How Magneplanars Work
Comparing and contrasting Magneplanars with conventional box speakers that employ cone drivers, magnets and voice coils makes them easier to understand. First, imagine a speaker cone that has been flattened into a thin sheet — mylar, in this case — just one mil in thickness. And picture a voice coil that has had its wire unwound from the bobbin then reconfigured in a serpentine pattern on the mylar sheet. Now envision the magnet that drives a cone speaker’s voice coil sliced into strips that have been mounted on a perforated steel plate.
Just as it does with conventional voice coils and cones, a hi-fi amplifier’s current interacts with the magnets and wire to move the mylar Magneplanar driver and the air in front of it to create sound waves.
Approaching The Ideal
But the Magneplanar approach comes much closer to the ideal though impossible theoretical loudspeaker, which would have massless drivers that don’t resist the electrical impulses propelling them. Think of Magneplanar speakers as balloons and conventional speakers as beach balls. The ultra-thin, ultra-light diaphragms of Magneplanars, with just a little current applied, move quickly. And when the current stops, the diaphragms come to rest with equal speed.
That means musical transients, sounds with sharp attacks like plucked strings and snare drum beats, are reproduced with the sudden starts that actually characterize them. And the tail ends of sounds that in the real world drop off immediately have no audible hangover when reproduced from recordings.
In a perfect acoustical world, speaker drivers would also be suspended in space and have none of the sonic coloration that box enclosures tend to create. (Cup your hands around your mouth and speak loudly to approximate the box effect.)
Magneplanars more closely approach that hypothetical situation as well, because they have large sound-launching surfaces instead of small cone and dome drivers. They therefore provide listeners with a soundstage that is high, wide and deep enough to approximate the physical dimensions of an actual stage. The result is startlingly lifelike.
When driving conventional speakers, amplifier power can strike like a hammer. It hits speaker cones at their centers, where the voice coils are positioned, and energy subsequently radiates outward to the cone edges. The delay can cause cone surfaces to flex — this detrimental phenomenon is called cone breakup — and the result is blurred, fuzzy sound.
In addition to their other readily perceptible attributes, Magneplanars eliminate the sonic degradation that cone breakup causes by delivering amplifier power to the entire diaphragm surface at once. Every part of the light, highly responsive mylar Magneplanar driver responds at the same instant. There’s no delay, no breakup, and no loss of resolution or musical detail.