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  1. #1
    nightflier
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    Mounting Magnepan wall speakers optimally

    There isn't much about this online and I've spent countless hours tweaking things in my HT room to improve the sound on these. Here's some things I've discovered:

    Wall height is key:

    You wouldn't think it, but just like their floor-standing brethren, the MC1s are designed to sound their best when your ears are just above the middle-height of the tweeter panels. With wall-hanging speakers that seems odd, because most other manufacturers and showrooms will have wall-hanging speakers hanging over-head. These need to hang very low if you want them to be at ear-height when sitting on a couch or recliner.

    The tweeters on the MC1s are 34" tall, but they are also higher up with extra sapce near the bottom, so the 17" (half of 34") up the tweeter is actually more than half-way up the panel. That mid-point needs to be at ear-height, and on my wall, the speakers are now hanging lower than the TV - not exactly the best looking placement, but it helps


    An adjustment of just an inch makes a huge difference:

    I didn't want to put my panels too near the floor, so I opted for a slight tilt. I found that to aim the tweeter's mid-height at my ears, I needed to add a tilt of about 3/4". While that may seem very little, over the distance from my speakers to my seat, that made a much larger difference (a little high-school trig was useful here). I used custom drilled wood blocks, but that introduced other problems (see below). The sound stage is now perfectly aligned to the place of my ears when I'm reclined in my lazy-boy.

    Panel bracing:

    Larger Magnepans benefit considerably from better bracing along their height (my MG12s sure did), and this is most noticeable in offering up tighter bass. But when they're hanging on a wall and need to swing in & out, that's not really possible. Fortunately, there is no bass below 80Hz, so the problem is not as severe. I did use rubber cement on the parts of the hinges that attach to the wall, and while I can't say this for sure, I think it helped. Then again, considering my other gerry-rigging (see below), that's probably just in my head.

    I've heard that some people add wood sides to the panels to add aditio9nal bracing, but that makes them heavier and thus negates the convenient hang-on-the-wall mobility, so I decided against that.

    Falling forward:

    Because my panels are now tilted forward by 3/4" they are also sometimes falling out from the angle I had them set at. Magnepan suggests using rubber washers at the top to reduce this, but I still find that they sometimes move on their own. They sell special axle-bolts too, but they're not inexpensive and for now the rubber works OK.

    Location:

    According to Magnepan, they do better when mounted on side walls (just like the florr-standers, they want lots of open room around them). Well that wasn't an option for me as that would obstruct walkers by. I wanted them next to the TV. Bad idea, there too. They actually do much better when spaced further apart than your standard TV-side mounted speakers. They throw a huge sound stage, so why restrict that? Mount them as far out as humanly possible without getting too close to the side walls that they are constrained by them. Unfortunately, in my case, I don't have a bigger room so I had to compromise, but that certainly narrowed the sound stage noticeably.

    Center channel sound:

    Magnepan makes a number of curved center channels. If you have the room, avoid them. First of all, they don't have any meaningful bass (mine goes down to just 100Hz). The much better option is to have two speakers combine to provide the center channel mounted right next to the TV, preferably models that are identical to the ones on the left & right. The effect is truly magical: the sound comes from the center of the TV screen, almost as if a speaker was behind the a perforated screen.

    I wired my MC1s in sequence to emulate this, and the effect was just as advertised. Unfortunately, my room is tiny, so I have to use a curved center channel. It sits below the TV, tilted upwards and is OK, but not at all like having two speakers wired as a single center. If you have the larger room, the cost of two MC1s is hardly more than many center channel speakers, but the sound quality is much better (no narrow MTM dispersion issues). Actually, a pair of MG-Ws would only set you back $300, and would also blow away any center channel priced 2-3 times as much.

    Rear speakers:

    Everything I mentioned about the front speaker directionality applies to these as well. Unlike box speakers, you just can't mount them above your ears. In my room that was a bit of a problem because that is where people walk to get to the seats and because the back-leaning seats could bang up against them. I have no solution so they are currently mounted too high, but I got an email from someone who did mount them on the ceiling and so I'll share what he said (kind of a funny story, really):

    "I ceiling-mounted them but no amount of rubber washers could keep them at the right angle so I used string. Again, not ideal, but it works. By the way, Magnepan sells better locking axle-bolts that don't fall out from a little rattling (yes, been there, done that and nearly had one fall on my head).

    Also make sure you screw the hanging brackets into studs and not just the drywall. When they hang horizontally, the weight on the hinges is very different from when they are mounted in the vertical position. That was actually what happened when the speaker fell: the hinge (which only has one screw, BTW) had swung out and the speaker slipped off. This was also due to the additional washers I was trying to insert. Fortunately the speaker wire held it up. One suggestion Magnepan had was to use a pre-drilled rails between the brackets to keep anything from slipping and to be able to add extra screws, but that would have been even more unattractive and added more holes to my ceiling."

    Room padding & reflection:

    Magnepans are bi-polar, so they have equal sound coming out the front as the back (well almost equal). I experimented with various forms of home-made wall padding, but it didn't improve things much. I now have them radiating right off the back wall and that seems to sound best. The slight angle I added did diffuse this somewhat, but it was a trade-off I'll have to learn to live with.

    The exception was with the side walls. my system is not exactly centered in the room so one wall is closer than the other. This took a lot of tweaking (I even tried to create a thick wall-hanging reflective platform to compensate, but it was ugly and realy stood out into the living space. I think I found a combination of differently absorbing materials (thank god for Joann's) to hang on both walls, but I'm still experimenting there.

    **************************

    Well anyhow, I thought I would share my experiences on this as there doesn't seem to be much info about it online. Considering the performance, these speakers are such a bargain (I bought all of mine second hand), that I really hope that setup isn't going to be where people are turned off by them. Properly set up, a Magnepan system competes with much more expensive systems. I hope it's of some use to others.
    Last edited by nightflier; 03-02-2010 at 01:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Wow, you gotta have room for a Maggie based surround setup. Good on you!

  3. #3
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Wow, you gotta have room for a Maggie based surround setup. Good on you!
    A friend of mine uses 20.1s for the fronts, dual CC3s for center and 1.6s for the rear along with five powered subwoofers, Krell, Conrad-Johnson, and Edge electronics and Valhalla cabling. Sounds quite nice!

    rw

  4. #4
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    A friend of mine uses 20.1s for the fronts, dual CC3s for center and 1.6s for the rear along with five powered subwoofers, Krell, Conrad-Johnson, and Edge electronics and Valhalla cabling. Sounds quite nice!

    rw
    Must be quite a system! Though perhaps a little overkill if one doesn't listen to multichannel music.

  5. #5
    Bill L
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    A friend of mine uses 20.1s for the fronts, dual CC3s for center and 1.6s for the rear along with five powered subwoofers, Krell, Conrad-Johnson, and Edge electronics and Valhalla cabling. Sounds quite nice!

    rw
    HOLY MACKERAL (sp). Now that must be in Magne-heaven!
    Music:
    Magnepan 1.6 QR's, upgraded xovers
    B&K 125.2 reference amp
    SONY SACD 2000ES
    Technics direct drive TT

    HT:
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    SONY Bravia 46" HD LCD

  6. #6
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    Night

    Nice write up and it must be an awesome sounding system.
    Any pics you could share????
    NAD D3020
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  7. #7
    nightflier
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    Actually, I got fed up with all the compromises of angling the speakers and started just lowering them. I'm still trying different heights, but when I get it dialed in just right, I'll bolt them back in. I'm also toying with adding braces to the sides, but one change at a time, for now - learned that from lots of past mistakes.

    One thing that is definitely something to consider for anyone choosing wall-hanging speakers (Maggies or box) because of wanting them out of the way, is that they will need to go a lot lower than "out of the way." Unless you're willing to angle them down considerably (which brings about all sorts of new problems), there is little choice in the matter. I've gone through a number of different surround speakers now from my first Klipsch setup, to Axioms, to Viennas and now Magnepans, and I'm almost certain that in all the previous cases the height was the most likely reason for my dissatisfaction. Probably something to remember next time I upgrade!

    (I've drilled so many holes in these walls that they're starting to look like my old dorm room walls...)

    Estat, your friend's system is insane. 5 subs? I can see 2 for a decent HT system that also doubles as a music system, but 5 is a bit over the top. Also, powering those + that much paneling has got to take a serious amount of juice.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    I'm guessing there's a sub for each channel which makes all the speakers fullrange.

  9. #9
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Is 5 subs wretched excess? I'm close. I actually have 4. The SPW-1 originally from my Spectra 22's is actually 2 separate woofer systems in one box. I don't have a center channel speaker. If I did I'd probably have a sub for that too.

    Why so many you ask. Effortless dynamics. The 1812 Overture sounds like real howitzers are going off. My only problem is that I hear all the low frequency thumps and bumps that are in lots of source material and the TV signals.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
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    Front: Magnepan 1.7, DBX 223SX, 2 modified Dynaco MK3's, 2, 12" DIY TL subs (Pass El-Pipe-O) 2 bridged Crown XLS-402
    Rear/HT: Emotiva UMC200, Acoustat Model 1/SPW-1, Behringer CX2310, 2 Adcom GFA-545

  10. #10
    nightflier
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    Just out of curriosity where are they located in the room vis-a-vis the speakers? I know bass waves are pretty much omni-directional, but I've found that placing subs near the speakers does help with blending.

  11. #11
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    My front subs are on the wall behind the speakers. The speakers are about 48" from the wall. The rear sub is centered between the rear speakers. Crossover for the fronts is 80Hz and 100Hz for the rears.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts, Yamaha DVD-S1800
    Behringer UCA222, Emotiva XDA-2, HiFimeDIY
    Accuphase T101, Teac V-7010, Nak ZX-7. LX-5, Behringer DSP1124P
    Front: Magnepan 1.7, DBX 223SX, 2 modified Dynaco MK3's, 2, 12" DIY TL subs (Pass El-Pipe-O) 2 bridged Crown XLS-402
    Rear/HT: Emotiva UMC200, Acoustat Model 1/SPW-1, Behringer CX2310, 2 Adcom GFA-545

  12. #12
    nightflier
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    Wow, that's impressive. How big is the room?

  13. #13
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Estat, your friend's system is insane. 5 subs? I can see 2 for a decent HT system that also doubles as a music system, but 5 is a bit over the top. Also, powering those + that much paneling has got to take a serious amount of juice.
    Actually, the subs are powered Nola Thunderbolts. He stacks a pair just behind the mains for the front and uses the other for the center. Main system is driven by a C-J MET-1 and a five channel Edge amp. Valhalla cabling throughout.

    Then again, his two channel Scaena based system uses four of the 18" "depth charge" subs.

    rw

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