I'm a little stumped

My base system (power & speakers) is a McIntosh MA6100 integrated amp running a pair of Klipsch Chorus II's.

I'm been thinking real hard about upgrading both the power & speakers. After a fair bit of research and remembering a friend's MG1's from many moons ago I pretty much decided to go with a pair of Magnepan 1.6qr's. I auditioned a pair today and pretty much drew a blank. I expected to be amazed (I would have brought a pair home) and was left with sort of a "no comment". The audio shop ran the 1.6's with a Bryston 2B (180W @4 ohms). Overall they sounded a little thin & quite bright without much bottom end. The bottom end can always be cured with a sub, but the brightness?? I'm sure they could have used more power, but I thought there would be a hint of greatness I could draw on. I also listened to a pair of B&W 704s & Theil 2.4's. Basically they all paled in comparison to my little MA6100/Chorus combo. I was looking forward to maggie nirvana, but didn't see it...any ideas what happened? Bad room, bad setup, not enough power??
Why are you stumped? Your system sounds better to you than what you heard......be happy! Think of all the money you don't have to spend.


Paul :-)
that is the worst thing about auditioning at a local hi fi shop, it is not hooked up to your gear and the accoustics are all different.

the most you can hope to do is see if you like the basic sound of the product and make a guess as to weather or not it would fit in your system
Magnepan's sound thin and bright to me, too. I heard them several times, with several different amplifiers, and in several different room, and with different types of music. They've always sounded that way to me. I have always thought that the Theil's sounded pretty good, but I would have to agree with you on B&W speakers. I have to agree with Beemer, save your money and listen to what you have.
Bad room, lack of component synergy, lack of caring/hearing by set-up person, all of the above. It's quite easy to make any very good speaker sound bad and you probably shouldn't take that demo too seriously.

That said, the Klipsch Chorus II are very good speakers and may not be outdone (overall) by the speakers you auditioned. Certainly their dynamic capability and ability to play LOUD without distress and on few watts is unequalled by any of the above.

It wasn't until I tried the larger VMPS ribbon-hybrid speakers at about $4k, that I felt my Klipsch Chorus were surpassed by a wide enough margin to warrant their retirement. In my book that makes the Chorus a very cost-effective choice if you have the room for them. Once you get used to the dynamic capabilities of horns it's hard to go back (at least for me as I tend to value lifelike dynamics very highly).
You have a great system now. So finding something that will make you pull out the wallet may be a challenge. That Mac/Klipsch sounds pretty good, I'm sure. Good luck.

I'd agree with Plato, Chorus would be hard to beat for the $. If your
expectations are set by a horn+tube sound I think you'd have to expect
that an Electorstatic powered by SS will sound quite different. I have a
good friend who is also a horn/tube/Klipsch audiophile. He purchased a
pair of 1.6's on a whim, as he is often prone to doing (buying gear, not
just Maggies!). He has several
nice tube amps as well as a Parasound 200 watt amp as I recall. He
came away with a similar reaction as you describe ("...what's all the
fuss about? I don't get it."). He ended up selling his 1.6's after
about a month with them.

I don't think it's a rule with electrostatics or necessarily with
Magneplanars as both can sound quite splendid indeed, but as my pal
Slappy implies, they'll sound different depending on what you pair them
off with. Also, they just may not be your taste.

On a similar note, I went over to Speakerlab, here in Seattle (nice folks
by the way), with my buddy Peter_S to take a listen to the Gallo
Reference III's (those weird-ass speakers getting great reviews that
graced Stereophiles cover not long ago). Peter's also a tube guy and the
speakers were hooked up in a room with Parasound Halo dual monos (ss
amps). So we listened for about a half an hour to different music we'd
brought and were familiar with. Though we both liked them for their
tight bass and wonderful soundstage (I should let Peter write his own
opinions...at least I think he liked those aspects of them), we both
thought the presentation with the Halo amps was sterile and analytical. I
can't imagine anyone needing the subwoofer element they offer as the
bass was plenty low and tight for my tastes, at least with the Halos. It
was perfect in an almost bland kind of way that when you look at all the
things it does well leaves me very surprised that it does not engage me
more than it did. It certainly sounded very neutral. Peter had gone there
ready to buy a pair for himself, but kept his wallet in his pocket. He's
over at CES now and I'm betting he'll come back with something.

I digress. I've owned two pairs of Forte II's which are the Chorus II's
smaller cousin (though not by much). I thought they were excellent
speakers, especially for what they go for. Very versatile with all kinds of
music and many different amps I paired them off with. I could certainly
enjoy them for a long time with no complaints. I moved onto LaScala's
which does them one better and really shine with tubes. If you like your
Chorus II's why not listen to a pair of LaScalas or Khorns (if you have the
space and opposing corners), or even Cornwalls? Just a thought. Better
yet, try a good tube amp with your Chorus II's...they really don't need
that much power to shine...25-35watts of tube power will keep you
grinning I'd suspect and be a nice change from the McIntosh SS amps
you have. Try it out first of course...perhaps you may know a local
audiophile who may do some listening with you and bring their amp
over. I've done that where I live and had a great time and made friends
at the same time.

Hi, I heard the 1.6's several times a few years ago. Half the demo's sounded good the other half did not. At the time a (75mi. away) local dealer had a demo pr. on sale. I spent 2-3 hours in the store listening,( they said they were broken-in ) I knew this pr. did not sound right. I still brought them home for a weekend. I played them all day and all night. But they still sounded thin and lifeless. I returned them (I had Legacy Classic's at the time). About 6 months later I bought a used pr. of MG-12's with the same sound. So I let them play and play and play. After about 1 month they sounded alot better(warmer and dynamic). So break-in is very important. I sold the 12's in time but I'm still kicking myself for not keeping the 1.6's and giving them enought time to fully break-in. Cheers!
The other posters are pretty much right. The Klipsch/Magnepan comparison is dogs and cats. The thin sound you heard could also have come from a couple of things: If the pair in the shop were new and not run in that would explain a lot of the brightness you heard. Magnepan speakers need about 200-300 hours on them to open up. The power was adequate for the most part. Was the room a large one, with a lot of hard surfaces. Properly powered and set up Magnepans are capable of very respectable bass output. Of course, I am also making this claim based on living with the much larger MG 3.6R. But, I also have a pair of MMGs which make a very nice showing of themselves in the bass department as well.

You have a very nice setup as it is. The sound of the ultra high efficiency Klipsch is very different from the classic Maggie sound. I am willing to bet that if you have the opportunity to listen to a good Maggie setup for an extended time with music you are familiar with, give your ears a chance to adjust to what you are hearing, you will discover that the bass is there and that it is very accurate, the midrange is true to the source and there is a seamless integration of the sound. That said, you may also discover that you prefer what you have. There is no denying that Magnepans are fussy to set up, crazy power hungry beasts, and the bass does not move air the way a cone woofer can, but make no mistake, they can do bass.
Could be you`re "conditioned" to the system you have. If you listened to the Maggies for a few weeks, you might think the Klipschs sound "dull" by comparison. Both are good reputable speakers, just different.
These speakers are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum in almost every respect. It is no wonder that you prefer what you have to the polar opposite. You are accustomed to a very specific type of presentation from the speakers that you currently own and have been using for years.

I can understand how one would think that Maggie's would be a step backwards, but in all reality, they would be a step sideways. One would simply end up trading one set of variables for a completely different set of variables based on personal preferences. The truth of the matter is that we all want / need something that takes the best features / sonic attributes of each of these designs and combines them into one.

Unfortunately, that isn't easily done, so we have to pick and choose what we like and want as individuals. Luckily, there are a lot of different products out there. The problem is finding one that does everything you want at a price you can afford.

Stick with what you've got until you find something that you think is better. Nothing wrong with being happy or satisfied and it is a helluva lot cheaper : ) Sean
Thanks for all your thoughts. This is my first post here and I hoping I wouldn't get "...are you nuts man? have you no ears?!" I've been out of the audiophile game for many years & was all pumped up to dive back in....seems I did a face-plant on my first outing. :-(

I haven't written Maggies off by any means. Maybe it's just a memory ripened with age, but my buddies MG1's from almost 30 years ago sounded "stunning". It could be I was young & impressionable...but I was running this same MA6100 amp and a pair of LaScala's at the time.

There is a guy locally that has a pair of MMG's that are well broken in. He runs them with a sub..I'll try to get in touch with him and listen for a bit.

The 1.6's I listen to were said to be about a year old and "...I'm sure they're broken in"....though I wonder if that was the case. They may have been a year old, but who knows if they were seasoned as well as they should be. The room itself was hard surfaces (scattered with equipment on shelves) everywhere...it occurred to me that kinda sucked for an audio shop.

Your "..surpassed by a wide enough margin to warrant their retirement" is exactly it. You mentioned "dynamic"...this was a significant shortcoming of everything I listened to, including the Thiels. I didn't realize how much of a shortcoming until I listened to my own setup last night. Horns & drums were jumping out of the Chorus MUCH more than any I auditioned, no comparison. As I've lived with the Chorus speakers for about 10 years now I was (am?) ready to move on & was prepared (hopeful?...willing?) to be blown away by the Maggies ...to a point where I'd bring a set home. Then all I'd need is a boost up in power & I'd be rockin & rollin so to speak. Time to fall back & regroup I guess.

My speaker 'history' over the last 30 years is a pair of JBL 100's, Klipsch Lascalas (then I went back to school & my apartment was just slightly larger than the two LaScalas...so I moved to -> ), B&W DM1200's, then the Chorus II's. I see the LaScalas are really going for larger money these days..I saw on pair for $4K new & he would sell them for 3200-3600??? Sounds like a lot as I paid $1100 or $1300 back in '76ish. I haven't considered the Klipchorns-corner horns...good thought! Your tube amp idea is intriguing also. That too never occurred to me, may have to look into that. Any suggestions on make?

I'm down, but not out. I haven't written Maggies off. If anything I'm a bit more determined to listen to them 'right'. I may have to look for a used pair of MMG's to play around with. 1-2 hours in a audio shop can't compare to living with them for a while.

I suspect you're both right. The one's I listened to were not broken in & they are different, very different, than I'm used to. Chalk it up to experience, but I'm going to see if I can hear them for real before I end with a go/no-go.
I owned 1.6 Maggies for about a year and a half and during that time I came to the conclusion the QR tweeter has too much output and has to be tamed. When set up properly with the right equipment the speaker is terrific. Things like ficus trees between the speaker and the wall help a great deal to tame the QRs.

BTW the 1.6 has plenty of bottom end, some have measured it to 35HZ. I was always very impressed by its low end with the several amps I tried. Look somewhere else for bass problems, a subwoofer is the last thing these speakers need and a sure way to lose the wonderful coherence they have which is one of the best things about them IMO.

Just a thought.......

Like many of the other posters said, "If it makes you happy, be happy". If you like the sound of your currnet system, but feel compelled to upgrade, you could consider keeping the speakers and auditioning a different amp or source. You don't list you source components, but since your system is 30 years old, I suspect you have a turntable. TTs can be excellent sources and a good 30 year old table may be hard to beat without spending big bucks. However, if you are using an older CD player as a source, you may have a plethora of upgrade choices. Digital has improved dramatically over the years and a killer digital rig can be bought for less than the cost of a pair of Maggie 1.6s.

BTW, 25 years ago, I was absolutely blown away by a pair of Maggie Tympanis and a big SS amp in a local Hi-Fi store. I've yet to ever match the thrill of hearing that system. But times change, products get better (in general) and my preference for sound and music is different now. But it would be interesting to see if I got the same feeling hearing this setup today as I did 25 years ago when I was in my late teens.....


Fishboat - What kinds of music do you like to listen to? How big is your listening room? What is your budget? The answer to those questions may narrow down your choices in the wide selection of amplifcation that will work with you Chorus II's. My experience with Klipsch speakers (just the Heritage stuff) is that pairing them off with tubes brings a greater sense of realism, holography and airiness (as a broad generalization). There's a whole wide range of tube amplification for all kinds of budgets. The wonderful thing about them is that even the less expensive choices can be VERY rewarding. I do suggest taking a listen to what this kind of combination sounds like before you buy. Just as your surprise with the Maggies, you may also be surprised at how different tubes may sound when your expectations are set by your SS Mac. As already has been suggested; if you're happy and you know it clap your hands! If there is a dealer near you who will let you audtion gear that may be a good idea. Or post the thread with your area and ask if a fellow A'goner may like to let you come take a listen to their tube system. If you are near Seattle feel free to ping me off the thread. I'd be happy to make a few suggestions based upon my experience, and assuming your budget is moderate based upon your current setup. Jolida is making some fine integrated amps that are upgradable and sound wonderful stock. Most are of a very versatile push/pull design. Their 302B or 502B would work quite well with your Chorus II's. Quicksilver Mini Mites are also excellent amps but would require a preamp. I have not heard them, but have heard great things about the Cayin line of integrated tube amps here on the Gon - likely very similar to the Jolida stuff as both are moderately priced tube amps built in China. Do try to take a listen before you take a leap. As far as your experience with the LaScala price you mentioned: Klipsch still is manufacturing the LaScala and the Khorn at a comensurate price for a new speaker of that expense to manufacture in the current market and economy. So the price you observed was likely a newer version purchased recently at retail. Vintage LaScalas can still be easily found in the $1000 range, and Khorns in the $2000 range.

I think you happen to be comparing speakers that are at polar extremes in the differences between them, especially dynamics. Dynamics from a horn loaded driver is, well, its forte (excuse pun), and against which most any kind of driver will lose out. I dont know if you will ever be satisfied with the Maggie sound unless a huge amplifier can coax them to dynamic life you can live with. High efficiency speaker in general do seem to have a liveliness that speakers that present a more demanding load only match with serious amplification. It aint easy, but its can be fun.
You folks are being very helpful & I appreciate it very much. Once upon a time I was reasonably fluent in things audio..then life happened and now it's 25 years later.

Trading variables is an accurate thought & very true. I enjoy boating quite a bit (started in power boats, now I'm a sailor) and boats are the same way. For every one thing you want (performance, accommodations, handling..) you have to give up something else you really want. It seems about everything is diametrically opposed. It all comes down to priorities & balance.

I had breakfast this morning with a guy I went to highschool (grade school..) with, he said basically the same thing...choices..and it's very personal. He got into audio when I did in the 70's & never left. The last time he was looking for speakers it took him two years. He travels on business a fair amount and in his off time he'd find an audio shop and listened to something...whatever they had. After about 50-60 pairs of speakers he ended up with Snell's C 2's? 4's? 5's? ...he couldn't remember the exact model as he bought them a number of years ago. He also grew up on Mac amps & Klipsch speakers. In fact the speakers before his Snells were Chorus II's. I've heard the Snells a couple times & from what I remember they were very nice, but I need to go and listen them for real. He said this morning that he's identified his next purchase...he auditioned them at the factory a copule years ago...Legacy "Whispers". I received an email from A-gon today that said they were auctioning off the CES demo equipment & a pair of Whispers were on the block. He guessed they'd be up to $16K by now..."aahh Kev, but what a sound...!" I have no doubt he'll get them when he's ready.


The other components beyond the Mac amp & Chorus speakers are average at best. I don't have much vinyl left anymore. My main source years ago was a Tandberg 7" reel to reel...very nice unit, best they had at the time, but the heads are now burned out & it's unusable. I did check on what it would cost to fix it some years ago...$900..just $300 less than I paid for it in '76.

I have a CD player, Denon...maybe $300 when I bought it 5+ years ago. Forgive me if I'm showing my ignorance, but can one CD player be THAT much better than another? I see them listed for good money, but at this point I'm not sure what that money is buying.

My existing tuner is on it way out, a digital NAD, nothing special & it's getting weak. I'm working on a deal with a guy on an analog tuner that I'm having sent to Don Scott for mods.

I too heard a pair of Tympani's back in the 70's...awesome..took me a couple days to get my the jaw off the ground.

Right now Diane Reeves' "Quiet After The Storm" is playing...excellent(!) CD if you're partial jazz/vocals. I listen to alot of jazz...Miles Davis through Norman Brown, Sting is a class act, some rock (Who, Frank Zappa, Hendrix, Phil Collins) some classical, & lately Celtic music is seeing alot of airtime.

Budget...within this framework, without losing all control, money isn't so much an issue...getting me to part with it however probably is... :-). I'm willing to pop a few bucks (thousand?) if I can see (hear) the value in it. I would like to upgrade my system, I'm just not sure what that means yet. As I mentioned, my first foray didn't go so well. :-)

I tossed around the tube-amp suggestion with my buddy this morning & he thought it was as interesting an idea as I did. I appreciate your offer for a listen, but I'm in Wisconsin...long commute, but please suggest away on options. To be honest, much/most of the equipment I see for sale on this site I've never heard of. The variety of equipment available today is mind numbing. I suspect some of it is primarily show & without much go, other pieces are good solid equipment, and others still are good & priced into the heavens without offering much more beyond an inflated price tag.

You mention Jolida & integrated amps...my current Mac is an integrated amp(MA6100, ~80wpc last time it was checked). Is it possible to use my 6100 as a pre-amp into a tube amp...or is this "bad form"?

I checked ebay on the Klipsch speakers...LaScalas are going for reasonable prices. There's a pair of rosewood Khorns on there right now (ugh...pretty speakers). The money isn't bad, but I don't have corners that will fit them.

To be honest I've lived with Klipsch horns for so long I guess I (wrongly) assumed that 'dynamic' was an attribute of any good speaker. I'm learning that it's an attribute than can be had, sometimes easier than others, but can't be taken for granted. As I mentioned, I haven't given up on the maggies. They may end up being a longer term project while I freshen up the system I have.

Thanks again to all...you're a great help & have offered (are offering) some very level-headed thoughts to mull over.
Hey, that's what makes this forum so much fun Fishboat! Glad to be of help. Just a few more thoughts based on your recent words:

Oh my, YES, YES, YES, improving your front end can have a HUGE impact on sound IMHO, especially given your current player. There are threads ad nauseum on audio hierarchy that you can find with a search. Most seasoned audiophiles seem to fall in two camps as far as which component has the potential to make the most impact on the system. One being the front-end, and the other being speakers. There are still others who will cite other components. My intention here is definitely NOT to dredge up opinions that have already been stated in many other threads on this subject. Just to tell you that you can be assured your CD player makes a tremendous difference in your system. Making even an inexpensive improvement there to a more modern, well-designed player would be money well-spent. Not to sound like a skipping record, but if you want to keep to a modest budget, again Jolida makes a player that is killer for under a grand brand new (JD-100A). No, I don't have stock in the company. For a great discussion on Audio System Hierarchy check out the December issue of The Absolute Sound - there is a great panel discussion on that very subject.

So from your preferences of vocals and jazz I'd say tubes would be a great way to go. Definitely check out what a difference they can make. I don't know your MA6100, but I'd suspect it is not likely it can act as a preamp to another amp. The Jolida's I mentioned, and the Cayin are all integrated amps and would not require a preamp.


As Marco stated, yes, the front end can make a big difference. If you are using an older $300 Denon as your primary source for critical listening, you could likely find big improvements with a different player. You don't have to spend $2000-$5000 to get a great player, although there are plenty of great players in those price ranges.

I've owned several high end CD players over the last few years and I'm really smitten with my current player (Quad 99 CDP). The Quad list for $1499, but I bought mine for less than $900 used here on AudiogoN.

Although I've not heard it, I've recently read a review of a cheap $150 Sony SCD-CE775 (or the new Sony SCD-CE595) modified by Tube Research Labs ($550 for the mod). The review and several of his friends have replaced their very expensive digital rigs with this little player that cost $700 and they are estatic.

Seriously, a good, high resolution digital front end might be a nice complement for your very dynamic speakers and your warm amplifier. You might be so happy that you stop there for a while!


This is an interesting discussion. The upgrade bug can be daunting, especially when you cant find anything wrong with your current setup, but just want to try something "different".
I have been blessed for almost a year with GMA Europas, driven by a Cayin TA-30 tube integrated. Love the sound. My first pair of quality speakers were AR-12's, followed by NHT's. So I like my speakers flat and accurate. No flames please, but I never been moved the the "Klipsch" sound. As my -ex used to say: "That is why they make vanilla and chocolate".
I have been thinking hard about picking up some MMG's to play with, just for the fun of it. (And I have some high-powered SS amps to drive them hanging around). It seems like the Maggie's sound might be to my liking........
Decisions, decisions...