Puzzled about reasons why there seems to be no shortage of used planner speakers


All the over the top reviews of the Magnepan LRS has awakened the old puzzlement of how good are my DIY speakers and is it worth it to make a change?

I am very satisfied with my current system as far as my analog sources go.  I have a Denon direct drive turntable in a custom plinth, a Jelco tone arm  and a Transfiguration Temper Supreme cartridge. The phono pre is the octal version of the Hagerman Coronet with Lundahl step up transformers. I'm using a Toshiba HD DVD player for playing CD's. I'm using a Rotel RSP-1098 in analogue bypass for all sources. My amp is a VTL 50/50 tube amp.

My speakers are transmission line and utilizing parts from North Creek including hand wound coils and Harmony capacitors. Any one who has heard them has been impressed with them and with one being brought to tears of joy having never heard his favorite song played through a system such as mine.

That leaves me with a dilemma. If I go with the LRS, I will have to sell the VTL amp to get a used amp that can power the LRS. 

What is troubling me is seeing so many used planar speakers for sale on Ebay and Audiogon. Is that because they grow tired of them, or feel a need to try something new? Or are they upgrading to another planar speaker, or all of these reasons?
 
I'd like to hear from those that sold or are selling their planar speakers. 

I've only ever heard one planar speaker in my life and that was for about 5 minutes when I was taking my daughter through one of Seattle's high end stores to let her hear the differences between between differing levels of quality speakers as she was planning to get a her own system in the near future.  I've never heard a Maggie.

I don't want to get in the position of having sold my VTL to make this change and winding up with probably an amplifier that really doesn't come up to the same level quality and would most likely be a SS amp.

My goal here is to try get the best information I can from those that felt the need make similar decisions. I am retired now and living on a fixed income in a town in New Mexico (Las Cruses) that has no real Hi-end stores.

Any offers from anyone locally to let me hear their system would be most appreciated.  
rogue_angel
Its hard enough building a really satisfying music system without making things even harder by choosing components that narrow your choices and flexibility. You don't have to have owned a pair to understand this. I even get the impression from your post that you do understand this. And you are right to be concerned.

Maybe you heard Martin Logans at the old Magnolia HiFi. Couldn't have been Hawthorne, unless they were used, and I don't recall Definitive carrying ML they tend to go with worse hyper-technical hi-fi sounding everything. Or who knows somewhere else. Point is, if in those 5 minutes you fell head over heels in love that would be one thing. Instead it sounds like the ones you love are the ones you have.

Which is great. You built them, so you know what you got. Almost certainly if you look at them critically you will easily be able to find several, maybe even a whole bunch, of little things you could tweak to make better. Better wire, or wire geometry. Better caps. Better material or reinforcement here or there. Maybe relocate the crossovers outside the cabinet. Whole long list of little tweaks. Even a few of which are likely to have your already impressive speakers singing even better.

Take it from a guy who had a magical pair of speakers and regrets ever letting them go. You ever get lucky enough to find yourself with a diamond, you'll do a lot better to polish the rough edges than go hunting another diamond.
Planar speakers delaminate over a few years. ...limited life
Post removed 

Not all planars delaminate, in fact most don't. Delaminate means the glue with which the conductive wire is secured to the Mylar that is the driver dries up and looses it's grip, the wire therefore separating from the Mylar (almost always at the end loops of the wire), causing buzzing. The only planar drivers constructed that way (conductive wire glued onto Mylar) are the magnetic-planar drivers in Magnepans (not all their drivers are m-p). No ESL's are, nor ribbons, nor the Eminent Technology magnetic-planar LFT drivers.

Magnepan cured this problem years ago by switching brands of glue; it hasn't been a problem with new models since. Older Magnepans suffering delamination can be repaired by cleaning off the old glue and regluing the wire onto the Mylar. Magnepan will do it for you, or you can do it yourself without much trouble. Removing the staples which secure the grill cloth to the speaker frame is the hardest part!

Millercarbon

It was the Magnolia HiFi in the university district.  We also went over to Hawthorn after Magnolia so she could get a feel for how different used gear was selling for. It just happened that we went there directly after listening a $ 100K system. With in a month she was buying some used speakers in LA. From the reviews I was able to find, she made a good choice.

If you are in Las Cruces you should check out High End Zone in Gila,NM.About 2 1/2 hours almost directly north of you.They sell here,i have never seen the facility,.Check them out online.A haunting and beautiful drive there and back makes this a no brainer.
I have original MG IIIa and 3.6 ....not delaminated.

Not really a problem even with old ones....keep the back out of strong sun lite and do not playback super loud.

My MGIIa from 1976 did delaminate in 1987, but that was a very old version of the glue.

Magnepan will also replace the delaminated panels at the factory ... like new.



Hey Don, nice to see you here at Audiogon! (Don and I are familiar names to each other from the Rythmik AVS Forum. We both use Rythmik subs with our Maggies)---Eric.
Planar speakers delaminate over a few years. ...limited life

Yeah, maybe 30 years ago, but not any longer.
Getting planar speakers to sing is more difficult than with most point source designs. Positioning is more critical as is acoustic management of the space around them. They require a lot of power and yet do deep bass poorly and are best served by integrating them with subwoofers. Done correctly there is no comparison particularly with electrostatic planar speakers. Magnepans can do an excellent job given enough power and an array of top notch subwoofers. 
Post removed 
It was the Magnolia HiFi in the university district. We also went over to Hawthorn after Magnolia so she could get a feel for how different used gear was selling for. It just happened that we went there directly after listening a $ 100K system. With in a month she was buying some used speakers in LA. From the reviews I was able to find, she made a good choice.

Yeah on Roosevelt, to be precise. The $100k system had to have been Definitive Audio, although that would be cheap for them even years ago. Definitive holds the world record for the most years of the worst sounding most expensive system in a state. At last visit they are up to $1.3M and sucking strong! My best audio bud for years made a good living just off of Microsoft millionaires who would ditch their entire Definitive systems when they heard a real music system.

Once you get to the point where you’ve built not only your own satisfying system but your own satisfying speakers, your whole system is so tuned to where you want it, its very hard to imagine going into any shop and finding anything any good. The $1.3M at Definitive sounds to me like absolute dreck. But probably not because its all truly dreck. In reality only some of it is crap. Some is dreck. Some of it might even be good. But in a store? Where they don’t know the first thing about how to set it up? Warm it up? Tune it up? Where they plug components together because this is what they want to sell, or this is what some customer wants to buy, but NEVER because this is what sounds good??? Or, worse, what some guy is selling on some website? Anyone can post on those sites, you know. Even clowns like me.

Sorry, I don’t know you from Adam, but based on what I do know its hard to see you doing that. Or if you do then swallowing hard like I would have to do.

Are you sure you wouldn’t rather patiently tweak away with what you have?





Maybe it's because planner speakers are so big?  A lot of new speakers have all sorts of va-va-voom shapes, materials and finishes.  Also one can't rule out visual response.
Roge Angel:

There seems to be a lot of everything out there in the used world
at 50-80% off original retail. Audio Gear is a case where the rich are serving the masses. They allow makers to spend $$ on R&D and develop new stuff to trickle down to the unwashed. They buy high and sell low. Benefits everyone!! Gotta love it!!

Now Quad has pulled out of the electrostatic business recently.
I understand they were made in China but I am thinking it must
have been River City as they had Trouble. Every speaker developed snap crackle pop. Do not buy a used pair of Quads.

This Leaves Martin Logans,  Muradio, Sound Labs, Sanders, Magnepan and likely many others. 

Roger Sanders really has the thing figured out after only 40 years!
Power hungry? Yes two per side, thousand watt, a/b monoblocks. With 4k of bi-wired power you won't hear clipping. And there's more..
Room correction device is included. Not enough ? Transmission line bass speakers. Kicks out real bass. Want more? Okay then -Lifetime Warranty!!!  Price $17k. (gives you one of the 1.000 watt amps)
Sounded amazing at Axpona.

Now the ML Renaissance has attracted some folks. $26k. 
Sounded very nice at Axpona.

Maggie 3.7s $6k ( guesstimated) Really the best value on the surface. Great sound too. Rebuild those XO's and you have something special.
At Axpona demoed as a 5.1 system. The $650 Starter set is getting
mega press and platitudes. The owner of Magnepan must be rolling
on the floor laughing!!!

Plus side:
To my ears Electro and Planar speakers "envelop" you as a listener. The box speaker doesn't quite do that. To me, the E & P sound is "As good as it gets".

Downside:
You do need a room big enough to pull those babies out 3' from the back. Limiting for many. You need SS power out the ying-yang. Goodbye 
sweet tubes. And of course they are all pretty ugly so they tend to look like a turd in a punchbowl sitting in your  Living Room. If you have a wife and a pair of these shield-like speakers, you'll need a listening room or you won't have both for long.

So to answer your question, why so many for sale? Who knows?
Consider it your good fortune and buy a pair!!!
1.  Upgrades--once you own them and set them up correctly, you will HEAR that boxes do not reproduce as accurately (given the quality of your source material and components.)  Thus, upgrades as your ability to purchase increases.  (Personally, I use older ones in other parts of the house, but that's just me!)

2.  De-lam:  Not in many years.  Jim and his team switched glues YEARS ago.  The TI-C's that I listen to and the pair that the factory refurbed for me years ago (last pair they did, I think) are just fine, thank you.  If you look at I-A or I-B you might have an issue.  Get ones that were made a bit after 1975 or so.

3.  Size can be an issue if you are downsizing; good news is that they make ALL SIZES now, so no need to give up the quality of sound that you have discovered.

Once you figure out what you have with these, you will probably not go back to boxes if you can help it.  Of course, some do not care for them, so there are 250+ other full-line manufacturers out there to choose from--no reason to hate on Maggies if you like something else.  When I had my shop, I sold MANY brands--some were horrible at accuracy but the CUSTOMER loved them, so they walked out with them and were quite happy.  Otherwise, there would be only one speaker maker, right??

Purchase carefully; audition them (used speakers) if you can, and talk to Magnepan about refreshing anything you are considering.  Crossover's can fail--you have no idea what the current owner did to them--so purchase carefully and you will be happy.

Cheers,

Richard
I suspect there is one more issue that applies to many of us... “our sense of what sounds good” changes over time. Planars sound great this year... high efficiency next year... and so on. 

The LRS will undoubtedly be lacking in some areas... and won’t satisfy some people long term... but it is so affordable that it may induce more people to have a second system???
They sound good at first but ultimately are unsatisfactory.
If you are interested in PM, then can find a set of BG Radia 520s, and listen them.  (Full disclosure: I was BG's patent attorney for many years, until they were bought by Christie Digital.)

The 520s were designed by Igor Levitsky, the designer behind the Oppo PM series as well as other PM systems.  The 520s use 50" PM tweeter/mid (similar to the Neo tweeter you see on Parts Express).  They create a very nicely sized soundstage and exact imaging, especially in height.  A sub is helpful but not strictly necessary in small room.  To my older ear which is -6b down at 11k, they sound nicely balanced. They need decent power (100w). Read the Stereophile review.

A lesser, smaller, on-wall alternative is the BG R17s.  Google that and you will find a dealer bgradiadesign (to whom I have no affiliation) selling NOS.


Why are you puzzled there is no shortage of used planars?

There is no shortage of used box speakers either. In fact, there are far more used box speakers (because more are sold).

By my quick calculation, just looking at audiogon, there are roughly 480 speakers for sale, with only 24 of those being planar speakers. 5% of the speakers for sale.

Does this constitute some surprising percentage of planars for sale?It doesn’t to me. Especially if you take in to account that this is a high end audio site and planars are virtually automatically "high end" speakers. (In other words, there is a selection bias going on - there is a much higher percentage of box speaker to planar speakers sold if you take in all the "non-high end" box speakers sold. But once you are talking high end audio, it’s almost a right of passage for many to have tried planars at least once).

Anyway, if you are looking for reasons some of us move on from planars, I moved on (from Quad ESL 63s) because although I loved the boxless quality and sense of transparency, I missed the sense of body, palpability and dynamics I get with box speakers. And these days, plenty of box speakers sound very "boxless" and transparent, so I’m getting enough of that plus the dynamic qualities I crave. I’ve seen many previous planar owners express the same sentiment.

Of course, there are others who had a planar speaker early, tried box speakers, found that box speakers didn’t give them what they liked from the planar, and went back to planar. And so it goes....





"Why are you puzzled there is no shortage of used planars?"

I was expecting ( rightly or wrongly ) that the people that loved the "boxless quality and sense of transparency" would make it difficult to give that up. Personally if I were that enamored with that sound presentation that would be the case for me. There are so many more box speaker manufacturers with many choices of models that it seems more likely that the desire to upgrade would be more pronounced. 

Since it appears I will not be able to audition a maggie after discussions with nearby dealers; the discussion is essentially mute,  as I will never ever buy a speaker without hearing it first. Same idea applies to cars; no test ride means no sale. 

Thanks  all of  the responses. It was very useful to me!

It is comforting for me that my horns and I are prepared for the High Efficiency fad coming next year...bring 'em on I say. I do think Maggies sound great, but I have noticed that they're often mistaken for dressing screens much to the surprise of the embarrassed disrobed people found behind them.
I had a set of Maggie 1.6QRs for several years and really enjoyed them. Then I moved. I went from a house with a perfect room for planar speakers to a house with a poor room for them. Bi-polar planar speakers interact with rooms differently than conventional box speakers -- if your room isn't suitable for planars there isn't much you can do to fix it. So, now you know why I sold mine 12 years ago.
I have owned Maggies for the last 38 years, and since buying a set of MG20.1's in 1998, I wouldn't change! Well, there are the MG30.7's. If only.....
Why just limit yourself to planar or box or horn etc. Buy used and spread your money out over all varieties you like and take turns listening to each type and move on when you would like a new experience.
Hi Rogue....I love Maggies and am thinking about a pair of LRS for a second system. The question may be if your current system brings YOU to tears and connects you to the music, keep it and enjoy other systems with other SQ values you love when you can. I’m assuming (maybe incorrectly) you do not have the funds or space for more than one system.
My first pair of planar speakers were the Maggie Tympani 1Ds back in the early 1970s.  The were physically huge, required multiple ARC Tube amps to sound their best, and yes, were often mistaken for a pair of dressing screens.  But the sound experience they produced was, and still would be no doubt to this day, truely world class.  

When I moved to a major metropolitan area and smaller living quarters, I replaced them with a pair of Infinity ServoStatics, which were physically MUCH smaller, but sounded terrific, on stands, right up until they would arc-over and need RTR elements replaced.

Later on I moved on to the much more reliable Accoustat 2s, then the 1+1s, and finally the 2+2s and direct drive amps. But no matter what I tried, they still had an artificial, over etched sound about them that I couldn’t live with in the long run.  To my ear, the Martin Logan’s have a tendency toward those those same colorations.

I was very happy with Audiostatics for several years, but no matter what I tried, I never could never get a subwoofer that could seamlessly give them the bass augmentation they needed.

The sound of Carver’s Amazing Speakers caught my ear for a number of years, and the BG Radia with the same ribbon driver was also a keeper.

I have tried all kinds of box speakers  along the way, from Celestion, to KEF, to B&W, and even ARC triamped Fulton J Modulars, but none could ever provide the immediacy and immersive soundfield of planers.

After over 40 years of searching for a completely satisfying sound system, I heard a pair of Sound Labs M-1s at a friends’s home.  Finally, after all these years of searching, I had found the sound quality that I have always hoped would be possible.  

I bought a used pair of Sound Labs M-1s and sent them to the factory to have the panels and backplates brought up to date.  The people at Sound Labs were very friendly and helpful and walked me through the whole process.  For me, Sound Lab speakers and Pass Labs electronics provide absolute sonic nirvana.  I am retired now, and often have 4 or more hours listening sessions, day after day.  The sound quality is so spookily realistic that I am continually amazed at how much more there is to be heard and enjoy on all of my favorite recordings.

Sound Labs electrostatic speakers have been around for so long that, years ago, J Gordon Holt used to use them for his personal reference.  In recent years, Sound Lab has made changes in their panel and backplate design that make them more efficient and even better than ever.  The most recent developments have made it possible to produce the same quality of sound by noticeably smaller sized panels than my M-1s.  

Sound Labs has chosen to remain a niche company, with a small production and only a handful of dealers world wide.  If you buy a pair of their speakers, it will not be because of any advertising or mass marketing on their part.  They are the opposite of Martin Logan.  More like Magnepan.  Much more like Sanders.  You will have to go out of your way to get them, but they are well worth the effort.

By the way, I am not affiliated with Sound Labs or Pass Labs, or anybody else.  I am just a home music lover, who, after all these years, has finally found the almost perfect speaker.   I say “almost perfect speaker” because to me, the truely perfect speaker would sound exactly like these Sound Labs, but would be as small as a Rogers LS3/5a.


You may see many planars for sale- some for good reasons...some for not-so-good reasons. Not sure this topic just gets overthought, though.    

You're about to ride a spiral.  

The LRS ribbon can offer more amazing details- including illuminating compromises you have gotten used to with your existing system.  The contrast of the different sound stage will be aesthetic change.  (Tho, from my experiences,  spouse can tolerate Paganini Violin Concerto w/out running from the room w/Planars. )

What you may have not visited for some time is how many amplifiers do you know of that have >1dB design/peak margin?  What was once inaudible clipping might now become audible.  50 W might've been OK.  To fill your listening space, 3dB takes you to 100 W.  6dB will take you to 200 W.    

As to your venue, (an enclosed, reflective wall/ceiling?) might've given you a +6dB. Hardwalls will emphasize the high end spectrum.  And a ribbon w/ <4' from a wall may cause you to consider anechoic treatments.  Planars are a bit more- forgiving?  

I tried the Apogee Scintilla (1 Ω) but, even hernia-weight amplifiers (Krell 250) still wasn't enough. Many Krells were sacrificed to Tūtū Pele trying to feed Scintillas.  Yes- this LRS is 4 Ω...but let's see what happens above 4kHz. Unless LRS rolls off the high end....

look at all the use Drivers
cone speakers on the market.  you better get some power  if you want to play with ELS, Ribbons 
 stuff like that you can't be a pussy going that way 

@lwrobertson, terrific post! The Tympani T-I’s were also my first planars, but mine were the original 1972 version, no A, B, C, or D. I also moved on to the Fulton Model J, but soon missed what a big planar does that NO box speaker I have heard can, regardless of size or price.

I later got into the original Quad (both single, and stacked pairs), and recently back into Tympani’s, with the T-IVa’s I now own. I once heard some big Sound Labs (driven by big Atma-Sphere amps) at a hi-fi show in SoCal, but something was seriously wrong---there was some what sounded like amp clipping going on. I have also heard the Sanders, which I thought were excellent. And now Roger Modjeski (Music Reference) is making an ESL, and offering it with a direct-drive tube amp. I’m planning on hearing it on my next trip down to California.

With the new Magnepan LRS being available for $650, there is no reason for an audiophilic music lover to resign him or herself to a box loudspeaker!

@firstnot That 5.1 Magnaplaner set up at AXPONA was awful.
Rogue Angel, Magnepan is a giant among high end manufacturers. I suspect the reason you're seeing so many for sale is that they sell so many.

Like any other speaker, planars have both advantages and disadvantages that suit them to a particular type of listener. I've been an unabashed planar fan ever since my friend scores an old pair of KLH-9's in college. I was taken by their realism on acoustical music, something I'd never heard from dynamics (and still, I confess, haven't).

Planars also have very high bang for the buck. The most expensive part of a speaker is the cabinet and planars don't have one!

However, dynamics have their own virtues. They have higher wife acceptance factor, many fit in small spaces, and they can often play *louder* than planars.

The LRS is an amazing speaker -- I've never heard anything close for $650! Steve Guttenburg compared them to $2000 speakers. But as the smallest, entry-level Maggie it isn't going to work in a large room without a sub and I think you'd want a sub for rock as well. And it isn't going to cruise at 120 dB like a Wilson, or 110 dB like a big Maggie would. So it should be considered with those limitations in mind, as well as the 50 Hz low frequency limit -- surprisingly sufficient since most fundamentals are above that but you will hear the difference of more extended LF response.

What planars will do in general is give you a more realistic rendition of acoustical instruments. On the bigger ones, that can be spookily realistic.

Anyway, you're exactly the person the LRS is designed to reach! The LRS is an "appetizer," as Magenpan puts it. They sell them at not much more than cost and they have a generous return policy. The reason they sell them without making money off them is that they know that a certain percentage of people who buy them will fall in love with the planar sound and buy their bigger models.

Of course, a lot of people will just stick with the LRS, and they get a great bargain.

But I wouldn't hesitate to try them -- they're wonderful speakers and that's exactly what they want you to do (and while they hope you'll move up, they don't mind if you like and keep them). The main issue seems to be your amp. I wonder if you could get a loaner to try them with? You could listen with your VTL to get an impression of the sound, but you'd have to play them at background music levels and won't be able to test their dynamics.
@noromance,

The room was too small for five Maggies, and it was suffering from the midrange emphasis that bedevilled the rooms at Axpona. I've heard that Exasound and Magnepan are planning to get a larger room next year.


wumwhat3,

According to Magnepan, the LRS does dip below 4 ohms, but it doesn't seem to be the amp destroyer that the 1 ohm Scintilla was! Steve Guttenburg tried them with a receiver with poor results, but a Schiit Vidar drove them well (only $700) and he had even better results with his Pass.

Like the x.7 Maggies, which also have an impedance dip, a decent high current audiophile amp that can nearly double power into 4 ohms should work well. When I heard them at AXPONA they were being driven by a prototype 150 watt/channel Magnepan amp and they sounded great.
rogue_angel, the LRS was designed precisely for people like you who weren't close to a dealer. Magnepan sells them at near cost with a generous return policy so that you can try them at home. The purpose of the program is to give people a taste of the planar sound. Some people will keep the LRS's for life, but others will want deeper bass, higher levels, or the true ribbon tweeter and move up to the larger Maggies.

One of their main challenges as a company is that people don't buy big planars unless they've heard the sound, and with fewer high end dealers in the country, fewer people have a chance to do that. Wendell Diller, Magnepan's director of marketing, told me he hopes that even people who own $20,000 speakers will try them, again, to get an idea of what the larger models can do.
My Acoustat 22s are still going great...10 year old Martin Logans too, ditto 20 year old Monsoon desktop planar magnetics. I still feel shorted listening to box and cones - they lack so much, why waste my money? Just to test folding ribbons I got the close-out Emotiva B1s 2 weeks ago - I am thinking I will make very good use of them!