By Keijo Tanskanen
The loudspeaker companies in Scandinavia have been quite well-known for their very affordable but high quality products. For some reason, they have not usually tried to achieve the very best levels, likely because of the risks and costs of this for the business. Anyway, there are a couple of exceptions. After years of work, Marten, too, has finally become into the toughest class and really challenges even the most appreciated loudspeaker brands in this era. For example, Marten’s flagship speaker, which is also extremely expensive, is held as one of the very best speakers in the world nowadays. Besides that, the less expensive models have achieved a very good reputation as well, also in Finland, where Hifihuone has held excellent demos.
A couple of years ago, I was able to listen to the Marten Bird which I already liked much. Its way to reproduce music presentations was somehow very attractive and honest, although it could not quite compete seriously with the previous speaker, Wilson W/P 7, in certain sonic features, like dynamics, resolution and control. Having these positive experiences as a background, I was immediately very curious when I was offered a chance to listen to the new Bird.
I did my listening in two phases, firstly, at the open doors event, and secondly, on the specific date. In both phases, I had plenty of time to listen to my test music. Both of the sessions were done in the demo room of Hifihuone, which actually has quite good acoustics (also vivid enough compared with nominal living rooms). The front end cosisted of very high quality McIntosh electronics and Jorma’s cabling. Actually, the whole setup seemed to be a quite perfect match! For the second visit, I managed to have an excellent reference speaker, Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolution. Naturally, this enabled a more accurate evaluation of both, i.e. the effects of the room and features of the speakers.
The Bird 2 is still a bottom-ported design floorstander speaker, which is moderately sized and weighted. The cabinet of the speakers is constructed by 26 mm MDF, resulting quite good damping, and having tilted back a few degrees for the best timing integration of the drivers. Despite this, the speaker stands very stable on its footprints, just because of the robust stainless steel feet, cones and pucks, which are much better than what the predecessor had. The speaker has a new 3/4" diamond tweeter and two new 9" ceramic sandwich woofers besides the 7” midrange unit. Additionally, the crossover of the speaker has been improved as well, for example by the Mundorf components.
A look at the back side of the speaker reveals two interesting things. Firstly, there is one pair of very high quality speaker terminals. Marten has concluded that it is much better to offer one pair of high quality and reliable terminals instead less high quality bi-cabling deliverance. Very well thought, I think! Secondly, there is bass amount adjustment which has three 1 dB steps. Naturally, this enlarges the variety of successful room-speaker combinations. I did not have any specific technical information about the adjustment, but it seemed to work well. Very reasonable and well thought, again!
As you can see, plenty of improvements were done. By help of these, the manufacturer promises the sound deliverance being much less coloured than before.
From the very first notes, it was clear that I was listening to the music which was reproduced by very high quality and big sounding loudspeakers. There was also a rarely experienced level of transparency and order in the music interpretations. Naturally, I could wait for the kind of presentation from the speaker of this size and price, but anyway, I was delighted of the great start.
The low end of the music was reproduced impressively, especially in the rock music samples. There was only slight exaggeration and over-vividness in releases, caused by the room-speaker combination, but the quality was still excellent. The kick drums had plenty of punch and double basses were delivered with great richness and resolution. For example, the system revealed very nicely the finger touches of playing. For practical listening cases, there were sufficient bass extensions as well. Only the very lowest effects, like the waves of cinema music, will need the help of a subwoofer.
Then, I concentrated on the midrange and deliverance of basic music constructions, like melodies. They were followed very faithfully, coherently and with correct timing by all my test music samples. This was easily noticed for example in the piano melodies. Still, I have heard a couple speakers and systems which make things even slightly better in this era, but probably I’m splitting hairs here. What surprised me a bit were the dynamic contrasts of the hits of piano hammers. They were reproduced in a way that I have heard only from few reference systems!
The highs were just beautiful, really beautiful. All kinds of aggressiveness were superbly avoided, without loosing shimmering and pure nature of highs. What is also very important the treble was very well tied with the midrange. I don’t know if this is achieved by the crossover design or by the right choices of elements, or by both of them, but the result was exemplary, especially in the world of diamond tweeters and ceramic woofers. The resolution of highs was also very high, although I have experienced some super speakers delivering a bit more very low level vibrations of cymbals and triangles.
The tone colours of instruments were delivered very cleanly and openly. Violins sound like violins and cellos like cellos, but not quite in the way that Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolution did. This is not a shame at all, because I have not heard better sounding violins than Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolution and Stradivari can deliver, only a number of equal performances! It must be known that if Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolution can deliver a bit more correct sound of instruments and just a tad more prompt melody runs, they will loose everywhere else against Heritage Bird 2, at least in my opinion!
Marten Heritage Bird 2 is definitely a tremendous speaker without significant flaws. This is not a surprise at all when taking account the price of the speaker, but the case has also real excels. Technically, Heritage Bird 2 has been improved very reasonably from its predecessor, which is not trivial at all in these days, when vendors are trying to maximize profits. Actually, in my experience, the Bird 2 is one of the finest examples of successful R&D in the world of loudspeakers. Naturally, this can be noticed from the sound reproduction as well, very easily indeed. Marten Heritage Bird 2 delivers a punctual reproduction of music patterns and specifically attractive and big sonic view – a true way to lifetime listening pleasure!
Frequency range / 25-100000 Hz ±3dB
Power rating / 300 W
Sensitivity / 89 dB / 2.83V
Impedance / 6 ohm (4.7 min)
Type / 3-way ported (26 Hz)
Drive units / 2x9" ceramic sandwich, 7" ceramic 3/4" diamond
Crossover frequency / Second order: 250, 3000 Hz
Components / Low loss copper foil coils and silver/gold in oil capacitors
Terminals / Single-wiring WBT
Internal wiring / Jorma Design
Cabinet / 26mm veneered MDF
Stands / Steel stands with Marten cones and pucks
Dimensions WxHxD / 28 x 116 x 46 cm (11 x 45.6 x 18.1")
Net weight / 47 Kg (104 lbs)
Price 27.500 € in Finland
Importer Hifihuone Oy
Digital source: McIntosh MCD 1100 CD/SACD player
Power amplifiers: McIntosh MC 452 power amplifier
Speaker cables: Jorma Design Statement
Interconnects: Jorma Design Origo XLR
Power cords: Jorma Design Origo
Power equipment: Quantum Qx4 & QBase8
Reference speaker: Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolution