JA and Magnepan

Discussion in 'The Magazine Forum' started by sqlsavior, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Lately and for years now, Stereophile seems to have made no more than an occasional passing reference to Magnepan speakers, despite their having a very favorable reputation among audiophiles since their founding, and a sizable market share. I read that this was ostensibly due to Magnepan's insistence that measurements of their speakers not be published, for fear of revealing trade secrets.

    In the August issue however, the new Magnepan .7 model was reviewed by Herb Reichert, but in his new Gramophone Dreams column, without measurements,(http://www.stereophile.com/content/gramophone-dreams-5#HimAvYJPKeTldqmh.97), not as one of the Equipment Reports, which usually include measurements. Herb tried them with five different amps, and mostly raved about the Maggie's sound. During a comparison with the Kef LS50s, he said: "...the LS50s midrange and lower treble sounded thicker and significantly less transparent, and their treble less extended and refined." The Kef LS50s are Sterophile Class A (Restricted LF). His review summary of the Magnepans in a system included: "By the standards of high-end audiophiles, that's borderline Class A sound...".

    But in the October issue just out, the Magnepan .7s are placed in Class C (Restricted LF), with the explanation: "Class B, felt HR; Class C, decided JA."

    I suppose John Atkinson simply may not trust Herb Reichert's ears. But if the .7s sound like the 1.7s I have, I would not put them in Class C.

    Do you think Class C is a fair assessment? Does JA have a beef with Magnepan?
     

     

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  2. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan AK Member Subscriber

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    It they don't want measurements published it's probably because they'd look bad, with uneven frequency response, ringing and high distortion. The trade secret thing won't wash because any competitor can easily enough buy some Maggies and measure them and reverse engineer them, they are <very> simple devices after all. It's unlikely an interested competitor is waiting for some magazine to give them information.
     
  3. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

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    There are quite a few companies out there that provide "less than complete" specifications (if any). I've restored multiple pairs of different Maggies and still own a pair of 3.6R's. But they are so room/placement dependent, it would really be hard to do a "shootout" against another pair of speakers in the same room.

    I don't buy the "trade secret" thing either, but specs have to be established under some kind of conditions, and I don't think you could get two pair of Maggies in two different rooms to even remotely measure "identically".
     
  4. E-Stat

    E-Stat Addicted Member

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    You can find complete measurements by Stereophile on older models such as the 1.6 and the 3.6. Click here for the 3.6 review.

    I think the biggest challenge is summarized by John in the closing paragraph:

    "As I have written before in these pages, measuring physically large speakers with in-room quasi-anechoic techniques is in some ways a fruitless task. The usual assumption, that the measuring microphone is very much farther away than the largest dimension of the speaker being measured, is clearly wrong. Yet without access to a large anechoic chamber costing many hundreds of thousands of dollars, in-room measurement techniques are all we have to rely on."

    Even Sigfried Linkwitz chimed in afterwards about issues with their measurement techniques on dipoles.
     
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  5. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan AK Member Subscriber

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    Interesting. And evidence that the premise this thread is based on is an erroneous one.
     
  6. osageaudio

    osageaudio Active Member

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    Hi Guys,

    As several have noted here, the performance of any dipole loudspeaker is going to be closely tied to the room that it is in; probably more so than any other type of loudspeaker. As a result, any in-room or even anechoic measurement that is made and reported is less likely to have any correlation to the actual performance that any given person may get in any given situation in the real world.

    Personally, I’ve heard several Magnepan, Quad, and other loudspeakers in a multitude of different setups over the years. For my personal tastes, I’ve heard some of the best sound and some of the worst sound in the various setups, and I suspect that the differences had more to do with the interaction of the speakers with the room they were in than with any other factor.

    What seems to be the case is that dipoles need to be several feet from any boundary in order for me to think they sound their best. And this is the primary reason why we’ve not taken on the Magnepan line here and why I don’t have a pair for myself. We just don’t have the proper demo room for them based on my past experience.

    I have a friend who had a pair 1.7s in a room of about 18 feet by 30 feet. The sound staging and palpability of the sound was magical in the room. He moved to a house where the room was about 15 feet by 24 feet with the same height ceiling and the magic was gone. The only thing that changed was the room.

    As far as I know, Magnepan has never divulged their method of loudspeaker testing. What seems to be clear is that Magnepan thinks that they testing methods used by Stereophile don’t provide a correct representation of the performance of the speaker. But in order for Stereophile to perform tests the way Magnepan wants them, they would have to know the methodology and have the equipment and facilities to do so.

    I think Atkinson’s opinion has been that there is some sort of validity to having continuity in the loudspeaker testing that he has performed. And he has tested all of the exactly the same way since he began. Magnepan doesn’t agree with that, so they have asked that Stereophile not test the speakers at all. I can see both sides of that issue.

    Two years or so ago, someone publicly suggested to Atkinson that rather than performing a full review, why not have one of the columnists try and comment on Magnepan speakers. That way the question of measurements would not be an issue. Atkinson said that when one of the columnists was in a position to do that, then they would. It would seem that he kept his word.

    I’ve seen no comment on why Atkinson placed the .7 model in Class C, but I suspect it’s at least in part because of the limited bandwidth. The .7 sounds like the 1.7 in the midrange, in my experience, but it lacks the frequency extension in both directions that you get with the 1.7. For some musical tastes the .7 would be a screaming bargain in the right room, but it has a number of limitations to work around.

    If anyone would take the time to email Atkinson and ask him why he chose Class C, I’m pretty sure he would provide an answer.

    So I can’t see where there is any conspiracy or that there is any ‘beef’ or disagreement with anything. Magnepan doesn’t want their speakers subjected to Stereophile’s standard testing, and Stereophile has a policy of not doing full loudspeaker reviews without the standard testing. It looks like they found a way around this that both parties could live with.

    Happy listening.
     

     

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  7. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Makes sense, thanks.

    :music:
     
  8. KiM3Ce

    KiM3Ce AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The low frequency (LF) response on my MG III-A speakers is far from today's megabuck state-of-the-art, and they are larger than the .7 models. I suspect the "limited LF" categorization is not unfair for the 0.7. I'm still glad to have Magnepans!
     
  9. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I wasn't objecting to the 'limited LF" part, so much as the "class C" part.

    I guess another, more serious objection is that, while Stereophile seems to regularly gush about yet another pair of cheap monkey coffins, an actual giant-slayer in the MMG has been given the short shrift for 20 years.
     
  10. Nat

    Nat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Does Quad have similar objections to Stereophile's standard testing methods? Seems to me that the ESL 57 would have the same issues as the Maggies, and the ESL 63, probably would also, though the time delay stuff might change the results somewhat.
    I can't fault either side in this -- dipoles are so room and placement dependent that a test that is reasonably meaningful for standard monopole boxes might be dramatically misleading.
     
  11. Route 66

    Route 66 Active Member

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    I know I'm showing my age here but, I think Stereophile took a nose dive when J. Gordon Holt left the magazine.
     
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  12. Nat

    Nat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Not sure how this relates to the original thread topic, but I agree with you anyway. I was a big fan of John Atkinson's when he was at HiFi News, and still like his work, but I think all the needle threading that a magazine dependent on advertising has to do boxes him in. I don't want to slag on Larry Archibald (or who ever owns the magazine now) because he (or she) has managed to keep the magazine going when most of the competition has either gone under or has lost any credibility, but Holt had a charm and pungency that was pretty much unparalleled. And very good ears -- its interesting to read his (entirely subjective because no one really knew how to do (or afford) objective tests back then) reviews in 1950s issues of Audio -- they are brief, personal but not egotistical (how things have changed) and measured, accurate to a remarkable degree as far as I can tell.
     
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