You have to decide what kind of sound staging you want before you choose one of these speakers over the other, especially the Quad vs any panel. The are very different!
If you want a high resolution point source speaker other than a more conventional cone design, Quad is your only choice (at least that I have listened to).
FWIW, and its probably not much (!) I have listened to Maggies and ML's and while both can be impressive neither are point sources which is my personal sonic preference. Of those two I found the Maggies to have a somewhat warmer tone than the ML's but I prefer the sound of the electrostat panel in the ML to the Ribbon in the Maggie. Conversely the Maggies bass is more of one piece with the rest of the speaker than the box sub on most ML's. In fact some of the best bass I have ever heard was from Magnepan panels. As I said, FWIW.
Hands down, the Quad is the best that you seek!
stick with the maggies, even if you upgrade. the quads are good too, but you will spend more for less.
I have owned Magnepan 3.6's and now listen to ML CLS's with a ML Depth sub. The 3.6's needed to be playing fairly loud to sound their best. The ribbon tweeter always seemed to be a bit hot. I could never quite get it right. I even actively biamped the 3.6's. The CLS is a low level detail champion. I don't have to crank up the volume to enjoy them. They are totally seamless since they have no crossover and are basically a single segmented driver. I run the CLS full range and flush the sub in from the bottom up. The 3.6 had much better bass and in my opinion does not need a sub. If my listening room was larger, the 3.6's may have been the ticket. The CLS seems to work better for me.
You get what you pay for!
MMG's are cheap and may sound really good in the "right" position with the "right" amp in a really narrow sweet spot. Bigger Maggies are a much better comparison to ML & Quad.
The ML's are more forgiving of listening position and easier on your amp. My favorites for the money.
If money doesn't matter, I'd pick the Quads.
Keep in mind that power matters with these speakers more than most. I wouldn't even dream of running these with less than 100 watts and would prefer 200+.
My final rant: Room size matters. These all like big rooms. What are your room dimensions? Ceiling height? Can you place the speakers 3 feet from any wall? I heard the quads in an amazing room but they were 5 feet from any wall, in a room about 20 x 35 with 11 foot ceilings and ran on huge parasound monoblocks.
My listening room is 28X32 with vaulted ceings. I run 3.6's with a Sunfire Architectural Signature Sub. The sound is astounding. As previously mentioned they do require a lot of clean power. And they do require to be at a bare minimum of two feet from the rear wall. I owned the 1.6's prior to this. The performance of the 1.6's pushed me getting the 3.6's. I have no complaints whatsover on the 3.6's. I have to be careful over my love for the Maggies! Those 20.1's have my heart pumping but not at three times the price. Well ........ maybe?
Of those brands...Maggie 20 series would be my top choice (you will need a very large room)...none of the other Maggies beat the Quads IMHO. Matin Logan...I could only own the CLS's (with subs)...maybe?...I've never heard them with subs to be honest.
Thanks for the advice guys, I really appreciate your opinion. I suppose I should provide you with a bit more detail regarding my interest in the above speakers. I'd always had an interest in hifi and while searching for a Rega Planar 3 turntable found myself in a fairly hi-end store. While there I experienced a real 'freak-out' moment, I literally heard Tracy Chapman appear over my left shoulder, the effect was a bit bewildering to be honest as I'd never any idea that electronics/hifi equipment could be so convincing - to be specific had I been blindfolded I would have been convince there was a real person present, but not only that I could pinpoint exactly wher the 'voice' appeared as it had an uncanny 3d quality to it. Upon enquiry I was informed that the sound was coming from a pair of electrostatic speakers (the brand name escapes me) - but these were nowhere near the apparent location of the 'voice'. Anyways that moment has been a BIG influence on my current inerests. For those of you experienced with, well. general mid-range hifi gear I have a further question. Was that 'real person in the room' effect simply down to the traits & charactoristics of the electrostatic ?....or do box speakers, when partnered with good components, perform that trick similarly.
Again, many thanks
Newbee tells it like it is.
I've owned three pairs of Quads, five pairs of Maggies, and one pair of Martin Logans.
Here's the way I'd put it: The larger Maggies tend to have a relaxing and forgiving tonal balance, but are a little lacking in upper harmonic detail compared with the Quads. The Quads are (to my ears) a little bit forward in the lower treble region. Martin Logans don't have quite the detail of the Quads, nor the coherence of the Quads or Maggies, but they will play deeper in the bass and are in my opinion the most physically beautiful electrostats. Getting a good blend between point source woofer and line source panel isn't easy, and is somewhat distance-dependent, so I would say that either the Quads or the Maggies are going to sound more consistent from one room to another.
As Mrderrick notes, Maggies generally need to be cranked up a bit to really "come to life". If your listening style includes a lot of low-level, late night listening, then an electrostat might make more sense.
The good news is, I don't think there's a bad choice among these three brands. I'd call the Maggies the most forgiving with the widest sweet spot, the Quads the most detailed and revealing with a fairly small sweet spot, and the ML's in between with deeper bass but possible bass/panel integration problems.
You can do this with well set up 'box' speakers as well as panels and electrostats. In fact the first time I heard this holographic effect was with a small pair of Thiel 04's (box 2 way floorstanders) driven by a Threshold class A amp, a Conrad Johnson tube pre-amp and a TT (I forget the make etc) playing an LP of Depth of Image by Opus Three - about 25 years ago! You felt you could walk in amoungst the musicians.
Its far more about set up (including room treatments if necessary) than speaker type. And its not particularily easy to get holographic imaging with panel speakers or Quads either although these speakers can sound more atmospheric with less effort because of the back wave from the speaker, which is not to say they are easy to set up. Quite to the contrary, for what goes as excellent sound its much easier to set up appropriate box speakers.
As with other things in this hobby its all about some sort of trade offs, but I've always found that careful attention to matching speakers to room size then proper set up is FAR FAR more important than speaker type or electronics. You can get excellent sound with well selected but ordinary stuff if you can match up the components and perfect the set up. Conversely outstanding components not matched up or not properly set up can sound like, and often do sound like, crap! JMHO of course.
Oh, BTW it goes without saying fine full range highly resolving speakers properly set up and driven can sound amazing..........
Hey Safox. Just to make sure you are in the loop on a new product. Quad recently released 2 new 'stat speakers. These are both sonically better and look significantly better than the 988 and 989 models. Price might be higher than the 988s and 989s, but if so not by much.
Heard the bigger one during a 20 minute demo in July and was impressed. More low end, more dynamics, probably more extended upper end, though don't quote me there. (I must qualify myself as a former Quad US Monitor owner and a Quad lover.)
i have listened to all three speakers. the all ribbon magnepan are not at all lacking in the treble! perod. if you don't have the right amp, the magnepan will bleed your ears. the best quad ever made wa the 57. forget about the current quads. get a sound lab if you want a full range electrostatic speaker.
the magnepan 20.1 needs serious amplification and watch that spectral balance.
i still think that even with its limited bass response and dynamic range, the quad 57 is an ideal speaker.
if you want more mid bass, buy 4 of them. i owned 4 quad 57 for 7 years.
The previous responses all seem to be well on target.
I've only heard a demo of the Quads. Impressive, yes, but like all large panels they have a very narrow sweet spot. Take that into consideration. It's a law of physics that when the wavelength is equal to or smaller than the size of the source the dispersion decrease accordingly and interference patterns are created.
I have auditioned three of the ML models and the Maggie 1.6. The 1.6 is an incredible value. Although I didn't buy them because of the large panel issues already mentioned.
My favorite of the MLs is the Clarity. It surprised me too. I was expecting to salivate over the Summit. Didn't happen. Only months later did I come to the conclusion that it may have been the smaller panel on the Clarityless beaming and combing. And most disappointing, all the MLs demonstrated the same weakness; the bass isn't very well resolved. It's not bad, but for the money, ML should get the bass tightened up.
What ever you do, here's the best advise I've ever been given; Before you spend your money, audition, audition, audition.
How about the more esoteric Audiostatic DCM5? Too bad the company has no US distributor. I bet they are a match or better than any of the above with competitive pricing and the most beautiful.
i have heard audiostatic models years ago. I found the bass disappointing and the panel distorted fairly easily.
Mrtennis,which model did you listen to? I've heard the older models and found them to be anemic. The DCM5 were launched a couple of years ago. Supposedly it addresses the timid bass and difficult drive, and plays more loudly due to it's 8mm total diaphragm travel (I'm not sure if I can believe this in an electrostat). I spoke to an owner in Europe who thinks the DCM5's transparency is unsurpased and feels it bests the Martin Logans with their flatulent bass. But with full range stats you'll never get the loud dynamics of cone or horn speakers. Maybe the big Soundlabs come close, but they are unruly huge and fugly to boot IMO.