Ribbon Peakers,yea or nay? HELP!! [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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12-01-2005, 05:00 PM
About six months ago I decided that the ultra-low end Sony HTS that was lurking in my living room wasn't cutting it, resulting in my current "mid-fi" set-up. As I'm discovering is common, I'm more than satisfied with my home theater performance but the music is lacking that certain something.
We recently had a Marigold Home Theater move into town( Indianapolis,IN.) and I auditioned the Martin Logan Clarity. While I found the "imaging" incredible and very musical, to my ear it seemed as if an entire sonic level of highs were absent. Though I very much appreciated the "non box" sound, I don't think I would ultimately be happy with the purchase down the line after the honeymoon period of huge electrostats wore off.
To get to the point, being new to this I'm looking for an alternative to the "box" sound without the sonic loss of the Martin Logans. A friend suggested Apogee hyrid speakers which I have never heard...would this be a possible solution???

P.S. I found much of what I read in this forum over the last few months to be valuable and inspiring. Thank you for that and any further correspodence.

12-01-2005, 05:22 PM
I have not heard Apogees but have been told that they are fantastic. I did hear a pair of the 3.6 maggies. They were incredable. Here is a link to them http://www.magnepan.com/_mg36.php

Happy hunting. Have you gone to the planner section here at AR yet?

Welcome to AR.

12-01-2005, 05:33 PM
I had not checked that out in a while--I'd imagine its a must-see. I don't know anyone with Magnepans so accessing them for a listening session might be tough. It seems, however, that they're pretty universally respected...maybe an option.
I just realized that I had been a bit vague earlier. My listening room is 12x20 if that effects anyone's recommendations

12-01-2005, 06:13 PM
I had not checked that out in a while--I'd imagine its a must-see. I don't know anyone with Magnepans so accessing them for a listening session might be tough. It seems, however, that they're pretty universally respected...maybe an option.
I just realized that I had been a bit vague earlier. My listening room is 12x20 if that effects anyone's recommendations

Maggies, like most planars, need room to sound their best. 3ft from the front wall is a good starting point. That will still leave you plent of space in your room.

12-01-2005, 06:15 PM
I had not checked that out in a while--I'd imagine its a must-see. I don't know anyone with Magnepans so accessing them for a listening session might be tough. It seems, however, that they're pretty universally respected...maybe an option.
I just realized that I had been a bit vague earlier. My listening room is 12x20 if that effects anyone's recommendations

Throw in the following:

Your budget
What music do you like
Is this for home theater as well as music
What % of music vs HT
Do you have, or picked out, an amp or receiver? (most receivers would struggle with planners)
Your general area so someone can let you know what places may be near you.

12-01-2005, 06:36 PM
Sorry, I didn't see that the equipment list that they ask for at registration hadn't printed.
Currently I'm using an Onkyo HTR510 (100wpc?) for amplification.
Budget is $1000-$2000 US.
I listen to music alot more now than ever and so the ratio is probably 80/20 music if not greater. Generally, I listen to classical and jazz with an occassional jolt of prog rock (marillion,Peter Gabriel,etc.).
I'm using a Samsung HD841 for SACD ( a really horrendous player for video,but not bad for SACD--better than the Sony and Yamaha I auditioned) and an old Pioneer PM423 for regular CD.
I live in downtown Indianapolis,In.

12-02-2005, 09:30 AM
not marigold. anyway, you must have already seen that $1-2 wont buy you much there. martin logans are great speakers but are fairly limited in dispersion. you need to be in the 'sweet spot' to hear all there is to hear. from there it is glorious.

apogee speakers are a non-existent company, not a good buy unless youre really a fan of them. they too are very good sounding.

you can get in on the ground floor with maggies by going to their site:


the mmg is a small entry level planar speaker that could make an addict out of you. i can see buying the MMGs and later buying bigger maggies and using the MMGs in the rear of a surround system. they are factory direct for the mmg at about $550 which leaves a few bucks for other improvements, or you could try them and save up a bit more for better electronics with great specs like B&K or rotel.

i almost bought mg1s twenty years ago and bought rogers LS3/5As instead. i often wonder where i would be now had i gotten the mg1s.

12-02-2005, 09:50 AM
A couple of notes regarding planars/'stats:

1) They like power. Lots of it. I'm not talking wattage here. You'll need more current than your Onkyo can provide to properly drive anything above the MMG's. If you go this route, be prepared to upgrade your front end right along with the speakers.

2) Like Geoff noted, they like space. Their design inherently requires them to be placed well into the room to achieve the best sound. If you have WAF concerns, this could be deal killer.

3) The smaller ones will require subs to augment the bottom end. Note that Geoff uses two Velo's to supplement his Maggies, and the 3.6's are hardly small.

4) Apogee has gone the way of the Do Do bird. You can find used ones, but be aware that many owners, including our own Florian, replace the ribbons. This is not cheap.

The good new is you've exposed yourself to the next level of music reproduction. Now, you need to take the time to explore all of your options. Get out there and listen to as much as you can. Indy's a big enough city that you can surely find a dedicated audio boutique. There are so many different types of speakers flying around out there, it can make your head spin: Transmission line, bass relex, acoustic suspension, time aligned, phase aligned, planar, 'stats, line array, hybrid, omnidirectional, bi-polar...the list goes on! Therefore, take your time and enjoy the ride. Eventually, once you've found a sound you like, audition them in your home to make sure your room acoustics are supportive of the speaker(s).

Welcome the forum!

12-02-2005, 11:03 AM
Sorry to step in late. I own and love my electrostatic speakers mainly becaue they provide a great bang for the buck.

Martin Logan speakers do have some personality characteristics of thier own. To me the larger ones sound more balanced while the smaller ones can get to be a little "plastic membrane" sounding. They do have a narrower sweet spot than some dynamic speakers, but it is not exceedingly narrow and to my ears the fall off is more in the imaging than in absolute levels.

I'm old enough that my ears have problems above 14KHz or maybe 15KHz but music really has little energy up there anyway. One thing I've never heard is that M-Ls lack upper frequency content. They may not compare with the very best tweeters available in terms of clarity or sparkle, but the models I've heard have never lacked in top end energy.

The audition you had may have had a problem, something just seems a little wrong.

12-02-2005, 11:48 AM
You might want to play around with the positioning of those speakers. The ML models that they display over at Magnolia will really vary their tonal characteristics depending on the angling and distance to the listening position. I've been very impressed with how the Clarity's handle a variety of sources, and any faults I've noted with them were not with the lack of highs.

Ultimately, it might all come down to what you're used to. Planar speakers typically have a different sonic signature from box speakers, and that might be good or might be bad, depending on your preferences and the type of music you're playing through them. In my listenings with planar speakers over the years, they are typically very adept at handling acoustic instruments but make compromises in other areas that are not in line with my listening preferences.

Another speaker that you might want to audition, if you can find them in Indy, is the Vandersteen 2ce. That has about as "boxless" a sound as I've heard from a box speaker, with exceptional imaging. I'm not sure if the highs will be more pronounced than with the ML Clarity, but they will have a larger sweet spot, so you will hear the optimal sound from a wider range of placements and listening positions.

At Magnolia, you could also look into the Vienna Acoustics and Sonus Faber bookshelf speakers. A lot of bookshelf speakers nowadays can surprise you with how transparent and open they sound, and how well they image. Those two brands at Magnolia represent only a small sample of the high performance speakers out there, so you should seek out some of the other audio dealers around town. Now that you have a reference point that you like and a direction that you would like to go in, it's a matter of finding the exact speaker that meets your preferences.

12-02-2005, 03:37 PM
Yeah, I caught that one a little later and had to have a good laugh at myself. Thinking back on it, there may have been some issues with the audition. My visit coincided with the Grand Opening and there was a bit of chaos.
Looking at the available options, perhaps I'll start off with magnepans(noWAF yet).I'd imagine I could snatch a pair, find a used power amp(run through pre-outs of the Onkyo)
and even consider an additional sub for right around the same figure as MLs. That would allow me to keep the existing home theater in place and still have an method for decent 2 channel listening. Further, if for whatever reason the maggies weren't my cup of tea, I'd have a high-current amp in place for my next experiment. Plan hatched, to be implemented after the christmas rush dies down...will I get better performance from my current fronts(KEF Qs) by configuring them into a power amp as well?
Anyway, thanks everyone for there advice. It's nice to have a sounding board were nobody has a business-driven incentive to move you one way or another. And, I think Topspeed hit the nail on the head. Everyone's gotta' have a hobby and this new one has been extremely rewarding for me.

12-02-2005, 05:53 PM
Well i will throw in some info on Apogees.

But before i do that you have to understand what Apogee was. Apogee was the first company to build fullrange ribbon speakers. They were very expensive, very difficult to build and where not mass market speakers. They helped put Krell on the map and were put against the most exclusive and most expensive speakers in the world and set new standards that are still not past and only reached by some very exlusive and rare designs. Apogee was forced to close in 98 because of bad buisiness finances. These speakers were all handbuild incl. the drivers to the highest specifications of the time. In order to get the best out of them you have to really life and breath this hobby and you will walk a long High End path and will have to spend some good money and time on it. But from the beginning on these speakers will change your audiophile life and show you that the expressions of soft highs and punchy mids can only come from someone who has never experience a real sonic revelation. These systems are capable of reproducing real live instruments in their tonal color, size and shape. Inform yourself on your room, acoustics and driving electronics and the restoration. These are a very complex subject. I will gladly help you on your journey.

As to myself, i have started with a Onkyo TX-DS555 receiver and had quite a few box speakers and have had .5, 1.6 and 3.6 Maggies along with Apogee Scintillas and now completely rebuild DIVA Reference. Please have a look in my gallery too.

I think i dont need to comment on the sound, Apogees are legends. EVERY single Apogee by now needs a complete rebuild. If you hear a Apogee now that has not been restored then you dont know what they can do. The foam they used and the glue back in the day has given up after the 10 years the ribbons wore out. But all new ribbons are avaliable at very reasonable prices. They are CEC cut ribbons and are lighter then the original ones at www.apogeeribbons.com (http://www.apogeeribbons.com) and can be installed by yourself fairly easy. New Apogee speakers are avaliable from Perigee Acoustics but they start at 16000$ a pair.

Apogees are some of the hardest and yet easiest to drive speakers there are. They do love current and have a general low impedance. But they will stay in the impdance range and will not vary in their entire range which makes them even easier to drive then a commercial speaker from B&W, Dynaudio etc.. A good 100wpc that is stable to 3ohms will drive all Apogees exept the Scintilla and Fullrange which are from 0.6 to 1.5ohms. There is a lot of room to improve, starting from the foils, to the crossovers to the electronics. They will show off only on the finest equipment and will tell you apart every electronic ever made. The better you feed them the better they are. Needless to say Maggies are a alternative, but thats to be taken literally. They are good, but nowhere near the Apogees. Still my first love and incredible speakers.

For any more information about Apogee speakers send me a PM.