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REVIEW: Magnepan Magneplanar MG3.5R Speakers

Model: Magneplanar MG3.5R
Category: Speakers
Suggested Retail Price: $3200
Description: 3 Way Planar Magnetic Loudspeaker w/true ribbon tweeter
Manufacturer URL: Magnepan
Manufacturer URL: Magnepan

Review by jimmyjames (A) on March 20, 2003 at 11:58:28
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for the Magneplanar MG3.5R

As it is raining for the 4th day straight and I am bored to death, I thought I would post a review of a speaker I lived with for 6 or 7 years. Prior to that I owned MGIIIa's for about 12 years and the MG1a for one year before that.

The 3.5R was and is a great speaker. A classic most recently refined by the 3.6 update. Audiophiles, audiofools and audio dealers speak of it's ribbon tweeter in terms of deep reverence. Most would agree that the Maggie ribbon tweeter is something to behold and a most elegant solution to your high frequency transducer needs. It makes the 3.5/3.6R. Without it, the speaker would just be an Mg1.6, no slouch on it's own. How does on describe the ribbon tweeter? It's fast and it's everywhere. That's what a 5 foot tall tweeter does.

The rest of the speaker mates well with the tweeter. I would not call it seemless but I never heard any discontinuity in the high to mid frequency range. I never considered the bass to be shy but now realise it was far from dynamic or subterranian(sp).

This is really not a loud rock-n-roll speaker. You can rock out with the 3.5R but not loud and not long without blowing fuses. I had these speakers through 3 amps, 2 different vintage Adcoms and a Mark Levinson 332 and if it got loud loud, the speaker fuses blew. This speaker does jazz very well. More suited to piano jazz than sax jazz. I never really listened to much classical music on any Maggie I owned so I can't really comment there. Acoustic guitar sounded great on these as well.

Of course these speakers have a sound stage to die for. Wide, deep and tall. I miss the height of the soundstage that my Maggies had with my current Aerial 7b set up. Maggies are fussy about set up and really I don't know a speaker that isn't but my local Proac dealer says Proacs are the least fussy about placement and set up of any speaker he has ever come across and he has been in audio a long long time. He loves the Maggie ribbon tweets but says that Maggies don't come alive until around 70db. I don't know about that, but I always found myself turning them up louder and louder through a listening session. The sound was never fatiguing or deafening.

It wasn't until I decided or my wife decided that if I was going to have a big screen TV it was going to be in the same dedicated room with the stereo rig. This caused problems for my Maggies as I had to put the big screen in the middle of the room where my equipment rack had been and go horizontal with all the gear. This spread the maggies out to where the entire short side of the room was taken up with tv, gear and Maggies. It was also at this time that I started auditioning some box speakers again. As I was playing around with some other bookshelf speaker projects that I came across said Proac dealer who also sells Revel. The Studios and the Salons are awesome speakers in the right room or with the right room treatments. Out of my price range though. I went to my Maggie dealer who I have known for 20 years and auditioned the Aerials and the Wilson Sophias. Started cruising Agon for Aerials with an eye towards a pair of model 5 bookshelf speakers when I saw a deal I could not refuse on a pair of Aerial 7b's. I had heard the 6's and the 7b's in the store. All Aerials image like nobody's business and and the bass was dynamic and went pretty low. Well the 7b's fit the bill for the new HT room layout and I also found a steal on a pair of 5's for the rears and the rest is history.

I miss many things about the Maggies especially the ribbon tweets but found the tweeters and the bass in the Aerials to be more full range and dynamic. They have much higher WAF and look like furniture. They are also built like a tank. If I learned anything in 20 years of Maggie's is that so far there is no perfect speaker for all types of music. Maggie's are magic and the 3.5/3.6R's are truely magical with the right associated gear and music. But if bass is your thing, you are probably not reading this anyway. Ideally I would have 20.1's for my refined critical listening and some other possibly horn loaded speaker with huge woofers or subwoofers for rock-n-roll. I would spend more time with the big Revels before jumping head long into the 20.1's I guess and with the price increase on the 3.6's now, I would have to audition some other contenders in that range but I don't know what they would be if anything.

Product Weakness: Lack of dynamic bass and lack of low bass.
Product Strengths: Incrdibly refined sound. Silky smooth ribbon tweeter.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: ML 332
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): ML380S
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Rega p2
Speakers: Maggies
Cables/Interconnects: XLO
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Rock-nJazz
Room Size (LxWxH): 25 x 20 x 8
Room Comments/Treatments: sheet rock and carpet
Time Period/Length of Audition: 6 years
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Magnepan Magneplanar MG3.5R Speakers - jimmyjames 11:58:28 03/20/03 (15)

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