CES: Will Magnepan's new speaker be an open window to the music?

Magnepan promises to redefine the sound of state-of-the-art flat-panel speakers at CES.

Magnepan, based in White Bear Lake, Minn., has built nothing but flat-panel speakers since 1969. The company will be premiering a new speaker, the MG 3.7, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, from January 6-9. To some this may appear to be a deja vu event, mirroring last year's introduction of the MG 1.7, which turned out to be one of my speaker of the year picks for 2010.

But I wouldn't want you to think of Magnepan as one of those companies that rolls out "all new" models every year. The 3.7 is replacing the 3.6 that debuted 12 years ago! That may feel like an eternity in the fast paced consumer electronics business, but the 3.6 was so good it took 12 years to come up with something better.

The Magnepan 3.7 flat panel speakers, less than 2 inches thick! Magnepan

I haven't heard the 3.7 yet, but I spoke at length with Warren Gehl, who works for Audio Research, a high-end electronics manufacturer, because he's spent many hours auditioning the 3.7. Gehl could hardly contain his enthusiasm, "It is one of the most lifelike, natural imaging speakers I've heard," he said, "and clearly the best sounding single-panel speaker Magnepan has made to date. It's in the top handful of truly realistic sounding speakers I've heard at any price." Audio Research uses lots of vastly more expensive speakers to test their electronics, and regularly demonstrates their latest gear with them at shows like CES. Not this time--the company will be using the 3.7.

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