The MartinLogan Motion Vision proved able to place discrete effects well beyond the speakers. For example, during a ballgame, the shortstop’s signal whistles came from distinctly left of the soundbar’s left edge, 45° degrees or even more off the center line, while crowd noise bloomed nicely around the unit. That said, in my room the Vision never produced anything that could be considered actual surround sound. The presentation was restricted to the front hemisphere or rather less, subtending perhaps 150°. But that was enough to create a distinctly surround- like effect that, while clearly not fully cinematic, was decidedly more cinematic than plain stereo.
The tiny card-style remote that MartinLogan provides for the Vision is, frankly, a poor thing: dark and difficult to read, with anemic infrared radiation and a paltry key selection. But this doesn’t matter one iota, because the Vision offers a marvelous alternative. Instead of requiring you to program its codes into a learning or preprogrammed “system remote,” the soundbar has its own very clever learning system built right in. After accessing a Learn menu and selecting a command, such as Volume+, Mute, and so on, you simply aim your everyday remote at the Vision, press the desired key 4 times, say “I want to go home!” and the Vision now magically responds with that function.
Okay, that last step is extraneous, but the system works beautifully; it took me no more than three minutes to “map” all the Vision’s important functions to my Comcast cable box remote — and the “learn” system includes direct-access commands to select inputs and sound modes. Very well conceived, very well done.
While I’m still not ready to recommend, without qualification, a soundbar — any soundbar — over conventional systems, the MartinLogan Vision has encouraged me to imagine circumstances that might call for one: house arrest in a single-wide trailer, say, or a life estate with an heir/heiress who forbids “big” speakers. In such cases MartinLogan’s Vision, especially when supported by the Dynamo 700w sub, makes a very worthy solution. It won’t produce the broad sound-stage of a “real” system, nor genuine surround sound ambience or effects. But it comes close enough, and its impressive accuracy and detail in the playback of voices and instruments warrant close listening — even by an audiophile.
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