Newport 2012: Marten, EAR and Townshend

Is it just me, or does Marten make some fantastic sounding speakers? Look, I’m sure there’s some secret sauce/magic mojo going on there, but I’m just as sure that the Accuton drivers are more than a little responsible for the clarity of tone, precision, and layered detail that I hear with these speakers. It’s different. Very different.

Dan Meinwald of E.A.R. USA was demoing the newest model in the Marten lineup, the $15,000 Django.

The Django is a bit of a departure for Marten as it’s using something other than just ceramic drivers. Yes, there’s a ceramic tweeter — and a ceramic mid. But the 8″ bass drivers are aluminum — and there are three of them! Good for 26Hz of bass extension, there’s a way to “tune” the response up or down about 1dB to better shoehorn the speaker into your room.

Apparently, they’re only offered in silver or piano black (I’ve only seen them in silver). In a deviation for Marten, the Django also leverages parallel surfaces — in fact, all the opposing surfaces are parallel, unlike with the rest of their speakers. Does this make a difference? Probably, but I have no way of knowing.

Also on display were the E.A.R. gear I’ve almost always heard played with Marten speakers. The $8,295 EAR 890 amplifier, a KT90-based amp capable of 70wpc in stereo, was glittering brightly with its mirror-finish mocking my camera with its reflectiveness.

Fronting the amp was a $13,000 EAR 912 preamplifier in a more camera-friendly matte black.

The $6595 (matte black takes $500 off the price) EAR DACute handled the files coming off the computer. From EAR:

The EAR Acute DAC accepts up to 24-bit/192kHz digital signals from USB, coaxial S/PDIF, and Toslink S/PDIF inputs, and upsamples all signals less than 24/192 to 24/192. Upon D-to-A conversion, the signal is passed to analog filters of Tim de Paravicini’s design. The output stage is a transformer-coupled vacuum tube circuit that offers both unbalanced or true floating balanced outputs. The DAC can directly drive any power amplifier, with an analog volume control that can be controlled by remote handset.

Analog came from a Townshend Rock 7 turntable. This $5,100 turntable comes with a DC motor controller and a linear PSU for the best, most stable, speed possible.

The turntable came mounted with a $5,225 Helius Omega Silver Ruby 10″ tonearm, which in turn, had a $5450 Dynavector XV-1s cartridge mounted on it.

This Townshend Rock 7 came with the optional outrigger (on the headshell) and trough, which adds a significant level of dampening to the pickup assembly. More info can be found here, at Townshend Audio.

Wiring was from Jorma:

  • Origo interconnects: $5250 per 1-meter pair/additional meters $1875
  • Origo speaker cables: $7000 per 1-meter pair/additional meters $2200

The rack and stands came from Marten also: 3-shelf unit $8000/mono stand $3000

Power distribution came from Power Wing. Offered at $2850, the creation of Alan Kafton, of Audio Excellenz AZ, is a marvel of craftsmanship, featuring CNC’d non-magnetic stainless steel and Corian endcaps. The design won several awards from PFO. It sports 3 duplexes (ie, 6 outlets) and the entire circuitry has been deep-cryoed.

From the website:

The internal circuitry, a very low impedance, non-current-limiting design, is completely hand-fabricated, taking advantage of traditional transmission line theory and field effect theory. This design reduces and controls the EMF (and interaction) of the buss bars and solid-core copper conductors… they are spaced in a very particular way. Further, the overall circuit design and parts choice was optimized by PSpice computer modeling. For instance, certain components in the filtering circuits were specifically placed to reduce frequency-specific electrical resonance. Each duplex receptacle is electrically isolated and filtered from the other. Therefore, digital and video equipment can benefit from electrical isolation while plugged into the same chassis as analog equipment, avoiding the otherwise necessary expense of a duplicate conditioner. The noise-canceling design covers an extremely wide bandwidth of more than 1 gigahertz, additionally addressing certain air-borne electrical noise issues that further contaminate our audio & video systems.


  1. The rack and stands came from Marten also: 3-shelf unit $8000/mono stand $3000.
    Seems a little excessive in price for a little wood.

    • Well, it’s true — Ikea does have some more affordable offerings. But whatever. Things cost what they cost, regardless of what we might wish. Personally, I wish I had more dough.

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