November 6, 2009

Top Form! Marten Design Form Tower Speakers.

Beautifully "Form" follows function! Review sample in snow white paint scheme.

I've heard this pair of speakers on more than a few occasions in the Audiomatic showroom at Amcorp Mall. Usually partnered with either Vitus or Bladelius amps, they had a really pristine clarity, open and refined quality that is hard to describe with words. I requested them for a review , Eugene agreed.

The foot print, with out riggers attached for greater stability and note the floor firing bass port(bigger black hole) on the left. Also note the cramped speaker cable binding post. Too tight for spades, but just nice for banana plug terminated cables.

The Marten Design Form series are designed with dual function in mind, to serve as quality stereo and part of an AV system. The triangular shape of the speakers are form follows function, to eliminate internal standing waves behind the 7" ceramic woofer, which I believe is sourced from Accuton. The tweeter used is the ribbon type for high end refinement. The custom automotive grade white paint job on the review sample was faultless and very brilliantly smooth polished. Other finishes also available on request. The speakers rest on 3 extended out riggers made of aluminium and finished with rounded tip spikes to protect floors and allow easy maneuvering of the speakers. There's a floor firing port right next to the speaker terminals in which I found too cluttered for use with my spade terminated Siltech Classic Anniversary 330L series speaker cables. Banana plugs seems to be the only practical option. I was forced to use one of my older banana plug terminated vdH CS-122 speaker cables for this review instead. I know, I know, they are not as transparent or as good as the Siltechs, so do note this in to consideration when reading the following sound description of the Marten Form.

The rounded floor spikes for easy maneuvering and floor protection.

I played around with the speaker placement but found that this speaker to produce very hefty bass quantity. In larger rooms, they'd be fine, but in my small 32 cubic capacity volume room, the bass just over whelms all the other frequency spectrum of the music reproduction. I had to make a foam bung to plug the floor firing bass port, resulted in a very controlled bass, and much more even tonality. This is no fault of the speakers but rather, the room mode doing it's thing again here. I then proceeded to play with speaker placement again and eventually settled for 40 inches from speaker back wall and 18 inches from the side wall, measured from the tip point at the back of the triangular speaker box. All listening test was done without the speaker grilles. I also experimented with toe in, but much preferred the speakers just firing straight a head in to the room.

The highly refined ribbon tweeter mated to the ultra quick response Accuton supplied ceramic 7" woofer.

The first thing that struck me with these speakers is the clarity, pristine and refined airy quality of the high frequency presentation, making the harpsichord and that triangle ring sound so.... very natural! The mids are open and very clear. The lower mids are very much fleshed out, giving male vocals more solid chest feeling, which is a good thing. This slightly fleshed out lower mids also contributed to most classical instruments like oboe, woodwinds, flute, violin, viola, cello, bassoon and contra bass, making them sound very lush and woody realistic indeed. Classical fans, rejoice! The bass, though handicapped by the foam plugged in to the floor firing port, is still tuneful and very accurate, if did not extend any lower then say, 35Hz or so in my room, perhaps due to the foam plug in the bass port.

The triangular box shape, very un usual.

The staging is wide open and depth perception is rather good. Way, way better than my own Audio Physic Spark can do. This is a very transparent speaker, despite being handicapped, again by the use of a budget speaker cable. Musical details are still very much audible and one doesn't really need to look out for them, they are just laid out naturally within the sound stage presentation. The driver coherence is pretty spot on, which is normally hard to achieve given the difficult design spec of using a ribbon tweeter mated with a dynamic cone. I could stand up walk around in front of the speakers without the sound stage collapsing, which is proof of excellent driver integration.

Micro dynamics is a little compromised some what, like for example, high hats. In a realistic reproduction, one should hear the stick clearly hitting the brass, followed by the long sustaining decay, slowly vanishing in to thin air of nothing ness. But with the Marten Form, the initial stick attack of hitting the brass seems to be slightly subdued, like as if the drummer is holding back, however, to it's credit, the long sustaining decay slowly vanishing in to thin air of nothing ness is fully reproduced with no problems. This characteristic, I feel affects a few other instruments too, like classical guitar, piano and Chinese classical instruments like guzheng and pipa. Rock music can also sound a little too refined and polite, lacking in just that bit of edginess and bite that makes rock, well, rock! Again, I am mostly nit picking here, because that certainly didn't stop me from enjoyinging to one of my all time favorite rock recording on CD called, Amused To Death, by Roger Waters, a member of Pink Floyd doing his solo thang!

I was certain closed to being amused to death by the Marten Design Form Tower speakers.

This is quite an amazing studio recording with special effects thrown in to the disillusioned musical poetry mix for good measure. In scenes like TV preaching man sounds from the opening track, What God Wants, is realistically reproduced. The Marten Form's AV abilities are put to good use here with dogs seemingly barking behind the left side of listener position, planes crashing dead center of sound stage, panning in from the right side behaind my shoulder! Whoa.... this is surreal indeed. I know we are talking about stereo here and not multi chanel surround, but this CD, when played in a well optimised system can do just that. Now go buy this CD, if your system cannot project the effects of what I've just described, you need to keep working on improving your hifi. It's certainly not optimised yet!

The rear tip point. Note the smooth paint finish.

Macro dynamics is however a very strong point of the Marten Design Form. I have no problems swinging very high peaks during orchestral crescendos at very high volumes. In fact with some music, life only starts after 90dbs or so, figuratively speaking! Like when I was playing Flamenco by Pepe Romero. The louder I went, the better the music sounded. Perhaps it's an early symptom of me losing my hearing? Go figure. He!He!

Another issue I noticed when the Marten Form was playing in my room was that it tended to sound a little on the dark side, a thread I never noticed when auditioning them in Audiomatic's showroom. Perhaps the Marten was revealing the dark chocolate like tonal presentation of the Pass Aleph 0 and the Torus Power? The back ground silence was exceptional though, so no complains from me on this area.

The Marten Design Form Tower speakers in my room, standing very nearly 4ft tall.

Overall, the Marten Design Form is a superb audiophile speaker as much as it's potential as an AV capable speaker. At RM$24k, it's certainly not cheap, but look beyond the price, instead a glance the design philosophy, build and sound quality will convince you that pride of owner ship is totally worth your purchase consideration, if you're in the market for a pair of speakers at this price point. I know, because I am considering too, just in case Santa is smiling upon me this year!

Marten Design sold by Audiomatic, contact Eugene, tel:012-3222698

5 comments:

mikelau.2 said...

Big E,

Santa ? Hasn't he been with you all year ? heh heh, you lucky fella. The marten sure looks grand in your audio cave and giving that fresh and lively look too. Wonder if it sounds as good as it looks ? cheers

WiKin said...

Big E,
I think you may have been poisoned by ribbon tweeters. They are just different compared to domes. Cheers.

Big E said...

Mike,

Then I wish Santa will stay whith me for a little while more! He!He!

Wikin,

I can't be sure, but I suspect those ribbons on the Marten Design Form are AMT supplied? Either way, they are really good!

WiKin said...

Big E,
Those ribbons sure looked like Fountek Neo CD 3.0 to me. It's MIC dude.... Made In China ;-)

Big E said...

Wikin,

I am very sure you know better about them ribbon tweeters. He!He!