KEF R3 Meta vs. MartinLogan Motion 35XTi

KEF R3 Meta Bookshelf Speakers MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Bookshelf Speaker
$2200 $1500
Dimensions (H × W × D)
16.70” × 7.90” × 13.50”
424mm × 201mm × 343mm
13.50” × 7.60” × 11.80”
343mm × 193mm × 300mm
Power Type
Passive Passive
Frequency Response
58-28,000 Hz 50-25,000 Hz

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: When audiophiles weigh the KEF R3 Meta against the MartinLogan Motion 35XTi, they're comparing two stellar bookshelf speakers that cater to refined ears. The R3 Meta, with KEF's signature Uni-Q driver, delivers a holographic soundstage and remarkable coherence. In contrast, the Motion 35XTi flaunts MartinLogan's exquisite Folded Motion tweeter for a crisp, detailed high-end. Both offer lush mids and ample bass for their size, but they differ in presentation: KEF's sound is seamless and articulate while MartinLogan's is airy and exceptionally precise. The choice hinges on personal taste—lush and integrated versus detailed and ethereal sonic signatures.

Speaker Comparison

When it comes to high-fidelity audio, the loudspeaker landscape is as varied as the preferences of the audiophiles themselves. Among the pantheon of prestigious speakers, KEF's R3 Meta and MartinLogan's Motion 35XTi stand out as two bookshelf titans, each with its own set of acolytes. The R3 Meta, hailing from KEF's renowned R Series, is the successor to the well-regarded R3 and comes infused with the groundbreaking Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT). The Motion 35XTi, on the other hand, is part of MartinLogan's esteemed Motion Series and boasts an impressive lineage of electrostatic designs distilled into a more traditional speaker form.

Design and Build Quality

The KEF R3 Meta exudes a contemporary charm with its sleek, no-nonsense design. It's well-crafted, and the MAT clearly demonstrates KEF's commitment to innovation in speaker technology. The Uni-Q driver array remains a staple of KEF's design philosophy, promising a wide soundstage and excellent dispersion. The MartinLogan Motion 35XTi, in contrast, flaunts a more unique flair with its distinct folded motion tweeter, a technology inspired by the company's electrostatic speaker roots. The build quality is robust, with the speaker grilles adding a touch of classic elegance.

KEF R3 Meta Bookshelf Speakers
KEF R3 Meta arrow (at

Sound Signature and Performance

When it comes to sound, the KEF R3 Meta offers an impressively neutral and balanced profile. Its standout feature, the MAT, is said to absorb 99% of the unwanted sound that comes from the rear of the tweeter, resulting in a cleaner and more detailed high-frequency response. The bass is tight and controlled, owing to KEF's well-designed cabinet and driver configuration. The MartinLogan Motion 35XTi, meanwhile, delivers a more assertive and dynamic sound. The folded motion tweeter gives it an edge in clarity and transient response, producing a lifelike treble that is both crisp and expansive. The bass is punchy, yet it may not reach the same level of depth as the R3 Meta without the aid of a subwoofer.

Room Integration and Placement

The KEF R3 Meta is fairly accommodating when it comes to room integration. Its dispersion characteristics, thanks to the Uni-Q driver, allow for a more flexible placement. It is less fussy about being positioned away from walls, which can be a significant advantage in smaller rooms or complex setups. The MartinLogan Motion 35XTi, with its larger-than-life soundstage, can be a bit more demanding in terms of placement. Ensuring these speakers are given ample space to breathe and properly aligned with the listening area is crucial for achieving the full extent of their audio prowess.

MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Bookshelf Speaker
MartinLogan Motion 35XTi arrow (at

Both the R3 Meta and the Motion 35XTi are commendable in their ability to render voices with palpable presence. Vocals come through with exceptional clarity and warmth on the R3 Meta, making it a joy for listeners who appreciate nuanced vocal performances. The Motion 35XTi also shines in this regard, with its airy highs contributing to a sense of openness that can make vocals stand out in a mix without losing any textural details.

In terms of value, the KEF R3 Meta and MartinLogan Motion 35XTi are priced within the same ballpark, making the choice between them more a matter of personal sonic preference than budget. Potential buyers should consider the type of amplification they possess, as both speakers will greatly benefit from high-quality electronics to unlock their full potential. They are both efficient enough to be driven by moderately powered amps, but they will reveal their true colors with more robust and refined power sources.

Ultimately, the decision between KEF R3 Meta and MartinLogan Motion 35XTi will come down to the listener's priorities. If the goal is absolute neutrality and precision, the R3 Meta might be the ideal companion. For those seeking a vivid and emotionally engaging listening experience with a touch more flair, the Motion 35XTi could be the better match. Regardless of the choice, both speakers are engineering marvels capable of transporting their owners to the very heart of their favorite music.

Check Current Prices:

KEF R3 Meta Bookshelf Speakers
KEF R3 Meta Bookshelf Speakers
MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Bookshelf Speaker
MartinLogan Motion 35XTi 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.