Two, Magna's bass and sub bass don't ring. The lower three octaves are unbelievably clean and articulate without overhang or drone. Folks crossing the ribbon bridge particularly from the planar side could at first feel tempted to EQ up the first octave. Resist. Magna's response is linear. It's the absence of bloom from lack of typical resonances and time-domain blur which creates its seemingly leaner if clearly quicker LF behaviour. Allow your ear/brain to reboot. Once reset to cross you over fully, going back to ringy bloated bass should feel like a dreadful descent into Mudville. Or imagine a vitamin 'n' enzyme-bursting meal then eating at a greasy spoon. Yuk. Three, Magna sounds complete and centred. Complete combines the best attributes of e-stats, planars and dynamics. I'll unpack this later. Centred means balanced. No specific quality projects as primary though for ribbon newbies, the powerful lucidity from lower distortion especially in the bass should stand out until it becomes the new normal. These first comments are my Magna basics. There's far more meat to hang from these bones but already clear should be transfer honesty of upstream attributes. Low distortion and very high resolution imply that careful curation of all preceding ancillaries won't get lost in translation. Swap amps and/or sources and hear those changes clear the Raal passage all the way to your ears. With six different paths, I had some exploring to do.

About sound leakage, when I played as loud as I could handle and hung Magna off its mushroom, I heard it at 2 metres away but not clear enough to make out the actual tune. If you can identify a tune from that distance, you listen far louder than I. Should noise pollution be an issue because you share space while you listen, investigate how this plays out for you and yours before you commit. How about cheaping out? My €699 FiiO streamer cum server cum preamp cum headfi amp airlifted Magna at ~100 out of 120; in the third gain setting of five. Extreme gain left headroom galore. So I quickly vacated that plateau and the next one down to minimize the amount of digital cut I had to invoke to not clip my ears. It takes no ultra-dear amplifiers of nose-bleed wattage to get into this ribbon act. A well-engineered bit of sub-€1K Sino kit can already do an excellent job. I'm handing out get-outa-jail cards by the bushel today.

The same goes for Autobahn junkies with a lead foot. Here I mean speed-first sonics bereft of body, with crisp needling treble, sharply honed transients, energetic forwardness and a slightly skeletal or nervy overall demeanour with whitish colours. Whilst the SR1a could be made to trend in that direction because it starts out with one foot on e-stat ground to warrant some counter-steering with ancillaries and just the right turn-out angle, even my supposedly least sophisticated FiiO driver couldn't get Magna to misbehave. Enclosing the ribbons in a chamber described by an unbroken leather-covered foam wall injects some textural pigment despite all the strategic venting. Now the trademark ribbon speed doesn't headline as the primary attraction. It's still very much the enabler of phenomenal detail zoom but no longer so explicit.

This mirrors dynamics. Those don't register as twitchy and explosive as the SR1a's particularly in the upper registers. More image density and weightier lower bass have relaxed those open-baffle traits. It's back at balance. At first that's less spectacular. It's also not as high-strung. Soon it feels more agreeable for longer sessions where for all the excitement, the SR1a on my Jotunheim R can get fatiguing. That's nearly sensory overload. Magna has banished that. The detail is still there just no longer as spot-lit. There's more gravitational grounding. From that derives a certain easing off. It's a friendlier listen than the more demanding SR1a. Though the example is overgrazed, driving a lightweight car at high speed has all our passengers know how fast we're driving. They're not at ease. Do the same in a V12 heavyweight Bentley and shy of staring out the window to get dizzy, our passengers will have a cosy conversation and pay no heed to our RPM.

That describes Magna. The ribbons remain as fast as ever. It's intrinsic to their MO. We simply don't notice it the same. Alex's new tuning has shifted our focus. It's a more mature less temperamental voicing. From it pulls out the next get-outa-jail card. Not only don't we need outsized muscle amps, we don't need amps of ultimate refinement by way of compensation. Whilst FiiO's high-feedback opamp-based output stage played it more stark, dry/damped and less harmonically fleshed out than the dear stack behind it, I had zero issues with the sound. Yes it was less suave or sophisticated but nothing about it was problematic. Don't let snobs claim otherwise. Should you eye the acquisition of an end-of-life headfi rig in financial stages, I highly recommend FiiO's overachieving R7 as my starter all-in-one and Component of 2023. You won't even stress it since Magna doesn't need its hotter-running 'overdrive' gain. Which segues into my next question. Though Magna is in no need of a tone boost from the electronics, how would it respond to a deliberate injection by way of classic tubes?