I am always fascinated by dipole speakers, especially the design of the cabinet, how beautiful and lean they look. Equally fascinated by how they manage to deliver lifelike sound quality in such a thin enclosure, and how sweet their treble sounds. I was also very intrigued by Magnetostatic speakers which may be similar to electrostatic speakers but they are still some differences.
What are Magnetostatic Speakers
Magnetostatic speakers use high currents which are different from electrostatic speakers as they use high voltages instead. There are strips of bar magnets located behind the membrane, which are there to cater for the driving power. The membrane itself usually uses Mylar as the base material, where conductive strips are bonded to it. These conductive strips mainly deliver the mid-range frequency and sometimes the high-range frequency, the thicker copper/aluminum wires of the Magnetostatic speaker will be tasked to deliver the bass. Then there is a long aluminum strip which is both the tweeter and also the conductor. With the current flowing in the conductors, it will then interact with the magnetic field thus creating sound mostly to its front and back due to the dipole structure.
You will usually require high-power amplifiers that are powerful enough to drive the low impedance load of Magnetostatic speakers. An additional subwoofer is usually needed for the bass response. Even so, there are high-end full-range Magnetostatic speakers that are more than capable of reproducing tight, rich, and powerful bass.
Their lack of colorations which I find great for reproducing music that is close to what the artists have intended but can sound thin for others. Another unique feature of a Magnetostatic speaker is that they have fewer issues with room modes than a traditional box speaker. Due to this, Magnetostatic speakers are able to deliver a more accurate sound quality.
Even though Magnetostatic speakers have lesser room participations which supposedly makes them easier to be placed in difficult rooms. But due to their size, it actually makes them harder. They may be very thin but you will still need breathing space for them, ample distance between the walls behind and on the side is still needed. They are usually made with large width and height dimensions, the sheer size makes them stick out, and your spouses may not like them to be in the house at all. Not to mention, if you are a pet owner, it might be quite impossible to protect your speakers from your cat as they find it irresistible like a scratch post.
The above image is a pair of 1970’s Magnepan MG-1 speakers
Every type of speakers have their strength and weakness, for Magnetostatic speakers, their greatest strength would be their ribbon tweeters. If you are able to have a dedicated listening room for your music, you should definitely check these speakers out. Magnepan will be an amazing speaker brand to start with.
Magnepan Magnetostatic Speakers
They have been manufacturing high-quality stereo speakers since 1969 and for over 50 years, more than 200,000 pairs of Magneplanar speakers have been sold to music lovers all over the world. Their Magnepan 30.7 has made a splash by co-winning Overall Product of the Year award, along with the $685,000 Wilson WAMM Master Chronosonic. This is an impressive feat as the Wilson WAMM speakers cost 20 times more than Magnepan 30.7 and yet the latter could effortlessly hold their own.
If ultra-high-end speakers are not what you are looking for, you can check out Magnepan LRS (Little Ribbon Speaker) as it has won the Budget Loudspeaker of the Year award and cost about $650. It could be amazing entry-level speakers and a gateway to quasi-ribbon design. You will still need high-end amplifiers and electronics to unleash their full potential though. AV receivers with enough power output per channel and with the right output impedance will work fine.
It may seem that the Maggies are difficult to drive, that is true if you want to hear their full potential. The next Magnetostatic speaker brand which I am about to share with you is both famous and notorious at the same time.
The above image is a pair of 1986 SMGa Magnepan Magneplanars
Apogee Acoustics Magnetostatic Speakers
Some of Apogee’s full-range speakers are so difficult to drive and have such low impedance that they require very powerful amplifiers. Due to their requirements, Apogee paved the way for brands such as Krell to create powerful amplifiers with audiophile quality which are amazing for music. Apogee’s original Scintilla is one of such hard to drive Magnetostatic speakers and now comes their successor Synergy 1.5.
Apogee’s Magnetostatic speakers are famous for their powerful and deep bass, such as Synergy 1.5 that can go as low as 20Hz. These days, they are easier to drive when they are compared to their older models. Still, you will need high-quality amplifiers to release their full potential, it is recommended to use mono power amps.
There aren’t many options to choose from but is definitely worth an audition with them if you are looking for amazing pair of Magnetostatic speakers that can reproduce better bass output with more authority.
Magnetostatic speakers to some people, have the purest and probably the finest tweeter. There is something magical when playing music through these speakers, the spacious sound stage, their airy highs, and lifelike mids. The sound quality is so incredibly amazing that it could be compared with speakers that are ten times their price or even more, just look at Magnepan 30.7. Most Magnetostatic speakers are lacking bass but can be solved by adding bass panels for Maggies or simply go for full-range Magnetostatic speakers.
What makes it difficult to own and truly enjoy Magnetostatic speakers will be their thirst for power, if you want them to perform at their highest, you will need the highest quality amplifiers. This will make it a very expensive 2.0 setup. Then there’s the spouse acceptance level which usually deters the buying of such hulking speakers.
If you have deep pockets and a dedicated music room, then you should really consider them. Just pop by a local dealer and have a listen, you may fall in love with Magnetostatic speakers just like the many audiophiles/music lovers in the world.