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Magnepan LRS Speaker Review

AudioTodd

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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.
Once again this is why I have multiple speakers, front ends and amps. Sometimes I want the effects some equipment adds and sometimes I want the absolute clarity and unadulterated truth of the particular recording as it exists. Some people find an as-close-to-totally-neutral-as-possible system boring and lacking in ALL of the audiophile buzzwords, but I find getting close to the real recording very instructive and fascinating if not always “euphoric.” Sometimes I want to enjoy a few effects, like the “space” of my panel speakers or the tone control and distortion add-ons of tubes (especially SETs) and then sometimes I just want to goof around with the sound.
In the end, I recalibrate my ears with a very neutral, extremely low noise and distortion combo - validated by trusted measurements from sources like ASR.
 

AudioTodd

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Quite possibly you would not like their measurements, there are some speakers which we "subjectively" tend to like "because" of their flaws or in "spite" of them. However you want to spin it. Objective measurements are great in that you know you will get a top notch product that likely will satisfy you, but there are some speakers (things) that you just choose subjectively. The point being: If we always would be objective in all our choices, maybe we would all have a Toyota Camry as a car. Why would you even think of a Mercedes, or Ferrari?
Can’t imagine why somebody buys a Mercedes - just a car - but a Ferrari is a different animal... :)
 

RayDunzl

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The point being: If we always would be objective in all our choices, maybe we would all have a Toyota Camry as a car.
<-- 2019, Guilty as charged.

But only because my '95 Maxima manual had an "accident".

Why would you even think of a Mercedes, or Ferrari?
Audio Buddy inherited a '92 318i from our friend who is still trapped on an idle cruise ship (keyboard musician, musical director when it has to be).

I enjoy hearing about the stupidity discovered while maintaining the thing when something breaks or just wears out as much as he enjoys telling me. It's his wife's car.

He drives a '00 Civic.
 

richard12511

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I could go through the reasons why an on-axis anechoic measurement is completely inappropriate for a dipole radiator but why bother. Pearls before swine...
I would really appreciate if you did elaborate!
 

LTig

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[..] 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.
I'm not totally sure. For a few very good recordings my K&H O300D throw a bigger (and much more convincingly) soundstage than I ever remember my MG 1.6 were able to.
[..] 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.
I don't think this explanation is correct. With magnets on one side of the foil you should get 2nd order THD because the magnetic flux increases when the foil moves towards the magnets, and decreases when it moves back.

If there are magnets on both sides of the foil the increase of the flux due to the movement to the front magnets should cancel the decrease of the flux due to the movement away from the back magnets. Then the foil moves within a constant flux field, resulting in lower 2nd order THD.
 

josh358

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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.
Well, you could say that of any positive speaker quality. What's interesting are the engineering trades that affect imaging, and there are quite a few. You can properly set up two good pairs of speakers in a room and they will image quite differently as a consequence of polar pattern, phase (dipole vs. monopole, etc.), frequency response, baffle diffraction, enclosure resonances, line source vs. point source, array symmetry, crossover lobing, dispersion, the acoustical size of the transducer array, the width of the baffle, and the height of the transducers, off the top of my head.
 

Sgt. Ear Ache

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Well, you could say that of any positive speaker quality. What's interesting are the engineering trades that affect imaging, and there are quite a few. You can properly set up two good pairs of speakers in a room and they will image quite differently as a consequence of polar pattern, phase (dipole vs. monopole, etc.), frequency response, baffle diffraction, enclosure resonances, line source vs. point source, array symmetry, crossover lobing, dispersion, the acoustical size of the transducer array, the width of the baffle, and the height of the transducers, off the top of my head.
The point is it's entirely possible to get great imaging out of any good speaker (actually the speaker doesn't even have to be all that good really) without having to go the Maggie way. Particularly considering it's likely very easy to ruin that great imaging by not having them set up just right anyway (like most any speaker).
 

josh358

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The point is it's entirely possible to get great imaging out of any good speaker (actually the speaker doesn't even have to be all that good really) without having to go the Maggie way. Particularly considering it's likely very easy to ruin that great imaging by not having them set up just right anyway (like most any speaker).
Well, agree with that last! But otherwise, I guess it depends on what kind of imaging you're after. I don't now of anything like a line source for recreating a large space like a concert hall. And I don't think that's something that can be changed with room acoustics -- the HRTF and floor bounce allow us to localize the height of a point source, but not of a line source. But a point source might be better for reproducing a small ensemble. There are other considerations as well, such as how much reverberant energy is dumped into the room, and where. There isn't necessarily a right or wrong here, but the speakers will sound different.
 

Vasr

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Well I think it helps to put the general speakers performance into a more genuine light, as a ridiculously huge 160dB y-axis makes the speaker look quite smooth rather than a dogs dinner!
My point was different. The conversation you barged into was whether there was a low frequency roll-off inherent to Maggies or not, smooth or not wasn't the point being made. I posted two different examples of one without a roll-off until about 100hz so if this LRS really rolled off at 300hz as interpreted (incorrectly in my opinion for reasons I have explained many times), then it would be a worse speaker than the 25 year old SMGa. I also posted another Maggie that did have an early roll-off and that is the smallest one.

The scale wasn't relevant to the above but since you insinuated, I posted the second scaling. It has nothing to do with the point you are making and I am not interested in that discussion.
 

KaiserSoze

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It seems to me that the philosophy behind these speakers is that the reverberant sound field in creates in the room adds to the listening experience in a way that makes up for the shortcomings.

But even if so, there is one particular design flaw that cannot be overlooked or denied, which to my way of thinking makes these speakers non-starters. The tweeter is located beside the woofer, and the crossover point, judging from the graphs, is around 1 kHz. The wavelength at this frequency is 13.5 inches. How wide is the speaker? What is the horizontal separation distance between the horizontal midpoint of the woofer and the horizontal midpoint of the tweeter? In order for there not to be nulls at the crossover frequency, somewhere in the forward-radiation space of the speaker, this wavelength needs to be at least twice greater than the width of the speaker. There are 3-way studio monitors where the woofer is located to one side of the midrange-tweeter stack. In these speakers, the crossover from the woofer to the midrange is typically 300 to 400 Hz, such that the wavelength is about one meter, which is probably more than 3x the horizontal distance separating the woofer from the midrange. So with that type of 3-way studio monitor that rests on its side, there isn't a problem. But with this speaker, this is a very big problem, especially if the crossover filters aren't very steep. In order to correct this problem, the crossover point would need to be moved much lower. But then the issue would be with whether the tweeter side is able to play as low as would then need to play. So to fix that, the tweeter side has to be made bigger, which means wider, which affects the directivity. There isn't any way to fix it. Anyone who desires this type of listening experience, where sound energy reflected from the wall behind the speaker contributes very greatly to what you hear, would likely find the Linkwitz approach much better, where conventional drivers are used to achieve the same class of radiation pattern.
 

xarkkon

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Sure - even amirm's nearfield measurement is much closer to his in-room measurement than Kippel's pir.
assuming the nearfield is in the same room as the in-room measurement, isn't that to be expected? my simple understanding is that given the myriad of room types, the PIR gives a baseline that then ultimately differs across use experiences based on user rooms.
 

DonH56

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I don't follow the comments re. magnets and efficiency. Front or rear, the panel rests a set distance from the magnets, and for all models but the 20's and 30's there is only one set of magnets. The panel when driven by a signal moves back and forth, e.g. closer and further from the magnets, relative to its resting position. Yes the magnetic field increases as the panel moves closer to the magnets, but then it should ideally move an equal distance away as the signal changes polarity, so whether the magnets are mounted front or rear the efficiency/sensitivity/distortion/etc. is the same given the panel moves to and fro in response to an AC signal.
 
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This is so funny...pages of measurements which do not mean squat and just a few sentences on listening impressions probably based on a non-ideal set up. Your non-recommendation is the lonely negative review of such a bargain set of speakers. Many reviewers have praised these speakers. Put down your voltmeter and learn to appreciate music reproduction using listening skills and proper set up. That is the problem with these kind of sites....
 

matt3421

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This is so funny...pages of measurements which do not mean squat and just a few sentences on listening impressions probably based on a non-ideal set up. Your non-recommendation is the lonely negative review of such a bargain set of speakers. Many reviewers have praised these speakers. Put down your voltmeter and learn to appreciate music reproduction using listening skills and proper set up.
^ lol
 

xarkkon

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This is so funny...pages of measurements which do not mean squat and just a few sentences on listening impressions probably based on a non-ideal set up. Your non-recommendation is the lonely negative review of such a bargain set of speakers. Many reviewers have praised these speakers. Put down your voltmeter and learn to appreciate music reproduction using listening skills and proper set up. That is the problem with these kind of sites....
check out the latest edifier review by amir. he actually has recommended speakers with poor measurements before
 
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If amir had done a better job setting these speakers properly he would have been blown away...but he did not. I have owned many speakers in my life, including the Dunlavy SCVs (please research them). I presently own Maggies 3.6s which are a freaking miracle in terms of reproducing music. Yes, it takes a long time to find the sweep spot and most Maggies will require sub augmentation. But please do not end a review of the LRS with a non-recommendation...it undermines the whole ASR effort. This was a blown review, pure and simple.
 
OP
amirm

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do you have specifics on how it was 'blown'??
Let's not encourage him to curse me more in one day! Let's ration it across a few days....
 
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I would really appreciate if you did elaborate!
The crux of the matter is the design intent. For any dipole or bipole radiator, the ROOM IS PART OF THE DESIGNER'S INTENDED SOUND. By discarding the room sounds and measuring only the anechoic response, you discard almost half of the expected acoustic. That's why dipole and bipole radiating speakers come with specific instructions as to room placement. If the speakers are to be measured, both the distance from the speaker and the distance from the speaker to reflecting walls, ceilings, and floors are critical. To measure a panel speaker near field or in an anechoic environment is the equivalent of placing a "bookshelf" speaker in a corner and on the floor for measurement.

For any planar-magnetic or electrostatic panel, the width of the radiating surface is also an issue. Although Amirm uses multiple averaged measurements across the panel dimensions, this (again) ignores the designer's intent. Specific peaks and dips in the frequency response ARE inherent in the physical geometry of the panel, but those irregularities are also taken into account (by the designer) in the room placement. To measure the panel characteristics in isolation (ignoring the effect of the room, again) distorts the design intent of the speaker.

And finally, the distortion characteristics of the panel speaker have been measured in isolation. In the case of the LRS, yes, the distortion may rise precipitously above 10 watts, but the average listener uses the speaker at one or less watts. Want lower distortion at higher power levels? Buy bigger panels with more radiating area!

I concede that Amirm's measurements are accurate within their (gross) limitations, but I strongly dispute, due to the way that they were taken, that the measurements are at all useful in evaluating the actual sound of the speaker in situ. Any conclusion drawn from these measurements is a disservice to any reader trying to understand the speakers' sound. You're free to argue this if you wish, but the designer would almost certainly agree with me - the ROOM is an inherent part of the design and any attempt to measure the speaker in acoustic isolation is grossly misleading.
 
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