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Magnepan LRS Speaker Review

3DLight

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One might expect a speaker over 3x the price to sound better. I’m only beginning my audio journey, and I am fairly aware of the limitations of the LRS, but the strengths are also hard to ignore. I’ll certainly be getting more speakers over the years so I can have fun comparing and contrasting. The speakers are, as Amir mentioned very very difficult to place. I’ve set them up in 3 different rooms now, and each of them like a completely different setup to sound their best. Very finicky, and for that reason alone I have to agree in part with Amir’s review. But if you have some tenacity and like messing with them, you’ll find a good arrangement for your room.

all that said, I do need to hear a lot more speakers before I can be relied on for an opinion. But having my jaw drop on a regular basis when listening to these things ain’t bad;)
 
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My first set of decent speakers were the original maggies. They started rattling and buzzing and I got rid of them but I miss them. These are cheap enough and I might have to pick up a pair and a respectable amp.
 

MrPeabody

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I've had the LRS for getting close to a year. Much respect to Amir. While his review certainly does point out valid issues with the speaker, it also omits some things that are harder to define. Since listening to Magnepans, I've had a hard time going back to box speakers due to the obvious resonance of their cabinets. They sound like they are inside a box, while the LRS sounds open. People say transparent. Maybe?, but I prefer the term, open. I can see Amir puts little value in that, or perhaps he simply has other open-baffle speakers that do it better? I don't know.

I can hear the limitations of the frequency response, and I'll be getting other speakers to add to my collection that have better responses... but it's going to be very hard not to go back to the open sound of Maggies.

If someone that disregards Maggies due to this review have never heard them, I would suggest they try a listen. It was the 1.7i that sold me on a pair. The LRS aren't quite as good, but they share many similarities in tone and of course that wonderful open sound. I've never heard strings and vocals on any box speaker that rivals the Maggies, but hey, I have a lot to learn, so that may not mean much;)
If there are resonances of any sort they will show up very plainly in the frequency response. The "open" sound that you like is most likely the effect of the reflected sound from the wall behind the speakers. Some people like this effect, some people don't. For people who like it, there are other choices in dipole radiators that don't have the issues that Amir identified with the LRS. The biggest issues were mostly due to the use of a very large "tweeter" located lateral to the woofer as opposed to above or below the woofer. There are some dipole speakers where the only drawback is the issue with bass (which is easily overcome with the help of a subwoofer). The first time I listened to Magnepan speakers was almost forty years ago. I liked the effect of the sound reflected from the wall behind the speaker. I thought it added a sense of realism, while the other people I was with at the time thought it seemed unnatural.
 

amper42

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The first time I listened to Magnepan speakers was almost forty years ago. I liked the effect of the sound reflected from the wall behind the speaker. I thought it added a sense of realism, while the other people I was with at the time thought it seemed unnatural.
Forty years ago I bought the Ohm F. They had 360 degree sound dispersion which I had not experienced before. As a musician, it was an inviting sound that reminded me of real instruments, but it suffered from a lack of dynamics and when I drove them too loud the bottom surround (at the base) detached from the cone. I thought these speakers sounded great for acoustic instruments. As long as you were aware of their short comings they were fun to listen to. However, they wouldn't last long with some of the bass candy I listen to today. :D


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If there are resonances of any sort they will show up very plainly in the frequency response. The "open" sound that you like is most likely the effect of the reflected sound from the wall behind the speakers. Some people like this effect, some people don't. For people who like it, there are other choices in dipole radiators that don't have the issues that Amir identified with the LRS. The biggest issues were mostly due to the use of a very large "tweeter" located lateral to the woofer as opposed to above or below the woofer. There are some dipole speakers where the only drawback is the issue with bass (which is easily overcome with the help of a subwoofer). The first time I listened to Magnepan speakers was almost forty years ago. I liked the effect of the sound reflected from the wall behind the speaker. I thought it added a sense of realism, while the other people I was with at the time thought it seemed unnatural.
That room filling sound Is what I miss about my old pair. I concur that it's reflected sound that makes them sound so big even with out much bass impact. My brother and I built these plywood wedges that we placed behind the speaker to project the sound up to reflect off the ceiling but the room was so small that it made almost no discernable difference.
 

MrPeabody

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That room filling sound Is what I miss about my old pair. I concur that it's reflected sound that makes them sound so big even with out much bass impact. My brother and I built these plywood wedges that we placed behind the speaker to project the sound up to reflect off the ceiling but the room was so small that it made almost no discernable difference.
There used to be some conventional forward-radiating speakers that placed an extra tweeter on the back of the speaker to achieve a similar effect. I recall, I think, that Snell used to do this sometimes. And of course Bose did it with some speakers at one point in time. And the original Revel Ultima Salon and Studio speakers had a rear-facing tweeter. And of course Definitive technology has long been making those speakers with a pair (or three) rear-facing drivers the same as the front-facing drivers. While not dipole radiators, these speakers all produce that room-filling sound effect. In upper treble the radiation pattern is similar to a dipole radiator owing to the directivity of the tweeters at high frequency. So the most obvious difference between these speakers and a true dipole is that everywhere in the spectrum except for the upper treble, the radiation pattern of these speakers will be either omnidirectional (at lower bass) or else somewhere between omnidirectional and front-radiating. So, while this type of speaker does not have all of the properties that Linkwitz sought with the dipole design, they nevertheless have some of those same properties. And they don't have the bass problem that all dipole radiators have. I've thought about all this many times over the years, and my thought is that the dipole approach may well be the best approach were it not for the bass problem. I don't have a sense of whether it is best to have a pattern that is omnidirectional at the deep bass and switches to cardioid or the dipole pattern in an abrupt way in the mid bass, vs. a pattern that transitions gradually from the omnidirectional pattern at deep bass to the dipole pattern at high frequency. I think this is an interesting question, and the only way to answer it, I think, would be through extended listening of both types. Sometimes when I think about the next speaker I might build, I think about the rear of the speaker having a small tweeter and a midrange, with a slow rolloff and a knob for adjusting the level. And then I realize that Definitive Technology has been building this kind of speaker for a long while.
 

dreite

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Dipole bass is not a problem.....it's an advantage. :)
My primary woofer system in the main listening room (for the last 22 years) is a dipole bass scheme based on the Linkwitz Phoenix.
And before that a variety of DIY panel speakers with open-baffle bass dating back to the early 80's.

Box speakers (of any type) are second-rate bass transducers, at best.

I suggest to do some extended listening.

Dave.
 
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And they don't have the bass problem that all dipole radiators have.
I realise that you are probably meaning the front/rear wave cancellation, but the reality is speakers of all types have a bass problem - namely the room. Given that a well-designed dipole has less interaction with the room it does have a definite advantage.

I posted this recently on another thread so apologies for repeating myself - it's the conclusion from Linkwitz's 1998 AES paper investigating the differences between monopole and dipole woofers:

"The investigation showed that measurable and audible quality differences exist between monopolar and dipolar woofers due to differences in their respective interactions with the room. The degree of these differences is difficult to predict and will depend upon the specifics of a room and the placement of woofer and listener. However, the dipolar source can be expected to interact less strongly with the room and will, therefore, on average convey greater detail and resolution of complex low frequency material."
 

dreite

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I realise that you are probably meaning the front/rear wave cancellation, but the reality is speakers of all types have a bass problem - namely the room. Given that a well-designed dipole has less interaction with the room it does have a definite advantage."
Yes indeed. Well put.
Front/back cancellation effects of a dipole configuration should be well understood by most. But that is one of the 'practical' considerations of this approach and not something that represents a "problem", per se.
For those of us that have experienced the quality of the bass reproduction resulting from this approach, the trade-offs necessary are understandable.

Dave.
 

MrPeabody

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I realise that you are probably meaning the front/rear wave cancellation, but the reality is speakers of all types have a bass problem - namely the room. Given that a well-designed dipole has less interaction with the room it does have a definite advantage.

I posted this recently on another thread so apologies for repeating myself - it's the conclusion from Linkwitz's 1998 AES paper investigating the differences between monopole and dipole woofers:

"The investigation showed that measurable and audible quality differences exist between monopolar and dipolar woofers due to differences in their respective interactions with the room. The degree of these differences is difficult to predict and will depend upon the specifics of a room and the placement of woofer and listener. However, the dipolar source can be expected to interact less strongly with the room and will, therefore, on average convey greater detail and resolution of complex low frequency material."
I recall reading this quote a number of years ago, and I even recall the uneasy feeling that it gave me when I first read it. In the first sentence he asserts in essence that the measurable and audible quality differences between monopolar and dipolar woofers are due expressly to differences in their respective interactions with the room. This statement is not sincere if it happens that the primary reason for the differences between the two types of woofer is the mutual cancellation between the front and rear waves with dipole woofers. In order for him to have been fully honest and open, he would need to have written something like, "The investigation showed that the primary source of differences in the quality of monopolar and dipolar woofers is not cancellation between the two out-of-phase wavefronts in a dipolar woofer. Rather, the investigation showed that the primary source of differences was the way the two kinds of woofer interact with the room." The thing about the elephant in the room is that whenever anyone who isn't blind seems not to see it, they are only pretending not to see it. Dipole and monopole woofers do differ in the way they interact with the room, but this is mainly because with dipole woofers at very low frequency, there is barely any interaction with the the room, because of the mutual cancellation.

For anyone with a genuine desire to have a more informed understanding of this question, there are simple experiments that may be done. If you have a subwoofer with two active drivers (and no port or passive radiator), you can simply reverse the polarity for one of the two drivers. If you think there might be a difference for the case where the two drivers are facing the same direction vs. facing the opposite direction, then you would need a subwoofer where the two drivers are facing opposite directions. Or you can use two identical subwoofers, and for one of them, you can reverse the polarity in the signal feed. You will likely find that the effect is not the least bit subtle, no matter how you orient the two subwoofers relative to each other, except when your listening position is much nearer to one of them than to the other one. A commonly used way to tell whether two full-range speakers are wired with the same polarity is to stand equidistant from them and listen to how much bass there is, and to listen to whether the bass increases or decreases when you move from a location that is much nearer to one than the other, to a location in the middle. Another revealing experiment, which everyone who has ever tinkered with speaker building has done casually and on multiple occasions, is to simply listen to the sound of a woofer that has been suspended in free air. If you stand a few feet away from it and listen, it will sound very much like a midrange driver and not at all like a woofer. The primary and obvious reason for the difference in the sound quality between dipolar woofers and monopolar woofers is not the difference in the way they each interact with the room. The primary and obvious reason for the difference in the sound quality between dipolar woofers and monopolar woofers is the mutual cancellation between the front and rear waves with dipole woofers.
 
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dreite

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Well, I'm sure SL appreciates you labeling him not fully honest and open and providing corrected statements for him.
My goodness.
Is it your understanding that most folks posting here are some sort of newbies that don't have any audio background or experience?

But it's me that's the troll and not you? Classic! :)

Dave.
 
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I recall reading this quote a number of years ago, and I even recall the uneasy feeling that it gave me when I first read it. In the first sentence he asserts in essence that the measurable and audible quality differences between monopolar and dipolar woofers are due expressly to differences in their respective interactions with the room. This statement is not sincere if it happens that the primary reason for the differences between the two types of woofer is the mutual cancellation between the front and rear waves with dipole woofers. In order for him to have been fully honest and open, he would need to have written something like, "The investigation showed that the primary source of differences in the quality of monopolar and dipolar woofers is not cancellation between the two out-of-phase wavefronts in a dipolar woofer. Rather, the investigation showed that the primary source of differences was the way the two kinds of woofer interact with the room." The thing about the elephant in the room is that whenever anyone who isn't blind seems not to see it, they are only pretending not to see it. Dipole and monopole woofers do differ in the way they interact with the room, but this is mainly because with dipole woofers at very low frequency, there is barely any interaction with the the room, because of the mutual cancellation.

For anyone with a genuine desire to have a more informed understanding of this question, there are simple experiments that may be done. If you have a subwoofer with two active drivers (and no port or passive radiator), you can simply reverse the polarity for one of the two drivers. If you think there might be a difference for the case where the two drivers are facing the same direction vs. facing the opposite direction, then you would need a subwoofer where the two drivers are facing opposite directions. Or you can use two identical subwoofers, and for one of them, you can reverse the polarity in the signal feed. You will likely find that the effect is not the least bit subtle, no matter how you orient the two subwoofers relative to each other, except when your listening position is much nearer to one of them than to the other one. A commonly used way to tell whether two full-range speakers are wired with the same polarity is to stand equidistant from them and listen to how much bass there is, and to listen to whether the bass increases or decreases when you move from a location that is much nearer to one than the other, to a location in the middle. Another revealing experiment, which everyone who has ever tinkered with speaker building has done casually and on multiple occasions, is to simply listen to the sound of a woofer that has been suspended in free air. If you stand a few feet away from it and listen, it will sound very much like a midrange driver and not at all like a woofer. The primary and obvious reason for the difference in the sound quality between dipolar woofers and monopolar woofers is not the difference in the way they each interact with the room. The primary and obvious reason for the difference in the sound quality between dipolar woofers and monopolar woofers is the mutual cancellation between the front and rear waves with dipole woofers.
Unfortunately, you have a way of writing that comes across as arrogant and condescending. I have no problem with you disagreeing with SL's findings (although I think you are wrong), but I do have a problem with the way you characterized him and his work as dishonest. That is not acceptable and has no place on this forum.

Your second paragraph shows this same condescending attitude - I built my first subwoofer more than 35 years ago. I don't need to be lectured on how I might tell whether drivers are wired with the same polarity.

My goodness, indeed!
 
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I'll just leave this here without comment beyond the emphasis I have added to the quotation:

"Siegfried Linkwitz was a rare combination of music lover who could hear analytically, and an engineer who could design, measure and interpret the performance of loudspeakers. He contributed much more than his well known crossover topology. He created novel loudspeaker designs and candidly reported on their performance in objective and subjective terms. He respected the scientific method. His insights and observations will be missed. RIP." Floyd Toole, quoted from https://www.linkwitzlab.com/about_me.htm
 
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Now I regret paying $2390 with tax for my 1.7i. The Kef R3 cost less and probably sound better.
But they don't. I've owned both. The 1.7is produce far deeper and stronger bass. The
highs are also smoother and less fatiguing. The R3 is actually one of the least enjoyable speakers in the KEF catalogue.

A good example of why you're better off judging speakers by how much you enjoy listening to them rather than questionable measurements.
 

Sancus

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But they don't. I've owned both. The 1.7is produce far deeper and stronger bass. The
highs are also smoother and less fatiguing. The R3 is actually one of the least enjoyable speakers in the KEF catalogue.

A good example of why you're better off judging speakers by how much you enjoy listening to them rather than questionable measurements.
Uh what? No way lol. The 1.7i have serious problems reproducing anything below 200hz at high SPL, just like all Magnepans short of the largest ones. Even Magnepan's specs don't claim extension below 40hz... And yes, I've owned them, the poor bass is a significant reason I got rid of them. I would say a sub is required with both these speakers, but at least the R3 won't drop 5-10dB from your mid/upper bass without one.
 
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Uh what? No way lol. The 1.7i have serious problems reproducing anything below 200hz at high SPL, just like all Magnepans short of the largest ones. Even Magnepan's specs don't claim extension below 40hz... And yes, I've owned them, the poor bass is a significant reason I got rid of them. I would say a sub is required with both these speakers, but at least the R3 won't drop 5-10dB from your mid/upper bass without one.
Lol. The 1.7is have way more bass output than the R3s when allowed enough space from walls. And their extension is far superior. Have you actually lived with both in the same room or are you merely going off measurements posted in this forum? If the former then you’d know I’m 100% correct on this, or you simply have a poor aural memory.
 

Sancus

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Lol. The 1.7is have way more bass output than the R3s when allowed enough space from walls. And their extension is far superior. Have you actually lived with both in the same room or are you merely going off measurements posted in this forum? If the former then you’d know I’m 100% correct on this, or you simply have a poor aural memory.
The things you are saying contradict the basic facts about these speakers so incredibly blatantly that you would need to post detailed measurements of both for me to even begin to take you seriously. Even then, if what you're saying was true in your room, the only explanation would be you're using some setup without any room correction and so the response of both was completely wrong anyways.

E: This was taken with them a full 36" from the back wall, if you moved them another couple of feet you might get rid of the 120hz peak but that's about it. It's not going to magically fill in the response below ~45hz, which drops off like a rock. They are not full range speakers anymore than the R3 are.

And this is ignoring the fact that they simply won't play very loud at those frequencies no matter what you do.

 
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