Life after Maggies?

For the past 7 years I have been extremely happy with my Magneplanar 1.6qr speakers. They've been modded to the limit: specifically, I'm using an external active crossover and running a El-34 tube amp on the quasi-ribbon tweeter/mid and a big Innersound amp (600wpc) on the bass panel. They're clamped in Mye stands and they far outperform stock. Even better than stock Maggie 3.6's to my ears. They sound fantastic!

What I love most about the Maggies is their presentation of performers in the space of my room. Pianos especially sound "real" and female vocalists are to die for. With my setup, singers sound as if they're in the room with me, and detail is superb (one of the biggest changes from modding vs. stock). Bass is solid, and cellos are rich and palpable. My Maggies don't do "slam" very well, and the lowest octave is mostly hinted at rather than delivered, but as most of my listening is classical, that's not such a big deal.

Now I'm moving and my listening room will be an unfortunately-sized 11x12' dedicated listening room. This is going to be too small a space for the Maggies to breathe, or so I believe.

I'm looking for recommendations for smaller speakers, perhaps stand-mounted monitors, that will work in this space. I think I'd like speakers with ribbon tweeters, but I've never heard any. I've also been told that Green Mountain Audio speakers, and Joseph Audio speakers should be on my audition list (but which ones?).

I'd like to find some speakers that won't disappoint me after my love affair with the Maggies... In particular, I'd like to hear from former Maggie owners who have loved them and moved on.

I was in an almost identical situation a year ago. I moved and the listening room in the new house was too small (13' X 15') for my Maggie 1.6QR's. Believe me, I tried, but there was just not enough breathing room for them from both a sonic and physical standpoint.

After much looking around including a couple of 200-plus mile road trips to listen to speakers that did not have a local retailer I ended up buying a pair of Spendor S5e's. They are the perfect size for the smaller room and the sound is outstanding, though obviously a much "different" experience than the Maggies in a larger room.

However, Spendors are noted for their midrange abilities and in particular their neutrality when it comes to reproducing voices. Given your taste for classical music, you may want to run down a pair (or another model of Spendors) to audition. There is also a review I posted which has some more detail concerning my experience with these.
Make sure you try them in the new room.
They may just suprise you and work fine.
Cheers Johnnyr
I have owned the Maggie 1.6's, 3.6's and currently own the 20.1's so I understand your appreciation of the Maggie speakers. I have a smaller room where I have a second system and I use the Harbeth SHL-5 speakers. They are excellent speakers and give much of the magic presentation of the Maggie speakers. I've tried many speakers in that room and at one point sold my Harbeth speakers but I wasn't happy with any replacements so I went back to the Harbeths. Although I haven't heard the Spendor speakers I understand they are very similar sounding to the Harbeth line so the recommendation above may be a good one.
Try them in the new room, but position you seating position so your head is against the back wall and Mag's 3' off the front wall. Make sure to get some type of corner ceiling treatment (cornbusters) as you will quickly overwhelm the room with volume and no treatment. I ran some 1.6's in a 10x12 room for a little while before I switched to WP7's. I had them pulled 3' off the back wall.. try tweeters on the inside and outside.. it's nearfield listening.

Unfortunately the all over sound of the Mag's will not be duplicated by box speakers.. and watch out most speaker with ribbons and conventional drivers will seem mismatched after having the quick mid-bass of planars. Listen if you can before deciding.
As a former owner of the MG 12s, the 1.6s, and the 3.6s, I can tell you its going to be quite difficult to find a speaker that gives the magic you are looking for. As I now own a pair of Merlins which throw a great soundstage like the Maggies, they still don't have that dipole transparency. My advice would be as follows: First, try the 1.6s in the new room and see what you think. Its definitely a tight squeeze and the hard part will be getting them far enough from the front wall (the wall behind the speakers) to breath. Second, if they don't work in the smaller room, consider a modded pair of SMGAs. There is a startup company called Magnestand that makes modded SMGAs run by Peter Gunn over at the Planar Asylum on I've heard these speakers on several occassions and they are fantastic. In my opinion, they have more PRAT than the 1.6s. I even liked them better than the 3.6s, though they clearly didn't have the amazing resolution of the ribbon tweeter. They are much smaller than the 1.6s, closer to the size of the MMGs. They integrate suberbly and they are, of course, Maggies so you won't be losing the love you have. They cost just a little more than a used pair of used 1.6s, somewhere in the range of $1200. Peter Gunn's craftsmanship is spectacular and his mods are innovative when it comes to performance (I've also heard unmodded SMGs and there is no comparison to the modded ones). If you want to email me privately, I can get you in contact with Mr. Gunn and he could advise you as to whether they would work in the small room (he's an honest guy and won't try to sell you anything that would be unuseable). Or, you can look him up on Audioasylum under his moniker, Peter Gunn. Third, if none of the above options work, I'd consider an open baffle speaker like the Alons, Nomad Ronins, or the Linkwitz Orions. Its just my opinion, but I think you would miss too much of the dipole magic that the Maggies give you with any other box speaker (based on the way you've described your affection for the 1.6s). Just my 2 cents.

Wish you the best of luck with whatever you choose.
I would check out two speakers by GMA, first one is the Pico Executive 3way floorstnader which retails for 5000.00.The second is the Calisto which is a 2way and needs a stand, both of these speakers are electrostatic in transparency and have better dynamic headroom.The real secret to the GMA's is the superb build quality Q stone and the simplest crossover know to man,one capacitor per driver.My GMA Calypso's image like no other speaker I have ever heard,detailed 3-d images that totally soar and immerse you in the music. The bass is also extremely powerful and yet expressive and is totally in phase with the music. Please do yourself a favour and listen to what may be some of the best speakers on the planet!Hope this helps Dennis
Ya neveer know till you try them in new space, but as for your Green Mountian idea, I doubt you will be able to get those both far enough from back wall and far enough from you to get the first order cross-over to perform its best.
I owned & loved Maggie SMGa's & 1.6's for over a decade before moving on last year to dynamic speakers. We've moved and my new listening area is considerably bigger than previously was the case, so our situation isn't analagous in that respect. All of the speakers you mentioned and others have suggested have garnered good praise and might be suitable. In my case, after considering Salk, Tyler, and ACI speakers, I bought ACI Talismans unheard and haven't regreted the decision for a moment. Now, the Talismans are rather big speakers and aren't made any more, but the ACI Sapphire XL's are are current 2 way monitor models that might be worth checking out. There are numerous reviews of the Sapphires on the web. If you think they sound like a possibility, you can try them at home for 30 days at no risk other than paying return shipping. If you were to add a subwoofer like ACI's Force or a REL, you'd have a compact full range system that would be a very good value.
gradient revolutions
Here is my two cents, I have had Maggie 1.6's, 2.7's and 3.5's and then Eminent Tech. lft-8a's and loved all of them and used all of the maggie's with subs, but wanted to go back to dynamic speakers and listened to all types, recently settled on a pair of Usher 6381's and they are everything the maggie's and et's were plus more and the subs are not needed. If the 6381's are too big for your room, try the 6371's.
I am using Gallo Ref 3s in a room not much bigger than yours. You might want to put them on your list.

Before switching to another speaker, get the 1.6 set up and dialed in as best as you can in your new room BEFORE moving to another speaker.

I have been a Magnepan user my entire audiophile life, starting with the SMGa, MGI, MGIII, MMG, 3.6R. I still use the MMG in a smaller second system.

I did, however, move on from the 3.6R in my listening room to the Kharma Ceramique 2.2 and have no regrets...
I "moved on" from Maggies about 20 years ago. But after about a decade wandering in the box world I came home. This is not uncommon. Have your affair with boxes, and come home when you have had enough.

Same experience as with me. Had a pair of new MG IIIa's in 1986 and loved them for many years. Then went searching in the box world wilderness for many years with Spendor SP100, Soliloquy 6 series, Totems, Chatmans, etc.-all wondeful speakers- but finally came full circle with a pair of 3.6R's about 6 months ago and now a pair of MG 20 series and am now feeling complete again. The Magnepans do however require a lot of work on getting the positioning and the amplification correct to make them at their best.
When I commented that I "moved on" I did not mean up or better. I loved the sound I was getting with my 3.6R driven by Wolcott P220 tube amps and well placed in a Rives Audio designed room. There is nothing like the Magnepan sound. It took a pair of cone based loudspeakers that cost 6 times the cost of the 3.6R to replace them. As much as I love what they do, and still own a pair of rebuilt MGI and a pair of MMG, I grew weary of the room dominating surface area of the big panels.
thanks everyone for your responses! You've given me a lot to think about.

I'll definitely try to use the maggies in the new room, and see if I can make them work. Fortunately, it won't be used for anything else, so i can stick the speakers well out into the room. Cytocycle, your suggestion to put my listening position at the rear wall is interesting, I wonder how much bass reinforcement I'll get there (too much)? I'll let you know how it works out.

I'm definitely on the audition trail. Hadn't thought about spendors or Gradient Revolutions, some new things to explore! Cenline, thanks for your rave on the Green Mountain line. I'm scheduled to audition some Callisto's next week. I hope Chadnliz is wrong and I don't have to be that far away from them for them to work.

I listened to some Audio Physics speakers yesterday, and they were nice, tons of bass, nice tone, but they sounded closed in and boxy to me. Sigh. Here's hoping that magic will appear in one of these auditions! I do get discouraged when I hear there's no substitute for Maggies... Maybe the Peter Gunn modded units are worth checking out, but I'm not sure they'll be in the same league as my tricked-out 1.6's.

The search continues...
Ok, here is a suggestion that might sound odd:

I am more from the single driver camp and recently listened again to a pair of Maggies 1.6 (it's been ten years since I listened to the 1.5). Overall, I found quite a few similarities of the Maggies 1.6 to my Cain Abbys: The 1.6 did have a coherence across most of the range that I have not found in many speakers aside from my Cain Abbys. From my audition they were very quick, detailed, and projected similar large-scale images, just like the Abbys. In fact, in particular the imaging department the two different speakers are very similar: Fairly large, high up images that are very solid. Finally, top end and bottom end extension was where they beat my Abbys easily. Addition of the sub is necessary for the Abbys.

Running an SET amp into the Abbys I think you will get a similar openness, coherence and solid real life images that are very close to the real thing, especially when piano is playing. On the plus, the Abbys work well in smaller rooms, can be placed close to the wall and are in the same pricerange as the Maggies.
I went from maggies, electrostatics etc to hi-eff, you can get hieff ribbons these are wonderful as is a proper front horn system
Definitely consider what Restock and JohnK are saying. YOu can find many of the properties people love aout Maggies in a hi-efficiency, single-driver speaker set-up.

Do try your Maggies in the new room first though.
I went from the 1.6's to the Usher 6381's and don't feel I lost a thing. IMO the Usher can match the 1.6's in every area, even transparancy.

They're an incredible speaker at their price point and will more then likely provide all the bass you will ever need. And, it's a to die for bass too. No boom with these babies.
Jack-dotson, I agree with you about the Ushers. They were on my short list of considered replacments for 1.6's. I thought they were very well made, quite musical and transparent, and beautiful as could be wished for at their price point.
I've had the Maggies for 7 years now (which is forever in this hobby). I'm trying them now in the smaller room. First impression isn't too bad. The room has some nasty bass modes, because the length and width are similar in size, so they double up the bass modes around 63hz/126hz/etc. I think I'm going to have to invest in some big-time bass traps, e.g. RealTraps (which are GREAT, if you haven't tried them.

Of necessity, the Maggies are well out into the room. I tried with my head back against the rear wall, and didn't like the sluggish sounding bass. I'm now rotating walls and trying differnt layouts, including diagonal. It's really near-field listening as I'm only about 6'-8' from the speakers, but the imaging isn't too bad if they're toed in more than I used to have them. The image is well behind the speakers, and well-centered. I don't hear the speakers themselves at all, my attention is on the musicians behind them. Interesting!

Restock & JohnK, you make a good case. My issue with single ended has been the total inadequacy of producing convincing symphonic music with large orchestras. I've heard some spectacular demos (at a NJ high-end show), but they were playing chamber music or jazz. As soon as the Mahler or Beethoven symphonies hit, the musical threads all seem to merge, or get lost. Maybe the state of the art has progressed further. I certainly have limited experience, and would love to be proven wrong, but that's my impression.

The room sucks. Like listening to music through a comb filter. And planars cancel their side waves, and load the room differently for bass too. Anyway, I'm not as unhappy as I expected, but expect to do a lot of trial and error. I still may end up auditioning alternative speakers, but for now I've got plenty of things to try.

Thanks again folks!
Best bet is to keep those Maggies and purchase a Behringer Ulta Curve Pro DEQ 2496 and get the speakers to sound like you want them in that room.
I was about to suggest what the last fellow did, keep the Maggies and get DEQ to fix bass anomalies.

The other issue is their spacial presentation. Dipoles like space behind them so that the rear wave reflection off the wall behind the speakers is sufficiently attenuated so that your brain can distinguish it from the direct signal. In the absence of breathing room you will need sufficient diffusion and/or absorbtion.
Dfhaleycko, Hi-eff loudspeakers can run on much more than a single ended amplifier.Heck I have used a MF kilowatt 1000 watt amp on some hi-eff fullranges.And hi-eff loudspeakers can be ribbon based, horn based, BR, TL,AS not just full range single drivers running off SET amplifiers, which is a good match but can limit one a bit when selecting music.So maybe look into hi-eff lots more to it than you think. Dynamic range is the big benifit of these designs along with simple crossover networks but all hi-eff designs dont all use simple crossovers.If ribbons are your thing I have set up systems with ribbons running 102db 1 watt from 1000hz-40khz they have come along way baby..
Dfhalecycko, I feel your frustration.I cannot imagine going from a good room to one that gives you such sonic limitations.You already know that your new room is going to be the greatest factor that you need to deal with.GMA designs their speakers with this room parameter taken into account.From what you told us the Callisto's would be the perfect canidate for your room ( If you can swing and hear the Pico Executive do so!).I am totally impressed with the complete natualness of the GMA"s (I heard the callisto's at a good friends house and they play way bigger than their diminutive size)sound.My friend has planars and they are very good but are limited dynamically and don't maintain perfect phase (that is the achilles heel of all planar designs).You should go and audition the GMA's and bring your favourite licks and see if you hear things in a new way.I can honestly say that the Calypso are the finest sounding speaker I have ever heard( they just hand you the music).You really should listen to the Callistos if you get the chance and if they have the Pico Executive (just buy it!).Also a EQ is one more way of messing up the phase of the signal and really isn't a correct vehicle to use.Hope this helps and go audition some speakers-Cheers Dennis
I've had MG IIIa + MGI imp.modded + now Eminent Tech. 8a. I have had the Modded MGI imp. + the ET 8a in the same room 14 x 12 and I found the ET8a to work much better in a smaller room.

You will need some room treatments and I found sitting against the wall to be no problem if the wall behind my head is treated as well.

You will have to take your time to play with placement.

Someone mentioned the SMGa that are modded by Peter Gunn, well these have had alot of good talk about these by people who own Maggies. Some say it is better then stock MG 1.6. He does use an external passive X-over, so there is a chance you can sub the passive for your active x-over and get even better with the porper settings.

If you do get something else and sell your Maggies.
Then you will have to decide to sell them modded or put them back to stock.
I have no problem buying modded but alot of folk won't.
G24 actually, I have an Ultracurve Pro, which is one of the reasons I know about the room modes. It's actually a pretty cool device! Running pink noise and/or autocorrect, I can see how much the room is impacting on the sound. I've been hanging out on the Audio Circle forum on room correction and I've got some stuff I need to try to cancel some of the nastier room modes (bass trapping mostly).

Unfortunately, I can't stand the sound of the ultracurve permanently in the signal chain, so using its correction algorithms isn't such a good idea, although it gives me a pretty good idea what a flat sound would be like in the room. When the bass is fixed, it really opens up the mids, which is nice!

One of my issues with equalization is that the bass modes are substantially different even if you move the microphone a few inches. Sampling a bunch of locations, you'd make very different adjustments, altho you can average some of them for something that will work OK. The bass nodes are the worst, of course, and after treating as much as I can with traps, I could go for something like a PARC parametric equalizer to tackle the bumps in response that remain. The Parc is said to sound better than many of the digital solutions, like Tact. I mostly listen to LP's so I'm not living in the digital domain yet. I've been playing around with the parametric equalizer in the DEQ2496, and it makes a really impressive difference without mucking the sound up in adjacent octaves. If only the unit didn't make everything else sound flat & lifeless. In the signal path, even with no parameters engaged, it just sucks the life out of my music. Too bad!

I think I can tackle many of the worst ones with treatments, and use the UltraCurve to track how well I'm doing.

Dennis, I'm still scheduled to audition some Callisto's. I'm excited by what I've heard about the Green Mountain line, and a friend of mine who's an ex-Maggie owner also recommends them. I hope they live up to the buzz.

That said, I've invested 7 years getting the Maggies to sound great, so I'm a little discouraged to be starting all over again in a new space. Frankly, I'd rather listen to music than fiddle with equipment.

Thanks again all who responded!
you will not be disappointed with the GMA line but if they have the Pico Executive try to audition it.Dynamically there will be little comparison between the stat and the cone dome.After I bought my Calypso's i have been revisiting a lot of my old recordings ( these are the ones that do not qualify as audiophile but still hold a strong affinity while you were growing up).I no longer worry about speakers and really enjoy listening knowing that the GMA"s sound incredible & correct.The speed and agility of these speakers make them amazing in the imaging department.Layering is accomplished front to back and side to side with little regard to room walls.I have never heard a speaker that throws huge images and dynamic swings and never seems to break a sweat even when playing @ 100+ db.The Calypso's have left me stunned (when you hear some of your favourites and they sound like nothing you remember because of the new information).I hope your audition goes well,however,you really should take them home for the weekend with a provision to buy or sell(the Maggies that is).Remember that system synergy does play a part and GMA is very revealing.Please keep posted as to the results-Cheers Dennis
Your objection to the sound quality of the DEQ2496 is interesting. I have no such problem with mine. However, I have found that it helps to have the line level signal into the DEQ2496 a good deal higher than typical of consumer audio equipment. When I play a CD (for example) the PEAK dB for the entire CD (which the DEQ2496 displays) is within 6 dB of Clipping...usually more like 3dB. Most of the time when average volume music is playing the -18 dB green LEDs in the the METER string are lit, and the -12 dB LEDs toggle on and off. This setup probably requires more gain in front of the DEQ2496, and less in the power amp.
You might want to try the new Newform r630v3's or r645v'3; they can go closer to the wall as they are now sealed units without any ports. By the way I am not a Newform owner (anymore) or a company stooge (!) .. I just really like thier product.