|MartinLogan Montage Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Monday, 01 November 2004|
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As you decide to make the transition into the higher-end realm of speakers, MartinLogan is a company that needs to be strongly considered. Widely heralded for their lust-worthy line of hybrid electrostatic speakers, MartinLogan has a well deserved reputation for excellence. The price of excellence has traditionally been steep, with their lowest-cost hybrid electrostatic model speaker, the Clarity, retailing for $2,700 per pair. This has all changed with the new MartinLogan Montage. Based on a speaker technology targeted to the price-conscious customer, the Montage is considerably more affordable at $1,495 a pair.
The Montage is beautifully styled and, like all MartinLogans, is an attention-grabber in any room. Each Montage measures 38 inches tall, nine-and-one-half inches wide, 11-and-one-half inches deep and weighs a svelte 30 pounds. The cabinetry features an attractive half-elliptical shaped wood cabinet. Most traditional speakers in this class are still the boxy rectangle cabinets, yet the Montage has a style that is engaging. The nicely polished smooth wood finish can be had in native cherry or black. The front of the speaker has a black plastic face, which houses the drivers. The top of the curved face extends above the cabinet several inches to allow the high-frequency transducer the ability to emit sound from both the front and the back of the speaker. This speaker features dipole radiators.
Removing the front screen of the Montage reveals some of the impressive technology engineered into this small floor-standing speaker. Two six-and-one-half-inch high-resolution aluminum cones act as the midrange and woofers for this speaker. These high rigidity cones with extended throw drive assembly have some great bass output. The port for the speaker is near the binding posts toward the back base of the speaker. Lifting the speaker is tricky, since you need to grab the port with one hand and lift near the top of the cabinet on the opposite side. Although the speaker is light, I found it a little too easy to accidentally grab the fragile top part of the transducer and risk damaging it. For this reason, be very careful when lifting this speaker. Also, watch out for the included carpet spikes, as they are very sharp. The multi-way binding posts are nestled in a small area, so you may have to try several kinds of speaker wire or terminations to negotiate them into the posts. Included are a set of metal rigid floor feet and carpet spikes to make sure the speaker sits above the floor and is insulated from floor vibrations.
The most impressive element of this speaker is the inch-and-a-half by two-and-a-quarter-inch advanced thin film (ATF™) transducer. This high technology design sandwiches a low-mass Dupont Kaladex polyethelene naphthalate (PEN) film between two arrays of Neodymium super magnets. The PEN diaphragm is similar to the one used in the Generation 2 electrostatic transducers featured in MartinLogan’s higher-end speakers. Extremely powerful Neodymium iron boron magnets used in this system allow for superb control over the aforementioned diaphragm. Translated to more human terms, this transducer’s design allows for a more accurate sound reproduction with increased ability to resolve detail over traditional dome tweeters.
MartinLogan really set itself apart from the rest of the speakers I have reviewed by making set-up easy. The user’s manual is by far the most useful and educational tool I have seen included with a speaker. MartinLogan actually took principles that took me hours to read through in engineering textbooks and distilled them into a couple of concise pages in their manual. Kudos to MartinLogan for going out of their way to educate the consumer on how to get the absolute best from these speakers. The manual even goes into setting up the center and subwoofer in the room, although you can’t really use the Montage in either of those roles. Also covered in this manual are advanced room treatment tips (like eliminating near-field reflections and resonant room cavities) and algorithms to exactly place your speakers in the room. More importantly, it entertains the concept that nothing is absolute in speaker placement. It teaches you how to experiment with different placements to find the audio nirvana that all audiophiles search for but never really find. For some, it is all about the journey and not the destination.
I followed the manual and placed the speaker about two-and-a-half feet from the back wall and one-and-a-half feet from the side walls. I also have ASC room treatments set up in my room, so I could follow the additional advice covered by the manual. I used my Anthem AVM30 and the A5 amplifier to supply the juice to these speakers and allow them to open up. After connecting some bare speaker wire from Monster Cable, I ran the Montages for about 120 hours of break-in at 90dB as the manual instructs. This period allows for the speaker’s crossovers and woofer to break in and for the speaker to be ready for critical listening.