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.