I can't respond to the matching. However, if he is willing to lend them to you, why not take him up on the offer and decide for yourself?
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Can't comment on the sound, as mentioned you should form your own opinion on this first, but the Bel Cantos will drive nails and never get hot so I would think they would serve the Magnepans reputedly difficult load fairly easily. I have the 300's and the 1000's in my system, the 300's drive my center and rears. Overall they are very close, but the power difference exposes itself in bass extension and drive, and overall dynamics. If you like the 300's then you would love the 1000's.
Attempt to hear a good quality box speaker in order to A/B against the Maggies. You may be surprised at which you prefer. If this dealer is open to loaning the 1.6's, does he have another pair of decent dynamic (box) speakers for you to compare in your home? If you need to put them on credit card temporarily, do so. It's worth the extra effort to learn firsthand which sound you prefer.
If you are smitten by the Maggie sound, do not buy them. Go for the Eminent Technology LFT-8A's, which I owned at the same time as the 1.6's. Did the A/B comparisons in my HT. The ET's are far superior sound (imho) for about the identicle price tag. Read up on them to understand why I say this. They will have more clarity in the mid and uppers, and a better presence in bass. You will likely not feel need to add subwoofer with the ET's. The ET's made the 1.6's sound pretty lifeless. That may seem hard to believe, but it's true. The ET's were much richer sounding while retaining the Magnepan-like sound by using a twin magnet array instead of one array like the 1.6's.
I installed the ET's, listened for about five minutes and knew I would sell the 1.6's. The 1.6's are nice, but not the best you can do for your money IF you're stuck on planars. And, frankly, I've moved on from planars back to higher end dynamic speakers and I do not miss planars at all.
If you have never heard decent hifi speakers in your system/home, you will be fooled into thinking that the 1.6's are the ultimate. They are not. They're decent, but there is better out there and I have compared them extensively. Very few others can make that claim. Take your sweet time about it and don't just jump for the 1.6's! I believe that Bruce Thigpen of Eminent Technology offers a trial period with his speakers. I strongly recommend (only IF your totally stuck on the planar sound) to do the trial. I'm quite sure you'd prefer them over the 1.6's.
If you contact me, I can send you pics of the ET's in my HT and discuss further. I'd be very happy to try to explain all this, so you can make an educated decision as opposed to being wowed and jumping for the 1.6's, only to later realize you could have done better.
I'm not ripping on 1.6's; I enjoyed them and they're decent. For someone who is never going to upgrade, and who doesn't give a rip about finding a better sound for the money, they're great. And, some people just think Maggies sound "right". Everyone's ears are personalized! I'm just sharing my experiences with other speakers in comparison. Everyone should have the benefit of hearing about lesser known (does not mean less quality; in fact, I found the ET's to be every bit as good quality as the Maggies) products which might satisfy even more.
You will have to travel your own path of audio enlightenment in that regard. But, it's very enjoyable travelling!
Thanks for your detailed response. I am going to audition the Gallo Reference 3.1, the Von Schweikert VR-2s, and the Dynaudio Focus 220. I have the Dynaudio 70s and like them, but want to see what is better for under $3000. I bought the Bel Cantos on a lark and love them with the Dyns. Very detailed, smooth high frequency and great bass extension. Now that I have them I wanted to make sure there were no problems driving the 1.6. Since I can try them for free, I see no reason not to. I really don't think my room is large enough for planars, but I can see for myself and compare them side by side with my Dyns. Thanks for the info. Anyone else?