Bryston has always worked well for me.I had the 1.6's and before that the MG 1's.The SST series of course being the most preferred because of the power ratings and the low noise floor.Marry that up with a tube pre and you will have yourself a nicely balanced system.
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Parasound JC-1 's are great on 3.6's. If your willing to take a little chance, I've always been curious if a VTL-450 would have enough juice for the maggies and used they are in your price range. I know the 750's will work, but they put you over budget.
I lived with the JC-1's for quite a while with no complaints it was a great match, in fact the guy who ended up buying them(the 3.6's) from me ended up with JC-1's and is still happy with them
Wolcott P220-M monoblocks (220w) have sounded really good on the Magnepan 3.6 speakers in Slipknot1's system. You should be able to buy a used pair at the top end of your budget. In Slipknot1's system, the Wolcotts replaced Aragon Palladiums for a significant improvement. The impressive thing for me with the Wolcotts is how resolving they are with the Magnepans at low volume levels, but have no difficulty driving the speakers to volume levels that cause me to need to leave the room. They also deliver some of the best bass response I've heard from Maggies.
the 3.6 s have ribbon tweeters. such devices can be ruthless in their presentation. i have not heard any solid state amps which i can listen to for more than 15 minutes.
i heard the wolcotts on the 3.6s earlier this year. that amp has characteristics of solid state. it is very unforgiving. if you like the razors edge, buy that amp.
if you prefer a little more forgiveness of bad recordings, look for the cj mv125. this is an amp that i want to own myself.
another possible choice, is an mfa vintage tube amp.
the classic tube sound is an excellent match with the 3.6 .
watch out for the modern tube sound and solid state.
you will get all the resolution you can handle along with the ear fatigue.
what you are reporting vis a vie the 3.6R/Wolcott presentation has not been my experience. the Wolcott P220 sounds nothing like a solid state amp. While it is true that the amp can control planars and electrostats like a solid state amp, it's resolving power and nueance rivals the best tubes have to offer. I have lived with the combination everyday for over two years, and have had many sets of ears through my listening room, and many comments have been to the effect that the combination produces some of the best music they have heard from Magnepans. There is a reason that many users of Magnepans, Soundlabs, and Martin-Logan use Wolcott amps. The only other tube amp that I have heard with Magnepans that would cause me to change is the remarkable Atma-Sphere MAII, also 220 watts, an OTL but enough to drive difficult loads with all the finesse and power one could desire. This of course at more than 2X the cost of the Wolcotts.
I'm not a Maggie dealer, but I've owned 3.6's. I sell JC-1s and Wolcotts and Atma-Spheres.
I understand what Mrtennis is saying about solid state amps. To my ears the JC-1 is smooth and grain-free in the top end, which is one of the reasons I like it. So far I have not heard as nice a top end in a beefy solid state amp for less than twice the price of the JC-1 (not saying such doesn't exist - I just haven't found it yet). Now the JC-1 does have a very extended top end, which some like and some don't.
The sonic character of the Wolcott amp is largely determined by the setting of the variable damping factor (variable output impedance) control. If the damping factor is set too high, the soundstage collapes and the tibmre becomes hard and edgy. From Mrtennis's description, I would guess that the damping factor was set too high on those Wolcotts. But the Wolcott is not an especially warm, lush amplifier. In my opinion, such an amplifier is not an ideal match for the Maggies because the Maggies tend to be warm and lush already - I think a better synergy is an amplifier that gives very good dynamic contrast (without screwing something else up), as in my opinion this is where the Maggies could use some help.
A pair Atma-Sphere MA-2's would probably work great as Slipknot says, but I haven't heard the combination so can't speak from experience. They are a bit pricey though. Maybe a used pair??
Just my $.02.
Thanks, everyone for your feedback on amps for the Maggie 3.6--my choices are narrowing, which is a good thing. Lots of happy campers with the JC1 / Maggie combo. Also, mostly great response regarding the Wolcotts. It will likely come down to price and availability. JC1s have been around for awhile, and lots of them out there. Not necessarily so with used Wolcotts, Butlers, or Moscodes. I wrote to Butler Audio regarding their TDB220s, and they said they got "superb results" in CES 2003 pairing the Butlers (no, not the Monads)and Magnepans. The rep also stated that they can be bridged into 800w mono. (I am verifiying their 2-ohm stability.) The Butlers run $3300 new, which seems like an outstanding bargain. Hey, no Mac users out here? What's up?
i have owned two different models of maggies, my friend has mg 3 and i have heard the 3.6s, numerous times, as well as the 20s and 20.1s. there is nothing warm and lush about magnepans. if anything, they tend to sound top heavy and bright and fatiguing unless integrated with the appropriate electronics.
when i heard the wolcott amps with the 3.6s, the demonstartaion was hosted by mr. wolcott himself. i trust the set up was optimal.
a ribbon tweeter is never warm and lush.
Mrtennis and audiokenis--re: "bright" vs. "warm"...
What I loved about the Maggies from the first demo (with SS Musical Fidelity equipment) was their sheer resolving power. They never sounded "top heavy," "bright," or "fatiquing." However, the ribbons CAN sound bright on certain material. I am presently using Musical Fidelity A 3.2CR (SS) for power, a B & K pre, and a level-one Underwood modded Jolida (tube)CD player for source. Also, Cheetah (silver) interconnects and PS Audio Extreme statement biwire to the speakers. I also have a MF tube buffer between the amp and pre. I AM getting a sound that is more WARM and LUSH than it is bright. Tubes in the chain are pretty much necessary for the Maggies, though I know others are getting "warm and lush" results with McIntosh SS, for example. Just my thoughts to add to the mix...