Someone will correct me(please)if I'm wrong but I believe the 3.6s are one decibel less efficient than the 1.6s. That is close enough that the differences in amplitues, being fed the same signals, are not that big a deal. The 3.6s have "real" ribbons and the 1.6's have "quasi" ribbons. The 3.6s are better but I don't think the improvement justifies the additional expense(in my opinion). Mine are in a room 8 1/2 by 12 by 30 being fed 90 low feedback watts,which is enough for how loud I listen. The cliche about Maggies being placement sensitive is true. I have not used mine in a room as large as yours or with 50 tube watts,so I defer to others on those points.
I had 3.6; went straight from MMG and skipped 1.6. In my large-ish room (but nothing compared to yours) it took a good amp putting out 600 w into 4 ohms to get them sounding good. A Parasound 1500 HCA (I forget the power but I think it was close to 300 w into 4) was definitely NOT enough and clipped, blew fuses, and made the panels flap on peaks. I also tried 100W tubed monos and while the sound was heavenly, there just wasn't enough of it.
Not to be a wisenheimer, but if you have a 60x32 room why is cost your concern? Last I checked, real estate is still more than $1/acre. Anyway. Not having heard the 1.6 in my room I couldn't make the comparo for you, but I will say you need very good quality and quantity of amplification with 3.6. Now, some have driven them with less (far less?) power but the verdict on quality is pretty much unanimous. In other words, dig deep. Or in yet other words, get the 1.6 if funds are short and you can sacrifice maybe a little on the quality side.
Theoretically you can drive the 3.6's with 50wpc. You can also run a Ferari on regular unleaded as well...
And I have heard them being driven by ARC CA-50 amp. BUT, as Kck indicated the more power you can feed them, the better they will sound. No ifs ands or buts.
The last amps I had with the 3.6's were 2 Plinius SA-100 mk3 amps running in MONO (665 wpc into the maggies). Sound was great, better than any 100wpc amp could sound into them.
I'm using 1.6QR's in a 10 X 17' room. My previous amp
was a Mark Levinson 27.5, an excellent amp but under-
powered for the 1.6's. When turned up loud, dynamics
were compressed and it sounded strained. I sold the
27.5 and replaced it with a Levinson 335 (500 W/Chan
at 4 ohms). The increase in power gives a more
relaxed and dynamic presentation.
60' X 32'? I think its safe to say you need big speakers and big amplification.
I hope you mean it's an open floor plan and not one room that size? It does make somewhat of a difference but still a lot of space to fill with sound. You may want to check out some of the horn systems on the market..they match very well with tubes and can fill large rooms with clean sound@very little power.
First of all, the sound difference between the 1.6 and 3.6 IS worth the money ( there is a pair of 3.6 on AgoN right now). Secondly 50 watts is probably not enough. Maggies need current- the more the better, a solid state amp would probably be a better choice than tubes and 100 or more watts of that would be even better. I personally use a BAT VK500 to drive my 3.5s. I started out buying a 1.6 pair until I heard the 3.5, it was a no brainer to move up. Your room is large, the larger maggies will shine in that environment. With proper placement and power they are truly phenominal speakers. Also, the 3.5 comes very close to the 3.6 and is available at a good price here.
The 1.6QR will be fine in a room that size given enough juice. Your budget (I'm assuming you mean $4K) isn't going to remotely approach an appropriate tube amp in this context. I suggest you try to fund used Bryston 7B-SSTs although the ST model is acceptable. A 4B-SST is a possible alternative but it just doesn't transform the 1.6QRs the way the 7B does.
The 1.6s will get amazingly loud and are quite full sounding and have a well balanced sound, I think they would work well in a room that big, which would also cut down on reflections which to me is a problem with those speakers. I always felt the large Quasi Ribbon had too much output and reflected of the walls in my 13 x 22 x 8 room, even thouh I used Ficus trees and have curtains up.
As far as the fifty watts, I ran mine with a Manley Stingray for several months and was amazed at how loud and dynamic it sounded (for a fifty watt tube amp) and I would say it would work for you if you do not want it too loud. But for me the downfall of those speakers was the power issue and I just could not afford enough high quality power, I ended up using a Plinius SA100 MKIII, which is an amazing power amp with tons of guts for 100 watts and still I wanted more, I even had an Innersound ESL amp and that is the only time I was satisfied with the volume which was considerable (I am a headbanger of sorts, I believe in achieving concert volumes in the home). Those speakers will play very loud, surprisingly so.
I do not want to sound too negative about the Maggies, they are a really great bargain with terrific midrange and upper bass, but can run 'hot' if everything is not just so.
Bottom line for me is the power issue and I now have Reynaud speakers which I can run with 20 watts, I feel a whole new world has opened up for me and I have this large selection of high quality amps in my price range just waiting for me hear.
I hope this helps
Some folk, like me, prefer the quasi ribbon to the true ribbon, and then there are concerns about the reliability of the true ribbon. (But Magnepan does repair at reasonable cost).
I have three MG 1.6, which permits me to play (without strain) just as loud as two MG 3.6.
Magnepan speakers MUST be shipped in the very elaborate packing material provided with new units. Beware if you buy second hand. (The packing material is available for purchase through Magnepan).
I have run my MG 1.6 on two Adcom amps, one rated at 100 watts into 4 ohms, the other rated at 350 watts. No comparison. I even tried them with a QSC prosound amp rated at 450 watts, and it might have surpassed the 350 watt Adcom.
The Mg 3.6s are superior to the 1.6s in every musical category. For your size room it is a "no-brainer". Go for the 3.6s. If you can afford it, the 20.1s would be even better for a large room.
You can buy 3.5s for $1600 if you get lucky, they are supposed to be quite good as well.
I haven't compared the 1.6s to the 3.6s directly, but they are generally similar in power consumption, from what I understand. And I do have direct experience with the 3.6s, powered by a CJ MV60. This was definitively NOT enough power to power the 3.6s in a room that was less than a third the volume of your room. (Call it 16 x 24 x 15' high.) The shortcoming was NOT just in the mushy and weak bass. Transients like symbols clipped badly, and I even had trouble with classical trumpet solos.
If the volume was down and nothing stressed the amp, the sound was just about the best I've heard (including a couple of $120K systems). But across my 5 test CDs, I hit the wall on power about a dozen times, without even trying to push the volume.
Based on this experience, I'd be very surprised if you could make either of the Maggies work in that room with just 50 wpc, even though those are really quality watts.
Thanks for all of the great input!
I was particularly interested to note Phil's comments having used the Maggies with the Innersound ESL...what did you think of that pairing? Does the ESL do everything the manufacturer claims it will do with planars? You apparantly sold your ESL/Maggie pairing, so it must have had some shortcomings?
Anyway, I think I'm going to tread water for a little while and get more cash together for the 3.6's...it seems from the concensus that these are worth the extra over the 1.6's and I really want to make the most of the new room/space that I have.
Incidentally, for anyone not having heard music in a larger listening environment, it is really incredible. Even when the components are not up to the task of filling a larger room, the benefits are still very alluring. I didn't realize exactly how much the room impacts the sound of a hifi system. In my old room (22x12) I had made some basic acoustic treatments to catch rear and sidewall reflections, and figured the sound was reasonably 'treated' and I was hearing the best that my system could reproduce. Now with the same system in a much larger room, without any treatments whatsoever, the sound is amazing. Staging and imaging are perhaps most effected by sidewall reflections in smaller spaces, without a sidewall in close proximity, the sound has just opened up with the illusion of a stage width somewhere around 18' - 22' on some recordings, which puts the performers right there in the room. The main downside is that the stage height is too low, vocals seem to eminate foward at around a 4 feet height, which gives the impression of Hobbit sized performers - Luciano Pavarotti is no Hobbit!!
Bass is also seriously lacking, which is no real surprise.
Anyway, I appreciate the input and will be checking this thread to see if any other Maggie users have ideas and suggestions about how to get the most out of a larger listening space, on a fairly tight budget ($4k). I'm also intrigued by the idea of using a horn speaker, though I've never heard horns before. I've heard such mixed reviews of the Avantgarde speakers, but perhaps there are others that may be more acceptable and affordable.
Many thanks again!
If you're interested, you definitely should listen to horns. Horns are something that you either love or don't, which is why you get such mixed reviews. The good thing about horns, in your case, is that they typically are so efficient that you can drive them with a flea, let alone your CAV-50.
My direct experience with horns is limited to Klipsch, quite a while ago, and AvantGarde Duos. They aren't my taste at all: they are very, very present and "in your face", and I prefer a generally more distant presentation. And the Duos didn't sound quite as, I guess, transparent as my ML panels. Given that you seem to have the same sort of taste Magnepans as I have, you may not like the Duos either.