Magnepan winter tour 2019

Fresh off their rave reviewed/attended summer tour of Magnepan's 30.7 flagship, the feisty duo of Wendell Diller and lovely wife Galina were back by popular demand to hit the road again and introduce the prospect of a very different Maggie speaker. Officially billed the 30.7 for condos, it is far more than that. It constitutes such a departure for Magnepan that critical audience input gathered during this tour will determine if there is a marketable future for it.

My Toronto road-show stop was hosted by local dealer Audio Excellence. Owner Adrian Low and his stalwart staff provided the room and equipment with welcome treats to mark the festive season. Wendell took to stage and following a brief introduction made clear that the speakers hidden behind thin white curtains were not cosmetically finished but hand-assembled prototypes whose purpose was proof of concept. I knew how much was riding on the collective audience reactions to the demonstration so going in, I asked why the 30.7 for Condos was so important for them?

Magnepan want to adapt the performance of their flagship to smaller spaces. That could not be accomplished by simply building a 30.7 Junior but required a rethink of Magnepan's fundamental panel technology focus. For the first time in their history, they put resources into the design and construction of non-panel bass. Magnepan immediately dismissed a conventionally enclosed cone-hybrid approach and chose to explore dipole woofers instead. The concept seemed sound. Dipole bass has historically proven a good match with panels. The potential for ideal implementation seemed timely due to tech advances in drivers, high-power amplification and sophisticated DSP. The clout of massive dipole woofers could potentially duplicate in smaller form so prototyping began. Current patent-pending realization runs 8 x 6.5" woofers per side in a pair of minuscule 36" high x 8" wide V-shaped affairs including ~1kW power and DSP. That constitutes a drastic size reduction compared to the pure panel version. How low could these go? The response is reputed to match the flagship 30.7's limit of 10Hz!

It's not all about bass though. The main panel is a redesign of the 30.7 and at 6' x 12" x 1.5" smaller with an unexpected but welcome twist. The mid-bass coupler formerly located on the bass panel has moved to the tweeter/midrange panel for greater coherence, retaining a full 4-way architecture. Taken in total, this was a drastic rethink and why Magnepan take the cautious approach. They know they have something special but will the audiophile audience think likewise? With so much anticipation surrounding this premiere, had Wendell and Magnepan the moves to shake things up yet again?

Rejoice! In my brief listening, there was so much realized promise that the concept immediately vindicated itself. Dynamic responsiveness matched my original experience with the 30.7, possibly bettered it. SPL and dynamic nuance were remarkable and the room overloaded before the speakers hit saturation. Where I had previously reserved judgment for image focus of the flagship, it was spectacularly evident now. Bass, while not identical, was certainly equivalent. Depth and sheer scale had the small dipole bass configuration do a good rendition of big-panel bass. I would have liked the luxury of more time to assess the DSP's latitude to match panel character to different room situations but time constraints are ever the challenge of exhibits. With my 45-minute time slot expired, I marked the listening score card largely on the positive ledger, with the basic concept showing tremendous ability and potential for even more stellar refinement. There was lots to like. If other reactions mirror my observations, that leaves Magnepan in the unenviable situation of shaping a future generation of products that could redefine the line and general audio landscape. Picture a new Maggie, a dipole hybrid whose panel takes up less floor space than a current 0.7 model then adds two small unobtrusive bass sections for virtually unlimited bandwidth. Can you say room-friendly state of the art? This is Magnepan's field of dreams. If they build it, will you come?