I can't tell you what's best, but I'm running mine with a McIntosh 2102 tube amp and it sounds great.
From the ones you have listed, the Pass will give you the current those speakers need. I'm also gonna go out on a limb here and suggest you look at the Sunfire Signature Series II amp. Tons of current, finesse, as well as slam. Output doubles down as you halve impedence loads. I own a Signature myself to drive Magnepan MGIIIA's, so I am biased.
3.6's LOVE power.
The more power you can feed them the better.
Personally, I have driven 3.6's with 2 Plinius SA100mk3 amps in mono (665wpc into the maggies). The sound was very good.
I have been told the Bryston Amps also work very wekk with maggies. Large Pass amps do as well. The best amp though, running the maggies is quite possibly the Lamm m1.1 monoblocks (200 watts Class A inot 4 ohms).
Tube amps- Big ARC, Big VTL or Wolcott's(in no particular order)
Solid State- Plinius 250MKVI, Pass 350 or larger, boulder, "p" series accuphase, BAT VK-500w/bat pak, Edge, Parasound JC-1- just to name a few- really depends what you want to spend, I am just floored by how good the VK-500 sounds in my system, I am in NO rush to upgrade, just enjoying the tunes. I like the idea of tubes but I just can't bring myself to do it with these speakers. The best thing is to try a couple and see what you like.
KF- I like the lamm idea! I would be really curious to hear that!
After many trials, I now use Audio Research VT-150 monos(predecessor to the Reference amps) with the 3.6's in a 15'x 26' room and they drive them extremely well with all the "tube magic" I could hope for. The VT150's have tube regulation and a massive power supply capacitor storage, with each mono amp having more energy storage than a stereo VT200. ARC claims that the design of these amps provides a perceived power much greater than its rating and allows large musical transients to be realized with difficult speaker loads. If interested, check out R. Harley's review in the August 1994 Stereophile. Also, there are several factory upgrades and tube choices I could discuss with you if you are interested, just email me. Regards, Dave.
we have found that the autoformers in the mcintosh power amps make a great marriage with maggies. because they are thirsty, the more power the better. i do not have the MG 3.6's yet, but i am driving factory refurbished tympany 1-D's with 2 600 watt mono Mac 2300's. as of yet, nothing else has come close to the perfomance of that configuration.
I would suggest the larger Pass amps, "possibly" the Sunfire Signature ( will GREATLY depend on the solidity and quantity of bass from your source ) and i would keep an eye / ear out for the new Parasound JC-1's that Tim mentioned. My sources tell me that this is going to be a highly sought after amp and is VERY powerful and dynamic at lower impedances. This is exactly what you need to drive Maggies, as anything less will stunt the dynamics and not really allow them to "open up" to their full potential. As such, i would avoid ANY amp that does not work well into a 4 ohm or lower load, regardless of the brand name and reputation. Sean
I have had my 3.6R for about 5 months now. I was running them with an EAD Powermaster 2000 which on the books stated that it delivered 700 watts/4ohms. Matched with my EAD Signature it was truly a nice set up for both HT and two channel listening. However I ran across a pair fo VTL 225 deluxe mono blocks that I set up along with ARC tube pre outboard DAC etc. The EAD stuff is great and I have praised it on several occasions and still do, but running the 3.6R with 225 watts of pure Class A Triode power is like nothing I have heard before in my room.
I have to agree with most of the solid state recommendations above, but do not lose sight of tubes even in a HT application not that your set up for that. It has been well known that ARC and Magenepan work very well, but if you read the Jan 03 Stereophile Magazine that interviews Jim Winey he touches on how he worked closely with ARC.
If you have the right room the 3.6R can deliver an incredible performance. I just auditioned the Aerial 20T's and yes they were great and man talk about dynamic!, but I still love the sound of the 3.6R's. Matched with a great set of subs like you listed your there.
Becareful about using mac amps with maggies, I have been told from more then a few dealers it is not an ideal matchup. The output devices on the mac amps don't work ideally with the load the maggies put on them, the dealers who told me this sold not only mac and magnepan but a number of other products and they said if you can get amp x(which costs more) they would suggest getting something that was less money(like a bryston). I would be skeptic to try a mac amp regardless of wattage with these particular speakers.
One guy on audioreview.com wrote a review of the Odyssey stratos monos and his speakers were magnepan 3.6Rs. He had four stratos monos on the maggies and said that the sound was totally transparent. I have the stereo stratos and can say that it is very musical and transparent. It seems to have high current capability which the magnepan speakers need.
Keep Canada green, get the new Bryston 14-B SST and buy records with the rest of the money you will have saved(or how about a gift for your significant other?). Only snobs will look down your noses for not having an amp that costs two or three times more. The pairing of 3.6s and Brystons is often recommended. At the very least, you owe yourself an audition of this combo.
I use the Dreadnaught 5 ch x 200watts amp with my 3.6R's, when I first connected the amp I tried using just two channels, the sound was very good indeed. But next I tried running one channel directly into each external crossover connection for the bass and mid/hi panels using 4 of the 5 channels aivailable for the two speakers.
This resulted in a more relaxed but deeper soundstage with greater bass impact.
I find this to be the best combination of value and sound of the many amps I have tried. Of course an electronic crossover will bring this to an even higher level.
The subthread within this thread suggests that McIntosh with Maggies is a conflicted issue. I recall that when I was setting up my system a year ago, I was advised by a McIntosh dealer to avoid their amps with autoformers and instead get one without them - so I did. It (MC162) sounded OK, but another of their solid state amps with autoformers (MC352) sounded better and the tube-based MC2102 sounds better yet - despite the lower wattage. Just an observation for whatever its worth. Two of them may be even better or bi-amping with another type of amplifier...
I've had my MG3.6 for about 2.5 years now and have tried quite a few amps, though nothing super expensive (>$10K). I've never been completey happy with pure-tube or pure-SS driving them. You need either a very powerful tube amp with high damping factor (to control the bass), or a highly refined SS amp to avoid transistor harshness which WILL be revealed by these speakers. Among the tube amps already suggested above I'd add Wolcott monoblocks, which sound pretty good on the 3.6. As for Pass-X amps, IMO they sound too lean and cool, though very refined (I like Aleph better). I think panel speakers tend to sound lean anyway and need some "body" in the midrange. I've tried Belles 350A: it sounds tube-like (full midrange) but not as liquid in the upper mids.
In the end, the best strategy for MG3.6 is active biamping (bypassing the external passive xover box). This has allowed me to experiment with different amps for bass and mid/hi. The speakers really open up and dynamics improve. Bit of a hassle to match amps though, and you need to introduce an active crossover between preamp and amps. (There are a lot of threads on Audio Asylum about this.) I'm using a Marchand 3-way xover, since I send the lowest frequencies to a sub, which greatly relieves the Maggies of trying to reproduce <40Hz.
I've tried many amp combos for driving the bass (40-250Hz) and the mid/hi (250Hz-up) sections of the MG3.6, and among my favorite have been Bryston 4Bst on bottom with Belles 350A on top (nearly equal gain amps); also two Llano Design Trinity hybrid tube/SS amps, using a tube-type in each amp that is best suited for that freq. range. (The Llano's are my current setup.)
Again, I'd suggest wandering through the AA planar speaker archives, where many opinions on driving MG3.6 can be found. Good luck!
Second the Bryston 4b-st...a buddy has this combo with his 1.6s...and it is sweet...Bryston have a tendency to really bring out the best in planar bass...speed,definition,and with this much juice...pretty good dynamic "punch"...some have commented on Bryston being a bit "hard" sounding on vocals...I haven't had that experience...they are very nuetral...and ofcourse...legendary build quality...
I third McIntosh. I have heard the smaller Magnepans (2.?) with a McIntosh MC202 and it was beautiful. Tireguy's dealer comments are dumb IMO. Any amp has issues with bad speaker impedance curves but there are some darn good engineers that spend their time and effort to design it so that it is stable into that low load, and that is what we are paying good money for. If all you had to do was toss transistors together, anyone would be building amps but the trick is to make them stable. When you pay thousands of dollars for an amp, it will be stable with a Magnepan load unless it is a really sucky design and some may not like McIntosh but will concede it is not a crappy design. Besides they are autoformer coupled which is a buffer to the devices so if anything, the McIntoshes will be more stable than brand x. Anyway, sorry for ranting.
There are past posts on Maggies and McIntosh where many responses support my feeling on it. Search the archives and see. McIntosh isn't the only good one of course, include Pass and Classe too IMO. Arthur
Ideally you should listen to any potential 'buy' with your speakers in your room, but a second best would be to listen to the 3.6's in a dealer's room. You don't mention how loudly you listen. That's a factor as a 3 db increase in loudness requires 2 times the power. I'm using a Bel Canto Evo2 and am quite happy with the results. Brian D. in Stereophile found the Classe CAM 350's to be a great match.
I am very impressed and a little overwhelmed by the response to my question regarding which amp to use with the Maggies. I must say that each one of you have helped sharpen my thinking and test some of my long-standing biases about amplifiers. For this I am very grateful.
If money were less of an object, I would choose one of two amps based on my current system setup: Plinius SA250 MK IV or the Wolcott P220M. While there are many good amps on the market today and many amps would make a very good match with the Maggies, these two units would be the best for my system. Unfortunately, they are outside my budget, and for the Plinius, I must admit that I am a little nervous about buying this amp knowing that I would have to ship it back to New Zealand should it ever need repairing.
Many of you have suggested either ARC or Bryston. The big ARC amps are more than I can afford and I would rather own the Pass or Classe amp over a Bryston. Having said that, I have heard the Magnepan 3.6/R with the Bryston 4B ST and was impressed with how good the system sounded.
I am intrigued by the Halo JC-1 recommendation that several of you have made. To be honest, however, I was not overly impressed with the sound of the less powerful stereo version in the Halo line. With a Halo amp and preamp along with a Sony ES CD player powering a pair of Veritas 2.3 loudspeakers, I found the overall sound to be detailed but rather thin and clinical. On warmer sounding loudspeakers, the Halo equipment might be a good match.
My observation about the Halo equipment raises a concern I have with both the Classe CAM 350s and the Pass X250. In his response, RAL indicated that the X250 sounded a bit cool and lean; that's not the first time I have heard this criticism of this fine amp. As for the CAM 350, Brain Damkroger of Stereophile also mentioned that this Classe amp had a lean sonic cast. If I were using a Conrad Johnson preamp, these concerns would be moot.
Because I am looking for good price/performance, the Theta Dreadnaught and the Belles 350A have to be my top choices. Either amp will deliver a full-bodied sound with plenty of transparency and detail for my tastes. To this list I will also add the McIntosh 352. It has a full-bodied sound as well while having all the power I need. It costs about $4,500.
I will also audition the Pass X250 and CAM 350, but my preferences are leaning toward the units mentioned above.
Once again I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to answer my questions. You have helped me a lot in my purchasing decision.
Why would you need to send a Plinius amp back to New Zealand to be fixed???? Last time I checked they have a repair center in Oklahoma in the USA (it may be in NY now). But they have good customer support in the US.
One of the best deals in amplification right now is the Plinius SA250 mk4 used. People are dumping them. It really is a shame. This amp is world class in a lot of ways. My only problem with it is it is a hearnia waiting to strike. It weights something like 150 lbs! Ouch my back!
Another option would be go for mono Bel Canto 200.2 amps. These amps are amazingly powerful, and would probably drive the Maggies very well.
All I would suggest is think power and current. The more power and current your amp has, the better it will be at driving the Maggies. No 100 wpc amp in the world save something like the LAMM M1.1 monoblocks is going to sound as good as the Plinius SA-250 amp into the Maggies. This might be a little bit of an overstatement... but not by much.
I did not know that there was a repair facility in the United States for Plinius amps. That makes a big difference. By far, the Plinius is the best sounding solid state amp I have heard. A new one is not cheap, but the sound quality is wonderful.
Do you know why so many people are selling their SA 250s? Weight would not be a deterrent for me. I use a Proceed AMP 5 in my home theater system, and it weighs more than 100 pounds.
I noticed that you are selling a GamuT D200. It's a nice amp in the right system. Very detailed and sweet sounding with a high degree of transparency. Are you upgrading or are you looking for something else?
How about bye amping the Innersound amps? in comparison? I am running Maggie 3.5s with (1) Innersound and they work well! Not so expensive as your favorites but the company with take them back if your not satisfied and I would like to here your comparison. Seems to be the talk of AA lately. I purchased!
People are dumping SA250mk4 amps because Plinius is in the process of upgrading their entire amp line. They started with the SA102, and the SA250 will be replaced I am sure as well. Plinius amps are great for driving Maggies. Maggies need and crave power. Plinius amps deliver it.
I think the GamuT D-200 is sonically superior to every one of your amps on your short list. I am selling mine to pay off some impending bills. However, I will replace it with a new D-200 in the future (watch for my review).
This being said about the GamuT D-200, I would NOT recommend buying a D-200 to drive Maggie 3.6's until you hear the results for yourself. The D-200 is a powerful amp; however, it really is not designed for speaker that are very difficult to drive. The 3.6's are on the very edge of what I would drive a D-200 with. HOWEVER, the GamuT might drive the Maggies very well... I would love to hear it tried. Why would I not try to drive the Maggies with the powerful D-200? The D-200 is designed to see a load less than 1.5 ohms as a short, and the circuit protection kicks in and the amp shuts down.
I know Maggie 3.6's dip pretty low in ohms in the bass (I think around 1.5 if I remember), so the D-200 would not be my first amp of choice when laying out a system on paper (without trying it first).
NOW if you have an active crossover from your subs to your Maggies (the subs getting everything below maybe 40hz), I would absolutely reccommend the GamuT D-200. The D-200 is amazingly detailed and transparent with neutrality that few solid state amps achieve (especially in the $8k and under price range).
I looked up the impedance curve on the 3.6 and it appears in the link below from a Stereophile review. From this data the lowest Z dip is on the high side of 3 ohms just above 10Khz. It looks to be a relatively benign 4 ohm speaker and not too difficult of a load other than needing plenty of power to overcome its lower sensitivity.
From this I would say the Gamut should drive it well. However, this is only my speculation. As Tok2000 stated, one should try it first.
How do you like the BAT VK500? Have you heard the VK6200? How would you compare the two amps?
The reviews on the VK500 have been very good on Audioreview.com and in the audio press.
From what I have read, the VK500 has a full-bodied, smooth sound reminiscent of tubed equipment while possessing considerable detail, transparency, clarity, dynamics, and bass control. Some, however, consider to be dark sounding, whatever that means. These attributes should work well with my system. If I had chosen a preamp with a big, bold, and vivid sound, like a VAC preamp or maybe even a Conrad Johnson, I would be more inclined to choose either the Pass X250 or the CAM 350, both of which have a faster, somewhat cooler, and learner presentation.
My current amp, the Proceed AMP 5, has a full-bodied, dynamic, sweet, somewhat dark, and slightly rich sound. I am looking for an amp that has these qualities but with more detail, air, and transparency. Perhaps the VK500 will fit this description well.
Artar1- I do enjoy the VK-500 an aweful lot, how ever I found myself wanting more body in my vocal's and a slightly wider sound stage. Don't get me wrong with this amp I have gotten closer then ever before to audio nirvana in my system, just after several months of listening I have found some room for improvement. As far as the 6200 goes compared to the 500 I don't think the 6200 would hack it with only 2 amp 'cards' so you would need 4 amp 'cards' and biamp the maggies which I am told is the way to go(but with the speaker cables I am using it doesn't make much sense seeing as then cost nearly what the speakers do) but a 6200 with 4 amp 'cards' puts you in a higher price range then I wanted to spend on an amp at the time. I have heard great things about the innersound ESL amp, Roger Sanders is a pleasure to deal with as well- he offers you an in home 30 day trial so you have NOTHING to loose give it a shot, many love his amps. For the price VK-500's are going for I don't think you can go wrong, to my ears the 3.6 is slightly forward sounding so a dark/warm sounding amp helps even things out. I am itchy to try the Boulder 1060, Wolcott presence 220 and the new Tenor solid state amp- I would enjoy the later of the group but at 28k retail I would need to get at least 20.1's not to feel like a fool! I see Wolcott's in my system with in the year :)
I did get a chance to hear the GamuT D200. The system consisted of an Elecrtrocompaniet EMC 1 CD player, a Herron VTSP 1A preamp, and the Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III SE loudspeakers with JPS cables and interconnects. The overall sound was excellent, but I felt that the GamuT D200 added what I would describe as a "relentless" quality to the upper midrange, lower treble. The amp was certainly detailed, transparent, and dynamic with an excellent low-end response. The soundstage was wide and deep but not quite as voluminous as some more expensive tubed designs I have heard. There was a lack of harshness, brightness, and grain, but the treble was not quite as airy as a pair of Krell FPB 350 MCs ($17,500), nor did the midrange have the same three-dimensionality and overall atmospheric quality of a VTL MB750 reference ($20,000). But for $5,500, it's a very hot product that will do justice to any system that is tilted more toward the warm side. Perhaps the VR4 Gen III and the D200 are not a good match? As for handling the load presented by the Magnepan 3.6/R, the impendence curve of that loud speaker drops to a low of about 3 ohms, well within the capabilities of the D200.
That is cool Artar1.
Personally, I think those tonality problems would be fixed with a better source and better power cords and maybe even a better preamp. Anyway, it is hard to pin down what device is causing any one problem in a system without knowing a system well and a lot of trial and error component replacing.
I think the GamuT should be able to drive the VR4's without any issue.
Anyway, it is good to hear someone say something about the D-200. Because it is not that well known of an amp here in the US, people really do not realize just how great it sounds. At it's price point it is a good value. Used it is practically a steal.
You have reached a very expensive crossroads in the design and development of your system. Because you are not using an active preamp, but instead are running the BAT VK500 directly off your Audio Aero Capitole CD player, you will experience high transparency and detail perhaps at the cost of harmonic body and some loss of soundstage width and depth. To preserve your transparency and detail to a large degree while increasing body, texture, and atmosphere, a tube amplifier would be in order. The Wolcot amp would be a good choice, although I have not seen or heard one. It will set you back by a little over nine thousand. The perfect match with your Maggies would be a VTL MB750, which offers 360 watts triode into a 4 ohm load. I have heard this amp with the Magnepan 3.6/R along with a VAC Renaissance preamp ($28,200), and it was an awesome combination, as one would expect. The VTL had been modified at the factory at no additional cost with a premium wire that improved the upper octave air and detail of the unit. Well, at $20,000, it puts this amp out of reach for me, and this monoblock amp is huge! Not only that, it really pumps out a lot of heat; it could easily warm your living room in winter, I kid you not. I made the mistake of putting my head over one of the amps and got a blast of hot air for my ignorance.
Another alternative would be for you to buy a tubed preamp to increase the body and soundstage width and depth of your system. You will notice an increase in texture and atmosphere too at a cost of ultimate detail and transparency, not to mention a slight increase in noise in the form of tube hiss that you will hear on very quiet passages when you sit a little too close to the Maggies.
Another possibility would be to change loudspeakers and/or to buy the Wolcot amp. But keep in mind that the Wolcot amp will cut your available power in half when compared to the BAT VK500.
These are not good alternatives. It's what keeps us changing equipment in a never-ending quest to find the right system.
Artar1- Thanks for the input I think you may be right partially about my complaints being related to the no preamp in my system, I have how ever heard the audio aero run direct in two other systems and they did not have this problem, they were also using tube amps as where I am still using a solid state. I do think a lot of my complaints will be taken care of with the Wolcott's- I think I just made my new years resolution! It is a lot of scratch but I do like these speakers- if I can talk her into doing it I want Jena Labs to make me some custom crossovers using what she knows I can only imagine they would be AMAZING, but for the price I would be better off getting the 20.1's and then when money allows have the crossovers upgraded. Choices choices!, Again thank you for your input ~Tim
I am real late in this discussion but the Maggie 3.6 amplifier question came up a dinner last night. My sister is about to purchase these speakers and I told her about the many choices in amplifiaction..with power being important. My big question is whether she should also consider playing with the bi amp crossover option and use a hefty solid state amp and a tube combination that could give her the best of both worlds.However,the more traditional tube pre amp with ss amp probably makes the most sense. She has a fairly large listening area 30x18x12. Anyone played with different bi amp options as described?
You are never too late for this discussion.
The real question is how loud will she be playing her music? Does she want to rock at 100 dB? If so, she will need a lot of power.
My vote is for a very high powered solid state design. She could choose a number of units. By the way, how much is she willing to spend? She might try the Classe CAM 350, Brynston 7B SST, the Parasound Halo JC 1, Pass X250/X350, or BAT VK500. For tubes there is the VTL MB 450.
Bi-amping will be expensive: there is the electronic crossover, two amps, and the extra speaker cable.
I hope this helps.
Woolcott Presence are EXCELLENT with 3.6. Recommend anyone with Woolcotts with Sovtek outputs (which I don't think Woolcott uses anymore) should definitely retube. Electro-harmonix EL34 available @ TheTubeStore.com sound wonderful and are cheap. Also found upgrading 6922s made big difference. (This turned out to be more about Woolcotts than 3.6. Couldn't help it; I think Woolcotts are unmatched at price, and maybe at many times price.) Also found Goetz Python AG2 great match for 3.6 (can only speak how they work with Woolcotts, other amps???).
I was using a Jadis Defy 7, but didn't like it. I traded it for a Levinson 334. That was much better. It actually sounded more tube like in tonal character than the Jadis. As an additional benefit, the speaker sounded as it was being controlled better also. Transients were tighter and quicker (yet it exhibited no solid state nasties), and the overall tonality was warmer, textures were more fleshed out, and the bass was way, way much better than with the Jadis. I do think, however, that it is just a bit under-powered for the 3.6's (I'd like to hear the 335 or the 336).
In addition, I am running an Audio Aero Capitole MK II directly into the amp with wonderful results. I did try using a tubed preamp (CJ Premier 17LS), but running it directly into the amp improved everything! It really was a no brainer (preamp vs. no preamp)!!
Bottom line, if your room isn't too large, and you don't listen to the Maggies too loud, the Levinson 334 may be just fine, but you may, like me, find yourself wanting more power.
I ran my Maggies 3.3's with Audio Research gear. I had the tube amps bi-amped with a D-240 Audio Research solic state on the bottom end. Was never quite satisfied. When I wnet to 2 solid state amps a A. R. D240mkII top and one on the bottom end. It all came together for me. I later bought a D400mkII. The two D240's sounded better, cleaner, clearer than one big amp. But the big N on the bottom worked quite well. Used Audio Research LS2B MK II pre.
The big thing with the maggies is the room, not the amp as most people seem to ask about. They are not that big a deal to drive. They need a good deal of room around them to work their magic. A lot of speakers are more of a problem than the maggies. You can drive them with any good amp, you need a big room to get the best out of them.