Maggie 3.6 amplification concern

I realize there has been several threads about amps for 3.6's but most everyone insists that you need high power solid state. I am curious if anyone has tried less power? I am thinking of using 120 watt tubed mono's and others feel that you need 500 watts minimum to make them come to life. I would really prefer to stick with tubes, and I don't paricularlly care for some of the high wattage solid state amps that are out there. I just can't imagine that the BAT vk-60 mono's won't drive them well, I could be wrong though. Would it be better to get a slightly less quality amp with more power(i.e. bryston 14b-sst)? Any thoughts would be great, but please only if you have experience with more then just the amp you own. Thanks in advance for any help.
I think most people do not know how loud and lifelike Maggies speakers can be. Most of the time they are woefully underdriven.

I have the 1.6's and I tried the tube route. I started with a Rogue 88 and then went to the Rogue 120 Magnums (120 watts per channel) and they never came to life at all. I then tried the Zero autoformers (which increase the impedance of your speakers as seen by the amp and should be a better match for the tube amp) from Paul Speltz and even though this improved the sound greatly it still never came to life. I then tried an Innersound ESL amp (over 600 watts driving Maggies) and the difference was astounding. They had unbelievable dynamic range and presence but the sound grew a little tiresome and was a little anemic so I ended up with a Plinius SA100 MKIII which has 100 watts class A power and is a nice compromise between the sound of tubes and the control of solid state but still -- does not have anywhere near enough power to properly drive these speakers.

When someone tells you these speakers need 500 watts you should believe them if you want to achieve lifelike listening volumes. I would not have believed it myself but the 1.6's will come alive and really sound dynamic, not like a typical planer at all. I also think the 3.6's need a little more power than the 1.6's so my recommendation is to try the tube amp out under the condition that you can return it.

I regret trying the tubes as it cost me in the long run, I have had nothing but tubes for 20 years and did not want to make the switch to solid state but the Plinius actually has nicer tone than the Rogue even though the Rogue is a little more liquid in the midrange.

I hope this is helpful, please tell us what you learn.

Tireguy, I have a single VK60 driving a pair of Watt/Puppy 6's. Most the of magazines say the WP's really come to life with big solid state amps. That single vk60 sounds pretty darn good to me. The old saying the tube watts are a little different than SS watts might apply for you.

Years ago, I had a pair of MG1's driven with a 50 watt Audio research tube amp. It sounded wonderful.

However, if you can try before you buy...

Also, what's your room size? Smaller room can mean a little less power.

Good luck
I'm with Phil on this. You need power and control with the Maggies and only solid state will give you that. In my bi-amped InnerSound system I use the 600 Wpc InnerSound amp to drive the woofers and the Monarchy Audio SE-160 Class-A hybrid monoblocks to drive the ESL panels and the sound is truly amazing. As Phil noted, when used full range, the InnerSound amp leaves some room for improvement. For that reason, I would probably opt for high-powered hybrids like the Monarchy SE-160s, which provide over 300 Watts each into 4 ohm loads. They use a single tube input driver and a beefy MOSFET output stage. Their sound is very lifelike, open, and detailed. They communicate the music better than any other amps I have used (and I've been through quite a few).

Another alternative that would yield almost as good sonics but with higher power would be to use a SS powerhouse (like the InnerSound ESL amp) in combination with a tube line buffer such as the Z-man ASE or the Musical Fidelity X-10D.

I have used the InnerSound amp with the Z-man to drive Maggie 12/QR speakers and that offered a nice improvement over the InnerSound amp by itself. It combines some of the liquidity and sweetness of tubes with the brute force and control of solid state. Frankly I'm surprised that more folks aren't taking advantage of this type of setup.
Plato, pardon my ignorance, but what exactly is a z-man and how does it "improve" the amp? I can't find a website or any information except for your posts here on AudioGon.

See, Tim, I TOLD you the Innersound amp was the way to go...You should go out to Roger's website and read his white paper on the amp and for $3K brand new, how could you possibly go wrong????

- off to bed
If you give up on tubes, the new musical Fidelity A300cr ($3200 new I think) would be the way to go. It is the big brother to the A3cr and has an almost tube-like sound but with real solid state power.
maggies really are just fantastic speakers, but it's true that they require ungodly amounts of power to produce their magic.

they'll play with less, but it would be doing them a disservice. they're terribly inefficient.

i would try out many high-powered ss amps, there's bound to be one that you really like.

you've got some wonderful speakers there, be sure you give 'em what they want and you'll be astounded. 3.6's are really, really great.

You can get a pic and a brief description of the Z-man ASE (analog signal enhancer) at the following link:

It used to sell for $200 or thereabouts, but I'm not sure whether or not it is currently being made. I see used ones pop up now and then, which seem to be going for $100 to $120, which in my view makes them one of the greatest bargains in audio today. The Musical Fidelity X-10D is a similar unit, though I believe the Z-man has a slight performance edge and has a good internal power supply instead of a wall wart type. It uses a single 12AX7 tube as opposed to two 6922s in the X-10D. In addition to providing tube-like sonic qualities, these units provide a better impedance match between the source and the preamp or amplifier.
thanks, Plato, it sounds like this is used to "boost" the signal over long distance between amp and speaker. I am not sure I am understanding how it could "improve" the sonic qualities. still early in the morning, I guess. -aj
I cut my audiophile teeth on Maggies 12 years ago and have been all over the map with amps. I have had over 20 different amps in my various systems with the last 2 being a VAC 70/70 and VTL MB250 mono's into the 1.6's. As far as the comments on the Maggies needing power, belive it. I had a Pass x250 I was trying out that was getting its' meter tagged by the stop when bass notes played. After a while I just gave up, sold my gear, except the speakers and cables, to buy a new Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic.

I know the 1.6's have that special sound. The 3.6's I heard even better. I decided that I was not going to get hung up when I bought gear to get the Maggies going again. What I ended up with was what I wished could have happened to begin with. I have thrown a lot of money at this audio bane in the past. I bought a Polyfusion 960 amp, 200 WPC 8 ohm. The rig has mosfets, LED VU meters, and a whopping 360,000 microfarads of capacitance. The build quality on this thing is fantastic. While it doesn't quite have the bloom of the tube rigs, there is nothing more that I want for. And having a meter again is a useful feature. It has a switch to shut it off also. The looks of this thing is great too. The company doesn't depend on audiophile gear for its' revenue. The owners just wanted to make something they wanted that no one else was providing. They are not going to go out of business if amps don't sell. Check out the website through the manufacturer list on AudiogoN.

One more note-the bipolar solid state amps I tried had sparkle and great clarity but lacked the depth. The Polyfusion gives me the depth with great image density, body, and color. I lose nothing on female recordings.

As an owner of the MG 3.6R, I will throw my 2cents in. I currently use a McCormack DNA .5 Rev A (200 watts @ 4 ohms) to drive mine. I also have a pair of Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofers to handle the bass below 50hz. My dealer was out last week fine tuning the subs and he said that although the amp is not running out of power or losing control of the panels, I can increase the dynamics of the speakers by adding a second amp in a vertical bi-amp setup. In my setup, this will produce a bigger change than adding a larger single amp or mono blocks. Just MHO.
From the Wolcott Presence 220M system compatiblity? thread
How about the Wolcott Presence 220M for you Maggies
I started out with Maggies with one of the first Timpani 1U, later I went to the Timpani 1D and now the 3.6/R. I have used Bryston 4BST & 14BST as single amps driving the pair. But the best sound has been attained with two amplifiers with an electronic crossover. The sound really opens up with two amps. I have used Anthem MCA 2s and now have two McCormack DNA-1 Deluxe amps with the Bryston 10BLR crossover. Dynamics are "real" and the attacks are crisp/fast and there is no distortion/clipping. The cost for this setup on the AudiogoN used market is very reasonable. The single amp arrangement using the Maggie crossover was never satisfying to me, even with the Bryston 14BST. There are, of course, many other variables such as ICs, speaker cables, front end, etc. but to answer your request, I strongly recommend biamping to get the best sound from the 3.6/Rs.
Why not try using a s.s amp for the bass, and use tubes on the ribbon tweeter. The speaker has both inputs already in place. I also have 3.6 and wilson speakers, I think a ARC 200 is sufficeint and should work well with balanced cables. Have you tried a ARC 200, it will definitely get you over 105 db by it self.
I tend to agree with the fact that Maggies need juice. I'm running my 3.6's with a pair of Bryston 7B-ST's which put out around 850W each. Prior to adding a pair of Vandersteen 2Wq subs, I could get the Bryston clip indicator LED's to flicker during bass-heavy passages. So yes, they need a lot of power.
Just curious, has anyone used the Bel Canto or PS Audio amps with Maggies?
I run my 3.6's with an active x-over. Cary SLA 70 Sig (35 watts class A tube) for the top and a Classe CA-400 (800 watts @ 4 ohms SS) for the bottom. You do need power (current?) to really get good bass. The Cary could drive the entire speaker, but the bass did suffer. There are a lot of posts on this topic on the Asylum Planar forum.

You may be missing the point of the tube line buffers. Think of these units as running the signal through a high quality tube preamp (that lacks a volume control) and provides a better impedance match with the amp. If you really think about this it is very easy to see how the sonics would be affected.

Maybe people don't use these units because they don't realize how much improvement they can make. But look at it this way, you can buy a good used muscle amp for well under $1000 then combine it with one of these inexpensive tube line buffers for $100 and have a combination that will perform as well as many much more expensive audiophile amplifiers. I can demonstrate and back this up very easily.
I've been using a solid state bi-amp system with 8 year old MG3.5's for over a year and I have volume, bass, attack, smoothness, etc. A Brytson 10B crossover feeds an Ayre
V-3 on top and a Levinson 332 on the bottom with a TacT RCS 2.0 providing preamp and room correction. I've tried using less power from both solid state and tubes (70 watts and down) and I have also tried each amp separately, but I feel the Ayre/Levinson combo (100 watts/200 watts respectively) gives me great sound. Both amps have enough current and I don't run out of power. There is no clipping, distortion, etc. I should mention that music sounds real good at 60 db or at 85 db. I am not the type of listener who cranks tunes at 100+ db. There is no need to! Remember, more power/more volume does not mean better sound.

I know some people think Levinson products aren't worth the price (or the sound) and Ayre is one of those "unknown" companies, but I am happy. As always, listener discretion advised. Your ears will tell you.

I don't know how the Z-man works and these comments are not meant to pass judgement on that device. However, the Musical Fidelity X-10D is a device that is designed to add even order harmonic distortion to the signal. This is done via the use of a tube. As such, you end up with tube like colouration i.e. added warmth and increased harmonic output.

Trevor from AA measured the before / after using an X-10D and the results were not pretty. Putting the X-10D into the circuit brought distortion up to 10%. Judge for yourself whether or not you think that this is a good idea or would be a positive investment when it comes to "high end" audio reproduction.... Sean

First of all, have you yourself tried either of the units I mentioned in your own system?

Secondly, as you must know, all tube amps and preamps produce even order harmonic distortion -- though I would hardly misconstrue that their design goal. Naturally some units produce more distortion than others.

Thirdly, as much as I enjoyed your 2nd-hand sensationalization of some guy named Treavor's personal distortion measurements on the X-10D, I must dismiss them entirely because you did not state the test conditions, the signal level, or even the frequency at which the distortion was measured. I seriously doubt that the X-10D produces anywhere near 10% distortion under most operating conditions. MF would have never released the unit and Stereophile would not have endorsed it as a "Class C" component a few year ago.

As for the Z-man, I personally use that unit and have observed a very minor loss of fine detail along with a generally smoother and more musical presentation. I can't say that I know of ANY high-end tube preamp (no matter how expensive) that doesn't do the exact same things to some degree. And some of them color the signal far more than the Z-man.

In the world of high end audio, folks often pay premium prices for such colorations -- though they would say this even-order distortion you speak of makes the sound more musical and natural sounding. Go figure. :)
I am using an ARC VT100 MKII with my MG 3.5 with excellent results. Great slam, bass extension and robustness.
All of the above recommendations are worthy of your considerarion. I too have the Maggies. I listened to many very well regarded amps in my home. I listened for the best sound quality and bought the McIntosh MA-6500.

I had it side by side with the Plinius and the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista, and I liked the McIntosh the best. Ad in the phenomenal features and build quality and the choice became easy.

The McIntosh plays louder, cleaner, more musically with less strain than the others I tried. Mac dealers will also arrange a home audition. I am very satisfied & can say the Mac was worth every penny. It's also gorgeous with the lights turned down!

Best Regards & Happy Listening,
I currently own a pair of Maggie 3.6s. For about five months, I drove them with a pair of BAT VK60SEs. I know that the 60s lack the power usually recommended for Maggies, but they are very high current. They worked well. Then I decided to add a BAT VK500 to drive the bass. So I now have a biamped system with a VK60SE monoblock driving each of the speakers and the VK500 driving the bass of both speakers. The improvement in sound has been phenomenal: not only much better bass, as one would expect, but superior dynamics, resolution, and soundstaging. In short, addition of the 500 has literally transformed the sound of the Maggies. I might add that driving the speakers with the 500 alone (biwired to each speaker) reduces the tonal quality and, more important, eliminates the magical "bloom" that comes with a tube amp.
Jim_k What active cross over did you end up using? I am using a VK-500 right now and am pleased but would like more body/texture from the system- which I have only heard from tube amps. I am seriously thinking of using the Wolcott's but am unsure if that will satisfy me.
I am currently using a pair of Maggie 3.5R's driven by a pair of conrad-johnson premier 12 mono's (140WPC - bi-wired) and conrad-johnson premier 17LS preamp. This setup sounds wonderful - great bass, air, and resolution. I previously was using a conrad johnson MF2300 MOSFET power amp (240WPC). While the tube preamp/solid state amp setup sounded good, the all tube setup, to my ears, sounds much better all the way around. Probably the most important thing with Maggies is having the right size room (BIG) to set them up in to listen to the magic that they are capable of producing. Good Luck.




I gave up my Maggie 1.6's for something better, Eminent Technology LFT-8A's. No comparison in overall quality of sound. They actually made the Maggies seem lifeless. Within five minutes of hearing the Eminents, I knew the Maggies were gone. No regrets,ever.
Both speakers, however benefitted greatly from virtical biamping.
At one point I had a Threshold T-50 (50 watts class A) on the Maggies. Thought that sounded beautiful. I read posts that insisted that power is what they need. So, I had an Outlaw multichannel amp (200wpc) I was using for surround. Tried biamping with it. Woa! Amazing improvement from a decidedly mid-fi amp. You dont' need to break the bank to get great sound. I'm sure, however, that you would realize even nicer improvements in a higher end biamping setup.

Currently, I'm running 'stacked' (twin pairs) of Eminents as main speaker. About 1,400 watts total going into all four. Twin Vandersteen subs for bass. Trust me, the power does make a world of difference. Let's say this; a Chevy and a Lexus both do 60mp. But the experience dirving them is quite different. Similarly, a 50 watt amp and a 200watt biamp will both give you nice sound, but your experience hearing them will be quite different. I believe that once you hear it, you won't want to go back.