Bought a pair of Magnepan LRS. Should I buy a Schiit Vidar or Bryston 3B-ST?


Has anyone heard both? I plan on travelling so small form factor matters to me but I'd like to stay with class ab, and balanced connections. I like the idea of having monoblocks with the Schiit when I get the money, and I've had good experiences with the brand. (Owned a Saga, a Mani, and a Jotunheim twice) but Bryston has the name recognition. I'm also concerned that upgrade fever would be relentless with the 3B-ST until I got the new and very expensive 3B3.
areasonableman
I have a pair of LRS on order and Magnepan told me they really like 250-300 4 ohm watts per channel
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I'm running mine off a Crown XLS 1502 525 watts into 4 ohms.
Surprise surprise they sound fantastic. 
My Peachtree Nova 150 is serving now as a preamp. I just added a Schiit Modi 3 DAC (out curiousity for $99). Again, believe it or not this combination is sounding awesome with power to spare, big soundstage, dynamic sound. 
One other comment I believe the Vidar's specification calls for 8 ohms (not 4) when used as mono blocks so you may want to check that. 
Good luck on finding the right amp that works for you. 


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Magnepan and bridged amps rarely a good match 
No experience with how they would sound with Magnepan, but used Parasound A21s have a lot of juice and are selling at a bargain since the new A21+ was introduced.
Schiit uses a pair of Vidar with 1.7s in their showroom so I'm not worried about stressing them out.
I have two Vidars in a secondary system and they have effortlessly driven everything I have thrown at them, including Maggie 1.7.  In mono, each Vidar delivers 400W into 8 ohm and even though it is not officially rated for 4 ohm, it will handle just about any 4ohm load. I spoke with Schiit and they told me the Vidar MIGHT go into protection with a 4ohm load if you are playing at extreme volumes.  Assuming you are not putting on a concert in your living room, you should be more than safe. If it does trigger though, the Vidar will go into protection mode and will not be damaged. The one idiosyncratic thing is the Vidar only takes balanced connected in mono and only takes SE connections is stereo. Good luck!
I own a pair of Magnepan 1.7 speakers. I started out using a pair of Schiit Vidars as monoblocks. For the most part they were fine. If you play classical or jazz at reasonable volumes you should be ok, and mine were ok. But if you play loud rock or fusion jazz you will not have enough headroom and one of my Vidars went into thermoprotection will playing Jeff Beck fusion loud. I sold the Vidars and got a pair of Bryston 4B3s. They are the ticket. Plenty of clean power. No protection issues. Plenty of headroom. Not sure about the 3B3s. But you can find the Bryston 4B3 on the used market frequently at much reduced below MSRP. I would still be using my 4B3s if it not for the amazing deal I got a while ago on a pair of 28B3s. Needless to say, I am set power amp-wise. I’m done. Bottomline: if you want headroom go with Bryston. If you are never going to play your system loud get a pair of Vidars (not one). 
I run the same Crown XLS as above with fantastic results. Used a single amp when I had the smaller Maggie’s, and went with two of them for 1100 watt monoblocks when I upgraded to the 1.7i’s.  Those amps drive a Maggie better than any other I’ve tried, and I’ve been through quite a few. 
I own a pair of Magnepan 1.7 speakers. I started out using a pair of Schiit Vidars as monoblocks. For the most part they were fine. If you play classical or jazz at reasonable volumes you should be ok, and mine were ok. But if you play loud rock or fusion jazz you will not have enough headroom and one of my Vidars went into thermoprotection will playing Jeff Beck fusion loud. I sold the Vidars and got a pair of Bryston 4B3s. They are the ticket. Plenty of clean power. No protection issues. Plenty of headroom. Not sure about the 3B3s. But you can find the Bryston 4B3 on the used market frequently at much reduced below MSRP. I would still be using my 4B3s if it not for the amazing deal I got a while ago on a pair of 28B3s. Needless to say, I am set power amp-wise. I’m done. Bottomline: if you want headroom go with Bryston. If you are never going to play your system loud get a pair of Vidars (not one). 
Correction: My Maggies are 1.7i. 
Bryston all day long.  It will deliver the power needed for Magnepans.
Several responses. 1.  Bryston has been around many years and their amps are known for their rugged build quality, reliability and ability to deliver high current to current hungry speakers. Back in the day, some folks felt they did not sound as good in the highs and upper mids as some "others" that were much more expensive. They sounded great to me with good dynamics. 2.  Regarding bridging: a bridged amp will see a 2 ohm load driving a "4 ohm"speaker.  Remember a speaker is a reactive load and the real world impedance is all over the place when playing
 music. Most bridged amps are rated at 8 ohms so this makes for potential problems.  You miight ask: Is the amp in question 2 ohm stable?   3. I would not consider any speaker that takes 250 + watts+....and tons of current to play as loud as I want. Why would you consider a Maggie for ear injuring volumn levels?  Playing loud is not it's forte! (Ha!)  You can drive any number of horn loaded designs to 112 db or more with a good 100 watt amp. This is better than driving a power hungry speaker to its limits and the limits of the power amp. Hope you have a big space. 4. I had Maggie's for years and had no problem driving them with high current amps that delivered "100 watts" at 8 ohms and double that into a  "nominal 4 ohm" speakers. One amp, an ARC D-52, played both Dalquests (pretty power hungry!) and Maggies to uncomfortably loud levels.  5. I have dynamic speakers  in my main room now because of placement issues as well as available power. Good luck! ENJOY THE MUSIC!
Emotiva XPA2 on my 1.7i sounds great. Can one used for the same price as Vidars. I highly recommend.
Two things:
1) There is no substitute for horsepower. Maggie's need/love power so a few extra horses behind them is always good.
2) Monoblocks, monoblocks, monoblocks.
That's my 2 cents.
areasonableman:
" I plan on travelling so small form factor matters to me but I'd like to stay with class ab, and balanced connections. I like the idea of having monoblocks with the Schiit when I get the money, and I've had good experiences with the brand. (Owned a Saga, a Mani, and a Jotunheim twice) but Bryston has the name recognition."


areasonableman,

     There currently are several brands of a certain amp type that are perfectly suited for driving your new pair of LRS speakers or literally any pair of Magnepans.  These amps are high powered, stable into 4 ohms and less, have a small form factor, typically have unbalanced and balanced inputs, are relatively inexpensive in both stereo and monoblock forms, have very low distortion, are very accurate, detailed, with background noise levels that are dead quiet, have a smooth and natural frequency response from top to bottom, have exceptionally powerful dynamics, run cool, consume very little electricity and are extremely close to the ideal amp analogy of a 'straight wire with gain'.
    These ideal amps for your pair of  LRS are called, whoa, oh hold on, wait a second.  I'm sorry, I just remembered you only wanted to consider class AB amps.  Never mind.

      I'd suggest you try to either live up to your username or change it to 'afoolishman'.


Tim

Magnepan recommends AB amps but acknowledges that some newer D amps might work well
@noble100 Having preferences makes me an idiot, lmao? I enjoyed the class ab amps I've had in the past much more than the class d, so I'm going with my gut/ears. Sue me.
saying you want small form amp for speakers that need monoblocks
is unrealistic if you want good results.try the vidars they are small.
but i think the bryston will sound much better. 
Hello jt35,

     Yes, you ’re correct and that’s been the advice from Magnepan as long as I can remember. Typically recommending at least a 100 watt class A or AB amp that doubles its power into a 4 ohm load. It’s the main reason that I always used various class AB stereo amps with my Magnepans for years, a variety of 200-400 watt amps such as Adcom, McCormack and Aragon mainly with a tubed VTL 2.5 preamp. They all sounded very good and similar.
     About 4-5 years ago, after reading many mainly highly favorable reviews on the newer class D amps at that time here on Audiogon and other audio forums, I became curious and bought a Class D Audio SDS-440-CS stereo amp to audition in my system to drive my older pair of Magnepan 2.7QR speakers that are still in very good condition and utilized in my system today. I chose this amp because it was rated at 440 watts into 4 ohms, I’d read many very favorable reviews on it from owners as well as professional reviewers and it only cost $540 at that time.
I wasn’t overly optimistic about its performance once it arrived since it was about 1/3rd the size and weight of my current and previous class AB amps that were all very large and weighed up to 85 pounds. This amp did have a traditional linear power supply with a toroidal transformer, and not a switched mode power supply (SMPS) like some other class D amps. but it still only weighed about 15 pounds.
     Even after installing this little amp and playing it right out of the box without any warm up, however, it was obvious to me that it performed and sounded better than any other amp I had used in my system driving the Magnepans in all the aspects I’m normally concerned with. The background was inky black and dead quiet, I had never heard or felt better bass response and dynamics from the 2.7QRs and didn’t even realize since owning them that they were capable of such powerful, detailed, dynamic and natural bass quantity and quality. I was actually a bit stunned and very pleasantly surprised.
     The midrange and treble performance of the class D amp was not as significantly superior than my previous class AB amps. Overall in the midrange/treble and imaging qualities, the class AB amps I’ve used have given me the impression of being more similar than different sounding than the class D amps I’ve since used with the exceptions of the class D amps being more neutral in character, slightly more detailed and with a bit better dynamics. In my experiences, both are equally capable of delivering smooth and natural midrange and treble performance with good imaging and without sounding overly harsh or bright.

     However, I’ve also noticed the class D amps are definitely more revealing and less forgiving on source material that is poorly recorded, mixed or produced. I tend to appreciate this accuracy and honesty but realize some may not.

     But I’ve also read several good reviews on the Schitt Vidar amp. Steve Guttenburg of the Audiophilliac states on this You Tube video review of the LRS speakers that the Vidar is a good choice to drive the LRS speakers:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdqchci3AhU

I’m just suggesting that Mr. Reasonable  may want to audition a good class D stereo amp or pair of monoblock amps on his LRS speakers before buying a Vidar amp in order to make a better informed decision.


Best wishes to the OP, areasonableman,
         Tim
I just received my LRS's this week and power them with Schiit Vidar monoblocks and the Freya plus pre-amp.  So far, so good.  Sorry, I don't have a Bryston around to compare.Brian
Hello esch1238,

     I've only read the numerous very good reviews on the Magnepan LRS and haven't yet heard them in person.  It seems like these would be incredible bargains at $650/pair, especially considering it's described as a full-range quasi-ribbon 2-way speaker. 
     I'm very curious how these speakers perform and sound in the mid-range, treble and sound staging aspects.  
     Esch1238, could you give us your impressions thus far of the sound in these areas with the LRS being driven by your Schiit Vidar monoblocks?
     I'm also interested with how you have the LRS positioned in relation to your listening seat and the front wall behind them. Here are some questions I hope you don't mind answering:

How many feet apart are they?
How many feet away is your listening seat?
How many feet away from the front wall are they?
Do they sound very accurate, detailed and natural in the midrange and treble without any harshness or brightness?
Do you perceive their imaging and soundstage as wide and deep with 3D and palpable images?  In other words, does it seem like the musicians are in your room or like you are at the venue?
Are you using subs to compensate for their limited bass?

     The reason I'm so interested in the LRS is that I'm currently using a pair of older 2.7QR Magnepans.  These 3-way planar-magnetic speakers still sound very good but I realize they're now over 30 years old.  The 2.7 QR also have what's described as a quasi-ribbon treble section just like the LRS but I'm thinking, with the LRS utilizing the newest version of their quasi-ribbon, it likely outperforms their version from 30 yrs ago.    
      I believe my current monoblocks would be a good match for the LRS since they sound very natural and have plenty of power, 1,200 watts into 4 ohms, to drive them well just as they drive my fairly inefficient 2.7s very well.   I'm also utilizing a 4-sub distributed bass array system that provides very powerful, smooth, fast, detailed, natural and well integrated bass  with the very fast 2.7QRs that I believe would perform equally well with the very fast LRS. 
     So, my main concern is with your impressions of their midrange and treble performance.  However, I believe the OP, areasonableman, and probably others reading this thread would appreciate a more thorough full-range description of your impressions about how well the combination of the Vidar amps and LRS speakers are performing.  

Thanks,
  Tim
Update: Found a good deal on a local Class D Audio SDS-470C. If I get it I'll post impressions that aren't particularly helpful since I can't find a reasonably priced vidar or 3b-st.
Noble100,

I think you might be disappointing with the LRS.  They are going to sound significantly brighter than the 2.7QR and lack the midbass slam that the 2.7s are capable of.  I ran the 2.7s for a decade and they were great except for being a bit dark, even in comparison to the .5s 1.5s at the time.  Every generation of Maggies has gotten a bit brighter.  You may be better off targeting a 1.7, 3.5, or 3.6.  I will say after going to the 3.5s after multiple QR designs, I wouldn't go back.  The ribbon is more open without sounding harsh.  

Hello areasonableman,

     The Class D Audio SDS-470C is a very good choice for a very good amp at a very reasonable price. It’s got plenty of power to drive the LRS, has balanced and unbalanced inputs and has an accurate and detailed presentation that I’d describe as very neutral; meaning it won’t add or subtract anything from the inputted signals.
I understand that, if you had the money, you’d prefer buying and using the class AB Schiit Vidar in stereo or monoblock amp form but I believe you’ll enjoy the LRS with the Class D Audio SDS-470C amp, too. Here’s a link to some info on the 470 amp:

https://classdaudio.com/sds-470c-class-d-audio-power-amplifier.html

     I’m a big fan of class D amps and have used 3 of them to drive my Magnepan 2.7QRs over the past 5 years:

A Class D Audio SDS-440-CS stereo amp that currently drives a pair of rear surround speakers in my combo 2-ch music and HT system.

An Emerald Physics EM100.2-SE stereo amp that currently drives my center ch speaker in bridged mono configuration.

A pair of D-Sonic M3-600-M monoblocks that currently drive my 2.7s.

     All of these are very good amps. However, I actually agree with you that the class AB Vidar may be a better choice in the long-run than the Class D Audio 470. The reason is the very high Damping Factor of class D amps in general that can be very high, in some cases greater than 1,000. The class AB Vidar has a damping factor of a relatively low 100.
Damping factor is a spec that measures how effective an amp is at controlling the movement of a speaker driver (starting and stopping it) or sound transducer such as a planar-magnetic panel. The higher the number, the more control an amp possesses and vice versa.

     In my experience with all three class D amps, I’d describe their performance on my Magnepans as very good but I perceived the bass performance on them to be exceptionally good, in fact the best bass I had up to then  experienced with the rather large 623 sq. inch planar-magnetic bass panel sections on my 3-way 2.7s. I considered the bass on all three as very powerful, detailed, dynamic, perhaps a bit exaggerated and overly taut initially but discovered soon after that these bass attributes were the result of the excessively high damping factors on my class D amps. Even though I admittedly enjoyed the sound of the bass, I soon discovered that the bass was exaggerated, truncated bass note decays and didn’t faithfully reproduce the bass contained on the recordings.
     I only discovered this because I had the good fortune to purchase an Audio Kinesis DEBRA distributed bass array (DBA) system about 3 years ago. This consists of four 1’ x1’ x 2’ 44lb. subs with 10" long-throw aluminum woofers strategically placed in the room with all subs powered by a 1,000 watt class AB amp/control unit.
     Once I installed and heard the DEBRA’s powerful, dynamic and detailed bass, that was not exaggerated and didn’t truncate bass note decays, I perceived the bass as more accurate, natural and understood that this system was more faithfully reproducing the bass contained on the recordings.
     My intent of relating my experiences with class D amps is just to make you and others aware of this tendency with at least my class D amps to exaggerate the bass content. Other than this tendency, I really appreciate and enjoy the accurate and neutral presentation of my class D amps.

     My intention is not to discourage you or anyone from trying or using good class D amps in their systems. As I’ve stated, I actually enjoyed the exaggerated bass on my Magnepans and I believe others might too. Perhaps the LRS could use a bit of a bass boost since they’re only rated to extend to 50 Hz. If you prefer more accurate bass, you may want to save up for the Vidar. 


     Here’s a REDDIT link to some comments on the Vidar’s relatively low damping factor of 100:
https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/7nig0e/schiit_vidar_review_from_the_audiophool/#bottom-...

    Here’s a link to another positive review on the Vidar:
https://positive-feedback.com/reviews/hardware-reviews/schiit-vidar-amplifier/


Tim
Noble100

I don't believe many folks will be disappointed by the LRS.
i believe they are basically smaller versions of their larger offerings.

YMMW but the LRS's are a wonderful speakers price notwithstanding. 

Hello dougstat,

I’m definitely very interested. I think I’d be satisfied if they just outperform my current Magnepan 2.7QRs. Mine are 6’ x2’ , about 60 pounds and difficult to move one handed into optimum position for music listening(I had a stroke and still can’t use my left arm and hand). The LRS are 4’ x 14.5" and only about 44 pounds. Otoh, mine are 3-ways while the LRS are 2-way.
For $650 and a 60-day satisfaction guarantee, I probably should just buy them and give them a good audition.

Thanks,
Tim
maplegrovemusic,

     Responding by just stating "bryston", with no further effort at explaining why, is intellectually lazy, myopic, meaningless and its actual value to this thread, the OP or anyone else is in direct proportion to the number of words you proffered.  Why bother?


Tim