I have a set of Magnepan 1.7i speakers driven by a Sanders Magtech amp, and two Martin Logan 1100x subwoofers in my 22' x 25' room with cathedral ceiling. The speakers were purchased new and I spent slightly less than $4k for the speakers and subwoofers, including one wireless transmitter/receiver for one of the subwoofers to increase flexibility in positioning.
I mostly listen to jazz, classic rock and classical music and I greatly enjoy the combination of components.
I mentioned the amplifier because, in my opinion, the amp selection is important to getting the most out of Magnepan speakers. Many Magnepan enthusiasts recommend amplifiers that are capable of providing high levels of current for the best results. In addition to Sanders Magtech, I have read frequent recommendations for Bryston and Parasound as well.
I have not heard as many Magnepan enthusiasts recommend the Martin Logan subwoofers. Many prefer other brands or "swarming" with multiple subwoofers. I purchased the Martin Logans because I got a good price (25% off), the wireless kit made placement more convenient, and they offered an audition period. This setup meets my needs, but if I were going to do it over again, I would probably look at servo-controlled subwoofers like Rythmik or Rel.
I have a pair of slightly more expensive Martin Logans with a McIntosh receiver. I have a smaller room than you, but the Martin Logans sound great on all kinds of classical music, including symphonic and big orchestral pieces. They fall down a little bit on big organ music, but still aren’t that bad.
Orchestral music not good with planars?! What planet does that person live on? The best rendering of a realistic orchestral soundstage “spread” and scale that I have ever achieved with the speakers that I have had in my system has been with planars. Scale wise, it was my modified Magneplanar MGIIIA. For even more tonal realism, albeit on a much smaller scale it is my Stax F81 electrostats. To my ears, no contest, compared to all the more conventional speakers that I have owned. All driven by tube monoblocs.
I’m with @frogman. My first audition of the Magneplanar Tympani T-I (three panels per side) in 1973 included Boult’s version of Holst’s The Planets on EMI. Never before had I heard the full depth of the orchestra reproduced: the percussion section sounded further away than the wall behind the Maggies, and raised above the rest of the instruments (the section is often on risers). When I opened my eyes at the end of Jupiter, I was actually startled!
Large panels also reproduce the size of a grand piano, pipe organ, drumset, upright bass, and other large instruments like no box speaker I have ever heard. And singers mouths are reproduced at a lifelike height. Almost all box speakers make music sound miniaturized to me, like the figures and furniture in a doll house. And, like the music is coming from two bricks removed from a wall separating the performers from myself. Panels sound like the wall has been torn down. Wide open, free from any and all physical restraints.
I used Magnepans for about 25 years, including SMGa, 1.6QR, and finally 3.7Rs. I listen to a lot of orchestral, probably 50-60% of my listening time goes to orchestral. I moved on to a pair of traditional dynamics about 6 years ago. One disagrees with @frogman on reproduction of classical music at one's own peril, and I will not do so. If I listened only to orchestral music, I'd probably stick with Maggies. But I don't. I don't want to hear the Bach sonatas and partitas for violin coming through a pair of speakers that make the violin sound like it is 12 ft wide. Solo vocals are likewise unnaturally large. String quartets are problematic in this respect-With most Maggies, the transition from the midrange to the tweeter is not seamless. My floor standers present the violins in a quartet as point sources. In a good recording, I can hear the first and second violins separated in space. Never got that with any of the Maggies. All that said, on Friday, I will be the proud owner of a pair of Quad ESL-57s. This path was suggested to me 10-12 years ago by guess who? @frogman . Bet anything he doesn't remember that. But the Quads will not replace my floor standers. I will use them on those genres where they really shine, and use my floor standers where they have a better presentation.
Thanks for everyone's thorough input and universal recommendation.
It seems from google the Maggie followers are more numerous. Now I just need to look for Maggie distributors with in home trial period. Any ideas, I guess in the southeast US, since shipping might be monstrous?
@recluse, being in the southeast, consider looking into the LFT-8b from Eminent Technology, located in Tallahassee Florida. The LFT-8b is, like the Maggies, a magnetic-planar design, at least for much of the bandwidth. A pair of LFT drivers (one above the other) reproduce 180Hz up to 10kHz, with no crossover in that range! An 8" dynamic woofer handles 180Hz down, a ribbon tweeter 10kHz up.
The 8b is 5' tall and 13" wide, and weighs about 65lbs. About the same sensitivity as Maggies (83dB), but an 8 ohm load (good for tubes). Dual pairs of binding posts, for bi-wiring or easy bi-amping. ET doesn't have many dealers, but they will send you a pair with a money-back audition period. Reviews (most from the UK, where the speaker is very highly regarded. Also a review in TAS by Robert Greene) viewable on the ET website. VPI's Harry Weisfeld says the LFT-8b has the best midrange he has heard in any loudspeaker, regardless of price. $2499/pr.
Brownsfan, you’re right, while I do remember very pleasant exchanges with you, I don’t remember that specific recommendation (?). If I suggested you take the Quad path I am not surprised at all. love Quads. Most tonal truthfulness that I (!) have experienced from a speaker......after my Stax. While I can’t entirely disagree with your comments re Maggie’s and chamber music, I never experienced anything remotely as egregious as you describe. Large enough room and placement, placement, placement a must. Clearly not all speakers do everything well and we all prioritize different things. For me, planars and tubes have the magic. Regards.
Frogman, for the majority of the time that I owned Maggies, my listening room was 14' x 19' x 8.' The panels were out about 3.5' from the front wall, and the listening position was near the back wall. Had I had a larger room permitting more distance between the speakers and ear, some of the perceived weaknesses of the Maggies might well have been attenuated, but my guess is that the majority of audiophiles don't have listening rooms that are appreciably larger than my room was. You mentioned the importance of tonal purity. I agree completely, and that is an area where Maggies, in my experience have a significant advantage over the majority of bass reflex designs. My current full range bass reflex speakers share the tonal fidelity of the Maggies, have much improved low frequency response, are far more coherent, and image substantially better than my 3.7Rs did. They also retailed for 2x the cost of my 3.7Rs and required a complete rebuild of the crossovers involving another $1200 in parts to achieve this level of performance. They reside in a room that is 14 x 20 x 8, which in contrast to my former room, has been carefully set up and treated. I'd argue that the Maggies held a slight edge on orchestral works, and I'd also argue that there is no substitute for the sweetness and smoothness of the Maggie true ribbon tweeters. With smaller scale works, my current speakers are far more credible in their presentation than were the Maggies.
I too have fond memories of some of our previous interactions, and value your deep knowledge and opinions on classical music and its reproduction in the home at the highest level. You are one of a half dozen or so contributors whose comments I have learned to regard as utterly reliable. BTW, as I recall, you recommended the Quads because there is little hope of ever finding a pair of Stax.
I have a pair of Quad 2905’s and an ASR Emitter II Exclusive amplifier. This combination has worked well for me. The lower frequency range on the Quads 2905’s makes them worth considering, though the 57’s are legendary for there tone. I like chamber music most of all.
Thank you for the very kind words, brownsfan; the feeling is mutual. Sounds like you found a winner in that bass reflex design. Congrats!
FYI, when I was using my Maggies I was living in a very large loft-style apartment in which the Maggies had a great deal of breathing room. Scale wise, the sound was spectacular on orchestral recordings. Some of the best soundstaging I have ever experienced. The discontinuity between ribbon tweeter and midrange panel had been ameliorated a great deal due to extensive xover and wiring mods. In that large a space it was practically a nonissue. As unbelievable as it may sound, I measured reasonably flat response to 28hz! With In my current home, my listening space is much smaller and the Stax perform beautifully; although bass extension is lacking. A pair of REL subs are activated for orchestral music with reasonably good (not perfect) blend. The tonal purity of the Stax is fabulous; as is the sound staging, but on much smaller scale. Regards and good listening.
I listen to classical about 20% of the time, and it is usually while I work. I really enjoy classical music on my desktop Monsoon MM-2000 planars and sub-woofer. I have the desktop planars spread 6 feet apart. (The other 80% of my listening is to jazz which I prefer on my headphones.)
where in SE are you? I live in Ft Lauderdale. You’re welcome to come hear for yourself.
I have owned Magnepan 3.5Rs, had a long in-home audition of MLs, also owned Accoustat 2+2s. Aside from the 2+2s the others simply lacked the foundation of full orchestra classical music, which many of us have tried to incorporate with subwoofers. I have tried several brands of powered subs, but unless you also plan to spend good money on a quality active XO you are not likely to get a seamless blend. It bothered the hell out of me
I now have Emerald Physics 3.4s, which are not planar, but are open baffle. They are 96dB efficient and can be powered with small amps. They throw a similar wide and deep sound stage, and reproduce all music exceptionally well, and IME, much better than planars.
My room is 20+ x 35+ x 12ft peak and I need more bass support. For that EP makes OB speakers with 15" woofers. I have a pair of 2.8s coming soon, hopefully tomorrow
Best part is since they’ve been discontinued you can buy them for a song
Thanks for the offer Tweak. Unfortunately I am a ways away from you.
Thanks BDP, I will definitely look into the LFT 8b. One question: The crossover helps with driving the speaker if you bi amp? Or does it help with making the driver and planar seamless? Do many use horizontal or vertical bi amping?
Does anyone enjoy these speakers in a smallish room with lots of furniture? Hoping to move into a larger room someday.
Seems a lot of reviews refer to surface area making a difference in the bass quality, yet none of the vendors or reviews seem to publish surface area, but rather overall dimensions which may be misleading. What do these speakers look like behind the cheesecloth, *Magnepan*?
Don’t know if you have heard the Maggies. Boxless (planar) bass is very different. IMO, far more tonally accurate and lithe; it isn’t dragging a box along. To some there isn’t enough oomph and weight. I disagree; especially for Classical. That is one of the reasons that the only M L’s that I have liked are the full range electrostatics. With the hybrids, I always hear the box woofer as being in a different tonal universe. If you’re looking for electrostatic transparency look at a good pair of Quads (used?). Just some thoughts that may be of some value. Good luck.
Dipoles don't send bass off to the sides, just front to back in the room. Most rooms suffer from "head end ringing," where the bass coming off the sides of the speaker bounces up and down off the ceiling and back and forth side to side off the side walls a number of times before reaching the listener late.
A good sealed box or tuned port woofer will not drag or sound boxy in and of itself, but it will tend to light up more room reflections and likely introduce longer bass decay times in the room, which can make bass sound slow and less clear. I've not heard dipole dynamic woofer arrays but I've heard they can keep up and blend nicely with electrostatic speakers and add some clean solid bottom end extension. I've heard Magnepan is experimenting with a woofer array of some sort and Guttenberg says it sounds great; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzPBz3SOT4A
That was one of the best sounds I have ever heard from a stereo system; and what started me on the HE audio trip. Driven by ML 25W moons and Janis subs. Remember it like it was yesterday. Blew my mind. First time I saw and heard Maggies, too. I’m showing my age. This was circa 1978.
frogman, there were some other’s who did modifications with the 57’s, can’t remember who they were but yes, seems like many wanted to achieve that bliss. I turn 58 on the 29th, 1978 seems like yesterday. I like my Quad 2905’s because of the bass panels. It has that consistency of planar all the way. I’ve heard of folks successfully integrating subs with room correction but I’m a skeptic at heart.