I found it took a few months to stabilise and be consistent in their sound. It meant for about 100-150 hours, they swung from sounding sublime, as per the demo pair I had, to well, me wondering if I’d made a mistake buying them. Also, you’ll have speakers and amp running in at the same time which may confuse the process.
I tried replacing the vinyl coasters with Audioserenity isolation pads and the difference was remarkable. Unfortunately, it sucked all the dynamics out creating a much gentler and softer sound. I put the coasters back and it returned to my current reference state. Back to the drawing board on this one…
I bought Luxman D-03X and Node 2021. I will use the Node streamer, connected via SPDIF to the CD player, to benefit from the Luxman DAC.
I also replaced the Node power interface with an interface purchased from PD Creative, a Polish company, and powered it with Ifi Power X 5V. In the future I will buy a linear source from Audio Fidelity
Sound quality differences between the stock offer and the one I bought? Yes, there are audible differences, it sounds better.
Now, I’d like you to advise me which XLR interconnects would work best for the Luxman CD player and Luxman amplifier.
I’m currently using an XLR interconnect pair from Darwin Cables.
Sounds good, but I think there are even better solutions.
I use Atlas Hyper XLRs to connect my Sugden pre and power amp in balanced mode. I’m very impressed with them.
I’m not familiar with Darwin so not sure how they compare, but I recommend checking out the Atlas XLR range to connect your Luxman CD to your amp.
Depends on budget, but Luxman make an XLR cable and one imagines it would be a good match…
Had a listen to the Parker Duo Diamonds yesterday, not that they are within my budget, but I wanted to see just what a near £18k stand mount sounds like.
The reason I was at the dealers (first visit in 2 years) was to listen to the Mola Mola Kula as a potential upgrade to the Norma, using Duke 2’s and the mTT2 combo as source. I also compared with a Luxman 509 and Gryphon Diablo 300 (the 120 was unavailable).
As this is the Marten thread, I’ll summarise my views on the amps. The Gryphon, OMG, what an amplifier. The best of the bunch combining the smoothness of the Luxman with the air and transparency of the Kula. But it’s massive and in no way would get any domestic approval. The Luxman, for me, was just a bit too laid back and the Kula, well I’ll be having a home loan in a week or so to explore further.
On to the speakers… having finished listening to the amps, we swapped out the Dukes for the Parker Diamonds with the Kula as the amp. First impressions were of increased transparency and a more natural timbre, improved detail retrieval and better defined bass. I commented at the time that the Kula/Diamond combination sounded similar to the Gryphon/Duke’s, which as we know, says a lot about the importance of system synergy.
So an improvement over the Duke’s but, on rrp the Diamonds are some £10k more expensive. I guess the more we move up the scale, the law of diminishing returns comes in to play. All the differences I heard were relatively small improvements and when I got home and listened to my set up, I didn’t feel short changed at all. Maybe the standard Parker Duo’s would be a better step up in terms of value for money.
Thanks for the interesting and useful write-up. I have reached the limit with the Duke 2 so it is unlikely I’ll swap them for something else that is more premium such as the Parker Duo Diamond.
Some nice amps used in the comparison. I can surely relate to the importance on system synergy. Although the Kula/Diamond combination may be comparable to the Gryphon/Duke, I presume the speakers will still sound different. However, it is useful to note that the gap in performance between the speakers is considerably reduced with the use of an appropriate matching amp.
I find the tone and timbre of the Duke 2 to be good. However, human voice still sounds more realistic through the Harbeth SHL5+ which I also have . It is only with voices the Harbeth sounds better than the Marten though as acoustic instruments with the Duke 2 equal or better the Harbeth.
The more laid back sound of the Luxman L-509X is interesting. Nevertheless, I can surely relate to the experience as everything is relative. I was made to understand that the Gryphon Diablo 300 is a very raw, energetic and dynamic sounding amp which makes everything come to life. It is useful to note that the Diablo 300 managed to combine the best of both worlds by providing a dynamic and smooth presentation. The Diablo used to be in my radar but it was too costly for my budget during that time. I was already at my limits when I bought the Duke 2s and several months later the Luxman L-590AXII.
By the way, I just checked the weight of the Diablo 300. It’s 38 kg. Without any handles on the amp, 2 persons are required to safely carry the amp.
To close the amp upgrade story, the Kula home trial never materialised and I never chased the dealer, which made me realise I wasn’t that bothered. So, having taken the plunge with the Norma IPA 70 and been very pleased, I did the same and upgraded to an IPA 140 on a good ex dem deal. My early impressions are that the Norma easily competes with the Kula and the Gryphon and presents it’s self as a hybrid of the two signatures. As this is the Marten thread I won’t drift off topic anymore, but, suffice to say the Norma 140 is one hell of an amp and even at RRP, compares favourably to much more expensive equipment. At ex demo prices, it’s something of a bargain.
It’s been a while since you bought IPA 140.
What is your opinion ? How do you get along with Duke 2?
I’m very curious if the Parker Duo -ceramic version- are better than Duke2.
I have some doubts, because on the Marten site, they make no reference to the quality of the drivers used, by whom they are built, and what components they used for the crossover.
In Duke 2, they make it very clear that the drivers are state of the art from Accuton, and that they use the best components from Mundorf for crossover.
Why don’t they mention this to the Parker Duo?
I asked them what they used in the Parker Duo and they replied that the drivers are built by them in collaboration with Accuton and Danesian Audio and use a mix of Mundorf and Intertechnik components for crossover.
And yet I don’t understand why they didn’t write these things on the site? Why are they avoiding?
Because of this, I preferred to buy Duke 2, I know for sure that they used top components in the construction of these speakers, and they sound exceptional.
I would still be curious if anyone still managed to make this comparison between Duke 2 vs Parker Duo …
I had the Parker Duo on my shortlist. Very impressive.
Did you preferred to buy the Duke 2 vs. the Parker Duo solely based on the components used in the crossover?
I wouldn’t take much notice from marketing text on the website. The brands of the components used are little to no indication of the SQ of the finished product imo. And with speakers, it’s even less indication if they suit your taste, system and room.
I think they are a very good match with the Duke 2 and the 140 has provided an uplift in the bass, particularly the control, the soundstage and, not unexpected with the extra power, dynamics and overall presence.
I only compared the Duke 2 with the Parker Duo Diamond and yes, I would like the Diamonds, but no, it doesn’t feel like the uplift is worth £10k. There may be other limiting factors in my set up preventing me from fully appreciating the Diamonds, but if so, it means everything might need an uplift and that is not what I am looking to do.
As mentioned elsewhere, I wouldn’t worry too much about who manufactures what but let your ears decide. The only other bit of advice I would add is that the Martens are extremely revealing and if there is any unpleasantness in you chain, you’ll know about it. I’ve reached a level of confidence in them that when something doesn’t sound right, I search elsewhere to fix it. If I were to change, it would likely be for a Marten floorstander, but I’ll need a bigger house/room for that.
I couldn’t compare the two Marten models.
I only listened to Duke 2 and I really liked it. The best bookshelf I’ve ever listened to.
I also listened to Dynaudio Heritage Special, Focal Sopra no.1, Focal Kanta no.1, KEF Reference 1, Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 and D3, Haberth Monitor30.2 XD.
They are all very good bookshelves, they have their qualities, but for me Duke 2 were the best, with an unmatched sound quality.
When I heard about the Parker Duo, I thought they were superior to Duke 2, but I’m beginning to believe that Marten wants to maximize his profits by using lower quality components and increasing the price.
Until I can listen to the Parker Duo, that’s my impression. Maybe I’m wrong, I’d better be wrong.
Marten is a top producer - one of the few left on the market and it would be a shame to do the same as the vast majority.
So I chose Duke 2 by listening to them, not by the quality of the components.
However, a top construction and top components produce an unmatched sound …
I owned a pair of Marten Miles II around 2006, for one year. I drove them with a Bow Technologies Wazoo XL, and the result was very good for my taste, in those days.
Martens are known to be almost free of distortion thanks to the Accuton ceramic drivers, but of course you know that already. In retrospect, they had a ‘suave’, illuminated quality about them which is not uncommon among Northern Europe’s audio; they imaged very well and had a very controlled bass.
When I sold the Bow to buy 202/200, the sound in comparison seemed that of a country fair; it took me a lot and selling the Martens to get accustomed too the new voicing. Today I’d keep both the Miles II and the Wazoo perhaps. But that was the beginning of my Naim journey.
A friend of mine has bought a pair of Marten Monks of the same vintage of my Miles II - the series with plain cherry enclosures. They are simple two-ways and have a normal tweeter, not a ceramic one. They sound surprisingly like the Miles IIs, except for a diminished bass.
In my opinion, if you move to Marten you meet a completely different sound signature from most British systems; everything becomes less ‘anthropomorphic’ and more ‘objective’, with a clear and uniform light giving life to a beautiful, a little hyper-descriptive scenery. It’s probably not foot-stamping audio, it’s mind-engulfing one.
Hope it makes sense,
I appreciate your post and am able to relate a lot to this. I really hate to say this but the Marten is really a class above the Harbeth. I recently tried the Harbeth SHL5+ in the main system (again) to see how they would compare with the Duke 2. Although the main intention is to keep the Harbeth in the second system (after the Marten took the permanent spot in the main system) , I’m now having serious thoughts of selling the Harbeth. The sophistication, refinement and detail in the sound are missing when the SHL5+ went in. The release of notes sound very different between the Marten and Harbeth.
Yes, I agree the Marten is certainly not a “foot-stomping” kind of speaker. It’s highly refined, airy and detailed with a delicate touch to the notes. After experiencing the Marten, it is very difficult to go back to the Harbeth or other “foot-stomping” speakers where the sound lacks clarity and detail, sounding a bit veiled.
Is there anyone who could compare the two Marten models - Duke 2 and Parker Duo - ?
You will never look back👍
I am going to audition the Parker Duo (standard) next week. Do any of you good people have them in your systems, and if so how do they integrate into a Naim setup please?
Yes, not going back to the standard spikes. The Gaias surely brought an appreciable difference in my system as claimed.
I haven’t heard the Parker Duo. I note that you have the same amps which I own (282/250DR/HCDR). These amps don’t match very well with the Duke 2 to me but this could be the room or source. Others might have a different experience.