Equipment Reviews – Marten Oscar Duo – Stand Mount Speakers
Introduction – Marten makes a wide range of speakers from bookshelf/stand mounts to large and very expensive multi-driver floor standers. This review is of their entry point stand mount speaker, the Oscar Duo at £4,950 per pair with dedicated manufacturers stands coming in at an additional £995.
If you have been reading any of my other reviews, you will know that I use Marten speakers in my home system and the intention of this review was to find out if there was a ‘house sound’ to the Marten range and to see how they compare to the Mingus Quintet’s that I use on a regular basis.
Marten is a family run business founded in Sweden in 1998 and today comprises a five series speaker range, a recording studio and a record label. All Marten speakers use internal wiring from the Jorma Design Company which now forms a part of the Marten Group.
Marten have recently introduced their new Parker range of speakers that are now on demo at Nintronics. The entry level Parker is the Duo which is a similar size to the Oscar Duo on review here but comes in at twice the price at £8,950. However, the storey doesn’t end there because the Parker range can all be specified with diamond tweeters at extra cost, that being a further £8,000 for the Parker Duo if so specified. We have just taken delivery of the Parker Duo Diamond so watch out for a review some time soon.
Technology – The Oscar Duo is a good-sized stand mount speaker at H400 x W200 x D320 and a weight of 13Kg each. They comprise a 1” ceramic tweeter and a 7” ceramic mid/bass driver and are ported to the rear. The cabinets are very well made and come in piano black, white or walnut. They are a 6ohm speaker with 86Db sensitivity and a frequency range of 37Hz to 20kHz. Single speaker terminals are WBT Next Gen. As with all Marten speakers they are wired internally with Jorma Design cables.
System Components – The Marten Oscar Duo replaced my usual Marten Mingus Quintet floor standing speakers for the review period. I had to use generic 24” stands to mount them on as we had loaned our dedicated Marten stands to a customer at the time of my review. The rest of the review system was my usual Innuos Zenith server and matching USB Reclocker streaming to my Michi P5 preamp and Michi M8 monoblocs. As before most cables came from the Jorma range. I did also listen via CD from the analogue output of my Sony ES range CD player from 1991. Power regulation was a mix of IsoTek Evo Titan and various mains kit from Nordost. All support stands with the exception of the speaker stands are by Quadraspire. I set the speakers at 1m from rear and side walls and around 2m apart with a small degree of tow-in.
Performance – Having lived with the Marten sound for some time and having listened to the Oscar Duo many times in the showroom I was pleased to immediately hear a family resemblance in my home system. Being stand mounts they don’t deliver quite the same level of deep bass as my floor standers and the ceramic tweeter is not quite as clear and detailed as the diamond version on my own Martens, but the differences are not that great in all other
areas. In fact, I was really surprised just how much of the performance of the larger speakers they were capable of delivering.
Listening to Game of Pretend by Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie the track had all the detail, warmth and musical involvement I am used to hearing. Upper/mid bass was excellent with great harmonics and vocals. These speakers are not bright, but neither are they dark nor brooding but they are detailed, inviting and have a wide bandwidth and are a delight to listen to for those very reasons. They are not fatiguing over long listening sessions because they keep you engaged at all times.
Moving on to Black Sheep by Natalie Merchant her vocals were very good, and she could easily have been in the room with me. These speakers are not voiced for immediate impression at a quick demo, they are voiced for accuracy and detail over long listening sessions and can create a soundstage very much outside the space between the speakers. So be prepared to let them grow on you. Especially if you have an averaged sized UK living room that’s not too square.
One of our customers recently introduced me to Dead Can Dance so I played Yulunga (Spirit Dance) from their ‘Into the Labyrinth’ album. This track has a deep gong sound in the first couple of minutes and not many systems speakers can resolve it well, but the Oscar Duo gave it its best shot and it came off pretty well. The deep base is a little compromised because it is a stand mount speaker, but I felt it performed as well if not better than others I have heard at this price point.
I always like to play Confession by Alesso because it has such deep and dynamic bass content mixed with a sometimes-biting top end. I was amazed by how much bass the Oscar Duo could generate and how well it coped with the dynamics and bright treble of this track. It’s always a good track for system reviews. Staying with electronica I listened to The Model [3D] The Catalogue by Kraftwerk (Qobuz Stream) and Chameleon by Trentemoller and was again very impressed by the way these speakers can handle the dynamics of these tracks. Many floor standing speakers can’t cope with these tracks as well as the Marten Oscar Duo can.
I tried many other tracks and artists and everything I played was involving and enjoyable and that surely is what we are all seeking to hear. The ceramic drivers do need a good few hours of running in before delivering their best so if you come for a listen make sure they have been adequately run in beforehand.
I do recommend buying the dedicated Marten stands which not only perform very well but look stunning as well.
Summary – Many years ago a good friend introduced me to real Soul music from the 70’s and 80’s, not the usual Motown tracks we are all used to hearing on the radio but artists such as Willie Hutch, Major Harris, Blue Magic, Johnnie Taylor and Bloodstone. These speakers are capable of showing just how good these artists and bands were and how (mostly) well they were recorded. Listen to ‘Go on and Cry’ by Bloodstone (Qobuz) and you will hear the full emotion of this track and then go on to try ‘I Stood on The Sidewalk and Cried’ by J. Blackfoot (his Taxi album) and you will understand why I like these speakers so much.
And of course, if you need even more than this then Marten makes a floor stander in the same range called the Oscar Trio at £8,950 a pair.
Please contact us at Nintronics to listen to any of our Marten speakers in our three dedicated listening rooms, current Covid 19 restrictions notwithstanding.
Thanks for listening and if you have any questions then I am very happy to try and answer them for you.
Bob at Team Nintronics – January 2021