Marten Parker Trio Diamond Edition loudspeaker
2020 may not have been a year to celebrate, but there were some housebound highlights. For example, after I had finished with the measurements to accompany Michael Fremer’s review of the Marten Oscar Duo in the November 2020 issue, I set up these Swedish two-way standmounts in my own listening room. Yes, the measured performance was excellent, but I was not expecting how much I would enjoy the sound of the Oscar Duos.
At $6995/pair, this is not an inexpensive speaker, but it rivaled the stereo imaging produced by my reference KEF LS50, played louder than the diminutive KEF without strain, and offered another octave of low frequencies. As MF concluded in his review: “Designer Leif Olofsson has threaded the needle, producing a small speaker that can produce prodigious bass (or at least bass that sounds prodigious) with composure at relatively high SPLs, without muddying up the midrange.”
The Oscar Duos went back to the distributor last October, but as the new year dawned, Marten’s new Parker Trio tower loudspeakers ($19,990/pair) arrived chez moi. I unpacked the Trios, set them up, experimented with positioning, listened a while, then packed them up again. It turned out that the stainless steel outrigger bases didn’t have the correct-sized holes tapped into them for the mandatory Marten Isolators. Rather than replace the outriggers, Marten decided instead to send me the “Diamond Edition” version of the Parker Trio. This considerably more expensive version—$36,990/ pair—replaces the regular Trio’s ceramic-dome tweeter with one that uses a dome formed from pure diamond—presumably vapor-deposited—higher-quality crossover components, improved cable terminals, and Jorma’s top-of-the-range Statement internal cabling.
On with the show.
The Parker Trio Diamond
Like all of Marten’s speaker lines, the Trio pays homage to a legendary jazz musician, in this case Charlie Parker. This is an elegant-looking tower, standing 45″ high on its two chromed stainless steel outrigger bases with the Isolators installed. The enclosure tapers from its back to the front and is constructed from a proprietary, self-damped, laminated material that Marten calls “M-Board.” The review samples were hand-finished in a matte walnut veneer.
The Parker Trio is a “2.5-way” design, with the lower of the two 7.5″ woofers rolling off earlier than the upper one. The latter crosses over to the 1″ diamond-dome tweeter at 2.2kHz using Marten’s “Multi-Slope” crossover technology. The tweeter sits behind a mesh grille in a chromed stainless steel sub-baffle. Below it are the two woofers, mounted vertically inline and covered with metal-mesh grilles. Engineered by Marten’s Leif Olofsson, these use ceramic cones and substantial half-roll rubber surrounds. The woofers are modestly claimed by Marten to be “superior to any similar drivers currently available, at any price.” Reflex loading is provided by two 9″ aluminum-diaphragm passive radiators mounted on the rear of the cabinet, these also covered with mesh grilles. Electrical connection is via a single pair of chromed binding posts at the base of the rear panel.
Marten’s IsoPuck feet are designed by IsoAcoustics and incorporate a compliant layer that, in combination with the speaker’s mass, acts as a low-pass filter to absorb higher-frequency noise in the enclosure and prevent it from being transmitted to the floor. Jim Austin discussed how the IsoAcoustics feet work in October 2020 and was impressed by the improvement they gave with a pair of Revel Ultima Salon2 speakers.
Setup & system
Marten includes a CD with a sweep tone to break in the Parker Trios. The hardbound manual says to play this track on repeat for at least 24 hours before experimenting with placement and warns that the loudspeakers won’t sound their best for another 200 hours of playing music! Fortunately, and unlike the first pair of Parker Trios, the Diamond Edition speakers had been fully broken in before I received them. Nevertheless, there was a slightly lean quality to the lower midrange that gradually dissipated over the first week of using the Martens for noncritical listening.
I initially placed the Martens where the Sonus Faber Lumina IIIs I reviewed in the April issue had worked well in my slightly asymmetrical room. Though they are reflex-loaded towers, for their low frequencies to be fully developed, the Sonus Fabers needed to be placed closer to the wall behind them than I could manage in my room. (The two steps up to the vestibule behind the right-hand speaker don’t allow me to move speakers any closer.) The Martens, however, offered low-frequency weight and extension in these positions, and I didn’t need to experiment very much with placement.
Each speaker’s front baffle ended up 77″ from the wall behind it and 142″ from the listening position. The woofers of the left-hand Trio Diamond were 35″ from the LPs that line the nearest sidewall; the right-hand speaker’s woofers were 47″ from the bookshelves that line its sidewall. Even though I had toed in the Trios to the listening position, the sound was a little on the sweet side unless I sat bolt upright. When I sit in my listening chair, my ears are 36″ from the floor, which is significantly below the Trio Diamonds’ tweeters, which, with the speakers sitting on the outriggers and Isolators, were 42″ high. I therefore placed ½”-thick, circular aluminum plates under the rear Isolators, which tilted the speakers forward a little so that I could just see along the sloped top of each enclosure. This brought the Martens’ top octave into an optimal balance with the mid-treble region.
The music source was my Roon Nucleus+ powered by an HDPlex linear power supply loaned to me by Jason Victor Serinus (a worthwhile upgrade, I have found). One of two DACs—the MBL N31 or the PS Audio DirectStream—was fed audio data over my network. Amplification was the Pass Labs XP-32 preamplifier that I reviewed in the March 2021 issue and a pair of Parasound Halo JC 1+ monoblocks.
As always, before I used music for my critical auditioning of the Parker Trio Diamonds, I listened to the test tone files I created for my Editor’s Choice CD (Stereophile STPH016-2). The dual-mono pink noise track sounded smooth, and its image was appropriately narrow and stable, with no “splashing” to the sides at any frequency. The Trio Diamonds reproduced the 1/3-octave warble tones on Editor’s Choice with good power down to the 25Hz band, with the 32Hz warble boosted by the lowest room mode. The 20Hz warble was just audible at my usual listening level. The half-step–spaced tonebursts on Editor’s Choice spoke cleanly and evenly down to 32Hz, the frequency of the lowest one. Listening to the enclosure with a stethoscope while these tonebursts played, I could hear some low-level liveliness between 500Hz and 1kHz. I could also hear a faint metallic ringing when I rapped the sidewalls with my knuckles. As I mention in the “Measurements” sidebar, this turned out to be coming from the metal-mesh grilles.
Test tones and knuckle raps are all very well, but it’s the music a speaker makes that matters.
Published at Wed, 19 May 2021 16:11:42 +0000