It’s hard to have a conversation focused around unique loudspeaker designs without mentioning Magnepan & Jim Winey. From their humble beginnings in White Bear Lake during the late sixties, Magnepan has become one of the most successful speaker manufacturers in the United States. It’s not hard to understand why… Magnepan produces some of the best Magneplanar loudspeakers found in the world today. It’s really ironic considering how much electronic equipment american consumers buy from China and Japan. When you talk to Audiophiles in markets like Tokyo and Beijing, companies like Audio Research, McIntosh, and Magnepan rule supreme. American HiFi is respected the world over.
What makes the speakers offered by Magnepan so special is a deceptively simple design, executed to an incredibly finite degree. By eliminating the need for driver rigidity Magnepan’s designers have focused their efforts on an extremely low mass, thin film, ribbon driver. The true ribbon element found in Magnepan speakers is approximately 10 microns thick, or 10 millionths of a meter in width. If a conventional speaker design implemented a driver with this low of a mass, The force generated by the amplifier would effectively destroy it. By eliminating the cabinet, surround, cone, and voice coil all you are left with is the ribbon. A common misconception about Magnepan speakers is that they are hard to amplify. This is actually far from accurate. While it is true that Maggies require an amplifier with a high enough voltage swing to match their impedance load, the dynamic characteristics seem effortless due to the Quasi ribbon drivers ultra low mass design.
Magnepan speakers also get a bad rap when it comes to bass reproduction. This is most likely due to the fact that without the bellowing of air created by a traditional speaker driver, listeners don’t get that concussive, “felt in the diaphragm”, feeling of air being displaced. The truth is that Maggies reproduce bass with incredible detail and accuracy, due to the fact that without a cabinet creating pressure, Magnepan’s don’t color the lower register of the frequency band. Simply put, Magnepan isn’t ideal because of what they add, but what they eliminate.
Wilson Audio offers the full line of Magnepan loudspeakers and has a dedicated sound room ready to demo them at our retail showroom in Metairie, LA.