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MartinLogan Odyssey Loudspeakers Print E-mail
Monday, 01 September 2003
Article Index
MartinLogan Odyssey Loudspeakers
Page 2
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Music and Movies
I began my two-channel listening with Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” from their Brothers in Arms CD (Warner). The famous opening riff built up beautifully with lots of detail and spaciousness, going well beyond the outside edge of the speakers and back beyond the front wall. The climax of the riff was extremely detailed and tonally accurate, conveying the sense of energy without being punchy. Listeners who desire their speakers to deliver punchy crescendos may not be pleased with electrostatic speakers, as their only real weakness is their ability to slap you in the face with energy. The Odyssey’s dynamic range is extremely good for an electrostatic speaker.

“Your Latest Trick” opens with a great saxophone piece that is extremely palpable through the Odysseys. The sonic image was that of a smaller, more intimate stage than on “Money for Nothing.” Both tracks had good sense of space and imaging.

Blues Traveler’s self-titled CD (A&M Records) is an old favorite and surprisingly well recorded. The opening track, “But Anyway,” features some great drums and unique harmonica. Having heard this band live several times, I was pleased to find the sound of the Odysseys to be specifically authentic to elements of the live show. The sense of dynamics, rhythm and timing were delightfully realistic. The Odysseys’ transparency and detail captured the grit and intimacy of the performance. I noticed the bass detail was noticeably better than that of the Ascents. The Odysseys continued to perform similarly well on the fast-paced “Dropping Some NYC,” where the immediacy and detail kept things clear and in place.

Heading back to audiophile cliché demo material, I fired up Arne Domnerus’ classic Jazz at the Pawnshop (Prophone, Gold Edition CD). The Odysseys recreated a palpable sound field with a good mix of body, imaging and detail. On “Jeep’s Blues,” the horns came alive and I felt as though I was in the middle of the club. “Take Five” features an upbeat pace of horns and drums, which were detailed and cohesive. The combination of the Odysseys and other high-end electronics had no difficulty reproducing the piece at the right scale.

I watched “Signs” (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), a THX movie, with the Krell’s THX processing engaged. I found the Odysseys to perform admirably on this THX-mastered and processed movie. The conversations were intelligible and I never found myself needing to turn up the volume to make out the dialogue. During the scenes when aliens were moving around the house, the sonic clues were convincing enough to have my dog running around to see if anyone was there. The Odysseys’ detail and transparency had no problems portraying the details of the soundtrack, from low-level dialogue to subtle spatial cues that helped to place the listener in the movie’s environment.

I watched one of my favorite cops-and-robbers movies, “Heat” (Warner Home Video), to test the speakers’ dynamic range. The robbery scene at the beginning of the movie features an explosion ripping off the roof of an armored car. While the explosion itself was slightly muted, an effect that I believe the sound engineer desired, I heard lots of detail as the explosion slowly unfolded. As the ambulance explodes at the end of the scene, I could hear the glass landing well beyond the outside edges of the speakers. The bank robbery features one of the best shootouts of modern memory. The scene lacked some of the dynamic punch that can be had with large traditional speakers such as Wilson or Klipsch, but otherwise portrayed the sonic cues with great detail. This is a sonically complex scene, with different types of weapons being fired in and from all directions. Despite the complexity, the Odysseys were never congested or unable to deliver great amounts of detail.

Wanting to test the Odysseys’ bass response on a surround sound musical title, I spun up Lyle Lovett’s Joshua Judges Ruth (DTS 5.1 CD). The track “I’ve Been to Memphis” has a lot of deeply musical and detailed bass on an intimate stage, with solid placement of the instruments and vocals. The audiophile standard “Church” track had even more bass energy and remained articulate. The extension and detail of the bass exceeded the Ascents’ by leaps and bounds. I found myself truly enjoying the Odyssey speakers for their extreme clarity and precision.

I then listened to Queen’s A Night at the Opera (DVD-Audio, DTS). The track “The Prophet’s Song” has a chorus which fades in and out between channels. The transitions were smooth and intelligible. The sound seemed to be surrounding me. Later the guitars broke in and were quite dynamic and muscular without being overwhelming. The level of detail remained extremely high on this DVD-Audio disc at all volume levels. High volume was not necessary to get the speakers to come alive. I had impressed with the Ascents’ ability to portray a large, deep soundstage with admirable bass, and the Odysseys exceeded the Ascents in this capacity. I found the Odysseys had a touch more clarity in the lower midrange and the bass was more detailed, less boomy and seemed to extend deeper.


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