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Soundbars and portable audio speakers (you can throw iPod docking stations into that mix) have become wildly popular in recent years. In 2013 alone, Home Theater Shack previewed quite a few products falling in this category and it’s obvious that consumer demand will continue to push growth in the market segment. While simple to use and space saving, one of the biggest knocks on these objects of convenience is performance. While that characteristic likely causes most hardcore enthusiasts to stay focused on traditional home theater and two channel systems, it’s safe to say that average consumers are more focused on other factors. That’s not to say that high-end products looking to bring real quality to the game aren’t floating around. Today we are going to preview one of those products: MartinLogan’s Crescendo.

Most of us hear the name MartinLogan and our thoughts drift to their renowned Electrostatic speakers, but, as evidence by their Motion Vision soundbar, the company is willing diversify it’s product category offerings. Recently, MartinLogan announced its first entry into the world of wireless standalone speaker systems with “Crescendo,” a Bluetooth and AirPlay compatible product aimed squarely at buyers looking for good sound in a compact self-contained system.

Crescendo isn’t short on design elements, featuring a beautifully unique half moon shape sitting upon two flat legs that extend the depth of a dense MDF enclosure. Keeping with the high-end styling, the unit is offered in two finishes: real walnut veneer and gloss black.

Looking on the inside, MartinLogan has packed the Crescendo with some inciting guts. The heart of the unit is an advanced 24-bit 48KHz DSP pre-amp married to a 100 Watt (140W peak) Class D amplifier. This feeds two proprietary Folded Motion tweeters that use low mass diaphragms to squeeze air, thus requiring less excursion. MartinLogan says their tweeters have “lightning fast” response times and a larger than usual surface resulting in a better sound stage. The mid to low end is filled-out by a custom designed 5X7-inch polypropylene cone woofer with an extended throw drive assembly in a non-resonant asymmetrical chamber. For those owners looking for a bit more bass, the unit features one RCA subwoofer output jack; it automatically configures a customized sub crossover when an external sub is detected.

Keeping inline with convenience, users can connect with the Crescendo in multiple ways. Wirelessly, the unit carries both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities allowing for AirPlay ready devices (such as an iPhone or computer) and devices capable of Bluetooth connection (including Bluetooth V4 with support for SBC, MP3, AAC, and apt-X) the ability to stream. The unit also can connect to LAN lines through an ethernet port. Apple users can connect directly through a USB port, while owners of other devices can take advantage of the 3.5mm stereo jack or a 3.5mm optical digital jack (with an included mini-Toslink optical adapter).

If you’re in the market for a small-footprint, high-end sound, streaming speaker system, the MartinLogan Crescendo might just fit the bill. It will be shipping soon (sometime in Q1); both finishes are available at a suggested retail price of $899 US.

Image Credit: Martin Logan
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