From Maggies 1.6QR to B&W N805. Upgrading or Downgrading?

Unfortunately, I have to move to another house where the listening room that I plan to use is very small for my maggies (9'x11'), and the problem is that I'll be living there at least for 5 years, so I do not think that keeping my maggies for 5 years is a good idea. I've never listened to the B&W N805 but I think it could be a good replace together with the rel strata III subwoofer, since I've heard that the B&W N805 are good match for the Musical Fidelity A300 (my amp). Anyway, I would like to know your opinions about this change of speaker and if you think this could be a downgrade in my modest system. If this helps, the music I listen is 80% classical and 20% jazz. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts.

Is your room lively or dampened soundwise?

The 805's are a very lively speaker and you may need to dampen the room a bit. I'd audition a pair of the B&W's in your music setting on stands to see how they fit in.

I used to moonlight in a place that sold both Mag's and B&W's. They are both nice speakers, the B&W's handle rock music a little more dynamically. Set up correctly, both will sound very revealing, but yes the Magnepans need a bit more room to work in.


to finish answering your question

it's all a thing of personel preference

I'd say you are upgrading slightly

the low end B&W's I actually like the 805's when coupled with a good sub, better than the 804 or 803's. Much less cabinet resonance and crisp imaging. Do try out with your system first if possible (dealer demo)
If you've lived with Maggie 1.6's, you're going to have a very hard time going back to box speakers.

In a small room like yours, what would be ideal is a speaker that doesn't sound boxy, whose directional characteristics don't make a bad situation worse. In particular, it is difficult to get natural-sounding bass in small rooms.

The ideal would be a speaker with a radiation pattern that allows it to be placed close to the "front" wall without becoming boomy or suffering from excessive midrange coloration. What would also be nice is a very coherent speaker so it sounds good up close.

Such a speaker exists, but it's quite a bit more expensive than the N805 - however, with luck you might find a used pair. This speaker is the Gradient Revolution. It uses a dipole bass system that can be oriented to sound good when placed close to a wall. A dipole puts 5 dB less energy into the room's bass standing wave modes than a monopole does, which means the bass notes will decay more naturally and have much better pitch definition even in a small room. Above 200 Hz the Revolution uses a high-quality SEAS midwoofer with a concentric dome tweeter, in a cabinet that produces a cardioid radiation pattern. This minimizes interaction with the wall behing it. This is really an extraordinarily creative and innovative design, and it works as advertised - at CES 2001 by far the most natural bass in any of the small rooms came from the Gradient/Gamut room, and the speaker remained natural right on up the frequency range. But it was startling to hear natural bass in such a small room. I was so impressed I became a Gradient dealer, even though I wasn't shopping for a speaker line in its price range.

Gradient's Revolution page at their website is quite educational and worth reading. Go to . Be sure to click on the links to pictures of the radiation patterns on page two.

You see, the Revolutions do something that very, very few loudspeakers do: They create a reverberant field that has essentially the same tonal balance as the direct sound. This contributes to natural timbre and a lack of listening fatigue.

The Revolution retails for about twice the price of the N805, but keep your eyes open for a used pair. This is a superb speaker on an absolute basis, but its design is uniquely suited to sounding very good in a small room.

Just for the record, I'm a die-hard planar lover. I've either built or bought planars of one kind or another for the last seventeen years. I sell Sound Lab electrostats, and I also think very highly of Maggies. Very few box speakers even begin to get me excited. The Revolutions replicate many of the things I love about planars, partially because they are a dipole for the first 3 ocaves. They are designed for the planar lover who doesn't have the room to properly accomodate big full-range planars.

The Revolutions can be placed either very close to the "front" wall or very close to the side walls. If the latter, toe in the mid/tweet modules and use some kind of treatment to diffuse or if necessary absorb that first sidewall reflection. I use fake ficus trees for diffusion. The Revolutions require quite a bit of power, but think of them as compact, room-friendly alternatives to big planars, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect. I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.

Best wishes on your quest!
I personally would not consider B&W 805 an upgrade from maggies... The above advise is good, and here is my $.02 -- Try a pair of Avalon Accoustics Monitors (no longer in production) or Sentinels. They are very nice in small rooms. I am not sure that they will compare to the Revolutions, but I am sure that you will be able to find them used for 1/2 of the cost... As with any speaker, I would listen before you buy, especially with the room you are describing. On a another note, a friend of mine was recently confronted with the same issues (and owns older maggies) and used Sonex on the wall behind the maggies to absorb the reflected sound. It is not as good as having the "right" room, but he was unwilling to change speakers for his temporary living situation. It works OK -- might be worth some experimentation.
Several years ago I was "banned" to a smaller room (11.6 x 13.7), where I really tried to get my panels to work. I owned Quad USA monitors, MG 1.6's, and then I experimented with B&W N805's with my ARC gear. I ended up keeping the N805's (to which I later added a REL Stadium II). The MG 1.6's excelled in coherence, accurate timbre, and quickness, however, I could never dial-in an adequate near field listening position. Also, I could never get use to what I heard as a lack of upper extension in the 1.6's. For me, the N805's simply worked better in the smaller room, especially in imaging and soundstaging. With some room treatment, the N805's can disappear in a smaller room. I do not think you would in any sense be "downgrading", but you would be getting a very different presentation. One of the areas you may miss if you leave the 1.6's is in relation to your preference for classical music. The Maggies are quite good in rendering the timbre of stringed instruments. Good Luck!
If your a maggie fan (as I am) and short on room, I wouldn't buy anything else until you try a pair of Magnepan MMGs. Although they cost only $550.00, their honest to the maggie heritage in every way. In some ways, you'll like them better. They don't need as much room, their easy to setup, uncritical of the components so long as the quality is decent. They don't care about fancy wire and their musically satisfying to listen to.

You can return them within 60 days and get everything back except return shipping.

I have both 1.6QRs and MMGs and while the 1.6s are better, their not that much better. If all I had was a pair of MMGs, it would be enough. And finally, since I've listened to both, their just a better speaker than the B&Ws.

Don't get me wrong, the B&Ws are good, just not up there with the Maggies is all.