Placement is important, but you have enough room. I use homebuilt subs also using NHT 1259s, and a pair of Martin Logan CLS - have yet to hear anything better, really. The only thing that comes remotely close is perhaps Avantgarde Duos, (though still not as detailed or smooth). No dynamic speakers compare. used you may be able to find within your budget. IMHO the best speaker made by ML (or nearly anyone, really), save for perhaps the Statements. I also used to have the Aerius i, and also have several pairs of dynamic speakers, inluding Aerial, Aliante, M&K, a/d/s/, etc.
Well, I have owned a pair of Maggie 1.6Qrs for about four years now, and will offer the following advice. In the right room they are amazing--my last listening environment was a wide and deep space, which gave the maggies plenty of room to breathe, and I didn't have early reflection problems. The sound was nothing short of magic, and I could listen for hours without becoming fatigued. BTW, I use a Vandersteen 2Wq for the bottom end, along with BAT pre/power amps). Having recently moved and with the Maggies in a less-than-ideal listening room (narrow, rectangular shape), I have faced some real challenges. My next move will be to add some room treatments, as I've got a lot of energy and excitement in this room in the upper midrange. Don't get me wrong, the speakers are still stellar, but probably less forgiving of their environment. I'd use caution about putting either of these dipole type speakers in a smaller room, unless I was willing to deal with some room treatment as well.
Lastly, the M-Ls are electrostatics, where as the Maggies are planar magnetic with ribbon or quasi-ribbon tweeters. There is a difference in that the Maggie is typically a more lively speaker at the top end (all other things being equal).
I have owned both. My suggestion is listen to both with the music you *really* plan to play and you will make your choice very easily.
I currently run the ML CLS with a REL sub. It is a really nice combination. It has its limits though...
For maggies, I would only look at the true ribbons. I have owned some of the quasi ribbons, and they are not the same.
Although I generally prefer the sound of Maggies to MLs when it comes to the models that are available used in your price range, I will point out that in a tightly-spaced HT setup, the curved panel design of the MLs may be preferrable for it's wider-angle listening window. I'm not convinced that dipole radiators are a good idea in smaller rooms (though yours might not be too small, depending on the layout and setup), and the answer to your placement-sensitivity question is yes, panel speakers can be more prone to response anomolies than box speakers if not optimally positioned. Additionally, you will need to satisfy yourself that a small panel speaker won't limit you too much dynamically if you like to run loud, and that your amplification is up to the task of driving either a relatively insensitive load (Maggie), or a high-capacitance, low-impedance load (ML), both of which can be more demanding and less forgiving than an average dynamic coil box speaker load.
Before you spent big $ on those I will suggest that you try a used pair of SMG (±$250).You could resell them very easily & they will give you a taste,at home,of the path you are following.Don't forget that those speakers are very sensitive to the electronic you are using;they will often start a "quest" for the best sound & spur the "upgrading devil" in you.IMHO don't go with ML if you don't have a very high level of electronic already like:Audio Research-Krell-BAT-Bryston ST-Rowland & be prepared to spend 2K on interconnect & speakers cables.
I would suggest you look at VMPS, dipole ribbons and without the placement problems of ML and Maggies. I love the ML speakers, but they need to be about 5 feet off the wall and require subs for bass. VMPS has excellent bass can be close to the wall and are priced more reasonably than ML.
Maggies, especially the full ribbon models (not quasi-ribbon). I'd take a 3.6/R over any ML speaker any day fo teh week. YMMV.
I have owned both Martin Logans and Magneplanars and generally prefer Magneplanars, finding them to be more musical and ultimately more satisfying.
I would say, however, that MLs have two advantages: 1) the dynamic woofers, although not seamlessly integrated with the panels, do punch out some bass if you are into rocking out and 2) as electrostatics, the MLs can be quite satisfying to listen to at very low levels and/or late at night where the Maggies take a bit of juice to get going and not sound a bit thin
Whatever you choose, good luck.
Superb synopsis of ML's and Maggies. You nailed it.
Based on my auditions of Magnepan and Martin Logan products Cwlondon is on the right track. I too found the ML's dynamic woofers to be less than seamlessly integrated. One question though: Have you heard the ML CLS's, too? I have not and wonder how they stack up against Magnepan's offerings.
The comparison between Maggie 3.6 and Martin CLS is a tough one. I prefer the tonal balance of the Maggies, and the coherence and low-level performance of the CLS. I'd probably go with the CLS, as to me it does more of the goosebumps thing, but I like 'em both very much.
I really like both of these. I prefer the Martin Logans sans cone, but then they can be hard to drive become a bit bright and glassy and of course leave some thing to be desired in the bass region. But my oh my can they sound transparent and coherent. I strongly prefer the 3 series Maggies over the smaller ones. They are easier (not by a huge margin) to driive than the ML's. They don't have the coherence of the ML's (or other speakers for that matter) but their not too shabby either. I think the ML's are more startling but long term the Maggies might be easier to live with. I haven't heard them but the Eminent Tech's and the new Quads look promising.
I consistently over the years have preferred Maggies but I think this is almost totally a matter of individual taste. You can't really go wrong with either one.
Let us know what you decide.
I just went through this process myself. I think the Magnepan 3.6s are probalby more truthful, but they are also brutual on poorly-recorded material. I compared with the Ascent and Odyssey, and if I were *only* doing 2-channel, I think I might have ended up with the Maggies. But I can only get the stuff by the rest of the family if it works in the theatre, so we had to compare the surrounds too. And in this, both of the M-L centers just crushed the Magnepan equivalents. We ended up with Odysseys and a Cinema, due to the center channel situation, the fact that all of the M-L models are kinder to poor recordings (of which I have plenty), and because part of the family (me and the teenagers) likes more bass than the 3.6's present.