simpler, how come they cost so much? The answer to that is also simple; the technological and material content of this system is sky high. In fact, once you start adding up the driver costs alone, you start to wonder how the company arrived at the purchase price. Add in the rest of the physical details outlined in the sidebar and you’ll be sending them a calculator.
But as visually and physically daunting as these speakers undoubtedly are, it’s nothing compared to the challenge of simply listening to them. Where do you start? What do you play? What should you expect? The secret is to remember that this is just another loudspeaker. They need to do the same job and be judged in the same way as any other. Put aside the physical presence (and the massive price-tag that constantly hovers in your subconscious) and ask yourself whether you like what you are hearing. And that’s where it gets interesting…
Remember what I said about the mid-band? Now, given the massive investment that Marten have made in reproducing this critical range, what better place to start. Hard to do when confronted by these massive cabinets, so think laterally – turn out the lights! Remove the visual cues and you’ll instantly realise what these speakers are all about. In a blacked out room these speakers simply disappear, visually and sonically. Instead, they’re replaced by a seamless soundscape, a three-dimensional acoustic space if that’s on the record, a sonic collage if it’s come out of a multi-tracked studio. Play Townes Van Zandt’s achingly poignant acoustic rendition of "Waitin’ ‘Round To Die" from the Heartworn Highways soundtrack and you’ll hear Townes and his guitar, right in front of you; but you’ll also hear the frontroom outside of Austin where the song was taped, a friend of his neighbour sat in the far corner who intermittently sings along, the neighbour’s dog out in the yard, the warmth of the company, the relaxed feel of the setting. Townes is life-sized and solid, sat over his guitar, which also has a natural weight and body, that combination of attack and warmth that’s so easy to recognise but so hard to capture on a record. The vocal isn’t exactly a classical delivery, and nor is the phrasing, with the occasional almost spoken line interrupting the rhythm, but it is astonishingly natural and utterly, captivatingly believable, the event and the song simply unfolding before you.
You’ve just taken your first step on the Coltrane Supreme’s learning curve. These speakers defy expectations and as such it’s easy to miss the point. By effectively disconnecting your eyes from the equation you’ve let your ears understand that what they’ve been listening too is probably the best small speaker they’ve ever heard. You’ve got that precision and pinpoint imaging, that agility and sense of transparent rightness that comes from small cabinets and simple crossovers done really well. But there are those other qualities too: the astonishing