In Hi-Fi+157 I wrote a favourable preview of Magnepan’s new flagship loudspeaker, the model 30.7. Now, as the loudspeaker nears full serial production, I wanted to provide a follow-up review to discuss one important change that has been incorporated into the loudspeaker over the last several months as production was still in the early stages. Over that time Magnepan’s head of Sales and Marketing Wendell Diller has been touring many of his firm’s North American dealers, doing more than thirty 30.7 demonstration events for dealers and prospective customers across the US. Along the way, Diller has gathered experiences from setups in 31 different rooms and Magnepan was able to incorporate this change into the first production units.
Earlier this week I had an opportunity to do a private audition of the 30.7 at an event held at Magnepan’s Austin, Texas dealership: Austin Home Systems (formerly Audio Systems). The results were ear opening, to say the least. Before offering observations on the sound of the 30.7, though, let me provide a quick product recap from my original preview.
Like all Magnepans the 30.7’s are tall, wide, thin, and completely ‘boxless’, dipole panel-type speakers that look much like fabric-covered room divider screens with minimalist perimeter frames. In recent years almost all Magnepan loudspeakers have used a single panel for each channel—even though the panels are typically subdivided internally to house multiple planar drivers. The 30.7, however, takes a different approach in that it uses two physically separate panels per channel—a wider panel that handles the bass and midbass workload plus a narrower panel that handles midrange and high frequency duties. As you scan the photo accompanying this review, you will see that a stereo pair of 30.7’s comprises four panels in total, each standing at 6 ½ feet tall. That’s a shade under 2m in Eurometricals.
The 30.7’s large bass/lower-midbass panel measures 79 ×29 ×2.062 inches or 200.7 ×73.7 ×5.2 cm (H×W×D), while the tweeter/midrange panel is the same height and depth, but only 16 inches or 36.8 cm wide. Obviously, this is a big loudspeaker system by any rational standard, though Magnepan’s Diller insists that despite its size the 30.7 system can be made to work extremely well in relatively modestly sized rooms.
Readers of a certain age might notice that the new 30.7 shows a number of conceptual ties to the legendary Tympani IVa; an extremely large multi-panel Magnepan loudspeaker from the 1970’s. For those who have never seen the Tympani IVa system in the flesh, let me mention that it was enormous—so big, in fact, that in many rooms it turned out to be a ‘wall-to-wall’ loudspeaker (and no, that’s not hyperbole, but rather a simple fact). Thanks in part to its sheer size the Tympani IVa could reproduce music—and especially orchestral music—with a combination of authority and realistic scale that was and still is as impressive as it is uncommon.
Listeners who heard the Tympani IVa system back in the day often describe the experience as being musically unforgettable, which is why many have urged Magnepan to create a 21st century version of speaker updated with all the latest materials and technologies. Stated simply, the 30.7 is that long wished-for modern day Tympani, but with two important twists. First, the 30.7 system, big though it is, look considerably smaller than the original Tympani IVa system did. Second, despite the apparent size disparity between the old system and the new, the 30.7 provides fully 22% more driver surface area than the original Tympani IVa did. Paradoxically, this means the 30.7 is at once smaller on the outside yet bigger on the inside than its predecessor.
The 30.7 is a four-way speaker whose driver array comprises, from top to bottom, Magnepan’s famous pure-ribbon linear tweeter, plus four quasi–ribbon type planar drivers: an extremely low-mass midrange driver (featuring a proprietary ultra-lightweight membrane material), a “transitional line-source midbass coupler”, a narrower woofer (that shares a common diaphragm with the midbass coupler but that has its own separate voice coil), and a wider woofer. The tweeter and midrange drivers are housed in the smaller 30.7 panel, while the midbass coupler and the two woofers are located in the larger 30.7 panel. All four of the quasi-ribbon drivers use front and rear opposing magnets, just as in Magnepan’s critically acclaimed 20.7 loudspeaker—a design feature intended to increase efficiency and dynamic range. Phase coherent first order crossover networks are used throughout. Crossover components are divided into two physical sections—one section in the bottom of each of the two 30.7 panel frames.
In my earlier preview I mentioned that the 30.7 features adjustable high frequency and midrange levels—giving a very wide range of set-up options. These adjustment features are not accomplished via control knobs, but rather through selective installation of high quality resistors on the rear of the speaker panels.