Wanting to get back into the hobby and want to start with the speakers.


Hi everyone. Last year I went to a couple of local Hi-Fi shops and demoed two vastly different types of speakers. The first shop I went to I demoed the JBL L 100 Classic, the second place I demoed two different pairs of Magnepan speakers the MMG and the .7. To my ears both Magnepan’s wiped the floor with the JBL’s. Funny thing is the JBL was being driven by about ten grand worth of McIntosh gear and the Magnepan’s were driven by inexpensive Marantz gear. Now since hearing the Magnepan’s every darn box speaker sounds well......boxy. It’s like they all have this hollowed out muffled midrange. If not for a few reservations I’d probably own a pair of either of the Magnepan’s. From what I’ve read on forums and reviews the consensus seems they require space/careful placement. Though, somewhat of a controversial topic is how much power they require to get up and running. Some say you can never have too much power with them, others say they get by just fine with fifty watts per channel. I guess I won’t know unless I try them.

To switch gears I went a demoed another species of loudspeakers today, two different pairs from the Klipsch Heritage line. The Heresy IV and the Forte III. Both sounded pretty darn good, they sounded similar in the mid’s and high’s, but of course the Forte’s cover about another octave in the low end. Regardless they both still sound like boxes with a bunch of drivers jammed in it( which they are).

Now like any self respecting obsessive audiophile I’m always reading reviews and scouring the internet for other popular speakers to seek out and listen to. A few others I am interested in are Tekton speakers, Harbeths( specifically the p3esr), Vandersteen( either the 1ci or 2ci.), and to throw another curve ball in there a pretty obscure brand called Human speakers. The have a stand mount speaker called the model 81( a sealed two way acoustic suspension, maybe sounds less boxy, dunno). The only ones I would be able to demo in person are the Vandersteen’s, but I’d have to drive about 3-6 hours just demo them.
Anyway, sorry for rambling on, and for overuse of commas. Any suggestions, advise, and or personal experience with any of the above speakers mentioned would be appreciated, thanks.

qxb1998
Not if your priority is audio, Mr. Chip.
Put these on your demo list

Kef LS50 Meta
Wharfedale Elysium 2 (or if you want to push the boat out the 4's)

I currently own Magnepan 1.7i and LRS speakers, as well as a pair of Tektons and a pair of Spatial Audio open baffle speakers. I also had a pair of 1977 vintage Klipschorns, and like you, I have an Adcom GFA 555 as well, so I’ve already plowed a lot of the ground you’re looking at. From this list of speakers, the pair that has won out as my favorites are the Maggies, but there are some caveats that I’ll mention in a minute.

I came to the Maggies by accident. A one-year-old pair was being sold locally for $1,000 off the new price. I couldn’t resist trying them, but I a bought them with the idea I would sell them in a few months for the same price. I was certain the Tektons would beat them. In the beginning that was true. But the seller also sold me a pair of silver jumpers and gold plated fuses (the total price for all is well less than $100). When I added these tweaks, as well as better cable, the Maggies really opened up. Maggies aren’t a plug ‘n play speaker. You have to work with them in terms of placement and gear to get the best out of them. But when you do, they are pretty special.

The place where the 1.7i’s rise above the others is in the quality, richness, and naturalness of the tone – as well as the holography and spacious sound stage. They just sound more “real” and lifelike than the other speakers in my stable.

Now the caveats: In addition to the right placement (mine are 8.5 feet into the room), they need an amp that delivers a lot of current. Notice, I didn’t say power. I said current. I’m driving mine with a Primaluna Prologue One tube amplifier, which puts out about 45 wpc. But it has huge transformers that can deliver tons of current. A Maggie sales rep I talked to told me he uses the same amp. This amp drives the Maggies with ease. I’m very partial to tubes, and with the 1.7i’s, I get a sound stage and holographic imaging that is unbeatable. The Adcom 555 will also drive them just fine, as you would expect, but it’s just not as refined as newer amplifiers – with any of my speakers. It can be a very good place to start, however.

You will also need some good, quick subs with the Maggies. The Maggies deliver surprisingly good bass. It’s very good, in fact. But the bass doesn’t extend into the low registers, and it lacks the slam of a full-range box speaker. I use a pair of subs, and cross them over at a very low point – 45 -50 hz – so most of the tone and texture of the bass is carried by the Maggies, but the extension and slam are provided by the subs. This makes for a very satisfying, very exciting listening experience.

So if you’re willing to put some effort into bringing out the best of the Maggies, you won’t regret it. You might even enjoy the process. I did.

As for the other speakers, the Tektons sound quite similar to the Maggies in many ways, and you won’t go wrong with them. I love my Tektons and really didn’t think the Maggies would win out in my room. The tonal quality was the ultimate deciding factor for me, and that, of course, is very subjective.

I can also highly recommend the Spatials. Mine are an early model, and aren’t as good as the newer or upgraded models. I like open baffle speakers. I am very interested to hear the latest offering from Spatial – the M3 and M4 Saphhires. I wouldn’t be surprised if they would beat out the Maggies.

I hope this helps. I wish you the best. It sounds like your tastes are very similar to mine, and based on what you’re looking at, you won’t go wrong. Good luck, and enjoy the journey!


I like Maggie’s, Klipsch, & Harbeth, so much I couldn’t decide.
I love the “sounds like you’re there it’s live w Maggie 3.6’s, the “in your face!!!!” W Klipsch K-horns, & “warmth, small jazz club” w Harbeth- 30’s.
Each bought used, 2 outta 3 from Agon members, in different rooms, off same system-
Works for me.
I got several of these and had several others - all are great, so you really can’t go wrong, with most of your choices. And there is not a huge difference in the sound of your top choices. It’s more of a function of your space and your budget, because your choice of speaker can make a significant difference in how much you must invest to achieve the optimum sound of whichever speakers you select.

I’ve got the Maggie 1.6’s modified by Magnestand by "PGunn" - which have a superb sound with bass and dynamics that other Maggies lack. I love their open sound, but would miss the bass and dynamics, if they weren’t modified to provide that sound.

And although, the Magnestands are more efficient than Maggies, just as Maggies, they do require matching ss amps to drive them to their potential such as Halo A21+, JC-5, JC-1’s, Bryston, or more expensive amps. Without that investment you won’t achieve their best sound. And for stock Maggies, you may also have to invest in a nice set of REL subs to achieve the bass and dynamics you may seek.

I’ve also got a couple of sets of open baffle speakers: Emerald Physics and Linkwitz Orions. They both have the sound of Maggies on steriods - great open, spacious sound, but with bass and dynamics. However, both require DSP’s and matching amps. In the case of the Orions, which I prefer, they require an 8 channel DSP and 8 channel amp, with the power to drive them to their potential.

And... I’ve got Harbeth 30.1’s and 40.2’s, which also have an open, spacious sound with great bass and dynamics, much as the dipole speakers I’ve noted above. But... they do not achieve their real sound potentional unless you invest in a powerful SS amp to drive them properly to that big open spacious sound, with great bass and dynamics. I would not have kept them, until I bought the Hegel H590 to drive them to their potential. Without that amp, they had a muffled, veiled sound without clarity, resolution, and soundstage that they can have with the proper amp, which must be powerful and very neutral, just as Harbeth and Alan Shaw suggests. Other amps that drive these to their potential are Benchmark, Bryston, ATI, and others that are equally powerful and neutral, without the warmth to veil their sound.

So... you can achieve your goal, with most any of your options, so long as you’re committed to selecting the right amp to drive them to their potential.

Personally, I’d probably start with the Spatial Audio open baffles, because they’re fairly efficient and they do not require a DSP. And because you can drive them well with a tube amp, should you decide to try those. Or, the Harbeth 30.1’s or 30.2’s with a Hegel H390 - which provides everything you need: a good DAC, Preamp and Amp, which can drive them to their potential.  The advantage of this last suggestion is that you can start out with about the best sound available without the urge to constantly upgrade to other stuff - it truly is Gold Award sound for a very reasonable investment - especially if you buy used equipment.