Magnepan Magneplanar MGIIIA loudspeaker Page 2
Getting the best transition from midrange to bass, and overall bass energy levels, required careful amplifier choice and speaker placement. A couple hours' listening and fiddling, however, was enough to set up the MGIIIAs quite well, with good-to-excellent bass and lower midrange performance. This is not a speaker with deep, powerful bass, and the lower midrange is slightly analytic, but the bass line is well-defined down to about 42Hz, and deep bass energy is surprisingly good. Anyone looking for good orchestral bass will not be disappointed. The MGIIIA goes much deeper than the Quad ESL-63, and as deep as most cone speakers. They just are not rock-digital, cannon-power, or organ loudspeakers.
You also will find that once the Magnepan MGIIIAs are properly placed, they are freer of lower midrange and upper bass resonance than most cone speakers. The result is a clearer and more realistic lower midrange, and bass which is free of the peaks and valleys that often make powerful bass a curse in real-world listening rooms. I found this to be particularly rewarding with bass strings, piano, and the lower woodwind notes. Natural bass is far better than powerful bass if you are really going to listen to music, which is one reason I'd never use this speaker with a subwoofer.
Dynamic coherence—the ability to convincingly reproduce sudden small or large shifts in the volume of music without favoring some instruments over others, or loud passages over low—was very good. The MGIIIAs definitely benefit from a powerful amplifier, however, particularly one that brings out their lower midrange. Lower-powered amplifiers are acceptable, but a clean, high-powered amplifier is necessary to really open them up.
The soundstage had excellent, well-defined imaging, an open character, very good height and width, and reasonable depth. In fact, the soundstage of the Magnepan MGIIIAs compares interestingly with that of the Quad ESL-63s. The Quads give you a soft midhall perspective, but one that seems a bit rolled off in the highs compared to the Magnepans. The Quads have a more stable soundstage in terms of listening area or listener movement, but it's not as detailed. Both speakers are slightly lacking in the illusion of depth, but not seriously so. Accordingly, the MGIIIAs held up against one of the best soundstages around.
I did not find that they benefitted from biamplification. Even with two identical high-quality power amps, I preferred the sound coming from one truly top-quality amp. Mixing amplifiers for upper and lower frequencies made things worse. The best coherence and most convincing music came from a single amplifier in every case, with the exception of a few really loud selections.
In summary, the MGIIIAs require a little love and care, but the sum is then as good as the parts. They offer natural musical life with a wide range of music. They do not favor one type of voice over another, orchestral music over baroque, or guitar over violin. You're never jarred by the feeling that the sound is coming from a small box, or by an unrealistic combination of timbre and apparent hall position. Like most really good speakers, the Magnepan MGIIIas allow you to ignore the compromises speaker designers must make to produce real-world products. You can simply sit back and listen to the music.—Anthony H. Cordesman