Constant traveling comes with its own set of rules and challenges. The first initial years are usually associated with over the top bursts of excitement, but after a while and with ever-increasing airplane traveling complications, the whole thing can slowly become a bit of a more hefty load. 

Don't get me wrong. I still like and love to travel. But... I'm getting a bit more picky about my destinations. Like in the early beginnings, the thrill of exploring the uncharted territories is still the there and the same. These days it's more about the premium selection. Yes, I'm getting older, but luckily some things are not changing. Especially my enthusiasm for the music, exceptional high-end audio products, great food, drinks and most importantly making friendly connections.

After all the years circling around the world, in my world of values the biggest luxury has become to meet and get to know enthusiastic, like-minded and genuinely music loving people. Why!? When the high-end audio manufacturer takes music as the very epicenter of its operations, the normal (and much needed) balance with everything connected with the product else usually follows in the right way


I've met the guys from Marten quite a few times over the years at high-end audio shows, but never really had a chance to get to know them better or to explore their products more intimately. 

When at the end of the last year Marten's CEO Jörgen Olofsson asked me if I would like to join them for the 20th anniversary of the Marten, I've as always the first thing I've done was to check my schedule. March was already packed, but somehow my inner guts were projecting the ITALIC don't think-just goITALIC mantra. I've confirmed my attendance and fast forward to the present, it was time to pack the bags and usual paraphernalia. 

Marten was founded by Leif Mårten Olofsson in Sweden in 1998. The company has always been a family business and is still run solely by Leif and his brothers, Jörgen and Lars Olofsson. For the Olofssons, music was a part of life and the evidence of this goes back generations. Leif’s grandfather Josef Olofsson, who lived in the quiet town of Lidköping, built violins using Stradivarius as a benchmark, in the early 1900’s. An instrument that was also played by Mårten Larsson, his maternal grandfather. Today, Jörgen Olofsson still plays drums in Gothenburg’s oldest Blues band. The company is named after the brother’s grandfather.

Now, let me be honest, direct and appreciative. Everything, from the first encounter at the airport for the pickup and up to the very last minute of my visit at the check-in point was spot on! I've been doing this for a long time, but still highly appreciate the extra efforts for making everything right for the guest. After all the years, I've sort of trained myself not to expect something specific in order to prevent twisted-unsatisfied-mind patterns, but I can and do cherish- appreciate the great endeavors of a host. Like with anything surrounded by a high-end audio venture, at the end of the day it really depends on each an every owner, how he wants to project his dealings.

I've had a luxury of staying at most luxurious places and at some wicked spots, that I really don't have any urge to return. Don't get me wrong... As a guest, the gentlemen would never expect something, that is not proper or out of the box, but the way events, visits, and happenings are organize give you a clear image how particular brand/company see and wants to present themselves.

Why is all that important? Well... In my past, I've been dealing with both car and luxury furniture industry. There are certain industrial mechanics, that need not to be reinvented when it comes to our beloved industry. Like it or not, we've already moved into the luxury industry a while ago. Sadly, not every high-end audio manufacturer had figured that out yet. In luxury industry, one of the first rules is not talking about the price. You talk about emotions, heritage, quality, performance and all the finer things connected with the product or brand.

In connection... For years my main goal of visiting any high-end audio brand was always a bit different.  I want to understand the minds of the people behind the brand/products and capture the mood of the brand. The mood? Yes... Personally, it's one of the key ingredients, that are not only closely connected with the design process but constitutional in the creation of any stand out high-end audio product. 

Which lead us to the Marten. Brand's operations are handled by three brothers: Jörgen Olofsson - CEO, Leif Olofsson - Chief Designer & Founder and Lars Olofsson - Art Director. It was great and heartwarming to see, how these three brothers work jointly running the business and pushing the brand further into the future. 

The very reason for my visit was the brand's 20th anniversary. Being successful and surviving two decades in the high-end audio niche industry is no small feature. Especially if like Marten, you can manage to survive and get by without any outside investors or silent partners. 

On top of this, about three years ago Marten took over and bought the Jorma Design cables. They were very good friends with the founder Jorma Koski and it was one of his last wishes, that Olofsson brothers continue the Jorma Design venture. The cable manufacturing addition gives them unique opportunity an advantage of the proper cable implementation across the complete speaker's range. 

One of the main highlights of the event was the revealing of the  Coltrane Momento 2 and Mingus Twenty speakers. They'll be officially launching this May at the Munich High-End Society Show 2018.

Newly introduced Coltrane Momento 2 has all the upgraded detail such as first-order crossover and Cell technology. It completes the Coltrane Series. You can learn more about them here. 

The Mingus Twenty speakers celebrate Marten's twenty years in High-End audio. Mingus was the first speaker Marten's chief designer Leif Olofsson developed into production and now he created a new model in the same spirit, in a limited edition of 20 pairs.

We had a luxury of exclusive first listening that was also accompanied by the launching of two new CDs: Carousel with Rhythm Art Duo and Violin & Marimba with Duo Granmo-Berg. 

The third part of a fantastic and unexpected surprise at the even were two mini-concerts with live music from many of the artists from the albums including Daniel Berg, Tobias Granmo, Fredrik Duvling and Matti Ollikainen. 

Marten had built their own listening room, that is used for the audio listening/presentations as well as a recording venue for their third venture, the Marten Recordings. Its one of the kind listening environment, that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone to experience it. 

In this official Marten listening room, the breathtaking Coltrane Momento 2 speakers were partnered with state of the art complementary products like Vitus MP-S201 Masterpiece Stereo Amplifier, MSB Select DAC II, Engström Eric tube amplifiers etc...

During the numerous listening sessions the sources were changing from Rui Borges turntable, MSB Select Technology DAC (acting also as the reference preamplifier) and iconic R2R from Sweden. 

Among much familiar music material there we had a great and rare opportunity to hear Opus3 master tapes and Acoustic Sounds' reel to reel release Donald Johanos - Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances/ Vocalise  (Ultra Tape). The literal goosebumps and a grand emotional slap. I don't have to explain, how such moments are rare and precious as finding a gemstone. This should sum it all, but there is more...

I've told openly the Marten guys, how I'm not the biggest fan of Accuton drivers for many of the reasons. Over the past few years, I've heard and even reviewed quite some of the speakers, that are using diamond tweeters and mid-range drives as well as Accuton specific drivers. There were too many attributes, that always pushed me away from getting deeper into the music. But...

From the very first song and as the listening sessions continued the music simply drawn me in, let me forget about the technology and technical peculiarities. I've asked Leif Olofsson (Chief Designer) to explain to me more in-depth what's actually happening. After Leif had mentioned the first order crossover (two years for R & D form Momento 2) my mind started to follow up and aligned with the emotional impressions. There are quite a few more important details connected with the Coltrane Momento 2 speakers like sandwich carbon fiber/wood structure etc, but you can find more on their website.


A three-day adventure turned into AN unforgettable experience, that captivated all the senses. It felt more like a visiting a continuing cultural event, that tickled all of my inner triggers in the right way. 

The most important thing, that still lingers on was how THE music being a core of everything, that happened. Marten has a close-friendly relationship with many of the Swedish stand out musicians and professors from the conservatory... And as written above, this shows in the way, that Marten's speakers are designed and voiced. The essential choices in designing any high-end audio product are always sublimely guided by these inputs. At Marten, they're keeping their ears sharp and their hearts at the right places with the constant exposure to the live music and associating with the musicians. 

For me, it was highly important to hear their speakers driven by the proper, potent electronics in the highly controlled environment. The sonic result was anything beyond of what I've expected. 

The system combined around the newly introduced Coltrane Momento 2 speakers was something special. We all know, how it's not exactly a general rule, that high price delivers high-quality sound reproduction. 

In past decade or two, we've seen quite a few acquisitions of familiar and famous brands within our niche industry. In most cases, this means the typical, investment-money driven shift business model. On contrary, the high-end audio companies, that are still in hands of the original founders displays a vivid and motived focus.

In reality, nobody (or at least most) don't want to see their beloved brand to become just another business entity. Twenty, thirty years of investing into a brand comes with a hidden price tag... The exuberant time and energy associated, that cannot be measured by the usual commercial valuing.  

Smaller companies usually operate with quite a different momentum. Where the usual engineer would stop, the perpetuum mobile mode mind of designers like Leif Olofsson doesn't come with the usual off button. And at the end of the day and regardless of the retail price, you cannot really put the realistic price sticker when the product is ready for the market. Those who follow high-end industry more intimately will instantly know exactly what I'm talking about...

Marten has gained a new spot within my high-end audio impressions book and a personal ultimate audio glossary. These people are all about music, positive energy, supporting the musicians and trying to encapsulate their music's values into the Marten speakers. 

The Olofsson brothers really outdid themselves with everything connected with the event. off, heart melted. 

I'm looking forward to returning to Sweden in not so distant future and explore more intimately some of their products in due time at Mono and Stereo. You can enjoy the complete photo report here.

Matej Isak