Magnepan MMGW Multi-Channel Planar Loudspeaker Reviewed

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Magnepan has enjoyed a storied history of making some of the finest and more affordable audiophile loudspeakers the world has ever seen. Their planar magnetic design was revolutionary in its day (one could argue it still is), making their loudspeakers capable of sonic feats unlike anything heard from a dynamic cone and dome loudspeaker. However, as consumers moved towards multi-channel playback, mainly home theater,  was unable to truly evolve with the times, for a lot of what made their speakers special relied heavily on sheer size. That was until they released the hugely popular MMG loudspeaker. Up until the MMG's release Magnepans had been rather huge, resembling large doors, versus the compact, virtually invisible speakers consumers were demanding. The MMG was still large; however in comparison to Magnepan's own 1.6 or 3.6 it was downright tiny.

Additional Resources
• Read an Andrew Robinson review of Magnepan 3.6 floorstanding speakers from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Read a Sean Killebrew review of Magnepan MMG floorstnading speakers here.

Taking the lessons and the success garnered from the MMG Magnepan took the idea a step further and created the MMGW. By making the conscious decision to flow all of the lower frequencies to a subwoofer, much like any compact home theater speaker these days, Magnepan was able to further shrink the size of the MMG and take it a step further by making it wall mountable, hence the MMGW.

The MMGW isn't a true ribbon loudspeaker like its big brothers the 3.6 and 20.1, it's in fact a single-driver planar magnetic speaker that features no crossover or dynamic drivers of any kind. It's the epitome of simplicity; hell it doesn't even have binding posts, just a pigtail-like length of speaker cable sticking out of the bottom of the speaker for you to attach your bare wire speaker cable to. The MMGW has a reported frequency response of 100Hz to 16kHz. Bass performance has always been a bit of an Achilles' heel for Magnepan; however with the MMGW they appear to have bypassed the issue altogether, allowing them to focus on what they're renowned for which is their midrange and high frequency playback. The MMGW is bit more efficient compared to other Magnepan designs at 88dB into a five-Ohm load. In the past you would've needed a solid 200 watts per channel or more to get anything much less music out of a pair of Maggies. However the MMGW is designed to be powered by an above average receiver or a budget based separates system.

Getting back to the MMGW's wall mountable status for a moment, they are rather compact at 10 inches wide by 38 inches tall and a slender one inch thick and can be ordered in white, black and gray fabric with your choice of natural or black hard wood trim. Wall mounting the MMGWs is fairly straightforward on their included hinges, however a temporary mounting kit can also be had for those of you unwilling to punch holes in your walls. Speaking of hinges, the MMGWs are designed to sit flush against your wall when not in use and angled outwards when it's show time. While the MMGWs have little to no bass response to speak of, what little bass they do have is aided by being mounted so close to your front wall, which is a new concept for Magnepan.

Another relatively new concept for Magnepan is their factory direct business model, which is the only way you can purchase the MMGWs or any of the MMG line of loudspeakers. The MMGWs are the most affordable loudspeakers Magnepan makes at $325 a pair bringing the total cost of ownership for a five-speaker surround sound system to $949 plus shipping and handling. I should note that Magnepan makes a dedicated MMGC center channel loudspeaker to be used in concert with the MMG or MMGWs, which retails direct for $299. The entire MMG line of speakers from Magnepan comes complete with a 60-day money back guarantee.

In terms of sound the MMGW sound an awful lot like the larger MMG speakers save one difference, which is bass. While the MMG doesn't have the ability to rattle your windows they will go lower than the MMGWs. Aside from bass the MMGWs are all Magnepan all the time. The sound is uncolored, free from boxy resonances and about as open and airy as one has any right to expect from a $325 pair of loudspeakers. The MMGW's high frequency performance is very solid, though not quite as sweet as its midrange; however it doesn't fully bloom or sparkle the way, say, the 3.6's do with their true ribbon tweeter. Again, I'm splitting hairs here. What's really impressive is just how good, okay - great, the MMGWs are when used in a full surround package. The seamless surround field they can create when set up properly will have you questioning why they don't cost more.

Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2

HTR Product Rating for Magnepan MMGW Multi-Channel Planar Loudspeaker

Criteria Rating

Performance

3.5

Value

5

Overall

4.5

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


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Magnepan-MMGW-reviewed.gifHigh Points
• Besides being ultra affordable the MMGWs are quite possibly the first good looking speaker Magnepan has designed, looking right at home next to a large 3D HDTV or flanking a fireplace or piece of art. 
• The midrange performance of the MMGW is superb. The natural ease with which they present vocals is addictive and makes all other speakers in their price bracket sound boxy in comparison. 
• The high frequency performance of the MMGW is quite good and can be rather airy and open provided you have enough juice and don't abuse them with the volume control too much. 
• The MMGWs, like all MMG model speakers, may just be the best value in all of home theater today. Couple that with Magnepan's 60-day money back guarantee and you have a no-brainer in my opinion.

Low Points
• It has to be said that while affordable, the true cost of ownership of any MMG or MMGW system has to include a capable subwoofer, of which Magnepan makes none. Maggies, like the MMGWs, are extremely nimble and do not mate well will all subwoofers. It might not be outside the realm of possibility to spend as much or more on a sub in order to round out the MMGWs performance. 
• The MMGWs while more stylish when compared to other speakers in Magnepan's arsenal, still look a bit dated when compared to the competition, especially MartinLogan. 
• The lack of connection options means those of you with terminated speaker cables are going to be shopping for adapters or replacing your speaker wire altogether in order to connect to the MMGWs pigtail design.
• While able to be powered by a modern receiver I'd still suggest separates if you want to get the most out of the MMGWs. 
• The MMGWs will not energize a room quite the way a traditional dynamic speaker will, nor can they handle extreme volumes in much the same way as dynamic speakers. If you have a large room or a propensity to push the limits of your hearing I suggest you look elsewhere.

Conclusion
For $325 a pair sold direct with a 60-day money back guarantee the MMGWs are a true home theater bargain. They are not perfect by any means nor are they for every enthusiast. However if you fancy yourself a bit of an audiophile with a budding interest in home theater and are willing to work with the MMGW's quirks, then they may just be the perfect speaker for you.

Additional Resources

• Read an Andrew Robinson review of Magnepan 3.6 floorstanding speakers from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Read a Sean Killebrew review of Magnepan MMG floorstnading speakers here.

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