Choking more SPL's out of Maggie 3.6's

My system sounds fabulous, but I can't get it to rock really hard. Not even close. Live classical performance, jazz performance, acoustic show, etc. no problem. Good and loud on rock, yes. I may have to change something, but I'm hoping not to change my speakers.

My system is as follows:

Maggie 3.6R speakers
REL Storm III sub
Bryston 7B-ST mono amps
Rogue 99 preamp
Linn Ikemi cd player
Nottingham turntable & arm
High output Dynavector cartridge
Acoustic Zen Satori Shotgun speaker cables (7 foot)
Transparent Music Wave Ultra interconnects (RCA)
(1 meter all around, except preamp to amps which is 15 foot)

The room is about 18x23 with a 7 foot ceiling.

Is there any way to get the Maggie's to go a little louder? Just a little? The Bryston monoblocs are hefty power, but when I play hard stuff (now and then) and I want to get a little carried away, I hit clipping before I hit the point where I can't hear myself sing. I never used to get to this point with previous dynamic speakers, but all those were flawed in so many ways in which the Maggies rule. Any advice would be very much appreciated. Otherwise I'll listen to most everything at home but go to the car to really rock out.

Thanks in advance.

"Don't rock" - One of the classic and commonplace criticisms of Maggies! (Which I love BTW, so everybody hold your fire...) You seem to have a really nice system and room for these speakers, which shows in your comments about other musical styles. You have covered most of the obvious bases: powerful SS monoblocks, dynamic subwoofer augmentation, speakers have room to breathe. I don't have the specific experience with your amp/speaker combo to say for sure, but you may well be up against the inherent nature of the Maggies. The only thing I can see that could buy you a little more headroom and slam would be to run crossed-over dual subs instead, with the panels and amps given a high-pass break, but that may not prove entirely satisfactory in other areas, and runs the risk of compromising some of what makes the present set-up shine on lighter fare.
I see four problems here.

1) To produce very high spl's, you have to move a lot of air. To move a lot of air, you have to have a lot of driver surface area that is capable of long excursions.

2) Panel speakers can't make long excursions even though some of them have plenty of surface area. As such, you will always be SPL limited so long as you expect them to reproduce ANY type of low frequency signals.

3) If you were to cross them over at a few hundred Hz so as to minimize excursion requirements, and run dynamic woofers NOT as sub-woofers but as woofers, you could get more out of your system. Only problem is that would surely change the presentation of what you are hearing and it seems as if you are not interested in doing that.

4) While i know that you ( and a bunch of others ) will cringe hearing this, you might want to think about trying out some different amps. As many folks here know, i'm not a fan of Bryston's for several reasons. My experience with them is that they do not work all that great with low impedance loads. In my experience and that of a few others that i talk to, Bryston's tend to run out of steam faster than other amps when driving lower impedance speakers. Lest you think i'm a nut, Stereophile noted this with the 7B's in a review a while back. Some other amps that they had on hand, rated for less power than the 7B's, were able to drive loads that the Bryston's were giving up on. Your experience here tends to support both my findings and those of that reviewer in Stereophile ( can't remember who it was ).

As the tube-heads will tell you, "watts ain't watts when it comes to SS vs Tubes". I've said the same thing when it comes to Bryston vs other decent SS amps at lower impedances. Having said that, you might want to check into a big Aragon or Classe' amp. I think that either of these brands will stomp what you have now in your specific situation, even if they are rated for slightly less power at 4 ohms. Sean

PS... Please don't hate me for sharing my honest opinion. I'm only trying to help and calling it as i see it : )
I thought about that too, Sean, but as I say, I don't have the specific experience with the Brystons to comment, and having to replace the amps that worked well with Rich's previous speakers would be just as much for him to comtemplate as getting different speakers to replace the Maggies. But the one thing I can say is that the Maggies aren't especially difficult loads, at least from the impedance standpoint. They require a lot of power, especially in bigger rooms (where they work best), due to their relative inefficiency, so it's always possible that an optimistically-spec'ed amp could run out of steam at high volumes, but the impedance is purely resistive and dead-flat at 4 ohms over the whole range, except for peaks at the crossover points. Any 4 ohm rated SS amp worth its salt should be unstressed as long as it can supply the desired power, and the Maggies themselves don't have the highest of limits before panel breakup can occur on certain program material. Though the amp scenario is a possibility, it is also true that Maggies in general - both to their credit and occasional detriment, depending on one's listening habits - do not convey the same sort of impact on loud rock material as dynamic speakers can manage. When I used to work in a store that sold the Maggie line, one of the longtime employees used to say wistfully that he would own a pair in a heartbeat, if only they could play heavy rock. Alas, the sound of Marshall stacks and SVT's is the sound of cone speakers in boxes; like everything else in audio, it's tough to be equally great at doing it all...
I have 3.6's in a similar sized room, and I can't hear myself sing- thank god! The amp I am using is a BAT VK-500w/bat pak, it seems to drive the speakers with aplomb. I think the previous posters hit all the technical reasons for whats' happening. But let me add one more thing, if you were to upgrade the external crossover you would gain frequency response in the lower octave(s) and output would be higher as well. One member at MUG, was flat to 36hZ in his room before after he measured flat to 25hZ and only slightly rolled off to 19hZ, though that's only going to make the load on your amp possibly more demanding. But hey at least you wouldn't be able to hear yourself sing :)
It isn't those Brystons, I'm sure. The setting of the switch on the back of the amps could be something to look into. I wonder what is the best position for Maggies. Maybe someone with this combo could tell you what they use or you could always experiment with it. Sean has a dislike for Bryston based, if I remember some of his old posts, on a 4B he bought for little money, that had been beaten the hell out of, to the extent the casing was twisted or some such. Nonetheless, Bryston did a bunch of warranty repairs on it, but still in all Sean did not warm up to the amp. That's all right, "degustibus non disputandem". I don't think that 7B STs are somehow too wimpy or poorly designed to tame those Maggies. I think that the practical limit of the Maggies has been reached. They are not designed for high SPL listening. I auditioned them for an hour and half at a local dealer with my own cds and was amazed with some of the 3.6Rs strong points. I found them lacking, however, on rock and also in the bass department with jazz. The rest of the equipment was Classé. I still think, now and then, of getting a pair of 3.6Rs and keeping my Paradigm Reference 100 v2s for high SPL listening. Both these speakers are price leaders. Unfortunately, the openness and airiness of the Maggies is not found in the 100v2s, and the out and out slam and meaty sound of the 100 V2s is not to be found in the 3.6Rs. I remember that quite a few people running Maggies with 7B STs have posted here and that they were quite satisfied by this combo. In closing, what would the downside of having the Maggies at one end of the room and the 100 V2s at the other be? Since most power amps (including the Brystons) do not have switching facilities for two pairs of speakers, is there a high quality switch box of some type that would eliminate the need to change the cables every time one wants to listen to the other speakers? The area of the panel may be impressive, but the excursion simply is not there; that's one of the main reasons you still see those boxes full of dynamic drivers, I guess...

Despite what everyone else says, the Maggies were never designed to go that loud, it about finess, and detail, not shear SPL's.

Personally, I'd hate to see you give the Maggies up, but if you do drop me a line.

What you may try:

For those shear head banger moments, get a second set of speakers, they won't sound like Maggies but then they aren't maggies. Maybe some older Klipsch with a 50 watt tube amp. That should float you shear SPL boat.

Just another way to look at life.

Now turn the Maggies down, please.

I have the 3.6's actively bi-amped. Tubes top (only 40 watts) and ss for the bottom (classe ca-400) I'm not into shear spl's, but before bi-amping, the classe was more than enough power. (800 watts into 4 ohms) If you are clipping, have you ever blown any of the fuses? If you actively bi-amp with a sub output (you would need a 3-way xover) you might be able to get the efficiency up a bit. I use a xm126 tube 2way from Marchand. They can make what ever you desire.
Things that work for me are:

1. Get another (center) speaker. Better still, get three more for multichannel DVD/SACD.

2. Set your subwoffer/MG crossover frequency higher. I do hope that you are not running the MG full range with subwoofer augentation. You need to get that LF out of the MGs so that they can handle the rest better.

3. Replace the MG crossover network's LF inductor with a low resistance part. (eg: air core 10 gague or better) Since the panel resistance is only about 4 ohms, getting rid of 1/2 ohm in the inductor will make a difference.

4. The ultimate solution is to get some 15-18 inch pro-sound drivers in big vented enclodures. They will sound exactly like what you hear at a concert, distortion and all!
The REL has a great built in crossover. Use it! Cross them over as high as you can (120hz to 150hz). If you keep the sub in the center, you shouldn't hear any localization. Crossing over this high should effectively quadruple the power available to the 3.6s.

Otherwise, Bi-amp. The maggies can handle almost any amount of power, as long as it is clean. I have had friends who bi-amped with Aragons and even a pair of Moscode 300 watt hybrids!

If you really want to rock, you may find that you will have to go to older apogees or some new soundlabs.
Pbb is very close to the truth but i'm not basing my comments on my past experience alone.

I did have a 4B a few years back that was pretty well beat up. Dennis at Bryston USA went through the amp top to bottom, replaced the chassis and put the unit through its' paces on the bench. As it turned out, the only real problem was the fact that the chassis was so twisted that it was shorting out the rail voltage feeding the left channel. Once all of the internal components were transferred into a different chassis, according to what he told me, the unit EASILY met spec and was working better than many of the other amps that he had previously had in for repair that were of similar vintage. As such, he was very satisfied with the results of the repair and the unit over-all.

I wish i could have said the same thing. I found the amp, which was rated at and tested to exceed 250 @ 8 and 400 @ 4, to be less potent into low impedances than a Classe' 70. For sake of clarity, the Classe' 70 was rated at 75 / 150 / 300 with a 3 dB's of dynamic headroom. Even though the "baby" Classe' could drive the low impedance load better than the Bryston, sonically, i did not like either amp. As such, out the door both of them went.

As such, i will say that the Bryston was built like a tank to take that type of abuse / damage and still keep ticking. I will also say that Bryston is a "kick ass" company when it comes to standing behind their product.

With that experience embedded in my mind, i have talked to a few others that have had newer Bryston amps and have run into similar problems. There have also been a few threads pertaining to this subject on AA, so i know that this is not just a "thing of the past" with their older amps. On top of that, the review that i mentioned in Stereophile went out of their way to make it known that the 7B was "crying out in pain" whereas other lower powered amps were simply coasting along on the same load. If we add all of this up, it sure looks like 2 + 2 still equals 4.

Like i said, take my comments for what they are worth. I'm simply calling it as i see it based on past experiences and the feedback that i've gotten from both personal communications and professional reviews. Sean

PS... I have nothing against Canadians or Canadian companies : )
Interesting thoughts about the Brystons. I had 9b-st and into a lower load(rated 6ohm by manufacture, speakers were reviewed by some rag and dipped just a tich below 4 in reality, huh) and it always ran out of gas and started clipping/thermal shutdown. True it was the smaller of the Brystons. I tried dedicated lines, same results. Different speakers high a higher ohm load it stayed together.

At the time I formed Sean's opinion with out really knowing it. Scary to think of a 7 running out, but anything is possible.

Isn't Brystons background mainly with professional equipment, and does not "most" of that stuff have higher/stable ohm loads?

Hey, listen to the facts. If the amp clips before the speakers give... I tried a Richard Grey Power deal and was able to gain a extra click or two on the volume.

And I bought some other Canadian stuff too....

My tube amps ran out of gas with the 3.6s at around the low 90 dbs, that would be 100 watts per each ribbon/mid and woofer sections. I heard an InnerSound ESL amp driving the EROS MKII. It sounded real open and powerful. I bought one and it works real good, into 4 ohms, 600 WPC. It worked so good that I bought a second one and now run one on the left and one on the right in vertical bi-amp mode with a Marchand XM44-3 that I had when I tried driving the 3.6s with tubes. The woofer panels can be rolled off at 40,50 or 60Hz, depending on the frequency module used. For me, this is the ticket. Of course, I have a large subwoofer for the low stuff. If I want 100db without blowing the ribbons, I GET 100db. Having said that, I would like to quote from the 3.6 manual: "Users that frequently push the 2.5 amp tweeter fuse capacity will be the most likely to experience early failure." Just to keep us grounded, eh?
I's glad to see Travis posting his experiences. I knew he was happy with the InnerSound amps, but didn't know just how loud he was driving his Maggies. I'm an InnerSound dealer, but don't have the experience with the Brystons to make a valid comparison.

If you don't mind doing a little amateur woodworking, you could add self-standing wings on either side of your Maggies to reduce the dipole bass cancellation. This is a technique used by Sound Lab many years ago to get adequate bass response out of the A-1's (and no longer necessary with new models). Just make the wings the same height as the Maggies, and as wide as you can get away with. A foot or so wide should be great. You can fold 'em back behind the Maggies a bit if that would help the asethetics. Military-grade precision isn't necessary - a little air gap between the side of the Maggies and the wings is okay.

Best of luck to you, Rbirk.

Probably not and not recommended as you will probably damage your speakers.

You need Klispchorns or some type of horn speakers.

As an aside, have your ears checked as you may be suffering from some hearing loss as the 3.6s can play pretty loud.
Nothing wrong with Bryston power...they are one of the best combos to bring out Maggie bass...Maggies simply lack "impact" and dynamics due to their dipole design...which is out of phase as well...that being said...Maggies still sound surprisingly musical with conventional rock...especially compared to older designs...they lack the visceral "live" sound of the best cone designs...but hey...the do that "space" thing so well...good have a killer system
Move your whole system to a smaller listening room.....
Thanks to all who responded. I'm thinking of doing the following:

1. Moving to a balanced preamp and running balanced cables (and probably stepping up a little in quality, like to a CAT or BAT)

2. Getting some MYE stands


3. Getting a second set of less expensive rock speakers. I'm thinking of trying the Revel 20's. They can go quite loud and paired with the REL ought to be a nice combo. If I can somehow keep two sets of speakers in my main room and my marriage intact, I'll be one lucky guy!!

Since you're in that price range, you might consider the Atma-Sphere MP-3, a tremendous line stage with a magnificent phono stage inside.