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I had a pair of 1.6s for about a year before doing the crossover upgrades. I can tell you there is a substantial improvement to be had by doing this. Everything you like about your 1.6s is taken up a notch. The most noticeable thing is the improved power handling and bass response. It's a no brainer in my opinion.
Do it!! I did a full crossover over-haul on my 3.6's and it has yielded HUGE improvements. Here is a picture of them, and here is yet another angle. I have a whole lot more then a few hundred dollars into mine and it is worth it. As it stands my 3.6's outperform every 20R I have heard, I have not heard 20.1's set up properly so I won't make any statements, but I suspect this will outperform the 20.1's in many area's. The soundstage is even bigger, more depth, texture, much better dynamic's, lower freq. response(very noticeable), and things just sound natural(even compared to before, which I thought was really good). I also rewired the speakers internally and bypassed all of the factory termination. Search the Audio Asylum there is a lot of information over there on this.
Make an outboard crossover consisting of an 8ga copper inductor of the correct value as well as a multicap made up of Cresendo film and foil caps.These purchases can be made at North Creek Music systems. Hard wire and rigidly mount these to a non ferrous metal base. Any hardware should be non ferrous as well. Metal base should be drilled and threaded for 1.5 ap Audiopoints.Binding posts should be Cardas solid copper, any necessary internal wire should be Sonoran hookup, solder should be Riehl Copper solder...All these devices work well for me..Follow this pattern and the difference will be huge..Tom
OK, I done it. One of the three MG1.6 is completed, so I can evaluate (by comparison) what I get for about $200 per speaker.
First: the design. I decided to use a 10AWG air core inductor and Hovland capacitors. I chose to modify the crossover frequencies slightly. A 3.0 mH inductor gives me a 205 Hz LF break frequency (vs 3.5mH/180 Hz) and the capacitor is 3X7mfd = 21mfd (instead of 22mfd) which raises the HF break frequency from 1800Hz to 1900 Hz. My reasons for these changes are that I use a subwoofer (so the LF panel can play higher), and I wish to slightly reduce the midrange "gap" of the original design. The air coil was selected over foil because: (1) Magnepan does not recommend foil, and (2) foil was available only to 12AWG. The Hovland capacitors were selected because their diameter is about one inch, and they fit easily inside the original crossover cavity (after all the original stuff is removed).
I decided not to replace the original binding posts. They work well with bare wire connections which is what I use.
I did rewire the inputs in a way that gives the modified speakers a very "stock" appearance. There are three sets of posts: LF, HF, BOTH. I rewired the BOTH terminals so that they serve as the connection point for the externally mounted inductor. The inductor is mounted in a oak cover for the crossover cavity, and its wires are connected to what was originally the BOTH input terminals. This makes it real easy to "plug in" any different value or type of inductor. A jumper between these terminals would provide direct connection to the LF panel should I want to biamp.
Oh yes, how does it sound. Well it was immediately clear that something had changed, a lot, and for the good. Investigation revealed that the mod speaker is 6 dB louder. I would not have expected so great a change. After readjusting relative speaker volumes for proper balance further listening indicates that the sonic character is, to my ear, significantly improved. Of course, there has been no break-in as yet. I don't believe in break-in. But then it was not so long ago that I didn't believe that different types of capacitor affect sound. We shall see.
Just wait for them to break in! Your in for a real surprise, at just how much better they'll get. Most everyone laughes when I get excited about the level of improvement I claim was accomplished, and that very few speakers in the world can do what these are doing. The improvements are not subtle in the least and after break in it rounds all the rough edges out- you'll get even better bass, soundstage will just explode and become huge, dynamics(both micro and macro) will be startling at higher volumes. Even the inherent short comings of the speakers will become less noticeable- they will be more accurate at lower volumes, they will be able to play louder, dynamics become much better and you'll get a lot more bass and what you get will be more natural- its not going to have the slam of wilson's, they're not going to be able to recover low level details like soundlabs and they won't be able to throw sound at you like Avantgarde's- but they'll be a lot closer then they were before!
Good luck with the rest of your project.
I would like to offer another view here of the whole question of
updating the Maggie 1.6's.
I did update my pair over a year ago. I used Alpha Core
inductors and Hovland capacitors. I was careful to draw
2 diagrams...one of the original circuitry (which wires
attach to each other) and one with the "new" configurations.
I was thrilled with the results and I enjoyed them thoroughly.
However, I recently purchased the Carver Professional
ZR 1600 amp (I wrote a full review in Audio Asylum
which is still there under aka -Richard-). I use a tiny
passive preamp called the axiom with it and the
combination is very exciting...startling really...I have
since learned some interesting things about my maggies,
which incidentally I love.
The Carver amp has certain qualities about it that are
revelatory...holographic imaging, textural complexity,
detail never heard (or even guessed at) before that
always serves the music, a rich tonal pallette, and
a papable instrumental presence...the pacing and
dynamics are wildly alive in ways other amps could
only dream about...
Strangely, these qualities did not achieve the synergy
with the maggies you might think it would...I have another
pair of speakers, the Ruark Crusader 2's, that the ZR1600
brought to life in ways quite unimaginable before I heard
it...very much appreciated.
On a whim I undid my moded work on the maggies and
reconnected the wires to their orginal configurations.
And guess what? The synergy is now there with my
ZR 1600...what I always craved the maggies had a tad
more...transparancy...is now a "natural" part of the musical
I cannot describe what the bass sounds like on my unaltered
maggie 1.6 qr's, using the ZR 1600, without sounding slightly mad...it is thunderous, powerful, evocative, detailed and soooo
right (fully and naturally integrated which is one of the magical
traits of the maggies).
I am considering moding my ZR 1600 to tame the occasional
glary highs (I can live with them...but there is a new universe
of moding possibilities growing up around this killer amp)
that creep into some string musical material on certain red
book CD recordings. After that I my try to reassert the "mods"
on my Maggies to see if the synergy has changed.
May I add a thought or two here. I have read in this respected
forum some very critical ideas about the limitations of the
maggies...let me say that my unaltered 1.6 qr's driven by the
ZR 1600, creates a very convincing musical experience...
more than that...the emotional connection to the music
is very moving, the musical "expression" penitrates the
"air" and stimulates the senses in ways that are similar to
to a live musical experience. I have heard the best speakers
in the world (obviously not all of them...but many many
examples) and they do not sound "better" than the 1.6qr's...
only a bit more fleshed out here or there...but the illusion
of real music playing before you in the same space in
which you are listening is uncanny and emotionally very
Go ahead and try a mod, if you have the time, patience and
an adventurous spirit...why not? But in my case...with the
right amplification...the Carver Professional ZR 1600...
the original maggies sound incredible...suggesting that
we may not know what we have with the maggies because
the amplification has not been evolved enough to make
them really "sing"...until now that is.
With warm regards to all, America