It's been a good while since Magnepan International updated its audiophile-pleasing and critically-acclaimed Magneplanar 1.6 speakers and the new model marks a technology departure for the company. For over 40 years, Magnepan has used planar magnetic drivers for the bass or lower mid-range in its speakers but with the Maggie 1.7's the company has switched all the speaker drivers to something called quasi-ribbon technology.

Magnaplanar speakers are said to give audio height as well as stereo width and depth by projecting the sound from the top down. This results in sound that doesn't appear to be coming from a box in front of you but projects it in all directions for truly enveloping clarity and helps preserve "the integrity of the music." And unlike the familiar box speaker, a Magneplanar 1.7 is quite flat. It's only 2 inches thick in fact. It is 64.5 inches high and 19.25 inches wide though, which makes it seem more like a piece of furniture than a powerful audio thrower.

Whereas the lightweight ribbon found in more expensive true ribbon technology systems simultaneously carries the signal from the amplifier and turns it into sound waves, the magnetically suspended 0.001 inch thick aluminum foil ribbon in the quasi-ribbon setup is mounted on a 0.0005 inch thick Mylar substrate and acts as a signal conductor. The foil transmits the signal to the entire surface of the stretched thin film diaphragm which then vibrates to produce the sound, resulting in extremely wide frequency band width and high power handling.

New to the handcrafted, U.S.-built, 3-way, full-range MG 1.7 is that quasi-ribbon technology is now used for all of the drivers. That's bass/midrange, tweeter and super-tweeter too. They now also sport new aluminum trim instead of the more familiar wood ones on the earlier model. The 1.7 has a frequency response of between 40Hz and 22kHz +/- 3dB, 86dB/500Hz /2.83v sensitivity, a bass radiating area of 442 square inches and a quasi-ribbon tweeter/super tweeter size of 2 x 48 inches.

The speakers will of course require an amplifier, one which can in fact handle a 4 ohm load, but Magnepan says that its technology "will make that amplifier sound simply like amplifiers costing several thousand dollars more!" The MG 1.7 is available now for a starting price of US$1,995 a pair.