How Adding State of the Art Low Bass to an Already Great Speaker Makes Magic
Magnepan make unique speakers, they look different (and cooler) than conventional box speakers because they are different in significant ways from a conventional speaker. The thing about Maggies, as owners affectionately refer to them, is that they don’t sound much like speakers. Sound just seems to appear, almost from nowhere, effortless and freed from the usual boundaries of box speakers.
REL subwoofers (I still like our original term Sub Bass System for its more complete description of what we do) have a special affinity for Magnepan speakers. These tall, thin panels make fantastic midrange and high frequencies; some models even make decent bass down into the 50 Hz range. But the nature of panel speakers is such that making high levels of deep, accurate low bass in a room of normal dimension is expensive and difficult to achieve.
Technically defined as a planar magnetic speaker—think of a planar speaker as using a gossamer-thin sheet of mylar with aluminum strips attached that, themselves, are thinner than a human hair and weigh almost nothing. This mylar sheet is the active driver; energy to drive the panel is produced by a series of magnetic strips behind the mylar. The result is very lightweight drivers that are large enough to make sufficient levels of output for most. Magnepans offer a simple, elegant solution to producing a fast, coherent sound speaker.
Speed, speed, speed. When asked why RELs offer a near magical blend with Maggies, it is this quality of our subs I point to first. Then I point to our system of making bass that has yet to be bettered for music reproduction, and which we constantly work behind the scenes to evolve and make better year after year. For example, the bare cone on one of our S/510 models weighs just 10 grams (well under ½ an ounce), whereas a competitor’s I measured last year weighed more than ten times that. There are far more parameters than simply weighing how heavy the cone structure is, but reducing the amount of weight tasked with reproducing deep bass is a great place to start when the goal is to keep up with state of the art speakers.
Maggies, like all great speakers, need to be run full range to achieve their best. With a REL, that’s exactly how most of our systems are designed (Note: Serie HT is designed purely to reproduce the impact of high-powered theatre .1/LFE signals and, thus, does not receive our High Level Inputs, which lowers their cost greatly). Connect a REL using our High Level Connection wired directly to the speaker output terminals on the rear of your power amp and you suddenly have the recipe for a world class full range system at a bargain price. Full range sound is sent to your Magnepans, while the REL is driven by exactly the same connection. And so, Magic happens.
Value, too, is a virtue both companies embody. While it’s true that we offer no-holds-barred solutions with Line Arrays reaching deep into five figures, each model we offer provides high value solutions when analyzed in the context of the specific challenge they are tasked with resolving. So it’s no surprise that correct matching RELs make fiscal sense for their partnering Maggies. And why over the years, a number of high end reviewers who bought Magnepans for themselves turned right around and purchased RELs when the time came to transform their already very fine sound into a truly Full Range system ––with all the attendant improvements to soundstaging, dynamics, and warmth and body that accompany REL ownership. For the .7 model (a TzeroMKIII can work in a pinch) and 1.7 models look to the Serie T/x and for the Model 3.7 you’ll be using our S/812 (S/510 in a small room), while our 212/SX works a treat with the larger 20.7 model.
Make sure you get stereo pairs of subwoofers (yes, Line Arrays work brilliantly with larger models) with these ultra-coherent speakers. Your ears will thank you. While a single unit will add great bass, pairs allow you to perfectly balance the sound field and counteract the asymmetries all rooms suffer from. Panel speakers can highlight these problems with their rearward travelling waves of sound that are almost as strong as their forward-facing sound. Experiment with bringing your RELs closer to your speakers to ensure the speed of the REL matches the speed of your Magnepans.
So, for a truly coherent sound, one that sounds like no other try pairing matching RELs with your Magnepans. Many feel that RELs are the only subwoofers to consider when seeking a proper match for these delightful speakers. We’ve used them together for years and always found it easy to obtain a perfect blend between speaker and REL.
Magnepan and Magneplanar are trademarks of Magnepan Incorporated of White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Use of the company’s name is purely educational and not intended to imply nor infer any linkage between our two companies.