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First Impressions of the Magnepan LRS vs. the LRS+


Grand Contributor
Central Scrutinizer
Mar 9, 2016
Riverview FL


Dec 2, 2020
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"?


Active Member
Feb 24, 2019
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.

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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.

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.

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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?
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