Magnepan - Still good?

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  • 03-17-2006, 08:33 AM
    Florian
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    In the interests of accuracy, Woochifer said this about the Adcom driving the 1.6s.

    I've never tried driving mine with an Adcom, but with my amp they do very well at high volumes.

    Dont bother Mike, like i said many times before its the idiotic uninformed writing from Wooch RGA and others and their typical bashing of non-box speakers. Your amp has plenty of power and the Adcoms are OK, but not good enough for the Maggies. Bryston is also a bad match, same as McIntosh.

    PS: RGA's Audio Notes will distort at a 5m distance at the max spl of the 1.6 without the room gain, which introduces a whacked frequency responce, time delay errors and unequal room loading. Wooch paradigms are ok, but nowhere close the 1.6 in absolutly no regard exept maybe that they are cuter. You have almost a line source, so much less db drop off over distance.
  • 03-17-2006, 04:04 PM
    bubslewis
    I would not term it "planar bashing". They were very good comments from both Mike and WOOCHIFER as far as helping me with things to watch out for. But although I can't match up to Florian's grad school level knowledge (and equipment) of planar/ribbon speaker technology, I thought his detailed essay on the subject was quite informative.

    OK, enough compliments for the combatants. Let's say I do purchase a pair of 1.6's. And let's say that at some point I notice audible compression at some level of sound that may be in my listening volume range.

    I would look at my ADCOM amp and say "it's you", rather than the speakers. In my limited knowledge of electronics I'm pretty sure that current does not equate with wattage. Theoretically a 50 watt amp could produce a higher current than a 200 watt amp. But I also assume that, in general, the higher the wattage is in an amp the more likely that the current delivery is also higher.

    Most every amplifier lists its wattage output, such as "200 watts into 4 ohms". But I don't see any "current" specifications listed. I'm not even sure there is an applicable unit of measure for current. But that leaves me with trying to figure out what ADCOMS "large capacitors for improved current delivery" means or the fact that Behringer uses "high current toroidal transformers" This doesn't tell me anything in regard to whether the amp will produce enough to satisfy my speakers.

    Seems to me that Mike would be right that a higher power amp like the Behringer EP 1500 amp (2 x 700 watts into 2 ohms) would give me a greater chance for success than my ADCOM 5400. And the Behringer is going for under $300 to boot.
  • 03-17-2006, 04:30 PM
    Geoffcin
    Leaving Florian's planar induced roid rage out of it
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Right, relaying my own first-hand listening experiences with a Maggie 1.6/Adcom combination, praising them for normal-level acoustic music, and telling somebody to listen to that combination before they buy is "factless, non-experienced, planar bashing." :rolleyes:

    I think the compression you've experienced with these speakers is mostly due to the amp not being able to slew enough current. If you want the 1.6's to go over 100dB then a 200 wpc+ (8 ohms) amp is a better bet. You will get compression (lose linearity) out of them past 105 dB, but that's with a kW or more going into them. At that point they become the worlds loudest radiators (heating).
  • 03-17-2006, 04:49 PM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bubslewis
    I would not term it "planar bashing". They were very good comments from both Mike and WOOCHIFER as far as helping me with things to watch out for. But although I can't match up to Florian's grad school level knowledge (and equipment) of planar/ribbon speaker technology, I thought his detailed essay on the subject was quite informative.

    OK, enough compliments for the combatants. Let's say I do purchase a pair of 1.6's. And let's say that at some point I notice audible compression at some level of sound that may be in my listening volume range.

    I would look at my ADCOM amp and say "it's you", rather than the speakers. In my limited knowledge of electronics I'm pretty sure that current does not equate with wattage. Theoretically a 50 watt amp could produce a higher current than a 200 watt amp. But I also assume that, in general, the higher the wattage is in an amp the more likely that the current delivery is also higher.

    Most every amplifier lists its wattage output, such as "200 watts into 4 ohms". But I don't see any "current" specifications listed. I'm not even sure there is an applicable unit of measure for current. But that leaves me with trying to figure out what ADCOMS "large capacitors for improved current delivery" means or the fact that Behringer uses "high current toroidal transformers" This doesn't tell me anything in regard to whether the amp will produce enough to satisfy my speakers.

    Seems to me that Mike would be right that a higher power amp like the Behringer EP 1500 amp (2 x 700 watts into 2 ohms) would give me a greater chance for success than my ADCOM 5400. And the Behringer is going for under $300 to boot.

    As you've noticed, some people define "bashing" differently than others. Then again, Flo claims not to read my posts anyway. :D

    Ultimately, the proof will be in the listening. Specs can only go so far in projecting how a specific speaker/amp combination will sound. The only way to be certain over any causal effects would be to bring your Adcom amp with you should you decide to do a dealer demo room listening.

    If the 1.6/Adcom combo sounds less than satisfactory at your upper listening range, then you should check with the dealer on any other amps they would pair with the 1.6 and can hook up for you. If a different amp combination gives you more satisfactory results, then you got yourself a dilemma -- is the sound quality of the Maggie 1.6 worth investing in a new amp to go along with the cost of new speakers? Or should you take that combined budget for the 1.6 + new amp, and apply it to a higher priced speaker that might work better with your current amp?

    Since your last foray into speaker auditions was back in 1988, you got some catching up to do. The sound quality of speakers at the lower price points has generally improved a lot since that time. If you enjoyed the more iconoclastic and contrasting "company" approaches that produced the vintage "West Coast," "New England," and "British" sounds, the newer speakers might disappoint you because they tend to sound more similar than before. But, that's because newer speakers (especially in the more affordable price points) generally sound more accurate than they did 20 years ago, and there aren't nearly as many truly bad speakers with gross inaccuracies as before.

    Magneplanars have built a very good reputation, and were the most commonly owned speakers among Stereophile readers in a subscriber poll they did a few years ago. But, you're the only one that can decide whether they're right for you, and that will depend on your preferences, how you intend to use those speakers, and whether they fit with your room/lifestyle.

    Always good to do as many listenings as you can stand, and there's plenty out there to listen to. Just make sure that you try them at home before you decide.
  • 03-17-2006, 04:51 PM
    Geoffcin
    High current amp design = no compression
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bubslewis
    Seems to me that Mike would be right that a higher power amp like the Behringer EP 1500 amp (2 x 700 watts into 2 ohms) would give me a greater chance for success than my ADCOM 5400. And the Behringer is going for under $300 to boot.

    And not just for planar speakers. Any speaker that presents a load to the amp that falls below the spec where the amp can handle the current will suffer from compression. Many top speaker designs drop to 3 ohms or lower at one point.

    A for instance;

    At this resistance (3 ohms) the same voltage is TWICE the current draw than at 6 ohms. If the amp cannot produce this double amount of current into the 3 ohm load then it will compress the signal. You might hear it as the amp/speakers "lacking bass" or having a lack of punch, but hook the same amp up to a set of speakers with a less demanding load and the amp sounds fine.

    A good way to think about it is that the amp/speakers are a closed system not independant of each other. The best amps usually sound good with mostly all speakers, but some very good ones also need to be matched with the proper speakers.
  • 03-17-2006, 07:40 PM
    Feanor
    All said and done
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Woochifer
    ...
    If the 1.6/Adcom combo sounds less than satisfactory at your upper listening range, then you should check with the dealer on any other amps they would pair with the 1.6 and can hook up for you. If a different amp combination gives you more satisfactory results, then you got yourself a dilemma -- is the sound quality of the Maggie 1.6 worth investing in a new amp to go along with the cost of new speakers? Or should you take that combined budget for the 1.6 + new amp, and apply it to a higher priced speaker that might work better with your current amp?

    .....

    I'd wager that your Adcom has plenty of power for the MG 1.6's in your room at anything but insane volumes.

    But in the unlikely event that it does not, the 1.6's will match well with amps of higher power and higher price. In general I suggest people put more of their $$$ in the speaker than the amp, but that doesn't apply when the speaker is a Maggy. My Bel Canto eVo2i integrated cost $3000 and money was well spent. By the way, if I were looking for a new, powerful amp, I'd check out the Bel Canto e.One S300 power amp. It's an ICEpower-based digital: 300 wt/ch @ 4 ohms, $1400 :yikes: Holy mackerel! See the 6 Moons review here ... http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/eone/s300.html
  • 03-17-2006, 08:49 PM
    bubslewis
    Thank you.
    Looks like I was wrong about most amps not listing "current" specifications. Seems like the low end and moderate ones don't, but the higher end ones do, mostly in amps at a given decible level.

    "Very loud" classical music peaks at about 100 db, averages about 95. Very loud rock peaks at about 105 db. What exactly "loud" means differs from person to person, but I'm guessing that my ADCOM might hold on up to somewhere in the mid 90's, which might be enough for me in that size room.

    Trouble is I just bought the friggin' ADCOM very recently. But I agree with you also that one shouldn't spend more on an amplifier than on the speakers. I'm wondering how to explain it to the wife. "Well dear, I need a better amp than the one I just bought and, by the way, it'll cost at least 3 times as much." We shall see.

    Was looking at the Behringer amps wondering why such powerful amps were so cheap. Looks like they are designed for loud speaker, rock band type applications. Kinda strange that some are using them to power maggies.
  • 03-17-2006, 09:11 PM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bubslewis
    Thank you.
    Looks like I was wrong about most amps not listing "current" specifications. Seems like the low end and moderate ones don't, but the higher end ones do, mostly in amps at a given decible level.

    "Very loud" classical music peaks at about 100 db, averages about 95. Very loud rock peaks at about 105 db. What exactly "loud" means differs from person to person, but I'm guessing that my ADCOM might hold on up to somewhere in the mid 90's, which might be enough for me in that size room.

    Trouble is I just bought the friggin' ADCOM very recently. But I agree with you also that one shouldn't spend more on an amplifier than on the speakers. I'm wondering how to explain it to the wife. "Well dear, I need a better amp than the one I just bought and, by the way, it'll cost at least 3 times as much." We shall see.

    Was looking at the Behringer amps wondering why such powerful amps were so cheap. Looks like they are designed for loud speaker, rock band type applications. Kinda strange that some are using them to power maggies.

    Well, you're just at the start of the process, so no sense in getting jittery or buyer's remorse over your amp until you're sure that the Maggies are the speakers that you want. There are plenty of speakers out there that you haven't heard yet, and it's far from a done deal that you'll like the Maggies the best. Until you actually try your amp with the 1.6, you don't even know if you'll actually need a new one.

    Relax and enjoy the process. You're not supposed to stress out until you start finding stuff that you like and checking the price tags against your credit limit!
  • 03-18-2006, 02:06 AM
    Florian
    A good cost effictive solution is if you build yourself ZAP amps for the bass, (digital, 700wpc) and use a good tube hybrid on the quassi ribbon.

    :6:

    PS: Planars (electrostats, ribbons, planar magnetic etc..) are all VERY sensitive to whats driving them and where they stand. I can give you many great pointers.
  • 03-18-2006, 04:55 AM
    Feanor
    Quit worrying
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bubslewis
    .
    ...
    "Very loud" classical music peaks at about 100 db, averages about 95. Very loud rock peaks at about 105 db. What exactly "loud" means differs from person to person, but I'm guessing that my ADCOM might hold on up to somewhere in the mid 90's, which might be enough for me in that size room.

    Trouble is I just bought the friggin' ADCOM very recently. But I agree with you also that one shouldn't spend more on an amplifier than on the speakers. I'm wondering how to explain it to the wife. "Well dear, I need a better amp than the one I just bought and, by the way, it'll cost at least 3 times as much." We shall see.

    ....

    Though I respect Wooch very much, I think he is being pessimistic that you will need an amp other than the ADCOM with MG 1.6's anytime soon. If you do get the upgrade urge I'd say it would be for better quality rather more power.

    I do assume you listen at reasonable levels. Frankly I never listen to music at an average level greater than 85 dB; usually it's less than 75 dB. An average level of 95 dB for classical in your living room is ridiculous, IMO.

    For a few weeks I drove Maggies with my Harmon Kardon 330A receiver. That unit was bought around 1972 and puts out maybe 35 watts/ch. The sound was thoroughly enjoyable for 95% of listening.
  • 03-18-2006, 05:17 AM
    Geoffcin
    I agree
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor
    I do assume you listen at reasonable levels. Frankly I never listen to music at an average level greater than 85 dB; usually it's less than 75 dB. An average level of 95 dB for classical in your living room is ridiculous, IMO.

    For a few weeks I drove Maggies with my Harmon Kardon 330A receiver. That unit was bought around 1972 and puts out maybe 35 watts/ch. The sound was thoroughly enjoyable for 95% of listening.

    For max sustained level; 85 dB seems about right to me too. And even this is only when I'm playing a concert DVD. Sure the occasional peak to 95dB is in there, but listening at a 95dB average is auditory suicide.

    Just for giggles I'm going to hook up my 15watt T-amp to the maggies later to see if I can get them to play. As silly as it sounds, this $29.95 amp sounded great hooked up to my big CSW T500 floorstanders.
  • 03-18-2006, 06:44 AM
    cruzin
    I use my Maggies(3.6's,MMGW's and an MMGC) for both music and HT.

    Given the correct amplification,Maggies will rock with the best,and still play sweetly when required.
  • 03-18-2006, 08:48 AM
    bubslewis
    Feanor, Geoffcin
    Thanks, that's the kind of talk I love to hear! Not sure I'm ready (either technically or financially) for Florian style upgrade just yet.

    And Woocihfer, I promise to be as unbiased and neutral as possible. The first place I'm going to carries a pretty good selection of some pretty good brands. I'm willing to bet that I'll hear something as good or better than a Maggie 1.6. But I'm also not afraid to bet that they'll cost more to substantially more than the 1.6.

    Not that I've heard a terrific amount of speakers in my life, but there are only 2 times that I ever remember hearing a speaker that made my heart skip: On my first speaker foray in 1973 when the guy suddenly turned on a large Altec (or Altec Lansing) that absolutely stunned me, and the other was in 1988 when I heard a Magnaplanar. But I promise to maintain an open mind.

    The dealer that I'm going to is only open on Saturday and Sunday. Can't go today or tomorrow, so have to wait til next weekend. Delays, delays, delays #*&^*#!.
  • 03-18-2006, 09:24 AM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor
    Though I respect Wooch very much, I think he is being pessimistic that you will need an amp other than the ADCOM with MG 1.6's anytime soon. If you do get the upgrade urge I'd say it would be for better quality rather more power.

    I'm not sure that I would call it pessimistic, just relaying my listening impressions with a very similar combination to the one that he would use. His observations could very well differ from mine. I'm only recommending that he try those speakers with his amp before buying, and I don't think anyone would disagree with that given the comments about how the Maggies respond to the amp combination more so than most conventional speakers.
  • 03-18-2006, 09:42 AM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bubslewis
    And Woocihfer, I promise to be as unbiased and neutral as possible. The first place I'm going to carries a pretty good selection of some pretty good brands. I'm willing to bet that I'll hear something as good or better than a Maggie 1.6. But I'm also not afraid to bet that they'll cost more to substantially more than the 1.6.

    No promises needed, after all those speakers are for your enjoyment! The Maggies will sound different from other speakers, but there are a lot of other contenders out there. A Magnepan dealer should have plenty of alternatives around the same price point for you to consider.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bubslewis
    Not that I've heard a terrific amount of speakers in my life, but there are only 2 times that I ever remember hearing a speaker that made my heart skip: On my first speaker foray in 1973 when the guy suddenly turned on a large Altec (or Altec Lansing) that absolutely stunned me, and the other was in 1988 when I heard a Magnaplanar. But I promise to maintain an open mind.

    Well guess what, the big Altec "Voice of the Theater" A7s are available again. These are very different from the Maggies because they are horn-loaded speaker that can be easily driven by low powered amps.

    http://www.alteclansing.com/legacy/story.asp
  • 03-18-2006, 09:47 AM
    Florian
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bubslewis
    Feanor, Geoffcin
    Thanks, that's the kind of talk I love to hear! Not sure I'm ready (either technically or financially) for Florian style upgrade just yet.

    And Woocihfer, I promise to be as unbiased and neutral as possible. The first place I'm going to carries a pretty good selection of some pretty good brands. I'm willing to bet that I'll hear something as good or better than a Maggie 1.6. But I'm also not afraid to bet that they'll cost more to substantially more than the 1.6.

    Not that I've heard a terrific amount of speakers in my life, but there are only 2 times that I ever remember hearing a speaker that made my heart skip: On my first speaker foray in 1973 when the guy suddenly turned on a large Altec (or Altec Lansing) that absolutely stunned me, and the other was in 1988 when I heard a Magnaplanar. But I promise to maintain an open mind.

    The dealer that I'm going to is only open on Saturday and Sunday. Can't go today or tomorrow, so have to wait til next weekend. Delays, delays, delays #*&^*#!.

    No need to go as nuts as me, i am just here to inform you along with others who actually have personal experience that they do not suffer from problems such as bass, dynamics etc... often so called upon from the box crowd. I do this ONLY to make sure you dont rule them out because *someone writes a bunch of junk.

    Enjoy!
  • 03-18-2006, 10:08 PM
    jt1stcav
    FWIW, I owned a pair of Magnepan MGLR1 planars that sounded fantastic with both my Carver TFM-35x, and later with a McIntosh MC7200 power amp. The Mac especially had the high current necessary to really make my Maggies sing, and not only to orchestral/chamber music and jazz, but also to techno, rock, and full-blown pipe organ recordings! Of course I also had a DIY 1000 watt 15" powered subwoofer to help out with the bass duties, but my Maggie/Mac combo (controlled by an AMC tube pre) was truely anything but lacking! And I've only heard a few high-end loudspeakers that could truely disappear given the right room and speaker placement, and that from a pair of entry-level Magnepans not much more expensive than the ever-popular MMGs! Imagine what their TOTL models can do!

    I may have gone a totally different route with my loudspeaker purchases of late (from 2-way cones 'n' domes, horns, and even fullrange single-drivers) and still enjoying the different varieties along the way. But I'll always have a warm spot in my heart for planars and someday may own another pair again. Good luck on your quest for good sound.
  • 03-18-2006, 11:44 PM
    Mike Anderson
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Woochifer
    I'm not sure that I would call it pessimistic, just relaying my listening impressions with a very similar combination to the one that he would use. His observations could very well differ from mine. I'm only recommending that he try those speakers with his amp before buying, and I don't think anyone would disagree with that given the comments about how the Maggies respond to the amp combination more so than most conventional speakers.

    In the interest of accuracy once again, I should stress that I have no problem with anything Woochifer says. This guy is definitely one of the most knowledgeable folks on this forum when it comes to gear. And he's absolutely right when he says you should try out the specific amp/speaker combo you intend to use, especially when it comes to Maggies.

    And Wooch, since you're in the SF Bay Area, you're cordially invited to come by anytime to check out my rig. I'll put on a few of the HDAD/DVD discs you so helpfully recommended to me, so you can hear the 1.6s pumping out pure 24bit/96khz sound!

    I have to tell you, it's a helluva treat -- and thanks largely to you, because I never would have known about those discs if you hadn't alerted me to them.
  • 03-19-2006, 12:28 AM
    Florian
    Oh yes, and he is definetly welcome to my home too. Here you can experience 115db plus (if you want, its a tad loud) of uncompressed, dynamics (not to mention micro dynamics), bass to 19Hz without the help of a box, completely colorless sound with the help of the one driver material and no mass while having a huge driving force. Not to forget the scale and speed. Let me know when your coming so i can break out the beer and Sauerkraut to forget our sour days. I do like Woochs opinion in the HT section but not for planars, absolutly not. Otherwise, he is a great guy!

    :16:
  • 03-19-2006, 07:10 AM
    Feanor
    Always prudent advice
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Woochifer
    I'm not sure that I would call it pessimistic, just relaying my listening impressions with a very similar combination to the one that he would use. His observations could very well differ from mine. I'm only recommending that he try those speakers with his amp before buying, and I don't think anyone would disagree with that given the comments about how the Maggies respond to the amp combination more so than most conventional speakers.

    That is, to listen to a component at home in one's own system before committing to buy.

    But regarding Maggies, I don't agree that they are fundamentally more difficult to match with amplifiers than other, typical speakers. Yes, they are 4 ohm and they do require power at that rating, but they are a stable, non-problematic load. Based on its specs, the ADCOM 5400 should be more than adequate.

    In the past couple of years I have driven Maggies, (MMG, MG 1.6), with the following:
    • Phase Linear 400, (360 watts/channel @ 4 ohms)
    • Marantz 250, (125 @ 8)
    • Harmon Kardon 330A receiver, (about 40 @ 4)
    • NAD C270, (200 @ 4)
    • Monarchy SM70 Pro, Class A, stereo mode, (about 40 @ 4)
    • Monarchy SM70 Pro, pair, bridged, (about 100 @4)
    • Bel Canto eVo2i 'digital' integrated, (200 @ 4)
    The Maggies sounded great -- though different -- with all these amps. To be sure, the Maggies were able to drive out the strengths of each amp -- the Bel Canto was best but the bridged Monarchy's were very, very close.

    Well, there was a problem with the Marantz 250: it blew its output transistors :sad: . I suspect this legacy amp wasn't rated for 4 ohms; anyway it had been sitting on the owner's shelf for years and, thankfully, he didn't care about the damage.
  • 03-19-2006, 07:23 AM
    safeharbor
    Is it true that Maggies "wear out"? I have heard that they become problematic through time...or is this another planar urban-legend?
  • 03-19-2006, 08:07 AM
    Geoffcin
    Not really anymore than other speakers
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by safeharbor
    Is it true that Maggies "wear out"? I have heard that they become problematic through time...or is this another planar urban-legend?

    Although they do have a long break-in period. On the true ribbon models 3.6r & 20.1 the ribbon will eventually need replacing, but it's service life is like 10,000 hrs at moderate volume, so that's really not a worry. It's also easily replaced.
  • 03-19-2006, 08:22 AM
    Geoffcin
    On of the great thing about maggies
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor
    To be sure, the Maggies were able to bring out the strengths of each amp

    Is that the load is as close to purely resisitive as it gets in a speaker. This lets the amp show it's true colors, rather than interacting with the speakers varible load. For all of Florians ranting about how wonderful his ribbon speakers are because of the low mass design, the fact is that his speakers are one of the most highly capacitive designs ever made. A lot of the good from the low mass is negated by the highly reactive load put on the amp.
  • 03-20-2006, 05:37 PM
    squeegy200
    Magnaplanars will be a very different experience than the Bose speakers you previously owned. So listen critically because you are the one who has to live with them.

    I own a pair of SMGs which maggie purists agree is argueably the smallest and most anemic of the Magnapan lineup past and present.

    I drive them with a pair of humble NAD 2155 amps bridged mono which I purchased off eBay for $130 each.

    I listen to everything from Van Halen to Offenbach, Dave Grusin to the Back Street Boys.They graciously interpret everything I've thrown at them. Listen and decide for yourself. These littlest of planar speakers can create some immense sound pressure in my 13x18 listening room. Imagine what the bigger panels can achieve!
  • 03-20-2006, 07:07 PM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Well guess what, the big Altec "Voice of the Theater" A7s are available again. These are very different from the Maggies because they are horn-loaded speaker that can be easily driven by low powered amps.

    I thought they had experienced a graceful death long ago. They do honk ("my heart goes where the wild goose goes") rather horribly in the midrange to these ears. $12k a pair? I'd have a pair of 20.1s in a New York minute. There is no comparison.

    rw