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Review: Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX

Listening to Magnat speakers in an auditorium in Vannes

Nine speakers, two subwoofers, THX Ultra 2 certification, Dolby Atmos… Magnat has gone all out with this multichannel audio system which promises to comply with the most demanding home cinema standards. Does the Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4 system live up to the high expectations to which it has given rise?

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4: Presentation

The Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4 system is composed of three Magnat Ultra LCR 100-THX front speakers, two Magnat Cinema Ultra RD 200-THX surround speakers, four Magnat Cinema Ultra AES-400-ATM Dolby Atmos speakers and two Magnat Cinema Ultra Sub 300-THX subwoofers. These eleven speakers are designed to reproduce the multichannel audio tracks of films, concerts and TV series in stereo, 5.1, 7.1 or 5.2.4 format. In other words, this speaker pack aims to create a very immersive soundstage which integrates the unique vertical dimension offered by Dolby Atmos.

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4: the THX Ultra 2 standard explained

All of these speakers are in full accordance with the highly demanding THX Ultra 2 standard which requires exceptional technical characteristics from certified products. In order to be THX Ultra 2 certified, the average sound level when seated at 3 meters or more from the screen must be 85 dB, with a headroom of 20 dB… which is the same sound level reached in a multiplex cinema. Moreover, this sound level must be produced with an infinitesimally low level of distortion over the full sound spectrum, from 20Hz to 20kHz. However, while delivering sound at 105 dB in the mids isn’t extremely complicated, doing so with lows is a lot more difficult. A colossal amount of energy is required, and the use of large-diameter drivers is necessary in order to keep signal distortion to a minimum. In addition, the THX standard requires the use of sealed enclosure speakers and subwoofers, while central, surround and Atmos speakers cannot go below 80Hz. This is where the Magnet Cinema Ultra Sub 300-THX comes into play.

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4: the benefit of Dolby Atmos

The Dolby Atmos multichannel audio format is the latest innovation from Dolby Laboratories. Created for professional filmmaking, it offers incredible, customized sound spatialization. The Dolby-Atmos-compatible amplifier places sound effects according to the number of speakers present and how they are arranged. To get the most out of this new sound format, movies in Dolby Atmos format on Blu-ray discs, as well as a compatible amplifier and speakers which have been certified for vertical sound diffusion, are a must. In the Magnat Cinema Ultra system’s case, these are the Magnat Cinema Ultra AES-400-ATM speakers, designed to be placed on top of the LCR and surround speakers.

Magnat AEH-400-ATM

The Magnat Cinema Ultra AES-400-ATM Dolby Atmos speakers

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4: specially designed drivers

The Magnat Cinema Ultra LCR 100-THX speaker is a versatile model which can be positioned either horizontally or vertically. This particularity allows it to be used as a left, center or right speaker, thus the letters LCR in its name (Left, Center, Right). It is possible to place one of these speakers behind the listener as part of a rear surround sound configuration. Magnat has opted for an 18-cm deep, flat design to allow these speakers to become part of an elegant, wall-mounted setup, for example, although they may also be placed on stands. With a height of 55 cm and a width of 28 cm, the LCR 100-THX is fitted with two 6.7” bass-mid drivers, each of which features an aluminum and ceramic cone and is specifically designed to comply with the THX Ultra 2 standard. For this reason, the drivers’ cones–which don’t have to reproduce very low frequencies–are very lightweight. They are nonetheless very rigid thanks to their ceramic layer, which keeps distortion to a minimum at high volume. Used down to 80Hz, these two drivers have a sensibility of 93 dB for 1 Watt of power at 1 meter–a relatively high level made possible by the use of a powerful magnet. The tweeter is a semi-rigid, polyester dome with a diameter of 1.65”. A size which is unusually large, yet essential for a home-cinema application, as the semi-horn-loaded tweeter can reach lower frequencies than a traditional 1” tweeter and thus handle–efficiently–mids down to 1.5 kHz. This means that the 6.7” drivers don’t have to reach higher frequencies and may thus more efficiently handle the frequency range which is specifically assigned to them. The tweeter is paired up with a waveguide which ensures optimal sound diffusion in accordance with the THX Ultra 2 standard. Lastly, it’s worth noting that having three completely identical speakers guarantees a perfectly coherent front soundstage.

Magnat LCR 100-THX

The Magnat LCR 100-THX speaker

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4: 3-cm-thick cabinets

The Magnat Cinema Ultra RD 200-THX speakers use the same drivers, but in a dipole configuration, with a single 6.7” driver in the middle and a tweeter on each side. Ideally, these speakers should be positioned on either side of the listener in order to diffuse the surround effects not only toward the listener, but also just in front of and behind him or her. Just as with the LCR speakers, the cabinets are made with 3-cm-thick MDF boards.

The Magnat Cinema Ultra AEH-400-ATM speakers are, for their part, certified Dolby Atmos. In other words, their response curve is optimized for reflecting sound off the ceiling. This implies a strong accentuation of mid and high frequencies. A switch nonetheless allows the user to deactivate the Dolby Atmos filter in order to obtain a linear response, as if the speakers were fixed directly onto the ceiling or used as a surround channel. A good idea.

Magnat Sub 300-THX

The Magnat Sub 300-THX subwoofer

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4: formidable subwoofers

Producing lows down to 20Hz at 110 dB is no small feat. To meet the requirements of the THX Ultra 2 standard, Magnat has fitted a 12.5” driver within a volume of air accorded by two passive radiators, also 12.5” in diameter. This technique makes it possible to restitute very low frequencies despite a relatively reduced internal air volume, as the passive radiators simulate a virtual air volume. Thanks to their heavy cone, these passive radiators resonate at… 18Hz. It’s thus a question of delivering on the promise of physical restitution, a promise Magnat made when it installed a 550 W RMS amplifier capable of delivering over 1 kW in peaks. Besides efficiently controlling its cutoff frequency, phase and volume, the Magnat Sub 300-THX offers a THX equalization mode, paired up with an electronic limiter. Lastly, the woofer’s cabinet is composed of panels which are nearly 4.5 cm thick and thus entirely inert.

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4: test conditions

We listened to the Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4 system in an auditorium in Vannes, where it was paired up with a Yamaha CX-A5100/MX-A5000 integrated power amplifier. The video projector used was a JVC X5000 and the source an Oppo BDP-103 player. In short, excellent listening conditions in an acoustically treated space. We listened to sample audio tracks from several films, including Star Trek Into Darkness (Dolby Atmos) and Godzilla (DTS HD MA 7.1), as well as the Muse Live At Rome Olympic Stadium concert (DTS HD MA 5.1).

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4: listening impressions

From the very first notes, the softness of the sound restitution is striking. The mids are suave, slightly set back from the rest, and complemented by clear highs which are never too bright. The sound signature seems eager to please the ears without ever troubling them, to the point of seeming a bit shy at low listening levels. You’ve got to turn up the volume a bit to get that feeling of natural authority and a soundstage that unfolds fully. We found the layering of the soundstage truly remarkable. The pair of subwoofers, for its part, had no hint of shyness and the sound pressure quickly became physical with Godzilla, for example, but without being overwhelming. It is thus never unpleasant to deal with two subwoofers as they show a persistent talent for articulation. For Star Trek Into Darkness, the Atmos track elevates and widens the soundstage. We were pulled into the heart of the sound, and into the heart of the action as well.

Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4: conclusions

The Magnat Cinema Ultra THX 5.2.4 system is not a binary system made to blast out the listener’s eardrums. Much to the contrary, these speakers prove themselves capable of offering a graceful and benevolent sound restitution, as well as a rise in intensity which is very progressive and allows the listener to benefit from their performance in a variety of listening conditions. From the slightest whispers to an avalanche of decibels, the Magnat system knows how to stay in perfect control.

This post is also available in: French

About the author

Tristan Jacquel

Tristan est rédacteur chez Son-Vidéo.com. Passionné de musique, d'acoustique et de high-tech, il réalise notamment les tests matériels pour notre blog.

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