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Magnepan LRS Speaker Review

richard12511

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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.
You say this as if Magnepan speakers being "great" and "worthy of recommendation" is some kind of objective truth...
 

Wes

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In science, there is always the nagging doubt whether what we are measuring (i.e. the operational definition of a variable) is actually what we want to know. We are pretty convinced that the Klippel system does a good approximation with box speakers, but there are doubts with panels: would all panels show these issues, or just this particular and possibly flawed design? My guess is that a good way forward would be to test what is probably an undisputed high class panel speaker like the modern Quads. The practical snag seems to be that they may be too large to fit the Klippel set up. Alternatively, one could try to measure a Linkwitz design. They are not panels, but at least they are dipoles.
Quite true - this review reminds me of people trying to "take the laboratory into the field" in certain areas of physiology. It has been done with heat exchange studies, energetics, and endocrinology (in the latter, samples of tears could be taken right after an animal is captured with no harm to the animal and analyzed in the lab).

While I appreciate the work to do these tests, their applicability to use in a room is not known, and likely low. I'd like to see larger panels measured to see the differences too.

The "take it on faith" post is a canard. You need to listen to Maggies. People often take special trips to hear expensive speakers, tho not for ones at this price range. A few years ago I urged Wendell to take a pair of speakers and let customers listen to them for a fee, then ship to the next customer. The large size of maggies is a real detriment to their use and evaluation.
 
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richard12511

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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.
Went ahead and ordered a pair, though it seems it might be awhile(4-8 weeks) before I can hear them.
 

AudioTodd

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Quite true - this review reminds me of people trying to "take the laboratory into the field" in certain areas of physiology. It has been done with heat exchange studies, energetics, and endocrinology (in the latter, samples of tears could be taken right after an animal is captured with no harm to the animal and analyzed in the lab).

While I appreciate the work to do these tests, their applicability to use in a room is not known, and likely low. I'd like to see larger panels measured to see the differences too.

The "take it on faith" post is a canard. You need to listen to Maggies. People often take special trips to hear expensive speakers, tho not for ones at this price range. A few years ago I urged Wendell to take a pair of speakers and let customers listen to them for a fee, then ship to the next customer. The large size of maggies is a real detriment to their use and evaluation.
A good idea. They would need to create an easier-to-repack and more durable shipping system, but that would be a minor expense I expect recouped in added sales - at least to customers like myself that like the sound and the contrast with conventional dynamic speakers. They are not to everyone’s taste - as this thread shows - but worth listening to, if only for the educational aspect.
 

whazzup

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Link to Klippel robot below , now that Amir involved himself for task and also published his work its hard to imagine Amir cant resolve acoustics of dipole this size but S. Linkwitz or others can :)..
https://www.klippel.de/products/rd-system/modules/nfs-near-field-scanner.html
Thanks, been to the site before, but I guess I don't quite understand how they calculate the effects of reflected waves from drivers that fire in a different direction. Is it similar to how they calculate the effects of ceiling / floor reflections? So does Klippel treat the backwave like a reflection from the back wall? And that they 'know' and has already accounted for the fact that a dipole's backwave is 'stronger'?

Not a technical person, so just seeking to understand a bit more of how the Klippel deals with unconventional speakers from a layman's perspective. Or maybe there's some section of their documentation that talks precisely about this.
 

TheGhostOfEugeneDebs

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Thanks, been to the site before, but I guess I don't quite understand how they calculate the effects of reflected waves from drivers that fire in a different direction. Is it similar to how they calculate the effects of ceiling / floor reflections? So does Klippel treat the backwave like a reflection from the back wall? And that they 'know' and has already accounted for the fact that a dipole's backwave is 'stronger'?

Not a technical person, so just seeking to understand a bit more of how the Klippel deals with unconventional speakers from a layman's perspective. Or maybe there's some section of their documentation that talks precisely about this.
I've been perusing their documentation and can't find anything indicating that they contemplated use of the machine for dipole/bipole speakers. Everything points to the drivers needing to be pointing in a specific direction. I'm a lawyer, not an engineer though, so much of the technical language is passing through me, rather than being fully understood.
 
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amirm

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There seems to be continued confusion on how Klippel NFS works. The system absolutely does NOT care what the source looks like. I don't tell it for example that a speaker is 2-way, has ports, where those are, etc. All I tell the system is the boundary of the speaker so it doesn't attempt to drive the microphone and hit it. The speaker is a black box that generates a spherical waveform that the system attempts to compute by taking many samples around the speaker and solving a set of equations that can then be used to compute the sound field in any point in space.

Here is a simple analogy. Let's say we have a perfect amplifier. It outputs what it is input but with gain. If we plotted its response, it would look like a flat line line these:



If we sampled the system at two X/Y points and then drew a line between them, then we could predict the output for any input, not just the two we measured. Importantly, we would not care what the system is. It could be an amplifier or a car steering system. If it is linear, those two points will be enough to fully describe its function across infinite points. The equation we would have solved is Y = A * X. "A" gives us the slope and that is all we need here.

Now if the system is not linear, then we would need an equation with more terms in it to describe it. The more complicated the response, the higher number of parameters (coefficients) we need. Within some accuracy error, if computational power and number of measurement points are high enough, we could solve just about any system response. This is how Klippel NFS works in a nutshell.

Note that even a simple box speaker is not a simple source. Diffraction, ports that can be anywhere, etc. are all sound sources that combine into some complex waveform that travels in space. Ironically, the worse the speaker is, the more complex its waveform becomes as it has many sound sources instead of a clean point or plane wave.

As I showed in the outset of this review, Klippel NFS system is self-checking. It will sample and compute the soundfield. But then compares the computed soundfield to real measurement points in the 3-D space and compute the difference. If the difference is small, you are assured of accuracy. There is no process of computing and praying the measurements are accurate. We know how accurate they are.

So back to the question of dipoles, no, it makes no difference to Klippel system that a speaker is dipole or not. It simply generates a soundfield that is sampled and wave equations solved for it. That said, complexity of the soundfield did become great in upper treble:



Fortunately the bulk of the issues we see in Magnepan LRS are at lower frequencies where the accuracy is way below 1%. And even above, the overall picture is correct:



So please don't ask if "klippel took into account a dipole speaker." The math doesn't care any more than a Dyno would care what engine technology it is measuring the horsepower and torque for.
 

Juhazi

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Sure. Minimum distance is 1.13 meter:

View attachment 83882

2 meters:
View attachment 83883

3 meters:
View attachment 83884

4 meters:
View attachment 83885

Edit: note that that vertical scales are not the same above. I just did a quick copy and paste rather than setting everything up the same.
Sorry to interfere, but which of these on-axis responses is right?

NFS takes measurements on semi-nearfield and extrapolates these at distance wanted. A tall multiway speaker needs more distance to sum right than a typical shoebox two-way tested here at ASR.

I have no comments about LRS, never seen or heard any Magnepans...
 

xykreinov

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No offense, but you don't have the foggiest notion of what you're talking about. Maggies are noted for their uncanny *realism* with acoustical music, not the other way around.

I would humbly suggest that anyone who hasn't actually heard Maggies refrain from commenting on their sound quality, because there is a distinct pattern here -- those who haven't ever heard the things are critical of them, while those who have actually heard them praise them. Not to put too fine a point on it, anyone who comments on the sound of something he's never heard is making a fool of himself.
I agree that, in most regards, it's foolish to comment on the sound of something one has never heard. Though there isn't really any reason for you to assume it's the case beyond the negativity of my remark, I indeed have not heard maggies.
But, what's crucial is that I was commenting in context of Amirm's review. While Amirm disliked the LRS, he did notice how different it sounded. I just think it's important to make light of how it's not uncommon in the audiophile world for people to mistake different for better, because they don't really understand what better means. Most tube amps are great example of such. People like hearing the "warmth" of their music through tubes. But, the reality in most cases is that they don't specifically like the distortion of the sound, they like the difference in it, because the same thing over and over again tending to be boring is part of the human condition.
 
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TheGhostOfEugeneDebs

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So please don't ask if "klippel took into account a dipole speaker." The math doesn't care any more than a Dyno would care what engine technology it is measuring the horsepower and torque for.
This analogy actually works the other way too. The engine technology can be the same, but the output method will make a substantive difference. Dyno an AWD car on a 2 wheel dyno and you won't get accurate results. Dyno one wheel of a car with an open differential and you won't get accurate results. You'll get *results* and you can probably tell something about the vehicle and the engine and even estimate the power in some respect or another, but you can see why someone would question things. I'm not suggesting your measurements are wrong. I'm just in the camp of people wondering if there's more to measuring different kinds of speakers.
 

StefaanE

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The "take it on faith" post is a canard. You need to listen to Maggies. People often take special trips to hear expensive speakers, tho not for ones at this price range
But the argument is that they depend on the room, so taking a trip to a different room is useless. You need to listen to them in your room, and if that room doesn’t meet certain requirements they’ll sound bad (which, by the way, is exactly what the measurements tell us), but somehow, it’s not a problem with the speakers, but with the room. That’s a bad case of heads you win, tails I lose.
 
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amirm

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I would normally be very careful of using any marketing images from any company. They are commissioned by the marketing department, are shot by professional photographers, usually with a graphic designer, and often done in a hurry. They typically have no input from any part of engineering, and are selected purely on looks and how they fit the marketing message. In order to get a good looking photograph typically all manner of indignities will be inflicted on the engineering elements of the device being marketed. You have no assurance that anything in a marketing shot is set up in a manner that the engineers would prefer. My first thought on the picture in question was that it was a typical studio setup, and the void to the left simply the rest of the studio space. However, what appears to be cat scratching post suggests it really is a real living room. However, critically, there is no place for a listening chair. Given the nature of Maggies, there is no way this is a real room setup.
Your assumptions are generally not correct. The marketing photos are usually generated by buying stock images of beautiful homes and photoshopping the speakers into them. This is why you don't see cables, interconnects, other gear, etc in these shots. It would be a huge expense to take speakers into people's expensive homes to photograph them the way you imagine. I know this because I worked with a number of audio/electronics companies to get their "lifestyle" images for our website and they would give me the photoshop files with the layers clearly showing the stock room with no electronics and the other layers with pictures of gear.

The Magnepan site is decidedly low budget, resembling what the web looked like in ancient times. :) The pictures as such are real and likely customer ones. Here is the one I showed again:



The seating position is where the camera is placed. It is a U-shaped sofa. So definitely real. And definitely asymmetrical.

Compare that to typical photoshopped marketing image:



No equipment rack. No way to get cables to those speakers without ruining this look, etc.

Bottom line, the assertion was incorrect. Every speaker manufacturer likes to have customers use symmetrical spaces. There is nothing unique about Magnepan.
 

NTK

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Sorry to interfere, but which of these on-axis responses is right?

NFS takes measurements on semi-nearfield and extrapolates these at distance wanted. A tall multiway speaker needs more distance to sum right than a typical shoebox two-way tested here at ASR.

I have no comments about LRS, never seen or heard any Magnepans...
That's why Amir provided this plot.

Magnepan LRS Ribbon Speaker Transition from Near to Far field Mesaurements.png
 
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amirm

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Sorry to interfere, but which of these on-axis responses is right?
"Right" according to what? Here is how CTA-2034 dictates the measurements:

1600715536503.png


By default NFS uses the above formula. I can override it but it is not necessary as you saw in those series of measurements and convergence which NTK showed you above.
 
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amirm

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This analogy actually works the other way too. The engine technology can be the same, but the output method will make a substantive difference. Dyno an AWD car on a 2 wheel dyno and you won't get accurate results. Dyno one wheel of a car with an open differential and you won't get accurate results. You'll get *results* and you can probably tell something about the vehicle and the engine and even estimate the power in some respect or another, but you can see why someone would question things. I'm not suggesting your measurements are wrong. I'm just in the camp of people wondering if there's more to measuring different kinds of speakers.
And so if someone told you they are using the right dyno for all car configs, please don't keep questioning it by saying, "I don't understand how cars or transmissions work but surely a dyno can't work right for diesel versus gas engine as they generate power different. Heck one has a spark plug and the other does not!!!"
 
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Hi there im new , and just seen this topic posted and thought damned , thats a must read !!! :)
Its in my ally i must admit :) i make planar magnetic speakers for myself and my Youtube Channel.. and i always wondered why everyone was raving about these. and misnamed them TIme after time as a ribbon... well nothing ribbon here but anyways. you do use some weird measurements i must admit. (you treat them as a line source. witch they are not by far, they are to small :( something in between that creates all kinds of weird things)
another thing is you cant use near field measurements to make a a FR response using big OB speakers. like electrostatics or planars. they are all compensated for rolloff + the fact the mediocre line source still will create much more low end compared to top end. (like far less 16Khz compared to lets say 3khz) i dont know how klippel does compensate for far field.. since it is not a point source and open baffle most common tactics dont work... like minus 6db doubling distance... for a point source... but it is only minus 3 for a line source. and it is a line source for some frequency.. not the perfect one i must admit but stil. if you derive your measurements from close measurements. you might have shown here something that does not resembles a planar or electrostatic speaker of this size ? maybe you did fix that, i just could not find it.

But i did do a tiny victory jump since i noticed the 300-500 hz hump is common even in this version, in there SMGA a speaker that, in my believe is the grandfather this one is coming from.... (same budget to) looks like they just changed out wire for foil and changed housing (less wide) and filtering (but left in the 500 hz hump that states there efficiency.......standing 4-5 db more proud of the rest) dont get me wrong i can enjoy Magnepans for sure even still!. but since i make these kind of speaker myself as well i do know there limitations. and i must say its a fresh breath of air to see someone doing some proper measurements besides the epic high end .... people all raving. without any measurements !! and just say you need a better amp.... since really depending on how loud you play.. i always managed to play my speakers with the cheapest gear a guy can find. 3 or 4 ohm is not all that insane for a normal amplifier unless you use some tube stuff. that is the weirdest choice for these kind of speakers to begin with.

my channel about planar, rubanoides, esl, ribbons etc is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeBox1lGM29f72KL2KrDm7A

although i build allot. there is still sooooo much to learn. and i really enjoyed the insane in depth measurements of a commercial planar for a change ! still got some questions about the method used but any how , nice work !!!!!! and hell im no expert !
 

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Lord knows I've seen it a lot on other forums, but it never ceases to amaze how angry people get at a bad review or bad measurement of equipment they know and like.

I had Maggies (IIIa), and enjoyed them for several years. Then Thiels (CS3.6), now Harbeth (SHL5+AE). All of these speakers have devoted fans and some significant design trade-offs relative to the Olive ideal that is favored here. So what? I don't run off my mouth as if my pleasure (and that of many others') listening to Harbeth proves Olive & Co. wrong. I also 'get' the room experience of Maggies, although they had drawbacks/distractions with some of my favorite listening material that sent me searching for something else.

Even if you are full on subjective, it should still be interesting what might be in your head or your own preferences. You don't have to be in a rush to chase it out just because someone thinks it might be one of those things after some measurements.

Cripes!
 

TheGhostOfEugeneDebs

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And so if someone told you they are using the right dyno for all car configs, please don't keep questioning it by saying, "I don't understand how cars or transmissions work but surely a dyno can't work right for diesel versus gas engine as they generate power different. Heck one has a spark plug and the other does not!!!"
We're not talking about sound output material. It's not about the difference between beryllium drivers vs aluminum and things the machine would never notice. The distinction is that one outputs sound in one direction, the other outputs sound in two directions. You can *say* you have the right dyno for all configurations of engines, but a dyno doesn't measure *spark plugs* it measures output *at the wheels*. So, different wheel outputs = different dyno configurations. It's a totally reasonable question to wonder if the device used for measurement is designed with esoteric output models in mind. It's weirder, in my mind, to *not* question things like that. Nobody is going to make a dyno for my one off 5 wheel off-road concept vehicle with 3 open differentials because that would be a stupid waste, so I'm going to question your magic all-purpose dyno.

I mean, for goodness sake, I'm not even trying to defend the LRS or shit on your review; I've never heard it, don't want one, and will continue to fund your experimentation through patreon. You could very well be totally right: it has no bass and sounds wonky in exactly the way it's measured! But we've got only one panel speaker put to the test. Why am I being mocked for the entirely reasonable curiosity if this is an appropriate methodology for panel speakers - considering they are, after all, a totally esoteric, oddballish and rarer speaker design?
 
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Going above and beyond :D. Results line up with most reviews when reading between the lines. I suspect a lot of the problems emanate from the mid and tweeter sharing the same membrane. Issues kinda shared by coax dynamic drivers.
sharing the membrane is not a big deal. at all. the tweeter plays on the side where there is hardly any movement. and the tweeter most certainly wont move the foil much
 
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There is a fundamental misunderstanding here on the part of people who are arguing that the measurements aren't valid because it is a dipole speaker and the measurement approach doesn't work for dipole speakers.

If a dipole speaker does not perform well when measured as a normal front-radiating speaker, how would placing it in a room and measuring the room response eliminate or compensate for the problems identified when measuring the speaker as a normal front-radiating speaker? The only way this could possibly happen would be if the speaker were set so far back into a deep room that all the acoustic energy radiated into the horizontal space surrounding the speaker mixed together in a homogeneous fashion such that the direct response did not dominate the sound you heard. Maybe if you had a room that was twice as deep as wide and you placed these speakers and one end and you sat back at the other end to listen, this might happen, and it might then make sense to think that the problems that Amir identified would not matter.

This speaker has a wide tweeter and a wide woofer located side-by-side, using a crossover frequency at 1 kHz, where the wavelength is large in relation to the horizontal distance separating the woofer and the tweeter. There just isn't any way that a speaker of this sort will exhibit uniform tonality across the forward radiation space.

Does anyone think that Linkwitz's designs would have the same kinds of problems? I can't think of any reason why they would. To the best of my knowledge none of his designs place the tweeter side-by-side with the woofer and with the crossover wavelength only 1/3 meter. I would be stunned if Linkwitz had ever design a speaker like this, or would have ever considered something like this. I said this before and I'll say it again: For anyone who likes the psychoacoustic effect that Linkwitz strongly preferred, where room reflections contribute greatly to what you hear but do this in a very particular way, you need to look for speakers where the woofer and tweeter are not located side-by-side. It is preposterous for the woofer and tweeter to be placed side-by-side in this manner. It is a total non-starter. Linkwitz understood this perfectly well, and this is fundamentally the reason that he designed his dipole speakers using conventional drivers.

If Linkwitz' Orion or LX521 were measured by Amir using the same setup he used for this small Maggie, the Linkwitz' speaker would in all likelihood measure exceptionally well without the difficulties that Amir encountered in taking measurements of this speaker.
except for nearfield :)
 
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