What amp/amps to drive magnepan 20.1's

Just purchased a six month old set of M20.1's from a dear friend who left oversea's for an open ended work asignment.He had been powering them with a pair of VTL 450 mono's who he had promised to his brother. Question; I have a pair of bryston 7bsst's that i have been hoarding away in anticipation of the comming of my inherritance, and now i feel i can further my debt to income ratio by buying something else.
1.should i buy another pair of brystons and passive biamp ? active biamp with 10b bryston x-over ?
2.Sell the mono's that i have and get some used pass x600's or big mcintosh 1201's ?
3.keep the bryston mono's and put some big tube's on top end with brystons on low freq. with active x-over ?
I have about 8k. until i'm sonic'ly rich but cash poor Please help me before my senses kick in !!!
Hi, 20.1 are state of the art speakers,so they need the very best amps and preamp to drive them to reveal all musical details.So,either a pair of Pass Labs,600,or if you want tubes BAT mono 150 SE are excellent choices. Khai
Parasound JC-1s ($6k) work quite nicely with them, or do you prefer tubes?

BAT mentioned above simply will not work on those speakers no way no how. 2x that power isn't enough I'll say 450 watts minimum is required
I would take a look at the new startup company H2o Audio's amps. There are some reviews out from Maggie owners that are incredibly satisfied.
Why not hear them with the Bryston amps first and see what you like and dislike about the sound you're getting and then decide where to go? The Brystons are great amps that don't necessarily do anything wrong. So it'll let you figure out what improvements you want.
I agree with the "Take it Slowly" approach that "Howie" espouses. I own a pair of Magnepan 20.1's and I know first hand that "Pure Power" is infinitely more important than "Lots of Power".

You do not need 450 watts with Magnepan 20.1 speakers.

What you do need is pure amplification that will bring out the best in the speakers.

I'm currently using SPECTRAL electronics. - DMA 250 and DMC 30-SL - and the Maggies are perfection. Huge Soundstage, Prodigious bass, Sound levels that equal a live concert. (For anyone who thinks that they need for their speakers to sound that loud). The purest, sweetest, most realistic tonality I have ever experienced. Incredible performance. At 200 watts, the DMA 250 offers an abundance of power and I DO NOT NEED MORE!

Before the Spectral, I used (and loved) Mark Levinson 336 & 33H, Krell FPB 300c, More power than the Spectral but not as clean and pure - and not nearly as fast.

The Spectral transformed the speakers.

You need to try what you have first and then beg, borrow or steal others to try on your system until you reach the level or performance that the Magnepan 20.1's are capable of.

I don't know how good your Brystons are but they have a good reputation. I would suggest that you compare them head on with other amps - on your speakers - in your system - and make your own conclusions.

I will say that a change of Preamps (formerly Levinson No. 32 and Krell KCT) to the Spectral DMC 30-SL, made more difference than did the change of Amps, although when I finally got the Spectral amp and requisite MIT cabling, everything did come together. I am totally satisfied with my system and have never heard Maggies sound as good.
A pair of Spectron Musicians and the model pre would be a great choice. Digital clean power............
Man, if I only had the room for those Maggies. Used to own the Tymanni 1Ds way back when I had the space. I find it hard to believe that the 20.1s can get by with less than 450 watts. There are times you want to crank up those babies. Some transients can take Maggies to the 1k zone. These are very expensive speakers to run. Oodles of high quality watts. I'd start with a pair of bridged pair of used Bryston 4Bs and see if that does it for you, sonically. (I owned the Bryston 4Bs. Loved them 'til I fell for another.) That will be enough juice. Hard to do inexpensively...peace, warren
Wolcott 220m's mono tubes:220 w.p/c and biwired:silver on top and copper for the bass.Tube preamp (BAT is good) and you will be in heaven.Owned all the maggies and you are in for a TREAT.Give the 20.1's at Least 200 + hours to break in.Your speaker wire will now be evident But the tubes will put you in heaven.Wolcotts are THE way to go !!
Welcome to Maggie Heaven and Enjoy !
I recently heard Maggie 3.5s driven by Wolcotts and then by Atma-Sphere MA-1s and a CAT JL2. The differences were astonishing. The Wolcotts weren't even close.
bluebeehive, you must be feeling real confident which amp to go with. 'tis a personal thing: obviously
Glacieraudio:the same $27k Atma's you are trying to unload tonite on auction,as "worldwide master distributor" ? Shame on you Brian ! Wolcott's sell used for $5k.The 3.5's
are as far from the 20.1's as day from nite.The Brystons
are good but try to home demo some tubes b/4 making a decision.BTW the Atma's will heat your whole house and run your electric bill thru your heated roof.They are nice though @ $27k have a Lot of competition.
Hifiman: you might want to check your facts. I am most certainly not Glacier Audio nor in any way associated with them - nor want to be! I became an Atma-Sphere dealer (I'm in the Chicago area) after Ralph Karsten returned to the helm as guiding force and sole owner of Atma-Sphere. In case you haven't noticed, Glacier Audio is no longer distributor of Atma-Sphere, and in fact is no longer a dealer for them! Your prices are wrong: the MA-2s are $33K and have been for a while. But the comparison involved MA-1s, which I stated in my post. And there were three other people besides myself present here: the customer, his friend, and my friend who is a CAT dealer. They spent quite a few hours here listening, so the conclusions weren't hasty.

I should have said I'm an Atma-Sphere dealer, but my earlier post stands. We listened to the amplifiers on both the MG 3.5s and the Sound Lab U-1s, with similar results: no contest!


I have 20.1's and had the same question about a year ago. I decided to focus on solid-state amps (even though I do like tubes as well).

Over a 3 month period I tried at my place the Ayre V1x, Goldmund 29M, Levinson 336, Pass X350, Threshold S350/e, Parasound JC-1's, Bryston 7B ST, Bryston 14B SST and the GamuT M250 mk3. I also tried the Pass X600's, Boulder 2060 on Maggies (but not my system).

I ended up buying the GamuT M250's. The sound stage is incredible and the sound in general is very natural and realistic. Some of the other amps had more power, but didn't seem as natural or realistic, especially in focus and instrument seperation. Well...the Boulder amp is pretty nice too...but way out of my price range!

Very recently I have become a dealer for GamuT (just my 2 cents, take them for what they are worth) as there was no dealer in my area. Every component I have tried from GamuT has really impressed me, and although not inexpensive their equipment can really keep up with more costly gear.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

I have driven my 3.6's with both the Wolcotts (pre-wideband transformer and, with the wide band transformer) as well as an Atmasphere MA-1 (and an MA-2). Had them both at the same time and switched back and forth for several months.

The Wolcotts are dynamic, fast and clean. Sort of remind me a very good solid state amplifier like the Pass units. The Atmasphere, when driven through the auto-transformer, provides a more organic delivery. Which also means more musical. Bass was not as tight and defined but, in about every other category the Atmasphere seemed to just let the music flow on it's natural course. It is a more visceral and immediate sounding amplifier than the Wolcott, which tends to sound ever so slightly constrained - probably in order to provide a very flat and extended response characteristic.

The Wolcotts strike me as an amplifier better suited to certain types of music such as jazz. They are not bad sounding amplifiers by any means, but I certainly prefered the Atmasphere's presentation. If you play at very loud levels then the Wolcott may be better suited for the Maggies.

The auto-transformer makes a big difference on the Atmaspere when driving the Maggies. Using one with the Atmasphere is a mandate.
Has anyone tried the 20.1's with ASL Hurricanes which are rated at 200 wpc all KT 88 tube amps? I am curious??

I'm in the process of biamping my MG 20's with 4 VAC 220 Monoblocks and a tubed Marchand XO. I'll let you know how this works out in mid-Jan after my 2nd pair of 220's return from a factory update. Goodluck!
Zimpwh, That sounds like a great plan, I,m slightly intimidated about active biamping with solid state and tube combos. I hav'nt got the 20.1's up and going yet(20 amp outlets to be installed next week) Will try with the 7bsst's alone first and then decide what route to take. What about SS and tubes in a biamp config., don't hear comments for or against such combo's I would like to try a pair of Wolcott 220 presence mono's on the mid+highs, i might wait and save a few more bucks and buy those and active marchand X-over, I like the auto biasing feature the wolcotts have and sounds like less tinkering for someone new to tubes such as myself. Thanks for responces let's keep the 20.1 success in powering the beasts thread going.
I've seen a number of threads posted on the MUG forum about biamping with ss/tube combo's, but I am afraid to mismatch the amps. I even sent the second pair of 220's back to VAC to have them matched to the specs of my first pair. Several biampers informed me that the more I used the gain controls on the XO to match the amps, the worst the output...I really don't know how true this is, but I thought it easier and safer to stick with similar amps. What XO do you plan to use and what crossover freqs/slopes?