I love small speakers, I really do, but the sound of the best of them never approaches the size of real instruments. Big, statuesque tower speakers get closer, but to my ears only flat panel speakers, thanks to their larger sound radiating areas convey scale better than other speaker types. The all-new Magnepan 30.7 projects a wall of sound like no other speaker in my experience.
Magnepan’s original Tympani multi-panel speaker from the early 1970s looms large in the memories of many audiophiles. The Tympani was too wide for most rooms, so in 1992 Magnepan debuted the single panel 20 Series speaker. That model, with design revisions, reigned supreme as the company’s top of the line speaker through 2017. But starting early next year, the 30.7 will be the new flagship speaker.
It’s a four-piece system, with two panels per channel. The bass panels are 29.5 inches (749mm) wide, and the midrange/tweeter panel is 16 inches (406mm) wide. Each panel is 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall, and while they’re huge in height and width the panels are a mere 2 inches (51mm) thick! The speaker doesn’t have conventional dome tweeters, cone midranges, or bass drivers, instead it’s a four-way, ultra-thin ribbon design. Impedance is rated at 4 ohms. The 30.7 will be manufactured in the company’s factory in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Like all Magnepan speakers, the 30.7 should be used with high quality amplifiers.
I listened to the 30.7s at the Audio Connection store in Verona, New Jersey, and I was blown away by their vivid transparency and huge soundstage. They sound big and tangible, but the bass slam and dynamic punch isn’t close to what you get from Wilson Audio or Magico’s hulking tower speakers. Those brutes sell for more than double the 30.7’s price. They win on power but only project sound forward, while the 30.7’s four panels with front and rear sound radiation better mimics the way an orchestra, piano, or drum kit’s sound fills a room. The 30.7’s ability to sound life-size and effortless has its own rewards.
Magnepan 30.7 deliveries are scheduled to begin in December or early in 2018. The price has not yet been finalized, but the company estimates it will be around $29,000 per pair (which converts to £21,860 or AU$37,085). Custom paint finishes will be available at extra cost.
I hope to spend more time with these remarkable speakers sometime next year.
Batteries Not Included: The CNET team shares experiences that remind us why tech stuff is cool.
CNET Magazine: Check out a sampling of the stories you’ll find in CNET’s newsstand edition.