My time with the new Stereo Integrity Mag.
First things first, I'm sure everyone knows this is a prototype and not the actual production driver. Mechanically it is an exact copy, however aesthetically, the proto is lacking some eye candy in regards to what the final driver will look like.
Many know I am affiliated with SI and will take this review with a grain of salt and that is fine. In my opinion, your own ears should be what you use to make your decision, but I can tell you, that every driver I have owned since I have owned a Mag has not impressed me in ways the Mag has, and this includes all generations.
Upon seeing the driver at my doorstep and picking up the shipping box, I was delightfully surprised with the little amount of effort needed to lift this package. I remember getting my other Mags, and none of them were difficult, but yet, none of them were this easy to lift either. Light weight; I like it!
Everyone's seen the other photos, so I'll skip those, but there is one I would like to show.
Here's a pic of the proto next to my custom Claw with the previous gen's motor and soft parts. The difference in depth is shocking, and the Claw basket is actually slightly shallower than the 12 spoke equivalent, so previous Mag owners who are looking to the new driver in hopes of conserving space are going to be pleased.
Doing some more in-depth comparisons, the cone seems to be a bit thicker than that of the previous Gen which should make it stiffer. It also appears this driver has slightly more surface are on the front of the driver compared to the previous gen. I would attribute this to the surround which appears to be slightly smaller. Nick will have to confirm this.
More on build quality, let's talk about glue joints. I can't tell you how many countless drivers I have owned, previous Mags included, in which is seems like kinder gardeners were hired to slap the glue on. This driver is so clean in this area. There is no globs of excessive glue anywhere on this driver, and this is a prototype. I expect the production units to follow suit as well.
It has the standard push terminals that have become common-place on many drivers and they work well. I myself prefer the allen screw type connectors, but I don't believe they be very beneficial on this particular basket.
Did I mention this driver is light? Shipping weight on this was 24.5lbs, and it was heavily padded and double boxed. Shipping weight on the box of my previous Mag was 32.2lbs and it was not double boxed.
On to the listening.
I loaded the driver in my standard 1.5 cube sealed enclosure. I used some blocks to take up some space in the enclosure to bring my net volume down to 1.2 and played away. The first thing I noticed was the increased low end. I've heard Nick say it, but couldn't believe it. My previous gen really blew my mind in the low end department, and I didn't think it could get better. Well, it has. I am a fan of sealed enclosures and low power, so that's where I concentrated most of my time.
One thing concerned me about this driver before I even listened to it. XBL^2. I have owned a 12" Brahma Mark 1 and a RE XXX12. Both of them seemed to have a "dryness" to them. They were incredibly accurate and loud if needed, but just didn't seem to bring about the normal smile I found with traditional over/underhung drivers. They seem to have a characteristic sound to them of their own that I had never experienced before. I have seen others with similar complaints. This was the reason I dumped them for the first gen Mag (Magnum). I came into this review as a skeptic, and similarly, I was the same way the first time I had heard SI's first offering. I have been pleases in both instances as you'll find below.
I used three amplifiers for this test. First up was a Rockford Fosgate Punch 450.2 bridged mono and running the driver in series at 8 ohms. This gave me about 200 watts of available power. I can sum this review at this point simply as; this driver is far more efficient than the previous gen. I spent some time swapping this driver out for the previous gen and I found myself reverting back to this driver. It handled everything I threw at it gracefully from rock to hiphop to R&B and some classical and jazz. If I put the rear seat down, it got unbearably loud, but I'm no bass head.
I then proceeded to put more blocks in the enclosure and bring the net down to 1 cube. I could not detect a noticeable difference in sound with this driver, but was able to detect a change with the previous gen driver. I really think the recommended 1 cubic foot net is more than adequate. I see no need to go any smaller or larger, so. . .
At this point I didn't see a need to go any further as I had been more than pleased with the results, but alas, this is a review.
I decided to keep going with the 1 cubic foot and add some power. Next up was the Cadence A7HC with the driver wired down to 1 ohm. Now, this amplifier is rated at 1200+ at this impedance and has been known to throw out a bit more, so I turned the gain down quite a bit as the rated RMS is 1KW. This REALLY woke this driver up. In fact, I found it rather pointless as I had to dial it down so far in order for it to blend in with the rest of the car. Bassheads will appreciate this, but I don't need it. It reacted the same way as the previous test, but with more authority and I had to put a "whoa" on the volume. This driver may be rated to handle 1K, but it needs nowhere near this to get loud.
I then turned the gain up a little bit and threw some Techmaster and tones at it to see if I could abuse it. Sorry Nick. IT handled this with no sweat. The dustcap was warm to the touch after 15 minutes of pounding (and two minutes of arguing with my 72 year-old neighbor), but it never lost a beat. It will not soak up power like past Mags, but it doesn't need the power the past Mags needed either, and I always found the previous drivers to be fairly efficient in their own right. In comparison to the previous driver, again, it doesn't soak up the power as well, but it stays composed and sounds better doing it, if you can put up with "loud." I'd still take a new one even at the higher power levels. Can you say headroom?
I then moved on to the JBL BPX2200.1 at 4 ohms. Okay, no point in this really. I just wanted to be an ***. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. You will fry your driver and you alone will be at fault. The previous gen took this puppy for all of 10 minutes straight before I started smelling some glue. At this point, it was time to shut things down.
In closing, the new Stereo Integrity Mag D2 does everything the previous Mags are known for with greater clarity, better lowend with less weight and in a smaller package. OH! They're also considerably cheaper thanks to direct sales only now.
Thanks Nick, now I have to find a way to incorporate these into my Cobra, but I don't know that I can part with the Claws.
A bunch of SSA stuff.