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First Impressions of the Magnepan LRS vs. the LRS+

RayDunzl

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Rac1

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All I know is that I don’t listen to graphs. My LRS + make me enjoy the music and I feel that I am immersed in sound, not like a headphone. Every instrument is a correct proportion and except for the lower frequencies it works well in my room. It is not the best I have ever heard but it is the best I’ve heard in it’s price point and probably twice it price. While listening to some recordings it presents an image far from the edge of the actual speaker, the better the equipment the speakers have also improved the sound. As I updated my DAC and amplifier the resolution was much better. I think the speakers were tested before they were actually broken in. They are also very placement sensitive and if you are off axis you can definitely tell it.
Wondering if in the second sentence you meant to say "not unlike a headphone"?
 

ethanhallbeyer

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After months of waiting, I finally received my new LRS+ this week. I had a chance to do some very preliminary listening and testing. These are my subjective opinions and should be taken as such. It would be hard to do a blind test as these speakers sound different enough that you could identify which was which. Since this is a hobby, I would suggest that you try it out yourself in your own environment. These speakers haven’t been ‘broken in’ and it will be interesting to see how much the sound changes over time.

Summary: The LRS+ isn’t a slight upgrade, it sounds like a different and better dipole speaker than the LRS. Yes, the LRS+ overall has the typical characteristics of a dipole speaker of that size, but it is significantly better on a few dimensions. Detail: The LRS+ has much better detail and where I least expected it. Oddly enough it’s bass response is audibly worse (measurements confirm) than the LRS, but the detail is much better on complex passages such as drum rolls. Realism: It sounds more ‘real’ than the LRS and the LRS was really good at that. Where I hear the most difference is on vocals (male/female) and acoustic instruments such guitar, violin and cello. Delicateness: I don't know that this is a thing, but it has this ability resolve really tiny things like ambient sounds, breathing. I don't know how to explain it. Soundstage: The LRS+ sounds a little more focused than the LRS which might also lead to sounding more like ‘live’ music. To all the LRS owners out there, I think the upgrade is significantly better than the price differential. If you would like more details, keep on reading.


Testing Setup:

Amplifier: DIY Purifi 1ET400A, Reference design in Low Gain Mode

DAC: SMSL DO100, balanced outputs

Streamer: Volumio/Tidal


Fit & Finish: While these speakers look perfectly fine, they don’t have the same fit and finish of the LRS. I suspect that they reduced the manufacturing cost of the speaker with some of these changes that are largely cosmetic and invisible at listening range. For example, the edges aren’t rounded and the side trims are gone. Since the sock material is black on mine, it doesn’t make a big difference visually.


Stands: I think that one of the issues that has lead to poor sound from the LRS’ is the crappy stand that they ship by default. I spent months tweaking location angle etc of my speakers until I saw some reviewers talking about third party stands such as Magna Risers and what difference they made. I decided to test out the concept by using some cinder blocks and I was shocked how much better they sounded. I ended up getting the Magna Riser MK7 multi-riser and I use the highest setting on it. For this comparison since I didn’t have two of those, I used cinder blocks and the stock stands so I could quickly switch speakers. If you own these and are using the stock stands, I guarantee that if you raise them and change the angle to 0 degrees, they will sound much better. If you have any doubts on that, Magnepan has been shipping the LRS+ with the raised stands to reviewers and at demos. It’s a night and day difference. If you don’t want to spend money on commercial stands, you can easily make your own ghetto stands, for under $10 (see picture). It is a waste to listen to these speakers using the manufacturer default stands.

View attachment 238859


Room: These speakers really need a ‘medium’ sized room. If your room is too small or too large, since they use your walls, and placement is important, they can easily sound bad. You must be willing to spend some time experimenting. Unlike standard speakers, dipoles, for obvious reasons are very room size and placement dependent. If you don't have the right room, these speakers also can sound pretty underwhelming.

Position: About 32” from back wall with tweeters on the inside angled at about 35-40 degrees.

Measurements:
I have Sonarworks SoundID Reference, so I used that for the in-room measurements. Each composite is comprised of about 40 measurements centered around the listening position. You can see the uncorrected in-room response plots below. They are quite different and some of the differences such as low end are quite audible, but the others aren’t as obvious to me. The room is not symmetric, and the left has a full corner while the right has a corner is mostly a cutout. That is why the low-end response is better on the left vs. the right. I measured the LRS+ before I listened to it and therefore expected the LRS to sound better than the LRS+. I was honestly a little disappointed after I saw the measurements before I listened to them. The feeling was a 'much ado about nothing' because of the reviewer hype.

LRS:
View attachment 238860

LRS+
View attachment 238861


Methodology:
The assumption was that the speakers were identical and were measured/listened from the same position of speakers and listener.


Low end:

  • 40Hz test tone: The LRS+ was about 4db lower than the LRS under identical conditions. This is very easily audible.

  • Poem of Chinese Drum: This is a wonderful piece for testing your speakers. In my small room the LRS has always had enough bass for the tracks I listen too and this piece sounds very good. The difference with the LRS+ was very surprising. It’s detail was significantly better and in many rolls you could now hear that they were made up of more than one drum at the same time. The LRS in comparison now sounds ‘muddy’ even though the low end response is significantly better. One of my concerns is whether this is actually a ‘breaking-in’ phenomenon and whether the LRS+ will also loose detail as the mylar film stretches. I plan on keeping my LRS for a while so I can redo these tests in a few months and update the results. On the downside the difference in low end is high enough where you might consider a subwoofer mandatory.

General observations on a few selections:
  • What a wonderful world (Knopfler,Botti): MK’s voice sounds clearer and fuller
  • Sarsate:Carmen Fantasy (Mutter, et. al): The violin sounds amazing and live. Clearer in detail and space
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Live(Bareilles): Smoother voice and more ‘precise’ soundstage
  • The Parting Glass (Wailin’ Jennys): Smoother voices, better separation and focus of singers
  • Beethoven: Triple Concerto (Mutter, Ma, Barenboim): More focused soundstage
  • What a wonderful world (Melua,Cassidy): Smoother voices
  • Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith): That triangle or something sounds clearer about 2/3rds in
  • Homemade Ice Cream (Tony Joe White): Harmonica is clearer and sounds more ‘live’

Obviously, I was surprised by the difference between the measurements, what I expected and what I heard. I haven't spent any time treating the LRS+ as a different speaker and optimizing its positioning. That is next on my experimentation list. Let me know if any other details or experiments might be useful.

Happy Listening.

Thanks for the review! If you use the LRS with magnarisers or the like does it still sound inferior to LRS+ with similar non-stock stands?
 

lowmagnet

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My sub is definitely mandatory with my SMG-a and I'd imagine that tight bass will add a lot to your system as it did mine. I used YPAO to correct my system, but my sub itself can integrate as well.
 

ethanhallbeyer

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Does anyone have Magnepans (especially LRS or LRS+) and DON'T have them 3' away from back and side walls and still get great sound out of them? Wondering if it's possible and if the commonly accepted requirement is absolute. Does it require a treated room? Can Dirac and the like compensate? I like Maggies and want to own some, but if they're really a waste to own if I don't have the space to let them really breathe, then I guess I have to just give up that dream and maybe get some sealed speakers that I can put up close to the wall.
 

DonH56

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Does anyone have Magnepans (especially LRS or LRS+) and DON'T have them 3' away from back and side walls and still get great sound out of them? Wondering if it's possible and if the commonly accepted requirement is absolute. Does it require a treated room? Can Dirac and the like compensate? I like Maggies and want to own some, but if they're really a waste to own if I don't have the space to let them really breathe, then I guess I have to just give up that dream and maybe get some sealed speakers that I can put up close to the wall.
The usual issues with them being too close to the wall are bass reinforcement and (much more important to me) comb filter effects (see e.g. https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/comb-filter-effects.25432/#post-865556). I have always treated the wall behind them unless pretty far (6'~8' or more) into the room and that helps mitigate the effect. The result is some loss of "space" but much better imaging and smoother frequency response without losing any of the direct Maggie sound.

The other solution, which is harder with floor-standers and one I care less for, is to place them right against the wall so comb filter effects begin higher in frequency where they might be less noticeable. That sort-of worked with my MC-1's used as on-wall surround speakers, but getting larger models within a few inches of the wall can be challenging and difficult to align with the listening position. I much prefer treating the wall behind. YMMV.

IME/IMO/HTH/FWIWFM/etc. - Don
 

Reed

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Can you measure with the speakers on the floor. I’d like to see the difference in room coupling
 

ethanhallbeyer

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I know this is largely a personal taste issue, but I was wondering what you all think about white vs black Magnepan LRS? What do you see as the pros & cons to each? I heard that the black will not stand out as much in a listening room and can disappear better. I'm wondering if the white or black would fare better in a room that often is filled with sunlight (albeit not necessarily direct sunlight). Most components would probably be black, if that factors into things.
 

StelianPavalache

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A fairly simple and relatively cheap idea is to create wooden boxes from at least 2cm thickness wood boards in which to pour sand through a hole in the upper part. Sand and sonic sand-tempered wood have good absorption properties and excellent stability. Not to mention the cool look of slightly patinated or simply treated wood :)
 

josh358

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The LRS+ graphs display inferior linearity of the frequency responses across the board and more rapid dropoff of mid-bass relative to the LRS. This is contrary to what would be expected from the list of highly favorable subjective phrases in the review, which appear to be a combination of confirmation and publication biases. According to measurements and through-the-sock views, the LRS+ differs little physically from the LRS, except slightly in width and available in fewer colors. I believe it is likely that the new model was introduced to incorporate cost-saving materials or manufacturing methods and to raise the price significantly, especially with upsale of very expensive optional taller stands.
There's an engineering improvement that I wish I could discuss but can't. Its effects are easily measurable, but the differences in the measurements here may have more to do with the stands than the change. The trim on the sides was eliminated to help slim down the speaker and make it a bit more "wife friendly," but the reduction in width is going to have a slight negative effect on the bass response. Lifting the speaker off the floor can also adversely affect bass response. The thing is, if you lift them and make them vertical, they sound much better -- the imaging improves dramatically, and you can be on axis vertically for good HF extension. So on balance, it's worth sacrificing some bass. At least it was for me when I made a stand for my MMG's years ago.

The price increase has nothing to do with the changes, since they don't much change manufacturing costs one way or the other -- that has more to do with inflation and the fact that the LRS was sold almost at cost as a marketing tool. When you're backordered by a year, it doesn't make sense not to make a bit of a profit!

One thing that people frequently don't know is that Maggies are designed to be used with the 1 ohm tweeter resistor as its default. The jumper is for dead rooms, the 2 ohm resistor for bright ones. The tweeter level in these measurements looks altogether too high! It should be brought down or equalized. The mids and highs should then have a gentle roll off to create a house curve.
 

ethanhallbeyer

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There's an engineering improvement that I wish I could discuss but can't. Its effects are easily measurable, but the differences in the measurements here may have more to do with the stands than the change. The trim on the sides was eliminated to help slim down the speaker and make it a bit more "wife friendly," but the reduction in width is going to have a slight negative effect on the bass response. Lifting the speaker off the floor can also adversely affect bass response. The thing is, if you lift them and make them vertical, they sound much better -- the imaging improves dramatically, and you can be on axis vertically for good HF extension. So on balance, it's worth sacrificing some bass. At least it was for me when I made a stand for my MMG's years ago.

The price increase has nothing to do with the changes, since they don't much change manufacturing costs one way or the other -- that has more to do with inflation and the fact that the LRS was sold almost at cost as a marketing tool. When you're backordered by a year, it doesn't make sense not to make a bit of a profit!

One thing that people frequently don't know is that Maggies are designed to be used with the 1 ohm tweeter resistor as its default. The jumper is for dead rooms, the 2 ohm resistor for bright ones. The tweeter level in these measurements looks altogether too high! It should be brought down or equalized. The mids and highs should then have a gentle roll off to create a house curve.

Are the 1ohm resistors the ones they ship with installed or the 2ohm?

What kind of stands did you end up building? Using pre-made parts bolted together (like TV stand/feet), or more custom?

I'm not sure removing the side trim from LRS made the LRS+ any slimmer, at least based on pictures (haven't seen LRS in person). It's definitely narrower though.

Do you use a subwoofer with yours to address the reduced bass from putting the speakers further off the ground?

I saw MikeyOCD from youtube show how he offloaded lower frequencies entirely to subs using an external crossover, and he said that took a lot of burden off of the Maggies he was demoing in the video, so they could focus on everything above the bass and making noticeable improvements.
 

josh358

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Are the 1ohm resistors the ones they ship with installed or the 2ohm?

What kind of stands did you end up building? Using pre-made parts bolted together (like TV stand/feet), or more custom?

I'm not sure removing the side trim from LRS made the LRS+ any slimmer, at least based on pictures (haven't seen LRS in person). It's definitely narrower though.

Do you use a subwoofer with yours to address the reduced bass from putting the speakers further off the ground?

I saw MikeyOCD from youtube show how he offloaded lower frequencies entirely to subs using an external crossover, and he said that took a lot of burden off of the Maggies he was demoing in the video, so they could focus on everything above the bass and making noticeable improvements.
I image the 1 ohm, didn't know they were shipping them with resistors installed at all.

I know that they removed some of the MDF on either side to slim it down. As I understand it, removing the trim slimmed them down a bit more, but I could be wrong on that -- I'd have to ask. I do know that they made it as slim as possible.

I didn't use a sub, no, what was there was surprisingly satisfying even though it didn't go very deep. But I do think they need a sub for rock. It isn't just a matter of bass extension and level -- they'll play louder if some of the bass load is lifted off them, and I'm sure they're cleaner as well.

So the question of subs -- well, I'd begin by optimizing them as they are -- you might be able to improve the balance with the resistors, moving the speakers and listening position, using EQ if you have it. Then you have basically two choices. You can get a good sealed sub like the Rel and try to combine them. It won't sound as good as a dipole woofer, but it's more practical. Sadly, almost no one makes a dipole sub -- Magnepan is about to introduce a dipole woofer, but it's priced way beyond LRS+ territory and the less expensive versions won't be out for quite a while. If you're handy, you can get the GR Research dipole subs -- they're DIY but I think you can get flatpacks. If you're really handy, you can buy a driver and make your own dipole woofer for less money -- Dave Reite here did that with his MMG's. (He just got his LRS+'s yesterday.) But as things stand, most people just get a decent sealed sub. It won't be as realistic as dipole bass (dipole bass is smoother because of the way the radiation pattern interacts with the room), but it's plenty fine for most people.

Anyway, I'd play around and let the system break in (bass extension increases for a bit as a consequence of thermal cycling), then you can look into subs if you want.
 

ethanhallbeyer

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I image the 1 ohm, didn't know they were shipping them with resistors installed at all.

I know that they removed some of the MDF on either side to slim it down. As I understand it, removing the trim slimmed them down a bit more, but I could be wrong on that -- I'd have to ask. I do know that they made it as slim as possible.

I didn't use a sub, no, what was there was surprisingly satisfying even though it didn't go very deep. But I do think they need a sub for rock. It isn't just a matter of bass extension and level -- they'll play louder if some of the bass load is lifted off them, and I'm sure they're cleaner as well.

So the question of subs -- well, I'd begin by optimizing them as they are -- you might be able to improve the balance with the resistors, moving the speakers and listening position, using EQ if you have it. Then you have basically two choices. You can get a good sealed sub like the Rel and try to combine them. It won't sound as good as a dipole woofer, but it's more practical. Sadly, almost no one makes a dipole sub -- Magnepan is about to introduce a dipole woofer, but it's priced way beyond LRS+ territory and the less expensive versions won't be out for quite a while. If you're handy, you can get the GR Research dipole subs -- they're DIY but I think you can get flatpacks. If you're really handy, you can buy a driver and make your own dipole woofer for less money -- Dave Reite here did that with his MMG's. (He just got his LRS+'s yesterday.) But as things stand, most people just get a decent sealed sub. It won't be as realistic as dipole bass (dipole bass is smoother because of the way the radiation pattern interacts with the room), but it's plenty fine for most people.

Anyway, I'd play around and let the system break in (bass extension increases for a bit as a consequence of thermal cycling), then you can look into subs if you want.

Oh I don't even know if it ships with resistors installed. I just thought they did and it was just a matter of which one.

I have heard about the new dipole subs they're coming out with. I think they've been doing demos/experiments with them for various people. Apparently they are full range and have fooled some people into thinking they were listening to speakers and subs rather than just the subs alone?

I didn't know they already had a price range for them. About how much will they cost? I'll check out the GR Research flat packs.

Good idea about playing around with them first and letting the system break in. I opted not to get the Magnepan optional new stands for them until I take some time listening with the included standard stands and go from there. There are also a few other options for stands instead of the ones from Magnepan, and I'm not sure which way to go just yet. Even have seen posts on ASR of folks using made-for-tv stand/legs that mount out of the box and work fine for them.
 

josh358

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Oh I don't even know if it ships with resistors installed. I just thought they did and it was just a matter of which one.

I have heard about the new dipole subs they're coming out with. I think they've been doing demos/experiments with them for various people. Apparently they are full range and have fooled some people into thinking they were listening to speakers and subs rather than just the subs alone?

I didn't know they already had a price range for them. About how much will they cost? I'll check out the GR Research flat packs.

Good idea about playing around with them first and letting the system break in. I opted not to get the Magnepan optional new stands for them until I take some time listening with the included standard stands and go from there. There are also a few other options for stands instead of the ones from Magnepan, and I'm not sure which way to go just yet. Even have seen posts on ASR of folks using made-for-tv stand/legs that mount out of the box and work fine for them.
Yep, they have a very high bandwidth. Of course, most of it isn't used in a woofer, but in this case, they did need extra bandwidth because they're designed as the woofers to go with their new spouse-friendly speakers -- the panels on those are only 12" wide so the woofer has to play a lot higher than a sub normally does. (Strictly speaking, these are woofers rather than subs -- they don't do the bottom octave.)

I heard $4000, but that figure isn't direct from Magnepan so I can't vouch for its accuracy.

Also, I feel like an idiot for not having mentioned this first, but it slipped my aging mind -- there is a dipole woofer made specifically for the LRS called the "Little Dipole Woofer" or LDW. I've heard and measured one and it's very good. It costs $845:


The GR's will make more bass but they're more DIY, and larger. Still, I've heard excellent things about the GR's.

The stands I made for my MMG's were made from steel that I had bent at a machine shop, but you can get more or less elaborate than that. Dave Reite made stands with dipole woofers built in for his MMG's. Commercially, there are the Mye stands and the Magna Risers.
 

Snoopy

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Is there a European dealer for the LRS+ ? I'm wondering how much more expensive they are compared to the US.
 

josh358

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Is there a European dealer for the LRS+ ? I'm wondering how much more expensive they are compared to the US.
Their European distributor is Audionord. It looks like the LRS+ costs €1,490.00:

 

Snoopy

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Their European distributor is Audionord. It looks like the LRS+ costs €1,490.00:


So in the US they are like 950-999 USD + tax + shipping right?
 

josh358

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Yes, something like that. The extra cost is for shipping and customs, European distribution, and maybe duty and VAT? Not sure how the last two work.
 
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