Klipsch Reference R-51M vs. MartinLogan Motion 4i

Klipsch Reference R-51M Bookshelf Speakers MartinLogan Motion 4i Bookshelf Speakers
$350 $250
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.00” × 7.00” × 8.56”
330mm × 178mm × 217mm
12.60” × 5.60” × 5.70”
320mm × 142mm × 145mm
Power Type
Passive Passive
Frequency Response
62-21,000 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 realm of bookshelf speakers, the Klipsch Reference R-51M presents a robust, dynamic sound with its signature horn-loaded tweeter, delivering crisp highs and a lively presence. The 5.25-inch woofer ensures a punchy bass response. Meanwhile, the MartinLogan Motion 4i boasts an elegant design with its distinct Folded Motion tweeter, offering a smooth, articulate treble, and a controlled soundstage. Its 4-inch woofer, while precise, may not match the Klipsch in raw power. Ultimately, the choice between Klipsch's energetic performance and MartinLogan's refined clarity will hinge on personal taste and the intended use-case scenario.

Speaker Comparison

When it comes to furnishing a living space with a high-quality audio experience, audiophiles and casual listeners alike often find themselves torn between numerous options in the speaker market. Among the plethora of choices, the Klipsch Reference R-51M and MartinLogan Motion 4i bookshelf speakers stand out as two formidable contenders. These two models, though aimed at roughly the same segment of the market, offer distinctive approaches to sound reproduction that reflect the unique design philosophies of their respective manufacturers.

Design and Build Quality

The Klipsch R-51M speakers exhibit a classic, almost industrial charm with their copper-spun IMG woofers and textured wood grain vinyl finish that echoes the company's long-standing tradition in loudspeaker design. Robust and assertively styled, they impose a strong presence in any room. In contrast, the MartinLogan Motion 4i speakers present a more contemporary aesthetic with their sleek, high-gloss finish and the signature perforated steel grille that conceals the innovative Folded Motion tweeter. The build quality of both speakers is commendable, but they cater to different tastes in terms of visual appeal.

Klipsch Reference R-51M Bookshelf Speakers
Klipsch Reference R-51M arrow (at Amazon.com)

Sound Signature and Performance

At the heart of the Klipsch R-51M's audio performance is the brand's proprietary 90x90 Tractrix horn technology paired with an aluminum tweeter, which produces a lively and dynamic sound that is both crisp and detailed, especially in the high frequencies. This design philosophy emphasizes efficiency and a broad dispersion pattern, ensuring that the R-51Ms pack a punch even with modest amplification. Conversely, MartinLogan's Motion 4i speakers leverage their Folded Motion tweeter to deliver an exceptionally smooth and refined treble response. This unique tweeter design minimizes distortion and offers an extraordinarily fast transient response, resulting in detailed and nuanced highs that never feel harsh or fatiguing.

The bass response is another area where the Klipsch and MartinLogan models part ways. The R-51Ms, with their rear-firing port and 5.25-inch copper-spun woofer, manage to produce surprisingly weighty and tight bass for their size, benefiting from Klipsch's emphasis on dynamic range and efficiency. On the other hand, the Motion 4i, with its modest 4-inch woofer and compact sealed enclosure, aims for a more balanced and accurate bass reproduction. While they may not plumb the deepest octaves, the Motion 4is provide a clear and articulate low-end that complements their overall sonic character.

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

Room Integration and Versatility

Integration into a living space is more than just about looks; it's also about how the speakers interact with their surroundings. The Klipsch R-51M speakers, with their substantial output and wide dispersion, are capable of filling larger spaces with ease, and their pronounced soundstage can be quite forgiving in terms of placement. The MartinLogan Motion 4i speakers, in contrast, are more exacting about positioning, demanding careful consideration to truly shine. However, once optimally set up, they reward the listener with a cohesiveness and imaging precision that can make the speakers seemingly disappear into the room.

In the realm of versatility, both speaker sets are highly adaptable to various roles within a home audio system. The Klipsch R-51Ms are just as comfortable serving as the cornerstone of a 2-channel hi-fi setup as they are taking on the duties of surround channels in a home theater configuration. MartinLogan's Motion 4i speakers, likewise, follow suit, excelling in both music and cinematic applications. Their articulate midrange and crisp highs make them particularly adept at rendering dialogue and vocal performances with clarity and detail.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between the Klipsch Reference R-51M and the MartinLogan Motion 4i bookshelf speakers ultimately comes down to personal preference in sonic characteristics and aesthetic values. The Klipsch R-51Ms favor those who crave a dynamic and robust sound with a flair for the dramatic, while the MartinLogan Motion 4i speakers cater to listeners who prioritize subtlety, detail, and a refined presentation. Both are standout options in their own right, and either would be a worthy addition to a discerning listener's audio arsenal.

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Klipsch Reference R-51M Bookshelf Speakers
Klipsch Reference R-51M 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.