A very good look and first class finish!
Marten is a speaker brand from Sweden. They got an importer, Hifihuone, in Finland from year 2007. Despite of their less known history they have managed to take their place among the respected speaker vendors. Marten seems to take good care of new owners. The owner’s manual is almost perfect and it includes numerous recommendations for speaker setup. There is even an enclosed CD for in-burning process. Luckily, I have managed to listen to Birds during the two audio events in 2007, and each time their sound has been clearly among the best ones! So, I was quite willing to listen to them also in my listening room.
There is one very important thing which I want highlight already here in foreword section. Hifihuone made a very brave and respectable action when they offered these speakers to be evaluated in my listening room as a part of my audio system. They knew what kind of preferences, sound and system I already had. They also knew that a direct comparison to Wilson Watt/Puppy 7 will be done. Despite of these challenges (probably because of these challenges?) they offered Birds for a test! After this I can respect the guys of Hifihuone, their professionalism and wide-angle perspective in audio business even more than before!
The design philosophy of Marten speakers is quite simple, and actually there is nothing very personal on it. The pure, present, detailed sound image and musicality are described to be the features of Marten Birds.
Additionally, the design is emphasized besides the great sound! Marten speakers are convinced to be easily integrated in any living room or listening room. I can totally agree, although in my opinion some other speakers have been looking even a bit better. A good look of Bird’s was achieved by finishing methods. The lacquering of the speaker was nothing but outstanding!
Marten Bird is a 3-way ported speaker which is equipped by a 1 inch diamond tweeter, 7” ceramic midrange and 2 x 9” bass drivers. Birds are not a very hard load. The impedance minimum is advertised to be easy, 4.7 ohms. Birds have eight excellent terminals allowing bi-cabling. Manufacturer recommends the use of very high quality speaker cables because speaker cabling may have big impacts for the sound! The internal wiring of the speaker is Jorma Design No 2 and the same cable is recommended for speaker cables. More detailed specifications of the speaker are presented in the end of this article.
The guys of Hifihuone had
made excellent transport boxes for the Birds. These boxes surely help a lot
to transport the speakers carefully. Great!
For more information please follow the link: http://www.marten.se
Placing the speakers
The owner’s manual of Marten Bird explained very well how the speakers must be placed and what the recommended setups are.
My listening room with moderate acoustic treatment is approximately 25 square meters, and I noticed the speaker positioning to be quite simple. Finally the front panels of the speakers were approximately 1.7 meters from the rear wall. The outer side of the left speaker was approximately 60 centimetres from the left sidewall and the outer side of the right speaker was approximately 110 centimetres from the right sidewall. The central line distance between the speakers was 2.8 meters, and the distance between the listener and the speakers was approximately 3 meters.
I tried a couple of variations of in-toeing but did not found any improvements when comparing to traditional methods. The best results were achieved when the axis of the speakers crossed approximately half a meter behind my head. First I placed the speakers on the soft carpets, just because of repositioning procedures. The best results were anyway achieved when the speakers were placed directly on the floor.
Comments concerning the listening sessions
A lot of music was listened to during the test, including my traditional test CDs. My musical taste covers almost everything - I dislike only disco, some operas and avantgarde Jazz. So, all the instruments were surely included in my wide and high quality music selection.
After starting it was quite easy to concentrate on the music while listening to ordinary recordings. I stopped only a couple of times thinking whether some information was lost. When the most demanding recordings, like RR Respighi (RR-95 CD) or George Duke’s After Hours (WB 9362-47073-2), were played, the more or less subjective and subtle lacks were clearly more intrusive. The sound was still full-range, airy, delicious and detailed, but clearly not among the best ones I have heard. So, I wondered why the sound couldn’t reach even higher quality.
After a slight disappointment I improved the placement of the speakers and for example removed the carpets under the speakers. This led a bit better listening results. I had plenty of time for my listening and evaluation, but again, I could have written the same results after two days listening experience! Anyway, the deeper nature of the Birds convinced me more and more day after day. Although the coherency from bass to midrange and the quality of the bass still had a bit more problems than I expected, I could easily enjoy the music. So, the Birds are not among the most accurate speakers but more likely they are accurate enough!
The sound of the Birds reminded me of the listening experiences of the B&W 800 system last spring. Partially they also reminded me the Woodworks Tympanum speakers which I listened to almost a year ago. This can naturally be taken as a positive issue. I had relaxed listening experiences all the time during the test period. I never felt the sound was too aggressive or hard although there was a lot of speed in the sound. I suppose this helps to realize the real nature of the Birds. They are for music listeners, but also for the enthusiasts who prefer more natural-like midrange and treble tonality instead of the most accurate and dynamic bass and the most focused and dimensional sonic picture. Anyway, the Birds have an open and big sound. They can also deliver a great amount of micro details which is important at least for me!
Balance: Quite neutral. In my listening room the speakers had slightly overdosed upper region of the bass. The coherency from the bass to the midrange had slight problems as well (note the probable effects of the loosened feet!).
Resolution: Excellent overall resolution. Especially micro resolution was excellent and a lot of midrange and treble details were registered. The speakers were a bit forgiving in the lower register (note the probable effects of the loosen feet!).
Transparency: Excellent but slightly back-warded presentation, especially when compared to the WP7s.
Treble: Very clean, beautiful and dimensional treble which allowed for example very natural transients of vocals. However I was still missing more aggressiveness and more metal-like sounding cymbals and hi-hats.
Midrange: Excellent. The Birds had Fast, clean and very natural midrange. The Birds delivered excellent coherency from the midrange to the treble as well!
Bass: The Birds had plenty of full range bass, but lacked slightly accuracy and dynamics. The upper bass region had slight emphasis at least in my listening room. Because the speakers had loosened feet during the listening sessions (it was noticed during the packing), it is unfair to judge the Birds very hard by this feature. I think the Birds will still have a moderate accuracy in the lower region at their price class.
Dynamics: Very good but did not achieve the level of the best speakers I have heard. The punch of bass had the clearest lacks but still the presentation was quite acceptable. Because the speakers had loosened feet during the listening sessions (it was noticed during the packing), it is unfair to judge the Birds very hard by this feature. Supposedly the Birds will have moderate dynamic abilities at their price class if the feet are mounted properly.
Spatial information: The focussing was very good but still a bit generous. During the listening sessions I looked approximately at the same height as with Watt/Puppies – the musicians seemed to be approximately in the same locations. There was plenty of depth information as well. Anyway, dimensionality and clarity of the spatial information were not as good as the best ones I have heard. The overall presentation was also a bit back-warded.
Marten Birds are interesting and charming speakers. Despite of that I must confess that this test was a slight disappointment for me. But this does not mean the Birds have intrusive lacks in their sound. The question is more about the details and the last bits of accuracy, and probably even more importantly about the taste of mine. I have also heard excellent sound from them before this test! So, were my expectations too high, were the reference speakers just too good, did the loosened feet have remarkable effects on the sound? I think all the previously mentioned reasons affected more or less my feelings and listening results.
The slight problems in the bass region might be more or less a coincidence (the loosened feet). Besides this the readers must be conscious of the fact that the bass of Watt/Puppy 7s is quite fabulous and clearly among the best ones I have heard so far. Anyway, I am sure that the Birds wouldn’t have reached the same bass quality as my Watt/Puppy 7s even though the loosened screws of the feet would have been tightened before the test. When compared with the other speakers at the same price class, the bass accuracy of Birds is very likely moderate.
So it clearly is so that the Birds deserve their place at the 20 kilo euros price class, but they will never replace my Watt/Puppies. I suppose that was not a purpose of the test offer either! If someone refuses to try the Birds because of my slight critics, he may do a big mistake. Marten Birds are excellent speakers; there is no question about it! Also, I know numerous enthusiasts who are not so analytical and critical than I am, and whose preferences differ remarkably from mine. For those the Birds may deliver just what they want!
• Floor standing,
3 way ported (30 Hz)
• 1” Diamond Tweeter (45 kHz -3 dB frequency response)
• 7” Ceramic Mid-range driver
• 2 x 9” Ceramic drivers
• Height: 1160 mm; Width: 280 mm; Depth: 480 mm
• Weight 47 kg
• Power rating: 250 W
• Frequency response: 28 Hz - 45 kHz (-3 dB)
• Sensitivity: 89 dB
• Price: 22.900€ in Finland
• Finishes: High Gloss Maple, Cherry, Walnut or Black.
• CD player: Audio
Aero Capitole Mk II SE with Shakti stones
• Amplifier: Audionet AMP II Max monoblocks
• Speakers: Wilson Watt/Puppy 7
• Interconnects: Transparent Reference MM (MM tech) unbalanced cables
• Speaker cables: Transparent Reference MM (MM tech)
• Power Filters: 3 x one outlet Transparent Reference XLs (for the CD player and monoblocks)
• Power cords: Shunyata Copperhead for the CD player and Shunyata Taipan Alpha (2005 model) for the monoblocks