Magnepan Owners - Need Your Thoughts Please

Spent some time recently auditioning the Magenpan 12's and 1.6's; I was very impressed with the sound, especially when you consider their modest cost.

I've always had highly sensitive horn speakers so a Magnepan is a totally new direction for me. I will keep my Khorns and consider adding the Magnepans for even more fun! Here are some questions that I need help with. Of course, I will bring them home for a personal in-house listen before I buy but any thoughts that you Maggie owners could add will be greatly appreciated! Questions:

(1)Will a pair of 125 watt VTL monoblocks (EL-34's) be enough juice to drive the Magnepans to reasonable listening levels in my large room (17.5w x 26L x 9h). By reasonable levels I mean 85db - 90db (at the most). I don't want to 'blow-up' the VTL's! They are rated at 130 watts in Tetrode mode into 4 ohms.

(2)I assume that the larger panels of the 1.6's would be harder to drive overall than the smaller 12's?

(3) Setup advice: where do I start on placement? How far from the front wall and how far from the sidewalls? How far apart? Also, are Magnepans designed to be faced straight-ahead or with some toe-in? And, what about the ribbons, placed on the outside or inside?

(4) What are the appropriate listening distances? How far do you sit back from the panels?

Would love to hear Magnepan owners' comments and advice on these questions or any other Maggie issues that I am not thinking about. Thanks!
1. The VTL 125's should have enough power for the levels you specified. I was using the VTL ST-85 in a smaller 11'x14' room and it could play the 1.6's at average levels in the low 90dBs without showing signs of stress.

2. I don't believe the larger 1.6's are harder to drive than the MG-12s, which I've also owned. The 1.6 go a little lower in the bass, but that shouldn't be a problem for any decent amp.

3. Setup depends to a large degree on your room acoustics and whether you'd be listening with the Maggies on the short wall or the long wall.

In your size room it should be easy enough to get them sounding excellent. I'd start by put them on your "short" 17.5' wall maybe 4 to 6 feet from the front wall and maybe about 4 or 5 feet in from the side walls, slightly to moderately toed in with the tweeters outboard.

It's not difficult to get the Maggies to image well but small changes in toe-in will affect the image size and focus. As for bass, if possible I like to play something familiar with extended bass content. Then Waltz the speaker around (while playing) till you hear the bass get stronger, as per your preference. The only challenge of placing them will be to get excellent imaging and the best bass at the same time. If you can't get the bass right on the short wall you can always try them on the long wall and see how that goes. (On your longer wall you'd need greater distance from the side walls to maintain proper center fill.)

4. I would likely sit a few feet farther back than the distance between the two speakers measured center-to-center. You can experiment with moving your seat slightly forward or slightly back to adjust for room nodes.

The QR tweeters can be a bit bright depending on your room acoustics and what your electronics are doing. If you need to attenuate the highs, aside from using room treatments, I've found that using Speltz AntiCables between my preamp and amp, along with the Speltz speaker cables, works better to tone things down than using the resistor attenuators that Magnepan supplies.

Happy Holidays!
1) Yes the VTLs will drive both sets of speakers. The main issue with Magnepans is clean power with good current. Magnepan's are a steady 4 ohm load so aren't that hard to drive just need strong current.

2) 1.6s are not really harder to drive than the 1.2s, they will just go lower and will play louder if given more power.

3) Recommendation is tweeters on the outside edge. Your room is plenty big to take advantage of the Magnepan's qualities. I suggest 4 from feet out from back wall and 7-8 feet apart. I sit about 9 1/2 feet from my speakers but your room is bigger so you have more options. The speakers are very easy to move so experimenting will provide you with the best sound.
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I've owned 2B's, MMG's, 3.6's and currently listen with Avantgarde Duo Omega horns. I agree with all of the above but need to add what I feel is a criticle point. In my experience, until you are really pushing the Maggies, they won't sound their best. Modest to low listening levels always left me wanting more. If you are set on taking the Maggie plunge, go with the 1.6's. If you haven't checked out the Planar (Maggie) forum at AusioAsylum, I strongly suggest that you do.
will the VTL's drive them, yes, will they sound great? No.

I keep marveling at the answers to the questions about Maggies and power amps.

It has nothing to do with volume, it has to do with low level resolution actually. The more power, clean, and undistorted, the better the speaker will sound especially at low levels, and the more base you will get.

The best sound I ever had with the 1.6qr's was with an Innersound ESL amp (600w/ch @ 4ohm). I think you should look at SS or digital amps that have at least 400w into 4ohms.

Parasound A21
Wyred4Sound 500's
Innersound ESL amps
Bel Canto's

There are many, but unless you are looking at some really high powered tube amps, I would really stick with high powered solid state.

I have currently own the 3.6R's and have for years, more power is almost always better.
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Everyone, thanks for the interesting feedback. I suspect that 130 watt tube amps are not the ideal choice of amplification for Magnepans but that probably won't keep me from trying them out in my room. If I like a little, I might buy, and then keep an eye out for a good buy on a used pair of SS with plenty of power.
My maggies sound superb with a naim nap 90 which is only a 40 watt amp. The naim gear sounds much better than a very good plinius 8200 which was rated at 175 Watts. So, big power amps are not an automatic match with maggies. I would imagine the VTLs might do a fine job. Why can't you take them to your dealer and try them there?
Sensitivity for both speakers mentioned are close enough for either to be driven by the amp in question......But, that being said, Key is generally considered to be current delivery. Yep, probably SS, or even Mac! Bryston is mentioned often as are the various ICE solutions sold by many. I personally have a PSAudio GCC 250 which really makes the 1.6s stand up and pay attention. Maggies don't play at nose bleed levels and distort differently than dynamic speakers when pushed. And YES they are NOT a 'bad load'. Not because of the even impedance which peaks around the x-over frequency, but because of moderate phase angle.

The Maggies are also a DIY DREAM speaker. Please check out 'Magnepan Users Group' for more than you'd ever want to know, let alone try. X-over mods, stands/supports, re-framing, and anything else you can imagine. The 'fringe' treat them like pets.

I solved my brightness problem by having the speakers 'cross' behind me. Crossing in front or AT me produced a too bright hi with compressed image.
Give them plenty of room. 3+ to the back and maybe more to the sides. The resistor supplied, of 1ohm, can be replaced by better. I consider that a 'last resort'.

The 1.6 has a mid/tweet 4 amp fuse which should indicate maximum power levels tolerated.

Nobody has yet mentioned the Cardas method. Please google. That will help with setup. Look at systems with Maggies for more hints.
funny thing, my Manley Stingray with 40 watts drove my Maggie 1.6 in a livlier fashion than my Rogue M120 with 120 watts - go figure. Your VTL may do well, it is hard to say but I usually recommend 500 watts with tons of current for Maggies.

in case you have not done this - search the archives as this question has come up many times.
Use amps that are musical for long term enjoyment. The speakers only need to play, as loud as you like to listen...and 100's of watts won't be required in your case.

(you have the horns for head banging SPL's).

I personally find the Magnepan very 'open' sound is impressive initially to the ears and brain, but the novelty soon wear off, they sound very impressive in the mid-range,
but after awhile and one gets used to the sound it sounds to my ears that the sound is ready to be mixed
more cohesively on the sound engineers mixing desk, these are obviously my personal findings, not wishing to upset those that have them, use them, and positively love their sound.
If your horns are good (I use Oris 150 horns) then buying Magnepans would be possibly a retrograde step IM(very)HO, rather than an onward, forward onto greater musical satisfaction.
At least they are easy to shift if you bought a pair and did not get on with them.
Good luck and happy listening!
Ps- if you buy a pair please keep us informed on how you are getting along with them.
That's a big room. Don't you need to make sure you demo the 3.6s, not the 1.6s? Use the Cardas dipole calculator for speaker placement. 5.5 feet from the front wall, 1.4 feet from the side walls is what I get with the calculator. That is from center of speaker.
My goal with the Magnepans is to have fun and try something that is a little different; not really on a mission to find something "better". Not sure if 1.6's can fill my room. Going to give it a try and see. 5.5 from the front wall sounds reasonable; 1.4 from the side walls sounds rather close to me.
fwiw my 1.6s were fine in my 13 x 22 x 8 room and I really liked the cardas method to which I followed to the letter and did not move them after. I aimed them at my shoulders and it was nice.

I think your room may be a bit big for them but (on the other hand) the size of your room could cut down on high frequency reflections and you may get better low end response than I did so you may be quite happy.

good luck
Going to find out tomorrow; my local dealer has graciously agreed to let me borrow a pair of the 1.6's over the holidays, so I will have a good five days to try them out in my room. Will report results soon.
With Maggies, as I'm sure you've read and realize, the 'setups the thing'.

Don't lock into dimensions before hearing them in your space. Be prepared to spend several hours experimenting. Link may provide some reading until you get 'em home and might even be the magic bullet. I don't know how well this works w/bi-di poles.
Thanks! Will give the Cardas info a good read.
The CARDAS setup method works in some rooms, and not in others. It does work in my room...although I had already placed my dipoles before hearing about the CARDAS setup....or, in other words, I set them up by ear.

Regardless, my ear and the CARDAS setup results were within inches of each other in my room.

Forgot all about the Cardas method. Tried it yesterday
I have the same size room as Philjolet and must say Im pretty pleased most noticeable with increase in bass from my 1.6s.
The 1.6s now load the room differently then when I had them before. Im now able to set my subwoofer to a lower crossover point.

I also was looking for something "different" when I bought my 1.6s. Be prepared for a new experience.
Magnepan's are a steady 4 ohm load so aren't that hard to drive just need strong current.
Is this the same speaker? See Fig 1:

What's that 19 ohm peak at 600 Hz? If you choose the 4 ohm tap, won't the midrange (200 Hz - 2,000 Hz) sound forward?
Okay, been listening to the 1'6's since last evening; overall I like them quite a bit. However, it is very apparent that my 125 watt VTL mono-blocks are not quite up to the task of driving them to fill my larger room (17.5 x 26 x 9)... They can handle 75db-80db but that is about all... I can definitely tell however that a good-size muscle amp would be far better in my room...

Great sound stage depth front to back with plenty of well-defined layers; vocals are great, real-sized and in-the-room real... Only in the bass do they falter a bit; they don't have the 'grunt' or 'weight' of the KHorns (really didn't expect them too)... On the other hand, a good bit more power might go a longs ways towards solving that.

Now what; i have to buy a new muscle amp too??? It never ends...

sorry to hear you need more power, I feel your pain (or used to anyway). I often look back fondly on the pair I owned. So darn good for the money.

I think most owners would be better off with a big SS amp like the Innersound ESL. You would not believe how those speakers can rock with 1,000 watts!

keep on truckin and happy holidays...

You will never get that Bass/mid bass Impact from the Magnepans that you get from the k-horns, no matter what amps you use.

You will get better sound than what you have now with at least 500 watts at 4ohms high current amp.

I have had both Klipsh and Magnepans and speak from experience...

You can find a pr of Odyssey mono amps at a reasonable price. I drove mine with them and then upgraded to a PASS x250 with made them sing

Good luck and enjoy
Bass response is also going to be a about where you placed them in the room. Big time. I would think that big tube amp should give you pretty good bass response even with the Maggies. Where did you place the speakers in the room exactly, from front wall and side wall to the middle of the panel?
The other thing you might want to consider is finding a dealer close by that has Eminent Tech LFT 8 speakers. Planar's too, but with a hybrid design cone bass driver. Many former Maggie 1.6 owners actually prefer this speaker. One of the reasons is the bass response is better but loses none of the planar sound that the Maggies have. Ans your amp should be more than fine too.
I didn't really expect the same amount of bass that I get from the KHorns; I think that I could live with the 1.6's bass as long as I had a beefy amp.

I started with the 1.6's 4'9" from the center of the panel to the sidewalls and 5'6" from the front wall; with a tab bit of toe-in... I also used one space for tilt to the back. I really haven't had much time to move them around yet for bass repsonse; will do that over the next few days.
You put them right on the Cardas dipole placement math results. I'd be quite surprised if you get much improvement from where you have them now. A little fine tuning a half inch here and there and toe-in adjustment is probably all it takes now. I'm not sure how Maggies respond to toe-in. Some speakers require quite a bit. My planars do so I get the outside midrange driver towards my ears and that really helps with dynamics. Planar's need great setup and need to be well away from the walls and you're lucky you can do that. Maybe all you need now is a bigger amp. And bass traps in corners if you don't already have them.

I owned 1.6s for several years, drove them with KSA-150.
Bass was Ok, but no rock and roll mode for sure. I still loved them. I've got 3.6s now, and they for sure go deeper.

Setup for me is pretty much Cardas calculated. In my room, bass is greatly affected by distance to front wall. In general as the speakers are moved closer to front wall, bass diminishes.

I ran the 1.6s and 3.6s with less toe-in than recommended. they just seemed too bright for me with normal TI. It was either this or use the tweeter attenuator...(Tweeter on outside)
the 12s are pretty anemic in the bass dept...if you have the room...the 1.6s are a much fuller range option...happy xmas
Have moved on to Plan B... Pulled out my 20 year-old NAD 2200 PE solid state stereo amp (still use it for one of my secondary systems upstairs). This thing is rated at 100 watts continuous but can swing 600 watts or so for brief peaks; so far, so good. The NAD appears to have plenty of ba$$s to drive the 1.6's... Not as sweet, smooth, or 3-D as the VTLS but at least it hasn't blown-up! Going to spend some time listening with the NAD.
I first auditioned my 1.6's with the PSE Studio V's in a room larger than yours (dealer demo room was 30+'L x 20'W) and the bass was as strong as a pair of Vandy 2CE's with the PSEs (240W@4ohms/channel). I ran my 1.6s with a Classe'25 (500wpc@4ohms) successfully in a large volume room (irregular shaped 25'L x 20'W with 15' peak cathedral ceiling and opennings to other areas) producing 90db at the listening area 12' away! Sounded great with rock and roll even without a subwoofer. In conclusion, 1.6 can really rock out with the right amp (high power with lots of current).
I agree; 1'6's are a great speaker at a great price and I may just buy them. However, as some have mentioned above I will have to find a good muscle-amp to get the best out of them.
In audio, as in life, there is no free lunch. Great high sensitivity speakers that can use nice flea powered amps, many of which are very reasonably priced, are usually very expensive. To the other extreme, there are Magnepan speakers, which although univerally praised for thier performance and price point, really don't sound anywhere near their best until you put some pricey high powered amps with them.

The digital/ice amps have mitigated that somewhat, and do sound really good in most instances, but with the exception of the BelCanto's and Wyred4Sound amps, even digital (Sanders Sound, Spectron) amps have gotten expensive at anywhere near reference levels. Also, really good Pass, Bryston, Cary and Parasound (sort of reasonalbe, used) sound the best with Maggies and they are not cheap at all.
Glad for your success w/Cardas setup.

I have been a Mag user for close to 30 years......bought some MG-1s from a friend and have never looked back. As it turns out, I've also had 'em in rooms from large closet to great hall with many stops between.
Amp choice? Match it to your max SPL, of course.
Magnepan, I'm told, shows with Bryston. The 4BSST is considered a good match as are any of the larger monos.
I use an ICE based solution to great effect. I have a PSAudio GCC250 of 500x2 into the panels nominal 4 ohms, or so. People seem happy with BelCanto 'd' amps as well. Either the over-the-top 1000 watt monoblocs or for more modest systems, there small integrated. Spectron has been mentioned, as well, and is an all original design from someone verging on genius.
If the sound is a little 'too bright', as it was for me, I toed them out a little more so they 'crossed' in back of me. That, and moving them as close together as possible, given they bracket a large TV helped imaging. The supplied attenuator resistor should be discarded and replaced with a good wirewound, if you REALLY gotta have it.

If you go to a sub, and don't play loudly, past the LF limits of the speaker, cross the sub over as low as possible and run the Maggies full-range.

Now, and finally, Magnepan is a DIY DREAM. Crossovers? aftermarket and homebrew all over the place.
Stands / Stiffeners? Yep. All have there fan base and advocates.
Turn the panels around? Sure! some people like the pole pieces facing them, not the mylar.
ReFrame? This is a beautiful solution to the 'monolith' look some find offensive. WAF is a factor, here. There are many beautiful and exotic woods which will make them one-off looking and enhance the sound.
At least one of the reframe persons also does external crossovers of different design.

Above all, have fun. links upon request.
i own 1.6s . i am using a vtl deluxe 120. i probably don't listen as loud as you do. i average 70 to 80 db. i have no problem using the triode mode--about 45 watts.

if you want to listen at spls approaching 90 db, consider that at times you will be listening at levels which exceed 90 db. you might consider a more powerful amp.

i know, a lot of owners believe a high wattage ss amp is appropriate. i have heard them driven by a 500 watt ice power amp , as well as a 300 class a amp. since dynamics are unimportant to me, while timbre is most salient, i appreciated the ss amps at frequencies of 150 hz or less but did not like what i heard at frequencies exceeding 1000 hz.
This is from the Magnepan website:

"We are asked this question every day. But, individual tastes vary so greatly that a definitive answer is impossible. We are using a 35 watt receiver in the lobby to our factory. Therefore, can we honestly say that 35 watts is all you need? For each increase of 3 db, the power must be doubled. So, 70 watts, 140 watts, 280 watts, etc. will progressively result in 3 db increases over the receiver we are using in our lobby. Personal tastes are "all over the map". We hear of customers that are perfectly happy with 25 watts and others using 1000 watts."

I have a pair of MG 12s' that I first used with a Acurus A250 solid state amp, which was 350 wpc at 4ohms. Then I switched to a inexpensive Yaqin MC-100B, which sounded WAY better than the Acurus amp, and that was only 30 wpc in triode mode. Go figure.

I'm now using Cary Slam 100 monoblocks, which are 90wpc in triode mode, and I can't imagine that these speakers could be powered any better. They're dynamic and solid sounding, while accurately presenting sounds that I'm used to hearing live.

As far as bass, I'm a professional bassist, and I have never felt the need for more bass out of these. That said, I completely rebuilt the crossovers according to a tutorial I found online, and now these things are CRAZY sounding. The bass is even more defined, and the detail and depth are amazing. I've also made stands for them that hold them more straight up and down.

I'm done speaker shopping!

As far as placement, I have kids, so I store them out of the way and pull them out when it's time to listen (try doing that with Wilsons :-) I drop them about 4 feet in front of me, in the center of the room, which pretty much takes any room interference out of the equation.

If you like the sound of your VTL's, then I'll bet that you'll like them with the Maggies.
Magenepans like lots of high current power if you want them to play at orchestral levels. Good amps for the 1.6 models would be innersound esl 300, coda, classe 201 etc. The higher powered tube ampes will cost much much more (VTL 450,etc) and are proboably not worth the expense for the smaller and mid sized maggies. You can also try an integrated classe CAP 151 for the 12's and even for the 1.6's or my favorite budget solution; a vintage luxman R117.
I recently bought new MG12's and run them with a McIntosh MA6300 integrated amp. It is solid state at 100 wpc/8 ohms and 160 watts/4 ohms.

My room size is 18 by 33 with 8 foot ceilings.

I have the Maggies sitting on 14 inch square hard wood cubes and in a vertical position.

Due to room logistics and WAF, I have then about four feet from the front wall and about six feet apart. My listening position is about 8 feet out from the speakers so there is about 20 feet of open space behind me. The concrete floors are carpeted. My sense is that the Maggies would sound better if I could use a lttle bit more of the length of the room between me and the front wall.

I play the amp at about 40% of the available gain and am quite happy with the loudness with all types of music.

If you sit and really listen, the Maggies put out quite a bit of bass that has timbre and texture.

Having said that I am thinking about upgrading the low end passover to see if that helps the bass. I already bypassed the fuse and that has improved the high end.

The Magnepan specs show that the 1.6's are a little bit more efficient than the 1.2's.
Well, Stickman, are you ready to try a few tests?

Turn 'em around. Yep....put the mylar to the wall and the pole piece facing you, the listener. Magnepan flipped sides maybe.....15 years ago. I didn't get the memo, so when I went from MG-1 (late '70s vintage) to the 1.6 it took me a while and lots of reading to realize the cause of one of the largest differences between those 2 named panels.
Don't forget there are FOUR (4) ways to orient your panels. Mylar front / back and-or tweeters in/ out.

ALSO, get out the tape. I measure my panels distance to the wall. I use the edge of the tri strip as my reference. I am at 30 1/2" inside and 34" outside.
This is just over a 10degree toe and crosses the speakers about 20 feet away, well in back of me.

To get louder, don't forget relationship between additional power and loudness. Even going to 250 a side, you may not get loud enough.

Dsper? One of the few I've read who use Magnepan with Mac. I'd like to hear such a setup. For me in my room, the MA6900 or MA7000 would be about right.

I always wanted a McIntosh amp since I was in college and finally got the extra coin together to afford one when I turned 57.

I have not listened to anything else with the Maggies and do not know how they might sound with something else.

I think that the Mac quality is there and the protection cicuits work. Before the Maggies, I listened to double stacked Large Advents. While moving the stacks around I managed to cross a wire and the amp protected itself and did not "blow up".

With either the Advents or the Maggies, the amp is dead quiet when it is supposed to be.
Hi All: Does anyone have experience or an opinion regarding how well an Audio Research Corp VS-115 will drive Magnepans? I believe the ARC VS-115 generates 135 watts power into 8 ohms; 125 watts into 4 ohms.
Hi Bifwynne,

I posted earlier and made a positive comment about my Mac amp at 160 wpc into 8 ohms and Maggie 1.2's.

Since that time, I had the opportunity for an in home listen with a Krell s300i at 300 wpc into 4 ohms. The difference is amazing.

Much more detail and separation of instuments with the Krell. On occasion, the sound seemed to be emanating from outside the speakers.

I initially thought that the Krell sounded too bright but after a week of listening I no longer feel that way.

I now agree that Maggies need a lot of 4 ohm power and suspect that I am going to have to make an amp change.
Bifwynne, J Valin used a ARC VS-115 to drive 1.7's.
If you want to run your 1.6 QR speakers on the cheap with excellent sound try a vintage luxman R117 receiver. You can often find one for around $250-$275 on Ebay. If you want to spend more try an innersound esl amp or classe.
Bifwynne I sometimes use the 122 wpc ARC VT-130 SE with MMGs and many years back paired it with Maggie 3.5s. I've run the latter full range and the former with subs, but have had great success with both set-ups. I've generally preferred 8 ohm taps. FWIW.

I have put together a system based on The Absolute sound magazines 20 greatest hifi bargains and golden ear awards the system is : magnepan 1.6 speakers ,Cambridge audio 840w amp (200 watts 8ohms) modwright 9.0 se tubed preamp ,cambridge audio 840c cd player ,paul speltz interconnects and speaker wire.The maggies and the cambridge amp are in the 20 greatest bargains issue. Apply any of these to maggies for great sound !!