Tossed between the horns Maggie 3A/PSB Gold I

I have been a long time Maggie fanboy, having bought my first pair back in 1982. For the past 12 years I have been using a pair of MG 3A's with a pair of M&K subs. I have continued to keep these in great operational shape and over the past winter I upgrade the caps in the cross-overs, replaced the tired ribbons, rewired the speakers with silver/cooper/teflon wire and remoloxied the diaphragms. I also put new socks on them. Needless to say they sound and look great. I also have Sound Anchor stands; so for all intents and purposes, these speakers have been taken almost as far as they can go.

Recently, I have taken in a pair of PSB Gold I. Generally, I get a second pair of speakers to listen to and play with from time to time. After a short period of time I usually sell off the second pair because they do not provide me with the same sonic enjoyment as the Maggies. However, the PSB are proving to be a bit of a different story.

They are a bit more upfront sounding and have great dynamics at low/medium to low volumes. They throw a good sound stage and when bi-amped and used with subs they have a well defined and deep low end.

My Maggies, on the other hand, have a better high end. The ribbon tweeter can't be bested, in this regard. They also have a more organic sound and throw a larger sound stage. However, you do have to be sitting in the sweet spot to enjoy it. Off axis and everything collapses. The mids are more laid back, which is great for some recordings.

So, that is the good and the not so good about each speaker. I can keep both but would eventually need to sell off one due to limited room and it makes a mess of my listening space.

After another week or so I'm going to throw the Maggies back into use and make my choice, however, I know it is not going to be an easy one.

Ultimately, I am going to use my ears, as I always do, to decide but my question to you, the reader is, "which would you choose?" Please no responses that include it is up to me and let my ears decide. Of course, this is what I am going to do. I want to entertain your thoughts specific to these two choices.


I would replace both with Magnepan 3.7i speakers. I would also get one of the Magnepan bass panels. A friend of mine has a pair of the 3.7i speakers with two bass panels. This is a really nice sounding setup. The bass panels really make a difference.

I had planar speakers for years, Acoustat, Soundlab, Apogee and then Martin Logans. I finally replaced my SL3s with Sonus Faber Elipsa SE Reds. I never owned Maggies but I have always been impressed by the sound. The 3.7i are great sounding speakers.
I heard the PSB Golds on two different occasions many years ago and wasn't impressed either time. With the exception of midbass slam and overall bass extension, I can't see them having anything on a pair of maggies. Which means I am baffled that you like them as much. If you are really a planar guy, then I like Lostbears advice.

That said, there are numerous box speakers that can equal or better most planars or electrostatics. Depends on what your budget is.

Budget is limited to what I can sell and turnover for the next purchase. I have thought about the above options but really I'm not sold that 3.3, 3.5. 3.6 would be much of an improvement over my modded and tweaked 3A's. Also, I would not be able to get the funds to cover the added expense of a 3.7, unless I sold the subs, which I don't think I would do.

The thing that I really like about the PSB Gold I's is their well articulated bass, when used with my subs, without the subs, and run full range, the advantage is less so. The acoustic bass really sounds accurate with this combination. Also, the soundstage is wide and you don't have to be sitting in the sweet spot to get it.

As for the PSB's, the metal tweeter is OK and can sound good on well recorded material but can also be a bit harsh on other material. Vocals do pop out because of the forward presentation of the speaker, which again can be good or too much. I'm trying my amps in triode mode to see if that can help settle the mids down a bit.

My Maggies have been my reference....and tweaked out they are surely nice. What they lack is "jump" on low to moderate volumes and 40-120 hz can be a bit bloomy. The bass in this region is not as articulate as the PSB's. As I have 33 years of experience with Maggies I am very versed with set up and have them position for their best sonics. I also run a HP at 80hz and subs to better control the first octave, which has improved them in this area but they are simply not as good as the PSB's, bi-amp'ed with subs in this area.

Although I really want to throw the Maggies back in to reference them vs. the PSB's I want to give the PSB's at least 2 weeks of serious listening before the Maggies come back. This way I hope to eliminate the charm of a new speaker and gain a greater understanding of what I like and don't like.

I had 3.5s once upon a time and heavily modded 1.6s before that. I got the itch for the dynamics and slam of a box speaker and bought a pair of Aerial 7Bs on a whim. It took about thirty minutes of listening before I knew I made a mistake. I sold the Aerials in less than two days.

I have since moved on to several "cones in a box" type speakers that I feel outclass those 3.5s, but they were much pricier too. If after two weeks you are still smitten, it just tells you that it's time to start seriously looking at other alternatives. I just don't think the PSB will be "the one".....


You might be right but that would only leave me around $1,700 for an alternative speaker and I don't think I can get more at that price point.
Exactly why cant you keep both? Speakers aren't like wives, you can have several and they don't get jealous. Think of the advantages of being able to swap back and forth at will. Depending on your mood, whether you want slam or air.

So, if you get rid of the PSB's, you'll only have $1,700 to look for better box speakers? Just keep them until which time in the future you do have enough to get what you want. No need to be in a hurry when you've got gear like that! One life lesson I learned many years ago, the more time you invest in a decision, the more apt you are to make the right one.
Loudspeakers are the most personal of all the links in the Hi-Fi chain, and change the sound of music in the most profound way, IMO. My first great speaker was the original Tympani I-U (I've never learned what the U designated, other than to differentiate it from the VERY original T-I), but was seduced away from it by the Fulton J, a loudspeaker with more and better bass (a cone in a transmission line-loaded enclosure) and the State-of-the-Art RTR ESL-6 tweeter, with the legendary Fulton Model 80 between them. It didn't take long for me to regret the substitution. Yes, taken section by section, the Fulton J bested the I-U, but those qualities proved to be less important to me than what the Tympani did that the Fulton didn't. Essentially nothing has changed in the following 40-45 years; either what large line-source loudspeakers do that point-source loudspeakers don't is of paramount importance to you in the reproduction of music, or it isn't.
Here are two examples of more right here on Agon:

Tekton Pendragons 1500.00

Spendor S9 1200.00

Or keep an eye on your local Clist for Klipsch Fortes or Cornwalls. Both usually under 1K.

All of the above will be better than the Maggies or the PSBs.

I neglected to say that I find music reproduced via the two basic loudspeaker designs (planars and boxes, or line-source and point-source) to be two very different experiences. That, I understand, is not universal.
Tekton Pendragons 1500.00

Spendor S9 1200.00

Or keep an eye on your local Clist for Klipsch Fortes or Cornwalls. Both usually under 1K.

I'm not in agreement with your assessment on most of these speakers. I have experience with the Klipsch you have listed and they don't come close to the Maggies, nor do the match the PSB's. Sorry but they do not do it for me. I have owned them....modded them and sold them.

Spendor can make a nice speaker but again, I'm not overly impressed and the Tekton's, well I wouldn't buy blind as I have never seen one or heard one.

Exactly why cant you keep both? Speakers aren't like wives, you can have several and they don't get jealous. Think of the advantages of being able to swap back and forth at will. Depending on your mood, whether you want slam or air.

Well, room is one reason and I really don't like to clutter things up for too long. If I had two rooms that would be different. But for a short period of time, yes, I can manage two.
So you are saying you can only get 1700.00 if you sold both pair? Or you want to sell one and keep the other?


Sry you don't agree re Klipsch. In the right room and the right system, the Heritage speakers are hard to beat for 2-3 times their going price. Especially if you mod the xovers.
I was in a similar situation a couple weeks ago, albeit on a smaller scale. I have a pair of Revel M20s as my mainstay now but am always experimenting with different speakers to spice things up. If I find something that betters the small Revels I would be tempted.
Recently I acquired a pair of Magnepan 1.6s and set them up as a possible contender. Of course the first few days they were sounding wonderful and I was experiencing the planar magic. Huge soundstage (in the sweetspot), great pitch and timbre were my initial impressions. After a about a week I realized the the weaknesses as well, lack of dynamics, a very two dimensional soundstage, and that must be in the sweet spot aspect which I find annoying.
Right now I'm waiting for my grandson to come and pick up his new speakers. He'll blow them up in a couple weeks but as he said to me, "it'll be a good week."
My recommendation is for you to sell the PSBs and find a good used pair of Thiel CS2.3 or 2.4s or a used pair of Vandersteen 2CE signatures as the next contender. I say that having owned the PSB Silvers a few years ago; that tweeter drove me nuts. I've also seen some well priced Revel F30s, but as I've never heard them...
Good luck.

I've done all that with klipsch and they are dynamic but extremely colored. I would not go down that path again.

Vanderstieen 3, although ripe sounding have limit high end extension and my Maggie's out class them.

Right now I leaning towards sell whatever sells first and let that be the driving factor......maybe.
07-27-15: Raymonda
Budget is limited to what I can sell and turnover for the next purchase. I have thought about the above options but really I'm not sold that 3.3, 3.5. 3.6 would be much of an improvement over my modded and tweaked 3A's.
Your comparisons are meaningless if you insist on comparing with 12-to-20-year old Magnepans. The current x.7 and x.7i series are a significant departure from the Maggies' limitations of previous generations. It's the first revision level not designed by founder Jim WIney, but by his son who has stepped in as designer.

The new generation Maggies are more amplifier friendly (but still like power and current), better at lower volume listening, have more slam and punch, ane a new sense of ease. The sense of reality--of live musicians in the room--is astounding. If set up properly, they energize most of the room. Of course you get the best holographic imaging in the sweet spot, but the rest of the listening area isn't shabby either, with consistent, realistic, and even tonal balance throughout. Gone are the discontinuities of dissimilar ribbons and panels of previous iterations. The *.7 series speak with a single voice. They are as coherent as one could possibly ask.

There are also many more self-powered subwoofers today (plus Magnepan's own DWM panels) available today that are fast and clean enough to keep up with panel speakers while fleshing out the lower octave or two. I'm running a pair of 1.7s powered by a 30-yr-old Perreaux amp augmented by a pair of 8" sealed-box Mirage MM8 subs. I look forward to listening to them every day, and I've already had them for two years.

I don't think you'd need 3.7's to get what you want unless you have a very large listening area. I use my1.7s in an open architecture living space with vaulted ceiling. With the little subs they fill the space just fine; really, better than fine.

I strongly suggest you hie yourself to a Magnepan dealer and do some serious auditioning.

Or, if you want something that sits midway between Maggies and the PSB Gold, consider one of these Focal closeouts:

Focal Chorus 836V $1899 down from $3200.

Focal Chorus 826V $1499 down from $2700

I have auditioned these and they are far quicker and more articulate with less stored energy in the cabinet than the PSB Gold. They are at the same time fast and lively, airy, with excellent imaging, soundstage, and uniform power response, i.e., the ability to energize the room evenly and consistently.

Really classy speakers at these prices.
FWIW, If you got the room; I'd go with the Maggie's.
I had the PSB units in piano black mind you. I was hoping that they would be the end all be all as they looked unreal. They were very good but a bit warm and veiled compared to other things I had here Really good but just not my thing.
"but a bit warm and veiled"

That is exactly how I would describe them. Frequency response is definitely tilted downward....

("but a bit warm and veiled"

That is exactly how I would describe them. Frequency response is definitely tilted downward...)

I have found that their signature is dependent on the amp and pre-amp used, but would agree that when used full range their bottom is full. However, when crossed over at 80HZ and used with subs it much improves their bass performance. They no longer become a bit bottom heavy and slightly ill defined but, rather, they transform into a well articulate and deep speaker. Relieving the woofer of 80hz and below does wonders. It also allows the woofer to focus on 80-250hz region, which it does nicely.

At first I was a bit bothered by the metal tweeter, as I usually am. Although, with a bit of tweaking up stream, positioning, and trying different amps has brought me much better high frequency response.

So, here I am.......I like both speakers. The PSB's perform better with solid state and my Maggies sound great with tubes. I could live with both, and just might do so, at least for a while, but ultimately I'm leaning on selling both and upgrading to 3.6's. Until then, I'm enjoying the ride.

BTW, I have experimented with a hybrid system, e.g., running the 3A's on the outside and the Golds on the inside and roughly 7-9db's down. This does strike a excellent split between the two, provides great headroom and a nice balance with more accurate timbre. However, it takes away depth in the sound stage when played at louder volumes. I know, I can hear the crowds shouting heresy but it works to a large degree!!!!
A pair of 3.7s just popped up on Agon for 2800.00. That is a great deal, and if you are considering 3.6s, those are a no brainer.

and like the wind they're gone!!!!!

Thanks for the heads up though.