With Temptation, the only time the .7s took a dive was on a few, big, low bass notes in the opening bars of “Jersey Girl,” where there was some audible clipping as the .7s reached/exceeded their excursions limit, although the volume I was listening at was fairly substantial.
Which brings me to bass-heavy rock and roll.
Personally, I tend to like a little bit of added color and drama with such music. I enjoy experiencing the weight of a Fender bass guitar and feeling the punch/impact of a kickdrum. And on their own the .7s just don’t do this particular trick the way cones do.
So I decided to bring some JL Audio subwoofers into the mix. (It’s worth noting that Magnepan offers its own add-on woofer option, the Magneplanar Bass Panel or DWM, which essentially contains two bass drivers on one thin-film planar-magnetic panel. Because they’re “all-Maggie,” the DWMs might integrate very seamlessly. I would certainly like to give them a test drive when I get the opportunity. Hopefully I’ll be able to report back soon.)
With some rock and roll, the JL Audio subwoofers added needed muscle and punch. A high-res digital file of the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” for instance, sounded big, brash, and bold with the subwoofed .7s. And not just in the bottom octaves. You could also better feel the weight and power of Merry Clayton’s “backing” vocals—not to mention Keith Richards’ driving guitar. A couple of cuts from the Pixies’ indie/post-punk Surfer Rosa on vinyl sounded heavier than thou. The insistent throb of “Cactus” and the building, searing strains of “Where Is My Mind?” simply filled the room. This was music you could hear and feel.
That said, weight isn’t everything.
On much music the magic of pure, authentic acoustics rang true through these Magnepans to very satisfying effect with no subwoofers required. For instance, “The Girl from Ipanema” from the 1964 eponymous Getz/Gilberto album sounded infinitely more spacious and open without the subs. The song floated and soared in all its subtle, understated beauty. Also on the jazz front, Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster was a captivating experience without subs. The breathiness and buzzy vibrations from Hawkins’ tenor saxophone reed sounded incredibly real and present. The soundstaging felt true-to-life. The piano’s low notes were clear and warm. You could easily pick up nuances of the recording space.
The bottom line is this: As I spent more time experimenting with the .7 speakers both with and without the addition of subwoofers, I discovered that I definitely preferred some music with them, but many selections without. Generally speaking, I found my preferences fell along lines of musical genres, though sometimes even those lines got a little blurred.
Without subs, for example, the acoustic/electric sound of the live version of “Late in the Evening,” from Simon & Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park made me want to dance to its catchy salsa rhythms. Closing your eyes you could picture the stage full of instruments in a rich scene that must have been an unforgettable concert experience.
Even some classic rock tracks (particularly those without big driving bass) worked well without the subwoofers. On David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs,” the solid percussion came through vividly and felt balanced against the raw electric guitar and the rocking piano via the .7s all by themselves. (And that cowbell never sounded better.)
The .7s Versus Amplifiers
But before you start thinking we’re entering some sort of hi-fi utopia, know that while this design eliminates some variables from the equation, it also brings with it other demands and considerations.
For one, the .7s are a bit power-hungry: They require an amplifier capable of driving a low-sensitivity 4-ohm load. I listened first with a tube amp, but definitely heard better results with a solid-state one. Why? The tube amp gave almost too much leeway to the bass, making it less clearly defined. This also left the upper midrange more exposed (i.e., a shade bright). Some might like the more forward projection (not unlike what you’d hear from horn loudspeakers) of tubes, but I liked the more blended, balanced feel of the solid-state amp, so I stuck with that for most of my listening.
The .7s Versus You
At a tough-to-beat price point that would make even the thriftiest loudspeaker lovers open their wallets, the .7s become even more attractive when you consider that Magnepan is also offering a 30-day in-home trial and a money-back guarantee. Whether you’re in the market for a starter pair of high-quality speakers, or have the proverbial champagne taste on a beer budget (or both!), why wouldn’t you consider these babies? They’re terrific.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Two-way floorstanding planar loudspeaker with quasi-ribbon tweeter and quasi-ribbon mid/woofer
Frequency response: 50Hz–24kHz +/-3dB
Impedance: 4 ohms
Sensitivity: 86dB/2.83V/1 meter, 500Hz
Dimensions: 15 1/4" x 54 1/4" x 1/2"
Weight: 27 lbs. (each)
1645 Ninth Street
White Bear Lake, MN 55110