Magnepan 3.7's versus 20.1's?

Anybody here had the chance to compare the new Magnepan 3.7s with their longtime flagship 20.1 speakers?
yes, the 20.1 is deeper, more coherent, and throws off a much larger soundstage.

that said, the 3.7 is stellar, but the 20.1 is one of the finest speakers ever produced by any measure.

I've read a few threads where people said they would buy the 3.7 over the 20.1, and that's just talking your book. No way, no how.
My brother owns the 20.1 driven by top of the line Audio Research amps, preamps, etc. It sounds amazing. SOTA in dynamics, accurate powerful bass, speed, transparency, etc. However, for my room, preferred budget and my listening preferences, I actually prefer the 3.7, and just bought a pair. The 3.7s are the only Magnepans I've heard that keep all the Maggie traits I love (speed, transparency, dynamics, scale, immediacy, etc.) but also solve some of the traits that kept me from buying any of the Maggies for my system. The 3.7s strike me as being the most balanced from top to bottom (e.g., when I heard 1.7s and even my brother's 20.1s it seemed the center of gravity was in the treble region, whereas 3.7s don't sound tipped up or aggressive in the upper regions....TO MY EARS). The 3.7s also keep a large sound stage but put the performers and instruments to a more reasonable scale (no more 20 foot tall singers or 12 foot saxaphones). In addition, the 3.7s are the first Maggies I've heard where low level listening didn't come across as less than stellar. The 20.1s are amazing, and I can't imagine what the next version of those will sound like, but for my ears, I voted with my wallet for the 3.7s...and I could have splurged and bought the 20.1s. I think to get the most of the 20.1s one needs massive amplification and a very good sized room.
That made no sense. Are you saying you think the 3.7 is better, or you can't afford the 20.1 so you bought the 3.7?

There is no comparison. The 20.1 is a much, much better speaker. A used 20.1 in perfect shape, is a much better deal than a new 3.7.
Here we go.
Before we digress, I suggest

Magnepan 3.7's versus 20.1's versus Tympani IVa's


I would think the 3.7s will be a distant third to both.
Both require a lot of power, 300wpc to start, of quality power unless dynamics do not matter or your room is small, a hardwood floor etc. The 3.7 is a big slice of the 20.1, but not the whole pie. Close enough though that a well set up 3.6 ,3.7 will outperform a poorly set up 20.1.
Thanks for your input folks. I have sufficent amplification & a suitable sized room - & was leaning towards purchasing a pair of 20.1s. I just haven't had the chance to compare them to the 3.7s & wondered whether the 3.7s were as close in performance as some people seem to be suggesting.
I have owned Magneplanars on and off since I was in high school in 1979.

They are wonderful, but need power and are extremely sensitive to room placement.

So a well set up 1.7 might also outperform the 20's. Indeed, a well set up MMG might outperform the 20's in certain situations, neither of which says anything about the value of 3.7s.
My room and listening distance isn't big enough to accommodate the 20.1s. Budget isn't a determining factor either. In addition, I preferred the way the treble coordinated and integrated with rest of the range in the 3.7s the most. If I could have the dynamics and low end of the 20.1s with the integrated non-forward "to image scale" sound of the 3.7s in a 3.7 footprint, that would be perfect for me. I'm not saying the 3.7 is a better speaker than the 20.1. I'm saying for my ears and my room and my preferences, I preferred the sound of the 3.7 over any Maggie I have heard. And before anyone says I didn't hear the 20.1s set up correctly. They were set up by a Maggie dealer who spent about 4 hours moving them 1/4" at a time to dial them in. They sounded amazing. A great speaker. I can't wait to see what the next version does. That will be one I likely trade up to.
Thanks Podeschi. FWIW, & contrary to expectations, I've heard there isn't likely to be a 20.1 update in the near future - in that significant improvements (Magnepan's criteria for producing a new model) would be difficult to achieve. Of course, that's just what I was told ...

Again, hoping my post doesn't take anything away from the 20.1s. They are superb with stellar amplification and a large room where they can breathe and listening chair is far enough back to enjoy the enormous sound/stage they offer. Best most articulate dynamics and bass I have heard.
No, not at all. I'm interested in a comparative assessment. I need to make a decision & I am not in a position to compare them personally. What I am trying to figure out is if the 3.7s are truly so good as to be very close to the 20.1s or whether that's maybe a little bit of overstatement generated by the excitment over a very good new speaker ...
"What I am trying to figure out is if the 3.7s are truly so good as to be very close to the 20.1s or whether that's maybe a little bit of overstatement generated by the excitment over a very good new speaker ... "

it's good, but you hit the nail on the head with this assesment
Thanks Macdad, that's what I'm thinking but without the ability to compare, it's hard to be sure.
I believe the 3.7 is Magnepan's current sweet spot and 20.1 is their statement speaker.

Big enough room, wallet and amp then the "no regrets move" is the 20.1. Either would bring lots of musical enjoyment. Good luck and please update as you choose.
We have a 1.7 and 3.7 so is a 20.2 in the works/soon?
See my earlier post. Seems logical but I've heard it's not imminent...
You have to evaluate the line up as Magnepan views their customers and what they believe are the customer's respective budgets. The 3 series is a compromised design based on what Magnepan believes most customers will bring to the table in terms of equipment quality and room size at the $5K price point. The one series a couple of notches below that. IMHO Magnepan has much less interest in the 20.1 than in the other models because it's too expensive and too demanding of both space and equipment for the average Magnepan buyer, nor does it have the cache to capture the blank check gotta have the latest and most expensive TAS approved gear, Magico comes to mind. The 20.1 exists because Magnepan needs a flagship product and a means of retaining the generally few customers who want to move up the line. Used sales don't count as far as Magnepan is concerned. However, I do believe that the 20.1 will likely get the all QR treatment if for no other reason than to standardize production techniques and materials. Whether or not they revise the crossover is another matter.
This is an interesting discussion to which I would like to ask a question.

When is a room big enough for 3.7's?

I upgraded to 1.7's from 1.2's and heard a world of improvement. Due to room size and physical set up, I do not think that I am getting all the sound stage and depth of field out of the 1.7's.

This indicates to me that the 3.7's would work even less well.

Does my reasoning make sense or does it expose my ignorance?

Please help me to understand room size better.

My room is 15 feet wide and 35 feet long with 8 foot ceilings. The speakers are four feet from the front wall and, due to WAF, the listeing seat is about thirteen feet from the same wall. I cannot move the listening spot further back.


Is the "front wall" the long or short wall? This will make a significant difference if you are able to experiment....
hi cwlondon:

i think the stacked quad esls stomps on all magnepans, as far as creating a more realistic timbre and the quads , within their range, are less inaccurate.
the front wall is the 15 foot wall. there is no way to place the speakers along the long wall
Dsper, Your question is a good one and the answer is also of interest to me. I'm just not sure a definitive answer is possible. I have 1.6's in a 14 x 19 x 8 room with the speakers along the short wall, out about 5 feet. I have plans to put 3.7's in this room later this year. I hear you on the soundstage and depth of field. What I have noticed over the last 3 years, with an ongoing series of equipment upgrades, is that the soundstage and depth of field has increased. That tells me the Maggies are not the limitation. I've also noticed a large difference in this regard from one recording to another. Certain recordings give an amazing depth of field. Again that suggests that the Maggies are not the limitation. If you get an amazing depth of field with only one recording, that shows that your equipment can deliver, if the information is present in the recording. I listen to a lot of orchestral and chamber music live. This is a good sanity check. Occasionally, I close my eyes and pretend I'm at home listening to my rig. Live music does not always present with a depth of field that is notable. Sometimes, it presents with much less spatial information than I get through my system. For me, the goal is always to capture the live sound, not improve on it.
Live music does not always present with a depth of field that is notable. Sometimes, it presents with much less spatial information than I get through my system.

absolutely right!

Thank you for your comments. As I think about it, certain albums do provide better soundstage and depth of field than other albums. appears you are suggesting that the 3.7's would not necessarily be too big for my space?
Dsper, I don't think you should rule out the 3.7's based on concerns about room size. The ideal is always to have an in home audition, but that isn't always possible. You ought to be able to get an in store audition with a room that is at least a similar width, and that should give you some idea. Personally, I find I like speakers closer together than most people do. My 1.6's are 49" inside edge to inside edge. I like the strong center fill I get with them close together. Maggies tend not to have much trouble with side wall interactions, so your 15 wide room may be fine. The open area you have behind your seat will help if anything. I haven't heard the 3.7's yet, but I have heard the 3.6's at less than 13 ft. They were poorly set up, but I can say I did not feel I was too close to the speaker. I'd say, do your auditioning carefully. If you fall in love with the 3.7's, go for it.

I am 9 feet from my 3.7s and it is fine. Definitely front row seats.
I just had an opportunity to hear the 1.7, 3.7, and 20.1 in a store here in Evanston IL. I thought that the 1.7 was more coherent sounding than the 3.7 driven by the same electronics. The 20.1 was on a different level entirely. The rooms were sized about the same (15 x 20 or so). The 20.1s sounded real with proper extension and scale. The 3.7 seemed pinched and tight. Of course, i don't know how long any of these speakers had been played. I assume the 20.1 was well broken in and the 3.7 quite new so that may have been a factor.

I expected the 20.1 to sound better than the other two but the 1.7 was a real treat.
The 20.1 gets my vote for best panel .
Interestingly, this debate is ongoing also on Several posters accepted HP’s words as gospel. I was at that point as a new enthusiast in the so called “High End Audio” in 1976. In fact my first high end system mostly comprised of components on HP’s recommended list. To wit: ARC D76A, ARC SP3, Magnepan MG2, Kenwood KD500 with AT605 footers, Black Widow arm/Signet cartridge. I have a great deal of respect for HP, as he is one of the pioneers in developing the vocabulary of descriptive terms used to characterize the performance of audio systems. I agree with HP on many occasions, but HP has his own preferences and often times I disagree with his assessments of components.

In terms of the debate between the 3.7s and 20.1, I am not in a position to make a definitive comparison in the same system. I have heard the 3.7s separately and recently I purchased the 20.1s. Currently I have both the 3.5s and 20.1s in my music room. In the 20.1s, both the mid (quasi ribbon) and bass (planar-magnetic) panels are push-pull (magnets on both sides of the Mylar screen. Thus in principle, the 20.1s should have better transient response and definition than the 3.7 quasi ribbon mid and bass sections with magnets on a single side of the Mylar. Also, the 20.1s have a substantially more massive frame than the 3.7s. There is no comparison in terms of construction between the two speakers, which is reflected in the cost differential. The 3.7s are excellent speakers but the 20.1s are magical: they are a music lover’s dream. In my estimate, one of the major drawbacks of the 3.7s is that they cannot be bi-wired or bi-amped without major internal modifications. I am curious as to why Magnepan eliminated the eternal x-over box. Was the decision based on performance or the need to maintain a certain price point?
Good callout on bi-wire capability.
Thanks for the input Kirby, Tmsorosk & Gmorris - nice to see this thread get back on track with some actual comparisons!
Do the 20.1's still need a subwoofer or do they extend beyond their rated 25Hz bottom end?
FWIW, my local and longtime Maggie dealer, when I asked him this very same question on my last visit, indicated that he did think the 3.7 competed with the 20.1 in certain ways (and was a worthwhile improvement from the 3.6, a speaker I greatly admired). But whatever he may have specifically elaborated I can't recall exactly anymore (though I seem to think it had something to do with the midrange), and I haven't auditioned them yet (he offered but I didn't have the time then). Sorry, great help, I know! (Thanks to Gmorris for pointing out the lack of biampability, I hadn't realized this.)
Dsper, I think the 3.7's will do fine in your room.
I would think this is simple. The 3.7s are updated and the 20.1s probably will be soon, so for now there are a couple of things the 3.7 *might* do a tad better - but the main quality that the 20.1s have is the push-pull force on the ribbon and quasi-ribbon, so dynamics are a lot better (assuming proper amplification).

Also, they removed the external x-over on 3.7, so I think (I'm about to start a thread on this) that the active bi-amp option is out with 3.7, while it is still available on 20.1, and active bi-amp will generally add to the more dynamic part of the equation for 20.1.

If (this is a big if) you play a test tone, or a single singer who sings in a range not used by the ribbon, and if that singer doesn't have a lot of dynamic swings, then perhaps the new quasi-ribbon will for today out-do the 20.1 which will most probably be updated soon with the quasi ribbon that started on the 1.7. Also, maybe not! Because the push-pull might make the old quasi better sounding than the new one as implemented in the 3.7/1.7. All conjecture.
There's no sign that the 20.1 is going to be updated in the near future. There are rumors about an anniversary edition Tympani but that's another story ...
New Tympani's would be absolutely incredible!!!!
New Tympani, that would be awesome, I might actually open up the strong box for those.
Interesting in knowing that the new Tympani would be available. I am using Tympani IV bass panel with MGIII driven by Threshold S500 for LP and T200 for HP with Bryston 10B STD and CAT SL1 Sig. MK2 in my 6x8 m (2.8m height) room; the sound stage is so big. Image is fantastic.
After having my first MGIII for more than 15 years, I am still enjoying to listen the Magie everyday. Now I have two pairs of MGIII, one pair of 1.6 that need to be fixed for the buzzes due to losing glue. However, the combined Tympani/MGIII system is best matching so far.
I don't like the concept of non bi-amp capability as designed in 3.7. The Magie is believed to sound best with bi-amplification especially the true ribbon is perfectly matched with class A amp. The separated bass panel from mid/tweeter is a good concept. I am still wonder, even the 20.1 would be comparable with the combined Tympani IV/MGIII which I currently use.
S_c123, there's someone on the Planar Asylum who's putting together a system similar to yours, Tympani 1-D bass panels + MG IIIA's. I'm sure he'll be pleased to hear that you've gotten such good results. I'm curious though -- why did you combine the III's with the IV's, which already have a dedicated mid and a ribbon? Are you crossing over lower down for a 4-way, e.g., at 80 or 100 Hz?

I have a pair of IVA's myself, and plan to run them with the mid/tweeter panel separate because of space limitations. But the crossover is higher, about 300 Hz. I'm also planning to replace the midrange of the IVA's with BG Neo-8's, which are push-pull quasi-ribbon planars. Satie on the Planar Asylum has done this with his IV's and says the quality is comparable to the 20.1's.

The 3.7 lost its bi-amp capability because of the new crossover design, which is apparently first order. If it's like the 1.7's, it's also a series crossover. You could of course go inside the speaker . . .
The 20.7 has been given a mini review by JH on the TAS website. Expect an introduction at CES 1/12. For those who suggested it wouldn't happen, it did.
Yep. However, it was never a question of whether it would happen but whether it would happen this year, and initially even Magnepan didn't know, because they didn't know how long it would take to improve the 20.1.

Still, who was it whose dealer told him it was coming several months ago? And someone else said no, it was going to be a new Tympani? He's officially the winner of that debate, heh.
doesn't matter who guessed what; what matters is saving up enough dinero to buy the 20.7s.
That would be me Josh358. Evidently my local dealer knew a little more then he did. And his claim was that he got it from Lyric and from a direct call to Magnepan.things It made no sense that my store and others that I've seen on here were selling their 20.1 demos. My dealer has been dealing with Magnepan for over 30 years. That being said, the problem now lies in that I'm still waiting for my 3.7's. It has been over 3 months and I was just told that it could be a few more weeks. It is understandable that these are made mostly by hand and there is great care and pride taken in each pair. But, according to said dealer, the word is that things are not running quite as smoothly at the factory as they should be. I'm almost tempted to just drop the 3.7's and pre order the 20.7 but I might be waiting for them till 2013.
I know what you mean about the wait. As I recall, the 1.7's were delayed for a while because their milling machine went down. The 3.7's if I remember correctly started shipping not long after their introduction at CES. The Mini Maggies took two years, but that was because they had to catch up on the .7's first. I'm thinking that a call to the factory makes sense, before everyone leaves for the holidays. The may be able to give you an idea of when they'll ship.
Something is not adding up here on delivery of your 3.7's. I ordered mine on Nov 7th and took delivery on Dec 9th. They were held up an extra week because they ran out of dark cherry for a week. I'd be demanding some answers from the dealer and placing a call to Magnepan. 3 months is outrageous!
The issue may be the aluminum rails. The wood rails are the same as the 3.6s, but the aluminum sides are new to the 3.7. I got my cherry 3.7s in 3/11 after ordering in 1/11. The dealer did not get his aluminum store demos until late 5/11 due to delays in the aluminum manufacture.
My dealer is pretty upset about this and has called Magnepan. That's where the 2 to 3 more weeks came from. They promised to stay on top of it with repeated calls to them. they are in agreement that this type of wait is rather ridiculous. We're building a speaker here not a house. I don't think I ordered anything too odd for it to be trouble. Mine will be black oak with gray panels. My next step is to start asking for compensation for the extra long wait.