Magic with Magneplanars?

Although my last pair was a circa 1984 MG-IIIa, I have always loved the warmth, imaging and immediacy of Magneplanars and never found listening to Martin Logan's, Apogees, WATT Puppies or anything else nearly as musical. I am now assembling a system -- perhaps with MG-20's (are they worth the difference over 3.6s?) -- and I am curious about bi-amping. Could I use Bryston on the bass and ARC tubes on the top? I am also considering an ARC SP-11, VPI TNT, and SACD. Any ideas here (also for cables) would be greatly appreciated!!! Don't care about state of the art, the highest resolution etc but just want to bathe in warm lush magical musical sound...
While you could be inundated with combinations up the wazoo, I would suggest a pair of Bryston 7B's matched up with a decent tube preamp (fill in your choice...)
conrad-johnson tubes,top and bottom! I'm currently listening to MG 111a's with a c-j MV 100 on the bottom and two MV 50's strapped in mono on the mid panels and ribbons. These amps are identical circuit designs,each doing about 100 watts. It sounds GLORIOUS! I've never heard the MG 20's(I'd love to,though),but you'd probably want to get into c-j's newer,more powerful stuff.Pricry,but worth it! Good luck with your search,happy listening! Bob
My understanding is the Maggie 20's have been discontinued and will be shortly replaced by the 20.1's, which will have a push-pull midrange driver (true ribbon) rather than the single-ended midrange driver of the 20's. I believe retail will be around $13,000. A couple of years ago I owned modified Quad 63's with Gradient dipole subs, and I was on the verge of upgrading to either a pair of Maggie 20's or Audio Artistry Beethovens (I love dipoles). Then I discovered Sound Lab full-range electrostats. Not only did I purchase a pair of the new Millennium-1's, but I believe in them so much I crossed over to the "dark side" and became a dealer! Anyway, if you are in this price range, you really ought to hear the Sound Labs. They are the ultimate expression of the dipole - one driver, electrostatic, warm tonal balance, superb timbre and nuance, and (surprise!) genuine bass. There are two models, the Millennium-1 and Millennium-2, that are in the general price ballpark of the Maggie 20.1's. E-mail: [email protected] Best wishes!
In my experience/preference, tubes are great w/maggies. I tried vt100 and mv-50. Both were wonderful. The vt100 was the best, quite a bit clearer, the mv-50 warmer w/very forward midrange. Check out an earlier thread in this forum on amps for maggies. Lot's of good opinions. Not too many childish outbursts either !
If the last pair of Magnepans you have actually owned and spent time with were the MGIII A's...I suspect it would be worth your time to spend some time listening to the 1.6, 3.6 and the 20,,,or wait on the 20.1 before embarking on amp decisions. I believe that sonically you will be pleased by the entire lineup... and the decision regarding 3.6 .vs 20 or 20.1 would be best determined by the size of your room,listening habits and the type of music you like best. For the best advise on all things Magnepan suggest you visit the Magnepan Users Group (MUG) at
I've owned 3.6s and currently have 20s,have had 20.1s on order for a year.The 20s are more powerful in the mid and low bass region.Overall a more believable sonic picture but you do need a good room for them. I use Audio Research 600 mkII monoblocks and Ref 2 pre amp with great results.I'll have my 20s for sale when the 20.1s come.
High resolution powerful tube amps are great match with these brand of speakers. Matching solid state with tube amps is dangerous. You may easily break cohirence. Next, you said you are thinking of upgrading to SACD. Your speakers are hi-rez, they are limited by the source signal. SACD will bring you to another world; its better then vinil and DVD-Audio and second to the live event only. You can have breathtaking system.... Having SACD/Maggies you must have hi-rez amplification with harmonically full midrange
I run my MG 20Rs with a an ARC LS22/ Pass X350 combination with stunning results. Using MAgnepan's XO20 crossover. The Pass amp seems to have something that Krell and Levinson - the others I've tried - do not. In short, with the Pass, the speaker just seems to 'relax' and disappear. The sound isn't theatrical, it's just THERE. Going to an ARC REF2 / Pass X600 combo when I can afford it. The MG 20s, when driven with an amp that combines clarity and definition with the huge current/voltage swing of the Pass, just leave you breathless. Cable/interconnect choice is critical - get this wrong and you'll be hating life. After a lot of experimentation, I now use all silver-based speaker cables (including a set of 8 individual Audio Magic Spellcaster II .5 meter jumpers to go from the xover to the speaker itself) and Cardas Golden Cross interconnects. Tube amps are great, but you have to spend so much to get what works well that it becomes debatable whether it's worth the heat and maintenance issues in the long run. Check out Pass Labs ...
If you are interested, I am in the process of trying to decide if I want to sell my Tympany IV4A's (I'm the original owner), and the amplifiers, ARC tubes on the Mid/Tweeters and a solid state Eagle on the bass panels. I haven't been able to decide yet whether I can bear to part with them, but if you are interested, email me and we can discuss it. Thanks, Martin
I recently auditioned the Maggie MG 3.6, ML Prodigy, and Avalon Eidolon speakers. It was pretty clear cut, the Maggie 3.6s easily is the best speaker of the 3, and considerable
less expensive. The Maggies were more transparent, more dynamic, tonal balance was correct from top to bottom,
a believable soundstage and quite good imaging. The MLs
we only listened for about 5 minutes then moved onto
something else(enough said). The Eidolons were good
speakers but not as dynamic or transparent though the
soundstaging was excellent as well as imaging, however,
when a very dynamic musical passage was presented, the boxy
characteristics of these type speakers clearly made itself known. The electronics were mostly Spectral for all 3
speaker systems tested. Now having said all of this are they
better than the Acoustats 2+2s that I currently own?? The
Maggies were definitely, but that much more,no. The others
were over priced audio salon stuff. The audiokinesis guy
in New Orleans is correct, you must audition a pure electrostatic speaker before you purchase anything. You owe
it to yourself to check out the Sound Lab electrostatics.

One question: what ever happened to Jim Strickland, the
owner/designer of Acoustat??