MartinLogan Vista Hybrid Electrostatic Loudspeaker Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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MartinLogan Vista Hybrid Electrostatic Loudspeaker Review

MartinLogan Vista Hybrid Electrostatic Loudspeaker Review

By: Andrew Robinson

It's rare to see a manufacturer revamp a product line as completely as MartinLogan has done with their latest offerings. Their former flagship, the Summit, showcased not only MartinLogan's newest speaker technology, but highlighted design language as a whole. Now that the Summit is no more, its legacy is alive and well in the Vista reviewed here. With a retail price of around $4,000 per pair, depending on the finish, the Vista is the entry-level speaker in what MartinLogan is calling their ESL series, which also includes the Vantage and Summit-replacing Spire loudspeaker. The Vista, like the Aeon and Aeon i of yore, is a gateway product of sorts, designed to bring consumers into the MartinLogan family and giving them a clear upgrade path should they decide to stick with the brand.

The Vista closely resembles the slightly larger Vantage in many respects; it even features its XStat panel, which was derived directly from the Summit. The Vista, like most MartinLogan speakers, is a hybrid design that mates an electrostatic panel to a bass woofer. The Vista features an eight-inch aluminum woofer in a ported enclosure, giving it a frequency response of 43-23,000Hz. Unlike the Vantage, the woofer section of the Vista is not powered, which brings its efficiency down a bit to 90dB into a four-ohm load. The Vista, like the Vantage, uses a Vojtko crossover at 450Hz for seamless integration between the panel and the woofer itself. The Vista has an overall power handling capability of 200 watts per channel and can be powered with a moderately equipped receiver or a mid-fi separates system. I've demoed the Vista personally, using an integrated amplifier with a solid 50 watts at its disposal, with acceptable and enjoyable results, though when I upped the quality of the associated components, I was able to hear a noticeable difference in the speaker's sound and musicality.

The Vista is bi-wireable and features MartinLogan's proprietary binding posts that can accept spade and banana terminations. The Vista comes in two standard finishes, dark cherry and black ash, with light cherry and maple rounding out the two costlier optional finishes. Like all modern MartinLogan speakers, you can fully customize the finish of your Vista, using MartinLogan's own custom shop on their website.

High Points
• The Vista's compact footprint and stylish good looks make it a suitable loudspeaker for a variety of living situations and tastes.
• Though entry-level, the Vista is a MartinLogan speaker through and through, possessing a wonderfully open, colorless and natural midrange with surprisingly taut bass capabilities.
• The somewhat dated XStat panel proves more than adequate for the Vista and helps keep the cost of the speaker relatively low.
• The eight-inch bass driver has formidable output and mates very well with the speedy panel of the Vista.

Low Points
• While the bass output of the Vista is remarkable, given the size of the woofer and enclosure design, if you want to plunge the bottom-most registers, a subwoofer is most likely in order.
• MartinLogan makes some of the best subs in the business.
• The Vista's traditional ported bass enclosure and bi-pole panel makes placement a bit trickier, compared to traditional speakers or front-ported designs.
• The Vista's two no-cost finishes, while topnotch, aren't as versatile as three or four possibilities would be. However, the Vantage has the same finish options, yet costs a grand or more over the price of the Vista, so it's a bit of a give and take.

Conclusion
While the Vista may be MartinLogan's entry-level speaker in their ESL series, it shares much of the performance and style of its big brothers. With a retail price hovering around $4,000, the Vista is MartinLogan's most successful and affordable offering yet in bringing consumers into the fold. Its compact size and nearly limitless finish options, provided you're willing to pay extra, make it room- and lifestyle-friendly. In fact, while I love the slightly more expensive Vantage, I would argue the Vista is the smarter buy. Let you ears and budget be the judges, but I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Chrisy

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electrostatic , hybrid , loudspeaker , martinlogan , review , vista

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