The Gear to drive Mini Maggies


First, I wanted to say hello to everyone. So, I am at a point where I want to start potentially building a nice desktop speaker system. I don't have a listening room and my pc desk is inside my entertainment room which is probably medium to large in size. For mostly near field listening would the following items be overkill or would you recommend something else?

1.) Amp: Bryston 28bsst2 (1 for each speaker).
2.) Preamp: Bryston BP26
3.) DAC: Asus Essence one (already own it for headphones figured I would use the balanced out to the preamplifier if that works).
4.) Power Conditioner: Bryston BIT20 Power Conditioner.
5.) Speakers: 2 Mini Maggies
6.) Sub Woofer: Martin Logan Descent i

Now I admit I am not really good at any of this and it would be my first real audiophile set up for speakers. Do you guys think I missed anything from a sound stand point? I appreciate any help that you can provide.

Thank you,
-Jim
jkman
I'm really bad at spotting jokes until I fall for them. If you are serious in your above post, then I apologize. It seems to me that your choice in amps given the speakers you intend to buy is a bit overkill.
If you have no other future plans for the 28bsst2's than powering this desktop system, you don't need them. They're way too powerful. You're on the right track with a Bryston and Maggie combo.
It seems to me that your choice in amps given the speakers you intend to buy is a bit overkill.
Sorry Zd542, I disagree. :-) It is a MAJOR overkill, like running a V-12 in a Mini Cooper.
"Sorry Zd542, I disagree. :-) It is a MAJOR overkill, like running a V-12 in a Mini Cooper."

I don't think a Mini Cooper with a V12 could even carry a pair of those amps.
I appreciate everyone's reply. Yeah I'm really new at all this so I guess I'm going to make basic mistakes. Is to big of an amp bad for speakers or in this case would it just be a waste? Any Amps you guys would recommend given the other items I listed?
Nobody has come out and said it, but use only one amp and not anything near 1000 wpc. Check the suggested power specs for the Maggies.
With Maggies, ANY Maggies you can not have too much power.
Jim, welcome to Audiogon :-)

Aside from the issues the others have (correctly) raised, I'm not certain that the Mini Maggies would give you what you are looking for. You mention your PC desk, which is the kind of application they appear to be intended for, but you also mention "MOSTLY near field listening," and that the room is medium to large size. I'm doubtful that the Mini Maggies would be good choices for those occasions when you want to listen from positions away from the desk.

I note this statement at the Magnepan site:
We are frequently asked if the Mini Maggie System can be used in lieu of one of our larger models. Yes, but we err on the side of caution. There is a good reason why line-source drivers are big. We suggest that you view the Mini Maggie System as a solution to a installation dilemma---especially well-suited for near-field listening in a VERY small room when used with two DWM Bass Panels.
I also suspect that, like the power amplifiers, the Descent subwoofer would not be a good match for the Mini Maggies, given its three drivers, three 250 watt amplifiers, and 105 pound weight.

Regarding the power amplifiers, I note that Magnepan offers the speakers in combination with a Wadia 151 DAC/amplifier, and states that:
Mark Winey, the president of Magnepan, has the Wadia 151 on his desk, driving the Mini Maggie System. We'll play it for you if you visit Magnepan.
Although you already have a DAC, my point in mentioning this is that the 151 is rated at just 50 watts, for the 4 ohm impedance of the Mini Maggies (and 25 watts into 8 ohms).
Is to big of an amp bad for speakers or in this case would it just be a waste?
To use most of the power capability of the amplifiers without overloading the electrical wiring and/or tripping circuit breakers, you would probably need a separate 20 amp line and breaker for each amplifier. Although, of course, you would not want to use most of their power capability, or both the speakers and your ears would stand a good chance of being damaged.

If you were to ever make the mistake of turning the components on or off in the improper sequence (the proper sequence being power amps on last and off first), and if the preamp or DAC were to generate a significant transient (i.e., "pop") when turning on or off, as some of them do, that might cause the full power capability of the amplifier to be momentarily applied to the speakers, with destructive results.

That might also occur in the event of an AC power dropout. Most likely the amps would continue to be able to amplify for some seconds after power drops out, utilizing internally stored energy, and a turnoff transient generated by the preamp or DAC during those seconds could very conceivably be amplified to 1000+ watts.

Also, a lot of amps don't sound their best when only a tiny fraction of their power capability is being used. Also, using a very high powered amp may result in your having to use the volume control of the preamp undesirably close to the bottom of its range, which can have a number of different adverse sonic effects.

And of course there are issues of size, weight, heat generation, and cost.

My suggestion is that you reconsider the speaker selection based on the range of listening positions you anticipate, and finalize or narrow down the choice of speakers first. Then address power amplification that would be an appropriate match, perhaps initially by researching the amplifiers others have used with the same speakers. And consider deferring purchase of a subwoofer until after you have purchased and had a chance to familiarize yourself with the performance of the rest of the system in your particular listening environment.

Regards,
-- Al
See this is where my confusion is with Mini Maggies. Extreme opposing positions on the amp. Either its Maggies can not have too much power (aka the more the better) or I hear 100w amp ran Maggies great. You can see why someone new like me just scratches their head.

Quote from the manual:
"The Mini Maggie System is a 4 ohm speaker and should be used with a high-current amplifier that can safely drive
a 4 ohm speaker. As a general rule, the Mini Maggie System will require less power when used as a desktop
system compared to use as a woofer/satellite system.
Connect the output of the amplifier to the amplifier input on the DWM Woofer. (Note- There are no left or right
input/outputs on the DWM Woofer.)
Connect the Mini Maggie to the "high" output of the DWM---observing polarity in both cases."

Here are specs from the guide(I don't see power anywhere):

"Specifications
System Description: 3-Way, full-range, true ribbon/planar speaker.
Frequency Response: 40Hz--40kHz
Sensitivity: 86 dB, 500Hz, 1 meter, 2.83V
Impedance: Nominal 4 Ohms"

Finally from the website:

How much power do I need? [top]

We are asked this question every single day. We wish that we could be of more help, but individual tastes vary. If someone tells you that you need an amplifier with ___ watts, how can they be so sure if they are not listening with you in your room?

You can get a lot of free advice in the chat rooms on the internet. Most of it is of very little value (or misleading). Often, their power recommendations are influenced by their listening habits and room conditions. If they have a strong opinion of what you need for power, take it with a grain of salt.

Personal tastes are "all over the map". We hear of customers that are perfectly happy with 50 watts and others using 1000 watts. Without the option of listening with you, we have no way to give meaningful advice. The most reliable way to answer this question for your particular needs is by visiting a dealer or arranging to hear a pair of Magneplanars. If you listen to your music at your normal volume, in a room that is approximately the same size as your room, with an amplifier similar to what you plan to use, an accurate power requirement can be determined for your listening habits. This is a lot to ask, but it is the only reliable method of determining the power needs for a specific individual.

There is a persistent impression that the larger Maggies require more power. It is true that most customers with the more expensive models have more powerful amplifiers. But, the popular assumption is not correct. They typically have a larger budget. If and when you upgrade your electronics is a separate decision."

Basically, Magnepan decided not to say what amount of power is needed but do say that people enjoy 1000 w amps.
You can run them with 100 watt SS or 50 watt tube, but they will not do all they can do with less than 500 watts a side at 4 omhs,stable to 2 ohms.
Proved many a time, to many people.
An EE Professor cum audiophile at U of Wisconsin proved it to me,
Have heard the Minnie Maggies with the Wyred mINT. Sounded great, plenty of power.
08-24-13: Schubert
You can run them with 100 watt SS or 50 watt tube, but they will not do all they can do with less than 500 watts a side at 4 omhs,stable to 2 ohms. Proved many a time, to many people. An EE Professor cum audiophile at U of Wisconsin proved it to me.
Schubert, was that with the Mini's, or with the larger models?

Regards,
-- Al
Almarg thanks for the detailed response I can certainly look at other speakers I just figured mini maggies were the best pc speaker set up(though again I am a noob). Hrmmm their are just so many things to consider that it gets overwhelming.

Schubert so any amp over 500 would be good? Did the professor suggest tube or solid state?

magnumpi205 thanks for sharing your experience.
On the other hand, Bryston and Magnapan did introduce the Mini's at some show connected to the 28B-SST2's. Overkill for sure but I don't think it would blow up the speaker.
I was considering getting these Mini's for my desktop but now I am also interested in the Audience THE ONE desktop speaker. It would be very interesting to have a comparison between the 2, both provide 30-day trials direct from the manufacturer. I am currently using an Audioengine A2's on the desktop which is passable.
I was considering getting these Mini's for my desktop but now I am also interested in the Audience THE ONE desktop speaker. It would be very interesting to have a comparison between the 2, both provide 30-day trials direct from the manufacturer. I am currently using an Audioengine A2's on the desktop which is passable.
Jim, so far only wpc channel have been mentioned to drive the Maggies. ie: 50 watts or 1000 wpc. That is only part of the the picture...in your situation an amp with high current is more important than overall power as measured in WPC.
Al or one of the more experienced members can explain it better than me, but this quote from the manual says it all...

"The Mini Maggie System is a 4 ohm speaker and should be used with a HIGH-CURRENT AMP that can safely drive
a 4 ohm speaker.

For example, an amp that can double it's power when driving an 8 ohm speaker vs. a 4 ohm speaker. A High power amp doesn't necessarily have enough current to drive these Maggies to their full potential.
Lowrider makes a good point, essentially that the amplifier has to be in its comfort zone when providing enough current to drive 4 ohms. My impression, though, is that among 4 ohm speakers the Maggies represent relatively benign loads, as the "phase angle" of their impedance, which is a measure of how purely resistive the impedance is, is relatively benign. Non-resistive phase angles, especially if they are capacitive (as opposed to inductive), increase the current requirements that are imposed on the amplifier.

Also, in contrast to the Maggies the impedances of many other speakers that are rated at 4 ohms will drop to significantly less than 4 ohms at some frequencies.

I had noticed that the 28BSST2 achieves its high power capability in part by having "bridged" outputs. More often than not bridged amplifiers are not suitable for use with speakers having 4 ohm or other low impedances, because of the current limitations they usually have. I didn't mention that fact in my earlier post, though, because in this case the 28BSST2's rated 8 ohm power capability is so vast that the fact that it is bridged seems unlikely to matter under any reasonable circumstances. Not that I'm recommending that amplifier for use with the Mini's, though, as my preceding post should make clear. :-)

Jim, concerning your question about tube vs. solid state, very few tube amps can provide both 500 watts and good sound quality. And those that can are likely to cost a small (or perhaps not so small) fortune. Again, though, I'm not suggesting that you need such high power.

Regards,
-- Al
Yyzsantabarbara - You make a good point I did read somewhere that they used it at a show that's why I picked that specific amp. Though that may have been just for the show and maybe it isn't for everyday listening? I really wish Magnepan could weigh in to my question (even though they don't like too). I never heard of THE ONE (though it sounds like a matrix trailer). I will take a peek at those speakers thanks for sharing.
If you were to go overboard for the amp, you should consider the Bryston 3B-SST/3B-SST2 or 4B-SST/4B-SST2 for the Mini. I think it would be a pretty good match considering the Bryston and Magnapan are supposed to play well with each other. A more realistic amp for those speakers would be something like the Wyred4Sound integrated.

You cannot go wrong (in terms of the product working) buying a used Bryston since Bryston will fix whatever ails the used amp as long as you have the original receipt for amps built around 2007+ (for older amps no receipt is needed).

The Sept 2013 issue of Stereophile has a review of the Audience The One. Another speaker that I was looking at for my home office was the KEF LS50.

I currently have the Thiel SCS4 in the living room and I will most likely just move them into my home office when I move to a new place. I have a feeling the Thiels SCS4 will sound better in the office than the other 3 office speakers I have been investigating, Audience ONE, Magnapan Mini, or KEF LS50. Currently, I have the Audioengince A2's in the office.

BTW - There were 3 28B-SST2's on sale here from 40-55% of MSRP I and so tempted to buy a pair and keep in storage until I needed them. If you are like me and tend to stick with what you like (or works) then something like the 28B-SST2 could last you a lifetime. These future big amps are for a future big speaker in a future big room.
Kjman,

"See this is where my confusion is with Mini Maggies. Extreme opposing positions on the amp. Either its Maggies can not have too much power (aka the more the better) or I hear 100w amp ran Maggies great. You can see why someone new like me just scratches their head.

Quote from the manual:
"The Mini Maggie System is a 4 ohm speaker and should be used with a high-current amplifier that can safely drive
a 4 ohm speaker. As a general rule, the Mini Maggie System will require less power when used as a desktop
system compared to use as a woofer/satellite system.
Connect the output of the amplifier to the amplifier input on the DWM Woofer. (Note- There are no left or right
input/outputs on the DWM Woofer.)
Connect the Mini Maggie to the "high" output of the DWM---observing polarity in both cases."

There's a few things that you can do to deal with some of the confusion I'm seeing in your above post. Sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself if what you are doing makes sense. Take the Bryston 28's, for example. Does it make sense that you will need to buy a pair of 15k+, massive mono blocks (I think that's what they cost) to drive a pair of table top speakers/computer speakers? Now, I understand you don't yet know everything about audio, but none of us here does (Except maybe for Al.). You never stop learning. I think the smartest thing you can do at this point is go out and listen to some audio equipment. If you go to a store that has Magnepan, look at what they are using to drive them. When you are listening, its pretty easy to hear an amp that's straining to drive a speaker. Not only that, listen to different brands, as well. Every time you do that, it will be a learning experience that will make this process easier for you.
I have two ideas for you. First, if you want to stick with mono-blocks and the Mini Maggies, check out the Music Fidelity M1s. They are a class-d mono with 100 watts at 8ohm, that doubles to 200 watts at 4ohms. The reviews I read said they sound best with 4ohm speakers, so they might be a good match for you. They retail for $2,600, however, I just got a pair from Music Direct for $1,000. I don't own maggies, so I can't say how they sound together. I will say I have heard most Maggies with class-D, and they sounded great. This will leave you more money for other gear.

Second idea relates to the room size. If you want Maggies and near/far listening...what about some wall mounted Magnepans. That and the DWM panel might fit the bill.

Just some ideas,
Mot
Just wanted to say I appreciate everyone's advice. I'll continue to research and actually go out and listen to some high end audio speakers. Thanks again. ��
For your consideration:
I chose the Peachtree combo of the Nove Pre (which is a DAC, preamplifier, and headphone amp; also hybrid tube/Class A) and 220 amplifier. I chose them based on reviews (that the Peachtree products were good for digital, which is my setup (iMac, MOG, Amarra), plus they dropped the price - under 2k total, delivered for the pair - in rosewood. The amp can put over 400wpc into 4 ohms, which should be enough. Two reviewers ToneAudio and 'confessions of a part time audiophile' both liked the set running Magnepans (the latter, specifically with the mini's).

Two other considerations - if desktop/nearfield, that might mean space and aesthetic considerations (for big amps, for subs). If you're intending to use the MM for a room setup, that's different.

I can't comment on the sound (yet). My local dealer is waiting for his set to come in. I could order them before auditioning them as Magnepan offers a 30 day in home trial, but I"m waiting until I hear them first.

Good luck in your search!
For your consideration:
I chose the Peachtree combo of the Nove Pre (which is a DAC, preamplifier, and headphone amp; also hybrid tube/Class A) and 220 amplifier. I chose them based on reviews (that the Peachtree products were good for digital, which is my setup (iMac, MOG, Amarra), plus they dropped the price - under 2k total, delivered for the pair - in rosewood. The amp can put over 400wpc into 4 ohms, which should be enough. Two reviewers ToneAudio and 'confessions of a part time audiophile' both liked the set running Magnepans (the latter, specifically with the mini's).

Two other considerations - if desktop/nearfield, that might mean space and aesthetic considerations (for big amps, for subs). If you're intending to use the MM for a room setup, that's different.

I can't comment on the sound (yet). My local dealer is waiting for his set to come in. I could order them before auditioning them as Magnepan offers a 30 day in home trial, but I"m waiting until I hear them first.

Good luck in your search!
I just bought a Parasound Halo A23 on eBay or $540. I use it to drive the KEF LS50 on my desktop. I was debating whether to get the KEF LS50, Audience ONE, or Magnapan Mini for my desktop. A friend bought the KEF to my place to try with the A23 amp. I ended up ordering a new pair of KEF's from amazon the same day (available Sept 27th). I never tried the Mini or ONE. KEF was really good.

I think the A23 should be able to drive the Mini's.