Marten Tenor 2 Speakers


BOB’s Review Series - No 70 – Marten Coltrane Tenor 2 Speakers with Jorma Cabling


The Coltrane Tenor 2 reviewed here are the entry point to Martens’ Coltrane range above which sits the Coltrane 3, Coltrane Momento 2 and Coltrane Supreme 2. Martens’ entire current range has just four series starting with the Oscar, moving up to the Parker and then the Mingus before topping out with Coltrane. Although I describe the Tenor 2 as entry point there is no getting away from the fact that they cost serious money by anybody’s standards retailing at £87,500 plus another £10,000 should you opt for the Jorma Statement internal wiring. The ones used for this review had the standard internal Jorma cabling.

Marten was founded by Leif Mårten Olofsson in Sweden in 1998 turning a hobby into a business. Unusually and significantly, Leif come from a musical background, and this has clearly influenced his design beliefs leading to a series of speakers that lean heavily towards being musical instruments in their own way. Leif’s grandfather was a builder of violins using Stradivarius as a benchmark and Leif himself plays a variety of stringed instruments. In 2014, Marten created their own recording studio and record label, furthering their ability to fine tune their speakers during design stages. Marten describe themselves as being “born out of passion” and that seems to be an excellent way to describe this specialist family-owned speaker manufacturer based in Gothenburg on the east coast of Sweden.


Marten is by no means unique in using First Order crossovers in their speakers, but it is still a rare occurrence to come across them because they are generally more difficult to design and engineer properly, but there are advantages to their use. To realise the full potential of the first order crossover, you need complete control over the driver’s acoustic centre and Marten’s use of Accuton Cell Drivers helps them to achieve an acoustic centre across the high, mid, and bass drivers. What this means to the listener is that the treble, midrange, and bass hit your ear at the same time.

Optimal time response is also achieved by this time alignment of the drivers so that all registers are generated at the exact same moment, as they were recorded, because the acoustic centre is the point of origin of the soundwave. Just like live music.

Carbon Fibre is a lot more common these days in all walks of life and becoming more popular in audio. There’s the amazing Parabolica turntable from Grand Prix Audio and Wilson Benesch have been using carbon fibre in their speakers right from its first appearance in the commercial marketplace. It’s even used in headphones and of course in speaker drivers and subs like the REL Carbon Special. In the words of John Cooper, it ‘adds lightness’ to most applications which is why its extensively used in Formula 1 motorsport. You might not realise it from first inspection but the entire cabinet of the Coltrane Tenor 2 except for the solid wood front panel and aluminium joining plate is formed of a 20mm thick sandwich of carbon fibre layers with a stiffening honeycomb centre made from Kevlar. The reason you might not immediately think its carbon fibre is that you don’t see the cross-fibre pattern one normally associates with carbon fibre because Marten polish and lacquer it to a piano black finish. Not many years ago this type of manufacture wouldn’t have been possible, and it adds a large degree of elegance, strength, and rigidity to both the looks and the sound of these speakers. Sitting between the carbon fibre laminated cabinet and the 20mm front wooden baffle is a 10mm aluminium plate to help further stiffen the enclosure. Although slightly larger than my Mingus Quintet they are around 3kg lighter at 57kg each.

Speaker manufacturers rarely state what cables they use internally and even more rarely do they have an option to have them upgraded at point of sale. Marten are different in that regard, always proud to be using Jorma cabling internally. OK so Jorma Design has been a sister company to Marten since 2017 so I guess it’s no surprise that they would use and promote the use of their cables but in our experience Jorma cabling is something special no matter whose speakers we are using.

Marten use pure diamond tweeters extensively across their upper speaker ranges and the Parkers range gives customers the option of having or not having diamond tweeters fitted as a factory option. When specifying diamond tweeters, the internal cabling is improved along with the crossover components and even the speaker terminals are of higher quality. They are fitted to the Coltrane Tenor 2 reviewed here. These tweeters, made by Accuton are expensive at around £10,000 a pair and there is a reason why they are so expensive and sound so good. When many other manufacturers say their speakers have diamond tweeters, they are generally formed using chemical vapour deposition (CVD) of crushed manmade diamond dust deposited onto a substrate former which stays in place during use. The Pure Diamond tweeters used by Marten are also initially CVD deposited onto a substrate to start the application process but after many coats are applied the backing substrate is dissolved away leaving just a dome consisting of nothing but pure diamond. Very fragile and very expensive even though diamond is one of the stiffest materials known to man, it is also the best at heat dissipation, ideal for a highly active tweeter.

The Coltrane Tenor 2, like the Mingus Quintet have a downward firing port allowing closer placement to the front wall behind the speakers. However, I preferred them in a free space location 1.2m from the front wall to the front tweeter and around 800mm from my side walls and I believe that Marten would recommend a free space location wherever possible. These 3-way bass reflex speakers are rated at 6ohm and a frequency range of 24 – 80,000Hz.


Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Canada, Europe and a smattering of UK, that’s my home system today. It’s been a long time since a high-end audio system was thought to only consist of components designed and made entirely in the UK and whilst it’s still possible to do so not many of us, I suspect, will have such a system. We have customers, who like me don’t really care where a system comes from provided it sounds good, and we have those who insist on a single manufacturer wherever possible. We also have customers who simply won’t entertain components from the same manufacturer in the total belief that a maker of speakers can’t possibly make a great amplifier. Or one that makes DACs can’t possibly design a good streamer and on and on. I’m not a subscriber to that viewpoint. Today so much great HiFi comes from all around the world. And let’s not forget China because like it or not some of your home entertainment system is very likely to contain parts manufactured there or to have been assembled there.

Sweden however is the focus of this review, and in particular Gothenburg where Marten makes speakers that they distribute around the world. I had the fortune to be able to review the Coltrane Tenor 2 at home in my regular system comprising the following carefully selected components:

Gryphon Ethos CD/DAC

Gryphon Essence Pre and Power Amplifiers

Innuos Statement Next-Gen Streamer

Ideon Audio Absolute Time USB Reclocker

Magnum Dynalab 106T FM Tuner

REL Carbon Special Subwoofer

Isotek V5 Titan and V5 Aquarius Mains Conditioners

Jorma Cables Throughout – Including Jorma Jumper Leads

Marten Mingus Quintet Mk 1 Speakers

I transferred the Marten branded IsoAcoustic feet from my Mingus Quintet to the Tenor 2 because the Tenor 2 used for this review predated the adoption of these isolation feet across Marten’s upper ranges. They came supplied with cones and carbon fibre Black Diamond Racing pucks which I tried but then set aside for the isolation feet.


I’ve lived with the Mingus Quintet for quite some time in my home system, so I know them well. They are the Mk 1 version, and they are a delight to use every day. When the Tenor 2 arrived I didn’t really know what to expect. They use the same pure diamond tweeter, a similar but larger ceramic 7” midrange unit, instead of 5” on the Mingus Quintet and two larger 8” Accuton aluminium sandwich bass drivers instead of the three smaller 7” ones on the Mingus Quintet. When I had finished fettling and tweaking their position and installed the Marten isolation feet, I settled down to listen over an extended period. At first I was using the good quality but unbranded jumper leads that were delivered to me with the Tenor 2 speakers and during this time I noticed that the speakers delivered more bass than the Mingus Quintet but they were also a tad brighter which I put down to the larger ceramic midrange unit. I’ll come back to the impact of a change of jumpers a little later.

I tried to listen to as much varied music as possible from electronic to female vocal including Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ (Tidal 192kHz, 24bit) and the Tenor 2 did full justice to this old but in some ways still current track with all its repetitive bass rhythm, left/right panning and of course her amazing vocals. Bass was strong but it doesn’t dominate in the way that some speaker and electronic combinations do, and a terrific soundstage was developed. Moving to Alison Krauss and the Union Station I listened to tracks on their ‘New Favorite’ (forgive the annoying American spelling) album from 2001 and their earlier 1997 ‘So Long, So Wrong’ album (CD Rip 44.1kHz, 16bit) and, especially on the earlier album her vocals and fiddle playing was full of detail and emotion. Just what you would hope to hear. The track ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ is a real system tester, particularly when unexpected bass kicks in around the 2min mark, the Tenor 2 handled it much better than most. Back to electronic music and I listened to ‘Vanishing Point’ by New Order (Tidal 44.1kHz, 16bit) and the introduction was as dynamic as you need it to be in a domestic two channel system. I loved it. Those pure diamond tweeters and ceramic midrange really make these speakers sing.

At this point I changed the jumpers to those made by Jorma, selecting their Unity range to match my main speaker cables and wow what a difference. Now they were no longer a bit bright and edgy, they were delightfully full sounding to the point that I’d have to recommend only using high quality jumpers with these speakers and probably any other speakers that offer bi-wiring terminals. Throw away any that come with speakers in the box, particularly those ghastly thin metal link strips that some high-end manufacturers continue to supply on expensive speakers, it’s worth the investment. I can’t state just how much better these speakers are with these jumpers in place, vocals and instruments gained that special something that makes listening to music such an emotional and rewarding event.

Whilst delving into, admittedly older style electronic music, I had to play ‘Two Tribes’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, all 9min of it, and that lifelike Ronald Regan vocal intro and dead centre bass beat showed that these speakers can rock with the best of them. Prog Rock anyone, so here goes Toccata by Sky (Qobuz 44.1, 16bit) remastered edition. It took me back to my youth and brought a smile to my face.

When listening to female vocals such as Natalie Merchant or Mary Chapin-Carpenter or to male vocals such as Chris Jones the Tenor 2’s really shines with pinpoint accuracy and rock-solid soundstage such that the speakers seem invisible. ‘Maggie Said’ by Natalie Merchant from her Edition Studio Masters album (Qobuz 88.2kHz, 24bit) was as relaxing and heart-warming as I’ve ever heard it. Late at night, early morning and any music session in between these Coltrane Tenor 2 speakers and indeed the larger Coltrane 3 are very special speakers that, in the right system, could be all you ever need.


I could throw words at just how good these speakers are in everyday use. Transparent, vibrant, immersive, and engrossing are just some that seem more pertinent. But you must have similarly resolving and capable source and amplification to do these speakers justice so they are unlikely to be part of a first system and more likely will join an already well put together and complimentary system.

Regular readers will know I’m no great fan of Jazz which is a shame because I get the feeling that Marten are and that they listen to Jazz when designing their speakers. But they still play the Blues, Country, Folk, Prog Rock etc with equal aplomb so I’m definitely very glad I have had the opportunity to listen to the Coltrane Tenor 2 in my home system, where, by the way they will be taking up permanent residency, once I find a good home for my Mingus Quintets.

What next do Marten have to offer? In our showroom we have pair of the Coltrane 3 Statement version which retail at £125,000 a significant increase from the Tenor 2 but also a much larger speaker. They too are a fabulous speaker but demand a much bigger room than mine to do them justice, so I won’t be doing a home demo anytime soon on the Coltrane 3. Nonetheless I have listened to them regularly in the showroom and they are very special so if you are in the market for either of these Coltrane speakers please come and have a listen. But if you are upgrading from Tenor 2 then I would suggest going for something further up the range than the Coltrane 3 to get a bigger bang for your buck, as they say.

I’m sometimes asked if I play a musical instrument. To my everlasting shame I have to say that I don’t. But from today onwards I’m going to say yes, I play Marten Coltrane Tenor 2’s.

April 2024

Bob – Team Reference Audio