Tube-amp for Magnepan?

Hi.I have currently tested Audio Research VT60 with my old Maggies (MG2A),
It seems that the 50w is too weak in power.I experienced a lot of distortion already at "10 oclock"-position on the preamp.(could there be something wrong with the tubes?) At low volumes it sounded fantastic!
The 4ohm connection was a lot worse than 8ohm.The Maggies are 6 ohms...
A friend suggested either a VT100 from AR or maybye Mcintosh 275.The latter is more in my budget..I currenty run a Papworth MIA200 ,200W solid state-quite good but a bit boring.I really want to test out tubes!Have anyone any recomandations?
I had great success using the VTL MB 250 amps. The ST150 was still straining with my 1.6's but the 250's were awesome. I used them when I upgraded to the Maggie 3.6's. The system had plenty of dig on the low side and was just as good all the way up. Maggies need the power. Also the VTL's have a fixed 5 ohm tap for the output.
I ran a Rogue 120M with Maggie 1.6 before and it had nice tone but was boring, it just lacked dynamic range


good luck
I've tried a bunch of high powered tube amps at the dealer, with Maggies, and witht he exception of the crazy priced VTL's and ARC's, they didn't hold a candle to the highpowered SS amps.

Bryston, SandersSound, Cary Mono's, Parasound Monos, those are the best that I have heard with Maggies.

You just need too much power for most tubes. Unless you bi-amp, and put the tubes on top. I am contemplating trying this again, but this time with Rogue mono's on top.
I heard the older model MG-3a with an older Classe DR-9 two running in mono. I was impressed with the sound.
First, try swapping in some new tubes.
Consider bi-amping with a Audio Research SS amp for the bass panels and keep the VT60 for the highs.
If 60 watts of tube power (for full range) isn't cutting the mustard then merely doubling it to 120 watts (3db more) probably won't either. Figure about 250 to 300watts or so. Hope your air conditioning is up to snuff!
I run audiovalve challanger 180 monoblocks on my soundlab m2's;the M2's present a pretty tough load so it may be a amp you might want to check out for your Maggies.
Maggies are not that hard to drive. The types with the magnets on one side only do have a knee in their power response curve due to the fact that the magnetic field falls off at the square of the distance.

Below that knee 50 watts should make them work. I suspect your power tubes are shot.

We have a lot of customers using our M-60 (60-watt OTL) and a set of ZEROs- you should be able to do it with what you have.
They were using Bryston amps at THE SHOW with the 1.7s, no complaints here. One of the best rooms I heard.

I completely disagree as do the majority of people who have ever dealt with Magnepan's, especially the larger models. I have owned, and tested Maggies and amp combos for years, and my excellent local dealer (who went out of business, sadly, last year) let me try many amps with their demo models, and not with any tube amp, including the big ARC's and VTL's did the Maggies wake up and sound good, when compared to high powered SS or Class D amps.

Maggie's absolutely DO need a lot of power to sound good. You can get them to make sound with almost anything, but it will not be what the speakers are capable of.

Sell your excellent amps, and try some Wyred4Sound amps and you will be shocked. Or, keep you amps, and get a pair of speakers better matched for them.

Either way, you will improve your listening experience.
I heard the 1.6 at a local dealer, which were fed by some nice McIntosh amps. They sounded fine, nothing offended there. So it must be possible, at least. Of course price is a consideration there.

There is also the tube-SS hybrid option. You get tubes in the input stage and SS output stage. and lots of watts.

Van Alstine, Moscode, Alta Vista are some sample brands, roughly in ascending order wrt price.
Backing up Atmasphere on this one. Went from a Counterpoint Solid 2 (200 into 8, 400 into 4) to M60's with Zero's into 1.6 Maggies. Way tighter bass, no noise, no harshness and plenty of SPL for me (and my neighbors).
I have tried Cary V12, Music Reference RM200, two Conrad Johnson Premier 11, and ARC VT100 to name a few during my maggie days. It works fine but bass is not its strong suit. Well, in maggie land, 50 hz is called "deep bass" anyway so it might work for you.

To me, there is no comparison using SS amps on maggies! I had good luck with Odyssey monos, Threshold S-500 x2, and even PWM amp like the ICE H2O. Also tried Levinson and sounds great, although I only had brief expereience with the ML's.

I guess you can try OTL and see how it sounds. The only downside, to me, is when it's time to replace tubes (there's plenty of them on it!). I always wonder how long the tubes will last on OTL amps driving planars or electrostatics.... not that I want to see for myself, just curious.
Magnaplanar is 30 minutes from our front door. Over the last 30 years we've had a lot of experience with them. In fact, our first prototypes were used immediately on Maggies as that was one of the speakers we were using for reference (Tympani 1Us -that was a long time ago...). Jim Winey has made a point of telling me a number of times that the best he ever heard one of their speakers (MG-20) was with our MA-2s.

I've seen people with our amps have the tubes last a long time. One guy here in town has had the same set for the last 8 years. If using M-60s, most everyone also uses a set of ZEROs. The amps then make 80 watts and run cooler, with greater authority and transparency, and the tubes last longer too.

Its true that if you put a powerhouse 600 watt amp on a speaker like this it will play a little louder, but you will find that at higher volumes the dynamics are compressed due to the phenomena I mentioned earlier. BTW this is not true of the push-pull speakers! I regard the 20.1 as one of the better bargains in high end audio, but this thread is with specific regard to the MG-2.
I forgot to add that i run a 2-sub system with a sold state 200w amp for bass. My Maggies always needed some help in the low end and this realy works fine.
How far is Bryston from Bear Lake? Seems like Magnepan feels proximity is not as important to them as the amps that match the best.

I have heard the IIIa's many time with high powered SS amps, and they act very much like my 3.6r's do, they open up and sing, and the bass goes much lower.

I know you sell tube gear, but I disagree with your plug for your gear.
Macdadtexas, the thread here is about tube amps, and that's **White** Bear Lake. I mentioned that they are close simply because they have a lot of customers locally and there has been plenty of opportunity to hear them with our gear- we may well have more Magnaplanar customers with our gear here than anywhere else...

In fact is that Magnapans have never been our first choice due to impedance. Nevertheless we find a lot of Magnapan users that want to run OTLs and vice versa. Maybe they want to combine the transparency of the speaker with that of the amps. The guy that founded the Magnaplanar Users Group over on (a customer of ours) says that our MA-1 was the ideal amplifier for the 3.6.

Another amplifier that has been used with Magnaplanar a lot over the years is ARC. They too are local. Just because Magnaplanar uses a particular amplifier at a show is not an endorsement that they think that that particular amp is the 'best'- but I would expect that it **is** an endorsement that the amp works well with their product.
Thanks for all the interesting input.I have an other q:
Does anybody have any experience with Sonic Frontiers Power II and Maggies...they are often seen in the secondhand marked and offer 110w? I live in Norway and the extra heat is really welcomed these days...
My experience with magnepans of various sizes is that tube amps can sound great on them. I had the ARC VT150se monos on 3.6rs and it was sublime.
The problem is you never reach the limit of the speaker with tubes.

I had Audio valve monos too but the speaker always sounded sluggish and did not express the feeling of music being alive as the ARCs did.

However when I tried SS amps I found the speaker became much tighter and was capable of higher SPLs and clearer dynamics. I had Plinus SS amps which seemed voiced very closely to the ARC tubes, but with more control in the bass. Unfortunately they lost a bit of soul in comparison to ARC.

The most impressive sound I ever heard from my maggies was with the Halcro DM38. I didnt know my maggie could make that kind of sound! For a lot less money and 97% of the sound try Belcantos old evo gen2s, or the newer ice power models. The ref1000s will be great on them.

I know you are looking for tube amps, but see what the speakers are capable of before dumbing them down. If you just want romance at low to medium levels a tube amp will be fine and will be a fine listen.

I think the bottom line is Maggies will work fine with various tube amps of around 100w and over, but at the expense of dynamic swings which is a weakness of plannars anyway. Plus you will never get high volume levels with out the sound of the diaphram hitting magnets. They need to be controlled to squeeze that last bit of life out of them.
I owned the MG3.6's and powered them with Parasound JC1 mono's (400w/ch). I always took it as fact based on comments like those from Macdadtexas that the maggies needed big muscular SS power amps to sound their best.

Those assumptions vanished when I put a pair of Atma-Sphere MA-1's on the maggies while I waited for my new speakers to be finished and shipped. I bought the MA1's to power the new speakers. The 140w/ch MA1's were extraordinary with the MG3.6's!!! If I hadn't already put 1/2 down on the new speakers, I may have cancelled that order.

It should be understood that I assumed they would sound ok at lower volume levels, but probably a little "closed in". This is something I noticed with smaller SS designs with the MG3.6's so I assumed it would be similar. I wasn't even going to try to play them at normal listening levels, but after hearing how spectacular they sounded at low levels, I continued to inch the volume up until they were sounding extraordinary at fairly loud levels.

I called my friend immediately (he owned the MG3.6's too and powered them with a McCormack DNA-2 Limited with all the SMC upgrades). He was very familiar with the sound of my system with the JC1's. One minute into a familiar song played at our normal (fairly loud) listening level, his jawed dropped and he said, "I had no idea the Maggies could sound like this!". When I had told him earlier in the day that I was thinking about hooking up the MA1's just see what it sounded like, he thought it was a waste of time. He too had made incorrect assumptions regarding the Maggies and the Atma-Sphere OTL's for that matter.

I wouldn't attempt to play the maggies at ear-splitting levels with the MA1's, but if you listen to jazz, blues, classic rock, or classical at reasonably loud levels, they will make music better than any SS amp in my opinion based on how the JC1's and McCormack compared, or rather didn't compare.

I never attempted to try the Zero's. More potential may be possible with those. But please, everyone, at least with the Maggies, challenge those "truisms". Great music awaits you if you do.
I would disagree with Chadeffect regarding dynamic swings, at least with regard to Atma-Sphere OTL tube amps on the maggies. Dynamic swings, particularly micro-dynamic swings (the most important for me) were outstanding with the MA1's.

A good tube amp won't "dumb down" the maggies.
this reminds me of the scene in Forrest Gump where he endorses the Ping Pong paddle.

"When I was in China I used my........."
Germanboxers-that is great feedback on what Ralph's amps can do;I am waiting to make a move into the ma1'a for my soundlab m2's as well and your comments are great to hear.
Amandarae, you said:

"Well, in maggie land, 50 hz is called "deep bass" anyway so it might work for you."

I disagree.

I think the 1.6 has bass into the upper 30s (when set up properly), they are darn good in this regard. Amazing IMO...
I have to ask, what is the decible level people with Maggies believe they must be played in-order to sound their best?
Hi Germanboxers,
come and listen to some Avantgarde trios and you will understand what I mean by dynamics and dynamic swings, large or small. It is Just about the only weakness Magnepan has IMHO.

Your amps are lovely. I heard them on Zu speakers. They are very nice and I bet useful in winter.

Go and find a massive attack cd like Mezzanine or something and turn up the volume. You will soon find the panel compressing and sounding diffuse and masked just before the rattling starts.

Funnily enough the Halcro with its seemingly low power output compared to some, nearly made this disappear... nearly. The most open I ever heard maggies sound. I think it was more to do with the speed of that amp. If money was no issue a pair of Halcro DM88s on the 3.6r would be something.
Here are some recordings that also have impressive deep bass:
Hi Atmasphere,

A nice list of which I have most.

To be very anal, which version of Tour de France soundtracks do you have?

I have the original and the remaster which came out a few months ago. I was shocked when they brought out a remaster. I always felt the original was as state of the art as was possible!

Suffice to say I found the remaster to be even cleaner although by a subtle margin. I think you have to play the original and the remaster side by side to really notice. A classic electro album.

A great test of a system. If you can hear the pitch modulation moving through the snare and various reverb tail automations you are doing quite well.

The heart beat on electro Kardiogramm sorts the good from the great in hifi. The tight, deep chest battering impact while keeping air around the bass frequencies of the heart beat and maintaining the panting accents which shift at different volumes and pitches...

One to try on the magnepan. It would be something to get a sense of the different dynamics playing all at the once there on planars. If a tube amp is controlling a 3.6r and showing all it.
Yes, ElectroKardiogramm has the subterranian bass that won the LP its status. I have seen this cut separate the wheat from the chaff a number of times :) BTW the 20.1 does a great job with it.
Chadeffect, I wasn't suggesting the maggies were top notch in dynamic swings (and they certainly are not comparable in that area to the Trios), only that an assertion that maggies need powerful SS amps to swing dynamics is false.

I would love to hear your Trio's...they are one of those speakers I've wanted to hear for a long time, but haven't yet crossed paths.

I am using Zu Definition 2.0 speakers now with Ralph's M60 amps. The Zu's are more dynamic than the Maggies. I'm digging the Zu's for some of that "effortlessness" that more efficient speakers exude.
Hi Germanboxers,

I understand and I do take your point about maggies vs power vs dynamics.

What I was trying to get across was that in my experience to squeeze that last bit out of them, in the end you need power. But you can drive them with any amp really.

Once you get into the 3.6r and 20.1, I think power becomes much more important if you want to push the volume.

I know we are getting off topic, but I like the Zu. They seem good value.

I heard them with the Atmasphere 2 box preamp MP1 and I think MA1 monos (may have been another power amp in the range) with EMM lab 2 box cd player. The sound was lush musical and involving.

It took a lot for me to move away from planar speakers. The Trio was the only candidate that did it for me. I found it did all that planar magic. ie nice size soundstage, naturalness, speed and so on, but with the kind of freedom,separation and clarity I could never get out of Maggies or Apogees, quads, martin Logans.

I even had extreme modifications on the maggies and Apogees which made huge improvements. But still no contest as fantastic as they sounded.

I often wondered if Magnepan could improve the sensitivity with more powerful magnets etc. In the same way Apogee did with its Synergy speaker. High sensitivity even with the advancements in amplifier technology still makes so much difference.

That effortlessness you mention I have not heard in low sensitivity. It is much better than it was with the latest amps, but still not quite. I have even found myself hearing the Avantgarde Duos which I think are 104 db/watt and finding them a bit flat and less 3D! So I am stuck. I know Goto make 118db/watt speakers, but the tweeters are $80,000...

Drop me a line sometime, you are welcome to have a listen.

I hope you dont mind me asking, but what is your audiogon name a reference to? I have an image of the car you drive, the country you live in, or the pants you wear!
lol...Chad, three strikes and you're out. My audiogon name is a reference to one of my dogs. I have an american show bred boxer and a german boxer. They're both great dogs, but its so interesting how much more developed the working drives and instincts are with our german boxer. Unfortunately, that also means she is more of a challenge to live with, but only moderately so.

Agreed on the sensitivity / "effortlessness" correlation. The Zu's are also not offensive and let me listen and forget about the equipment most of the time. I'm not aware of any significant driver compression, something many other speakers I've owned did if I got too aggressive with the volume.
Hi Germanboxers,

Lol. Obviously that was going to be my next guess.

My wife is german. I know exactly what you mean...!
Guys, in living with a strong willed and regal female German Shepherd (I won't go into the lineage here), I understand the German thing.
For what it is worth I run Manley 250 W mono's with my Maggie 3.6. The tubes are Electro-harmonix 6CA7. I believe I have a wonderful warm sound, with an incredible sound stage especially its depth. As tube amps go, these have more than enough power to get down to the 34 Hertz the Maggies are rated. Enjoy your search.
I used my Tad 1000 monos (sadly no longer available) on "Gunned" 1.6's and SMGA's and the results were outstanding, even John, aka Peter Gunn oddly enough thought the bass from the Tad's sounded better than his Pass 250 The 1000's are rated at 100 wpc but have excellent dynamic range and wouldn't hesitate using them with maggies
I also run Manley mono 250s with my 20.1s. Using SED Winged C EL34s, Marconi-Osram A2900s and RCA black longplate 12BH7s. Don't have any trouble with bass extension and with my tube preamp have been able to dial in a just-the-other-side-of-neutral warm sound....the way I like it.
I lived with a pair of highly modified MG IIIA's for many years, and tried many different amps with them, both ss and tubed. I always returned to tubes, and settled on Manley 200's, which I use to this day (with different speakers). For me, the issue was always one of excessive leanness with ss amps. Only tubes would make the speakers sound dimensional enough, and with enough fullness to sound realistic. But when they did, they sounded glorious. The other issue was that ss amps, regardless of pedigree, made worse the Maggie's main flaw (for me). That is, the obvious discontinuity between the ribbon tweeter, and the planar midrange. With ss, the ribbon's superior speed and resolution was laid bare, and became an annoyance. With tubes, there was much better integration of the two different frequency ranges. I always preferred the handling of dynamics with tubes.

MG II's don't have a ribbon tweeter, so continuity between tweeter and mid will be, in theory, better. A good modern ss amp might give you a needed sense of clarity in the very top end, but I doubt that you will be able to get the kind of dimensionality that a good tube amp will. My Manley's put out 100 watts in triode, and it was pleny of power. Good luck.
No disrespect to the thread......but glad to hear from satisfied Manley amp owners. I bought the Manley's in 05 and talked to Paul Fargo who heads up their tech support. What sold me was that he stated these amps were "voiced" for the Maggies. At this point in our conversation he did not know I owned a pair of the 3.6's.
I have recently bi-amped my 20.1 with a VTL ST-150 (75 w in triode mode) on top and 120w/ch Bel Canto on the bottom through a Bryston 10B crosover. I'm upgrading from 600w/ch solid state.
The enjoyment increase resulting from this change is astounding.
I have a pair of Maggie 1.7's driven by two Mac 275 Tube amps = Heaven. I use 1 amp per channel I guess they would call that Mono blocked and delivers 150 watts per speaker. I have had this system turned up in Party Mode without any adverse affects. The 275's are absolutely noiseless (total Black background). These things weigh appox. 70-80lbs each and seem to me have all the current that the Maggies need plus the power. I would look first for a good used one or 2
and see what you think. Goodluck with your search, Mel.
I have tried many, SS and Tubed...

Use a pair of Carver Black Beauty 305's mono blocks - Six KT-120's per side or his updated BB 350's - six KT-150's per mono block.

I use the 305's on my 20.7's; best sound that I have had in my 35 years in this crazy hobby. They will drive anything and sound great!

Highly recommended.
I've driven my few months old M3.7i with also a few months old CAD 120S MkII with many different power tubes such as Psvane TII KT88, Tungsol KT120, W.C (Svet/SED) 6550/EL34, Ruby EL34 (one bad tube) with excellent results. The front end 6SN7 has been either Tungsol GTB or Sylvania JAN WGTA or CHS GTB. The driver has been either TJFM or EH GP. The CAD 120S MkII is upgraded to the Vcap CuFT reference caps and Solemn bypass caps with Cardas solder.

The CAD 120S MkII is driven by the SLP-98P that have Sylvania 6SN7 JAN WGTA or CHS GTB like the ones in the CAD 120S MkII. And the TJFM 6SN7 are the driver. The Phono tubes are Telefunken or Psvane. The SLP-98P is upgraded to the Mundorf S-G-O and mil spec resistors.

All NIB or NOS tubes have been fully broken in with close to 150 hours.

Phono input is from the VPI Scout 1.1 with upgraded tonearm and Dynavector 20x.

Digital source is from the Oppo 105D with AQ Columbia interconnects.

The result is simply breathtaking with a lot of audible improvement in deeper black background with more sound clarity, instrument separation in terms of more accurate image, wider soundstage, deep tight bass, sweet midrange and extended strong clean crisp treble. The entire audio response is very flat and dynamic with balanced tones.

The volume is about midway at the SLP-98P for most phono records to fill the 25' tall ceiling 21x20 living room open to staircase and kitchen. For digital music sources the volume is only at 11 o'clock to have the same SPL.

Overall I'm extremely happy with the synergy from this awesome setup. The Parasound A21 Halo sounds really harsh for the already clean fast crisp sound reproduction from the M3.7i. The CAD 120S MkII has plenty of reserve power (60WRMS in triode and 120WRMS in UL switchable on the fly) to handle the M3.7is beautifully as they sound better than my SF dynamic speakers by miles.

The low power but beautifully sound Yaqin MC-13S with W.C EL34 and Mundorf S-O cap (6 total) upgrade cannot drive the M3.7i properly. It is hooked up to the SF in the second listening room but definitely cannot be in the same league with the M3.7i setup.