Forgot! What about just a X150.5, would that be enough POWER?
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Stickman451, congratulations on your 3.6's! Take a look at my reviews of both the X-350.5 and XA-60.5's for details regarding why either amp or amps would make your Maggies sing. In the x-.5 series the most beautiful sounding amp is the 350.5, if it's in your budget the 60.5's are even better. The 350.5 is significantly better sounding then the X-150.5, not just because it offers more power/current, but truly is sonicly the sweet spot in the X-.5 series. Have fun.
I have 2 pairs of 3.6's, and I have been using Anthem p5s. Stable, neutral, no particular tonal signature, and reasonably priced.
As important an improvement, and one you will notice immediately, is a good pair of stands. The Mye stands are by far the best; see www.myesound.com. Grant is the best!
I really like the Pass XA.5's. I started with the 30.5 and now have the 100.5's. How much power "you" need depends on how loud "you" like to go. Either of these has the current to easily drive the Maggies. The XA.5's have that sweet class A sound that's nice on the 3.6's and especially the ribbons.
Tube pres work fine in front of them. I use Conrad Johnsons.
I used a couple of different Plinius amps and Plinius 8100 and 8150 intergraded amps, and a Krell KAV 400 XI. Those sounded good but the SX 1000 monoblocks sound great in all respects. I never compared the SX 1000 to any of the Pass Lab products which Im sure would also sound great. I didnt want to spend a fortune on amplification.
You need a lot of power. I own a Pass Labs X350.5 and use it to drive my Apogee Duetta Sigs. The more power with Magies or any planar type speakers the better. I would be very careful with using your NAD power amp to run your new Magnepans you can damage them with not having enough power. The magnepan 3.6 are a mighty fine speaker.
I had the McIntosh 501's with my Maggies and I changed them out for Innersound ESL's. I thought with my Maggies the Mac's were slow and muddy in comparison to the Parasound JC-1's they replaced. The Mac's are great amps, and sound great at my buddies house with his big B & W's, but I did not like them with the Maggies.
I still think the best amps I have heard with Maggies are the very hard to find Cary CAD 500 MB's. I like them better than the Pass X350.5 that I recently borrowed, and that is high praise, because the Pass did sound very good.
Okay, it's still early, but my initial reactions to the Mac 402 are not knocking my socks off.. Sounds a little slow, too laid back and too polite, lacking some speed and rhythm, and the bass is absent... Haven't given up yet; will let them play a few more hours and let them cook overnight...
Maybe I am headed for a Pass.
I should know, I have one and use it myself with my Maggie 3.6's. Really plenty of power, and the sound is, I think, superb, not much different than, or maybe identical to, the Pass 250.5's.
The thing with the Pass 150.5 is that it's not really 150 wpc @ 8 ohm. It's really like other manufacturer's 250 wpc amps. Explanation: Hi Fi News, the British mag, when they reviewed the Pass 150.5 about 2 years ago or so, found that it clipped at 8 ohms at 270 wpc!! Not 150 wpc. And, at 4 ohms, it clipped at close to 400wpc. I may be off a few wpc in my memory (I have the review someplace here) but not by much.
I use my Maggies in a reasonably sized room and barely have the amp turned up. My friend had the same set up - 150.5 with Maggie 3.6, and felt it was a great match.
If you try the 150.5 and for some reason want more power, you can sell it very quickly on A'gon.
I think the Pass 150.5 could definitely do it in your room. Depends on how loud you play your system. The difference might come down to the fact that the 150.5 would be out of class A into class AB, while the 250.5 might stay in class A, though if you play loud the 250.5 would also be out of class A.
Hard to say more than that, unless you had both amps and did a direct comparison.
Wait!!! Did you buy the Maggies new or used? If they are new you really need to let them break in for a couple of hundred hours in order to be ale to evaluate amps. The sound of Maggies changes significantly over the first couple of hundred hours and what you describe with the Mac could be attributed to them not yet being run in.
If you go Pass, I would go to the 250.5 or 350.5. I know with my 2.7's they didn't start to sound right until I had 600w/ch per side (4 ohm) going through them. Others have mentioned the big Brystons as they work well with Maggies, and I agree they are worth checking out. Despite what you get, I would make sure you are at least at 500 w/ch.
I don't think the 150.5 is enough, especially in your room. There is a reason so many are recommending huge amps like the Wyred for Sound, Bryston 14Bsst, or Pass 350.5. The maggies are not very efficient and will run through the 150.5's 300 watts in no time. Going to an amp like the Wyred for Sound or big Bryston will net you another 4-5 db's of headroom, a significant difference.
I like Pass stuff, but think it is extremely expensive and not worth twice as much as Bryston, with the 350.5 running nearly $12,000 for a new one, vs. the Bryston's still expensive $6,000. The Wyred for sound ST-1000 as the comparative bargain of $2000 gives you 1140 watts per side, a 6 db increase in output capability over the X150.5 amp. It also leaves a lot more cash in your pocked for other things.
what's your basis for writing that the X150.5 will not be sufficient power for the Maggie 3.6/Rs??
I took a look at the 3.6/R impedance curve in the S'phile review. Here is the link:
scroll down to see the imp & phase plots.
What I see from these plots is that the speaker impedance & phase curves are quite well-behaved & that there isn't much phase shift across the audio band. We are talking +/- 35 degrees max w/ the phase being at 2.5KHz & higher. In the bass frequencies I see that the speaker is a relatively constant 5 Ohm load - very little phase shift in the bass freq.
So, IMO, a Pass X150.5 should be enough. My calc show that you will need about 40W/ch to produce 90dB SPL in your room sitting 10' away. The rest of the wattage will be for dynamics. My calculations show that you have 5dB of headroom for dynamics & I think that's quite good.
I do not know how much current the 150.5 can deliver but current delivery of the amp will have a bearing on how well the amp's wattage increases with decreasing speaker load. If the amp has enough current then you'll get 300W/ch into 4 Ohms & that appears to be sufficient for the 3.6/Rs in your room.
More wattage (along with current to support increase in wattage) is always better but it gets expensive on your wallet!
I recently used a Pass X350.5 with my Maggies, and the sound was great, but it did strain a little at volume, and was not quite on the same level overall with Maggies as the best amps I have used with them: Cary CAD 500 MB's, SandersSound Mono's, Brystons.
I think that next level up on the Pass (X600's) are probably better than any of these, from what I heard on my days with the X350.5's, but I would take any of these over the 350.5's right now.
Thanks for all the very interesting feedback, comments, and recommendations. My final analysis of the Mac 402 is that it is not the amp I want for my rig and my new 3'6's... I'll have to look elsewhere. Still leaning towards one of the Pass or possibly trying the Wyred 4 Sound ST-1000; in any case I am still looking!
If you happen to live in the Atlanta area and have one of these, please let me know.
You are correct the Maggies are a relatively benign load in terms of current requirements; as long as the amp is comfortable into 4 ohm loads, there shouldn't be a problem. What you are forgetting is that Maggies do suffer from dynamic compression that gets worse the harder you push them. Your calculations would be correct if they were linear, but they are probably suffering from 2-6 dbs of compression in the mid 90 db range.
My experience with my 2.7s was that with 200 watts behind them, they were completely underwhelming. When I borrowed a friends older Yamaha M80 amplifier (330w/ch) I flat out would run it out of power, the VU meters would light up like a Christmas tree in Times Square. It was only when I bought an Adcom GFA-5500 (350w/ch with 1.7 db of headroom i.e. 500 a side on peaks) that they started feel better. Even with the Adcom, I would light up the clipping lights on loud passages. I ultimately ended up with a Sunfire Stereo (600 per side) and if I could swing it would go to the signature version at 1200 per side. This was all in a 14 x 17 foot room.
The x.150 puts out 300 watts/ch into a 4 ohm load, which as others have said is not adequate from their experience. My experience says that 300 watts/ch in a smaller room wasn't adequate, so I have no reason to believe it would be in a larger room.
The article you cite in Stereopile sums it pretty well when the review says "Another consideration is that although the 3.6/R is a benign loadmainly resistive and a fairly flat 4 ohmsat 86dB/2.83V/m theyre not terribly sensitive. The VAC Renaissance 70/70 is an unusually strong 70W amp, but wasnt really enough to make the Maggies sing. The Mark Levinson No.20.6s, VTL Ichibans, and Classé CAM-350s all did better jobs of resolving low-level dynamics and detail, and opened up the soundstage noticeably. I spent time with all three, but ended up preferring and doing most of my listening with the Classé monoblocks, which are rated as delivering 700Wpc into the Maggies 4 ohm load."
Don't get pushed by some of the above posts into thinking you must have 350wpc, 600wpc, 1000wpc, 1,200 wpc. And the post above misstakes my experience that the Pass x150.5 was inadequate - wrong!
Of course, if you want to spend the $$, then you can't go wrong with a higher powered amp, other things being equal.
But, as I said above, it depends on how loud you play the maggies. The Pass 150.5, as I said above, is really a 250wpc amp disguised as a 150wpc, as per the Hi Fi News tests and is much more than merely adequate.
My 150.5 has more power than my prior Classe CA-201 (stated as 200wpc). My friend's 150.5 had, in his opinion, more power than his prior Classe CA-401 (400wpc), particularly in producing deeper more powerful bass than either of the Classes, which both of us felt were somewhat on the soft side on the bass. The Pass was better in all other categories also - detail, transparency, etc.
But, if you are unsure about the 150.5 and want to ensure adequate power but not go overboard on the power/price issues, I would say you can't go wrong with the Pass X250.5.
DNE, when you say the Pass is really a 250watt amp disguised as a 150 watt amp, that is a bit misleading. Most well designed high end amps will handily exceed their rated output by 1-2db's, the amount of out performance you claim for the Pass. I think the pass is a great amp, if I were rich, I would buy one, but I also think given the size of the buyer's room, and fact that he was not enthused with the McIntosh 402 with 400 watts per channel and 2 dbs of headroom, that he would be well served by having the extra 3-5 dbs that a bigger amp would put out, whether from Pass Labs, Bryston, Wyred, Sunfire, McIntosh or any other number of excellent manufactures.
For Stickman, I have to ask if you watched the meters on the Mac when you were using it. For the levels you wanted, were you getting close to clipping it? That would give everyone a better idea of your power needs.
Everyone has different ears, so what some like others detest. I only say this as in my journey through a few amps driving my 3.6s, I found the Audio Research 150.2 to just lack a little punch and for me, McIntosh MC501s are my nirvana.
I never tested the 402, and your ears tell you what you like, but there are many Maggie owners who love McIntosh and the same number who don't find them attractive.
Good luck, btw Mye stands are the best and cheapest tweak know to Maggie users (I have NO relationship with Grant Mye, I am just a big fan of his stands!).