Newly, I would highly recommend you give a call to Nellie at Audio Federation, they are dealers for both Kharma and Martin speakers. She's an absolute delight, extremely knowledgable, and totally honest in her opinions.
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I currently have the Coltranes in my system. Prior to this I was running the Kharma 3.2's with the Kharma sub. Both of the speakers you are considering are excellent speakers. But you are talking about a 2-way speaker with very limited bass extension - although it is quite good for a small 2-way - vs. a full range 3 way. A full range speaker is not just about bass extension. It is an entirely different presentation. A much better comparison would be between the Coltranes and the Kharma Midi-Exquisite. They both have incredible extension in the highs, while staying very smoothe with a complete absence of grain. The Kharma's might be a bit more fleshed out in the mids. The Coltrane mids are very dependent on what is driving them, as they are completely transparent. The bass is where these 2 speakers really diverge. The Coltrane has slam, and depth, and tightness. The Kharma bass is very soft and not well defined.
I am running the Coltranes with the Dartzeel amp and preamp - and I can tell you that it is a wonderful match. The Darts are sweet, and open with complete control over the Coltrane's woofers.
Thanks TeaJay, for the very kind words.
Yes we have both speakers here. Neli would be happy to chat with you, Newly, and I think you got the gist of these two speakers, already - but in the meantime I'll try to describe briefly our impressions. Czapp also put it well.
The first octave is a lot of fun, Mike, but first one has to get the midrange right, that is where 99% of the music is, that is what will make a system that a person can sit down in front of and listen to for hours. At least, that is how it is for us. [It was nice seeing you at RMAF. I wanted to put on the ultra-famous 45 speed of the St. James Infirmary LP for you but you had already left... Maybe next year?]
The Marten speakers and Kharma speakers measure and sound very differently.
The Marten is a high-performance speaker whose sound is very transparent to the upstream electronics and cabling and can be made to do things you wouldn't have guessed speakers could do. It presents a very even treatment of all the frequencies, and of *all the dynamics and harmonics* at the different frequencies - unlike most other if not all other speakers we have heard.
The Mini Exquisite is a very seductive speaker that is able somehow to communicate the essence of the music unlike any other speaker (it is almost like a very, very high quality tube amp in its ability to render music, as opposed to sounds). Its performance is very dependent on the upstream electronics.
The larger Midi Exquisite, which we do not have here, has the same charm as the Mini and now comes with a new bass driver that tightens up the bass so it is no longer 'very soft and not well-defined'. I do not know how it compares *exactly* to the Coltrane based on our short listening sessions - but to me it sounded more powerful but not as tight (hey, just looking at the different driver technologies would imply this as well - so I'm not makng a huge leap here).
We love the sound of both of these dearly and would not voluntarily live without either.
Hope this helps!