Audiophiles love flat panel speakers for their slim profile as much as their sound quality, but they tend to be rather large. But audio writer Steve Guttenberg has found the Magnepan Mini Maggies, a desktop-sized pair that arguably outperform larger competitors.
Flat panel speakers combine a magnetic field with a ultra-thin, high-quality foil material to produce sound. When a current is run through the foil, it becomes magnetic and begins moving and contorting in the magnetic field. Those contortions are then interpreted as sound.
Guttenberg says the Mini Maggies sit roughly 14 inches high and are a shade over an inch thick. The flat panel subwoofer is 22 inches high, but is still the same thickness. When placed in an appropriate sized room, Guttenberg said the $US1500 speakers sounded every bit as good as a full sized flat panel speaker, which can stand upwards of six feet high an cost triple what the Mini Maggies do.
My first impression of the sound was unprintable in a family magazine, so let's just say it was far beyond my high expectations. The Mini may be a scaled down 3.7, but it actually sounds better than a 3.7 in a number of ways. First, it's more see-through transparent, but I was sitting a lot closer (4 vs. 10 feet) to the Minis, so I was hearing more direct sound, with fewer room reflections with the Minis than I do with the 3.7s. The Minis soundstage depth and image focus are better than the 3.7, which is no slouch.
But though they were impressive, Guttenberg did point out a few caveats to using the 1.7s. Placing them up against the wall will ruin the depth of sound, and not having the speakers at ear level will cause tonal distortion. Bass, while adequate, is not a point of emphasis with these speakers either. It's more about the clarity of the highs and mids. You'll also need a powerful amplifier. In any case, the Magnepan 1.7s are expected to go on sale soon. Sound junkies looking for an interesting pair of speakers may want to add these to the wish list. [InnerFidelity]