For years, Martin Audio has been known as a quality product, a very good sounding product, and an expensive product. Now, when you do a fair comparison with other brands, they are really right in there, but you’re typically talking about the higher end of the market. They have not really had a lower market solution. Until now. 

Bring on the Small Boxes

We first heard the new CDD line at InfoComm, and I’ll tell you, I was not excited about going to another speaker demo. I expected to hear yet another small box that does pretty much the same thing as a dozen other small boxes. But then they fired them up. All our project leads were in the room, and we immediately started looking at each other saying, “Hey, these sound good!” 

Now, there are literally dozens of single 8, 10, 12 and 15” driver speakers on the market. Most employ a single large—8-15”—LF driver and some type of horn. The CDD is different in several ways. First, the design is coaxial. The HF driver is located right in the middle of the LF driver. I’ve always liked this approach as it greatly improves phase coherence. The longer I do sound, and the more I’ve talked with guys like Bob Heil, the more I appreciate how much phase matters. 

The other thing that is unique—well, perhaps not totally unique, but special—is the asymmetrical coverage pattern. By attaching some waveguides to the LF driver, they have figured out how to do two things. First, they have a wider pattern close to the box, and a tighter one further away. Up close, the horizontal coverage is 110°, while in the far field, it’s 70° (vertical is a constant 60°). Second, they’ve “squared off” the coverage pattern (our rep’s words). And indeed, when we model it, the boxes do a better job of getting into the corners of the room without splashing all over the walls. And did I mention, they sound good?

The Shootout

At CCI, we’ve been using the Nexo PS10 for many of our small systems for quite a while. It’s a good-sounding box with a similar asymmetric pattern, which is useful for the longer, narrow rooms we find ourselves doing. So we wondered, how does the CDD compare? Last week, we hung a PS10 with an RS15 sub on the ground next to a CDD10 with a single 12” CDD sub and fired up the tracks. 

The difference was immediately apparent. Now, this is not to say that the Nexo box sounded bad, but it was quite a bit different. I’ve always felt the Nexo products have quite a bit of bite to them, and whenever I tune a Nexo system, I’m always taking out 2-3KHz to soften them up. The downside of that is a slight reduction in clarity. But I have made them sound quite good.

The Martin’s on the other hand, sounded pretty much like I would want them to with no EQ. When we turned them up, both got loud, but the Martin stayed smooth while the Nexo started to sting a bit. Now, I admit I’m an old guy, and I much prefer a hi-fi sound to the edgy, aggressive PA’s that a lot of younger guys seem to prefer. So, like many things, it comes down to what you’re after.

Aggressive Price, Not Sound

Like I said, the CDD line is not an aggressive, in-your-face, slap-your-momma kind of box. It just sounds really good. It is however priced very aggressively. Because the CDD doesn’t require special amps or processing, and because the speakers themselves are quite a bit less expensive than the Nexo boxes, total system cost can be significantly less expensive than Nexo. 

The mains are all flyable and the subs can be ordered in flyable and non-flyable versions. The line is expansive enough that you could cover just about any venue up to 400-500 seats pretty effectively with this line, and do it at a very reasonable price. You could also do ancillary rooms like kids and student venues with the same line and achieve consistent sound quality all over the church. 

Ultimately, I really liked them and have them spec’d into a job I’m installing in the fall. Once I commission them, I’ll be back with a full report on how they sound installed as a system. But I’m pretty sure both I and the church will be happy with them.

Check out the whole line at Martin Audio’s website.

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