MartinLogan Motion 35XTi vs. Polk Signature Elite ES20

MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Bookshelf Speaker Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 Bookshelf Speakers
$1500 $400
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.50” × 7.60” × 11.80”
343mm × 193mm × 300mm
14.80” × 8.50” × 13.80”
376mm × 216mm × 351mm
Power Type
Passive Passive
Frequency Response
50-25,000 Hz 44-40,000 Hz

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: The MartinLogan Motion 35XTi and Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 bookshelf speakers vie for audiophile favor in the mid-tier segment. The Motion 35XTi, with its signature Folded Motion XT tweeter, promises articulate highs and a lush midrange. Its precise imaging and expansive soundstage challenge the room's boundaries. Meanwhile, the ES20, with Polk's proprietary Dynamic Balance drivers and a Power Port bass enhancing technology, offers a warm and rich sound profile with surprising low-end punch for its size. Both speakers embody their brands' philosophies, pitting MartinLogan's detail and airiness against Polk's robustness and accessibility in a battle of finesse versus power.

Speaker Comparison

When it comes to high-fidelity audio, the loudspeaker is arguably the most critical component in the signal path, as it is the final stage where all the electronic magic is translated into actual sound waves. Today, we're looking at two bookshelf contenders that aim to bring the concert hall into your living room: the MartinLogan Motion 35XTi and the Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20. These two models represent very different approaches to sound reproduction within a compact form factor, and they cater to distinct segments of the audiophile market.

Design Philosophy and Build Quality

At first glance, the MartinLogan Motion 35XTi exudes a sense of premium craftsmanship with its sleek cabinet and distinctive design elements. It incorporates MartinLogan's signature Folded Motion tweeter, which promises speedy response and a broad, yet controlled sound dispersion. The build quality is impeccable, with luxurious real wood veneer finishes that offer a touch of elegance to any setting. In contrast, the Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20, while still well-constructed, opts for a more conventional look and a no-nonsense aesthetic that prioritizes function over form. Its solidity and durability are evident, but it forgoes the artisanal touches of the MartinLogan.

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

Sound Characteristics

Diving into the sonic realms of these two speakers unveils the true artistry behind their engineering. The MartinLogan Motion 35XTi delivers a crisp and articulate high-end, thanks largely to its Folded Motion tweeter. The detail retrieval is nothing short of impressive, allowing for an intimate connection with the music. Midrange is open and transparent, and while the bass is tight and accurate, it may lack the visceral impact some listeners crave from larger speakers. On the other hand, the Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 offers a warmer and fuller sound. Its newly designed Terylene dome tweeter produces a smooth treble region, and the dual woofers ensure that the bass is not only present but also substantial and engaging.

Performance in Various Settings

The MartinLogan 35XTi's precision makes it a stellar choice for critical listening in acoustically treated rooms where its imaging and soundstage capabilities can truly shine. These speakers excel at revealing the nuances in well-recorded material, making them a favorite among audiophiles who value accuracy and detail. Conversely, the Polk Audio ES20 is more forgiving and versatile, performing admirably in a variety of settings. Whether you're watching movies, listening to music, or indulging in video gaming, the ES20 maintains a balanced and dynamic performance. Its robust construction also allows it to fill larger spaces with ease, making it a great choice for those who like to entertain.

When it comes to power and sensitivity, the differences between these two contenders are noteworthy. The MartinLogan Motion 35XTi features a lower sensitivity rating, meaning it requires a bit more power from the amplifier to reach the same volume as the Polk. This makes the choice of accompanying electronics more critical for the MartinLogan to achieve its full potential. The Polk Audio ES20, with its higher sensitivity, is easier to drive and can reach substantial volume levels with less powerful amplifiers, which can be a significant consideration for those with a more modest system.

Integration with existing audio setups is a point of consideration for any speaker purchase. The MartinLogan Motion 35XTi, with its distinct audio signature, may necessitate careful pairing with components that complement its sound. The precise and detailed nature of these speakers requires equally transparent electronics to match. Meanwhile, the more accommodating Polk Audio ES20 is relatively easy to integrate into most systems. Its forgiving nature and full-bodied sound tend to blend well with a wide range of amplifiers and sources, which could make it an easier fit for the average consumer.

Price is always a decisive factor in any comparison, and here it's no exception. The MartinLogan Motion 35XTi comes in at a higher price point, reflective of its audiophile-oriented design and high-end components. The investment is justified for those seeking an elevated audio experience with a strong emphasis on detail and craftsmanship. The Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20, on the other hand, is more budget-friendly, offering a commendable performance-to-price ratio that makes high-quality sound accessible to a broader audience.

In conclusion, the choice between the MartinLogan Motion 35XTi and the Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 bookshelf speakers ultimately depends on the listener's priorities. If you're after the utmost in sonic refinement and possess the equipment to match, the MartinLogan will not disappoint. However, if you seek a speaker that is versatile, easy to drive, and friendly to your wallet, the Polk Audio Signature Elite ES20 is an excellent choice that will provide countless hours of musical enjoyment.

Check Current Prices:

MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Bookshelf Speaker
MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Bookshelf 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.