For value...the 1.6s...and the money you save can go to quality amplification...I tend to prefer Maggies with Bryston equipment...they really bring out the tight,fast bass planars are known for...and I dont subscribe to the theory that Maggies are bass shy...20 yrs ago sure...but the technology has improved tenfold...Im sure there will be posters proclaiming the superior sonics of the 3.3s or 3.6s...but the improvement is nominal considering the added cost these models require...less than 5% in my estimation...throw on a decent sub...like a REL...and you have 20-20 sound reproduction...
Pricewise the 1.6 and 3.3 are close, within $200, so there's not much to save with the speaker purchase. On the flipside though, I would have to spend more on the amp(s) to drive the 3.3. The 1.6, from what I've heard, is an easier speaker to drive than the 3.3.
Someone selling a 1.6 made the following comment to me. I welcome your comments and observations:
'The 1.6s are much better: more coherent and
musical. The ribbon on the 3.3s does not have the same character as the planar woofers. Secondly, the speakers sound
better out the back than the front, because the woofer is blocked by the front mounted perforated steel plate like the older
maggies. This was corrected in the newer maggies like the 3.6s and the 1.6s, where the plate is in the back.'
FWIW - my Maggie 1.6s are a little big in my 13 x 22 x 8 room (especially the 13' width) I do not feel they have quite the room to 'breath' so I feel the 15' width of your room would be about right.
I currently own 3.3R's and traded up from 1.6QR's so I can give you some recent comparisons. First of all,the 3.6R is a different animal than either the 1.6 or 3.3.In comparison with the 3.6R the 3.3R is less dynamic overall(not drastically assuming the same system for both) with tighter bass and more coherence of the panel drivers. The changes were made to the X-overs,drivers and revision of the cabinet frame. . Tonally they are very similar and soundstaging wise also very close.The 3.5R was mostly a X-over change and typically Bi-amping a 3.3R will bring the sound closer to the 3.5R
As for the 1.6QR. This is a very good speaker that is more amp friendly,a fairly constant 4 ohm load,where the 3.3R will dip in the midrange to about 3 ohm or so. But as for the sound, they both share the maggie magic and correctly driven and placed in the listening room will disappear. The 1.6 is the more vivid and forward presentation with tighter bass and sounds very,very good IMHO.
However...The music really starts to get serious with the 3.3R. There's just no getting around that awesome ribbon tweeter. sweet,extended without any trace of hash or hardness and imaging and soundstaging that compare with the best. This is a world class speaker all the way! Feed it fairly high power tubes or high power solid state(you can read all the hundreds of "which amp should I use for my maggies"" articals and threads here and elsewhere. but current and stability of the amp into lower ohm loads are key. A very good tube pre-amp, and the best front end sources you can afford and the correct placement in your room will make you smile for a very long time! The presentation is more relaxed with a better sense of instrumental placement and staging. Vocals are breathtaking and have more natural space. Deeper and wider soundstaging.and deeper,more authoritative bass. If you like classical,chamber,vocal,any jazz , this is your speaker. The cost difference is very minimal as was pointed out. Probably $300-$400. max to get into the 3.3R's. I'd check them out for sure!
Never compared these directly, but I always loved the 3.3 when it was around, and at the time it was clearly better than the smaller Maggies of its day.
I assume the 3.3s are older than the latest Maggie technology...Jim W. of Magnepan openly proclaimed that the 1.6s were superior to the (at the time) current 2.7s..which featured the ribbon tweeter...the ribbon tweeter might be superior on its own...but the coherence and the bass of the 1.6 is what really has made it the giant killer it is...even after hearing the 3.6s...I would be hard pressed to go beyond the 1.6s...Maggies are very room sensitive...so unless you have a huge room...the 1.6s will treat you right...
Just a note: The 2.7's were a "QR" (quasi-ribbon) designated speaker, like the 1.6's. The 2.6R however did have the true ribbon tweeter. From what I unerstand, the biggest fundamental difference between the 3.6 and earlier 3-series iterations is that it features mid and pass panels driven from both the front and back instead of just one side. There is no reason I can think of why the quasi-ribbon tweeter would be any easier (or harder) to integrate with the other panels than the true ribbon tweeter, but it will not offer the same extension, dispersion, and speed. None of which means the 1.6's won't sound good.
Zaikesman...you are correct..the 2.7s were a QR design...maybe I was thinking of the 2.6s...at any rate...the cohesion of the 1.6s over the 1.5s and the 2.7s has to do with crossover adjustments(among other things I assume)...with the faster tweeter doing a bit more midrange work(600hz vs. 1000hz in the 1.5s)...this has resulted in a more seamless presentation that many have commented on...as well as the 1.6 being more dynamic than previous designs(assuming quality power)...
That could be entirely possible - as I said at the top, I haven't made this comparsion - but I just didn't want the blame to be laid at the feet of the ribbons when there are so many other factors involved, and I'm sure Maggie has refined their designs in more than a couple of areas since two model generations ago.
Thanks for all the posts, good comments. I'm going to audition some 3.3Rs tonight. I'll be looking for how well they present themselves as a single driver and how the ribbon compares to the 3.6.
Played with some room layouts last night and looked at speaker placement options. The top of a 6' tall 3.3R will be about a foot and a half from my 7'3" ceiling. Any thoughts on what effect that may have?
The ceiling height should have no particular effect on a line-source driver, which is why Maggies can start at the bottom with their driver surface in very close proximity to the floor. The reverberent soundfield of low-ceilinged listening rooms is never preferable to those with somewhat more generous boundary spacing (relative to the listener's ears) in my view, but in your room that would be the case no matter what speaker was used. (Like most of us, I have an 8ft. ceiling which isn't very different in height from your own, and would probably prefer if my room was a couple of feet taller.) The bigger question with dipole radiators is giving them adequate room to the rear, I would usually say a minimum of 5-6ft. out or more, and since flat panels must be toed-in to point directly at the listener's ears (so as to avoid severe HF roll-off), that distance requirement also affects how close you can place them to the sidewalls, probably 2-3ft. min. Compensating virtues are that you don't need to sit quite as far away from the speakers as with many multi-point-source speakers for the sound to be coherent, and yet you also won't lose the immediacy of the response as quickly when you move farther away either, plus the bass response is not as sensitive to boundary reinforcement effects. Which is important because with dipole panels, midrange interference effects can cause changes in where the speakers and the listeners sit to have a greater impact on the overall perceived spectral balance than is usually the case with conventional monopole quasi-point-source speakers. In other words, Maggies can sound pretty great just plopped down anywhere, but really fine-tuning speaker (and listener) placement can still be a bitch (no matter what the ceiling height :-).
Agreed...the Maggies have little vertical dispersion so ceiling height will not play a major role...the main thing is to have ample space behind them...3-4 ft. is not uncommon...most dealers dont even have them probably set up in this configuration since space is a premium...but that is what it will take to truly take advantage of their awesome soundstage depth...space=depth....
I listened to the 3.3Rs tonight and liked what I heard overall. A few songs into the audition I thought the speakers were going home with me but still listened to more of the CDs I had along. I played the speakers louder and thought I heard some tones in the left speaker that did not sound right. Listening with my ears next to the mid-woofer panel I could hear a vibration in the panel and suspected delamination. I'm a bit disappointed. I thought the price of $1300 was fair and the speakers were in good condition appearance wise. Now I'm debating next steps... keep looking or lower my offer and pay for repairs. Magnepan quoted $300-500 for what they termed a "strip and repanel".
Having the panels replaced is attractive, gives a new lease on life to the speakers but requires expensive and potentially damaging shipment. What to do...
For that kind of money u could just buy the 1.6s brand new...and not have to monkey with shipping,repair costs,etc...just my .02
I own the magnepan 1.6 speakers over 11/2 years. I actually
owned maggies for over 10 years. The 1.6 has excellent coherency & very good bass. The 3's were a loser & not that popular at all. Bass was poor, no seamlessness at all. If you are interested I want to see my maggies because I am relocating in August to florida. Believe me you will not go wrong with these speakers especially with tube electronics.