Magnepan SMGa owners, is this experience typical?
In your experience, have you found the SMGa to do particularly well with classical music, especially strings and winds? Are the SMGas sensitive to electronics? What about speaker wire? Are these characteristics common with other speakers in the Magnepan line? When moving up the Maggie line, are quality electronics even more important?
The SMGa is my first experience with any of the speakers from the Magnepan line and I’m curious to learn if this is typical.
Originally, I used an Oppo 103 as a source and preamp driving a Coda Model 10 amp. My speaker wire is nothing special (12 GA from Home Depot), the power cables are stock, and my interconnects are Cobalt Cable Ultimate. The speakers I’m using as a reference and comparing the SMGa to are similarly aged/vintage Boston Acoustics A200. The room acoustics aren’t great; the room is 12’ x 25’, the floor is concrete, and while I do have curtains on the windows, there isn’t a lot of sound absorbing cloth in the room.
Ok, now for the clichés. The A200s sounded great; clean and dynamic. I like the Boston sound which is why I bought the speakers anyway. The SMGas sounded “polite”. The sweet spot with the SMGas is definitely small. The bass was adequate but nothing like the A200s. I wasn’t really impressed with the SMGas.
I’ve since purchased and refurbished a Monarchy Audio M33 which has been updated to the 24 bit chip, and I’m using the Monarchy Audio DIP with it. My source is now an older Magnavox DVD player as the Oppo 103 is in a separate system. The cables are all pretty much the same except that I’m using Cobalt balanced cables from the M33 to the Coda now.
The A200s seem to be even cleaner and more dynamic now. The woofers move a lot of air. At elevated volumes, the tweeter sounds a bit forced and not as effortless. This isn’t a concern really because my normal listening levels are lower. I’m really pleased with these speakers especially given the age and the price.
What a difference the M33 makes! The SMGas sound much better, from top to bottom. In fact, I now prefer the sound of the SMGas to the A200s when it comes to classical music. Strings sound better, the winds sound better, and the brass seems to blend in better. The sweet spot is still very small, but it does a good job at presenting the sound as though you are sitting in the lower section of a concert hall. Perhaps it is the depth in the stage that is making the difference. The bass is even better now. I still wouldn’t consider the SMGa to be as dynamic as the A200. At this point I feel that the dynamics in the A200 make it a better option for big band and jazz, perhaps even for some of the larger and energetic symphonic pieces (Tchaikovsky and Holst). Nevertheless, now I’m impressed with these Maggies.