The Magnepan room at the increasingly sparse T.H.E. Show is dimly lit, and though there are chairs facing forward, there are no speakers up front. Instead, there is a fine shroud stretched from side wall to side wall, and that is all there is to see ahead. Maggie’s marketing maven, Wendell Diller explains that the looks of a speaker can color one’s perception of its sound; beautiful speakers, for example, tend to sound more beautiful than ugly ones. So Magnepan decided to demo its forthcoming new “mystery” speaker blind.
No one has given away the mystery to me as yet, so I am indeed in the dark in multiple respects. Wendell cues up a series of tracks on the superlative Bryston BCD-1 player. The rest of the system—the part I can see, anyway—is also Bryston, including their flagship preamp and a pair of obviously unflappable 1000-watt monoblocks.
The sound is excellent. All the usual Maggie virtues are in evidence: great soundstaging, plenty of air, and a pure tonality. This particular speaker, whatever it is, seems to offer more than its fair share of depth, and one very punchy solo drum track really tests the speaker’s dynamic mettle. It comes through without any sense of strain or distortion whatsoever.
Of course, as I listen I’m trying to figure out what this new speaker might look like, since Wendell has already revealed, in effect, that that is the surprising thing about it. I notice that while the soundstage is wide and deep, it is not especially high. So I surmise that the mystery speaker may not be as tall as some Maggies. Yet the solid bass and effortless dynamics bespeak a large planar.
Finally, it’s time for the big reveal, and Wendell shows me what I’ve been listening to. What is it? I promised not to say until the show is over. Which will be tomorrow. At which time I will, in turn, reveal to you what the “mystery” speaker turned out to be. But let me say here that it was indeed a surprise.
To be continued!