Magnepan Magneplanar loudspeakers run-in | Part Two

01.10.2012..

To the first part of this article

 

The new

Finally, we get to the core of this article. Hereto I am going to describe what I had to do to install the new Magneplanars and get the best performances.

 

3.6 Cherry

I have received my new 3.6 Magneplanar speakers in their solid packaging Ikea-style with a kit and a smaller box, about 60x30 cm, housing the filters of the external crossovers. Once opened the boxes I have found out that I had to assemble only the feet and the filters close to the binding posts.

A clarification. In the brand new speakers, you will find, on the entire length of the ribbons, two metallic stripes, with a magnet upon. Their task is to hold the ribbons during the transport. You have to remove the stripes VERY delicately and VERY VERY SLOWLY in order to avoid that the magnetic force rips the ribbons. If you need to move them again do not forget to replace the stripes.

 

I connect and switch on… I remember very clearly how the old speakers performed like. I feel dumbstruck: the sound is pent-up and empty, it goes right through my head and ears and I cannot feel anything.

 

I call Mr. Radici, PFA2’s official distributor, and he says that there is nothing strange. The Magneplanars need at least 300 hours of continuous run-in to express themselves at best. I had lost heart and considered absurd that this huge gap was due to the run-in.

 

However, I place the 3.6 in the middle of the room, facing each other at about 40 cm to avoid any complications with the diaphragms and I wrapped them in two heavy military blankets. I have played random a CD test containing signals at fixed frequency and in sweep to cover the entire sound spectrum, plus different kind of music to get a linear and homogenous mechanical solicitation, both to the ribbons and the broad-range panels. A variable volume between 60 and 80 dB and a sweet amplification in tension with two Jadis JA80. Highly not recommended, as run-in for the Magneplanars, to use current amps because the panels are too rigid. To avoid any damage they have to take elasticity in a sweet way.

 

100 hours later: nothing…always impossible to listen, although there is less harshness in the ribbons and a couple of more octaves downward.

200 hours later: nothing, still nothing

300 hours later: very concerned I call again Mr. Radici suggesting that maybe…the 3.6 are flawed.

Reassured by Mr. Radici, I continue the run-in and…miracle! Exactly 500 hours later, all of a sudden, everything changes. A wonderfully articulated and full sound fills the room coming out from behind the blankets!

I take them off and sit somewhere in front of the speakers: what a fun!

The mid-high range is sparkling but never intrusive, the mid full of breath and the low range definitely not typical Magne.

 

I have come to the conclusion that for this product the run-in is more than important but what puzzles me is why a so sudden change and why after so many hours.

Maybe it would be better an annotation on the manual to inform the user to be patient and unconcerned, or, even better, deliver them after the run-in.

 

I call PFA’s owner describing the dysfunctional behaviour and I receive a confirmation. But we all know how fussy and at the same time superficial are the Americans in manufacturing and making the manuals which, often, have only technical data, useless for the average audiophile.

 

I relocate the speakers and pump up the volume. The Jadis are not good for an adequate driving of the 3.6, which suddenly are eager in current. It is logical. Without excursions they did not ask for current, with the excursions they require it. Keep it in mind before buying an amplification, otherwise 500 hours later it can result inadequate as well. Ask a friend, a dealer or oblige the Magne’s seller to provide you on hire with a provisory ad hoc amplification. Then after the run-in, choose the definitive one. A good solution, although not ideal from my point of view, are the OTL tube power amps with lots of power to get more velocity, but only if you respect the high impedance or stability of the module, otherwise…”bye bye OTL”:

Please note how much the fuse that protects the ribbon influences the quality: many people use the jumpers but they are dangerous and wrong. On my part, I have solved the problem with DIY fuses in “aero” silver and calculated to cede as the original fuse does but without any loss in quality.

 

Carrying on with the 20.1 Cherry

I have enjoyed the 3.6 very little. After a hard optimization, a dear friend has come to listen and crave for them.

They are a splendid product indeed. In a system with verve, as second speaker or main speakers with the right components, especially the connectors, you do not want to get rid of the Magnes.

Without the Magnes, what I have done has been handle the B&W 800 Matrix Rosewood for tests only. I stood very little: I called the dear Radici and ordered a pair of 20.1 Cherry. Believe me: that trim in precious wood make them perform better, it is not just an aesthetic factor. As for the 3.6, I asked for the light refractive cloths that I find amazing.

 

Finally, they arrive, but… my God, they are so huge! The lift is unthinkable, also without the packaging, so the only solution are the stairs and…three movers.

Besides the main packaging, you will receive the 60x30 box with the crossover filters, another one with the four feet and a mysterious box, two-metre long, containing pipes in a mysterious resin where are placed the two Ribbons: assembling them is a hard job also for the more experts.

 

As I told you before for the 3.6, you have to remove the metallic stripes VERY delicately and relocate them in case of transport.

 

I assemble feet, ribbons and crossover filters. After the experience with the 3.6, I decide to follow the same procedure and connect the JA80 for the run-in. Perfect. Five hundred hours later, I take the blankets off and position.

 

Definitely another thing, although the 3 are great products. The mid-high range was too mellow so I decide to prepare the new fuses to clean everything. Probably a so long ribbon influences the performance: the 3 were more radiographing, clear and precise, while the 20 dampen a bit the mid range and the outcome is more fluid but less real.

The image is spectacular. Practically the entire front wall is the emission point. The positioning is more towards the back wall: with this wide surface, you do not need to move them away but for the bass control, while the extension does not change.

 

I turn up the volume and everything crackles. Therefore, I connect a pair of McIntosh Mc1201 mono amplifiers, confident about their performances.

Disarming: the VU meters of the Mac slammed on the 3.800 watts while in the air there were no more than 90 dB: how disappointing!

Become embittered, I put in the field two Sansui B2201 and B302 power amps in their limited version, which have performed well also with the Infinity Delta/Gamma/Beta, the worst loading I have ever seen. Musical Technology electronic crossover and the connectors I have made specifically for this kind of speakers…another world.

 

Although similar, the 3.6 and the 20.1 are very different at the listening. The 3.6 has more impact, like a dynamic speaker, even if with a limited power handling that forces you to keep your hand on the volume control to avoid any damages on the highest transients. The 20 do not have such problem. The sound is different, more flat and dampened, wide, big but without exaggerating voices and instruments. In sum… more audiophile for sure.

 

After many hours of listening, I have completely forgotten the 3.6 and when then happened the occasion of buying them at a good price I refused. The 20 are not an absolute reference but a different way to listen to the music, let us say subjective, pleasant and involving. They are an emotion-maker but they are always unreal, though.

 

All Magneplanars work following the same principles, together with the environment: like a bass drum with only the peel that sounds only if the environment compensates optimally this absence. You have to be aware that if you put these speakers in an acoustical harsh place, they cannot perform correctly. Too absorbing or reflective, irregular or without air between them, worse if bad driven.

The 3.6 “disguise” a lot. I mean, they make less evident the discrepancies between the electronics or the connectors of low quality. The driving, however, has to be optimal. I suggest a preamp or a tube source and all the rest at solid state to get a good timbric without compromising velocity and control.

 

With the 20 things are different. Although more euphonic and articulate, this speaker cannot disguise. If the machines are not excellent or there is a bad interfacing, the 20 will perform awfully: this transparency is clearly a merit. With them, I have been able to analyze any single detail on both machines and connections to which they are particularly sensitive. Also Radici realized that when he listened to them driven in my own way: CD with lightning and flashes and the sound level meter at 118 dB. The concept is simple: lesser the distortion and purer the signal sent to the transducers, higher the sound pressure thanks to the more linear mechanical and electric functioning of the signal.

The Magneplanars are very sensitive to distortion. Once eliminated, they can go higher with the excursion and the power handling. Currently, mine are driven by four mono Audio Physic Stradivari in biamplification for more than 2 KW RMS real, and I can step on the gas without any breaking.

 

Conclusion

Ultimately, although they are not my speakers par excellence…hurray for the Maggies! They are the winner of my personal “lust award”, even if far from a realistic performance.

I have not listened to the new Maggies, recently reviewed by Roberto Rocchi, but I wish that the new, as often happened in the past, outclasses the old.

I may presume that the new filament with flat section can obviate many breakings and the low range can benefit without any doubt, but everything is relative. But, but. I am puzzled about the choice of preferring a mono amplification by eliminating the binding posts for the biwiring. In this way, only the loading resistances must balance the sections: I have tried to do it and they almost went up in flames….

 

 

2 out of 2 - The end

 

 

Associated equipment: to Roberto Borgonzoni system

 
by Roberto Borgonzoni
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