The MartinLogan Motion AFX Dolby Atmos Enabled Speakers Reviewed

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Introducing The MartinLogan Motion AFX Dolby Atmos Enabled Speakers

Martin Logan Motion AFX Dolby Atmos-Enabled Speakers
Martin Logan Motion AFX Dolby Atmos-Enabled Speakers. Images provided by Martin Logan

The introduction of Dolby Atmos into the home theater landscape has not only enhanced the home theater audio experience, but is also causing headaches for many consumers as it also requires the addition of both a Dolby Atmos-enabled home theater receiver, as well as more speakers.

When adding speakers, it is usually best to seek out the same brand loudspeakers for all your channels (including the subwoofer), as they have have the same acoustic properties that make the entire system easier to balance.

However, when it comes to Dolby Atmos, not all manufacturers make speakers that would be suitable additions, but there are some good choices that can fit in, such as the MartinLogan Motion AFX.

What a Dolby Atmos-enabled Speaker Is

When adding Dolby Atmos to your home theater experience, you have two speaker addition options, either you install two (or four) speakers in a ceiling, or you can add what is referred to as a Dolby Atmos speaker module that sends sound vertically so that it reflects off of the ceiling. It must also be pointed out that there are some bookshelf and floorstanding speakers available that have vertically firing modules built-in.

Ideally, the use of ceiling mounted speakers is the best option as overhead sounds actually originate from directly overhead. However, mounting speakers in a ceiling can be a hassle, as you not only have cut out the proper size holes, but you also have to run speaker wire inside your walls and up into the interior of the ceiling.

Knowing that the ceiling mounted speaker option is a turn-off for many consumers, Dolby developed standards for constructing speaker modules that be placed on top of existing speakers that can use sound reflection techniques to achieve a similar result. To do this, the speaker drivers are placed inside a cabinet so that they fire sound vertically to the ceiling rather than horizontally directly towards the listening position.

Of course the effectiveness of this solution actually depends on how the speakers are constructed, the distance from the speaker to the ceiling, and the actual seating position in relation to the sound that is reflected downward after bouncing off the ceiling. In other words, there are several factors that determine how well a Dolby Atmos speaker will perform in a given room environment, but if all other elements are in place, one speaker option that can provide a good Dolby Atmos effect that may be right for is the Martin Logan Motion AFX.

Motion AFX Description and Specifications

The MartinLogan Motion AFX is a cube-shaped vertically firing speaker that can be placed on top of existing bookshelf or floorstanding speakers. Here is a rundown on its features and specifications.

  • Vertically firing 5.25-inch midrange/woofer.
  • Vertically firing .75-inch Tweeter.
  • Frequency Response range is stated as 90Hz to 20 khz + - 3db.
  • Crossover Frequency: 2,000 Hz.
  • Sensitivity: 87 db.
  • Impedance: 4 Ohms (Compatible with 4, 6 or 8 ohm rated amplifiers).
  • Easy-to-use large no-tools-speaker terminals.
  • Power handling is rated at 20 to 200 Watts
  • Dimensions (H x W x D) 7.7 x 6.8 x 10 inches, Weight 8 pounds.
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Martin Logan Motion AFX Setup and Use

Martin Logan Motion AFX Speakers - Anthem Room Correction Graphs
Martin Logan Motion AFX Speakers - Anthem Room Correction Graphs. Robert Silva

In evaluating the Motion AFX speakers, I opted for a 5.1.2 channel setup, placing them on top of the front left and right channel Klipsch B-3 speakers in an existing system, which also included two more Klipsch B-3's for the left and right surround channels, A Klipsch C-2 center channel, and a Klipsch Synergy Sub10 subwoofer.

The Home Theater Receiver used was an Anthem MRX 720 (5.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos operating mode).

The Blu-ray Disc Player was an OPPO BDP-103. The Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player used was a Samsung UBD-K8500. To balance the system, I employed the Anthem Room Correction System supplied with Anthem MRX 720. The frequency response results, in relation to the room, for the Motion AFX speakers are shown in the graph shown above.

The Dolby Atmos Listening Experience

I had no preconceptions going into my review of the Motion AFX speakers - but I was pleasantly surprised at how well they performed.

For Dolby Atmos, the Motion AFX speakers did an effective job of providing both a fuller front and overhead soundfield when called upon to do so.

One positive side effect is that the fuller front and overhead soundfield serves to provide a more immersive sound field that is expected from a Dolby Atmos experience.

Also, when running the Dolby Surround Upmixer, which is designed to recreate a Dolby Atmos-like soundfied for non-Dolby Atmos-encoded content - although not as accurate, did provide a more immersive surround soundfield than a traditional 5.1 or 7.1 channel speaker setup would provide. It was interesting to hear the multi-channel SACD version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and the DVD-Audio version of the Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody enhanced using the Dolby Surround Upmixer with Motion AFX speakers.

Incidentally, the Dolby Atmos upmixer also works with stereo music sources such as standard CDs.

Final Take

The MartinLogan Motion AFX is definitely a specialized speaker - due to their vertical firing design they are not intended to be used for traditional, front, center, or surround channel use.

Ideally, the Motion AFX speakers are designed to placed on top of MartinLogan's Motion Series Bookshelf and Floorstanding speakers, which would probably provide the best sonic compatibility, but they can be placed on top of any speakers that have a large enough surface area.

When also using a home theater receiver that has good Dolby Atmos-compatible automatic speaker setup system (or manually calibrated with extra care), the Motion AFX can provide a positive result.

If you desire to add Dolby Atmos immersive surround sound to your home theater setup, and don't like the idea mounting speakers in your ceiling, the MartinLogan Motion AFX is definitely a speaker add-on to consider.

Based on my listening experience, on a star rating scale from 1 to 5, I give the Motion AFX speakers 4 stars.

The MartinLogan Motion AFX speakers are available in available in Black, and are priced at $599.99 a pair.

Dolby Atmos Content Used In This Review

Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs: Independence Day Resurgence, Star Trek Beyond, Warcraft

Blu-ray Discs: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, American Sniper, Gravity: Diamond Luxe Edition, In The Heart of The Sea, Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Unbroken

Non-Dolby Atmos Content Used With Dolby Surround Upmixer

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, John Wick, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

DVD-Audio Discs: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.

SACD Discs: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.