It was the band's first album of the new century, and their second with a full orchestra (the first being Time and a Word from 1970). It marked the band's last studio album to date with vocalist Jon Anderson. Released between the departure of Igor Khoroshev the previous year and Rick Wakeman's fourth return in 2002, it is the only album in the band's history not to feature any keyboardist, and the only one involving only four Yes members.
The album was re-released in 2002 as a limited and numbered 2-CD set with alternate artwork; the second disc contains three live performances and a CD-ROM track with an interview, video of "Don't Go," and a live video of "The Gates of Delirium". This album also features the song "Can You Imagine", in which the main vocals are sung by Chris Squire with Jon Anderson on backing vocals. This Squire-penned song was originally recorded in 1981 as a demo entitled "Can You See" for his aborted XYZ project.
Apart from the traditional Yes themes of spirituality and relation to nature and divinity, the album also addresses personal issues (Jon Anderson's relation with his daughter Deborah in "Don't Go") and political issues (the war in Bosnia in "We Agree", the plight of drunk-driving youth in "Spirit of Survival").
Magnification received a warm reception from critics and fans, although not on the level of older albums such as Fragile or Close to the Edge. It reached No. 71 in the UK and No. 186 in the US during a chart stay of 1 week.