If you have the room to place the magnepans properly there are few speakers that can compete especially at their used price $750-1200). The Martin Logan CLS and innersound isis should warrant consideration while the innersound eros and apogee duetta signatures will cost at least 2-3 times as much as the used 1.6 QR's.
I owned a pair of Maggie 1.6QRs for several years but had to sell them when we moved. Like many things in the audio world, whether or not they are "best" for you is dependent on a number of variables.
1. They require space. You need enough room to get them at least several feet away from the rear and side walls.
2. They have a dipole radiation pattern. The sound coming from the rear of the speaker is equal in volume to that coming from the front. Under the right conditions that adds a nice sense of space. Under the wrong conditions, they are muddy and uneven sounding.
3. They are not terribly efficient and certainly not a speaker for someone who likes very loud music with a lot of bass.
Only you can answer the question as to whether you should get a pair of Maggies or something else. Look at your musical and listening tastes. Take your listening room into account. Go from there.
i own magnepan 1.6s . currently, i am looking for another speaker. i am looking for less upper midrange treble emphasis and more bass. i will not buy a cone. i am looking for another panel speaker.
the vandersteen 2--whatever version is current is worth listening to, as well as the eminent technology lft 8. the magnepan is probably more coherent than the et, but it is worth listening to the et. i think a pair of used quad 63s, at around $1600-1800 is definitely a better choice. i owned the uads for several years until i had repair problems,at which time i bought the magnepans, about 1 year + ago.
Another speaker at that price point which has been extensively reviewed to unanimous praise is the ACI Sapphire Xl. I went from Maggie 1.6's to the ACI Talismans and have been very happy, no regrets. ACI (until a recent move to a larger building,) shared their facility with a recording studio. Their proximity to constant live music provided a reference that paid off in products that eschew exagerated fireworks and sizzle and provide a very musically engaging product line. Mr. Tennis' suggestion about the Eminent Technology LFT-8 is one I would consider were I to entertain the idea of purchasing a panel speaker again.
The Magnepan 1.6 is a bit overrated and I attribute a good deal of its popularity to its novel appearance, which looks serious in an old hi-fi way. But aside from their ample soundstage and imaging they have pretty significant sonic limitations, dynamics and bass extension/impact chief among them. Speaker preference is a very individual thing but I don't see them as markedly better than their competition in many ways and in quite a few ways they are not as good and place more demands on their users. I wonder why this makes for such hype, especially among TAS writers.
Ghanson & Mlsstl have pointed out some shortcomings or limitations, another is the 1.6's unwillingness to sound it's best unless partnered with the right amp. I had used Luxman, Adcom, and Belles amps with my 1.6's and all left me underwhelmed. The PS Audio HCA-2 transformed their reproduction capabilities for the better, not a subtle improvement. Their fussy reluctance to sound their best with a broader variety of amps was one reason I sold them. I found they needed a subwoofer to sound fully fleshed out and alive. However, if you value accurate reproduction of instrumental timbre, expansive soundstaging, imaging very much like you hear in a live venue, and can live with somewhat limited dynamic capabilities and the need to turn the volume up to get them to come alive, I think they deserve their general high esteem.
Last month my review of the E.T. LFT-8B was published on Dagogo.com where I discuss the upgraded tweeter on the speaker. It's now much more smooth and less irritating on the high end than the older version LFT-8A. It has a global effect on the speaker's sound, and it makes the bass seem better integrated between the planar and dynamic drivers. It is another good option for a planar under $2k.
"The Magnepan 1.6 is a bit overrated".... I couldn't disagree more. They are anything but overrated. An incredible speaker at a silly price. My previous dynamic speakers retailed for $12000 and were wonderful. I don't miss them, at all, when I listen to my 1.6s.
i was told by the designer that the original lft 8 was softer sounding. that is, the treble was less prominent. did you compare the two ?
The mistake that most people make is UNDERPOWERING the Maggie 1.6's. With 100 wpc [into their 4 ohms impedance, which is more like a resistive load] I was very impressed.
After switching to a Spectron 1 [class D] with 500 wpc, the speakers came alive...punchy dynamics and a marked increase in lower bass. Also, the 1.6's take quite awhile to burn-in.
Further improvements can be obtained with a speaker stand [I forgot who makes it] as well as securing the top frame to the wall with metal studs and clamps [no too WAF friendly].
Huge sound for a ridiculously cheap price...but you do need mondo amp power!
the problem with magnepan's is definitely not the amplifier used to drive it. the speaker has problems regardless of what amplifier you use. its bass response is lacking and it has too much treble energy. if you use a powerful amplifier, you might find the presentation fatiguing.
speaker design is the issue not power. this is true of other speakers as well.
i have heard my magnepan's driven with mike sanders 300 watt solid state amp. it did not solve the magnepan's problem. it exacerbated them. the only amp that has tamed magnepans that i am aware of is the conrad johnson mv 125.
The Magnepan 1.6 has only peers, no superiors. That's my opinion anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed the two pairs, and about 5 years that I owned them. When you consider their cost, they are quite a bargain. There is a good reason speakers like the 1.6 and, MMG continue to appear in The Absolute Sound's speaker of the year, editor's choice, budget component of the decade, etc., over and over, year after year. And, this isn't the only entity that has been enamored by the Maggies over the years.
Maggies are outstanding speakers. What draws me to Maggies is the crystal clear sweeping soundstage they produce. None of the speakers I have owned can do it like Maggies, no doubt due to the large surface area of the panels. I currently have rebuilt SMGa's to Peter Gunn's specs and and it's hard for me to imagine a better sound. Other speakers seem to compress and miniaturize the performers. Even large, cone floor standers. MMG's and 1.6's are CHEAP for what you get in return.
Mrtennis, I'm assuming you're referring to the "8A". Yes, in my review I describe the differences between the 8A and 8B in detail. I was able to conduct the listening tests in my room after changing the tweeter to upgrade it to the 8B. The change was permanent (technically reversable, but practically, would require resoldering the old tweeter in, etc.), so I was not able to switch back and forth repeatedly. However, I had extensive experience with the 8A and took notes prior to the change so that I could compare the differences I heard.
Mrtennis, I also agree with you that unless one has a truly refined higher end solid state amp, the 1.6 will have an edge/stridency in the treble which is neigh unto impossible to remove. CDP's will also have an effect on this, as will cables, but my conclusion is that virtually nothing will compeletely tame that aggressive treble - it is inherent in the design. Even the LFT-8A had a similar harshness, though not as pronounced, in the high end until the new tweeters were installed. Now, the intensity of the treble is much more comparable to a refined dynamic speaker, better integrated.
Nealhood, your feeling that the 1.6 is the best speaker in its class was also my opinion for many years, until I was able to conduct listening sessions with both speakers in my room using a variety of equipment (see my review). Your opinion is a popular one, but many planar fans dismiss the E.T.'s without justification and would be surprised at what they would hear from the E.T.'s.
I have also owned the ET LFT-8As, though these were the "A" version and, I owned them for about one year (1985). Don't get me wrong, the 8As were fine sounding speakers. I thought these had excellent bass extension and a relatively clean and seductive sounding midrange with decent detail. However, the treble seemed rolled off and, the midrange sounded slightly distant. Perhaps the new "B" version addresses this. Additionally, the treble really dropped like a rock when I stood up. The speaker had rather poor vertical dispersion. Hopefully the "B" version has addressed this also. This might not affect most listeners since they tend to stay glued to the listening chair. But, I often move around, play the tuner sometimes for background music and, don't favor a large tonal shift everytime I get up. The Maggies on the other hand, retain their "live" nature even as one walks around, even room to room.
I might call Bruce and, talk to him about this new "B" revision. Like I say, overall I liked these speakers. I am willing to try them again if most of my concerns have been addressed.
I respect your comments Douglas and, now I need to go find your review and read it.
my comments about the tweeter came from bruce thigpen himself. if you lived near me, i would propose an experiment comparing the 8a and the 8b. i would bet that i would say the 8a is softer in the treble than the 8b .
another problem with the et 8, a or b is the poor integration between the woofer and the planar elements. i have heard the speaker many times. it sounds like two speakers.
and one more thing, regarding the 1.6s, a solid state amp will make the tweeter problem worse. a euphonic tube amp, like the mv 125 solves the problem.
i guess we will have to agree to disagree.
"i guess we will have to agree to disagree."
Absolutely, we all hear differently. Trust your ears rather than someone's opinion.
did you have any problem with the bass response, both in terms of quality and quantity ? what about the continuity between cone and planar drivers ?
i think most hybrids ultimately are not satisfying because they sound like two different speakers.