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I dont understand Magnepans

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Allen Marshall, Jan 13, 2004.

  1. Allen Marshall

    Allen Marshall Supporting Actor

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    how do they work, sub drivers and midrange drivers and what not are big and stretch back far what do Magnepan drivers look like? i have hard time trying to imagine a panel lookin thing makin a lot of bass and being loud
     
  2. Tim Streagle

    Tim Streagle Stunt Coordinator

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    Maggies have rectangular mylar (plastic) panels stretched over frames. These mylar panels are covered with wire that is looped up and down repeatedly, larger wire for bass, smaller wire for mids, and (in most models) a separate section for a quasi-ribbon tweeter. The front of the speaker has a grid of thin (refrigerator-style) strip-magnets bonded to a perforated metal sheet. The entire mylar panel vibrates to produce sound from a very large surface area- it does not have to move as much as a conventional cone to produce as much sound. Be aware that Maggies do require more powerful amplification than most cones. The bass freq.'s roll off sharply at a certain point on the less expensive models (40-50 Hz), but still produce nice, tight low end. I use a sub for deep bass.

    There is a point at which planar speakers do lose their capacity to "pump up the volume." However, this point is well above 115 dB in my listening room, and is not a concern. Suffice it to say that Magneplanars are not speakers one purchases to win college dorm sound wars, amplify rock guitars, or blast tunes toward a neighbors house for revenge.

    Many times I have heard people say that Magneplanars are not suitable for low level listening. I have not found this to be true. I particularly enjoy them for quiet symphonic listening.

    I have the luxury of having several different sets of speakers in my listening room yet I listen to the Magneplanars most of the time. In closing, consider the size of a typical speaker cone; then imagine how much sound would result if you multiplied that surface area many times. The sheer size of the sonic image is ear/eye-opening when you first experience it. The detail and soundstage is usually the next thing new listeners comment on. One thing's for sure- you will either love 'em or hate 'em. Most planar owners never go back to conventional speakers. I happen to like both types, each for specific tasks.
     
  3. Alan Pummill

    Alan Pummill Screenwriter

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    After having owned Paradigm speakers for over 5 years, with the Monitor 7 as my front speakers, I recently upgraded to a Magnepan system with the MG1.6/QR as my front speakers.

    I crossed over the 7's at 80 Hz to my PW-2200 sub. But I cross the MG1.6/QR's over at 40Hz. They have much better bass response than the 7's had. With most of the music I listen to, jazz, I sometimes set the Magnepans to large when listening to stereo CD's. And let me tell you, with the proper amplification, these maggies CAN play loud!!

    I'll never go back to box speakers! I love my maggies!!
     
  4. cabreau

    cabreau Second Unit

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    Do Magnepans have a round woofer in them like some of the Martin Logans do? The ML's that I listened to (Mosaics) used ribbons for the mids and a separate ribbon system for the highs, but had a normal woofer. The other ML's that had mylar had a woofer in them also.
     
  5. Jeff O.

    Jeff O. Stunt Coordinator

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    cabreau,
    To the best of my knowledge, none of the maggies use a conventional woofer.
     
  6. David James

    David James Stunt Coordinator

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  7. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    I am going to say something that will rile Magnapan enthusiasts: The Magnapan driver is one of the worst drivers in audio. Now, I am not talking about the ribbon driver that Magnapan uses in some of its models; I'm only talking about the actual Magnapan driver, the company's claim to fame.

    The magnapan driver consists of a row of stationary, vertically arranged permanent magnets, and a moveable mylar membrane. A single wire is glued to the membrane opposite each row of magnets. The audio signal flows through the wires and the membrane moves in concert with the varying magnetic field intensity. So far, so good. It's what happens after the audio signal is removed that is the concern.

    Electrostatic and ribbon speakers are what is termed "double-ended". The electromagnetic force driving the membrane comes from each side; each side is of opposite polarity. Damping of the membrane is mechanical, but mostly electrical from the amplifier. The membrane follows the audio signal very precisely; distortion and transient response are excellent, even extraordinary. The Magnapan driver, however, is "single-ended" - it is driven only on one side. Damping is mechanical only. The result is that when the audio signal is removed, the membrane keeps on vibrating. Transient response is extremely poor. An analogy can be made to car suspensions; if the shock absorbers (more properly called dampers, as the British do call them) were removed, we would end up with a car that would keep on bouncing long after hitting a bump - not a good idea in cars, not a good idea in speakers.

    Another downside to the Magnapan driver is that the membrane must be much heavier than those used in electrostatic and ribbon speakers to be able to support the wires. An electrostatic membrane can be breathtakingly light. Furthermore, the advantage of a planar speaker is that the entire membrane is driven equally; this is not really true of the Magnapan driver.

    I have never understood the attraction of Magnapan speakers. They have been one of the darlings of the "underground" audio press for many years and have now almost have become the Bose of the high end (fortunately, no infomercial). Which is strange, because every review I have ever read of a Magnapan speaker that included a chart for transient response clearly displayed its poor damping characteristics. A mainstream speaker manufacturer would have been taken to task on this point; Magnapan gets a pass.

    I have owned a couple electrostatic speakers (Soundlab and Martin-Logan) and one ribbon speaker (Carver Platinum - still own) and have listened to Magnapans on many occasions. I understand the attraction of that big launch area; but in comparison to any electrostat or ribbon speaker (and a huge number of plain old cone-powered speakers) you can name, Magnapan speakers are clearly inferior and are not worth consideration.
     
  8. David James

    David James Stunt Coordinator

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    "I have never understood the attraction of Magnapan Speakers. They have been one of the darlings of the "underground" audio press for many years and have now almost become the Bose of the high end (fortunately, no infomercial). Which is strange, because every review I have ever read of a Magnapan speaker that included a chart for transient response clearly displayed its poor damping characteristics. A mainstream speaker manufacturer would have been taken to task on this point; Magnapan gets a pass."

    I don't own any but perhaps the owners like the way they sound [​IMG]
     
  9. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    David,

    A few quick points to make:

    The Magnepan 20.1 is a fully symmetrical push/pull design, with the mylar and voice coil between the two panels for bass/midrange. The Magnepan 20.1 and 3.6 utilize true ribbons which are attached at only 2 points.

    All of Magnepans other speakers "quasi-ribbon" or planar magnetic, as the voice coil is attached to a backing material.

    I agree with you on the symmetric Push/Pull arrangement -- I use planar magnetics myself (based on BG drivers) which are symmetrically driven. Bruce Thigpen's Eminent Technology speakers are the planar equivalent of an electrostatic, with fairly low sensitivity, but excellent sonics.

    Cheers,
     
  10. David James

    David James Stunt Coordinator

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    John,

    I guess I need to use the quote feature, I was quoting Alan [​IMG]

    FYI... we've met. Get into your way back machine. You worked with some of my team while you were in Boulder, doing some "farming" [​IMG]

    Back to the thread, which is already in progress...
     
  11. Alan Pummill

    Alan Pummill Screenwriter

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    Alan

    I chose the Magnepan MG1.6/QR over the Paradigm Studio 60.

    (And I had Paradigm's for over 5 years)

    The price was the same, but no contest on the sound!! The maggies sounded much, much, better IMHO!!

    Well, at least you spell your name correctly!!

    Alan
     
  12. Phil A

    Phil A Producer
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    The advantage of a Magnepan (I don't own one) is that the most expensive part of the speaker to make is the cabinet. So at the price point they are available, for the given sound quality it is a great value. A couple of negatives. One, don't ever vacuum the grills unless you want to risk stuff getting out of the speaker and into the vacuum. If you drive them hard with certain type of music the legs will vibrate. They seem to work much better with the Sound Anchor legs.

    Everything else is a matter of personal taste. There are certain brands of speakers I can't stand, especially at the price points they go for. I like Magnepan's. The older ones (like the 3.5s) are much harder to drive. You better have a big amp and stock in the electric company.
     
  13. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    David,

    My life in 1999 is a complete blur to me [​IMG]

    It is indeed a small, small world [​IMG]

    Cheers,
     
  14. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    S&V has a review of some Maggies in the current issue.

    The Frequency Response graph is about as ugly as I have seen. I have no clue what they sound like, never having heard them, but the response looks to be pretty ragged based on their measurements.

    BGL
     
  15. Alan Pummill

    Alan Pummill Screenwriter

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    I wonder how far "underground" this guy is??


    As an audiophile, I'm often called on to give advice regarding an impending purchase. In terms of value, the MG1.6/QRs are off the charts and the speakers I recommend for under $2000. In fact, I can't think of another pair of speakers double their price that I would rather own. The Magnepan MG1.6/QRs may not have won a SoundStage! Network award, but they've certainly won my highest recommendation -- for 2003 and beyond.

    ...Marc Mickelson
    [email protected]

    Alan...even mentioning Magnepan and Bose in the same context shows that you really know all about audio. What kind of person who reads this forum is going to even consider some of your statements as coming from someone that really has a good understanding of what "good sound" and "good value" is all about!! Good Luck!!
     
  16. Robert Cowan

    Robert Cowan Supporting Actor

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    i never really look at specs on speakers... except for efficiency, bass response, etc... just to see what i would need to power them. the maggies dont do well on paper. but, i own a pair, and will never go back to conventional speakers again.

    and i work at a high end audio boutique and sell some expensive speakers.
     
  17. DavidLW

    DavidLW Stunt Coordinator

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    Almost but not quite right. On the Martin Logans,(at least), the center membrane is charged negative and the two outside grids are positive. When both grids are equally positively charged, the membrane sits still in the middle. The membrane vibrates as one grid becomes "more" positive and at the same time the other grid becomes "less" positive. Thus attracting on one side while repelling on the other (the negative membrane sees the side becoming "less" positive as getting "more" negative). So it's pushing and pulling the membrane. It's confusing but it works.

    I currently own Martin Logan CLS's and before this Accoustats 1+1. I spent many hours auditioning planars before buying my ML CLS's. I remember listening to Maggies III's and IV's (Tympanies) back in the early 90's. I was impressed with their low end and how loud they went but their highs and mids weren't as "airy" and "fast" as the Martin Logans (or other electrostatics). However, I still would have chosen them over any box speakers in their price range. They still had that "planar" sound that won't escape your mind, once you hear it. But be careful, like the Sirens calling, this may lead to the destruction of your wallet.
     
  18. Gary Wolfe

    Gary Wolfe Auditioning

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    I listened to the lower-end of the Magnepan line years ago, and thought they were wonderful. Sure they don't have deep bass -- so you add a sub. You probably will with whatever you get, particularly if you like the home-theater sound. :)

    I ended up going with Martin Logans, however. They cost more, but seem more "neutral". The Maggies sounded sweet, but I couldn't help but feel as if they were not as true to the original sound.

    It wasn't long before I got a sub to go along with the MLs, which even though they had a cone woofer, really can't hit the deep lows like a sub.
     
  19. bobtrav

    bobtrav Auditioning

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    I have a home theater with 20.1s as fronts, MMGs for rears and a Paradigm sub waiting for my center from Magnepan. The system is so life like that it defies description. If you want a dual system HT and Stereo, Magnepan is the best way that I have heard. You do need Mye stands for any standing Maggie. That gives a huge openness to the sound and more stable speakers.
    I looked at fatigueablity in listening and ML's were just not something I enjoyed past the first few minutes. Even in $40000 box speakers when I close my eyes I still hear the box.

    To truly fill a room only 20s will do. I am still struggling with amps but that is another story. They are being driven by Anthem 5A which is very musical but about 500w short of what I think I need.

    It doesn't take anyone more than a 100 posts to quickly realize this group is a cult. So if you are interested in joining the cult come in the water is fine at least for the first 4 months. I will testify to that in the Supreme Court.
     

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