Magnepan LRS+: the magic of magnetostatic speakers


Mis à jour le 25 September 2023.

As the entry ticket to the magnetostatic specialist’s catalog, the Magnepan LRS+ (Little Ribbon Speaker) is an exceptional model with a depth of only 2.5cm. Its drivers occupy the entire height of the speaker, increasing the emissive surface and delivering musicality of unparalleled realism. Priced at €1,795 (per pair), the Magnepan LRS+ promise to make this premium technology, usually found on speakers priced in the five-figure range, accessible to the widest possible audience.

Thanks to the driver that spans the entire height of the speaker, the Magnepan LRS+ has a large emissive surface to maximize the amplitude of the soundstage and the naturalness of the sound.

Magnepan: the magnetostatic speaker specialist

Magnepan, also known as Magneplanar, was established in 1969 by Jim Winey. At the time, Jim was working at 3M on the development of plastic film, and came up with the idea of using Mylar sheets to drastically reduce speaker thickness. After numerous prototypes, he officially unveiled his first speaker in 1971: the Magneplanar Tympani 1U, which consisted of three acoustic panels. He then went on to sign an exclusive distribution contract with the hi-fi store owned by Bill Johnson, founder of Audio Research

The Magneplanar Tympani 1U was the first Magnepan speaker. It consisted of three acoustic panels to ensure a balanced reproduction across a wide sound spectrum.

Jim Winey continued to perfect his technology and in 1973 succeeded in condensing the drivers onto a single panel with the Magnepan MG II speaker. The brand’s distribution network was expanded, enabling it to make a name for itself all over the world. Today, Magnepan has become the magnetostatic specialist, selling over 200,000 pairs of speakers, all made in the USA, largely by hand.

Magnepan LRS+: how does it work?

Unlike Martin Logan or Quad speakers which use electrostatic drivers, Magnepan speakers are equipped with electrodynamic drivers. At the heart of all speaker and subwoofer drivers, as well as many headphone transducers, this technology uses a suspended diaphragm bonded to a copper voice coil. The coil is surrounded by a magnetic system that controls its movement according to the signal sent by the amplifier. The principle is the same on Magnepan LRS+, except that the elements making up the drivers are distributed over the entire length of the speaker.

The driver of the Magnepan LRS+ works in the same way as any other speaker, but its components are distributed vertically rather than in depth, thereby reducing the speaker’s thickness to just 2.5cm.

To achieve this thinness, Magnepan speakers feature a Mylar film that is 0.0005″ thick with a serpentine conductive coil that runs through it. This coil is laid flat and glued to the entire driver. Originally made of copper, it now uses 0.001” thick aluminum ribbons (Quasi-Ribbon technology), which are lighter and offer better conductivity. The ribbons are placed in a magnetic field by means of parallel magnet strips.

The driver of the Magnepan LRS+ speakers uses a Mylar film with a serpentine conductive coil that runs through it to move the diaphragm according to the magnetic field created by the signal transmitted from the amplifier.

When a signal is applied, the magnetic field attracts or repels the ribbons to move the Mylar film and produce a sound wave. The frequency is determined by the distance between two conductive ribbons. The closer they are, the higher the frequency reproduced. The principle is therefore the same as for the planar transducers used in high-end headphones, but on a much larger scale.

The space between the diaphragm’s serpentine conductive coils influences the reproduced frequencies. The Magnepan LRS+ speaker therefore has a 2-way architecture, with a “tweeter” (on the left in this photo) where the spaces are very narrow, and a “midbass driver” with wider spaces.

Magnepan LRS+: what are the advantages?

With a traditional speaker, the sound originates from one or several point sources, depending on the number of drivers. Sound can appear projected, directional and easy to pinpoint. Moreover, the speaker cabinet can introduce coloration or distortion. By spreading the driver across its entire front panel, the Magnepan LRS+ offers a much larger emissive surface than any other speaker. As a result, openness, spaciousness and the overall soundstage are greatly enhanced. 

Furthermore, the driver of the Magnepan LRS+ works in a dipolar configuration, diffusing sound to the front as well as to the rear of the speakers. As a result, the music doesn’t seem to come from a box in front of you, but from the whole room, just as a real instrument would. The sensation of depth and space is incomparable. The reproduction becomes holographic, three-dimensional and strikingly natural.

With a larger emissive surface and dipolar diffusion, the Magnepan LRS+ speaker provides a three-dimensional reproduction, with a wide soundstage, greater depth and undeniable naturalness.

Magnepan LRS+: two-way configuration

By adjusting the space between the aluminum coils, the Magnepan LRS+ speaker benefits from a two-way configuration using the same Mylar diaphragm for all frequencies. This allows the speaker to offer a frequency range of 50Hz to 20kHz, with perfect uniformity across this entire spectrum. Moreover, the drivers’ large emissive surface area effectively compensates for the lack of an enclosure to deliver good bass reproduction. With an efficiency of 86 dB at an impedance of 4 ohms, the Magnepan LRS+ requires an amplifier with a solid power supply to reveal its full potential. 

The manufacturer has not revealed the nominal power of the Magnepan LRS+. However, during our review, they demonstrated an impressive ability to handle over 100 watts without faltering. Their behavior suggests that it’s possible to go even higher. To this end, Magnepan has protected the drivers with a fuse to prevent overloading at high volume levels. In addition, a set of resistors is included to adjust the tweeter’s output according to the electronics used or the listening room. They can be easily changed on the rear panel using the supplied allen key. This key is also required for screwing speaker cables onto the terminals, unless you are using banana plugs.

Thanks to the various resistors included with the Magnepan LRS+ speaker, the tweeter’s output can be adjusted depending on the associated electronics, the listening room or the listener’s preferences.

Magnepan LRS+: unique design

Thanks to its tall driver, the Magnepan LRS+ is unique, with a depth of only 2.5cm. From the side, its silhouette is hardly any thicker than the acoustic grille of a classic speaker. This refined and discreet design cleverly conceals its true role as a piece of acoustic equipment. It’s only once it’s playing music that the Magnepan LRS+ surprises with the power it unleashes from such a slim format.

With a depth of only 2.5cm, the Magnepan LRS+ is hardly any thicker than the acoustic grille of a classic speaker. It is very discreet when viewed from the side.

From the front, the visual footprint of the Magnepan LRS+ is almost identical to that of a conventional speaker, with a height of 1.21m and a width of 33cm. The finish is very basic, as the speaker is entirely covered by black or beige fabric. The seams have been left visible on the sides, and the extreme thinness of the Magnepan LRS+ means that you can see some of the internal components. Minor imperfections that the American manufacturer justifies by its desire to prioritize acoustics over design, in order to make this premium technology accessible to as many people as possible.

The Magnepan LRS+ speaker is entirely covered by a black or beige acoustic fabric.

To ensure that it remains upright, the Magnepan LRS+ comes with two metallic stands. Despite their basic finish, they are essential to the performance of the speakers, tilting each panel slightly towards the rear to improve phasing and the perception of the various frequencies, particularly the bass and midrange. For a listening position that’s lower than usual, two removable feet on the back of the stand allow the speakers to be straightened to deliver an ideally coherent sound message.

The Magnepan LRS+ speakers rest on the floor on a metal stand that holds them in place and tilts the acoustic panel to maximize phasing.

Magnepan LRS+: key specifications

  • 2-way speaker
  • Quasi Ribbon technology
  • Frequency response: 50Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 4 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 86 dB
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 330 x 1210 x 25mm

Magnepan LRS+: listening conditions

Like all magnetostatic speakers, the Magnepan LRS+ speaker requires careful placement to work properly. The tweeter, identifiable through the fabric cover by the metal ribbons that are positioned closer together, can be placed towards the inside or outside of the speaker. With this second configuration (tweeter on the left for the left speaker and on the right for the right speaker when the user is facing them), the soundstage is extended, as is the sweet spot. Conversely, placing the tweeter inwards offers better layering and a more realistic reproduction, but a very narrow optimal listening position. Finally, the Magnepan LRS+ speaker also needs to be positioned at a distance from the rear wall, as it diffuses sound as much to the front as it does to the rear. It is therefore recommended to leave 1 meter of space around the speaker to maximize openness, spatialization and ensure good bass reproduction. 

The Magnepan LRS+ speaker is like a mirror that reflects the entire musicality of the amplifier it is paired with. It is entirely possible to upgrade electronics without pushing the Magnepan LRS+ to their limits. For our review, we started with the Marantz PM7000N, Cayin CS-55A KT88 and Advance Paris A10 Classic models, before going up in range with the Cayin Soul 170i, Rose RA180 and Hegel H390.

The Magnepan LRS+ speakers perfectly reproduce the sound signature of each amplifier. They can be paired with electronics from different price ranges while retaining a coherent, natural and precise sound.

Magnepan LRS+: listening impressions

The Magnepan LRS+ speakers provided a listening experience unlike any other. The spaciousness was exceptional, with an incredibly vast soundstage, both horizontally, vertically and in depth. The sound was enveloping, with an image that was full and perfectly layered. The instruments were holographic and three-dimensional. The listening room suddenly seemed infinitely vast, allowing the greatest orchestral compositions and imposing instruments to be materialized with striking realism. With The Well-Tempered played by Lang Lang, the piano came to life with unprecedented credibility. The great sense of space provided by the Magnepan LRS+ speakers perfectly reproduced the acoustics of the recording room, giving the impression of being with the artist.

The sense of space provided by the Magnepan LRS+ speakers was exceptional, with an incredibly wide soundstage and a truly holographic reproduction.

The Magnepan LRS+ speakers imbued the tracks we listened to with all the splendor they deserved. With Enigma’s The Child in Us, we felt as if we were immersed in an infinite soundscape. The panpipes seemed to float in the air, delicately caressing our ears with an almost palpable softness. The choirs filled the space with striking realism, both in height and width. The singer’s voice was carnal, deep and soft, and was materialized with striking realism in the center of the stage, provided the listener was perfectly positioned at the sweet spot. This very narrow listening area allows only one person in the room to take full advantage of the potential of this acoustic marvel. 

The spectral balance offered by the Magnepan LRS+ speaker is coherent and uniform. Surprisingly, the Magnepan LRS+ had great presence in the lows. The bass, which is usually the weakness of this technology, were tight and reproduced without any lag. They sometimes lacked depth on pop and electronic tracks, but their realism is virtually unrivalled on instruments such as drums and double bass, thanks to the absence of cabinet noise.

Thanks to its very large emissive surface, the Magnepan LRS+ provided energetic bass that was tight and natural, without needing to add a subwoofer.

The extreme thinness of the Mylar diaphragm ensured optimum dynamic amplitude at all volumes. Notes were smooth, clear and homogeneous. Attacks were crisp, clean and always perfectly controlled. Cymbals sparkled with vitality and energy, while remaining consistently soft and natural. There was no harshness or unpleasant sibilance, allowing for longer, fatigue-free listening sessions. The Magnepan LRS+ speakers transformed every track into a veritable sonic odyssey, inviting us on a journey through harmonies and rhythms.

The Magnepan LRS+ speaker was remarkably dynamic, providing a clear, smooth and uniform reproduction across a wide sound spectrum.

Magnepan LRS+: who is it for?

The Magnepan LRS+ is perfect if you want to discover the unrivalled musicality of magnetostatic speakers at a reasonable price. The few placement restrictions (distance from the wall and reduced sweet spot) make the Magnepan LRS+ ideal for solo listening sessions in a large living room or dedicated hi-fi room. Their great transparency reflects the complete sonority of the associated amplifier without artifice. Therefore, we recommend pairing them with a powerful, musical amplifier, ideally a tube model like the Cayin CS-88A KT88 or a class AB amp such as the Rega Elicit MK5, for a rich, warm sound.

The Magnepan LRS+ speakers are the perfect solution for discovering the unique and unrivalled musicality of magnetostatic speakers at a reasonable price.

Unlike many magnetostatic speakers, the Magnepan LRS+’s performance doesn’t falter in the lows. This frequency range is reproduced with great energy and is always realistic. However, bassheads may want to add a subwoofer. Given the extreme dynamics of the Magnepan speaker, it’s essential to opt for a responsive model like the REL Acoustics HT/1205 MKII to avoid any phase shifts. 

Magnepan LRS+: conclusion 

With the unique musicality of magnetostatic speakers, the Magnepan LRS+ are the best speakers available at under €1,800. They offer an unparalleled listening experience, with an extremely vast soundstage, true depth and striking realism. The soundscape created by these speakers is magnificent, with holographic reproduction contributing to the precise materialization of each instrument. The listener is enveloped by the music and plunged into the heart of the recording room, where the acoustics are reproduced to perfection. 

Once you’ve heard the Magnepan LRS+, it’s difficult to go back to classic speakers: the listening experience provided by these panels is breathtaking and without equal. It’s essential, however, that both the speakers and the listeners are precisely positioned to take full advantage of this unique musical potential.

We liked:

  • The slim design
  • The incredibly vast soundstage
  • The holographic and three-dimensional reproduction
  • The natural tones

We would have liked:

  • A more sophisticated finish
  • A wider sweet spot
  • To have been able to place them closer to the wall
  • Simpler speaker terminals

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