If you asked a group of confirmed high-performance audio enthusiasts which Magnepan model offered the most high-end goodness per dollar (or pound, or Euro), you might get many answers, but my bet is that the lion’s share of responses would name the 3.7 as the sweetest of sweet spots in the lineup, or would have done until now.
Why the "until now" qualifier? The simple answer is that, in a sharp break with past practices, Magnepan has elected to release a newly revised 3.7 model—called the 3.7i, which arrives just three years after the original 3.7 was released (by Magnepan standards, such a rapid revision cycle is without precedent, so that in US-based publications Magnepan ads pose the question: “A new model so soon???”). I’ll be reviewing the 3.7i in Hi-Fi+ in due course, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share some unboxing photos and preliminary comments.
Technical differences between the 3.7i and the 3.7
In a long, free-wheeling, late evening conversation with Magnepan President, Mark Winey, Mr. Winey shared with me one of the key technical differences between the 3.7i and the earlier 3.7. However, no sooner had the information been shared than I was promptly sworn to absolute secrecy on pain of having to swap out my high-end reference audio system for a Bose tabletop radio for all eternity (Please, no, anything but that!!). Sorry, but there is absolutely nothing I can pass along about the innards of the 3.7i. The Magnepan folks prefer to keep the technical details of the 3.71i to themselves and I must respect their decision. I am able, though, to tell you this much:
- The technical changes incorporated in the 3.7i to existing 3.7-series loudspeakers.
- The 3.7-to3.7i upgrade charge is $500, which is roughly the price differential between the 3.7i ($5,995/pair) and the earlier 3.7 ($5,500/pair). Owners will, of course, be responsible for paying shipping charges to and from the Magnepan factory.
Note: 3.7 owners who are interested in the upgrade must contact Magnepan returning their speakers to the manufacturer.
- The changes incorporated in the 3.7i are, indeed, readily audible and 100% beneficial, as I’ll explain in a moment.
How big are the sonic improvements in terms of order of magnitude? That question is open to some debate. Many of the US dealers who have heard the 3.7i have reportedly felt the improvements were significant enough to have warranted changing the name to “3.8”—a name that in Magnepan nomenclature would have denoted an all-new model.
Magnepan managers, who have always been and probably always will be modest to a fault, preferred going with the name “3.7i” to denote a model that is plainly improved, but that represents more of an evolution of the existing 3.7 design rather than a full-on new model. You be the judge.