Magnepan and room size, room placement

I have always been a fan of Maggies, but never an owner.  I am thinking about them again.  One of my issues has always been room size, specifically as it relates to the rule/recommendation that the speakers be placed 3 feet from the front wall.  I get the scientific argument about dipoles and the rear sound radiation.

first, let me clarify that I am thinking about the 1.7i or the 0.7, not the big ones.  Probably the 0.7. 

my room is about 10x10.  With a listening sofa of about 30 inches deep along the back wall, if I put the speakers 3 feet from the front wall, the speaker to listener distance is less than 5 feet.  Even less if the 3 feet is a minimum. My current speakers (Proac monitors on stands) sit about 20 inches from the front wall.  This location was arrived at through much trial an error, and really is a sweet spot.  Having said that, I am willing and able to spend some time playing around with position of the Maggies to find their sweet spot.

but my question really is, just how important is the 3 foot rule/recommendation? Does much of the sound waves really get cancelled out?  Does anyone have experience with Magnepan closer the the wall (18-24 inches) ? What aspect of the sound do you know from experience (or would suspect) would be most compromised by being too close to the front wall?

While the obvious answer is a home demo, talking on the phone to my two local dealers (in Chicago burbs and Madison, Wisconsin) indicate that a home demo is not possible to to their concerns of transportation damage to the large speakers, as I live 1-1/2 hour drive from either.  

thanks for your help,


With planar dipoles the room is extremely important, so I'm afraid what you have been reading online is not misleading. The sooner and louder you get reflections off the wall behind the speakers, the more they were interfere with the clarity of the sound. And the later and quieter (i.e. farther away) the speakers are, the better the result.

This does mean you can increase the effective distance and reduce the effective volume by using sound absorption behind the speakers. You will hear an immediate and obvious change to the sound placing wide-spectrum acoustic absorption panels behind, and this would let you push them closer to the wall.
Nekoaudio-  I was actually wondering about such an approach.  Do you have specific a “wide spectrum acoustic absorption” brand or type in mind, or is there a DIY solution?  I currently use rolled up carpets in the front corners, and overstuffed pillows above the couch on the back wall.  Will something as simple as these work?
I don’t me the carpet or pillows that I am currently using, but is there a simple DIY solution of common items, or easy to buy and make?
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Bill - I have the 1.7s in a room that is only slightly larger, about 12x14. Sounds like I might be near your neck of the woods. If you'd like to come hear them in my space message me and maybe we can work out a date/time.

Brian- I feel stupid asking, but how do I message you? I can’t seem to find a simple link. 
Found the link.  I’ll message you.
12x14 and 10x10 are worlds apart.....
I would go up the line you are already in and invest in better than rolled up carpet treatments..see GIK, etc....

and yes have Maggie experience in a tough ten by in law, went thru 4 pairs of various stuff before dialing in Vandersteen 1ci

NOT recommending that,  stick w smaller stand mount monitors or a smaller floorstander..IMO...
Agree 100% with tomic601, the extra 2' and 4' make all the difference. A 10 X 10 room is inappropriate for any planar, 12' X 14' about as small as you can go.
@meiatflask DIY acoustic absorption panels would work well. You can build your own following any of the tutorials and discussions found online.

The easiest approach is to grab some semi-rigid fiberglass panels from a local commercial insulation company and wrap them in fabric, which you hold in place using fabric glue. Then just hang them or lean them against the wall.
I'd look at the .7 or MMGi models instead if you're determined to use the Magnepans. The distance rules still apply but these models are more forgiving than the larger ones. Spend the $ difference on room acoustics.

owned Magnepans for over 20 years. Moved into a home with a 12.5 X 12.5 stereo room. Tried for two years to replace the "Maggie" sound. Now happily living with a pair of Emerald Physics CS 3's. They have a very nice planer sound. Believe me there is nothing more that I wanted then to make the .7's work in my room. The MMGi's get close . I did not look at Spatial but look interesting for that sound.


I would not buy Maggies for a room that small. Most owners do not have the proper room for them, and their are better speakers for smaller rooms imho. However, when properly setup in a good room, Maggies are unbeatable for price/performance.

@meiatflask, if you choose to go with a planar, take a look at the Eminent Technology LFT-8b, another magnetic-planar loudspeaker. A pair retails for $2499, and home auditions are available. Read the review by Robert Greene in The Absolute Sound to get an idea of if they might meet your needs and expectations. The speaker is 13" wide and 60" tall, the m-p panel itself only 1" thick but mounted atop an enclosure containing an 8" dynamic woofer for 180Hz down.

The LFT-8b will play louder than an MG.7 and 1.7, and extends lower in frequency. The ET LFT drivers are a push-pull design, superior (more linear, lower in distortion) to the single ended of the Maggies, and much better constructed---in a metal frame, unlike the glued-onto-MDF Maggie m-p driver. Also lower in moving mass; the Maggies have wires glued onto the Mylar as signal conductors, the ET’s have etched foil conductor traces (like those on a circuit board). Really no comparison.

Square room is bad news period .
Another "NO" for planars in a room that small. Agree with others you need to get small stand-mounts that work well snugged up closer to the front wall. Maggies need room, and they need gobs of power to really sing. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and money.