CES & THE Show 2014 • TABlog

by Marc Mickelson | January 10, 2014

Once again (and almost predictably), Magnepan used sheer drapery and lighting to hide the system it was demonstrating at THE Show. This time, however, the company did it for a cause: a guess-the-price contest among the press, which resulted in the winner helping to pick a deserving audiophile who needed new speakers. This person would receive the exact speaker system being played or one of equal value from Magnepan.

More interesting, I think, was the angle that Wendell Diller of Magnepan proclaimed when I visited: "Sell on sound." When you can't see what you're hearing, you concentrate solely on the sound produced -- or at least that's the idea. With guesses I heard ranging from "3.7s with subs" to "some new big speaker," it was clear that everyone thought the Mystery Maggie was big and ambitious. Needless to say, the system succeeded on purely sonic grounds. However, I'd go one step further and say that it was one of the very best systems I heard anywhere in Las Vegas. The depth, right-to-left spread and image specificity were startling, especially on the cuts Wendell chose to play, but an organ piece was the most impressive to me because of the realistic sense of hearing a wall of pipes.

But what exactly was being played? Wendell promised that the system would be revealed very soon on the Magnepan's website, along with its cost. Only an Oppo Digital player and Bryston surround-sound processor could be seen, leading the astute to guess that it was once again a three-channel system. What I heard sitting slightly off center would support this. The center image was positively anchored in space.

Magnepan also introduced an updated version of the 3.7, called the 3.7i, in Las Vegas, but it was also a Mystery Maggie, because no details about it were available.

Another constant of Magnepan demos is clever signage. With over 40 years of sales behind the brand, and so many speakers of all vintages still in use, this isn't just marketing fluff.

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