With the Vision in place, I began with stereo music listening without the subwoofer connected. At first hearing, the sound was rich and balanced. I might say “surprisingly so,” except that I expected little less given its heritage. The Vision produces ample upper bass (to around 60 Hz) for music, with substantial extra warmth on deeper instruments and voices. It also produced an unexpectedly wide, open soundstage, with treble “air” seeming to extend well beyond the unit itself.
On further listening, though, I found the midbass balance a bit too rich: Male announcers sounded distinctly fuller, even “heavy” as compared with my everyday system. Fortunately, MartinLogan provides several ways to customize the Vision’s low-frequency balance. First, there’s a Bass.lvl menu item that is essentially a ±10-dB bass control (only adjustable in ±2-dB increments, however). Second, I found that the On.wall setup option mitigated things with a reduced woofer level or perhaps just a predetermined bass cut, attenuating the 60- to 240-Hz octaves by about 6 dB. (There’s also a bass-reducing Night Mode for quiet listening.) After I played with these adjustments, male announcers became noticeably less ponderous and “chesty” sounding, and pop music bass and drums lost much of their thick, over-warm balance.
At any rate, I much preferred the Vision with the On.wall mode selected — even though it wasn’t literally on a wall — and with a substantial –6 Bass.lvl reduction. The Vision’s overall octave balance, at least in my setup, remained on the rich side, with a modest dose of “romancing” to the pop-bass octaves. But many listeners will find this delightful, and in fact the Vision’s bottom end never sounded “thuddy” or truly excessive.
Adding in the subwoofer made surprisingly small changes. The system went considerably lower, of course — the Dynamo 700w proved to be a very capable little sub — but the balance in the midbass octaves remained quite similar. Toggling the soundbar itself between sub/no-sub settings (with the sub powered down) made only a small change in the lower octaves; high-pass action of the Vision’s crossovers appeared to have comparatively little effect above, say, 70 Hz, and there are no user settings beyond sub/no-sub.
Otherwise, the sound was remarkably accurate and musical. Voices and midrange instruments were open and free of muffling, boxiness, or other colorations that might indicate major response peaks, and detailed, wide-band material like strings sounded gorgeously open. For example, the Allegretto of Beethoven’s Op. 59 #2 “Razumovsky” Quartet (Tokyo Quartet, from an HDtracks.com download) was impressively textured, although the soundstage seemed a bit narrow. Looking for a quick fix, I tried out the Vision’s “Voice+” Stereo preset, a mode that routes monaural info to the soundbar’s center speaker and does an excellent job of making dialogue more intelligible, but I found that the boosted center speaker level in this mode makes it unappealing for music. That’s too bad: With a user-adjustable center level (something I’d have liked for surround, too), this mode could have been a bonus.
The Vision soundbar’s norm is Surround:on, which exploits fairly subtle “virtual surround” processing to expand the image you hear from its 3.1 hardware channels. This works quite audibly, adding a clear sense of ambience. For example, in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, I was impressed at what a big, balanced, impact-ready sound the Vision produced. Shadows is virtually nonstop action, and the system handled it elegantly. The Dynamo 700w sub particularly impressed me. Despite its modest size, it delivered honest deep bass (30 Hz and lower, to my ear), and plenty enough output to keep up with the soundbar.