Everybody who's been a part of the audio hobby for over ten years has been there. You have a piece of gear you love, but one thing is missing that keeps it from being perfect. Several years back it was the Adcom GFT-350. Everything was so good at its price point, EXCEPT the tuner bleed-thru into other inputs. It was a painful, yet necessary parting. But sometimes an add-on component comes forward to place the favored piece in the "love it" category.
I’ve been in this conundrum for almost two years now. The current “almost perfect (for me), but not quite” member of my audio collection are the Magnepan .7 panel speakers. Now, I’m not counting the adding of a high-power/current amplifier, as that is just a flat-out requirement. The addition of Magna-Risers, as previously reviewed, definitely raised their performance. But like any honest Magnepan owner will admit, the top-end is a bit reserved compared to many fine brands, including Verity Audio, Paradigm, and Totem, to mention three. One only has to listen to any track with prominent cymbals or upper piano registers to notice the difference.
I looked into having the crossovers modified as a solution, having heard the difference that a pair of Skiing Ninja units improved my former pair of 1.6QR’s that now reside in the Puget Sound area. However, since no assembled kit is available, I dismissed that idea. About two months ago while perusing a Facebook audio group, someone mentioned super tweeters. The light bulb went off. For the next few days I searched for various super tweeter options. Sadly, I kept running into the cost bugaboo. The quality units cost more than what I spent for the .7’s themselves on the used market.
Serendipity finally struck a few pages into a Duck-Duck-Go Internet search, Aperion Audio, a speaker company I had the good fortune to review a handful of speakers over the years developed a couple of super tweeters. The MKII Planar Ribbon Magnetic $399, and MKII Aluminum $649. Being a fan of ribbon designs and keeping the cost reasonable, I contacted Dallas Ybarra at Aperion, and in short order the MKII Planars arrived.
The first issue with the MKII Planar was placement. Normally, super tweeters are placed on the top of the speaker cabinet. With Magnepans, that’s a non-starter for obvious reasons. The best solution for the review period was to place my 24” Celestion si speaker stands just to the outside of each speaker panel (I use the tweeter on the outside placement with the .7’s). The MKII Planars are a passive design, thus using a length of speaker wire from the .7’s to the super tweeters binding posts with an assist from banana plugs makes the connection.
The 5.27” x 4” x 5” rounded edge cabinet comes in four finish choices: Stealth Black, White, Gloss Oak, and the review pair in Gloss Black. The front face is mostly made up of a metal panel covering the tweeter ribbon. The back side has two control knobs. The upper sets one of six frequency crossover points: OFF, 8khz, 10khz, 12khz, 14khz, 16khz. The lower knob controls the decibel settings from 0db to -5db in one point adjustments. Aperion lists the MKII Planars as 6 Ohm nominal load, with a power recommendation of 10-100wpc, though the 500wpc of the Peachtree amp500 did not affect the MKII Planar Ribbon negatively in any way.
Finding the settings most beneficial will depend on equipment, speakers, and room. In my 11x11 listening space the settings were 12Khz and -3db. Since the room is new to me, the process took a couple of days of playing a wide swath of music both from my collection and streamed from Qobuz. While it meant some up and down/back and forth from the listening chair, it was definitely an enjoyable task!
Enjoying The Music
Over the month of seat time the tracks mentioned in the review were listened to numerous times with and without the Super Tweeters engaged. Fleetwood Mac’s truly great Rumors album is full of moments that audiophiles love to lean in and grade equipment. In “Dreams” the super tweeter pushes the hi-hat out into the listening space. The cymbal crashes shimmer rather than just exist. Stevie Nicks vocal “s” hiss with similar distinction as when played thru either the Paradigm or Totem reference speakers in my stable. Buckingham’s usage of the Travis technique shines in “Never Going Back Again”. The hauntingly beautiful recording hall sound in “Songbird” allows the high frequencies to disperse into the grandeur of the room.
Delving into orchestral music, the benefits of the Super Tweeters addition become apparent with woodwind prominent pieces. Swan Lake and The Four Seasons truly shine. Just listen to the violins and the flutes brighten the various passages. In many ways it is similar to the before and after cleaning of renaissance fresco paintings. The additional high frequencies add wonderful fresh natural color to the performance.
Moving back to the exacting recording efforts of Steely Dan, the horns in “Glamour Professor” the Super Tweeters do a solid job of balancing sharpness while avoiding shrillness. The drum kit now has the extra pop led by the iconic metal accents of the snare drum. The nasal entones of Donald Fagan’s vocals benefit from the Aperion Super Tweeters capabilities. The saxophone throughout the album auditorily appears more forward, seemingly unleashed.
From jazz-inspired to one of the masters, Dave Grusin, this is where the top end pixie dust of the Super Tweeter kicks up the the listener experience with speakers that have, for lack of a better term, reserved high frequencies. The rack “Playera” shows off the melodic piano and light snare drum taps and rolls. The Oscar-winning theme to “The Milagro Beanfield War” truly blooms on the Magnepan .7’s with the assistance of the Super Tweeters.
While I never considered moving on from the Magnepan .7’s, the lack of an open top end was going to put the panels into a reserve role behind the Paradigm Prestige 75F and original Totem Model 1 in my system. The addition of the Aperion MKII Planar Magnetic Flat Ribbon Super Tweeters have absolutely changed the equation. The upper registrars are now in full bloom on the Magnepan .7’s and this reviewer couldn’t be happier. For those of you who are owners of Aperion’s fine legacy Intimus 6B, 533T, and 633T speakers, I’m betting you’ll celebrate the positive effect that these small cabinets bring to your listening experience.
What Aperion Audio has given the audio community with the Aperion MKII Planar Magnetic Flat Ribbons is a true gift; a high-quality, adjustable super tweeter at a price that won’t break the bank. Of course, Aperion offers a full 30-day return policy, though I’m betting Aperion’s warehouse team rarely sees returns. My last words include my highest compliment, I’m buying the review pair. Yes, they are that good!