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Magneplanar Models Comparison

The Magneplanar Revolution

Forty years ago Magnepan produced our first loudspeaker. From that day to this, constant evolution of the proven Magneplanar design has resulted in millions of hours of joy for music lovers around the world. Today Magnepans hard work is easily seen in their current product line. Each model offering the best sound available, and performance which out classes speakers costing three to five times more.


Ribbon speakers have long been respected as pure and elegant transducers. Closely related to the ribbon speaker, the Magneplanar Quasi Ribbon has the appearance and sound quality similar to a true ribbon at a fraction of the cost. Sometimes called ribbon speakers by other manufacturers, the Quasi Ribbon speaker brings high-end speaker performance to today's mid-priced loudspeakers. Despite the delicate appearance, all Quasi Ribbon models have very high power handling capability and are nearly impervious to abuse.

In Fi Magazine, March, 1998, Harry Pearson stated,

"It is a state-of-the-art tweeter and I think it may well be the best high frequency reproducer in today's marketplace."


Magnepan's patented line-source ribbon is a transformerless design which eliminates dynamic compression and distortion associated with 2-3 inch long ribbons of the past. The ribbon is dipole with near-perfect polar response of 180 degrees off the front and rear to beyond 20,00OHz. This results in superb image stability regardless of the listener's position. At 2.5 microns thick, (1/10th the thickness of a human hair), the Magneplanar ribbon is lower in mass than any previous ribbon, and provides high frequency extension beyond 50,000Hz.


Full-range planar (electrostatic or magnetic) speakers have a reputation with audiophiles for uncanny bass and midbass accuracy. There are practical considerations that preclude the widespread use of planar technology for bass and midbass reproduction, but these large and expensive full-range dipoles can reproduce the correct timbre of an acoustical bass instrument that is smeared with conventional woofers.

A full-range planar speaker can reproduce the lower register of a piano with the same resolution as the midrange. There is no sense of a woofer changing the sound of a piano. To put it another way, a woofer in a box has a characteristic sound that puts its "signature" on all bass instruments. It may not matter when listening to electronic bass instruments, but once you have heard acoustical bass instruments reproduced on a full-range dipole, it's hard to forget! The Magneplanar is the only full-range dipole that offers bass and midbass definition at a reasonable price, size, and reliability never before achieved from a full-range dipole. Have you carefully listened to the bass? We are hoping you will. It could spoil you for anything else!
Specifications of Magneplanar Speaker Models

Recommended Power (W): Frequently Asked Questions
Model Description Freq. Resp.
± 3dB Sensitivity
500 Hz / 2.83 V Impedance Dimensions
MMG 2-way Quasi Ribbon Planar - Magnetic 50-24 kHz 86 dB 4 Ohm 14.5 x 48 x 1.25
MMG W Planar - Magnetic 100-16 kHz 88 dB 5 Ohm 10 x 38 x 1
MMG C Planar - Magnetic 100-16 kHz 88 dB 5 Ohm 36 x 9 x 5.5
MC1 2-way Quasi Ribbon Planar - Magnetic 80-24 kHz 86 dB 4 Ohm 10.25 x 46 x 1
CC3 2-way Quasi Ribbon Planar - Magnetic 80-20 kHz 85 dB 4 Ohm 35 x 10.5 x 8
CCR 2-way Quasi Ribbon Planar - Magnetic 80-20 kHz 85 dB 4 Ohm 35 x 10.5 x 8
MG12 2-way Quasi Ribbon Planar - Magnetic 45-22 kHz 86 dB 4 Ohm 17 x 51 x 1.5
MG 1.6 2-way Quasi Ribbon Planar - Magnetic 40-22 kHz 86 dB 4 Ohm 19 x 65 x 2
MG 3.6 3-way True Ribbon Planar - Magnetic 34-40 kHz 85 dB 4 Ohm 24 x 71 x 1.625
MG 20.1 3-way True Ribbon Planar - Magnetic 25-40 kHz 85 dB 4 Ohm 29 x 79 x 2.062

A Tradition of Innovation and Advanced Technology

Have you ever noticed that instruments projected from small boxes sitting on the floor sound like they are coming out of boxes on the floor? This problem can be partially corrected by placing the box speakers on tall speaker stands.
However, the sound still seems to be coming out of a box, because that's precisely what it is doing.

The patented Magneplanar principle eliminates these problems by a fundamentally different approach to sound propagation. The Magneplanar projects sound from top to bottom, giving the sound height as well as stereo width and depth. In the concert hall, instruments project in all directions. Instead of projecting sound out of a box, Magneplanars project in all directions, which closely duplicates the original performance.

With your eyes closed the Magneplanar will allow you to "see" the original performance suspended in space. The full height, width and depth of the concert hall can be heard.


Theoretically, loudspeakers should use massless drivers suspended in space with no box, magnet structure, or framework around the drivers. Most conventional box speakers are far from this ideal. The mass of the driver is high and the rear wave is contained within the box or magnet structure. While the frequency response can be smoothed out in a box speaker, the character of the sound is inevitably affected. The music sounds like it is coming out of a box-constricted and unnatural.

The Magneplanar diaphragm comes closer to the ideal driver. The mass is low and the diaphragm is not contained. The sound is permitted to radiate freely into space. With the box removed, Magneplanars sound more like you are there.

Uniform Drive

The power from an ampilifer causes the conventional cone speaker to react as if it had received a sharp blow at the voice coil. Since the outer portions of the cone cannot respond instantly, the cone will flex. The resulting cone breakup gives music a "fuzzy", "blurred" quality.

The Magneplanar eliminates cone breakup by driving the Magneplanar diaphragm over its entire area. The force from the amplifer is distributed over the entire diaphragm so that it all moves at the same time. Cone or diaphragm breakup is dramatically reduced and the integrity of the music is preserved.


The effect of mass on a loudspeaker can be illustrated by the comparison of a balloon and a beach ball. In the case of the balloon a nominal force such as a puff of wind will cause the balloon to accelerate quickly. When the force ceases, the balloon decelerates quickly. The same force will move the beach ball, however, the ball is slower to start and slower to stop. High mass is one of the main causes of sonic degraduation in conventional speakers.

Magneplanars use ultra low mass components. For example, the Magneplanar ribbon element is so thin, that on edge, it is invisible to the naked eye. It is so light that when a piece of it is dropped from a height of 6 feet it takes and average of 5 seconds for it to reach the floor. Conventional speaker designs prohibit such low mass-the force from the driving amplifier would crush conventional speakers made of such light materials. Only by driving the transducer over its entire area can you use materials of such low mass.

Quasi-Ribbon / Planar-Magnetic driver

This unique technology developed by Magnepan is the heart of Magneplanar speaker. The Quasi-Ribbon shown is basically the same driver used for the mid and low frequencies of the Magneplanar speaker with the infusion of a heavier gauge wire replacing the thin aluminum ribbon. Using a .0005" Mylar diaphram and a .001" ribbon this diapole, cabinetless design leaves the sound absolutely un coloured by box resonances.

The electronic properties of this design requires no transformer to compress the signal path and thus 'squeeze' the details that make music 'live'. The flat impedance and superb power responce are kind to your amplifier and let your music free with an amazing imaging stage, and superb tonal accuracy. While they do require an amplifier with the ability to drive a 4 ohm load, they will make that amplifier sound simply like amplifiers costing several thousand dollars more!

True Ribbon Driver

The Magnepan direct coupled Ribbon has absolutely no equal in high frequency sound reproduction. With its 360 degree radiating dipole design, the Ribbon Driver found in our award winning MG 3.6/R and MG 20/R speakers presents your music as you would have heard it when it was recorded. Subtle information which supports the detail of timbre and accuracy of the image are reproduced with such ease by your amplifier that you'll find yourself hearing details in your music you never heard before.

The difference between a real piano and a decent synthesizer is a stretch on some of the 'so called' high-end speakers. With Magnepan's accurate tonality and superior wave radiation, you'll find yourself distinguishng an Baldwin from a Steinway, or a Martin from a Breedlove. This ribbon's wideband operation theater doesn't hand that accurate and true image to a sloppy midrange at 5kh either! It 'sings' the image down to 1kh, where it is passed to a midrange of a similar design.... only with a silky smoothness which will have chills running down your spine.

Full Range Dipole Speakers

Despite the early reliability problems of electrostats and their large size many audiophiles have had a lifelong affection for the unique sound of full-range dipole speakers.

Jim Winey, the inventor of the Magneplanar, owned KLH9 electrostatic speakers and began experimental work to design an improved electrostat. In 1969, Jim invented the Magneplanar, a thin-film magnetic equivalent to the electrostat.

Many full-range dipole speakers have been marketed over the years, but the Magneplanar stands alone as the only true practical and affordable full-range dipole to be accepted by hard-core audiophiles and non-technical customers alike. In the last survey of Stereophile magazine readers, more audiophile readers owned Magneplanars than any other speaker.

From that taut, clean bass to the silky highs, full-range dipoles can create a seductive illusion of the original event. Once a listener develops a taste for dipole sound, few go back to conventional dynamic speakers.

Today you don't have to be a hard-core audiophile to own full-range dipoles. The beautifully crafted Magneplanars are advanced to satisfy the audiophile's dream, but domesticated in a way that belies their esoteric origins.


The Reference Magneplanar

The ultimate in Magnepan speaker technology is offered in the reference MG20.1R Magneplanar.

Every aspect of Jim Winey's design principles has been extended to new levels.

Successful speaker design considers a complex array of engineering issues. To be successful, the main requirement is that the drivers must be inherently "quick"! Outstanding transient response is not an is mandatory. "Slow" tranducers can be engineered to sound pleasant, but can never achieve lifelike performance.

The Reference Magneplanar uses unique transducers which are physical impossibilities with conventional technology. Magneplanar's true line source ribbon tweeter is 1/10th the thickness of a human hair. The quasi-ribbon midrange would itself make a superior tweeter with flat response to beyond 20kHz; the thin film Diplanar bass driver, although used only below 150Hz, is "full-up" at 7kHz.

It is this conservative application of highly refined principles that has resulted in a loudspeaker system that fulfills the audiophile's highest ideals.


Magneplanar Frequently Asked Questions

* What ancillary products work best with Magneplanars?
* Will my receiver or amplifier drive Magneplanars?
* How much power do I need?
* What is the best Magneplanar for my room?
* Where is the best position in my room for Magneplanars?
* Are Magneplanars good for home theater?


What ancillary products work best with Magneplanars?

The staff at Magnepan have their hands full trying to keep up with their back orders, research and development, and all the demands associated with trying to stay at the forefront of their business. They understand the fundamentals of amplifiers and other ancillary products, but they simply can't do their jobs and keep up with ever-changing products and models. It may come as a surprise, but Magnepan acknowledge that many of their customers have auditioned more amplifiers than they have.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive source to answer these questions. Magnepan know many of the reviewers personally and they all have their own preferences. The Internet is full of free advice, but very little consensus.

That's the bad news. The good news -- while you could make it your career to find the ultimate amplifier for your money you want to spend, the top choice from any one of Magnepans dealers will be a winner. There are so many products available to the dealers that they can pick and choose what they want to sell. We don't know of any Magnepan dealers selling substandard amplifiers with Magneplanars. Part of the dealer's motivation to go into the business is the enjoyment of the art. If you believe they are strongly promoting a specific brand just for the money, we strongly disagree. They enjoy what they are doing; and if there is any criticism, it could be that in their exuberance, they may recommend better products than you are willing to buy.

There are a few general design recommendations we can offer:

* Subwoofers - The subwoofers that move a lot of air and are impressive in a home theater demonstration are usually sloppy and become tiresome during extended music listening. If you are impressed with the subwoofer, wait a bit. The best subwoofers don't call attention to themselves but provide the most enjoyment over the long haul.
* 4 Ohm capacity is important in amplifier design (more on that later).
* Speaker Cables - As with other ancillary equipment, we can't keep up. But we can offer this advice: a system's total performance is dependent upon on a balanced approach. Sometimes spending less in one area and more in another will result in a total performance improvement. This applies to cables and speaker wire as well as ancillary equipment.

Will my receiver or amplifier drive Magneplanars?

There are 2 features on a receiver or amplifier that will enhance your music or home theater experience-- High current power supplies (ability to drive 4 ohm loads) and adjustable crossover points in the bass management menu for home theater.

We get more questions about amplifiers than any other product. The power supply is "what separates the men from the boys." A receiver is very efficient and cost-effective way to get is all in one package, but there are "issues". Unfortunately, consumers want all the "bells and whistles" without understanding the importance of power supply. Many manufacturers offer the "bells and whistles", but, compromise the power supply to be price competitive. There are a few manufacturers that are the exception.

Everyone understands they need plenty of power, but the role of power supply is not understood. There is one important concept you need to remember when shopping for an amplifier or receiver: in an ideal amplifier, the power should double (or nearly double) at 4 ohms. This concept is important even if you are buying an 8 ohm speaker. If the amplifier is rated at 80 watts at 8 ohms, it should (ideally) produce 160 watts at 4 ohms (or close to it). None of the receivers will do that. However, this is the benchmark of a good amplifier design.

A good receiver might produce 30-40% more power at 4 ohms. Most receiver manufacturers don't want to talk about 4 ohm ratings because they have cut the "guts" out of their products to keep the cost down. Some receivers produce the same power at 4 ohms as the 8 ohm ratings. Or they use a switch on the back for 4 ohms to reduce the power and to prevent the receiver from self destructing. Others warn against 4 ohm speakers. Regardless of what speaker you buy, we don't recommend any of these receivers. There are a few manufacturers making receivers with good 4 ohm capability. But, we can't keep up with who's doing what. All you have to remember is to ask-- "What is the 4 ohm power rating?" If the 4 ohm rating isn't available, find another model or brand. It may take some digging to find the 4 ohm rating, but there are a number of receivers on the market that are rated for 4 ohms. For example, the THX rating requires that the amplifier section must be able to drive 4 ohms continuously. Even an inexpensive receiver like the 50 watt NAD C725 BEE (suggested Australian retail of $1,199 as at December 2009) is advertised to be stable with impedances down to 1 ohm and has peak power of 200 watts. So, don't be fooled by pretty front panels. Its on the inside that counts.

A new type of amplifier (Class D) has become more popular because it is a "green" design and uses less power plus it is smaller in size compared to conventional amplifier designs. We have heard some reports of Class D amplifiers shutting down when driving 4 ohm loads. Your Magneplanar dealer has tested Class D amplifiers with Maggies and is well qualified to advise you if this type of amplifier appeals to you.

Adjustable crossover points- If you are shopping for a receiver or processor, you will want a model with adjustable crossover points for "small" speakers in the bass management menu. This is very important to the design of a Magneplanar center channel speaker. Adjustable crossover points up to 250 Hz are desirable.

Most ribbon or electrostatic center channel speakers incorporate a dynamic midbass driver since the rather small ribbon or electrostatic elements can not produce midbass. This seems like a mistake to us. The center channel speaker does approximately 60% of the "heavy lifting" for movies. Why compromise such a critical ribbon speaker with a dynamic woofer?

Magneplanar center channel speakers are also small (relative to our full range models) and cannot produce adequate midbass-- by themselves. Magnepans strategy is to utilize the front left/right Magneplanars (or one of the new Magneplanar Woofers) to produce the center channel midbass/bass. When optimally setup, the illusion is of a big Maggie in the middle. However, it requires one of several solutions for getting center channel midbass/bass. Adjustable crossover points in the bass management menu is one of the easiest solutions. If your receiver or processor only has an 80 Hz crossover point for "small" center channel, there are other options. Please call us and we will be happy to discuss your installation requirements.

How much power do I need?

We are asked this question every day. But, individual tastes vary so greatly that a definitive answer is impossible. Magnepan are using a 35 watt receiver in the lobby to their factory. Therefore, can we honestly say that 35 watts is all you need? For each increase of 3 db, the power must be doubled. So, 70 watts, 140 watts, 280 watts, etc. will progressively result in 3 db increases over the receiver we are using in our lobby. Personal tastes are "all over the map". We hear of customers that are perfectly happy with 25 watts and others using 1000 watts.(And there is no lack of opinions about power in chat rooms on the internet.) Without the option of listening with you, we have no way to give meaningful advice. The most reliable way to answer this question for your particular needs is by visiting a dealer. If you listen to your music at your normal volume, in a room that is approximately the same size as your room, with an amplifier similar to what you plan to use, an accurate power requirement can be determined for your listening habits. The amplifier used in this test should have a similar 4 ohm rating as the amplifier you plan to use at home, but it is not necessary for it to be identical to your amplifier. Anyone that has a definite answer to this question (without having met you) is probably telling you their personal preference.

What is the best Magneplanar for my room?

To answer that question requires some background information. You may have noticed similar specifications for the least-to-most expensive Magneplanars are very similar. There is nothing in the specifications to justify the cost difference. More than any other performance parameter, what you are buying as you move up in the Magneplanar line is RESOLUTION (or definition). However, unlike video, there are no specifications in loudspeakers for resolution. You can hear it, but it is not easily defined.

If Magnepan sold only the portion of the MG 3.6 or MG 20.1 that operated from about 200 Hz and up, the question of speaker size/room size would never come up. An ideal ribbon line source driver is very narrow and would go from floor to ceiling. Most of the area of a Magneplanar is needed for bass reproduction. A large Magneplanar in a small room is mostly an aesthetic issue and and a question of proper bass reproduction.

Buy as much Magneplanar resolution as your budget will allow. However, the objection from family members of a larger Magneplanar in a small room is one we can't help. "Plan B" might be our soon-to-be-released, motorized, on-wall model-- the MMC 2.

Where is the best position in my room for Magneplanars?

The optimum placement of a speaker in a room would provide a minimum of a 10 millisecond delay for the first reflection off of walls. And then there is the issue of optimizing placement to achieve smooth bass response. Few of us have the room or the freedom to place speakers where they sound the best. Much of life involves compromise.

Magneplanars will sound their best very close to whatever position is the best compromise for conventional speaker placement in your room. Without being there, we have no means of improving on what you have discovered by trial and error.
Are Magneplanars good for home theater?

In short, high resolution sound in home theater is not appreciated in a 5-10 minute demonstration. The typical home theater demonstration is short and full of crashes, explosions and other dramatic scenes. What Magneplanars can do for home theater will take at least 20 minutes or more into a movie. The process is subtle. High resolution sound does not call attention to itself. You become more immersed in the movie and don't realize until later that Magneplanars have a seductive quality on home theater that will increase over time.

Home Theater for Music Lovers

If you are a typical Magneplanar customer, you listen to music more than watch movies. The trend with many of our customers is to add a center channel and surround speakers for a dual-purpose system. That makes a lot of sense, both for financial and space considerations. The same dollars invested in a dual-purpose system will outperform two separate systems. Everyone in the family "wins" with a high performance dual-purpose system. Many of the "audiophiles of the family" have figured out that a high performance Maggie home theater system gives them the opportunity to have better 2 channel equipment.

"Home Theater Speakers" is a term for speakers which have been designed for extremely wide dynamic range and dispersion characteristics thought to enhance the home theater experience. Reproducing the dynamic range of gun shots and car crashes, etc. has pushed speaker development in directions which do not enhance music reproduction. What has been lost along the way is resolution.

The typical high efficiency "home theater" speaker can not compete with an audiophile grade speaker for music reproduction. Detail and resolution are typically sacrificed in the pursuit of extremely high sound pressure levels. But, how many of us actually watch movies at levels that can achieved by "home theater" speakers? Don't let a loud "action" movie demo influence your buying decision. These demos are impressive and are effective selling tools for "home theater" speakers. "Action" scenes are exciting, but there is more to home theater sound than dynamic range. For the majority of the time, the loudness is at reasonable levels. We think you will find that high resolution wins out over high sound pressure levels.


How to get the most out of your Maggie home theater

The system design and setup of a home theater system is more complicated than a 2-channel, music system. Since the center channel speaker does approximately 60% of the "heavy lifting" for movies, getting the center channel done right is the key to a good home theater system. In addition, the problem is usually complicated by the available space, or lack of space, for the center channel speaker. Rooms and installations vary greatly which makes it impractical to give a set of guidelines or instructions.

In Australia, call Bill Mclean on 1300 995 448 and he will be glad to help.

Repairs and Refurbishment

We offer a complete repair and restoration service on all Magnepan speaker products. Servicing all Australian states and Territories.

Please email or telephone your special requirements to us.

Ph: 1300 995 448