MartinLogan Motion 4i Bookshelf Speakers Review


MSRP $250
(H × W × D)
12.60” × 5.60” × 5.70”
320mm × 142mm × 145mm
Power Type Passive
Frequency Response 70-23,000 Hz
ASR Score 1.5
ASR Score w/Subwoofer 5.1
MartinLogan Motion 4i Bookshelf Speakers

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: MartinLogan's Motion 4i speakers dazzle with their Folded Motion tweeter, offering a crisp, detailed soundstage that belies their compact size. The highs sing without harshness, while the bass is respectable, though not ground-shaking. Aesthetically sleek, these bookshelf speakers blend into modern decor with ease. On the flip side, they yearn for a subwoofer to fill the low-end for bass-heavy listeners. Placement can be finicky for optimal sound dispersion. A solid choice for the discerning mid-range ear.

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MartinLogan Motion 4i: Our Take

MartinLogan is a brand well-respected by audiophiles and casual listeners alike, known for producing high-quality speakers that deliver exceptional sound. The MartinLogan Motion 4i is a compact bookshelf speaker that continues the company's tradition of excellence. This speaker model is an updated version of the popular Motion 4, designed to offer an appealing balance between performance, size, and cost. The Motion 4i is suitable for a variety of uses, from a stereo music setup to part of a home theater system, making it a versatile choice for many listeners.

The Motion 4i speakers feature MartinLogan's distinctive Folded Motion tweeter, a design that allows for a faster transient response than traditional dome tweeters. This unique element helps in delivering precise and clear high frequencies, a trademark characteristic of MartinLogan's sound profile. The Folded Motion tweeter, combined with a 4-inch aluminum cone woofer and a rear-firing bass port, provides a broad and rich soundstage that belies the compact size of the speakers.

Construction quality is another area where the MartinLogan Motion 4i shines. The speakers boast a high-gloss finish and solid cabinet design that not only looks premium but also helps in reducing resonance that can distort sound. Their sleek, modern appearance means they'll fit in well with most room decors, and their relatively small footprint allows for easy placement on bookshelves or speaker stands.

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Audio Performance

When it comes to audio performance, the MartinLogan Motion 4i bookshelf speakers offer impressive clarity and detail across a wide frequency range. Users report that the mids and highs are particularly well-represented, making these speakers a great choice for genres of music where vocal clarity is paramount. However, some users might find the low-end lacking when used without a subwoofer, as the 4-inch woofer can only do so much in terms of bass response.

The Motion 4i speakers have a nominal impedance of 8 Ohms and are relatively efficient, meaning they can be driven by most amplifiers or receivers without issue. They are rated for up to 75 watts of power handling, which should be sufficient for most home listening environments. Nonetheless, those looking to fill a large room might need to pair these speakers with a more powerful amp or look at larger models.

Setup and installation are straightforward with the MartinLogan Motion 4i. They come with a wall-mounting bracket as well as a "kick-stand" to angle them upward when placed on a shelf or desk. This flexibility in mounting options allows users to optimize the sound based on room acoustics and personal preference. However, for best performance, proper placement and some tuning may be necessary to get the most balanced sound.

Competition and Value

In the competitive market of bookshelf speakers, the MartinLogan Motion 4i faces stiff competition from other renowned brands such as KEF, Bowers & Wilkins, and ELAC. For example, KEF's Q Series bookshelf speakers offer Uni-Q driver technology which also aims at delivering detailed sound. The ELAC Debut series, on the other hand, is often praised for its excellent bass response at a similar price point. Potential buyers might consider these alternatives depending on their specific needs and brand preferences.

From a value perspective, the MartinLogan Motion 4i sits in the mid-tier price range. While not the most affordable option available, these speakers offer quality and performance that justify their cost. Buyers should weigh the price against their desire for audio fidelity and the unique features offered by the Folded Motion tweeter technology. For those who appreciate nuanced sound and are willing to invest in quality, the Motion 4i could be a worthwhile purchase.

In conclusion, the MartinLogan Motion 4i bookshelf speakers present a compelling option for those seeking high-quality sound from a compact and aesthetically pleasing design. While they may not satisfy bass enthusiasts without the addition of a subwoofer, their audio clarity and detail are commendable. Each potential buyer should consider their own preferences and requirements when looking at speakers in this class and compare them against similar offerings from other respected brands before making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the MartinLogan Motion 4i's Folded Motion Tweeter differ from traditional tweeters?

The MartinLogan Motion 4i bookshelf speakers boast a distinctive feature: the Folded Motion Tweeter. This isn't your garden-variety dome tweeter. The Folded Motion Tweeter operates on a similar principle to that of an accordion by squeezing air to create sound. Because of its larger surface area compared to traditional tweeters, it can move more air with less excursion, resulting in a remarkably fast, precise, and low-distortion sound. This technique allows for a more nuanced treble reproduction, with exceptional transient response and transparency that many audiophiles and music enthusiasts seek. The distinctive sound characteristics of this tweeter have given the Motion series a devoted following.

Can the MartinLogan Motion 4i speakers be used for both stereo and home theater setups?

Yes, the MartinLogan Motion 4i speakers are quite versatile and can serve superbly in both stereo and home theater applications. For a pristine two-channel stereo setup, a pair of Motion 4i speakers can deliver a compelling and immersive listening experience, offering a wide soundstage and detailed imaging. In a home theater context, these speakers can function as front left and right channels, or even as surrounds, due to their articulate and dynamic nature. Their ability to seamlessly blend with other speakers also makes them a great choice for creating a cohesive multi-channel surround system that can satisfy both movie buffs and music lovers alike.

What type of amplifier pairs well with the MartinLogan Motion 4i, and how does it affect sound quality?

Pairing the MartinLogan Motion 4i speakers with the right amplifier is crucial for unlocking their full potential. These speakers will benefit from a high-quality amplifier that can deliver clean and stable power. An amp with a robust power supply and low distortion will complement the high-resolution capabilities of the Motion 4i's Folded Motion Tweeter and woofer, ensuring that the speakers deliver their signature detailed and dynamic sound. The synergy between the amplifier and speakers is key; an underpowered amp may not allow the Motion 4i to perform at its best, while an overpowered one could lead to damage if not used carefully. It's essential to find a middle ground where the amp provides enough headroom to handle dynamic peaks without overwhelming the speakers.

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