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MartinLogan Summit Loudspeakers Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 November 2006
Article Index
MartinLogan Summit Loudspeakers
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Before I set the Summits up with the gear described above, I hooked them up to a simple but reliable old receiver I had lying around and let them play the radio and a few CDs for several weeks to allow for sufficient break-in. I admit I stole a few minutes of listening here and there. Most of those early listening sessions resulted from guests spotting the speakers and commenting on how cool they looked and insisting on listening to them. These early sessions were intriguing, old receiver and all. Needless to say, I was anxious to get these speakers into a reference system and see if they could fit the role of reference speakers.

I first listened to one of senior editor Bryan Southard’s favorite test tracks, “Anchored in You,” from Shawn Mullins’ Soul’s Core (Sony). As expected, there was great detail in the vocals. However, I also noted a warmth and fullness that helped provide a solid, three-dimensional image. The warmth didn’t get in the way of the Summits being able to clearly reproduce the raspiness in Mullins’ voice. The imaging was rock-solid with a good sense of space, which I attribute in part to the clean and extended highs. The image was convincing enough that, if I didn’t know better, I would think that I was listening to a live performance. The timbre, speed and decay were all right on the money.

Fooling my ears is one thing. I soon learned that my dog, who nearly always ignores whatever I am listening, to was tricked by the Summits, or at least they got his attention. I played the non-audiophile “Waiting for My Ruca” from Sublime’s 40 oz. to Freedom (MCA Records). This track starts with a variety of sounds, including a barking dog which sent my dog on the search for the mystery hound in his house. This is the first time I can remember him reacting like this to any of my audio systems. This track continues with a heavy bass line that showed off the Summits’ ability to reach down to the 24Hz range. While the Summits did not pressurize the room with the same ease and solidity as the RBH T-2Ps (also $10,000), they did an impressive job with a much smaller enclosure. The bass depth, pressure and detail was all very good, easily bettering any prior MartinLogans I’ve heard (Statements excepted).

Continuing with dynamic music, something that the new panel technology is said to be suited for, I played Queen’s “We Will Rock You” from News of the World (Hollywood Records). The Summits portrayed a solid wall of sound with the repetitive bass line and easily switched to the gritty guitar riff at the end, which was well-localized on the soundstage. The track “Get Down, Make Love” features Freddie Mercury’s powerful, dynamic vocals, which were powerfully portrayed without strain by the Summits even at high listening volumes; concert-level volume, I think, may be the PC term.

Female vocals were also treated right by the Summits. Playing the well-recorded “Dat Dere” from Rickie Lee Jones’ album Pop Pop (Geffen), I noticed her delicate voice was reproduced as though coming from an area in front of the speaker plane, with the various string and wind instruments arranged behind her, seemingly up to several feet behind my front wall. None of the individual elements on this track are particularly powerful, but each requires finesse and precision and this must be across the spectrum to achieve the proper balance, which the Summits were able to accomplish easily.

Moving from detail to power, I played the three-song series “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1,” “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” and “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” from Pink Floyd’s The Wall (Capitol), which begins fairly mellow and moves up the raucous meter. The opening vocals float on a virtual plane between the speakers, with the guitars and chorus set further back. The soundstage was solid across the front; I could not detect any sonic holes, even with the speakers seven feet apart. The imaging remained solid and distinct at the same time with tremendous depth, especially notable with the helicopter effect at the end of “Part 1.” The impact of the drums was crisp and solid and the bass line from “Part 2” was powerful and well-balanced. I noticed that the weight and impact of the drums here was a bit greater with the Sigma cables than with the Golden Presence cables. While the Golden Presence cables were slightly more forward and open throughout the midrange, the difference was subtle. The differences in midrange between the two cables were more easily discernable with clean vocal tracks, such as that of Shawn Mullins.

It is important to note that these speakers do best with a powerful amplifier. The Krell FBI, with 300 watts per channel of Class A power, did a great job as did the Halcro MC 50. I found the FBI to have a bit more high-end extension, with the McIntosh/Halcro combination being a bit fuller in the midrange.


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