Amp help for the Maggies?

Well I have settled on a pair of speakers. I went to audition a pair of maggies and was blown away. I have never heard something so musical and transparent. The dealer does not have that much selection apart from the maggies, but just for comparison sake I listened to a comparably priced B&W speakers and was almost offended. So the choice is made, I am getting maggies (MG12 or 1.6).

I have a source (AH, Njoe Tjoeb 4000), but still need to match an amp and pre-amp with these. I am thinking about doing a DIY preamp. Most likely a Modified Grounded Grid or a Modified Foreplay design. I am not sure what to do and would welcome any suggestions. My real problem is I need an amp that can deal with the power hungry 4ohm load of the maggies. My budget is about $1000 and would like to buy used. I am considering the McCormack .5 Rev A of DNA 125 but I am nervous about having that little solid state power. If anybody has any ideas please help me out. I know there are some diehard Maggie fans, let me know what you think, I have very little to audition here in Memphis TN.

Eric Baer
too bad there is so much bad information out there. I bought my maggies almost 30 years ago. i bought them precisley because they were so easy to drive. For a slice of heaven try the cj premier 11a. a used pv12al if you don't need phono a pv 12a if you do. If you are addicted to power try to find a NYAL moscode 300/600. I saw one for sale on audiogn.
First try a search this has been covered in the past and you may find some valueable information.

If you could stretch your budget just a bit it would open a lot of other options. For just a little bit more the Bryston 4b-st would work well and for a little bit more the Innersound ESL amp would be my suggestions. The more clean power the better with magnepans.
If you want a very inexpensive solution get a used luxman R-117 receiver that drives the 1.6 QRs to concert levels and has a CD bypass switch to run the speakers directly from your CD player into the Amp. The Nakamichi stasis SR 3A receiver will also drive the maggies well enough for jazz and chambermusic and sounds a bit sweeter than the luxman but runs out of gas on loud symphonic concert music. The luxman will run approx $275-325 (with remote) and the Nakamichi stasis (no remote) $100-200 on Ebay. At those prices you can't go wrong and you will have to spend 5-10 times as much to get similar sound with new equipment. I would also get superflatline shotgun cables from nordost so you can remove the metal jumpers from the 1.6 QRs high and low rear inputs.
I had 1.6qs some years back driven by a Rowland 2 amp, I think a Rowland 1 will do the job as well and is within your budget.

Check out the many modifications available for the Maggies, things such as Autoformers, removing some panel covering, etc.. they do work.

I have Maggie 1.6QR's and drive them with an Aragon 8008BB (pre-Klipsch design). I personally love this amp, and it will output 400W into 4 ohms with tons of current. They usually sell for around $1200 used - there's one currently for sale on this site (I'm not associated with this sale in any way). :o)
What was driving them when you auditioned them and were "blown away"? Maybe that is your answer?

Seems like we're always trying to duplicate the magical sound we heard somewhere with different components.
MG1.6 respond well to CarverPro ZR1600 digital amps. Good for 600 watts into 4 ohms. Mine cost only $840, but the price seems to have gone up to a grand or more. It's said that with some mods these amps rate with the best. Mine are good enough without mods.
Greg, just out of curiosity, what is the "bad information out there" that you reference. Perhaps the Magnepans 30 years ago were easy to drive but this is just not the case today with the Series 3. The biggest mistake I read here over and over is that people buy these speakers because of what they heard at a dealer and then drive them with an amplifier that is absolutely not suited to bring out their musical potential.
I think you've made a good choice of speaker! (If I say so myself, as a co-Maggie owner)
I'd say definitely stretch and go for the 1.6 if you can.
Later, when budget permits, add a subwoofer - a good one- like a Vandersteen or REL to really have a fun time with the Maggies. It will make a profound difference in the listening experience with the Mags.
Regarding amp; I am limited in budget too. I went with the Outlaw 755 (5 channels at 200 wpc; buy directly from Been very pleased with both the power and presentation. They're $1300 new, via phone or online order.
Consider biamping the speakers, which will necessitate biwring them too and using four channels of multi-channel amp. All well worth it when you hear what they do receiving that much clean power.
Jafox- perhaps it is appropriate for me to discuss amplifier power after just watching a repeat of Tim Allen's "Tool Time." Tim Allen makes fun of the American males insatiable desire for more power in every mechanical device he can get his hands on. Almost always with disatrous results.
Amplifier wattage and frequency response became vitallly importat because it made good ad copy. The Amercian consumer had already been conditioned by madison avenue to beleive power is good. More power is great. This brainwashing was alredy paid for by the auto industry. Thus it is easy to sell my product. Buy my amp because it has flat frequency reponse,lots of power and vanishingly low distrotion.
I see amp and speaker as a system within itself. If we may return to the auto anology. Car design means mating the right engine with the right suspension for the prevailing driving conditions. You wouldn't race a stock car at Monte Carlo or Formual 1 car at Daytona. Mate the wrong engine with the wrong suspension and you have a nightmare. Most of us drive the wrong car for the conditons we have to navigate. Mostly because we hae been brainwished about the need for power. You may be awre that there is a racing series where manufacturers race three cars with few modifications right off the factory assembly line. Two cars so dominated thier field that the other cars were racing for second. This casued the other car makers to file a complaint. They both had rather average horesepower.One was the twin turbo maxda rx-7 and the other was the Audi quatro. Four wheel drive gave the quatro a significant hadling advantage. The wankel engine gave the mazda a handling and speed advantage because of its' power to weight ratio. Even in cars, massive horsepower is not always the way to go especially when one is working under restrictions

Turning back to hifi. To say that the Maggies require or even benfit from massive amounts of power aprroaching a kilowatt is just wrong! It bothers me becasuie making that claim could deter others from owning a speaker of which I am a huge fan.
Now in making recomendations for the maggie with no restrictions there are a wide range of amps that will work well. I on this very Audiogn site have reccomended the Bryston 7B. Hardly an anemic amp.

This thread asks a very specific question. What amp in the $1K range should he get to drive the Maggie 1.6? A solid state amp with the kind of power being recomended is not only not necessary but is a recipe for horrible sound. The CJ premier 11a is a much better choice and can be had used for about $1550 used. Despite it's meager 70 watts it will drive a nail. And unlike the low priced high powered solid state designs, it will sound like music. Could it benefit from an upgrade to the CJ premier 140. You bet.
Remember it is not I who have thrown down the gauntlet on this issue. I have repsonded to two other threads own this subject only to be shouted down.
I recommended the cj premier 11a to another owner of maggies. Only to have others claim it was underpowered. I also suggested that the owner of a fifty watt Forte might be able to squeak by driving MG 3.6. Especially since the Forte doubles down at 4 ohms.
FYI even though my maggies are thirty years old I have kept up with all their models except the MG 20 whcih IMO exceeds the price range that makes the maggie a great deal.
An Innersound ESL amp will cost about $1000 or so and is designed to play into low impedance loads. It sounded terrific with my Maggies and was very open and defined and had plenty of power to whip them Maggies like a rag doll! Of all the amps I tried with my old 1.6s it was the only one with enough power IMO. Give it a try, you can always sell it if not to your taste...
My advice is to stretch the speaker budget and get the 3.6's. Then, comprommise the amp budget with the lowly little NAD C320 BEE. I owned this combination for some time, while at the same time owning the Innersound ESL-300. In addition, I have a Bel Canto evo4 gen 2. Frankly, the Bel Canto is my favorite amp on the 3.6's but, the C320 is my second favorite. It is actually a better match than the Innersound though not many will agree, unless they do a blind test. In any event, it is cheap and a good starting point. You can always upgrade this at a later date.

If voice and simpler music (chamber/jazz, etc) dominates your listening preferences then there is nothing wrong with the 1.6. It has a seamless coherence and soundscape projection that is excellent by any measure. It is just as good as the 3.6. Driver coherence on the 1.6 is arguably even better than the 3.6. However, the ribbon on the 3.6 exudes a transparency and liquid delicacy that is well behaved and, virtually in a class by itself. From the moment a disc starts spinning one realizes that these are no ordinary speakers. They are simply excellent.
Well, Eric, now you've heard from both sides of the camp. You'll want to audition (at home, if you can) an amp with lower watts/power and one with more. Let your own ears decide.
I fully agree that CJ makes a higher end product. However, you won't get the same presentation as with an amp with more power. Sorry, it's true. Unless it's some "high current" design, which you'll pay for too. I would ideally like an amp the quality of CJ, but with the power of the Outlaw. Can't afford it. Maybe someday.
I also own a Threshold T-50; in it's day a very respectable 50wpc class A amp. No slouch. But there was no comparison between it and the Outlaw biamped. Let's put it this way; if the Outlaw wasn't as "pure" a sound as the Threshold, the additional power and what it did for the Magnepans more than made up for it. I once went back and hooked up the Threshold again, just to make sure I wasn't overlooking anything. Couldn't stand it. Removed it immediately - it sounded too "small" and without gravitas.
You're not going to have your cake and eat it too at $1,000 for an amp. If you go low watts, sure, you might get higher quaility, but don't expect the expansive sound stage. Won't happen.
As I said, listen to both kinds of amps and you'll know what's right for you.
One last thought. In keeping with the car analogy Gregadd used, the CJ or similar amp is like a two seat sports car - very refined, but SMALL. You'll never get big sound out of it. The Outlaw is more like the Nissan Maxima (Gregadd might suggest more like a Chevy), not as sporty as the two seater, but very nice. It is larger.Performance not up to the two seater, but much more size.
That's pretty much what you're facing regarding amps and the power issue. Smaller (power) and (possibly) technically more perfect, or larger and expansive (with possibly less precision).
So, what's going to fit you? Listen to the Maggies both ways, and you'll know what you like.
Now, if anyone knows of a $1,000 amp which does BOTH the things the CJ does and the Outlaw does PLEASE TELL ME!!
By the way, just saw an article in Stereophile where Sam Tellig reviewed the Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers (bookshelves) into which he ran Parasound Halo JC1 mono amps, of which he commented, "Overkill perhaps- but the sense of control and dynamic ease was wonderful."
That perhaps is what appealed to me so much about larger watts. The sense of "control and dynamic ease."
Have fun with the choice!
Because most music is handled by about <1 watt what we are realy talking about is dynamic headroom. The necessary dynamic head room is about 3db. A cursory explanation is given at:
My summary observation is that your low power amp will never sound better than when it drives Maggies. Depending on musical tastes, and listening environment (eg: apartment) the low power amp may be the best choice. However, the Maggies can do more. Lots more.
NO, NO, are ALL wrong!!! (just kidding :) ) let me chime in as having owned SMG "A"'s 1.5, 1.6 ,2.7's and 3.3's( formerly Jafox's own beloved 3.3's!!) As many of you may know, I have indeed left the Maggie camp( for now anyway) and here's why. Yes, I agree with both camps to some degree. Indeed Maggies will sound good with lower power amps, especially triode tubes as long as you dont ask the amp to do more than is expected.Please dont waste your time with low power designs or most SS amps in the 100W range, and try to get the BEST sound out of them, no matter what front end stuff you have. I also have used Hi power SS amps in the 300W range with decent headroom that makes them come alive, but at the expense of revealing the short commings of the upstream components and the amp itself. The Maggie 3 series are that good at letting you know where your problems are. I really think that if your going to run Maggies full range and expect to have a world class speaker capable of high resolution, detail, stunning dynamics and play real world music, you better have not just power and current from an amp...but the BEST amp to do the job AND sound good doing it wheather it be tube OR SS. The likes of the Wolcotts, ARC Ref 600, VTL 450's, Plinius SA 250's, new McIntosh 6 chassis monoblocks,CAT JL3 Sigs Monoblocks would be what Id want for my next pair of Maggies. OR... I could be satisfied returning to my 1.6QR's and Quicksilver 60's, place them 12-15 feet apart and listen in the near field and low to moderate volume. For sweet sound, imaging and depth, especially vocals, it didn't get much better than this! Perspective is the key and knowing what sound your trying to achieve, and how you'll drive them makes all the difference...BTW...FWIW, I will never forget how good my lowly pair of SMG A's sounded with vocals and light jazz..In some respects, the best Maggie of all.
Within your Budget, an Aragon amp would be the ticket. I've heard many Maggie setups, and bang-for-buck-wise, they are tough to beat.
FWIW, agree with much of what Gregadd said about folks being too focused on power ratings, but when it comes to current production Maggies, the current and power both matter a lot. As much a I love tube amps, this is the last place I'd recommend them to someone on a budget! Cheers,
Kehut- if your running in the class of those amps you don't need any advice from me. I'll get folks into the maggie camp by showing them they are one of the easiest speakers to drive. Whats' that phrase, "easy to drive difficult to master." You guys can take 'em from there.
I have had approx. 15 different amps on my old 3.6's in less then a two year time period. From that experience and all of the other's I have come to know in the maggie community over the past few years really seem to agree on one thing, the more power the better. Yes you can achieve high level's with low power(I never tried anything lower then 60 watts) but the soundstage shrinks, dynamics are virtually non-existant and bass suffers dramatical- both in quality and quantity. If you don't listen to "complex" music, low wattage MAY work, but your limiting your potential right from the start. The factory uses 7B-ST's last I knew(usually bi-amping), so there just MAY be something to needing a bit of power on newer magnepans to play a wide variety of music.

Gregadd- On the 19th of this month you said this and now THREE days later your engaging in the very thing you found fruitless then- what gives? If you feel low power is the ticket that's great, I am really happy for you, but I have tried more amps then most on these speakers and EVERYTIME high power allowed me to get closer to the music then there lower power counterparts. This is one of the reason's I decided to move on from my beloved maggies, wanted more amplification choices. So you have your experiences and I have mine, I have NO desire in investing any time in changing your mind, but please understand your not going to change my mind either- I trust my ears.
tireguy- "...but the soundstage shrinks, dynamics are virtually non-existant and bass suffers dramatical- both in quality and quantity. If you don't listen to "complex" music, low wattage MAY work, but your limiting your potential right from the start The factory uses 7B-ST's..."

It's clear I'm not going to change your mind which is why I wrote the anecdote of the "housewives and the recipes" and abandoned that thread. It just seems that the misinformation keeps growing like some mutant desase.

Pay attention. I recomended the 7B as an ideal amp for MG. 3.6 which I repeated in this thread. In the threads where I approved what you call "low power" it was in reponse to parameters set by someone else. Last I checked $1000.00 will not get you a quad of Bryston 7Bs'. On the other hand someone was thinking about 1.6 or 3.6 but was wedded to the Forte 50 watt which I thought was borderline but they might get buy since it doulbed down at 4ohms. They last one was the guy was already considering a premier 11a for 1.6 I think and I told him it was working perfectly for me. ( I don't have a 1.6 but likened that speaker to be the current model closest to what I have. I have no interest in having a system with shrunken soundsatge, non-existant dynamics or severely restricted bass. Nor would I reccomend it to anyone else without severely qualifying my reccomendation.
As for power look at this thread. I provided a link regarding the need for 3db of headroom. You'll see that it takes quite a bit of power to accomplish that.
Just to let you know my point of reference I heard the 3.6 at Gifted Listener Audio in Crewe, Virginia when I was considering bying it. I listened to it with both the 7b and the vac 70/70. To be honest I prefereed the Bryston but the vac acquitted itself quite well. The vac was quite a bit more expensive than the cj and the bryston.

I tried to exit this thread gracefully.

I say it again those who are neither intereted in or can't afford hgih quality mega watts, fear not. You can swim in the shallow end of the magnepan pool and enjoy yourself quite well. When you get the money you can if you are so inclined move into the deep end. After you reach a certain depth however you are just kidding yourself.

I think I have said all I have to say on this issue. However I will continue to respond to any misinformation on this subject. The potential purchaser can make his/her own choice.
Gregadd...."shallow end of the magnepan pool". A very appropriate description.
This is one of those threads we can go over and over.

The biggest problem I see with the Magnepan speakers is that they put out so much musicality for the money. But their dynamic weakness forces many of us to try and get more and more punch out of them and only more power will do this ..... well, to a point. I feel it is the fault of many designed amps that causes us to think that a higher powered amp will solve the problem.

If all you can afford is a mid-fi priced amp, you truly are better off with a number of other speakers that do not have the weaknesses of the Maggies. Speakers like B&Ws and Vandersteens would be far more "able" to deliver the performance with such amps.

As for power, like Tireguy, I have tried many amps....not 20 different ones, but enough to know that throwing more power does help in some cases. Of the "conventional" designs out there, my experience have indicated that 200+w was needed to make these speakers come alive. But a recent experience with the CAT JL-3 amps, rated "only" at 150w, tells me that the max output rating is only part of the picture as the ARC Classic 150 monos, also rated at 150w, fell flat on their face when attempting to drive the Magnepan series 3. So 150w does not equal 150w as the CATs drive these speakers to a level of dynamics and authority.

And after hearing the 100w JL-2 stereo amp last month, I have no doubt it would control the Maggies like few of the mega powered amps, often discussed here as needed to drive these speakers, could match. So I have to believe that Greg is onto something when he talks of the first watt or so of the amp's driveability and the remainder is headroom. But throwing lower powered "midfi" or the vast majority of 100-200w amps out there will simply not work as my own experience has shown. And again I think it has much to do with the amp's design to deliver that first watt.

And Ken, nah, don't worry about becoming a Maggie follower. I think you will become a Soundlab guy once you hear those. Trade in that Jetta and get yourself a pair!