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REVIEW: Magnepan Magneplanar MG12 Speakers Review by Greg C at Audio Asylum

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This review may express more of journey than a moment in time. A travel down an audio road to the "Emerald City" looking for a Wizard to provide that special gift.

It began with a simple post by me to audioayslum.com/speakers called, Magneplanar tip. "Of all things, overnight I installed Radio Shack gold banana plugs on each end of the 10ga generic speaker wire we are using between a Denon 3300 and MG12 Magneplanar speakers. This was done for convenience, but there is actually an audible improvement in detail. Perhaps gold surface improves contact."

To that thread Mart posted, "indeed, but if you're using those steel bypass juncture bars instead of the resistors try some 10ga wire with gold plugs there too." It was a thoughtful challenge.

About the same time I received a recording of unusual merits. "Nature's Realm" of The Philadelphia Orchestra (Water Lily WLA-WS-66-CD) is the first recording with all tube equipment in 20 years. The warmth of valves carries the detail of instruments to the musical ambiance of the Academy of Music hall. It is a recording of special note.

This warm and detailed recording provides sonic measure to evaluate the considerable audio qualities of the MG12. But a bit of personal history may provide meaning.

To confess age, my audio ears were developed in the early 1970's on tube equipment. It was a fortunate time that brought a Marantz 8b amplifier, a pair of Dynaco Stereo 70 amplifiers, and a Marantz 7c preamplifier. Used in a triamp arrangement these sonic wonders were able produce bass slam, as well as extended, detailed treble. This equipment was combined with Jantzen electrostatic midrange/tweeters with custom passive crossover and Bozak woofers. It was very high quality that delivered 40hz to 25khz without effort.

Some say this was the golden age of audio. But there were elements that escaped control. Even with the warm glow of tubes, the electrostats exhibited a harsh edge with many recordings. They were wonderful speakers, but ear fatigue became a companion and I eventually sold parts in bits and pieces. The Marantz equipment I hope continues to bring joy to a listener in the Far East.

The Magneplanar MG12 speakers are a step above the MMG and a step below the Stereophile magazine recommended Model 1.6. For me, the 1.6 failed to pass the wife acceptance test and it became a MG12 for our home.

The MMG is a great value, but the MG12 has considerably better panels with enhanced performance in all respects. It is worth double the price of the MMG with only a slight increase in size.

This speaker creates a smooth, open, and delicate sound picture with the "stock" steel tweeter crossover juncture bars. But Mart piqued curiosity and changed my perception of what is possible. The connection at the rear of the speaker, listed as "Tweeter Attenuator," controls the character of the MG12.

Initially, replacing the bar with twelve gauge copper wire connected with gold banana plugs increased "large" detail. Ten gauge raised "fine, inner" detail - instrument resonances, etc. I went so far to locate banana plugs accepting double ten gauge wire. Dual wires improved dynamics.

In testing different wire combinations it became clear these speakers could be configured to suit preferences in room acoustics and amplification. It was possible to vary all the way from "too edgy bright" with tons of air to a very warm, damped high end.

You may wonder what is the optimal wire combination. Well, that is for your experimentation. But envision this; stop by your local high-end audio shop and say, "I would like to purchase six inches of your most exotic speaker wire." You might even purchase a whole foot if you make a double run for the pair of speakers.

As I began this journey I would not believe 3 inches of wire could alter the sound of this speaker, but that is the point of this review. The MG12s are so transparent, so high quality, that even a minor alteration alters the lucidity of the sound.

The MG12s embody a smooth, continuity of audio that was never available with the old Jantzen/Bozaks. Think of it as a sound window that builds a picture between the speakers. They are musical instruments.

Over the years I listened to a variety of systems, many into the tens of thousands of dollars. I imagine there may be something magical out there, but my Wizard is Jim Winey of White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Thank you for delivering the gems of the Emerald City to my home.

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Topic - REVIEW: Magnepan Magneplanar MG12 Speakers Review by Greg C at Audio Asylum - Greg C 13:06:29 01/5/00 ( 45)