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Magnat MSP60 Speaskers

Magnat MSP60 Speaskers

Regular price $250.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $250.00 USD
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The Magnat name is associated with Magnasphere speakers, in which tweeter and midrange assemblies are housed in round wire-mesh cages that suggest old-style radio microphones rather than speakers. Actually, Magnaspheres are made by a subsidiary of Magnat ("a daughter company," as Magnat's German language literature puts it). As befits a parent, the MSP-60 is much more conventional and, perhaps, practical. Its relatively unobtrusive appearance will blend in better with the decor of typical American homes than might be the case with Magnaspheres.

The handsome case, made of heavy "wood solids" on the sides (and covered with a very convincing black-vinyl grain), houses a three-way bass reflex system with a ducted port that opens at the back. Recessed into the back and angled to ease cable attachment are color-coded heavy-duty binding posts drilled to accept direct input of oversize bared wiring, as well as heavy spade lugs or banana plugs. The latter will protrude somewhat beyond the back plane of the enclosure. In any event, the vents require backup-wall clearance, so the plug clearance presents no problem.

The woofer is a 7-inch polypropylene-cone driver that is centered near the bottom of the front baffle-assuming you stand the speakers vertically, which is the logical orientation (though Magnat does suggest horizontal placement as an alternative). The other two drivers are offset about 1 inch to the left of the front axis. The midrange driver is a 2-inch soft-plastic dome; the tweeter is a 1 inch "soft metal" (aluminum-based composite) dome fabricated to keep its resonance above the audible band (at 25 kHz) and to make the resonance less pronounced than it would be with a more conventional rigid dome. The coil windings of the drivers are made from oxygen-free copper wire on aluminum cores. The wire has a rectangular cross-section that, according to Magnat, permits up to 40 percent more copper in a given area than is possible with conventional windings. Nominal crossovers are at 800 Hz and 2.5 kHz.

Impedance is rated by Magnat at 4 to 8 ohms, with the measured values going only slightly beyond this range at certain narrow frequency bands. The impedance peak at woofer resonance (near 70 Hz) measures 11 ohms; the port resonance, though below 20 Hz, appears to have a similar impedance value. Other maxima are near the crossovers: 13.8 ohms at about 700 Hz and 9.0 ohms in the range around 3.5 kHz. There is a minimum of 3.9 ohms between the port and woofer resonances and another dip to 3.3 ohms in the woofer range proper. The minima at higher frequencies are all above 4 ohms.

Overall, the pattern is not extreme in any sense; the MSP-60 should present a relatively easy load for typical amplifiers to drive, though you should be circumspect about paralleling speaker pairs from amplifiers that dislike very low impedances.

The aural personality of the speaker is quite attractive: forward and lively, though noticeably on the bright side (a natural concomitant of the first two characteristics). The sense of immediacy and presence is particularly exciting in vocal and chamber music, though some listeners may judge it even more of an advantage in big orchestral scores, where it helps to highlight textures within the sonic impasto.

To some extent, credit for this property may be attributed to Magnat's frequency-balancing design techniques. Instead of using a single speaker and adjusting for flat anechoic response at 1 meter (which, according to the company, fails to take into account the natural attenuation of highs that occurs in listening rooms), the measurements are made at 3 meters using a pair of speakers. When factored into the design, this method results in greater prominence being given to the highs.

In DSL's frequency-response measurements, the balance appears to be less a question of treble prominence than one of midrange reticence. Some (but not all) of the midrange dip might be cancellation from floor reflections. The graph shows response with the speaker on an 8-inch stand and 8 inches away from the backup wall. With respect to average "music band" output, on-axis response lies within about + 6-3/4, - 5-1/2 dB from the 40-Hz band up. Off-axis response is very similar, with virtually no evidence of beaming at the top end.

When DSL measured the speaker moved out into the room, the results were similar. However, the frequency range of greatest bass response was pushed almost an octave higher, yielding a gentler rolloff in the deep bass and a narrower midrange dip. Magnat's "Important Instructions" manual applies to all models in the line and covers sources of potential malfunction in good detail, but it makes no mention of placement. Instructions appended to the warranty folder that accompanied the test samples, though, recommend putting the speakers against the short wall of an oblong room but away from the corners.

We followed this recommendation for the listening tests, except that we frequently moved the speakers out from the wall for best stereo imaging and, we thought, most natural balance. However, some listeners surely will prefer the somewhat heavier bass resulting from placement near the backup wall; imaging is still good in that position. On the other hand, we considered the bass exceptionally solid for the enclosure size even without the reinforcement of a nearby wall.

Magnat's amplifier-power rating of 90 to 130 watts, printed on a label affixed to the speakers, strikes us as reasonable on the basis of the lab tests, which indicate that a sound pressure level (SPL) of around 110 dB-as high as most home listeners will ever want-can be achieved without flinching. In many home installations, in fact, 90 watts (19.5 dBW) is considerably more than you'll really need for comfortable listening levels in moderate-size rooms, given the fairly high sensitivity figure.

Distortion is quite low, averaging about 1/4 percent over the working frequency range at the lowest test level (85 dB SPL). There were no measurements significantly above 1 percent down into the deep bass, which is very unusual. The figures creep up only gradually as the test level is raised to 100 dB, where the average still is near 1 percent and almost all measurements are below 2 percent.

We were pleased by this first encounter with Magnat speakers. Rarely have we experienced such a sense of musical color and liveliness without any obtrusive artificiality in the sound. Admittedly, we do perceive some coloration, but we expect many listeners will overlook this factor or see it as being outweighed by the unusual vividness with which the music is reproduced-a quality that, in some music, makes mere accuracy of timbre sound a little "flat."

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