Magnepan MG3.6/R Review Burlington VT
Audio / Video, Home Automation / Systems Integration / Home Networking, Home Theater, Multi-Room Audio, Multi-Room Video
One or more employees at this company have achieved CEDIA Professional Certification status:- Chris Trombley, CEDIA Certified Professional EST II
South Burlington, VT
Magnepan MG3.6/R Review
November 11, 2008 By Steve Guttenberg
Speakers have the toughest job in audio; reproduce the deepest bass to highest treble and unleash the widest possible dynamic range. In stereo, the best speakers should provide a full-blown holographic recreation of the original sound event. For home theater you should feel like you're there.
That's the goal, but all speakers fall short of perfection. They never truly disappear as sound sources, and to a greater or lesser degree they all wind up sounding like an assortment of tweeters, midranges and woofers mounted in a box.
Not this time. For this review we're looking at a very different type of speaker.
The Magnepan MG 3.6/R is 71 inches tall, but a mere inch and a half thick. There's no box, just a nicely finished open-panel design with nary a dome tweeter, cone midrange or woofer in sight.
That's why the MG 3.6/R will sound like a revelation to first-time listeners; the gap between the sound of real, live music and recorded music feels a whole lot smaller.
The speaker projects a more full-bodied, three-dimensional soundstage than any box can—correction, the MG 3.6/R's sound was bigger and deeper than I've ever heard from a speaker retailing for less than $50,000. With the MG 3.6/R instruments and voices emerge closer to their real life scale and size. Clearly, Magnepan engineers changed the way speakers compress and rarefy air.
Mounted within the MG 3.6/R's statuesque panel are three "planar-magnetic" drivers: a 55-inch tall aluminum foil "ribbon" tweeter; a 199-square-inch 0.5-mil-thick Mylar midrange diaphragm; and a 500-square-inch Mylar woofer.
The MG 3.6/R is a dipole design, so it projects sound from its front and rear surfaces. The drivers are Magnepan patented designs, all manufactured at the company's factory in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
More about the planar-magnetic midrange and woofers: Rather than use a conventional voice coil that pushes and pulls the center of a cone diaphragm, wire grids are deployed across much of the surface of the flat planar-magnetic diaphragm—the design gambit produces lower distortion than cone type drivers.
The MG 3.6/R's pleated aluminum ribbon tweeter directly carries the current and doesn't need additional conductors. It weighs far less than a dome tweeter and still has many times the surface radiating area of a dome. Without getting all technical on you let's just say it's a remarkable device; the Magnepan ribbon has been cited as the world's best tweeter by a number of audio reviewers, including yours truly.
The technology may be exotic, but the MG 3.6/R’s design is far from cutting edge: It's been in production for more than ten years, and the original MG3 debuted in 1983.
Magnepan rarely introduces "all new" models; the speakers are so highly evolved design changes are infrequent. I find that refreshing, Magnepan is a very different sort of high-end speaker company.
The MG 3.6/R is available in ...