I am sure this is the type of question that gets asked a lot, so I beg your indulgence for one more:
I have recently upgraded my speakers to a pair of Magnepan 1.7i's. I am enjoying these speakers even though I know they are not receiving an optimal signal. My goal is to provide a better signal.
My primary source is TIDAL HiFi, and here is my current setup
Power: Yamaha HTR-5450 (only front channels used). Ostensibly 85 w/channel --- I am aware that the specs for home theater receivers tend to be -ah optimistic.
DAC: ifi nano iDSD (burr-brown)
Digital signal provided by PC
My budget for upgrading the Yamaha is modest: $700-$900
Here is my want list:
100+ w/channel Stereo into 4 ohms. ( I have no need for more channels): Preferably Class A/B (as opposed to D)
I am not opposed to purchasing used, in spite of the additional effort involved.
I am considering the Denon Heos and Sonos Connect as a preamp. I am not opposed to an integrated amp, but I like the fact that these units allow me to control my selection via a phone app (my phone is an LGv20 w/ Android 7). Since I tend to listen to albums rather than individual songs or even playlists, the lack of this convenience is not a deal killer for me.
You probably want 150-200 watts RMS per channel into 4 ohms.
Don't get excited by the concept someone will probably chime in with regarding tube watts being more powerful. It just isn't true. You still need the raw RMS power.
There are lots of used solid state class AB amps out there. Parasound is a safe choice.
I do not like Class D sound, but a Class D or "digital" amp might be the ticket for you. The newer Crown XLS series pro amps have great power. I did not like them on my Maggies (1.6) because they softened high freq harmonics, but who knows, they may work for you. The 1.7 is much brighter sounding and this may be a good thing.
It's been several yrs but when I had 1.7's in a large room,30x40x20ft I needed at least 150 watts a side.That gave enough headroom so the speakers never sounded strained.I listened at moderate levels and not super loud.
Considering your budget, I'd recommend a lightly used NAD C275BEE. The Ncore Hypex NC400 is getting great reviews but its a little outside your budget at $1500 for a pair of monoblocks. Probably one of the best class D amplifiers out there according to the reviews.They do need to be assembled. For the record, I haven't heard either one driving Magnepans but I have owned the smaller Magnepan MMGs and my experience told me the more power they get the better they sound. Buy the most powerful amplifier your budget allows and save some money to put a tube preamp in front of it later if it sounds too bright.
Recently I have heard of people just hooking up their DAC's to their amplifiers. Is this doable? If so it might work for me since I am not intending to use multiple sources and I am not a big fidgeter of base / treble / balance, etc. An advantage of this approach for me is that it would provide a few more dollars to spend on the amp. Thanks for your comments.
Careful, Mark. Many years ago I had the Carver TFM-35 when I bought a new pair of Apogee Stages. The dealer said the amp would work fine with the Stages. It did not. Within five minutes of warm up at low volume with the new Stages the Carver dumped DC to the ribbon tweeters and large blue-white arcs shot from the tweeters. No more tweeters. Talk about a bad day.
The switching power supply Carver used on the TFM series to generate specs turned out to be a disaster with the Stage's low-impedance ribbons.
FWIW. Not intending to dump on Carver, just sharing this in an effort to be helpful.
The McCormack is a good suggestion. I'm surprised to hear about the A23 sounding flat - the cheaper HCA-1000A was a great amp for Maggies. I have the HCA1500A now and it does lean towards warm and a bit soft on top, but it controls bass very well.
I do not like NAD with Maggies. They have this weird power limiting feature where their output doesn't increase into 4 ohms plus they just aren't in the right league.
I've also tried Wired4Sound. Didn't do it for me. Class D audio - not too bad, better than W4S.
Jolida JD1000BRC - not enough power and lacked midbass energy plus rolled off on top.
Adcom GFA5400 - Very extended top end. A bit brittle sounding and lacks some bass control.
Adcom GFA5500 - Dull, dull, dull - not even similar to the 5400.
Sonographe SA250 - Lacks dynamics and sparkle.
Odyssey Stratos - actually this is quite a good option, see if Klaus can do dual mono power supplies in it.
What do I want to try - Pass Labs. Just a tad pricey though.
I have made a potentially expensive error. I found a DNA-1 on e-bay and made a bid. I later discovered that the amp is configured as a bridged monaural. (Thought it has L & R outputs, I noticed later that it only had inputs for one channel). Can this be ’Unbridged’ ? If so how expensive would that be?
(Feeling pretty stupid here, boss :D Maybe I won’t win the bid. It’s OK. Have a good chuckle at my expense)
I have sent an inquiry to McCormick (the brand is defunct after being acquired by Conrad-Johnson, but they still do mods/repairs)
Thanks, Raindance and 4hannas, for sharing your experiences. Most helpful. If the DNA-1 does not work out, I may try the Stratos. There seems to be a paucity of used units, so I may bump the budget and buy new. I did find a pair of platinum mono amps for 1,700. If they are still available in a couple of weeks I may pull the trigger.
There is also a Luxman M-117 out there for 600. What do you think of that option?
Steve McCormack could probably give you an assessment over the phone. He's an honest person. Not sure how expensive, you might consider upgrading at the same time. I've had mine upgraded by Steve to Gold and highly recommend it. Best of luck.
Count me in the high power/high current camp for the 1.7i. That is a great speaker but it needs power to sound its best. I have the MMGs and have used various amps to include a tube amp. The best match is a Parasound A21.....by a wide margin. I would not use a receiver to power these planar speakers. I would not choose the McCormack or the A23. Perhaps if the McCormack was beefed up. I would look for a quality dual/mono design amp or a stereo amp with a very big transformer and large capacitance. The 1.7i really deserves the power to sing sweetly. IMHO
btw: I got outbid on the McCormack. Just as well, I didn’t really want to deal with having to have it re-configured.
Also I have decided that I am willing to bump my budget to about $1500, though that will mean waiting a couple of weeks. That is also not all bad. It gives me some time to do some research.
On another note, I spoke with John Rustan. He thinks that a Bryston 4B is the way to go. TMR has some ST's for sale at $1600 each. I found it interesting that John offered this advice, even though he does not currently have any to sell. Looking at his website: audioconnect.com, I find he does have something interesting: A pair of PS Audio 250 Deltas.
I think limniscate is way too conservative in his assessment of needing over 400 WPC if listening over 75 dB. I think that anything less than 1000 watts SS per channel for Maggies is way underpowered at any listening level. And since more is better I'm sure there are some amps out there at the 2,000 to 5,000 watt level that would be adequate . Of course, I've been listening to my 1.7's quite happily for years now with a 60 W/ch tube amp but having tried a few 400-500 watt SS amps that didn't do it for me obviously the problem was not enough SS power.
Hi 2psyop. Thanks for the suggestion. I read the review you linked, and immediately wanted one. However, the price for used units appears to be about 3k. Out of my range, even given that it obviates the need for a pre-amp.
I have the 1.7i, I was using a Parasound Halo Integrated with it sounded good but something was missing so I had Klaus Bunge at Odyssey build me a Kismet amplifier in a Stratos case, Huge difference in Sound stage, Clarity and Bass ! but it was expensive , for your budget take a look at the new Schiilt Vedar it will drive the 1.7i and is priced at $699 plus shipping, you can than save money and buy another one and go Mono which will give you 400 watts per Channel @4 ohms at High Current , the maggies need 60 amps to really sing.
I have a pr. of Maggie 1.7s and after auditioning them in my home with several very nice SS and tube amps including an Ayre, Prima Luna, and VAC, decided on the Rouge, Cronus Mag. II. Dollar for dollar the Rouge was one of the best amps I auditioned with my 1.7s. It is an integrated tube amp with a very decent phono stage. At about $1,800 used, maybe a bit over your budget but it does a beautiful job with the 1.7s - very open, dynamic and detailed, while remaining smooth and musical. The Cronus Mag. II competes very well with some other much more expensive amps, so, if anyway to fit into your budget, it should definitely be on your short list. Jim
The Cronus is underpowered for Maggies unless you have a small room and don't listen to dynamic music at 90dB plus. But it's a good sounding amp otherwise.
Here's the issue: current delivery. Tube amps don't cut it unless they are about 150 watts a side and use 2 pairs or more of paralleled power tubes. Sorry. I made a comment earlier about tube watts not being different from solid state.
Otherwise you're consistently listening to an amp that is distorting. It may generate nice sounding even harmonics whilst doing so...
Mark, I’ve been a Maggie owner since the early 1980s. Currently, I also use 1.7s in my system. Two pair in a quad setup. I was using a pair of Adcom 5500s. (I don’t know how the one guy found them to be dull. Everybody raved about their open, airy and spacious sound.) Anyway, I recently decided to switch amplification and ultimately decided on Bryston 4B STs. They provide the same open, airy & spacious upper midrange and highs as the 5500, but with an added depth and articulation to the lower mids and bass. An excellent combination with the 1.7s in my opinion. My point to you is that $1,600 is way overpriced in my experience. I just paid an average of $1,050 for mine. For that price you should get an amp in excellent condition with some remaining warranty. If you haven't already done so, set yourself up on HiFishark.com and save a search for whatever amps you have an eye on. Hifishark tracks listings from, about a half dozen or more web sites (Ebay, audiogon, US Audio, and others). You can also see sold listings and expired listings which will help you get a better feel for pricing. Shop around. Enjoy.
50 watts of a quality 2 channel amplifier is plenty of power if your room is not super large. If you desire more power, it will not hurt. I'm using 2 amps now on 2 different setups and the power is sufficient on both systems. Forte 4a on ML Request and Threshold SA/3 on Magg 3.5s.
I've owned Maggie's for quite some time and had the 1.7's for a while before going to the 3.7i's. The mags simply ate some amps I tried.....chewed then up and spit them out. There aren't many integrated or HT amps that are going to get the full potential out if those planars. Some folks say they are quite happy with the sound with what they have, but until you hear those ribbons sing with a solid power supply you won't know what your missing. Magnepan used to show their amps with Bryston and now use Pass labs. Both high current designs that are pretty stable. I've recently gone to Odyssey monos that are stable below 2 ohms. They run only around 375 watts at 4 ohms, but put out massive current as there is 200000 microfarad of high quality capacitance and have an 850 va massive toroid. And that's PER SIDE. Great damping factor also that has brought the bass out of a speaker they say is weak on lower end. So now the amps are exerting control on the speakers instead of the other way around. Absolutely the best sound out of Maggie's I've ever had and the amps don't even break a sweat. I match these with a tubed pre or tubed DAC and I'm in audio heaven whenever I sit down for a listening session. Klaus Bunge of Odyssey is pretty well schooled in producing amps for difficult loads as his designs are based on the excellent Symphonic Line amps. He will custom build a stereo or some monos for not a lot of money. And you'll die a thousand deaths when you realize what you're 1.7's are capable of. Current....current..... current.
@OP A used DNA-1 (unmodded), should be around $800-900. They come up frequently. If I were you, I'd wait. Also, contact SMc Audio in CA. Steve McC is upgrading all his old equipment. I'm having my DNA-1's converted to monoblocks as we speak/write. He might have a DNA to sell, too. I'll PM you with some other info. Bob
The last I heard Steve McCormack is out of the production and repair fields. Repairs are being handled by Conrad - Johnson and there is no further production of McCormack products. Its a shame because Steve was one of the good guys in the industry. Not sure what happened.
I had the 1.6 and now MMG pending an upgrade to 1.7. After much research I called Klaus at Odyssey and told him of my system and the planned upgrade of the speakers. He custom designed what is essentially a Stratos in a Khartago case with several upgrades added. I have no regrets at all. It mates perfectly with the MMG and when the time comes (pending a larger dedicated listening room) I'll get the 1.7s and have him convert my unit to mono and build an identical one for the other channel.
There is a nice McCormack DNA 0.5 amp on audiocircle.com. Very sweet buy and perfect for what you are looking for, if you have not found an amp yet. A great asking price, but I don't think it will be there long...