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Question on magneplanar speakers

 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 141
Registered: Nov-04
after reading a thread in this section i have become interested in magneplanar speakers. i find it rather fascinating how these speakers work. magnepan's website makes it sound like massless frameless drivers are the ideal way to drive speakers along with utilizing large area soundwaves to get the most accurate sound reproduction. if that is the case then why haven't other hi-fi companies tried something similar such as B&W? obviously there would be knowledge barriers that research would have to break, but why aren't there more planar speakers in the market?
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

There are several reasons other speaker companies haven't rushed to planar speakers. The most obvious is the magnetic-planar design of the Magneplanars is patented by Magneplanar. The idea of the Maggies is to take a typical cone driver and simply flatten it out to make a large flat panel driven by a magnet structure very much like a typical dynamic driver. This is not at all the same way an electrostatic speaker such as the Quad ESL operates. The Quad is a thin mylar film suspended between two polarizing elements.

Both types of planar designs share some common benefits and disadvantages. The first benefit is the size; the first disadvantage is the size. Secondly, the panel type speakers typically produce both a rear and a front wave that complicates placement. Neither type of panel speaker can produce deep bass or exceptional extension on the high end. This is usually an area where a conventional driver of some sort is added to the panel speaker to fill out the bass end. The two incompatible drivers usually sound different due to mass and response time. Ribbon tweeters are capable of keeping up with the speeed of a planar design, but ribbons present problems of their own. Most panel speakers are sweet spot speakers much more so than conventional drivers. Stand up or move to one side and the performance is compromised. Most panel speakers do not have the ability to play as loud as a conventional driver and can be damaged more easily by a careless user. Electrostatic speakers need an energizing transformer that your amplifier works into; not many amps like working into a large transformer that sucks voltage and current. If you'll check the price of planar speakers, you'll see yet another reason many manufacturers stay away from the designs when they can get quite acceptable performance from a more conventional design.


 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 143
Registered: Nov-04
thanks for that tid bit of information. that was more or less what i was looking for. i am wondering if you can elaborate on what an energizing transformer is. when you mention that the difference in response times and mass of the driver types, would that make it harder pair a subwoofer with planar speakers? the size issue, does having the larger surface area really help with making instruments sound "fuller"? i was contemplating on buying Magnepan's MMG speakers and possibly sell my B&W 601s if i liked the MMGs. reading through other people's opinions on magnepan speakers especially the MMGs it seems that people are blown away by speakers and the price of $550 a pair. would it be safe to say that planar speakers are not as versatile music wise compared to conventional cone designs? so then with all that you said earlier in mind, what would be the driving force for someone to buy planar speakers? would there be any particular music that magneplanar speakers would work best with? I thank you in advance j. vigne and other people. i would like to see if the MMGs will be worthwile for me before i take the plunge.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gavincumm

Post Number: 27
Registered: Feb-05
I own the MMG-W, and am going to buy the MMG. All that I can say about them is that you CAN NOT get a more natural, realistic, uncoloured sounding speaker anywhere NEAR that price. The 601's have slightly smeared bass and the MMG's will make you see that in spades! Planar bass is as tight as a drum head!

I have no bones about the depth of bass either. If your taste in music leans toward jazz, or acoustic music you should be OK without a subwoofer, as they go down to roughly 50Hz on their own.

here is a review from soundstage comparing the MMG's to the 602's (in the what are these good for).

http://www.soundstage.com/entry04.htm

this is an older review (from 96)so the price is less than what it is now. This review also gives it out in its full glory on the power these speakers can take.

trust me.

TRY THEM!!!!!!!! I will be totally shocked if you don't love them.
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

That's a very good article with lots of information about speakers. I've bookmarked the page and would suggest anyone just starting in audio do the same. You'll find information in there you will come back to many times as you wind your way through AudioLand.

Most of what you asked should at least be superficially covered in that article, Christopher. Just to run through a few things quickly.
An energizing transformer is used on electrostatic speakers, not the Magneplanars, to produce the voltages (several hundred volts AC) that sit on the polarizing panels on either side of the elctrostat menbrane. The input impedance of this transformer is, to an amplifier expecting to see a eight Ohm cone woofer, much the same as running your car uphill with the brake on and a load of bricks in the trunk. As with the MMG, electrostats are not for the faint of heart when amplfiers are chosen. The ribbon tweeter has the same type of transformer in front of it. Since the voltages going to the tweeter are much smaller, the transformer here is not as much of a problem, but cheap amps won't care for it in their path.
Pairing panels with subs can be expensive if at all successful. Read a few reviews of hybrids like the Martin Logans and you will get a good idea of the problems you'll face. Conventional box speakers use components in the X-over to pad down the midrange and tweeter to allow them to play at an equal volume to the woofer because of the large mass of the cone. Take away those X-over components and the music has a much better chance to get to the drivers. This is the idea behind all full range drivers. Speed, box resonance and coloration all make the pairing of panels and boxes hard to accomplish. Of coures, not everyone is as concerned about bass quality as other people. If bass quantity is your thing you may find the pairing satisfactory.
It's difficult for a small box with small drivers, the same price range competition for the MMG, to sound "big". It can be done and there are speakers that accomplish that feat well, but usually not cheaply. In it's price range the MMG gives music scale and size that few speakers can manage. I find it difficault to listen to a speaker, no matter its tonal quality, that presents a piano as an object two feet tall.
A good speaker should open up more music to your listening, not close off what you can listen to due to defficiencies in the speaker. The article talks briefly about the idea of "rock" and "classical" music speakers. It is absurd to categorize speakers that way. A speaker should put out what it is fed. The speaker can't decide it likes one thing and not the other. People can, however, make that decision and I would not begin showing a dedicated rocker a panel speaker. We might end there, but that wouldn't be my first choice if someone told me they liked lots and lots of volume and bass. That is the province of horns and big boxes. They present entirely different trade offs.
I will repeat my often used slogan here since it fits well; there is no free lunch. For every benefit I can show you with one product, I can likely show you two disadvantages. No exceptions to that rule. You have to decide what combination of strengths and weaknesses you care to live with.



 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

A last word of caution the review writer alluded to. If you like the sound of the MMG but later decide you want what it can't provide in terms of deep bass and high volume (most particularly), you will find it very difficult and very expensive to find a box speaker that will satisfy you once you've heard a speaker with no box coloration. This is like crack. Once you're hooked, it's hard to get off that train.


 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 145
Registered: Nov-04
that is a lot of information. thank you both gavin and j vigne. the article was very informative. i guess my main concern now is whether or not my reciever will be able to drive the MMGs well at all. the article mentions that he used an old adcom gfa555 with over 200W at 8 ohms and even with those he was soaking up the power. that worries me because i have heard that adcom is pretty conservative with their ratings and reading through their literature, they are pretty good at getting over 50% increase on 4 ohm loads. i have a HK3480 with a measly 120W at 8 ohms and only 150W at 4 ohms. i am sure that i will not have to worry much about the power, but that article makes it seem like i will need over 200W to play the MMGs in their comfort zone. i will have to see once i get the money for them. maybe i will do a full upgrade....*gasp*. another thing that i find intereseting is that magnepan has a set of HT speakers that are also for a budget minded audiophile. if it is that hard to match a sub to planar speakers, why bother with HT? my only guess would be that HT is less demanding on quality bass and more so on the quantity. i am starting to listen to more jazz and classical. i absolutely love acoustic guitar, violin, piano and basically all the orchestral instruments. that is somewhat ironic since i am a college kid and most college kids at least that i know of listen to rap and R&B. i guess my other dilemma is that I still like to listen to slightly heavy rock like linkin park. and seeing that the MMGs will probably fall over and die when i play that music, or so it seems, its hard to decide between cones and planar.
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 147
Registered: Nov-04
i found this while browsing through ebay. could you guys explain how this works and if this would really work. where am i supposed to hook this up?
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=3276%26item%3D5749945466% 26
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gavincumm

Post Number: 28
Registered: Feb-05
The reciever that you have will work fine for the time being. However, in the future, think strongly about upgrading to entry level seperates. The improvement in the performance will be noticible.


To answer your question on the "maggie mates." All they are is a simple capaciter to keep the bass out of the speakers at 100Hz to make the mids more transparent.

However, since the bass performance is one of the things I really ADMIRE about these marvelous speakers, I feel that the gain in midrange clarity (which is already pristine) is minute in comparison to the blistering speed of the bass. It is your call.

gavin
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

Buy a piece of equipment and listen to it and learn from it and about it before thinking about changing it in any way.
A high pass filter is just what the name implies. The size of the capacitor sets the point where the frequency coming into the circuit is adjusted. A high pass lets frequencies higher than that point pass through. A low pass lets the frequencies lower than that point pass through. The X-over point of a high pass/loww pass filter is set at a center frequency with a roll off above and below that point. The type of filter determines the rate of roll off.


 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 148
Registered: Nov-04
thanks guys. i will most likely have to get separates after making any kind of upgrade so that will have to be in my budget in the future. or i might be able to convince my dad to give me his old separates. i think i am going to give the MMGs a shot when i have the money and if i have to i might get rid of my sub also. thanks for being patient with my question mongering j. vigne. i enjoy reading your entries all over this forum. i appreciate you continous support here as i am sure many other people feel the same way.
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