Every loudspeaker manufacturer has its own philosophy, and the spectrum of possibilities is quite large, from full-range to multi-way constructions. However, most of them rely on classic piston oscillators for the driver material, only a few allow themselves to deviate from the norm. One of the few is Manger Audio to use a patented bending wave driver: the famous “Manger transducer”.
Manger P2 – technology and concept
The difference between the speaker column Manger Audio P1 and the P2 tested here (price: 15,800 euros) only becomes apparent on closer inspection. Or rather, when viewed from the rear, because in contrast to the P1, which has a closed design, the Manger P2 has two passive radiators that are arranged one above the other and point to the rear. These should support the P2 in the bass and let it play even deeper. In addition, the P2 features a new, 20-centimetre woofer that can be tuned even more precisely to the crossover frequency of 360 Hertz, according to the manufacturer.
Both models are passively designed two-way floorstanding speakers , each with a Manger speaker and a bass driver residing underneath on the front. The column, which is almost 114 centimeters high, appears surprisingly delicate despite its weight of 32 kilograms. This may also be due to the gently rounded edges, which are intended to counteract sound diffraction , but at the same time enable an aesthetic appearance in combination with the narrow body. Timeless Bauhaus style is the order of the day here instead of “brutal”.
A solid base made of aluminum and the included conical feet with damping properties ensure stability. If spikes are required, this is of course also possible thanks to the threads on the bottom. The loudspeaker housing with the up to 38 millimeters thick front and the massive struts inside are manufactured in Germany.
The sandwich-like 20 cm bass chassis made of carbon fiber reinforced cellulose and a special foam is also produced in Germany and is intended to interact harmoniously with the Manger converter – this requires a low-distortion and fast drive. The Manger converter itself is produced in small series in our own factory in Mellrichstadt, Franconia. Its manufacture is the result of many work steps that require precision and plenty of manual work. That may well explain the price of the P2. This loudspeaker is a purchase for life – accordingly, the quality of the components as well as the manufacturing quality and the paint job are of the finest.
The Manger converter, named after its inventor Josef W. Manger, who died in 2016, is actually a youngster compared to the classic cone driver . To put it simply, it uses a flat membrane to generate sound according to the flexible wave principle , driven by strong magnets and two voice coils. Due to the windings of the coils arranged in opposite directions and the fact that they are located directly on the membrane, the Manger sound transducer responds almost without a time delay, i.e. extremely quickly, according to the head of the house, Daniela Manger.
High frequencies are generated in the center of the cone while lower ones travel outwards towards the edges. Star-shaped damping, called a “star damper”, is intended to prevent sound waves from being reflected back. One can well imagine the bending wave principle as a calm lake into which a stone is thrown. As the waves expand outwards around the insertion point, the sound spreads out on the Manger transducer.
The stumbling block (had to be) for the development of the Manger converter was the realization that an instrument loses a lot of its naturalness when played back through a loudspeaker – at least that’s the view at Manger. Due to its mass-spring principle, a classic loudspeaker generates errors that overlay the natural transients of an instrument. In addition, the natural character of an instrument and its spatial positioning are determined by the perception of the temporal relationship between the sound waves and the differences in transit time.
Manger Audio P2 – listening test and comparisons
Years ago I first encountered a Manger speaker, and it was the identical in size and form factor but active S1. I have pleasant memories of their effortless, uncapricious characteristics. So the question of whether the Manger P2 will follow the same line or set different accents is exciting.
Incidentally, my choice of a corresponding wine accompaniment was not by chance a delicate, finely sparkling Crémant from the Fellbacher Weingut Heid . In contrast to a Riesling Brut that is developed with pronounced fruit and acidity and is therefore flirtatious, a special elegance and naturalness is expressed here precisely because of the restraint. And that also describes the Manger P2 quite aptly in broad strokes.
First, a word about the overall tonality: It seems to me to be on the “slightly softer side of neutral”, in the sense that the P2 is inconspicuous in the lower and upper registers in a positive sense, others would say: discreet. But if you now assume that the Manger sounds in the middle, you are wrongly wound – it’s just that the frequency extremes don’t develop a “life of their own” with it, but are integrated wonderfully coherently. Sure, you can get more bass and treble action for the money, but that’s not what the P2 is about. It presents a coherent whole, no individual parts, and that makes it so convincing that a natural, calm tonal impression is created. More on that later, but now to the core strength of the Manger P2,…
… for spatial representation
A good touchstone for this is the Symphony No. 8 by Shostakovich, which just recently blew up in my ears in the Beethoven Hall of the Stuttgart Liederhalle. The whole piece, but especially the third movement (Allegro Non Troppo), proves to be a highly dynamic ride that inevitably has you clinging to your seat. With haunting dramaturgical expression, we encounter thirty-four violins in the front row on the left, followed by violas and cellos in the middle, while a phalanx of ten double basses can be heard on the right. In the second row on the left are the horns, saxophone, followed by flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon. One level behind, to the right, are the other brass instruments, tuba, trombones, as well as the hemispherical timpani, the bass drums and the bronze, man-sized tam-tam gong, supported by a potpourri of percussive elements.
The Manger P2 are among the few loudspeakers that I have heard so far that do not “constrict” the instruments, groups of instruments and the entire orchestra, both in the individual outline and in the group – neither is it zoomed out too much and depicted small-small, nor is space artificially added , where there is none. In the absence of the original I heard, which unfortunately SWR needs a little longer to provide a streamable live recording, I resorted to the version of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansonsback, which should not be close to Currentzis’ version in any way. What is striking is the ability of the Manger P2 to draw a stage design that comes close to the original, which on the one hand shows the instrument groups mentioned “entirely” and on the other hand allows the position of the individual instruments to be determined with great precision. Yes, the depiction of individual instruments and their intonation as a whole is authentically live.
It is probably not surprising that a much cheaper, compact and active KEF LS50 Wireless II does not look like chamber music, but is a lot smaller. Also my adult, from Dr. Gauder’s upgraded “Old but gold” Vertigo isophone (floor-standing speaker, around 10,000 euros at the time) is by far not as relaxed and fanning out as the Manger P2. And how is a Kii Three BXT(about 30,000 euros) in comparison? Here, despite the conceptual difference, surprisingly tonal parallels can be heard as far as the representation of space is concerned. The Manger succeeds in accurately locating the instruments within the orchestra like the Kii Three BXT, even if the latter seems a little more insistent and intense to me. Another similarity: Both play with homogeneity and tonal integrity even at low levels.
What should not be overlooked is that the Manger P2 consistently and accurately illuminates the edge areas of the stage and that the sound image effortlessly detaches itself from the elegant loudspeakers – the action sometimes starts in front of, sometimes behind the speaker base line, depending on how the recording is made pretends. The stage impression is almost holographically tangible. Speaking of which, that’s a good keyword, because there are still the so-called “Manger holoprofiles”, which Daniela Manger conveniently had with her luggage – and they should actually delight fans of panoramic views. If the sound guides are carefully attached to the left and right of the Manger converter, the spatial representation fans out even further, so that one feels even deeper in the middle of the action.
By the way: You should experiment with the placement of the P2, I found it particularly pleasant to angle the loudspeakers with the axes overlapping directly in front of your head, as this results in an impressively large sweet spot.
When towards the end of the first movement there is a lot of fanfare with timpani, drums, trumpets, yes, actually with everything, the manager does not get on his knees. No, it pushes out a level that is surprising given the speaker’s elegant appearance. One never has the impression of getting into border areas here. But sure: An active Kii Three BXT used as a reference naturally shakes more energy into the room and appears even more dynamic and powerful. For “normal life situations” what the P2 offers macrodynamically is probably more than enough. She also has the gift of effortlessly following fine dynamic ramifications and subtle musical nuances. This can be seen, for example, in the scenes in which the strings can just barely be heard,
In the higher elevations
Dynamically everything is in balance, albeit inconspicuously. Nevertheless, I christened the Manger “Anti-Horn” for me, simply because it appears with a rather reserved, silky-soft gait in the tonal upper floor. But even if it is more reserved in terms of level compared to a Kii Three BXT – or one of my active monitors from Elac or Adam Audio with their Air Motion transformers – its ability to differentiate does not suffer at all. It is clear and selective – but with a gentler character in the overtone spectrum . This is exactly what makes them predestined for long listening sessions. Then came Michael Jackson ‘s Don’t Stop Till You Get Enoughcomes to mind, because there is a lot going on here in the presence area. The P2 performs the song quite “open-heartedly” without being annoying, scratchy or uncultivated. In short: the treble of the Manger P2 is informative, well resolved and milder than “100% neutral”.
On the other hand, I would like to describe the middle band as neutral. There is no warming up in the fundamental tone, although there are no deficiencies in the chest tone in vocal performances – just neutral… I remember an Elac Vela FS 408 (5,180 euros), for example, more sonorous, with more color intensity. And while in the piece “Don’t Loose Yourself” by Iggy Pop (Album: Free) slight accents can be discerned via the Isophon Vertigo, the P2 remains natural and homogeneous, despite, no, also because of its higher resolution. The P2 manages the trick of giving Iggy Pop’s voice, which has meanwhile been well hung, an authentic timbre so that you think he’s standing right in front of you. Also at Bremer/McCoythe piano attacks become corporeal, finely defined and pleasantly floating – but never overly emphasized or harsh. In fact, the renunciation of an “exposition” of the attack leads to a particularly homogeneous and natural-looking music flow.
The fact that the music from the Manger P2 comes to your ears in a very agile and direct way is certainly also due to the successful integration of the bass range. I already mentioned it above, the bass driver – although playing far into the fundamental tone – was apparently trimmed for exemplary homogeneity and coherence.
Of course, in the piece “Coax” by Raime (album: Tooth), the Kii Three BXT again unmistakably shows where exactly the bass cellar ends with the Manger, but even if the P2 doesn’t descend into the deepest regions with the same vehemence and feel what pressure and opulence is said to be dismissed earlier – but it still conveys enough depth and substance. Dedicated “bassheads” will probably not subscribe to this statement, but there are other listening styles and tastes. In any case, the Manger is not a child of sadness, as can be seen from the drumbeats of Shostakovich’s Eighth. In short, the P2 is more of an athlete than a sumo wrestler.
(Too) honest skin?
Is there something the P2 doesn’t do well? In fact, yes: bad or compressed recordings will not sound benevolent. She then simply passes it on as it was received and, despite her relaxed gait, doesn’t “embellish” anything. A little makeup here and there? No, that’s far from her. The Manger P2 is an honest skin. I think that’s more of a virtue.
In summary: The Manger P2 appeals in particular to fans of authentic spatial representation, who should be very pleased with the expansion, spaciousness, precise imaging and depth of the stage that this elegant loudspeaker enables. Their sound is free of effects, rather reserved and elegant, or to put it another way: authentic, natural, suitable for the long term.
You certainly get loudspeakers in this price range that are even more vehement in terms of coarse dynamics and are more aggressive in the bass or treble, however you want to evaluate it. But if you place great value on spatially realistic concert reproduction and a natural, coherent timbre of instruments and voices, you should definitely listen to this manager more closely.
The Manager P2…
- offers a very high separation capability and selectivity in the spatial imaging – right up to the edge areas of the stage. Instruments are clearly and precisely separated from each other. At the same time, you can perceive what is happening as a whole. The stage is drawn wide and deep, starting where the recording dictates. With the right setup you can achieve a very wide sweet spot, with the optional holo profiles the stage area becomes a little more spacious and free.
- dissolves very detailed, but it never comes across as obsessively aggressive, but finely chiselled. This is partly due to the rather mild high tone.
- is charming and authentic in the middle band and delivers impressively natural tones. Calmly neutral timbre.
- offers a bass that reaches deep for its size, which plays agile and springy. It was not trimmed for maximum power, attack and depth, but for perfect connection to the mid-band. The bass sounds very coherent.
- Plays pleasantly dynamically, which fits the price range and the concept, even if even more would be possible in terms of gross dynamics. Transients appear authentically balanced, neither too “attacking” nor smoothed out.
- Model: Manger P2
- Concept: 2-way floorstanding speaker with passive radiators
- Price: 15,800 euros
- Dimensions & Weight: 1139 x 270 x 214 mm (HxWxD), 32 kg/each
- Finishes: any color; Veneer versions possible
- Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
- Efficiency: 89dB/W/m
- Miscellaneous: Manger transducers in the treble and midrange
- Guarantee: 2 years