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Magnepan LRS Speaker Review

Wes

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Many have gone in both directions. They're different different speakers and people typically go through several kinds of speaker over the years, often depending on circumstance. I have one friend who owns a pair of Maggies -- 3.7i -- and a pair of dynamics, and knows he should sell one, but can't make up his mind! One is better in some regards, the other in other regards.
I agree with that. I compared Maggie 1.5's to Vandersteen 2's for several months in an apt. I had - no TV, listening every night. The Vandies had better bass but I ultimately sold them and kept the Maggies.

I now have 3.7i's which are much better than the 1.5s. I've never heard anything smaller than the 1.5's or 1.7's.
 

q3cpma

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The compromise there is that you could buy 2 sets of Maggie 3.7i's for the price of of those D&Ds and the Genelec Ones (also expensive!) are the ugliest looking speakers I'd never want in my home, lol. I don't know what your definition of compromise is, but those would be compromised purchases for me. For $10k, I don't care how neutral the D&D's are, I'm getting a Quad 2812 system. :p
Never said the speakers near perfection were cheap, nor that they were suited to most people's taste; personally, I love the look of Genelec's sci-fi items and 8c's studio version's discretion as much or even more than the big Magnepans.
Anyway, I was clearly talking about audio performance. The Ones, at least, objectively approach perfection of the point source concept.
 

TheGhostOfEugeneDebs

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I agree with that. I compared Maggie 1.5's to Vandersteen 2's for several months in an apt. I had - no TV, listening every night. The Vandies had better bass but I ultimately sold them and kept the Maggies.

I now have 3.7i's which are much better than the 1.5s. I've never heard anything smaller than the 1.5's or 1.7's.

I compared maggie 1.7 to Vandersteens too, is this a common a/b that audio stores do? I wish I had the space for 3.7s.
 

Dialectic

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My cheap SVS SB12 NSD has output at good output at 200Hz according to Dirac. I have my Maggies crossed at 200Hz to that sub because that's what graphs in dirac tell me to do.
Love my SB12 NSD. Truly excellent for the money, and I got it from an authorized dealer selling through Amazon Prime of all places.
The compromise there is that you could buy 2 sets of Maggie 3.7i's for the price of of those D&Ds and the Genelec Ones (also expensive!) are the ugliest looking speakers I'd never want in my home, lol. I don't know what your definition of compromise is, but those would be compromised purchases for me. For $10k, I don't care how neutral the D&D's are, I'm getting a Quad 2812 system. :p
Quads always blow me away when I first listen to them, but as I sit and listen to them more, I always become aware of deficiencies. I would love to see some proper measurements of Quads...
 

CDMC

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Just some comments in general:
  • I do not understand the attack on Amir's measurements. They are quasi anechoic. He used the same methodology and equipment he uses for every other speaker test. The measurements are what they are.
  • I am big Maggie fan. I owned 6 pairs over the last 25 years and just painfully sold my 3.5s last month. Why painfully? They do some things so amazingly well. The true ribbons have this amazing openness, they are so clean in the midrange, instruments sound real sized. But I also listen to mostly studio recorded music, where there is no real natural atmosphere. They also perform poorly in many aspects, dynamics, efficiency, maximum output, bass extension, the occasional panel resonance. Most Magnepan owners realize and accept that there are these very real tradeoffs, just as horn speaker fans accept there are tradeoffs of that design.
  • It took me years to find a pair of speakers that I could live with instead of my 3.5s, despite their shortcomings, as other aspects were so much better to me. Vandersteen 3a Sigs and the Salk Song 3 came close. Ultimately the Revel F208 made it. I wish it was the Salk's they looked much nicer to me.
  • Speaker design has evolved a lot in the past 50 years. 50 years ago you had dynamic speakers with limited transparency and output capability, horns with high dynamic capabilities, but directivity issues and that horn sound, and planars (both Magnepan and electrostatic) with limited dynamics, power hungry, beaming, and that ohh so magical transparent midrange. Over the past 50 years the weakness of each design has been decreased to where all perform far better than their ancestors.
It seems to me that rather than arguing about who is deaf, why these are terrible, or why they are best $650 speakers in the world, we should be discussing:
  • What shortcomings do quasi anechoic measurements have when applied to dipolar radiators versus monopole?
    • How do quasi anechoic measurements differ in their translation into in room listening position measurements for dipolars versus monopole speakers?
    • How do these correlate to other speakers when measured in room at the listening position?
  • What is the "magic" that makes many love these speakers and willing to overlook their severe flaws?
  • What measurements could there be that we can't do, or don't understand that could help us understand the disconnect between the quasi anechoic measurements and subjective reviews?
 

TheGhostOfEugeneDebs

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Never said the speakers near perfection were cheap, nor that they were suited to most people's taste; personally, I love the look of Genelec's sci-fi items and 8c's studio version's discretion as much or even more than the big Magnepans.
Anyway, I was clearly talking about audio performance. The Ones, at least, objectively approach perfection of the point source concept.
I know you were. As a real response though, I know my own perception and I'd like to hear the Genelecs just to see what a true neutral sounds like in speaker form. I have found from my headphones obsession, that I am *not* a fan of the objective neutral (or at least, the Harman neutral in headphones) and I think that may carry over to speakers too. I like some coloration of my audio and keep different kinds of headphones and speakers around so I can mix it up from time to time. Keeps the hobby fun and makes me rediscover music over and over.
 

tjf

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Well, first of all, I think I've made it clear that I don't think Maggies are the best speakers for every application. Sure, I like them, which is why I own them. But I listen to a lot of classical music and realistic reproduction of acoustical music is my primary goal. I've also chosen specific Maggies that are suited to classical, pop, and home theater -- namely, really big Tympanis -- and modified the hell out of them, replacing the midrange with BG Neo 8's. So they meet my specific needs -- more output capable than ESL's, more transparent than dynamics, and with dipole line source imaging that is well suited to the reproduction of acoustical music in large venues. Most people wouldn't even consider them, because they're humongous and need a dedicated room. They suit my needs, not theirs.

I think the fact you call those things "excuses" may indicate bias or at least misapprehension on your part. Any loudspeaker is a compromise and they are suited to different applications. I have a friend who has a pair of Acoustats that he uses for everyday listening, and a pair of Voice of the Theaters that he hauls out for parties. I don't think you'd want to use the Acoustats for parties, and I don't think you'd want to use Voice of the Theaters for everyday listening! Pointing either of those facts out wouldn't be making excuses. Fact is, anyone who has ever had dipoles will tell you that they need more careful setup than monopoles. It's a disadvantage of dipoles. Set them up wrong, and yeah, they'll sound bad, where monopoles will merely sound mediocre. Set them up right, and they'll knock your socks off. Assess imaging by listening to one channel, and yeah, I'm going to call into question the validity of that. Try unplugging one channel of your Maggies and I think you'll see why. I don't think it's making an excuse to suggest that a speaker that is so abused in an audition is not being fairly judged.

If someone wants to make a meaningful evaluation of dipoles, put them at least three and preferably five feet from the wall, space them and toe them in properly, and listen to both of them! I find it mind boggling, frankly, that people are asking here whether I've done a blind A/B test even as they accept a review in which imaging was judged *based on only one speaker.*

I agree with you that multichannel is a better way to improve soundstaging. Unfortunately, we're stuck with mostly two channel recordings, and we have to make the best of them. It's widely acknowledge that good two channel playback requires some contribution from the room. Since your setup is fixed, you have to compromise for the kind of music that you care about. I find that line source dipoles have the most realistic spatial rendition with acoustical music, whether it's a string quartet or a symphony. I get a palpable sense of the musicians being "out there" behind the front wall, and with a natural size. I've always loved planars since I first heard a friend's KLH-9's in college. I had a pair of AR-11's, and thought they were pretty good (they were, for the day). But when I heard his 9's, it was a whole different experience -- a full sized orchestra was sitting out there in space and I could hear every sound. So it suited me, as it suits many others, particularly those who listen to acoustical music. (When I listen to rock on them, the image is typically nonsense, but it will be on any speaker that can reproduce depth because of the way the recordings are made.)

BTW, I've always had Tympanis -- originally a pair of 1D's, now a pair of IVA's -- precisely because they are generalist speakers in the way that the smaller Maggies aren't. They have plenty of slam and bass for rock, they can be stunningly realistic with classical.

Personally, I'd love to hear the LX-521 -- I've never had a chance. Martin Logans impress few -- there are more serious ESL's out there (Quad, Sanders, Sound Labs, etc.). All except the hybrid Logans would present at least some of the measurement challenges that the little LRS did, and all would require careful setup, except maybe the Sanders, which beam like a laser. (The Sanders would undoubtedly get flamed for that reason, and I tend to agree, but I'm a distinct minority here. It's true that if you want to listen to headphones without the headphones on and without the sound in the middle of your head effect the Sanders will do an amazing job.)

Anyway, yeah, I think we could all list drawbacks of Maggies. They're huge. The smaller ones don't have much bass, and even the larger ones don't have the slam of a pair of Wilsons. The large ones play loud, but not super loud (my Tymps are comfortable at 110 dB); the smaller ones don't play loud at all. They tend to be very unforgiving in that they expose distortion and studio gimmickry (but ESL's are worse, you hear every splice go by, LOL). They require careful setup and have to be out from the wall. They're power hungry. The small ones have poor tweeter dispersion (the larger ones have amazing tweeter dispersion). They aren't the best party speakers (but they're great for not disturbing the neighbors). Their lateral imaging is vague.

Not recommending the LRS? I can't agree, and neither I think can most of the people and reviewers who have heard them -- I don't think I've ever seen a speaker that produced such an enthusiastic response in those who heard it (keeping in mind the $650 price). I know of nothing comparable for that kind of money -- which isn't to say that they're the best choice for everyone. I don't think Amir, in his subjective listening, gave them a chance to show their stuff -- perhaps he wrote them off on the basis of measurements. And as for those who criticized them without hearing them -- do I even have to respond to that? Whereas I'm glad to hear the impressions of someone like you who has actual experience, and find myself in general agreement with your observations.



Josh, dude...

Statements like:

1) "Martin Logans impress few -- there are more serious ESL's out there (Quad, Sanders, Sound Labs, etc.)" -- alienating ML fans a bit -- yes? Ray, want to weigh in here?

2) " Fact is, anyone who has ever had dipoles will tell you that they need more careful setup than monopoles." -- I bet the folks at Wilson Audio might take issue with this one...

3) "more transparent than dynamics," -- again, your opinion, and one that a number of specialist/audiophile Dynamic speaker designers (not to mention end users) would not agree with....

4) "It's widely acknowledge that good two channel playback requires some contribution from the room." -- "good two channel playback" requires treating/correcting for the room, in order to negate -- or at least minimize, the negative effects of the room's acoustic "contribution"...full stop.

5) "They (Maggies) tend to be very unforgiving in that they expose distortion and studio gimmickry" -- I think we all expect well designed speakers of any type to do this, but your implication is that dynamic designs cannot do this -- or at least not as well as panels/dipoles....(Oh, wait, I hear the phone -- I think it's Daryl Wilson calling)

Aren't helping your cause here...

BTW, still waiting to hear about Magnepan's "Dipole EQ Patent" ???
 

Dialectic

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I do not understand the attack on Amir's measurements. They are quasi anechoic. He used the same methodology and equipment he uses for every other speaker test. The measurements are what they are.
Simple butthurt. Certain forum participants spread butthurt every time Amir measures a product with an enthusiastic owner base and the measurements are construed as being less than excellent.

Conversely, when Amir gives a product an 'A', every owner of that product seeks to spread his 'A'-ness far and wide.
 
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GXAlan

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They DO have quite a following—“Maggie” owners are fervent in their devotion. I knew these would be hard to measure but even given that, the results were startling—startling that they were so bizarre yet so many people seem to enjoy their sound.
What is interesting is that while “fervent” JBL owners will talk about the difference between old JBL sound and new JBL sound (and characterize it as different not better/worse, i.e. K2 S9900 vs M2) or at least a more consistent "the newer ones are better", there is more polarization among Magnepan owners about things like front vs. rear magnets.

People will spend money on shipping to restore/refurbish these Magenpans with new aftermarket enclosures, etc. instead of simply buying a new setup.

20 years ago I reviewed Magnepan MG12 for Croatian HiFi magazine. Did a quasianechoic measurement with some nearfield low freq splicing/merging. It resembeled in room response quite good.
The MG12’s were very good.

I wonder how many people have owned Maggies - or small Maggies - and gotten rid of them for a cone based speaker?
I don't think the small Magnepans are capable of generating the performance required by the magneplanar design. It's informative that the smaller panels really came about in the era of sub/sats, but that the MG 1.x and 3.x sizes are really what are needed.

I have the Magnepan MG-III and JBL S/2600 (baby Everest DD55000) as my premium systems and the JBL 4319 for a modern system. The Magnepan's do very well with acoustic guitars and vocals. There is an immediacy and speed to the guitars or violins that makes it sound hyper real. Hyper-real is a good example because you hear what seems like a pleasant shrill-ness of a Stradivarius on the Magnepan which isn't reflective of what it sounds like in a real concert hall. It makes you feel as if you are closer to the performer. Even something like Disney's All is Found from Frozen II sounds like it's something from a Chesky audiophile disc. The soundstage is large though the imaging is diffuse. In-room, large Magnepans make things sound larger than life. It's not accurate, but again, a really pleasant sound.

However, if you wanted to play something like the soundtrack from A Star is Born, there is too much compression (at least with my gear). You don't get the energy or SPLs need for the concert level volumes. Here, the JBLs sound much better. Both of my speakers are potentially subject to comb filtering. I must not be sensitive to it. The S/2600 sounds great for A Star is Born, but that same Disney sound track sounds more like a standard recording rather than an audiophile recording. Where the S/2600 does surprisingly well is for intermodulation distortion effects.

I do not doubt that you can find better speakers that work with every type of music. That said, the larger-than-life soundstage of the Magnepans is not something I've heard from Genelec's. Neither of my speakers are perfect for every type of music, which is annoying, but with the freedom to switch between speakers based upon content, I am sure I am getting more bang for the buck.

But the only Magnepan's I would buy/recommend are MG 2.5R, or the MG-III to 3.3R. After that, I think efforts to improve the sound has led to stuff like the LRS.

The very highest end Magnepans have magnets in front and behind the panel. The older magnets-in-front generate the great EQ effect. As the mylar membrane moves toward the magnets, the field flux density increases, which increases efficiency (even more excursion). That mechanism creates the acoustic "peaks" not found in the electronic signal. This is why the classic large Magnepan speakers can be so intoxicating for specific music. With larger panels, you get more bass and with true aluminum ribbons, you get more extension.

Later, Magnepan moved the magnets to the rear so that there is nothing "blocking" the mylar and it's more "transparent." This is great for audiophile advertising, but the Magnepan geometry (as seen with this LRS test) is not a low diffraction setup anyway. With rear magnets, the field flux decreases so you don't have the same "speed/attack" as before.

Whereas the front models are adding extraneous EQ, the rear magnets are also generating an attenuating EQ.

Put another way, the classic Magnepans can make bad recordings sound better. The newer ones are still very good at the premium end, but the small ones no longer have that capability to make bad recordings sound better at which point, it may make more sense to get a regular cone speaker.

For what it's worth and real-world opinions, Magnepan is still one of the oldest speaker manufacturers to rely on nearly the same fundamental technology. They have been able to maintain manufacturing in the United States and clearly the market supports the colorations of Magnepan.
 

RayDunzl

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Ah... that favorite word among audiophiles: "imaging." It seems everything is about imaging. If that word doesn't get mentioned for description of audio gear, it must suck.

No, it is not about imaging. First and foremost a speaker has to have faithful tonality. Sit in a blind test of speaker and this is by far what you brain attempts to analyze. Only when you have great and accurate tonality does imaging come in play.

Then there is the issue of artificial imaging. Much of studio recordings is not about imaging. It is about great and accurate tonality. Fantastic recording. Great dynamics. Where something lands between speakers can almost be secondary. It is artificially created anyway.

Reminds of a story I have told before along these lines:

----
At Rocky Mountain Audio Fest last year, Blue Coast music had some of their artist come and play live. After one of the performances finished, I asked Cookie Marenco (owner of the labels) if she "sweetens" the mix with reverb and such. She said of course. The signer was shocked. She said that she hated that and wanted the sound to be as we were hearing it there (dead). Cookie then asked for the audiophiles in the room to raise their hand on which way they wanted it, and all said with the reverb!

---

What you cherish is not supposed to be there all the time. It is this "sameness" that wore me off from panel speakers. Everything is not supposed to sound large and have diffused sound and "imaging."

I guess when stereo was new people fell in love with phantom imaging. I know I did back in 1960s when I was young. For people who are stuck playing music of that era maybe that is all there is. But for someone like me that lets Tidal subscription rip through album after album, I want to experience as is and not with artificial "imaging" added to it all. It gets tiring.

I know shaking the addiction to imaging is hard but if you are to enjoy all types of recorded music, you need to get there. Don't sacrifice so many other things in the name of imaging.

I could comment on every sentence in the above, and started to, but, instead, I'll just ask one question:

Why did you waste your money on a pair of speakers?

---

Ok, now for the truly ridiculous thought for which I can't quite phrase an appropriate query:

1600642356018.png
 

thewas_

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Ah... that favorite word among audiophiles: "imaging." It seems everything is about imaging. If that word doesn't get mentioned for description of audio gear, it must suck.

No, it is not about imaging. First and foremost a speaker has to have faithful tonality. Sit in a blind test of speaker and this is by far what you brain attempts to analyze. Only when you have great and accurate tonality does imaging come in play.
And interestingly even imaging strongly depends on the tonality which I long knew from the theory but was the last days impressed to see how big the influence is. I recently engineered some 3-way loudspeakers for myself and was listening to them EQed to the usual listening position target I use and the image was completely flat, stuck on the loudspeakers that I even worried that it was due to the problems in the vertical directivity as they are non-coaxial. Then I changed the correction target and my jaws dropped as not only they sounded much better but also suddenly the soundstage became at least 2-dimensional (X,Y) and I could "listen into" some well made recordings.
 

RayDunzl

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1) "Martin Logans impress few -- there are more serious ESL's out there (Quad, Sanders, Sound Labs, etc.)" -- alienating ML fans a bit -- yes? Ray, want to weigh in here?
Folks like what they like and don't like what they don't like.

Blue, or Red?
 
OP
amirm

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Thread Starter #395
And interestingly even imaging strongly depends on the tonality which I long knew from the theory but was the last days impressed to see how big the influence is. I recently engineered some 3-way loudspeakers for myself and was listening to them EQed to the usual listening position target I use and the image was completely flat, stuck on the loudspeakers that I even worried that it was due to the problems in the vertical directivity as they are non-coaxial. Then I changed the correction target and my jaws dropped as not only they sounded much better but also suddenly the soundstage became at least 2-dimensional (X,Y) and I could "listen into" some well made recordings.
Because directivity changes with frequency, it naturally changes imaging as well as you observed.
 

thewas_

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Because directivity changes with frequency, it naturally changes imaging as well as you observed.
Even with constant directivity or listening in the free field (only direct sound) our sense of direction is influenced by the tonality as I linked above from the Blauert bands (another link, but unfortunately also in German http://www.sengpielaudio.com/DieBedeutungDerBlauertschenBaender.pdf ) due to the adaptation/learning to reflection dips and different HRTFs from different directions, which is also how binaural recordings and systems like the Smyth Eealiser work.
These EQ bands are also used by sound engineers and corresponding mixing/mastering tools.
 
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josh358

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Ah... that favorite word among audiophiles: "imaging." It seems everything is about imaging. If that word doesn't get mentioned for description of audio gear, it must suck.

No, it is not about imaging. First and foremost a speaker has to have faithful tonality. Sit in a blind test of speaker and this is by far what you brain attempts to analyze. Only when you have great and accurate tonality does imaging come in play.

Then there is the issue of artificial imaging. Much of studio recordings is not about imaging. It is about great and accurate tonality. Fantastic recording. Great dynamics. Where something lands between speakers can almost be secondary. It is artificially created anyway.

Reminds of a story I have told before along these lines:

----
At Rocky Mountain Audio Fest last year, Blue Coast music had some of their artist come and play live. After one of the performances finished, I asked Cookie Marenco (owner of the labels) if she "sweetens" the mix with reverb and such. She said of course. The signer was shocked. She said that she hated that and wanted the sound to be as we were hearing it there (dead). Cookie then asked for the audiophiles in the room to raise their hand on which way they wanted it, and all said with the reverb!

---

What you cherish is not supposed to be there all the time. It is this "sameness" that wore me off from panel speakers. Everything is not supposed to sound large and have diffused sound and "imaging."

I guess when stereo was new people fell in love with phantom imaging. I know I did back in 1960s when I was young. For people who are stuck playing music of that era maybe that is all there is. But for someone like me that lets Tidal subscription rip through album after album, I want to experience as is and not with artificial "imaging" added to it all. It gets tiring.

I know shaking the addiction to imaging is hard but if you are to enjoy all types of recorded music, you need to get there. Don't sacrifice so many other things in the name of imaging.
But isn't that a matter of personal preference? To use examples with whom everyone is familiar, J. Gordon Holt didn't care about imaging, while Harry Pearson was so obsessed with it that he coined the term "soundstage."

Personally, I find it an important component of realism, though I'd give tonality the nod overall. But in practice, when I make a subjective evaluation of a speaker, I don't make it on the basis of any one criterion -- rather, my main criterion is whether it sounds *real* to me on acoustical music, and that depends on a number of factors of which imaging and tonality are two.

The one size fits all issue is real, but then, is there any way around that with conventional two channel stereo? Two channel stereo requires support from the room, otherwise it sounds dry and dead, and dipoles actually put less reverberant energy into the room than monopoles do. So it's mostly a question of where they put most of that energy: dipoles put more into the front wall, while monopoles put more to the sides above the baffle step frequency.

So dipoles tend to increase the sense of depth, monopoles of width. I don't think either is going to be realistic with all recordings, but if you suppress that room reverb by putting absorption at the first reflection points, you end up in a sonic mortuary.

Anyway, I don't personally have to choose between tonality and imaging, since I built a system that can do both and have pretty good slam as well. But few can accommodate such a system, so they have to choose what's important to them, and if you listen mostly to rock or rap or Gregorian chants I think that's going to influence the kind of speaker you choose.

Finally, there's another element that I find an important component of realism, which is to say transparency. And I'm probably going to get flamed for this, since I can't point to any one measurement that says "transparency" on it; rather I can think of several that probably affect it in varying degrees. But some speakers have it in spades, while others sound like mush. One of the things that I've always liked about the planar sound is this quality of transparency, which, IMO, adds immeasurably to the sense of realism, and the LRS certainly has it -- people commented on its "stat like" sound.
 

RayDunzl

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Unrelated yet somehow related question, considering the tangents being explored, such as "Imaging is unimportant":


Home Theater

I should think that folks who have adopted a penchant for an advanced case of big screen and placing speakers all around, occasionally under, and now even above, the listeners, particularly when playing talkies of more modern vintage, are showing some concern for Imaging, both visual and sonic?


9FIP2-1463066305-3957-list_items-perry_nimoy_freakout.gif
 

mac

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Personally, I'd love to hear the LX-521 -- I've never had a chance.
You're welcome to come hear mine but you'll have to listen to two of them at once. You know, for that "audiophile listening experience" that most of us refer to as imaging.
 

Sgt. Ear Ache

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Imaging isn't unimportant. It's just not a magical component of a specific speaker design. Good imaging is what happens when a good set of speakers is properly set up in a room.
 
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