Maggie MMG versus Ls3/5a

Hi all,

I've been running British Stirling Ls3/5a V2 with the additional two bass extenders for a number of years, with great satisfaction. They are here to stay.

But, I've always been curious about the Magnepan MMG and SMGa speakers and I wonder if anyone has compared them with Ls3/5a? As an additional flavor to swap in and out with my Ls3/5a, would they be a rewarding contrast? I have the required muscle amps.
wow...interesting question...short answer...YES...the MMGs/MG12s offer a good taste of the Mags strengths at a competitive cost...I ultimately could not live with their anemic bass...but you are aware of this...and might have better results...Vocals, strings, acoustic material shine...just no reggae, electronica, or rock.
I doubt it, I have a pr of MMG's , throws a big soundstage but that's about it.
MMGs are very good set up well and within their limits and not very expensive, so always worth consideration for something different from most box speakers. I would keep a pair around myself if I had the room.
Chances are good LS3/5a's would stomp MMGs.
I suppose one could categorize the Ls3/5a as being detailed, refined and perhaps the contrast I'm looking for may suggest a tight, highly dynamic fast rocker! Do MMGs have that going on, or had I better look at something like the Tekton M-Lores, or Goldenear?
MMG's are terribly inefficient, the very LAST thing they are is dynamic !
I never heard the Tekton, but every review says they are dynamic.
MMGs are very good for microdynamics/transients but not for macrodynamics/"slam", ie dynamics you can feel as well as hear.

I would expect significant sound differences between Magnepan in general and Ls3/5a or any similar British monitor.

You might consider more high efficiency horn designs for that. Might not have to cost a lot or be too big if lowest octaves are not a concern, similar to mmg.
IMO, MMGs provide great value at $600/pr., but they do have limitations in dynamics and deep bass. Then again, I'm not familiar with any $600/pr speakers that don't have limitations. Certainly the LS35a shares those very same issues with the MMG. Presumably, the OP uses bass extenders in part to address those issues, so.....

I took a similar approach and use MMGs with subwoofers. Freed of heavy lifting below 80hz, they sound really, really good (to my ear, anyway) - better than any other speaker system that I've heard at the price point, and by a pretty wide margin (again IMO). There are a lot of good speakers at +/- $2k, but a pair of MMGs with a pair of good $1400 subs is that rare option that will also provide true deep bass. Dynamics are very good, tho ultimate SPLs remain limited. Timbre is excellent and octave to octave balance is satisfying, even if the high end may strike some as a touch dry. I find that imaging is also convincing, provided you like the way planar speakers image. (Not everyone does.)

OTOH, to make such a system sing you need to properly integrate the subs. I cross actively and the appropriate electronics will add to the total system cost. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat in this price range, but I do like the MMG+ sub+active electronics approach. Just one more data point for the OP to consider.
30 years ago (so take this for what it's worth) I wandered into a showroom intending to audition and probably buy a pair of Rogers LS3/5a. I listen primarily to orchestral music and value the sweet reproduction of acoustic instruments --and voices-- above all else.
I listened for a while to the Rogers and concluded that their sound was rather beautiful, maybe more sweet and realistically lovely than any other speaker I had then ever heard.
I had read in the Absolute Sound of these newer design Magneplanar speakers and, not having seen a photo, I had assumed that they would be too big for my room. But there they were, MG-1s, newly released,off to the side and clearly, in their slenderness, not too overwhelming after all. So I asked to hear them.
The result was a conflict that, at that time, may have been unresolvable: Beauty of sound vs. power of presentation. At the very first moment, I could tell that the MG-1s did not have the warmth and realism of the
Rogers. I remember that I instantly commented. "they're not as beautiful as the LS3s." But, I was overwhelmed by the size of the image! I was, for the first time in my life, hearing a fair representation of the physical size of a performing group. I knew immediately that they had slain the Rogers and I bought them.
But I always remembered the Rogers and often wished the Maggies would be sweeter.
I now have speakers (Shahinian Hawks) which I feel give a decent representation of both the beauty and the size of music. But, if I were back in 1980, I would still want both designs. You fairly describe the LS3 sound as 'lush.' I believe you will never achieve that kind of sound from Magneplanars
of any design no matter what you do. But, the little LS3s really haven't much of a chance against all-out rock and roll.
From my experience, take it as you will, if you can live with the (fairly severe) volume limits of the smaller speaker, unless you keep them along with the MMGs you will miss that wonderful wash of sweetness in the years to come.
Maybe the thing is to use the LS3s for the smaller stuff and sacrifice the realism for the greater impact of the planars.
good luck.
To different speakers its not VS its what you like!!
I've owned 3 different sets of Maggies (including MMG's) and I can tell you what they do well they do very well. That said, to me they are among the most "music sensitive" brands of speakers out there. If your musical tastes run more towards Jazz, soft rock or un-amplified fare, they would likely provide you a nice alternative to the wonderful little Ls3's. However, unlike the bigger Maggies they just don't rock, their limited dynamics and lack of "weight" for that type of music will be evident.
Are the dynamics of the planar vs a box speaker different from each other in quality? I don't mean 'slam'. I thought the MMG speakers could still exhibit good dynamics, but not visceral body 'slam', (because they radiate equally front and back).

Martykl, the Ls3/5a has pretty good dynamics and bass. The bass extenders are only necessary in a larger space like mine. But in contrast, I would like to experience strong attack, which doesn't happen with the Ls3/5a. I'm not so focused on deep bass, only just enough to convey some realism....PRAT, I suppose, is what I'm talking about.
Maggies/planars are top notch on transients I would say with most any amp and "attack" ie the leading edge of a transient in particular.

Some box speakers are as well, but many are not, and amplifier used is a bigger factor here as well I think.

"Monster" SS amps should also serve you quite well to help get those top notch results for "attack" in particular out of mmgs.
Yes, its true that mmg probably offer a lot more unique value with acoustic music forms than say pop/rock or other electronic forms. FOr that, I would say they are less likely to stand out.

Have not heard those particular monitors, but I have read about them extensively, and I would tend to agree pretty much with points made by both Rpfef and Polarin.
Rpfef, sums it up perfectly, very good post !
Rpfef, thanks for your wisdom and your experience here. Yes, the LS3/5a won't be going anywhere...I need them for the very realistic instrumental timbral beauty that they can reproduce so beautifully. (I'm a musician).

But, I'm a little confused...Mapman says MMG are good on transients and attack, but Polarin says they are not great for rock because they lack weight and dynamics and Rpfef says they have greater impact (than the LS3).

How do I tie these opinions together to get an overview?
If the Rogers you heard did not present a deep and realistic soundstage they probably didn't have the proper electronics.
To clarify: I meant that at the time I auditioned the Mags vs. LS3s, I found the greater radiating surface of the mg1s and their ability to play louder made larger scale musical forces more immediately physical in their impact. I guess, for electric guitars and drum kits, neither option suffices to give a great rendering.
I thought both designs had about similar detail revelation and transient attack. The 'tiny' drivers and the little box make a satisfying job of quickness surely not very different from that of the planar designs.
"But, I'm a little confused...Mapman says MMG are good on transients and attack, but Polarin says they are not great for rock because they lack weight and dynamics and Rpfef says they have greater impact (than the LS3).

How do I tie these opinions together to get an overview?"


Attack is one aspect of transient response.

Transient response is just on aspect of dynamics having more to do with timing and speed.

Impact and weight are less technical terms but imply yet other aspects of the sound related to dynamics having more to do with magnitude rather than timing or speed.

Together, they help describe the sound and dynamics in different ways that are likely measurable.

Opinions are useful, especially from trusted sources, and in quantity but you never know the full story until you listen and compare.
Thanks, Mapman...for clarifiying. I'm valuing timing and speed over magnitude presently.

The LS3/5a are like...Costa Rica: lush, wet, abundant in color and vegetation.
Humid atmosphere.

For a second pair of speakers, I would like...Colorado: dry, crystalline open skies and landscape, sharp outlines of the high mountain ranges. Clear view for miles. Cool in Winter.

Does that sound like the MMGs?

Maybe not as sharp an outline (in terms of imaging and focus as opposed to speed and timing) with planars as some others, but enough mixed in with the rest to fit the bill quite well most likely.

And the price is right and not hard to resell if needed as insurance to boot.....

The characteristic dynamics of Maggies in general, including mmg, is why I think them to be one of the very best low volume speakers out there at any price.

Same true for Electrostatic speakers, including various hybrids I have heard, like Martin Logan and others.

Some box designs can challenge as well. The French seem to be good at this in that the Triangle speakers I own and Focals I have heard are also top notch at lower volumes.
Mapman, I'm glad you talked about low volume performance....that's important to me. I'm encouraged to pursue this direction now. Is it a better idea to purchase new MMG or, there is a pair of SMGa locally for sale here, at about half the price of new MMG

… Mapman says MMG are good on transients and attack, but Polarin says they are not great for rock because they lack weight and dynamics and Rpfef says they have greater impact (than the LS3).

How do I tie these opinions together to get an overview...?
Add a subwoofer or the DWM panel.

Then you'll get transients & attack plus the bottom end drive you need for rock and pop. I'm using a pair of small fast subs with my Maggie 1.7s and they pretty much cover all genres of music. If I need more slam for synth-pop and heavy rock, I would just swap out the little subs for bigger and deepter ones.
Difference between soft and loud and dynamic range.
I see my response has garnered some comments... First of all if I could have numerous systems throughout my home I would undoubtedly have a dedicated room for Maggies, for late night Jazz listening I can think of no speaker I would prefer over them. That said I am not in a position to realize that pipe dream so my family room speakers need to perform well with all types of fare (including movies) and for me Ohm Walsh 3's fit that bill nicely.

Maggies possess a magic about them that is hard to compare to a dynamic speaker, I've seen lifelong audiophiles come unglued from hearing them for the first time. They have such a naturalness and uncolored way of projecting sound that other speakers will sometimes sound "broken" after hearing a well setup pair of Mag's. However their limitaions are distinct, a VERY small sweet spot, the need for gobs of current, correct placement is critical and again they will simply not blow your hair back on hardcore rock.

Those willing to give these speakers what they need in terms of upstream components, a proper room setup and the right genre of music will be rewarded with a sublime musical experience.
I have had 4 pairs of Maggies over last 30 years.Enrty models
to be sure, but have heard bigger ones a lot as well.

To my ears, they are unable to reproduce the uppper base-lower mid harmonics of strings that give classical music its beauty.
Plus massed strings sound muddy or smeared IMO.

Could well be a fault of my ears I know.
But then why do KEF, Totem , PSB etc cure them?
I've owned a lot of LS3/5a's and a lot of Magnepans, including MMG's.

I'd take the LS3/5a any day over the MMG. But tell us more about the Stirling bass extenders - I've never heard a woofer that works well with the LS3/5a.