Magnepan MG 3.6 Planar-Magnetic Loudspeaker Reviewed

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Magnepan-mg3.6-review.gifThere are good speakers. There are great speakers. However, few speakers are able to surpass mere greatness and cement themselves as the stuff of legend. Unless you're talking about the Magnepan MG 3.6 of course, which I am, and yes, they're every bit as good the legend would have you believe.

Additional Resources
• Learn more about Magnepan speakers from Minesotoa on this resource page including many Mangenpan reviews.
• Read about audio other high end audio floor standing speakers from the likes of Soundlab, MartinLogan and many others.
 

I have a soft spot for Magnepan speakers; have ever since I bought my first pair (yes, I said first pair) of MMG loudspeakers from them some six or seven years ago. Since then I've owned every current product Magnepan has made, including the mighty 20.1's. But of all the Magnepan loudspeakers that have graced my listening room I have to say the $4,450 (base price) MG 3.6s are my favorite and quite possibly the best speaker Magnepan has ever made.

The MG 3.6 is a full range, three-way, true ribbon tweeter planar-magnetic loudspeaker. Say that three times fast. Unlike the now discontinued MG 1.6, MG12 and MMG series speakers, the MG 3.6, like the larger MG 20.1, uses a true ribbon tweeter which gives the MG 3.6 that extra "magic" in the top end that lesser Magnepan designs and more traditional box speakers lack. It also gives the MG 3.6 a reported frequency response of 34-40kHz; however you'll need a lot of power to reach either of those extremes for the MG 3.6 is about as inefficient as they come with its 85dB sensitivity rating into a four Ohm load. Okay, you're going to need gobs of power and good power at that; think in the neighborhood of 250 watts per channel to start. Better yet, think 250-watt mono blocks or better per speaker for best results.

Getting back to the MG 3.6 itself for a moment. I said the true ribbon tweeter helps give the MG 3.6 a bit of its magic touch over traditional box speakers, well that is true, but it's also the fact that the MG 3.6 doesn't have a 'box' that sets it apart as well. Unlike traditional speakers, the MG 3.6's driver material is stretched inside a thin MDF frame, then covered in an acoustically transparent sock or speaker grill, allowing sound to radiate both forwards and behind the speaker itself in a true dipole design. Because the MG 3.6 doesn't use dynamic drivers of any kind it is very thin, but before you go jumping for joy I should tell you, that while thin, the MG 3.6 is still a large speaker; one of the largest actually. Imagine your front door. Now imagine your front door playing the best music you've ever heard. Now imagine your front door times two in your living room playing the most glorious music you've ever heard. That's what living with the MG 3.6's is like. Of course the MG 3.6's don't look exactly like a door; they come in a variety of wood trims such as black, natural and dark cherry (extra charge) as well as two cloth choices; black or gray.

From a sound perspective the MG 3.6s are phenomenal speakers and sound more like live music than probably any speaker out there today. They are incredibly natural and smooth from the midrange on up to the highest frequencies and while they're not exactly barnburners in the bass department, what is there is incredibly composed, textural and musical. Those of you with a taste for heavy metal or action movie soundtracks should consider a high quality subwoofer to augment the MG 3.6's low end. System matching is very important with the MG 3.6s, probably more so than with traditional box speakers, for they can be ruthlessly revealing and are not what I would call ideal for all types and genres of music.

Read about the high ponts and the low points of the MG 3.6 on Page 2.

HTR Product Rating for Magnepan MG 3.6 Planar-Magnetic Loudspeaker

Criteria Rating

Performance

4

Value

3.5

Overall

4

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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High Points
• The MG 3.6's ribbon tweeter is quite possibly the best high frequency transducer in the market today. It is so quick, airy and natural that it may turn you off traditional dome tweeters forever.
• The MG 3.6's midrange is open and uncolored by boxy resonances, allowing vocalists, especially female vocals, to simply appear in your listening room for a seemingly live performance.
• Spatially the MG 3.6's throw one hell of a convincing and enveloping soundstage provided you've set them up properly in your room and have quality source material.
• For such a large speaker the MG 3.6's can "disappear" like a pair of small bookshelf or monitor speakers, which is quite a feat given their size.
• You'll be hard pressed to find a speaker costing less than $5,000 that can do what the MG 3.6 can. It's a true high end, audiophile loudspeaker, that doesn't carry an over-the-top price tag.

Low Points
• The MG 3.6 is such a pig when it comes to power that the total cost of ownership can't simply end with the MG 3.6's asking price. Budget at least an additional $2,500 or more for quality amplification if you don't already own a good amp or two. 
• While the MG 3.6's can do bass and go quite low, if you want hear and feel those lower octaves, plan on buying a good subwoofer or two. 
• I know Magnepan offers a variety of finish options but the MG 3.6 has been with us for a while now and looks rather dated and more like a speaker from your father or grandfather's era than a speaker designed in the mid-1990's. 
• The external crossover and binding post box is a joke and about as flimsy as they come. There are some third party cables out there that will allow you to place the outboard box on the floor versus hanging off the back of the MG 3.6 as instructed by Magnepan; that should yield better results. Otherwise, those of you with children or pets will live on edge every time either of them approaches your MG 3.6s for fear of snapping the crossover clean off the speaker. 
• The feet that keep the MG 3.6 upright are also a joke, which is probably why so many enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to hot rod their MG 3.6s starting with more robust and stable feet.

Conclusion

For roughly $4,500 the MG 3.6 from Magnepan is one of the greatest high-end speaker bargains of all time. Hell, the MG 3.6 itself is one of the greatest high-end speakers of all time, regardless of price. Its midrange and treble is sublime and its sheer musicality is addictive. That being said, it is not a perfect speaker by any means and has it share of ergonomic foibles as well as shortcomings in the low frequencies. It's not a loudspeaker for everyone, but if you can accommodate its quirks and needs it may just be the best and last speaker you ever purchase.


Additional Resources
• Learn more about Magnepan speakers from Minesotoa on this resource page including many Mangenpan reviews.
• Read about audio other high end audio floor standing speakers from the likes of Soundlab, MartinLogan and many others.

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