I’m going to come right out and say that I like Magnepan‘s Wendell Diller more than a little. He’s a damn fine fellow, opinionated as all hell, and pretty much a walking encyclopedia about the high-end audio industry. The fact that he led Magnepan to become a very early supporter of Part-Time Audiophile shows his impeccable taste.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am also a fan of the brand, and was a very proud owner of a pair of new 3.7 panels up until very recently and the reason I am an ex-owner was precisely due to their unwieldy size — reviewers have to move things a lot, and storing panels currently not in use was problematic. Oh well.
Which is one of the reasons I think that the smaller Maggies, like the Mini, is pretty much perfect. The degree to which the smaller panels capture the sound of the larger is uncanny.
Which is why the demo here at Newport was so particularly interesting.
The showcase circled around the pre-launch of the dot-7 (as in, .7), which puts it squarely below the 1.7 (and the 3.7 and 20.7), but above the other loudspeakers in the lineup, specifically everything that falls below the 12, the unit that the dot-7 replaces.
The setup here was very reminiscent of the demo I caught in Newport two years ago, with what I’m told was the same hidden center-channel tucked behind the curtain. Why hidden? Wendell apparently believes that “fill” is great for widening the sweet spot, which is undeniably true, as there wasn’t a bad seat in this room, but since it wasn’t the point, why bother focusing on it. Some in the press have taken the omission of mention of this hidden speaker rather hard — all the more reason to have a proper room sheet ready to roll so nothing gets overlooked in a verbal walk through. Ahem. Anyway.
What I heard was almost exactly what I was used to hearing at home — seamless coherence and wicked holography. Stunning, actually. With the two supplementary DWM bass panels (here “disguised” as lamp stands), the sound in the room was fulsome, robust, and lacking for nothing. Pricing is still TBD, but should be less than the Mini System.
In an interesting twist, the audience was invited to select the fit and finish they preferred — two possibilities were on offer. Me, I preferred the right-channel’s integrated stand on an aesthetic basis, but since neither of them seemed as rigid as my old Mye Stand, I wasn’t particularly invested. What I do know is that whichever they choose, Magnepan is going to have a genuinely high-end audio speaker for much less than $2k, and that’s fantastic news.