Magnepan Magneplanar MG1.6/QR loudspeaker Page 4

The '1.6/QR's resolution of inner detail was another area of surprising strength and a contributor to its vivid presentation. Instruments and voices were dense and dimensional, and rich with tonal and dynamic subtleties. Album after album, my notes were filled with comments like "clear," "precise," or "great inner detail—individual voices and instruments within a section are wonderfully distinct." I was repeatedly taken aback by how complex and real a familiar voice—say, Joni Mitchell's or Rickie Lee Jones'—sounded through the '1.6.

Similarly, its reproduction of solo piano—Artur Rubinstein on the Reiner/Rachmaninoff, Wallenstein/Liszt LP (RCA LCS-2068), for example—always seemed to reveal subtleties that I'd not noticed before. That RCA album is a particularly good example. All of the instruments and sections of the orchestra, even the soft trumpets and cymbals at the very rear of the stage, were reproduced with the same level of inner detail, the same wonderful coherence and placement, as Rubinstein's piano.

The '1.6/QRs' exceptional ability to resolve low-level details and weave them into a coherent picture was a big component of their magic. I mentioned the Dave Bailey album; another good example was Johnnie Johnson's "Tanqueray," from Johnny B. Bad (Elektra 61149-2). The Maggies revealed background details I'd never noticed before, but without making them seem over-etched or unnaturally spotlit. They were just an integral component of the coherent, live ambience. Pick your favorite recording, whether it be a symphony, a live club jazz performance, or an all-out rocker—I think you'll like the Maggies' presentation.

The Thiel CS2.3 and Magneplanar MG1.6/QR are both outstanding speakers, and I'd unhesitatingly recommend either one. Both show how far and how successfully their designs have evolved. They have refined their inherent strengths, and their traditional weaknesses have been largely ameliorated—so much so that the tradeoffs between their performances aren't as clear as might once have been the case with two comparable designs from these companies.

Each offers a different set of attributes, both outstanding. The Maggies, for example, now offer the more vivid, dynamic presentation, while the Thiels have the more softly articulate voice. But the MG1.6/QR offers an incredible amount of performance and musical enjoyment for the money. You could build a killer system around the Maggies for under $3000 and either live happily ever after, or upgrade around them to your heart's content.

On the other hand, the more-expensive Thiels are more neutral and more transparent. Bonnie and I spent many delightful nights with the Maggies, digging out record after record, but when it was time to work on a review, I always turned to the Thiels for their neutrality. This isn't to say that the Thiels weren't engaging—quite the contrary. After the serious listening was done, I was never in any hurry to replace the CS2.3s.

The bottom line is that both are excellent loudspeakers, and a listener won't go wrong with either. If you're in the market for speakers at either of these price points, I strongly urge you to give these two a listen. If you haven't listened to Maggies or Thiels in a while, you might be surprised.

Summing Up
A few things stand out very clearly from my time with the Magnepan MG1.6/QRs. First, this is a spectacularly enjoyable loudspeaker—the sort that a music lover could happily buy and never look back, spending the rest of her time and money on building and enjoying a music collection. On the other hand, a die-hard audiophile could assemble a killer budget system around the '1.6/QRs and spend the rest of his life upgrading components around them. The little Maggies won't bite the heads off of lesser upstream components, but they will most definitely respond to the quality of signal they're fed.

The second thing that strikes me is how impressive an evolution of the Magneplanar design the MG1.6/QR is. It manages to retain all of the traditional Magnepan strengths—the coherence and the wonderful disappearing act—while spectacularly improving on the company's past performance in the areas of dynamics and resolution of detail. These are now arresting, outstanding performance attributes, not areas where compromises must be made.

Last but certainly not least, I find it incredible that Magnepan has achieved this level of performance in a speaker that retails for $1475/pair. In my 20 years of involvement in the audio hobby, I can't think of another product that has offered as much performance for as little money as the MG1.6/QR. Highly—very highly—recommended.

1645 Ninth Street
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
(800) 474-1646