|MartinLogan Prodigy Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Friday, 01 June 2001|
Page 2 of 3
Music and Movies
I initially positioned the Prodigy in the same position that I have found to provide the best performance in my room, which is 16 feet wide by 18 feet deep. Although this certainly isn’t an overly large space, it is a dedicated audio/video room. I therefore have considerable latitude in my placement of speakers and listening position. I utilized bass-controlling 16-inch ASC tubetraps in the corners of the room, and positioned my ASC 11-inch tubetraps at the first reflection points on the front and side walls. As with all high-performance speakers, I strongly recommend room treatment for optimal performance. I am aware that not everyone wants to turn their living room into a music studio, but you can create considerable improvement with the use of room treatments. The Prodigies benefited from the room treatments as well.
I provided the Prodigies with ample break-in time before sitting down to begin my critical listening. Having owned and loved the MartinLogan SL3’s in past years as my reference loudspeakers, I was very anxious to see how the Prodigies compared. As a first test, I reached for Cornell Dupree’s Uncle Funky (Kokopelli Records), an absolute favorite of mine. This disc is a great tool in evaluating gear because of its superb dynamic range and variety of instruments. In the cut "Duck Soup," I found the saxophone to be incredibly real and present. The horn had a quality to it that sounded very real and proportionally correct, something that many (if not most) speakers fail to reproduce correctly. There was incredible transient detail and real-time instrumental timbre. The kick-drum was very solid and extended, with a quality that pressurized the room in the way that live drums can do. The theory behind MartinLogan’s ForceForward bass technology appears very sound to me on paper. However, I did hear what I considered to be a phasing issue in the bass. Much of the kick-drum was well-focused and solid, yet there were other less focused artifacts that kept the image from being reproduced perfectly or to the level of performance that I get from my Revel Salons. Still, it must be noted that the Salons are nearly twice the price of the Prodigies. Compared to the performance of the similarly-priced Revel Studios, I found comparable differences, although the added energy of the Prodigies give them a more exiting and energizing low end than that of the Studios. It is common knowledge that the lowest bass frequencies, or frequencies below 80 Hz, will not really image or provide focus. Even so, with the supporting higher-frequency information from the same instrument, the images are formed. It should also be understood that bass performance is often strongly dependent on the room and speaker placement. A phase issue such as the one I encountered could be a product of the Prodigies’ relative position in my room, although the position I settled upon for auditioning the speakers provided the highest level of bass performance I was able to achieve.
I was very anxious to hear what the Prodigy could do for movies. Wasting no time, I started with the critically-acclaimed Gladiator (DreamWorks Home Entertainment). I feel compelled to compliment the folks at DreamWorks and DTS for this outstanding soundtrack. The Prodigies immediately came out of the gate and made a statement. This soundtrack was strikingly bigger than life, with very dynamic and powerful segments that had me on the edge of my seat. In the scene in which Russell Crowe’s character Maximus requests a "soldier’s death" and narrowly escapes execution, there was tremendous definition and spatial separation in details from the flying sword to the sound of crunching grass, specific sonic images that I had missed in previous screenings with other speakers. Perhaps the detail that I found most engaging with the Prodigy was the surrounding air and the speakers’ ability to properly separate details from the room. In the scene immediately following, in which Maximus futilely races towards his home to save his family, the sound of horse hooves striking the ground was incredibly solid.
I did encounter an integration issue when auditioning the Prodigy in my theater, as my current reference, the Revel C30 center channel speaker, was not providing a proper match for the Prodigies. I’m convinced that you’d be better off running Prodigies with the MartinLogan Theater center channel speaker, period. The Prodigies deserve the benefit that matching provides. If you are considering buying the Prodigy for multi-channel entertainment, don’t sell yourself short, spring for a MartinLogan Theater center channel speaker at $2,595. At a minimum, I would suggest the MartinLogan Cinema center channel speaker, which retails for $1,395. For rear speakers, I would also recommend the MartinLogan Scripts at $1,795, as they provide the much-needed match for 5.1 information, as well as a pretty nifty space-saving solution.
I next auditioned The Matrix (Warner Home Video). Although this movie would struggle to crack my top 20 favorites, it does have an engaging and well-developed soundtrack. The Matrix has notable detail that the Prodigies brought out nicely. The speakers provided a sense of envelopment that made me feel a part of the scene. In this movie, I tested the Prodigies without the aid of subwoofers for low-end reinforcement. In this test, the Prodigies excelled remarkably, better than any other speakers that I have tested in such a manner. They provided a lot of deep extended bass, something that movie soundtracks supply in abundance.
However, I did find that images were drawn into the front speakers when watched from positions other than the focused-center position, in my case when watching from a centered love seat beside another viewer. This condition is also true with music, but bothers me more with movies since I typically listen to music alone and from a centered position. In my past experiences, I have found that MartinLogan loudspeakers are more susceptible to this phenomenon than many traditional electromagnetic loudspeakers.
I played with the toe of the speakers but found no antidote to this issue. Unless you have a larger room and can position yourself at least 10 feet from the Prodigies, with equal distance between the speakers, I don’t see a way around this.