The world's most perfect sounding speaker?

The Audiophiliac falls in love with a $2,000 speaker that sounds better than a lot of highly regarded $10,000 speakers. It's the Magnepan MG1.6/QR

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read
Thin is in: the MG1.6/QR Magnepan

A perfect speaker wouldn't sound like a speaker. That's the goal after all, the speaker should disappear and we should just hear the sound. With perfect speakers the instruments and voices on the recording would sound life-size and completely believable.

Most speakers, including a lot of very high-end, stupid expensive ones still sound like speakers. You know there's a tweeter and woofer, and the sound is coming out of a box.

Magnepan, based in White Bear Lake, Minnesota builds panel (boxless) speakers -- without conventional dome tweeters and cone type woofers. Maybe that's why its MG 1.6/QR ($1895/pair) mostly avoids sounding like a speaker. And in some ways sounds better than high-end speakers retailing for many times the MG 1.6/QR's price. That's no hype, it's that good!

Magnepan was founded in 1969 and has built over 200,000 pairs of loudspeakers to date. The technology is nothing new, they just keep refining it, a little bit at a time.

It's a flat panel design, standing a statuesque 64.5 inches tall, but just 2 inches thick! Instead of a dome tweeter and cone woofer the MG 1.6/QR boasts a 2 inch wide by 48 inch tall aluminum ribbon tweeter and a 442 square inch mid/bass panel. It's a dipole design, meaning just as much sound is radiated off its back surface as the front.

I reviewed the speaker for Playback a few months ago and was shocked by its sound quality, "The MG 1.6/QR might be the perfect way to discover what being an audiophile is all about. The MG1.6QR sounds so different -- and more like live music than any box speaker I can think of for less than two grand. My wife, who rarely reacts to what I'm reviewing was blown away by the MG1.6QRs, and when I told her what they retail for she couldn't believe it. Neither can I."

And no, it's not perfect (read the review to learn more on that score), but it's simply the best there is for under two grand.

You can read the full review here.