I have Maggie MG 1.6's - need amp advice

I have Magnepan MG 1.6QR's and an Audio Research LS-8 PreAmp but only an Acurus A-200 power amp. I need to upgrade my amp to something twice as powerful I have been told (400 -500 watts) in order to really hear what the Maggies will do.
Since I have a tube preamp what would be a good SS Amp and should I go with MonoBloc's or . . .?
Tube? SS? Need help. I have heard that Classe amps are great with Maggie's. Any help would be appreciated.
Also of note - I have a Velodyne 18" powered sub (1250) watts for the sub.
I think your Acurus has enough power. There are better sounding amps but if you like the sound of the Acurus I suggest you save your money.
I believe your amp has 300W into 4Ohm which will run the Maggies fine, it depends on how big's your room and how loud you listen, if an average size room your amp's big enough. Tube pre and SS amp is a good match and lot of members reffered. I've this combo to run Mg 10/QR with good results. Cheers.
For years I used Bryston amps,Audio Research pre's,and 1.6's with very satisfying results.There seemed to be a natural synergy between Bryston amps and Maggies.This maybe urban legend,I was told when Magnepan and or Bryston went on a road show they used each others products to show case their equipment.Actually, the guy to talk to is James Tanner,he's Brystons point guy.He sold me my first pair of Maggies back in the 80's.
My MG1.6 never sounded better than when driven by CarverPro ZR1600 digital power amps...600 watts/channel into 4 ohms. Synergy I think. You can buy these amps brand new for less than a grand. My experience, and some measurements, with these amps convinced me that Maggies "like" powerful amps.

At present I have come down to CI Audio D200 monoblocks, 350 watts into 4 ohms. This is enough for me because I run my custom subwoofer systems up to 80 Hz or higher. (The ZR1600 amps now drive the subwoofer systems).
It's a question of more factors than just watts. When I had Maggie 1.6's I used Adcom, Luxman, Belles HotRod 150a, and PS Audio's HCA-2 amplifiers which were all rated basically the same power output. All but one were absolutely mediocre with the 1.6's, the PS Audio amp really made them come to life. That amp was heads and shoulders above the others in every parameter. The design of that particular amp's output stage apparently integrated vastly better. Current delivery and compatibility with 4 ohm resistive loads are very important factors, watts ain't everything.
You really need to determine at what loudness levels you listen at or would like to listen at, then you can start to narrow your possible choices of amps and power.

I listen to all types of music (mostly rock and jazz)at levels between 75dbs to 85-88 dbs in a room size of 14' X 24' X 8' high ceilings. I am sitting around 9' from my 1.6's and for me, my 100 wpc KT88 tube based Music Reference RM-200 is way more than enough. That's not to say the other's suggestions above are wrong or out of whack. It is all about what you need in your particular case to achieve the sound levels you're wanting.

BTW, I also owned a Dodd Audio EL34 based tube amp that produced 50 wpc and achieved the sound levels I was looking for as well. I just wanted a different sound, hence the RM-200.

Good luck!
i too have magnepan 1.6 speakers and am looking for an amp. i am looking for a tube amp. i am considering the macintosh 2102 (100 watts) or the wolcott stereo amp (140 watts). i don't think either of these amps is insufficient to power this speaker. remember, quality of sound is more important than spl.
Mrtennis...At least with Maggies, the "quality of sound" delivered at a five watt average power level (about six volts rms into 4 ohms)is better when it comes from a powerful amp although one would think that 100 watts would be plenty. That's my experience, and I am not alone. I haven't a clue why this is so.

By the way, you could actually try a ZR1600 amp for less than the cost of rolling tubes once!
Contrary to popular belief, the 1.6s don't need nearly as much power as the 3 series maggies. Actually, I found them to sound better with tubes. But you will need a good solid 100-150 watts of tube power, but the coherency and midrange you get will sound much better than an average SS behemoth. My RM-9 did a fine job with 1.6s, but was a total flop on 3.5s.

Look for a used Spectron Digital One. 500 wpc into the Maggies; it really opened my speakers up and tightened the bass on my pair. Class D switching amp...tiny and the idle current is only 20 watts, so you can leave it continuously on without juicing up your electricity bill.

Think of it this way: all cars will do 70 MPH, but some get there MUCH more quickly! It's not just a question of "loudness" [SPL] but the "opening up", or just darn sounding better...the 1.6's require a lot of power to "open up".
Maggies are easy to drive up to the 'knee' of their magnet system which is not push-pull (MG 20.1s are an exception and are easy to drive at any volume). Getting additional volume above the knee requires a lot of power as the speaker dynamically compresses. This has to do with the distance that the diaphragm gets from the magnets during excursion- the strength of the magnet decreases by the square of the distance. Getting bass off of the diaphragm helps a lot too as that effectively limits excursion, allowing 'below the knee' operation as some fairly high sound pressures.

Below the knee, they are easy. A set of our M-60s will do quite well if used with a set of ZEROs. The trick with using any tube amp is an effective 3-4 ohm capability, which is a stretch for many tube amps. A set of ZEROs solves that nicely.
Atmasphere...With a one-sided magnet, the field would get stronger in one direction and weaker in the other. I would therefore expect the speaker efficiency to change little with increased excursion, but with distortion increasing.
Do you have any solid info regarding the field spatial distribution? The diaphragm excurion is so small that I question how much field variation actually exists (as opposed to theory). I have always believed that getting the very low frequencies out of the woofer is helpful for cone drivers, but you point out that for Maggies it may be even more important.
Dear Atmasphere,
Could you write a word or two about what you mean by "The trick with any tube amp is an effective 3-4 ohm capability...". Thanks.
This was my solution to finally getting my Maggies to "come alive" and it worked wonders. The Innersound is frequently available used for about $1500. It delivers about 600wpc into 4 ohms.

More recently, I've ended up bi-amping mine, with a tube amp on the mid/tweeter panel and the Innersound on the bass panel. Best sound I've ever had from them in 7 years of ownership, and a lot of different amps tried.

Bi-amping greatly increases the power the amps are able to deliver to the drivers. The internal crossover is bypassed, and a line-level crossover is inserted between the preamp and the pair of stereo amps (or 4 monoblocks or whatever). My first bi-amp was using 2 stereo tube amps on the Maggies, and that produced much more satisfaction than my old Classe CA-200 despite having less power per channel.

YMMV. Hope this helps. Be glad to share details if you're interested.

When you say a line level crossover is inserted btwn the preamp and pair of amps. What do you mean by this. do you need to buy an external xover or is this something the maggies do on their own.
Nope, unfortunately it's harder than that. They don't do it on their own :-( the Maggie crossover has to be disconnected entirely.
* The amps are directly connected to the speaker driver elements (which is good for control and transparency).
* Each driver gets its own amp (thus you need 4 amps or 2 stereo amps).
* To keep each driver supplied with appropriate frequency range, you need to use some kind of external crossover. My suggestion would be to go active. I used kit components from Linkwitz Labs (their MT1 board), and about $80 worth of parts. You could also use commercial active crossovers, such as the Behringer DECX2496, or the excellent Marchand tube or solid state crossovers. You need the right settings, or modules (if Marchand) to duplicate the factory crossover curves.
* alternatively, you can design a passive crossover, which is only a few resistors and capacitors in a box between the pre and the amps. A lot more information on this is available on the AA Planar Asylum (see the "tweaks" links).

Major advantages: bi-amping gets a lot more of the amplifier power to the drivers. It effectively doubles the amplifier power, so you don't need to use such powerful amps (a real advantage if you're doing tube amplification).

You can use identical amps, or you can tailor the amps to the drivers. For instance, on mine I use an Innersound ESL amp on the bass panels (600 watts per channel at 4 ohms), and a homemade 60 watt tube amp on the tweeter/mid panels.

This is the best I've ever heard the Maggies sound. But it requires more work than most people want to get into (for instance, disconnecting the stock crossovers requires removing the side strips and rolling up the socks, scary but it's not hard, and it's completely reversible to sell the speakers stock later if you want).

Lots of folks have been down this path. There are good pictures and plenty of advice on the MUG (Maggies User Group).

The Maggies sound great out of the box, but they can be made to deliver so much more without spending big bucks. Crossover mods and rigid stands produce amazing results!

Good luck. Hope this helps!
OH MY G-D!!!

What if i just connect a tube amp to the top connectors and a solid state amp to the bottom connectors without anything else will this work?
Soundwatts...Yes, that will work. In general I favor "proper" biamping with a line level crossover, but Maggies are not your typical cone driver speakers. First of all, the MG1.6 crossover is, superficially, a model of simplicty, but is not that easy to duplicate with a line level electronic crossover, at least not one off the shelf.
High pass is 6 dB/octave. Low pass is 12 dB/octave. The crossover frequencies (3 dB points) are not the same. All this is taylored to suit the characteristics of the panels.

A better approach (for these speakers) is to upgrade the passive crossover. Change the iron core inductor to an air core, which you will need to mount externally on the back of the panel because of its size. After removing the stock inductor there is room to install upgraded capacitors internally. I did that. However the stock capacitors are not junk at all, and I would recommend that you leave them alone. I did not remove the socks. I cut a neat rectangular opening on the back over the cavity where the crossover resides. This opening is covered by a wooden plate on which the large air core inductor is mounted.
Dear Atmasphere,
Could you write a word or two about what you mean by "The trick with any tube amp is an effective 3-4 ohm capability...". Thanks.

Let's put it this way- tube amps in general do not perform as well on 4 ohms as they do on 8 or 16. Output transformers do not do as well on lower impedances due to increased turns ratios, which have inductive and capacitive effects that reduce bandwidth and absorb power.

OTOH, there are speakers out there that sound best with good tube amps and are 4 ohms. Maggies are an example. Not all tube amps with 4 ohm taps really work with the 4 ohm tap. For this reason, you are often better off with a set of ZEROs which are optimized for low impedances, while running the amplifier on a higher impedance tap.

In the old days Magnaplanar made some 8 ohm speakers which made the tube vs. transistor demo that much more profound. Going to 4 ohms has caused a lot of tube amps to cede some ground to solid state, but if the impedance issue is leveled, tubes easily win out. The ZERO is an easy access to this.
With Maggies you need alot of Power and most people think of that as watts, but in reality it is lots of CURRENT that gets Maggies to light up.
I had an older pair of modded MG 1 imp. ran them with a Bryston 3B 130 watts,an Adcom,a 300 watt Hafler, an older rebuilt B+K EX442 200 watts, afew different Rotel amps, a Threshold S/150 75 watts and a Forte Model #4(by Threshold) 50 watts class A.
Both the lower Powered Threshold + Forte amp smoked any of the other amps easily.
The reason why is the same reason that "Photon46" explained and it has to do with how the output stage is desiged, that really gets the current to the speakers.
It is lots of good current that will light up your Maggies not watts. Not saying go for low watts but don't be to concerned with really high watts, you want CURRENT!!
Check out Pass Labs for an amp, or some of Nelson Pass Threshold amps for a great used amp. Innersound that someone mentioned earlier works very well with Maggies.
Go for the current and if the watts come with it, that's great.
If you move up to the 3 series you then need lots of current but also lots of watts ( I also have MG 3a as well).
Biamping with an active X-over (line level) can really open up your world but like the other poster said it takes a bit of work the set it up properly, an off the shelf active X-cross over that works very well with Maggies + the 1.6 is a Marchand XM-44 (that's easy enough).
But I would focus on just getting a good amp first. Go over to the Plannar form on Audio Asylum (MUG) and there will be lots of info there and alot of folks that live + die Maggies to heip you.
Benie...I think you got it backwards. I would say "Go for the watts and the current will come with it".

Watts are Voltage times Current. Voltage is easy to make. A handheld battery powered device, like a Geiger counter can make and use thousands of volts. Current requires a heavy duty power supply. The current drawn by a speaker depends on its impedance and the voltage which you ask the amp to deliver. A 60 watt amp will deliver the same current as a 600 watt amp if the required voltage is 1 volt. At some higher voltage level either amp will be unable to deliver enough current to prevent the voltage from falling. When it falls enough to represent the spec'd distortion level the power at that point is the spec'd power. So, bottom line, power describes current capability.

Most solid state amps are power-limited by current. Tube amps, whose power supplies run at several hundred volts, may hit an output voltage ceiling, resulting in a flat top on a sinusoidal signal called (for obvious reasons) "clipping". Their distortion rises slowly with power until it takes a sharp knee upwards at clipping. Solid state amps do not have such a sharp knee distortion increase, and for them "clipping" is generally taken as the power level where the gradually-increasing distortion reaches one percent.

In the way of "full disclosure" I have used up to 600 watt amps with my MG1.6, even when supported by subwoofers, and I believe that "size matters".
Eldartford, this comment

Most solid state amps are power-limited by current. Tube amps, whose power supplies run at several hundred volts, may hit an output voltage ceiling, resulting in a flat top on a sinusoidal signal called (for obvious reasons) "clipping". Their distortion rises slowly with power until it takes a sharp knee upwards at clipping. Solid state amps do not have such a sharp knee distortion increase, and for them "clipping" is generally taken as the power level where the gradually-increasing distortion reaches one percent.

-is not correct. All amplifiers 'clip'. Solid state amps do so with odd orders, meaning that their clipping is harsher than that of tubes (and is one of the reasons that there is the story of tube 'power' being more effective than transistor 'power' as we have seen so often in other threads). It is true that with most transistor amps by the time they have reached 1% THD, they are clipping while this may not be true for some tube amps. There is a distinction here.

Beyond that you are right, power is power regardless of the amp that makes it, so if the amp makes the power that is demanded by the load and the output voltage than the current will be there too. Maggies are a fairly resistive load, so the 'current' that everyone speaks of cannot exist without the 'voltage' IOW: power.

"I canna change the laws of physics!" -Scotty
Atmasphere...OK: if you drive a ss amp hard enough it will clip. But (at least some that I have seen) the shape of the distortion vs power graph is characteristically different from tube amps. (However, I just checked the Hypex UcD digital amp module, and it does exhibit a sharp break like a tube amp, but then it is starting from way below 0.1 percent, so maybe it just looks dramatic. Perhaps it takes clipping to get distortion that high). As for the 1% distortion level occuring before clipping in a tube amp I think that this simply reflects the generally higher distortion levels of quite well regarded tube amps.

My ss amps have clip limiting. I doubt that I would approach their 600 watt rating, but if I did a gain reduction would prevent cliping, and its tweeter-damaging distortion. At lower power level the clip detection circuitry does nothing except listen to the signal so I don't think there is any adverse effect on the sound. Cheap tweeter insurance.
No Doubt!! Clipping any large amp will eat tweeters pretty fast.

Although tube amps do have more THD in general, the idea is to generate less of the distortions the ear *objects* to, and tubes are quite good at that. This goes back to that 'tube power' 'transistor power' debate (personally to me watts is watts so I use the idea of 'usable power' instead of tube/transistor power- the idea conveys easier).
That's one nice advantage of bi-amping. You can have a nice sweet tube amp (like an AtmaSphere M60/w. Zero's) on the tweeter panel, and use a big honking high current solid state amp on the bass panel.

Check out this article from TNT-Audio that discusses the issues around crossovers that can be addressed by actively amplifying your speaker:


Hope this helps!
One person mentions them above, but a 2nd plug for Pass Labs. If you can find a used Aleph what you get per dollar spent is very hard to beat. Stereophile showed that these perform super well into amazingly low ohm loads. They provide serious current and the Aleph line purchased used may be cheap enough to run bi-amped at the high wattage levels. For real fun, get 4 monoblocks bi-wired. Price would keep most from doing that with new amps of similar quality... 4 Aleph 1's into 1.6s would put power issues to rest quite quickly!! Right now there are indeed 4 Aleph 0's for sale here - not nearly as powerful, but with 4 amps at those prices, would be awesome.