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American Made: Magnepan LRS

  • LRS. Little Ribbon Speaker. This entry-level panel loudspeaker from Magnepan was introduced in 2019 as a replacement for the almost identical-looking MMGi (and before that, the MMG). The Minnesota-based company refers to the LRS as a ‘quasi-ribbon’ design where an ultra-light film stands in for the aluminium ribbon found in its larger, more costly models. An electro-magnetic charge excites the film whose movements excite the air to give us sound.

    Priced at US$750/pair – plus a 60-day money-back guarantee when purchased directly from Magnepan – the LRS throw a wider net in their pursuit of hi-fi people. Newcomers accustomed to box loudspeakers sitting on stands might be a little unnerved by the LRS’ greater physical presence — but they shouldn’t be. Each speaker measures 121cm x 37cm but is only 3cm thick. The larger surface area is used to generate 85dB at one metre when fed 2.83V by an amplifier. Impedance is, in theory, 4 Ohms no matter the incoming signal frequency. Bass response is 3dB down at 50Hz.

    I spent significant time with the MMG in Australia and I recall one of the standout qualities of the smaller Maggies was their enormous soundstage, even if they did give up a little to box speakers on image specificity. Here’s hoping I can eventually get my hands on a pair of LRS in Berlin. In the meantime, Darko.Audio’s Stateside filmmaker Jana Dagdagan visited the Magnepan factory to see just how each pair of LRS is made by hand.

    Beginners might also hear more knowledgeable folk refer to the LRS as a dipole speaker. This is where sound fires forwards in-phase and backwards out of phase but for lower frequencies (whose wavelengths are longer) the sound wraps around the cabinet for a cancellation effect. When seen from above, the LRS’s radiation pattern would draw a figure 8. If you stand off to the side of one speaker you’ll hear a roll-off. Same when you stand up. We net fewer side-wall and ceiling reflections but also a tighter sweet spot.

    Be warned: Magnepan says that the LRS will need better-than-average amplification. That’s a departure from the anything-goes attitude that begat the MMG and MMGi. Steve Guttenburg has already fingered the US$699 Schiit Vidar as a decent-sounding and price-appropriate partner.

    🎥 Camera: Jana Dagdagan
    🎬 Editor: Jana Dagdagan

    Further information: Magnepan

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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