Best Cheap Amps for Magneplanar Speakers


I want to drive some medium sized to large Maggies (1.7 or 3.7) with the cheapest possible amps that will still let them sound great.

I prefer monoblocks and by 'cheap' I mean a kilobuck or so, tho less would be fine too.  I do NOT want to spend 4 thou...
randy-11
Classe' DR-9. $1k for stereo. $2k for monoblocks, either bi-amp or bridged mono.

Best to you Randy,
Dave
Thx Dave.  I cannot find any ...


The sunfire 300 is really good!
Sorry Randy. I bought three of them about 6 months ago and I haven’t seen one for sale since. The "Fifteen" is also one of the best amps ever from Classe and within your target price range. May be easier to find and is superb. Current out the ying-yang to drive those Maggies and excellent tonal balance. Not dark-sounding like the DR-15/25. Just right. Must run SE (RCA). Using the XLR inputs hurts the sound of the early Classe amps.

http://www.stereophile.com/solidpoweramps/1194classe/index.html

Just found this:
http://www.canuckaudiomart.com/details/649311643-classe-dr8-power-amplifier-audiophile-quaility-mint...

Remember, these amps double down as impedance halves just like a great amp should. Way outperform their specs.

Best to you Randy,
Dave
http://www.odysseyaudio.com/
http://www.audioreview.com/cat/amplification/amplifiers/odyssey-audio/stratos/prd_116037_1583crx.asp...
http://www.odysseyaudio.com/products-stratos-mono.html
http://www.odysseyaudio.com/products-stratos-stereo.html
http://www.stereophile.com/content/odyssey-khartgo-amp
http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/8-greatest-a-step-up-bargains-in-high-end-audio/

Odysseyaudio has stereo and mono amps tha would fit your needs nicely.
Stereophile or TAS did a nice review of there amps using Magneplan 1.7
I just included a few of there products (above) read through there site, each model also has available options
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How about a pair of these guys?  $3500 for the pair.

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue57/ciaudio.htm
Used B&K M200's?

Wired4Sound SX1000R monoblocks, 570wpc, on sale for $1399/pair.. They double down to 1140 wpc driving your maggies.


Edited: If these piqued your interest, note the voltage sensitivity of 2.95v to make sure you have a matching source/preamp to get a decent listening volume. Good match with a McIntosh tube preamp.

Here ya go!
http://www.avahifi.com/products/power-amplifiers/synergy-amplifiers
randy-11, you have some good suggestions above, and I particularly like the Classe suggestions. However, i would like to offer some thoughts for a different approach which is the route that I took over the many years that I lived with MG3A’s; some here will surely disagree with this approach:

There are different ideas on what constitutes "great" sound. For my idea of what "great" sound from Maggies means one needs a tube amp. To my ears Maggies with anything other than the very best solid state amp tend to sound lean and dry; deal breaker for me. Additionally, the ribbon tweeter in the 3 series is ruthlessly revealing of any problems with your amp’s high frequency performance which can cause an audible discontinuity between the tweeter and mid panel. A good tube amp gives the Maggies a sense of fullness and dimensionality of individual images that eludes most "affordable" ss amps as well as tending to have a more "friendly" high frequency character. With a decent tube amp Maggies can produce sound that is remarkably like the sound of live acoustic instruments and voices IF THAT IS YOUR PRIORITY. The downside is that your maximum volume levels MAY be somewhat limited and ultimate bass response and extension will not be on quite the same level as with a good ss amp. This was never a problem for me and while I listen primarily to acoustic jazz and classical I also listen to pop and rock.

When I read you OP, my first thought was, of course, tubes. But, for $1000? No way. I did a search of used offerings here and to my amazement there are two great options that I owned before settling on the Manley 100W monos that I still own. Both are fantastic amps for the money (no affiliation with either seller):

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/tube-quicksilver-mono-el34-2016-12-18-amplifiers-90713-lakewood-ca

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/tube-david-berning-co-ea-2100-stereo-tube-amplifier-2016-12-14-amp...

The Berning will give you more output, is fast and is the least "tubey" tube amp that I have ever owned. Because of the design tubes will last a very long time. The Quicksilvers have a midrange and dimensionality to die for (in this price range) and are classics. Don’t let the Quickie’s 60W rating scare you if you listen at moderate volume levels; it is a very solid design. I fully expect some will write that 60-100 watts is not nearly enough for these speakers. It all depends on the size of your room and listening habits. I have a soft spot for the Quickies but the Berning is probably the safer bet with a bit more power....but that Quicksilver midrange! If you can stretch the budget a bit, this would also be a great choice and is what the original owner of my Maggies used for great sound:

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/tube-conrad-johnson-premier-four-100w-ch-tube-power-amplifier-2016...

Good luck and Happy New Year!

I demoed 1.7s at Audio Connection, where Johnny had them hooked up to NAD amps.  Don't remember the model number, but from my familiarity with the NAD range I was able to tell it was a bit older but was not one of the big boys (i.e., it was smaller than a 218thx).  But I thought they showed really well and there was no shortage of headroom.  If you can find a NAD S200 (225 x 2 into 8 ohms, and doubles into 4), I think you should try it.

This all being said, I ended up buying Vandersteens after that demo.  :)
Great to hear from you after all this time frogman. Hope all is well.

Berning is a great suggestion.

Best to you frogman,
Dave
used bel canto ref1000 will do the best trick, but i'm more agree with cedargrover towards maggies. i also like krell integrated amps nearly with all speakers and speaker types.

I agree with frogman's post.  I've been listening to Maggies since I bought my MGI Imp  back in 1980 ( still own that pair) but currently listening to 1.7's.  I have owned and used a variety of high power SS amps ( Yamaha, Emotiva, Conrad Johnson) but my favorite by far is my current Jolida 502p with Tungsol KT 150 output tubes.  It just sounds more realistic and full bodied than the SS amps I've tried and with 60 watts per channel is quite sufficient for my listening tastes.  I've owned for 2 years now and frankly I have no desire to look elsewhere.
Are there any solid-state designs that will give a similar sound to what frogman describes for tubes?  (I have a tube pre if that helps).

I know there are MOSFET amps that are designed to simulate the circuit topology and sound of single end triodes...

I think NuPrime is one (?)
Two such options would be Pass or Ayre, but both are likely out of your price range.
http://emotiva.com/products/amplifiers/xpa-1

http://www.mccormackaudio.com/index1.html

Other entry level high power amp you may want to research
There is a couple discussions here on AG, that described the
Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II Integrated Amp Combined with the MMG's sounding very good. I would think this would apply to the 1.7.
I think this is within your budget ($2,400.00 New) plus the pre is integrated. There's a fellow member by the name of mapman who wrote hearing this system. You could PM him to see if he could provide further info.   
Hi frog man,
Overwhelmingly high powered SS  amplifiers are suggested for driving Maggies.  I happen to agree with your recommendation if the objective is a more natural and realistic instrument/vocal tone. You've provided very good advice. 
Charles 
I have a Marantz PM8004 (stereo integrated) with my SMGa's and it has terrific dynamic range, beautiful tone and powerful, defined bass.

It seems to be a perfect match...
You need the most watts you can (Maggies like power) get but luckily current does not matter so amp need not be huge and heavy. I found Carver m4.0t amp did quite well. Carver amps in general should provide great value for running Maggies if in good operating condition still. For something newer I’d look to some thing like Class D Audio amps perhaps. Or if higher SPL not needed a 60-80 watt tube amp like say Rogue is reasonably affordable and will also work well but with more  limited SPL .
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used PASS for a single kilobuck?


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"You need the most watts you can (Maggies like power) get but luckily current does not matter..."

From Magnepan’s web site:

"What is the best amplifier for Magneplanars?"

"The short answer is direct-coupled, Class A/B designs with high current capability."

"There is a persistent impression that the larger Maggies require more power. It is true that most customers with the more expensive models have more powerful amplifiers. But, the popular assumption is not correct. They typically have a larger budget. If and when you upgrade your electronics is a separate decision."

I would assume that the manufacturer knows what works best, Randy.

Dave
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Look to Wyred integrated amps. Match well with my .7's. I've owned several pairs of Maggies over the years. I will tell you this, the more quality "power" the better the sound. This may be true with other speakers but never as much as Magnepans...
If you are truly looking for a cheap amp....
$400,  I like the Old Sumo Andromeda II or III...(III might be $500)
$900,  I like the Muse Model One Hundred Sixty
These will both make maggies sing
I don't know what you call cheap, but I have had $300 qsc 1450 behind mmgs, and it put out clean, undistorted sound at concert level.  The lights in the house were dimming with pounding bass drums. I had an adcom preamp between source and qsc.  Mmgs were without fuse and sounding good, and the qsc was not even at 1/2 full volume.
It's cheap, something to try.
Class D SDS 470c can find them used for around $400.

Magnepan like many less efficient speaker makers do not emphasize the benefits of more power with their products probably to not limit market or discourage customers.   Less watts will work but you will run out of juice if the volume needs to go up.    Current probably does not hurt but I did find Maggies not as needy there as with many less efficient dynamic designs.  Tube amps even work well if powerful enough to get the volume you want.

My local dealer has sold Maggies for years and recommends Class D amps by Rogue for use with Maggies though they sell tube amps also.  
A lot of good suggestions.

I would second two:

1. Parasound Halo A21 makes Maggie’s sing as good as I’ve heard them (except for the Halo JC1 monoblocks) - about $1500 used.

2. Classdaudio SDS 470C makes them sound as good, maybe better - about $700 new.

I’ve got all of these to drive my Magnestand 1.6’s (Maggie 1.6’s on steroids). They’re all superb.

Tube amps give them great mids, but struggle with bass and dynamics with Maggies (I’ve got some of the best - Atmasphere M60’s with Zeroformers). With Maggies, I prefer good SS amps with a good tube preamp - which gives you a great blend of both.

If your budget won’t allow the tube preamp right now - I’d be looking for a hybrid integrated (e.g. Rogue Pharoah, Peachtree, etc.).


At one point in time (5 years ago or so) I used a pair of the Wired4Sound SX1000R monoblocks with my Maggie 1.6's with good success. I also believe that the CIAudio would work well since I owned them also. I only suggest this to you because I'm trying to hold the cost down, especially if you can find them on the used market.
I do like several of the other options that others have mentioned.
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Was driving my 1.7s with an Acurus A150 until last night when my used Bryston 4b arrived. Clear upgrade in the bass dept and the immediate response. Highly recommend Bryston. If you want monos then get 2 and bridge them. Tube preamp really finishes the package.
Yes Bryston 4B is a great match

(((If you want monos then get 2 and bridge them. Tube preamp really finishes the package. ))) As if

except bridging can suffer into low imp loads like a 3,7
 where a stereo 4B or 7B mono's works great.
                  Best JohnnyR
 
 
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frogman     12.20.2016

Superb post.
Bryston 4B or 4B SST?
In my case, 4B. General consensus is the line keeps getting better as you add letters and exponents. 
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Just this week I found a good deal on a Jolida 1701 hybrid integrated They say 50 wpc. I am sure it is more. The MMG's have never sounded better. Amazing little amp. Very open and great pace and resolution without harshness.
I agree with Frogman.
+1 for the Quicksilvers. Amazing sound at any price.
Do a search for any of the Nelson Pass Threshold Stasis series has worked for me for 30 years of Magnepans.
"Do a search for any of the Nelson Pass Threshold Stasis series has worked for me for 30 years of Magnepans."

http://www.ebay.com/itm/322363543402?rmvSB=true

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Threshold-Stasis-Model-2/132025568341?_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D38530%26meid%3D98793960f78b4b65b83dd19a9b1e508f%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D322363543402
I would look at some class d pro audio . Have worked on panels for me in the past . Guitar center has a nice return policy  . Worth a shot in my book . You buying new ?  Keep an eye on cl . Threshold , Older Krell . Mcormack . Definitely Bryston .SimAudio W5 . What topology are you interested in ? 
How big the room is will determine what size amp/s you need as well . Listening habits ? Type of music . ..
Maggies and ARC gear have been a great match through the years. It was the Tympani 1Cs and ARC tube gear that got me into this hobby...a very long time ago. 
I have a set of 1.7s and drive them with a Carver AVR100 in a 20x25 room. I bought it new back in 1989 and recently pulled it out of storage (forgot I had it). Although it certainly isn’t a fully functional receiver by today’s standards, it does have a great amp, at 225x2 at 4 ohms. I think it’s a total myth that Magnepans "need" tons of power to sound good. I’ve never had more than 225w to them and only had 150w before I brought out the Carver. It’s far more important to have clean, constant power than to have tons of it.