A note from Magnepan about the "30.7 for Condos" tour

Wendell Diller of Magnepan asked me to pass this on:

No, Magnepan's tour is not scientific market research

Dear Press and Future Attendee,

Last night, I had the privilege to talk to Robert Deutsch of Stereophile at the "30.7 for Condos" event at Audio Excellence in Toronto. Robert was there to report on the concept of a public focus group (not on the speaker we were showing). As Robert noted, there has been a lot of research on the value of focus groups. Is a public focus group more effective? (good question)

Toronto was only the second stop on this tour, but it already has the same shortcoming as the 30.7 tour in terms of reliable feedback for Magnepan--- low participation. Attendees on all the 30.7 tours were very vocal about their opinions of the 30.7, but when it came to making their opinion public, approximately 1 out of 20 attendees (or less) went online to give Magnepan feedback. This tour is much the same.

There is one obvious question on the minds of attendees--- "Has Magnepan 'sold out"? They were too polite to say it in such stark terms. Most attendees are familiar with Maggies and the problem of integrating a dynamic woofer with a panel speaker. This issue is the focal point of these tours and there was much discussion.

If you are able to attend one of the upcoming events, you can see the response of the group for yourself. But, in terms of an online consensus, the sampling rate will rate will probably be too small for a reliable indicator.



- Wendell Diller, Magnepan

I talked with Wendell a few months ago at the 30.7 demo at a local dealer. The whole idea behind the tour was confusing to me. It was more about the concept of the speakers than promoting the speakers themselves. I really liked them but they really need the right room to be their best which is obvious with this brand. And I did remark online. If he expects the demo to spark the online discussion he desires, I think he’s fooling himself. Not all audiophiles are comfortable in online forums or on social media. 
Magnepan has been around for years, and they can certainly do without focus groups!

The tour for a product in development is totally unneeded.

They can do this in house just fine.

This is a sign of trouble with the upper management of the company IMO.
They've been burned in the past by products that were great and got great reviews, but that dealers didn't carry and people didn't buy. And this is a significant departure for them. So I think Wendell's idea here was to get a feeling for whether people wanted this, and at the same time, to introduce their solution to audiophiles, dealers, and the press, all of whom have been skeptical of hybrids in the past -- to demonstrate that they've accomplished something new and achieved the realism of planar bass in a smaller form factor.

(I also think that there are two audiences here -- those who are most interested in real reproduction of acoustical instruments like tympani and double basses will prefer planar bass with its naturalism, while those who listen mostly to rock or are watching movies will prefer the slam of a sealed woofer. But from what I've been reading, the new sub has more slam than planar bass.)

Anyway, transforming this into a production model is a costly and time-consuming endeavor, involving industrial design and production engineering, parts acquisition, and so forth and so they don't want to undertake it if people aren't going to buy it.
Magnepan is well aware that the problem most people have with their speakers is their frontal area. The 30.7 is a dedicated audiophile speaker. Very few women are going to let them into any room they expect to have company in. Setting up the 30.7's high frequency panel with subwoofers is a brilliant idea. Notice the plural in that statement. The high frequency panel of the 30.7 is a line source throughout it's range. It would overwhelm a single subwoofer. To do it right the subwoofer would have to act as a line source so that it projects power as well as the panel. This can be done with a floor to ceiling subwoofer array  negating the purpose of this experiment or a wall to wall subwoofer array using 3 to 4 individual drivers. I would use 4 drivers in two cabinets. 2 12 inch drivers mounted in the ends of a 14" tube about 4 feet in length. A balanced force design.
These would be placed horizontally at the front wall floor border about 1 foot from the room corners. In black the subwoofers would disappear visually leaving only the thin high frequency panels. With the right crossover and amplifiers this would work extraordinarily well, maybe even better than with the bass panel. 
Wendell, I have a system based on the old Acoustat 2+2's, a floor to ceiling dipolar radiator similar to the 30.7's just ESL. I use a more basic subwoofer system using 4 separate drivers spread along the front wall. Everyone who has heard it thinks the results are excellent. I also cross up at 125 Hz which is unusual in the subwoofer world. I can not hear the crossover at all. 
josh, as I mentioned on another site, I wish Wendell hadn't identified this as "for condos".  The designation condo has nothing to do with room size, it is a type of ownership for a residence.  It might have been best for him to come out and say "for smaller listening rooms".

This may be pickish but a condo can be anything from a small studio unit to a large single-family detached dwelling with many sizes in between.

Regardless, I wish him well with the tour.
"They’ve been burned in the past by products that were great and got great reviews, but that dealers didn’t carry and people didn’t buy."

That is totally, the stupid dealers fault!

All the dealers should carry and stock the larger models, or they will not sell.

Magnepan should then replace the particular dealers, if they have lost business IMO!
This is the second time I have seen reference to these speakers and them being demoed at dealers, yet not a peep on the Magnepan website about this.  So where does one find information on the speakers (other than these posts) and when and where the demos are (were?).
As far as dealers stocking expensive speakers, unless it’s a big dealer with huge cash flow it’s tough to stock expensive speakers like the 20.7 and especially the 30.7. The market for them outside of large wealthy metro areas is not big. No one wants to hold inventory that doesn’t turn. 
I sure hope the condo version is better than it’s bigger brother. Went to 1 of their stops and they sounded terrible. I have friends that attended multiple stops and they sounded terrible at those stops. 
Pmotz, they ran an ad in Stereophile and TAS. Not sure why they didn't say anything on their website! Bu there will be an event from 3-7PM on Wednesday at Audio Connection in Verona, New Jersey, that's the one I'll be at, and also one in upstate New York. After that, Wendell was talking about heading west, but as far as I know dates haven't been set. 
Pryso, yep, I remember your post. Actually, Wendell liked to say that they designed these speakers to fit in his living room. :-) One of the advantages of being Magnepan's marketing director, I guess.
rbsehno, bad acoustics were a problem for them throughout the 30.7 tour, when they hit a dealer with bad acoustics there wasn't much they could do, no practical way to treat the room when they had only a few hours to set up. Wendell told me some horror stories and said that he almost cancelled the tour once he discovered how bad some dealer's rooms were. I heard the 30.7's in a good room (New Haven), and they sounded amazing in line with what the magazine reviewers described.

So far on this new tour, the first room suffered from too much midbass -- they had to remove the bass traps to fit the crowd -- and Wendell didn't have time to correct it with DSP. The second room was good, though, and it got some great listener reviews online. He says he's going to make sure there's enough time to adjust the DSP at future shows, so hopefully the bass issues will be over.
Not all audiophiles are comfortable in online forums or on social media.

That's an interesting observation.  I would think by now every human would be comfortable with being "on-line".   Sure there might be exception but I expect it would be very few.  

@rbstehno, I understand why you have a negative impression of the 30.7, but that may be a result of the poor listening rooms in far too many dealer's showrooms, not the loudspeaker itself.

I attended the very first 30.7 demo, at Pearl Audio in Portland Oregon. As a longtime Magneplanar fan and owner (I bought Tympani T-I's in 1973, and currently own a pair of Tympani T-IVa's, which is what the 30.7 is a modern and improved reincarnation of), I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I was rather disappointed, but not because of the 30.7 itself.

The demo room was perhaps the worst I've ever been in; a cement-walled bunker with absolutely no acoustical treatment save the carpeted floor. The mediocre source material was streamed from God-knows-what sources, all unfamiliar to me. The associated electronics were not up to the caliper of the speakers,, a fatal flaw.

Remember when dealers knew more about hi-fi than you did?

Remember when dealers knew more about hi-fi than you did?

Are you saying it's not true anymore?

@mijostyn, allow me if I may to let you in on what Magnepan is up to with this new design. Planar enthusiasts have long searched for a woofer system to compensate for one of that design's major failings---output below, say, 100Hz, due to, amongst other reasons, the side-null dipole cancellation inherent in planars.

SoundLabs addresses the issue by making ESL speakers with very large radiating surfaces. Magnepan did the same with the original Tympani's in the 1970's, and most recently with the 30.7. But all of those require very large rooms---the bass panels of each channel of my Tympani T-IVa's are 36" wide!

Dynamic cone woofers have been tried in every way imaginable, including the way you suggest above, and all have been found to be unacceptable. With one exception: dynamic cone woofers implemented in not in sealed or ported enclosures, and not on an infinite baffle, but installed in an Open Baffle/Dipole frame---"H" and "W" or "M" being most common.

That is the woofer system Siegfried Linkwitz used in his LX521 loudspeaker, and GR Research/Rythmik use in their servo-feedback version. And it is an OB/Dipole sub that Magnepan is using in this new "dual-dipole" model. OB/Dipole subs are catching on with hardcore planar lovers, including owners of Maggies, Quads, Acoustats, Eminent Technology's, and even high-transparency non-planars. Using dynamic cones implemented as OB/Dipole radiators with planars cures the inability to get the two to blend seamlessly. Why that is is beyond the scope of this post.

West Coast Condo available... listening room. 15 x 33 w 9’ ceiling, surfing at lunchtime or ?
lets not do DSP
the ancient Labrador serves as a movable bass trap

free WiFi for the online challenged!!!!
andy2 you’d be surprised. Most millennials and Gen X’s are naturally comfortable on forums. Fewer boomers and far fewer of the previous generation post in online forums. If they look at all, they just lurk. 
Magnepan does not have clout with big buck buyers and their top speakers never sell like Wilson or Magico and never will.

I think Magnepan is worried that they will never make money in the extreme high end.

The 20.7 sold a few and the 30.7 hardly sold at all!

@don_c55, isn't it odd that Wilson dealers have that company's mid-priced models on demo (those models costing more than Magnepan's 20.7i and even 30.7), yet no Magnepan dealer I'm aware of has a pair of 20.7i, let alone 30.7, to audition? How can a consumer be expected to spend $14,000 or $29,000 on a loudspeaker without hearing it first?

Buying a pair of 20.7i for demoing purposes is a major investment for a dealer, and to not do so indicates to me a lack of faith in the product. 

Buying a pair of 20.7i for demoing purposes is a major investment for a dealer, and to not do so indicates to me a lack of faith in the product.
I am sure there may be a way for a dealer and a manufacturer to work together so that the dealer will not be charged for a "demo model" so there will not be any money that actually be spent.  

bdp24 and everyone else looking for seamless bass from their maggies
I had 3.5Rs for maybe 4 years in a volumetrically large room where bass has always been an issue, but soon to be solved (I hope)

When I had Accoustat 2 + 2s, I tried the small Sunfire powered subs then the larger Sunfire Sig subs, but all they did was flub flub flub. Ditto with my 2 SVS powered subs (Ultra & Plus). Why? The volume controls suck in both (all 4 cases). The piss-poor VCs blast the subs when barely cracking the VC no matter where the bypass is set. I mentioned this to SVS on numerous occasions, but it fell on deaf ears

Much later I tried using a separate amp and ~ $200 active XOs from DBX and Behringer. Neither companies XO lasted more than 6 months: I went through 4 Behringers and 2 DBXs. What was needed was a high quality XO (like Marchand) which was way out of my budget

Of late Mike (YT channel OCD HiFI Guy fame) had Marchand build him a custom active XO for his highly moded Maggies + bass reflex tower subs. He raves about them. Alas, he’s in the Atlanta area so I will not likely ever hear them. The Marchand probably costs as much as the Maggies, let alone addition amplification, and tower subs, which of course requires an additional amp and long speaker cables= mo money, mo money, mo money.

My current speakers are Emerald Physics KCIIs, which are open baffle and they sound terrific without physically cutting my room in half visually, and while the 10" woofers do an excellent job reproducing bass it gets lost in my large room.

To solve my <30Hz bass, I have a pair of EP 2.8s coming soon. Each has 2 x 15" carbon fiber woofers + a 12" coaxial carbon fiber mid-range (96 dB!) that can be driven with just one amp (DSP is an option) PLUS they’re only 48" tall. I have a thread titled Life with Ric Schultz EVS 1200 to which I will be updating once I get the 2.8s

@andy2, before I had a friend who was a high end dealer (I bought some stuff from Brooks Berdan when he was a salesman at GNP in Pasadena, then followed him when he opened his own shop. Over the years our relationship evolved into a personal one.), I assumed demo units were provided to retailers at no cost. Uh, no, they are not. Dealers are shipped product, usually with 30-days dating (the dealer has 30 days to pay for the product). Whether that product is for demo use or to sell to a customer/client is immaterial.
Stereo Unlimited in San Diego has the 20 series and the room to make them sing. The Jacintha on Revox RtR is sublime with them 8’ out into a big room, Mac 601 have the grunt for sure.

I have never counted but Bruce the owner believes in inventory - I am guessing there are about 100 pair of speakers spread over the 5-6 demo rooms and tucked away here and there....and, and this is a BIG and, he and his team know how to get good sound...

Josh358, I didn’t recall any ads in Absolute Sound (I no longer subscribe to Stereophile) so I went and looked for them and did find one I recalled seeing.  It said they were going “On the Road Again” to “select cities”, but no mention of when or where.  Only possible link (I say “possible” since they don’t direct you to the link) to more information was to their web site.  Oh well ....
I've learned a little bit more about it. I gather that the dealers are handling the invites, but there's been some notice on the forums as well, e.g., the Planar Asylum. Kind of frustrating if you want to be notified of an event near you . . .