This topic has been covered quite a few times - check the archives for a lot of great choices/advice. You can also visit the maggie user group over at Audio Asylum as well. Quick answer - Bryston 7B's/14B,Sim W-5, big, as in powerful tube amps like AR or Rogue, Krell, bigger Aragon amps, etc...
11 responses Add your response
Slipknot1 is getting incredibly good sound out of his system with Magnepan 3.6s and Aragon Palladium 1K amplifiers. I was just over there listening again this afternoon and reconfirmed my impression the the Aragon Palladiums are a very good match.
As an owner of Maggie series 3 speakers for about 6 years, I have owned many amps, ARC VT-130, ARC CL-150, Counterpoint NPS400, Wolcott and heard Bryston, BelCanto with these speakers. Yes, more powerful amps in the 200+w range are an absolute must. These speakers have some weaknesses (lack of dynamics, not the greatest low end extension, satisfactory resolution) but they do an outstanding job in 3-dimensional presentation, harmonic richness. I simply have not heard them do their magic with solid state amps. But I have read the Pass amps do quite well here.
Without a tube preamp in your system, you absolutely will NOT hear the incredible bloom of these speakers. And when these speakers are separated by 9-10 feet or even more, they fill the space between them like nothing I ever heard ..... until I heard the Soundlabs just recently.
The problem is that the Maggies are an outstanding value for what they do. But unfortunately the cost of amplification far exceeds the cost of the speakers. And this is fine up to a point such as $4-5k on the used market for VTL 450, Wolcott, Pass X250/350. As a long time ARC fan, I had little success with their amps and the Maggies. Perhaps the VT200 might work, but going up the line from there makes no financial sense. I found the Counterpoint NPS400 amp to perform far superior to the ARC amps with the Maggies. The Wolcotts brought on a level of musical enjoyment beyond the Counterpoint, but the Counterpoint did everything very well. I still have my NPS400 as it's just too good to sell compared to other amps out there at the same price. There's one on A'gon and this is a steal of a price. What a great start with a new pair of Maggies.
I see a lot of systems here where members have these speakers and the rest of their system is mid-fi. This is a true hi-end product that just simply has a mid-fi cost. Without doing it right with the source and electronics, the owner will miss much of the investment.
I have recently decided to go with Soundlabs and another amplifier so my Wolcotts are now for sale and my Maggie 3.5s will soon be for sale. Contact me if you're interested in additional information here.
I've tried a few different amps with 3.6's:
Cary V12i Monoblocks
Carver Pro ZR1600
Carver Pro ZR1600 with EAD mods
Krell MD300 monoblocks
SimAudio W10 Monoblocks
I may have missed a couple, but in my opinion, the only amps that have come close to extracting the true potential from these speakers are the SimAudio W10's....with 1400 watts into 4 ohms.
You can get away with tube amps in a smaller room, but I used the Cary V12's at 200w per side and although the tone/timber was nice, the soundstage was very narrow, and as soon as I turned the volume up toward the 90db mark, the tweeter fuses would blow.
I should say that my room is larger than average though.
I would also think about modifying the speakers at some point....you haven't heard what they're capable of until you bypass those crappy fuses and attenuator links (make sure you have a powerful amp in place first).....then later, there are some things you can do with the crossover that can take them into another league.
I have gone the used route for all my gear, as you get much more for the money, and as others have stated the MG 3.6s require amps with higher watts and higher damping factor.
I started out with a used Musical Fidelity TriVista 300 Integrated Amp -- this is two seperate solid state monoblocks in one chasis - 350 watts / 8ohms, 600 w into the maggie 4 ohms. The Preamp portion - also seperate, with its own power supply is tube -- but uses military tubes that are suppose to last the life of the unit (no hassles). This am is awsome - creating a wide sound stage with sigificant clearity and air behind each instrument. I listen 95% jazz, small group acoustic -- and it is close to being there. The bass is very good on well recorded albums. This integrated is strictly 2 channel analog, but the preamp has a single bypass out that can go to another amp if you eventually want to experiment with bi-amping.
This unit can be had on audiogon for ~3800-4100. You did not state your price range. Even with this powerful amp, you will not be able to push the sound meter much past 90 - low 90's without blowing a fuse. I listen in the 80-90 range without problems -- and it is loud. MF now has the KW integrated at 500w monoblocks that go to 750 in 4 ohm -- I have heard it on a different system and it too was awsome -- unsure if it would add any headroom to the Mg 3.6s. I use a used Sony XA777ES for CD/SACD ($1300) with used Kimber Hero interconnects ($100 each) and Kimber 8TC bi-wire ($2-400).
I recently added a CAL (california) Audio 2500 series system -- MCA, SSP, VP, DVD/CD. This MultiCh amp is a MONSTER at 500w x5. It actually has 3 seperate power supplies allowing very good 2 and 3 channel (center) playback. It reportedly goes to 775w - 1000w per channel (in two channel mode) into 4ohms depending on the review you read. This amp is as good as the MF in 2 channel mode for bass (maybe better) and treble. It lacks only a little (ONLY LITTLE) of the upper air and musicallity of the MF. This amp gives me great flexibility for 2ch or 4ch (phantom center) for HT with my MG1.6 surrounds. The SSP is required though to control the amp in 2, 3, 4, or 5 channel mode. The SSP while not having all the features of some SSPs, is a high end audio first ssp and includes analog bypass to allow 2ch CD/SACD to be passed thru. Hard to find -- but well worth the wait. The increased power of this amp gives me another 10-12 dbl of loudness before clipping. The extra headroom makes it sound very very nice for 2 channel !! This amp only has neutrik speakon "out" connectors -- so I use Pro Co FatMAX 8 AWG (4 - 11 AWG solid copper braded wires). The lack of upper end air and musciallity might be due to this cheaper - great bass - cable, as apposed to the amp itself -- unsure. Widescreen review uses custom two channel versions of this amp to drive all thier speakers in thier reference system.
Eventually i hope to try other amps
Email me directly with any questions