If it's not large it won't play loudly or have bass.
Rather than trying to describe how they sound I strongly urge you to go listen to a demo.
Rather than trying to describe how they sound I strongly urge you to go listen to a demo.
Sunnyjim, I have been a long time ( 20+ yr) owner and advocate of Magnepans. I picked up a used pair of Coincident Triumph Extreme II monitors and they outperformed my MG 3.7Rs in nearly every respect. Coherence, accuracy of timbre, and resolution were all clearly superior. The coincidents matched the Maggies with respect to tight, fast, articulate mid bass. I found the low frequency roll off started higher, but was a more gentle slope with the coincidents, so that there was actually more useful information below 40 Hz with the coincidents. The only aspect where the magpies were superior was in the range covered by the maggie ribbons.
The Coincidents with stands are substantially less expensive than the 3.7Rs. I highly recommend that you consider the Coincident TE IIs, especially if you are interested in a small footprint.
A big benefit of panels for me is one that isn't talked about enough: Full size images! A grand piano is HUGE, and a good recording of one sounds that way through panels. Through most boxes they sound miniaturized. Panels also create a soundstage you are looking up at, rather than down on. The best deal in panels is the Eminent Technology LFT-8b. They aren't that big, 1' wide by 5' tall, and match better with tube amps than do Maggies, being an 8 ohm load rather than 4.
It's hard for me to generalize on which type of speaker (planar vs dynamic) produces better timbre, because there's a ton of variation on that front within both types. Some people believe that planars are "faster" and offer more detail, but I wouldn't generalize and would again argue that there's a ton of variation IME in the perceived "detail" delivered by stats vs planar magnetics vs ribbons, and (to a lesser extent) among different designs within each type of planar.
If you're looking for an advantage that's generic to planars, I'd agree that it's mostly related to the dispersion characteristics. The reverberant field usually sounds richer and more natural to me, possibly because there's less variation in horizontal dispersion vs frequency in most planars vs most dynamic speakers. Imaging also differs qualitatively, as does sound staging. However, personal preference is likely to determine which presentation you prefer on those fronts.
I also feel that dynamic designs have some common advantages (bass impact, for one), so it's back to trade-offs.
Have fun with the search.
Having owned both Maggies (1.5's and MMG's) and Martin- Logans (Aerius) I feel compelled to chime in. Without getting too technical about how they produce sound let me say that their biggest advantage over box speakers is simply NO BOX. They both produce such a natural uncolored sound that when heard for the first time it can be very unsettling to many an audiophile (me included). So much so that some people will simply say "I gotta have these". However, if hard driving power Rock is your thing then please look elsewhere. But for softer Jazz or Steely Dan and such I can't think of anything I'd rather listen to them through than a set of Maggies. I currently run Ohm's simply because they handle anything and everything nicely but if I ever have a third music room I will definitley have some 1.7's for those late night Jazz listening sessions, anyway just my 2 cents...
I also like Marty's post. Another advantage is there are no cabinet colorations caused by resonance and reflections.
Small panels have less bass and often employ a dynamic driver that is difficult to integrate in to the sound of the panel. Although I think Sanders does a good job at it, the best I have heard are the large electrostatic speakers. Those have phase advantages; i'm not sure if cone drivers can be as good in that area. To get first hand knowledge of panel speakers listen to more brands than Magenpan and ML.
Having owned Maggies and as well big boxes, well...
Generally the planar speakers give full sized images (and boxes miniaturized versions --- even most big boxes) and, as pointed out earlier, you look up at the stage rather than down. In these regards the planar speakers are much, much more realistic sounding. But...
they must be played loud (at or near live acoustic volumes) to have the palpable presence and body to work well. I have never heard a planar speaker do ambient music (background-level volume) very well. they must be driven and have a great deal of amplifier current to do so.
Finally, the Maggies for me had to go for a non-sonic reason (or, an indirect sonic reason). To sound right, they need to be 4-4.5 feet into a room. Not many places accommodate a pair of 3ft by 6 ft panels out 4 to 5 feet into a room. So, unless you have a dedicated listening room that is spacious, room set-up is difficult. Fitting a planer-based system into a regular living area (with other purposes for that room) is not easy and most spouses won't connect with that at all.
Polarin mentioned OHMs, which I prefer these days over planars as well. OHMs and Walsh style drivers in general are a totally different breed of "box" speaker for many reasons. I replaced my Maggies with OHMs most recently. I hear Magies still on occasion at dealers and gotta say there is nothing I miss about them still. If I did not listen to pop/rock/electronic music as well as all the rest, I might feel differently. Can't speak for other planars, but same true for Electrostats I have heard like QUAD. I wanted the QUAD sound but with all the large scale dynamics as well that I found limited. OHMs pretty much do it all for very reasonable cost that will vary directly with room size only.
Thanks to the members who have responded so far. Many points will be useful in my search for new speakers. I also appreciate the speaker recommendations other than ML's and Maggies which I will check out. Regarding ML, I listened to a pair of ML's EM-ESL electrostats when they first came into the market. They sounded very good, but the highs seemed a bit bright or pinched. Bass was good but not exceptional. Presentation and musicality were first rate
A member recently had a pair for sale on AG, because he is moving to Martin Logan "Theos" which are twice are as expensive as EM- ESL. The Theos are $4995.00 and a bit out of my price range.
I said this before, Martin Logan has a merry-go round of different speakers every 2 years or so, which makes me a bit reluctant abou their products. I remember in 2000-2001 hearing a pair of ML's "Ascent" which were (over) lauded by the audio press; I was not that impressed, or as impressed as much as hearing Aerius I from a decade(?) before
As many members know, planars and stats can be difficult to place and therefore hinky. If you buy retail, you might get the assistance of the dealer, or able to return them if not to the buyer's satisfaction. This becomes even a larger issue if you buy them used....returns are very few and far between on AG or any of the audio marts
To Ohnway61, as I just mentioned I have auditioned the ML speakers, including the original CLS which were awesome. I could listen until the shop's business hours, but that will not predict what either planars or stats will sound like at home
Jim, you've received lots of good comments, but one thing that hasn't been addressed which should be considered before embarking on one of these paths is amplification.
Maggies present fairly benign impedance characteristics to the amplifier, even though their impedance magnitude is in most cases nominally 4 ohms. However, they need a lot of power. If you still have and are planning to keep the Rogue Sphinx I recall that you were using not long ago, its 155 watt capability into 4 ohms (per Stereophile measurements) might be marginal (or worse) with a Maggie, depending on listening volume, room size, the dynamic range of the music, etc.
Martin-Logans, on the other hand, do NOT present benign impedance characteristics. As with many electrostatics and electrostatic hybrids, their impedance decreases to very low values in the upper treble region, typically reaching 1 ohm or even less at 20 kHz. With impedance phase angles that are significantly capacitive at many frequencies, which is much more challenging for an amplifier than the Maggie's mostly resistive impedance.
The impedance characteristics of an M-L will result in sonics that are particularly sensitive to the output impedance and other characteristics of the amplifier that is being used. The negligibly small output impedance of most solid state amplifiers (including the Sphinx) will interact with their decreasing impedance at high frequencies in a manner that will give greater emphasis to the upper treble, and perhaps the lower treble as well, in comparison with tube amps. And the tonal balance which will result with tube amps will tend to differ among different tube amps, due to their differing output impedances. And some amps will simply not be able to handle the very low impedance at high frequencies with any kind of good results.
In the absence of an audition, or specific and credible inputs from others, I would not assume that the Sphinx would be happy dealing with a Martin-Logan.
Good luck. Regards,
I realize I'm probably simplifying and generalizing, but aren't companies like Magico, Wilson Benesch, BMC (and I'm sure others I don't even know about) utilizing steel or aluminum cabinets in an effort to build "box" speakers but with such inert cabinets that they eliminate the "box" from the sound? Not that they're trying to replicate panels, of course, but that they're trying to create dynamic speakers that offer the same absence of cabinet coloration that panels enjoy? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?
Bcgator, I believe that you are correct in describing what many companies try to do, by designing inert cabinets that allow the drivers to work most efficiently without adding cabinet induced coloration. However many companies discover in attempting this that in reality all cabinets have some inherent sound which impacts the speaker's performance. So what some then do is design a cabinet more like a musical instrument, which is tuned so that its resonance is musically coherent rather than of an objectionable nature. There is more than one way to design and engineer a fine speaker, and it often comes down to subjective as well as objective performance goals.
I recently auditioned Sphinx at my local dealer running magnepans. It was a very good match seemingly. The amp had no problem driving them to reasonably high volume. The room was moderately large.
I'm considering Sphinx for use with my smaller ohms which I have ab compared to magnepans at home in the past and think that to be an even better match with more muscle overall.
Can't comment on Martin Logan. Not much experience there.
You have excellent taste. You are on the right track. Check out the magnapan 1.7 for under $2000.00. It is about 5feet tall but has a small footprint of approximately 17" x 2". The sound benefits are real. You cannot get better sound for the money. They sound more like real music than other speakers at this price point. To get the most from these speakers you need to place them in a suitable room. You are need a good amplifier. Good here does not mean expensive. (Eg: Odyssey Khartago extreme for about $1250) Contact the company to find out if the dimensions of your your room is suitable for these speakers. Good luck
Just thought. Line sources are more efficient as distance, dropping -3db at double distance rather than -6db for point source speakers. The guy/girl in the back row can enjoy.
"Or am I barking up the wrong tree?"
Some designers also attend to the cabinet shape to reduce diffraction (I used the wrong term last post).
"You cannot get better sound for the money."
Nothing against the maggies but see discussion above about the inherent differences, strengths and weaknesses.
Bottom line: if you enjoy listening to rock/pop/electronic music and want to feel teh energy of the music as well as hear it, Maggies are NOT a good choice.
If you just want to hear beautiful music sound beautiful, to hell with all the rest then Maggies are hard to beat.
Although there is also the mindset that for beauty in music alone, a simple low wattage 300B SET tube amp with high efficiency speakers is the way to go. There is merit to that argument IMHO. But that is a whole different can of worms, end to end.
The Mangaplaner 20.7 is one of the better bargains in the speaker world: fast, transparent, full range and not too hard to drive.
The Sound Lab is the state of the art in ESLs, and much easier to drive than Martin Logans, and usually have greater sound pressure capacity as well as deeper bass.
Both speakers have tube and transistor advocates.
Planars have a backwave that, because it arrives later than the front output of the speaker, aid the ear/brain system in improving sound source location; IOW imaging and depth.
"Planars have a backwave that, because it arrives later than the front output of the speaker, aid the ear/brain system in improving sound source location; IOW imaging and depth. "
All speakers have a backwave. Its more a matter of what frequencies are contained in the backwave and the magnitude. Planars have more of both than most box designs. Omnis also have more of both and also have a more 360 degree radiation pattern as opposed to a simple backwave firing 180 degrees in the opposite direction only.
The omni 360 degree dispersion pattern is more like what occurs when sound is generated in real life. IMHO, omni presentation is more realistic/lifelike in general as a result, but planars are a step in that direction compared to most forward firing box designs.
The wvefront generated by an omni is also phase coherent in all directions which results in a very coherent/natural sound.
Planar backwave is not in phase with forward firing wave. As a result, planars can have very holographic imaging when set up right but it does not necessarily sound coherent and natural like an omni. Its like listening to a gong strike. Very holographic and impressive with lots of sound everywhere but I find I do not enjoy planars nearly as much as I used to when I hear them now that I am acclimated to very high quality omni sound. The coherency is just not there. Except for things that radiate sound like a gong. :^)
"Planar backwave is not in phase with forward firing wave. As a result, planars can have very holographic imaging when set up right but it does not necessarily sound coherent and natural like an omni."
I don't know if you've ever tried it, but putting some type of room tuning product right behind the panel helps a lot.
I use to own a pair of Mirage M3's (Omnis)circa late 80's, that were very good at putting out a huge deep presentation, very detailed and dynamic with the McIntosh 300w/ch amp. I miss that sound, very wife un friendly though. I regretted the day I sold them. But O well, lesson learned! (don't let your wife make you sell your monoliths) Since then I have moved on to a conventional box speaker and I really like them as well :-) Maggies never grabbed me the way the M3's did, I will say.
Thanks again to those who responded, especially "Almarg" who always provides valuable technical information.
Yes, Al. I still have the Rogue Sphinx which has performed excellently over the year since I bought it.
To a degree I am still chasing my tail about speakers, but at a reduced pace which means I might give up. I am trying to find a smaller, slimmer speaker just as potent as the AZ Adagios. (BTU, I am using Grover Huffman speaker cable which is very good, and better in many areas of sound than the Audio Art SC-5. The GH's offers good balance and excellent bass)
But back to the focus of the thread: Maggies, even the new .7 would overwhelm the listening area of 12X14. As you mentioned, Maggies need power, and I was also told before, they have a inconsistent impedance to amp ratio which could spell trouble for the Rogue class D amp. Nevertheless, the M-L's EM-ESL might be the better and more practical choice. The ML Theos are too big and would create a nuclear meltdown on the homefront( which is now in Los Angeles). Member bpd24 recommended the Eminent Technology 8B, so I might take look and listen
On another related speaker issue, the Dynaudio Excite 16, or the Reference DeCapo 3A BE could be contenders if I should to go with a monitor speaker. Cheers to all!!
A major difference is the "waveform Launch" of a big Magnepan Vs a cone speaker!
If you want "punch" of heavy rock a long throw 12" cone works best, and is identical to what rock bands use.
If you want the "tone" of a big acoustic standup bass, or even a cello, a six foot tall panel launch is much more realistic.
Panels also give "Big" realistic images that boxes do not.
Zd what's behind the speakers and distance to it certainly matters and worth tweaking for owners but I've moved on to omnis and not looking back anymore"
Sorry, I didn't mean for my post to be just for you. It was just a general statement. I brought it up because it seems like a counter-intuitive thing to do. It's worth a try if you're looking to get more focus.
One of the couple of best systems I've ever heard was a pair of big SoundLab ESL's driven by big Atmasphere amps. I think the SL A1 or A3 was a favorite of J. Gordon Holt. For my money much preferable to Martin Logans, with Quads in the middle. But now Roger Modjeski of Music Reference/Ram Labs is making a direct-drive (no transformer) ESL/amp system that I'd love to hear.
"A major difference is the "waveform Launch" of a big Magnepan Vs a cone speaker!"
That is a common difference.
The difference between a wide range omni and either planar or cone speakers is even greater. Some will love it and never look back. Others might not ever take to it.
Most people are conditioned towards the sound of box speakers at home. Those with good ears who are also well conditioned towards what non-amplified music sounds like live are most likely to take to the omni sound. IMHO of course.
But when talking about "waveform launch", its important to note that other than in an anechoic chamber, the surroundings/room plays a very significant role.
I tend to find that when a good speaker of each unique type is set up well, with room acoustics properly factored in, that they all tend to sound more similar than different in presentation.
I tend to think in terms of listening to teh music in my room, not what is coming out of the speakers, though that cetrtainly is the source. I try to use my room and then perhaps tame it slightly as needed whereas some choose to more "fight" the room after the fact of having placed a system that does not sound right in there in the first place.
Its all a matter of what players are involved and how one chooses to play the game. In the game, it can all work out similarly well. The variety of systems out there that all sound really good are the proof.
" I feel you have to spend 6 figures for a box speaker to get the sound I get from $8k stats. It costs alot of money to get that cabinet out of the way. And alot of technology.
Cerrot (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)"
6 figures? Vandersteen can get the box out of the way. You can even get into 6 figure territory if you start 2 decimal places to the right where the pennies are accounted for.
"" I feel you have to spend 6 figures for a box speaker to get the sound I get from $8k stats. It costs alot of money to get that cabinet out of the way. And alot of technology.
Cerrot (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)"
You can get it it in a small to moderate sized room with a piar of smaller used OHM Walshes sometimes for well under $1000. Those that use later revisions of the OHm Walsh CLS driver are best, mk/series II, III or current X000 series.
The first genration OHM CLS drivers used in original OHM Walsh models from teh early to mid 80s sound similar but are not nearly as refined sounding as good modern speakers, ES or otherwise. Those can still be had in all sizes for all sized rooms still on teh used market all for under $1000 usually.
I got my first panel speakers in November 2013, Magneplanar 1.7s. The first
thing I noticed is how *noisy* all my previous speakers had been--noisy with
cabinet vibrations and enclosure turbulence. The Maggies put out a much
cleaner sound without all the drama of trying to contain and manage the
backwave. Even though my previous main speakers were constructed to
recduce cabinet noise as much as possible (curvilinear enclosure, extensive
chambering and bracing, no parallel cabinet surfaces whatsoever), the
Maggies that replaced them made me realize that I'd been listening through
a pile of low-level noise all that time.
This makes perfect sense; a driver is putting out the same amount of sound
to the front as to the rear. The front waves fill the listening room; with a box
speaker, the rear waves are all supposed to be inaudibly contained in a
relatively small box, the speaker enclosure.
Furthermore, with box enclosures, the rear waves of the big drivers bounce
off the back of the enclosure and affect the forward motion of the very same
drivers. With panel speakers you get *none* of that: the rear wave dissipates
into the room at large. The panel frame does not have to tame and contain
the back waves.
Panel speakers are line sources; as was pointed out previously, line sources
only lose 3dB per doubling of the listening distance vs. 6dB for point
Panel speakers have advantages in coherence, as all frequencies emanate
from the same plane, and the rise time of all frequencis is within a tighter
Panel speakers have large radiating surfaces, which means diaphragm
motion is very small, which reduces the artifacts of inertia, such as overshoot
Being dipolar, panel speakers have a figure-8 radiating pattern, with self-
canceling voids to the sides. This significantly reduces the sidewall bounce
so typical of dynamic speakers.
I have also found the dipolar radiation pattern to be an advantage in bass
control. While deep bass may need a subwoofer, the bass in the 100-200 Hz
range is much cleaner and easy to manage, thanks to the self-canceling rear
wave. You just don't get that annoying upper bass "hump" so
typical of floorstanding speakers, and less need for corner bass traps to
I've been in this hobby since 1958 when I built my first Heathkit amp and "Sweet Sixteen" speaker (monaural) in jr high school. Since then I have owned very many speakers, both "boxed" and planar. I won't go into the tech aspects as that has already been done by others more qualified than I, but I'll pass on my personal observations.
Until about 35 yrs ago I used only conventional speakers of the highest quality that I could afford and was almost always satisfied with the sound that each produced. My first experiment with planars was a pair of small Acoustats that I found in a pawnshop. I had no knowledge of even the concept of electrostats but knew, at first listen, that this technology was going to be in my consideration for the future.
Next I purchased the Magnepans (don't remember their model numbers) and owned 3 different sets, all medium to large panels and found them to be the most musical, smooth and overall appealing speakers that I'd used to date. I would still be using Maggies if the only music I listened to was light jazz, string quartets and acoustic guitar. I had teenagers at the time, though, and found them not to be the best choice for rock and roll at higher volumes but, on the other hand, orchestral music at similar volumes was wonderful.
I then went back to electrostats using Martin Logan Prodigy, SL3, CLS, Odysseys which I owned for about 14 yrs, and now the Ethos. I was very happy with all of them and the only reason I'm now staying with electrostats over the Magnepans is that, even though I enjoy the transparency of both, I feel that the 'stats are more versatile.
Both need relatively powerful amplification but the Martin Logans need high current capable amps because of the extreme low impedances presented to them at high frequencies. For those of you who enjoy action movies, regardless of panel size, will want a decent subwoofer or 2 to get the chest thumping bass associated with that form of entertainment. I also have a comment on one post in this thread regarding use of the Rogue Audio Sphinx with Martin Logan speakers. I know that the power specs wouldn't seem to meet the criteria assumed necessary for the Martin Logans but perhaps the best sound of any pairing that I've used would be the Sphinx with the Odysseys.
These comments are based on my personal listening tastes and not meant as recommendations to anyone else but I have been the recipient of very good advice and info in these forums that provided time and money saving shortcuts to good sound. I thought it was time that I make at least some small contributions.
Cerrot give me some more sample tunes to try and what to listen for and I'll give it a shot and report back. I don't have any of those specifically to try.
I can say I have heard similar details in various recordings but of course every recording is different so need to compare apples and apples.
Also I can say I have listened to many high end systems and live performances in the process of putting my rig together and my goal that I feel I have achieved quite well is little or no compromise.
A summary of planar characteristics vs. dynamic box speakers is contained in this Absolute Sound review of the Maggie 20.7s under the heading, "Design Advantages of a Large Dipole Loudspeaker." I think this is a pretty good description that addresses the OP's original question.
I found that his comments corroborate my own impressions of my 1.7s.
An agenda, other than sharing my thoughts on this hobby? wow...
on tunes, try buddy guy, done got old. You should hear his breath like he is hanging on your shoulder. You should feel the emotion coming over your shoulder lke a sledge hammer. My system is incrdedibly resolving. I had a pair of ohms back in 1982-84. Thy spent a year as front speakers, being relegatded to the rear channels shortly there after. Not a bad speaker but truly no where near the resolution of my stats.
Cerrot ohms from early 80s would not likely do what you say. Those were the gen 1 models. I mentioned. The later revisions up to and including current x000 line are up to snuff in comparison to other very good modern speakers I hear.
I had those originals for years along with other more modern designs to compare including the newer ohms. I've a/b Ed them side by side so I am confident with my assertions accordingly.
At last weekend's T.H.E. Show in Irvine I took a good listen to the new Maggie .7, and to an ESL I hadn't before heard---a Sanders. I liked them both a lot, the Sanders a real lot. And a huge difference between a panel and a box speaker was reinforced by also listening to Vandersteen 7's and a couple of Wilsons at the show. As fine a loudspeaker as both companies make, the instruments and voices coming out of them sounded 1- Severely miniaturized, much smaller than in life and to the full size images coming from even the modestly-priced .7's. And 2- I found myself looking down on the performers, the sound of instruments and voices being about three feet off the floor. For me, that immediately destroys the "suspension of disbelief" a speaker needs to provide if I am to listen to music through it everyday. But that's just me!
"As fine a loudspeaker as both companies make, the instruments and voices coming out of them sounded 1- Severely miniaturized, much smaller than in life and to the full size images coming from even the modestly-priced .7's. And 2- I found myself looking down on the performers, the sound of instruments and voices being about three feet off the floor."
You can deal with those issues without having to get a panel. With proper equipment matching, you can make images/scale just as big.
Not with Vandersteens or the smaller Wilsons, in my experience. The big Wilsons are a different story, for those who can afford them. But for five or ten thousand, panels rule!"
You're right in that I didn't use Wilson or Vandersteen, I did it with a pair of mid 90's Mission floor standers that retailed for around $1000. The images I got were so big it wasn't believable. I didn't really care for the overall sound. My point was that it can be done without panels if you know how to match your gear for that type of result,
The interaction between speaker and room can effect apparent image size. But the components upstream of the speakers? I can see how they could make things smaller, but the speaker is the final arbitrator. The sound is being squeezed through those drivers the same no matter what signal they are fed. If a speaker sounds "small", nothing upstream can change that characteristic of the speaker, I don't believe.