paired with its 4-inch aluminum cone woofer, the Motion 4i offers an articulate and dynamic sound that excels with vocal clarity and extended high frequencies, making it an excellent choice for acoustic and vocal-centric music.

Space and Placement

Considering their compact size, the JBL L52 Classic and MartinLogan Motion 4i are both suitable for smaller rooms or as part of a larger system. However, their placement requirements differ slightly due to their sound dispersion characteristics. The JBL's traditional design means it benefits from a bit of breathing space away from walls to avoid bass reinforcement, whereas the MartinLogan's controlled dispersion and front-ported design offer more flexibility in placement, even allowing for wall mounting, which is a boon for those dealing with space constraints.

MartinLogan Motion 4i Bookshelf Speakers
MartinLogan Motion 4i arrow (at Amazon.com)

When it comes to power handling, both speakers are relatively easy to drive. The JBL L52 Classic handles up to 75 watts of power, while the MartinLogan Motion 4i can manage 75 watts as well, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of amplifiers or receivers. This makes either speaker a fine match for both entry-level and more advanced audio setups. Nevertheless, given their different impedance levels, it's essential to pair them with an amplifier that can handle their specific requirements to get the best performance possible.

Finally, the pricing of these speakers reflects their target audiences and the value proposition of each brand. JBL's L52 Classic leans towards the higher end of the bookshelf speaker market, asking for a premium for its classic design and acoustic heritage. MartinLogan's Motion 4i, while not inexpensive, offers a more budget-friendly entry point into high-end audio with its innovative tweeter technology and sleek design. Both speakers represent a significant investment, but they also assure quality and performance that justify their cost to the discerning listener.

In conclusion, choosing between the JBL L52 Classic and the MartinLogan Motion 4i bookshelf speakers boils down to personal preferences in design, sound signature, and budget. The JBL L52 Classic is a speaker for the audiophile who longs for that vintage appeal and a sound that's lush and inviting, while the MartinLogan Motion 4i is geared towards the modern audiophile who craves detail and precision in a package that embodies the future of sound technology. Whichever path you choose, both speakers stand as testaments to their brands' commitment to audio excellence.

Check Current Prices:

JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers
JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speakers
MartinLogan Motion 4i Bookshelf Speakers
MartinLogan Motion 4i Bookshelf Speakers

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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.