Magneplanars Are Magic
Best-Value Speakers — Made In America, Cherished In China
Every audio enthusiast who has heard Magneplanars will tell you they represent outstanding value, and many seasoned listeners insist they provide better sonics for less money than any other loudspeaker bar none. Speakers sounding anywhere near as good invariably sell for at least two or three times the price.
When you play music through Magneplanars, instrumental and vocal performers really do sound as if they’re right there in your listening room.
Magneplanars are made by Magnepan, a family-owned Minnesota firm whose founder invented them in the 1960s. They’re panel-shaped, and they produce exceptionally open sound that’s never unnaturally constricted. Music played through them stretches across a wide, exceptionally realistic soundstage.
You might say Magneplanars are the sonic equivalent of the biggest and best HDTV monitors.
Magneplanar model introductions are few and far between, and they invariably create considerable excitement in audiophile circles. When Magnepan unveiled the 1.7, the first model with a designation ending in the number 7, golden ears everywhere perked up. The technology that speaker embodies has since been incorporated in three additional models. Beginning with the least expensive, they’re spotlighted below.
The Magneplanar .7: Apartment Friendly
Many listeners who, in the past, coveted Magneplanars but found them too large for their listening rooms were delighted when the .7 appeared. It was created to address that very problem, and it succeeds brilliantly. If your listening room is relatively small, the .7 could be the Magneplanar for you.
The .7 is actually a downsized 1.7. It employs the same 2-way quasi ribbon technology while offering diminished width, depth and height. To be specific, the .7 is nearly a foot shorter than the 1.7.
The .7 employs the upgrades that Magnepan made to both the 1.7 and 3.7 after their introductions — at that point, the letter i was added to their designations — and the firm is even offering an optional .7 base, which is oval-shaped and especially compatible with contemporary room decor.
The Magneplanar 1.7: Redefining The Possible
The 1.7 replaced one of high end audio’s longest-running hits, Magnepan’s 12-year-old 1.6, which Jonathan Valin of The Absolute Sound had deemed “the speaker I have long considered to be the best buy in all of high end audio.” The 1.6 had also headed a list that Steve Guttenberg compiled on his CNET blog, The Audiophiliac, which comprised that veteran writer’s top 10 audiophile speakers.
After hearing the 1.7, Jon Valin deemed it “an unqualified success” and ultimately conferred a TAS Golden Ear award on it. Jon boiled matters down to three little words when he said that the 1.7 is “just plain great.”
Chris Martens of TAS heartily concurred. “Within its price class, the 1.7 doesn’t just raise the performance bar, but rather straps that bar onto a rocket and then launches it clean out of sight…[It] has literally redefined what is possible at its price point.” he enthused.
How Magnepan Did It
You might wonder how Magnepan managed to replace a speaker as wildly successful as the 1.6 with a substantially better-sounding model that carried an introductory price tag a mere $100 higher than that of its precursor.
The answer, in part, relates to the 1.7’s driver technology. Whereas the 1.6 used planar magnetic drivers to reproduce lower midrange and bass, the 1.7 relies exclusively on the firm’s quasi ribbon technology. It employs a total of three quasi ribbons that, together, achieve a new level of coherence across the sonic spectrum.
One of the 1.7’s quasi ribbons is a super-tweeter with a wide high frequency projection pattern that expands the optimum listening area. This gives audience members more seating flexibility than the 1.6 allowed.
The Magneplanar 3.7: Trickle-Up Technology
The 3.7 was unveiled a year after the 1.7 appeared, and the audiophile press corps gushed once more. This new speaker reversed the familiar phenomenon known as trickle-down technology — materials and processes used in various fields frequently make their way downward from very expensive items to more modestly priced ones — and embodied improvements that had percolated upward from the 1.7.
The 3.7’s predecessor model, the 3.6, incorporated a true ribbon tweeter, but its midrange and low frequency drivers were planar magnetic. While its successor also utilizes a true ribbon for highs, the 3.7 uses two of Magnepan’s quasi ribbons for midrange and bass tones.
Because the 3.7 relies exclusively on ribbon drivers, many listeners have been astonished by their sonic consistency, the uniformity of sound that extends from one end of the audible frequency spectrum to the other.
Delineating An Acoustic Portrait
Here’s how the late Harry Pearson, one of high end audio’s most astute writers, put it in a lengthy 3.7 report published in The Absolute Sound, the enthusiast journal he had founded: “With the 3.7 continuousness is so flawless that the speaker sounds as if there are no crossover points. And so the first thing we heard…was a unified field of sound.”
Harry further noted that the 3.7 delivered at least one genuine revelation. While listening to Howard Hanson conduct the Eastman-Rochester orchestra on the Mercury Living Presence CD The Composer and His Orchestra, he “immediately heard the acoustic behind Hanson, which I had not before. It was as if I could hear the distance to the back wall. And the air that filled that distance. It was as if the speakers had retrieved a third-dimensional space behind the conductor himself. Thus the 3.7s were delineating a virtual sonic portrait of the hall acoustic itself.”
Jonathan Valin went so far as to compare the 3.7 with the speaker that was then his price-no-object benchmark, one selling for more than 10 times the price of the Magneplanar. “Even on a short listen, these are the speakers I’d buy if I couldn’t buy the [name of megabuck model deleted], because in many ways…they come as close to the sound of the[m] as I have gotten,” he declared.
The 20.7: The Ultimate Magneplanar
The 20.7 is Magnepan’s statement speaker, the ultimate Magneplanar. While substantially more expensive than its siblings, it also outperforms speakers costing many times its price. More than a few serious listeners think it’s unequalled.
Here’s Jon Valin’s take: “This Maggie’s magical ability to transport you to a different space and time and…realistically recreate (with lifelike scope and size) the sound of actual acoustic instruments is extraordinary…Indeed, the 20.7s come as close to achieving [the] goal of reproducing the sound of real instruments in real space as any speaker I’ve heard.”
Made In America, Cherished In China
Lyric was one of the first dealers to offer Magneplanars, which are now venerated in places as far off as China, and our acoustically-tailored showrooms are among the best places in the world to hear them. Please stop by and do so soon. We assure you the experience will prove memorable.