MartinLogan Motion 20i vs. Polk Signature Elite ES20

MartinLogan Motion 20i Tower Speaker Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 Bookshelf Speakers
$2000 $400
Dimensions (H × W × D)
36.60” × 6.80” × 11.70”
930mm × 173mm × 297mm
14.80” × 8.50” × 13.80”
376mm × 216mm × 351mm
Power Type
Passive Passive
Frequency Response
46-25,000 Hz 44-40,000 Hz

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the clash of titans, the MartinLogan Motion 20i towers impress with their electrostatic-like clarity and dynamic presence, courtesy of the Folded Motion tweeter. These sleek floor standers offer a full-bodied soundstage ideal for audiophiles craving spatial detail and refinement. On the flip side, the Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 bookshelf speakers punch above their weight class, delivering robust, room-filling sound with a patented Power Port technology for deeper bass. While the ES20s are compact and budget-friendly, they compete valiantly, offering an attractive option for those seeking high-quality audio without dominating their living space.

Speaker Comparison

The quest for the perfect speaker setup is akin to an audiophile's search for the Holy Grail, an endless pursuit where sound is the treasure. Today, we turn our discerning ears to two distinct offerings: MartinLogan's Motion 20i tower speaker and Polk Audio's Signature Elite ES20 bookshelf speaker. These two products represent not just different brands, but also different philosophies in sound reproduction and design aesthetics within the speaker realm.

Design and Build: A Tale of Two Statures

In the realm of physical presence, the MartinLogan Motion 20i stands tall, exuding a sleek and modern vibe that is as much about performance as it is about appearance. The tower design of the 20i allows for a larger cabinet that potentially delivers greater bass response and a more commanding presence in the room. On the other hand, the Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20, while smaller in stature as a bookshelf speaker, is not to be underestimated. It presents a more traditional, yet refined look, fitting comfortably into most living spaces without the need for the larger footprint of a floor-standing model.

MartinLogan Motion 20i Tower Speaker
MartinLogan Motion 20i arrow (at

Sound Characteristics: Clarity Meets Warmth

At the heart of the MartinLogan Motion 20i is the brand's renowned Folded Motion tweeter, a unique approach to high-frequency reproduction that ensures a lightning-fast transient response with a broad yet controlled sound dispersion. This results in a clarity and detail that can reveal the subtle nuances in your favorite recordings. The Polk Audio ES20, with its own proprietary Terylene dome tweeter, contrasts this with a sound that leans towards the warm and rich, offering a pleasing smoothness that may be more forgiving on less than perfect recordings, yet still maintains a respectable level of detail.

The two-speaker entities diverge further when it comes to mid-range and bass performance. The MartinLogan Motion 20i, with its larger drivers and cabinet volume, provides a more robust and authoritative bass response, coupled with a mid-range that is articulate and precise. In contrast, the ES20, though smaller, benefits from Polk's Power Port technology that cleverly enhances the lower frequencies to deliver a surprising punch. The bass is competent, though it may lack the sheer force of its towering competitor.

Room Integration and Versatility

One must also consider the practical aspects of integrating these speakers into a living space. The Motion 20i, being a floor-stander, will naturally require more room and may be more sensitive to placement for optimal performance. It is an investment not only in sound but in the space it occupies. The Polk Audio ES20 offers greater placement flexibility; its bookshelf design can be more easily accommodated in most rooms, either on stands or shelves, making it a more versatile choice for those with spatial constraints or a desire for a more discreet audio setup.

For the audiophile looking to make a statement, the MartinLogan Motion 20i towers are a force to be reckoned with. They deliver a powerful and engaging listening experience that is hard to match. In contrast, the Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 bookshelf speakers bring a level of adaptability and warmth that might better suit the casual listener who still values quality sound but needs a more compact solution.

In conclusion, the choice between the MartinLogan Motion 20i and Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 isn't just a matter of price or brand loyalty. It's a decision that encompasses aesthetics, sound preference, and lifestyle. The MartinLogan is for those seeking an immersive and transparent audio experience, willing to accommodate the grandeur of a tower speaker. The Polk Audio, however, is the bookshelf speaker that doesn't overstep its bounds, providing a soothing and rich sound that can fill a variety of spaces with ease. As with any audio equipment, the final verdict lies in the ears of the beholder, and thankfully, neither of these choices is likely to disappoint the discerning listener.

Check Current Prices:

MartinLogan Motion 20i Tower Speaker
MartinLogan Motion 20i Tower Speaker
Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 Bookshelf Speakers
Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 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.