Another audible improvement is in dynamics. On drums, the 20.7 has a quality more akin to that of a horn loudspeaker in its rapidity. Be careful with the volume control: the 20.7 can almost snap your head off with its whiplash speed. The improved coherence of the 20.7 also means that the midbass reproduction is far more satisfying than with the 20.1. The improved alacrity of the bass panel helps to make for a more potent sound. Unanticipated bass drum whacks may make you jump. This speaker, in other words, has come to play.
Will the 20.7 prompt devotees of moving coil designs to decamp en masse for planar loudspeakers? Probably not. What I’m trying to say here is not that Magnepan has reinvented the planar loudspeaker, but that it has significantly improved upon its designs to the point that many of the drawbacks long associated with planars have now either been banished or rendered nugatory. To be sure, the 20.7 will not have the pinpoint imaging or ultimate bass dynamics or the supernatural black backgrounds of competitors costing ten or even twenty times as much (as of this writing final price has not been determined, but the factory seems intent on retaining or not appreciably raising the cost from the current $13,000 for a 20.1).
But here’s the skinny: no other speaker at this price will offer even remotely similar lifelike performance, and it should—no, will—scare the bejeezus out of most of its competitors. It’s no accident that Audio Research, which I also got to visit, has 3.7 loudspeakers as part of its reference system. So go ahead. Search for another loudspeaker. But I can only wish you good luck. I defy you to find one at up to five times the cost with the scale and realism of the 20.7. I know. I heard it first.