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MartinLogan Play-Fi Wireless Speaker Lineup Preview

MartinLogan Play-Fi Speaker Lineup Preview

MartinLogan Play-Fi Speaker Lineup Preview


  • Product Name: Multiple
  • Manufacturer: MartinLogan
  • Review Date: November 22, 2015 14:00
  • MSRP: $599 - $1699
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

MartinLogan, much like sister company Paradigm, has gone all in with DTS Play-Fi products. At CEDIA 2014 both companies announced that they were going to release Play-Fi speakers, and at CEDIA 2015 they were on display. MartinLogan now has four Play-Fi products, the Crescendo tabletop speaker, Bravado bookshelf speaker, Motion Vision Xsoundbar, and Forte wireless amplifier. While these products very closely mimic what Paradigm offers, MartinLogan chose to create products with just a bit more attention to modern style and performance. With the nicer styling, and sometimes increased performance, comes a little bump in price as well.

Check out our recently added YouTube Video overview of MartinLogan's latest wireless speakers and ARC room correction which can be used for any of your favorite subwoofers.

 Martin Logan Forte DTS Play-Fi Wireless Amp with ARC Rom Correction @ CES 2016

Below is an overview of each of MartinLogan's current Play-Fi offerings.

Crescendo X ($999)

The Crescendo X is a revamp of the original Crescendo with one important change, the inclusion of Play-Fi. In total, the unit supports seven different connection types: Play-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB (plays only from Apple devices, charges any USB device), 3.5mm analog, and 3.5mm optical (min-Toslink adapter included). Sound from all those connections is pumped through  a single 5x7 inch mid/bass woofer and dual Folder Motion tweeters. Extra bass is output through a bass port. The drivers are powered by a 140W peak (100W RMS) Class-D amplifier.

MartinLogan touts the Crescendo X as "the ultimate table-top speaker system." With the plethora or connections, it certainly could be. As I noted earlier in this article, MartinLogan's sister company, Paradigm, has a similar Play-Fi product lineup. One of the main differentiators between the two lines is style. While Paradigm products give off a hi-tech vibe, MartinLogan designed its products to fit a modern décor, blending art and tech. The MDF cabinet is wrapped in either high gloss piano black or real wood walnut veneer and floats atop an aluminum base. A front mounted control panel allows quick access to power, input and volume controls. For across the room control, the Crescendo X includes a custom remote control built from black anodized extruded aluminum.

Crescendo X Front

MartinLogan Crescendo X

A feature that in my mind drastically improves the usefulness of the Crescendo X is the inclusion of a subwoofer output. When a subwoofer is connected, the Crescendo X implements a crossover to route low bass to the subwoofer, freeing up the Crescendo X to play the frequencies it's best suited to handle. I'm glad MartinLogan decided to implement a modified crossover when a subwoofer is connected. Many manufacturers don't do this and it greatly reduces the benefit of adding a subwoofer, taking stress off the built-in drivers and amplifier. 

 $999 is a steep price to pay for a tabletop system, but for those with a keen eye for modern looks and ear for great sound, $999 just may be worth it.

Bravado ($699)

If the Crescendo is too big or too expensive for your needs, the Bravado may fit the bill. Marketed as a "luxury wireless bookshelf speaker," the Bravado is wrapped in either a black or white cloth grille designed to compliment  an artistic accent on op of each speaker — walnut on the black cloth finish and gloss while on the white cloth finish. Side mounted controls allow the user to easily adjust volume, select inputs, and power the speaker on or off.

Bravado Angle

MartinLogan Bravado

The Bravado sports dual Folder Motion tweets and a single 5 inch aluminum woofer. The drivers are powered by a 100W RMS Class-D amplifier (1x50W woofer, 2x25W Folded Motion tweeters). Inputs aren't as generous as the Crescendo X, but with support for Play-Fi and Airplay, and a 3.5mm and USB input on the back, the Bravado is well equipped.

At $699, the Bravado is certainly a luxury wireless speaker, but I think the price is in-line with the features and build quality. As for sound quality, based on my experience with other MartinLogan products I suspect it's quite good, but I will have to reserve final judgement until I can listen to it in person.

Motion Vision X ($1699)

I am a huge fan of the original Motion Vision soundbar, which I reviewed when it  was released in 2012. Performance wise, the Motion Vision X is identical to the original version, and that's a good thing. My only hope would be that, like with the Crescendo X, when a subwoofer is connected to the Motion Vision X, a modified crossover would be implemented to reduce stress on the built-in amplifiers and drivers. This was not the case with the Motion Vision and prevented me from giving it five out of five stars for performance

The Motion Vision X has three Folded Motion tweeters, four 4-inch woofers, and seven amplifiers with a total system power of 100 watts. As for streaming, it supports Play-Fi but not AirPlay. It also sports digital optical, digital coax, analog stereo, and Ethernet inputs. A brushed aluminum metal accent on the top of the unit, improved 5-button on-board navigation, and full size extruded black-aluminum remote round out the improvements over the original Motion Vision.

Motion Vision X

MartinLogan Motion Vision X

Like the other products in the lineup, the Motion Vision has a moderately high price tag, $1699 to be specific. This is $200 more than the original unit. Compared to other soundbars, it's not a particularly great value, but it's not unreasonable either. Compared to the price of a 5.1 surround sound that's look as good as the Motion Vision X, it's a great deal. Ultimately, it's value will be determined differently by each customer.

Forte ($599)

The Forte is a small Play-Fi enabled amplifier that allows users to stream high-resolution audio to an traditional speaker or in-wall/in-ceiling speaker. It has on-board controls to allow for easy operation and a sleek industrial design to look good even out in the open. A built-in 2 x 100W Class-D amplifier should be powerful enough for most any pair of speakers you would hook up. Inputs are sparse with only RCA and Ethernet, but I suspect that will meet the needs of most consumers. A subwoofer output is a nice, and expected, addition. There's not much more to say about the Forte. At $599 you are paying a premium for the industrial design, including brushed black aluminum trim.

 Bravado and Forte

MartinLogan Bravado and Forte Comparison


MartinLogan's entire wireless product lineup fits perfectly with my expectations for the company. They have always focused equally on styling and performance, knowing that their customers not only want good sound but want products they can be proud showing off. These products only serve to strengthen the Play-Fi brand, now consumers can buy products ranging from entry level with Polk's Omni series to luxury with MartinLogan's offerings. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Cliff, like many of us, has always loved home theater equipment. In high school he landed a job at Best Buy that started his path towards actual high quality audio. His first surround sound was a Klipsch 5.1 system. After that he was hooked, moving from Klipsch to Polk to Definitive Technology, and so on. Eventually, Cliff ended up doing custom installation work for Best Buy and then for a "Ma & Pa" shop in Mankato, MN.

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