I owned Maggies for ten years, but moved on to dynamic speakers for two main reasons. As well as they did many things, realistic bass with "slam" was not one of them. The other thing is that they're something of an interior decorating conundrum if you don't have them in a dedicated listening room. It's hard to integrate two wide, door sized panels into a living space gracefully IMO. Also, they're picky as hell about partnered amplification if you're looking for the absolute best possible results.
I dislike my Magnepan 3.6s because i bought them about a year before the 3.7 came out. So NOW i want some 20.7s to make up for NOT having 3.7s.
That is why i hate Magnepan.
One of the best reasons to own Magnepans IS to not have all that bogus 'slam'.
I live in an apartment, and enjoy the fact the bass does NOT travel down the other apts or above or below. GREAT.
If you need all your neighbors for blocks to hear your bass, then maggies definitely are not for you.
Bass violin, Tuba, Organ's low notes are the instrument no Maggies will ever play even dropping the fact about 'slam'.
Stand near a tympani, conga, bass drum, low note organ pipe register, etc. and tell me that the perception of bass physicality is "bogus."??? No one's talking about shaking your neighbor's car windows down the block, just attaining a sense of realistic acoustic energy energy in a room at normal levels. I think most who've listened to Maggies long feel that they have to be listened to rather lively volume levels get them to sound alive and fully present. Elizabeth's living situation makes what is a deficit for me a positive for her. Different strokes for different folks, etc.
Adding a couple of Vandy subs(the fastest ones) may rectify their negatives tho.
I need good deep bass and dynamics for my listening preferences. Maggie's don't cut it for classic rock.
Have always sounded bright and unnatural to me; I used Quads for 30 years and Apogee also so have nothing against planar speakers. But what do you care what other people think? If you like them they are good and if not they are bad TO YOU! Don't buy what others like, get what you like.
I'll hang with Stanwal and his comments, yet Elizabeth was quite spunky with her comments. Always trust your own ears.
I dislike my Magnepan 3.7's because I bought them about a year before the 20.7's came out. Now, I may have to sell my 3.7's to Elizabeth so I can get the 20.7's. OK, I love my Maggies, so I probably shouldn't answer, but here goes anyway.
Photon, I'd love to stand next to tympani or bass drum, but in Indianapolis they make people sit in the seats during concerts. I'm pretty sure I would get booted if I tried to stroll through the orchestra during a performance. My point is that I want my music to sound (or feel) like what I get in a concert hall, 100-200 feet from the percussion. The physical feel of a 25 hz tone is something I have never felt in an actual concert setting. Now, for a rock concert, that may be a different story. I would accept the comment above that maggies may not be a good rock speaker. I recently added a sub to my system, and I do enjoy what it adds to organ, tuba, double bass etc. But I have to say, it is a little surprising just how little help the 3.7's actually require, even though they fall off rapidly below 40hz in my room.
I had a pair of 3.6 for a while and also spent a good deal of time at a friend's who had the 1.6s. I personally don't care for them above all because they are so big in size. You really do need a dedicated room to get the most out of these, they needed at least for me to come way into the room. Even in my listening room I had them halfway into the room and they made it seem small.
I think they sound pretty neat and do some really nice things. If you like delicate music like acoustic string quartets and such these are pretty great. I never really liked the non precise imaging that I heard with them and when it comes to higher energy electronic music they sounded weak in the bass slam department, not terrible just weaker than other dynamic speakers I've had. They are also one of those speaker that when you move to one side you basically just hear that one speaker. I personally don't like to have to lock my head in a vice and sit only in the sweet spot to enjoy music. All panel speakers I've had especially electrostats require the head in a vice. That alone is a deal breaker for me.
couldn't live with bass and didn't want to add a sub. Then got into DIY and have never looked back. I thought build quality per dollar was lacking.
I don`t dislike maggies,they sound nice for certain situations.The best quality dynamic speakers just simply have better dynamics,tone,presence and have more realism.Transparency is better with the very good dynamic speakers,maggies have a distinct signature IMO.
Brownsfan, I like your sense of humor. You are quite right that when we are forced into our seats at mid theater, the low frequency physicality of the tubas, tympanis, etc. are reduced to naught. I've attended many musical performances in smaller halls where I was within fifty feet or less of the performers and in those situations, the feel of air moving from the instruments is evident. That sort of listener proximity seems similar to how most classical performances recorded in the last decade or so are miked (or it seems to me.) I don't want speakers that create unnatural bass that exaggerates that which isn't there. It's just that recording engineers mike many performances in ways that don't replicate the mid-hall listening experience.
Lack of dynamic range, too much surface area.
Charles1dad, what Maggies have you heard? Your description sounds very different in some respects than my own impression, e.g., realism? As Jonathan Valin just said of the 20.7's, "The listeners for whom the 20.7's are very nearly ideal--for whom Magneplanars have always been ideal--are those seeking the absolute sound. These Maggies' magical ability to transport listeners to a different space and time and to there realistically recretate (with lifelike scope and size) the sound of acoustic instruments and the venue they were recorded in is extraordinary." I think most people would second that, while agreeing with some of your other objections, e.g., limited dynamics. Kinda makes me wonder what you've heard, and where.
"As well as they did many things, realistic bass with "slam" was not one of them."
Photon, ever here the Tympanis? Near-dynamic slam and extension, combined with planar naturalism. Overall, it was the best bass I've ever heard. Of course, they aren't made any more.
Ditto for rock and roll, my 1-D's would rock out. A friend measures 120 dB+ SPL's on his IV's, which is more than all but the largest dynamics can manage.
For those with the single panel Maggies, a pair of subs will address these issues. Subs sound smeared by comparison to planar bass, but for many the tradeoff is worth it, and it's the same bass you'd be getting with a dynamic setup.
Size I don't know how to fix. :-)
Magnetic planar speakers have serious shortcomings, as do most technolgies employed for audio. I could list three for four of them, and in fact in an upcoming article I intend to do so. But don't tell that to a Maggie fan! :)
I`ve heard maggies many times over a 20 year period, most recently the 1.7 and 3.7(have`nt heard the 20.7 model). As I`ve said I like them but don`t love them, there`re other speakers I`d prefer that`s all.If they suit your needs then that`s all that matters.
I realize there`re components and speakers I simply adore that you or others may not care for much at all.
We all recognize this is pure subjectivity, nothing more or less.What J. Valin hears has no bearing on my own experiences i.e. different ears and preferences.
Maggies have a peculiar mix of strengths and weaknesses...they do a phenominal job on vocals, acoustic guitars, small jazz ensembles...i only encountered their shortcomings when i put on some Marley...dissapointing to say the least...but if you can work with their quirks...there are riches to behold.
Doug, as you say, all speakers have shortcomings. I think JV summed up very well what I and many others have always loved about Maggies. But I don't think anyone would suggest that dynamics can't go deeper, that horns don't have better dynamics, or that stats don't have better midrange clarity.
My point was that judging by the comments, some people aren't familiar with what large planars, fully powered and properly set up, can do, e.g., the Tympanis or the big Apogees. A friend measures SPL's of over 120 dB in his listening seat with his Tympani IV's, which are good down to 30 Hz (he has 2500 watts on the bass panels). These are planars that really can rock out, and have bass extension that would be the envy of all but the very largest dynamics.
Also, most of the people I know who have the smaller single panel Maggies use subs, as you would with a smaller dynamic.
Charles1dad, I completely agree with your comment about J. Valin's opinion having no bearing on your own experiences. Reviewers' opinions do not impress me that much; they have their own tastes in sound, and their systems are different than yours. However, a review may spark my interest in product if I have similar taste as the reviewer.
That being said, I don't like Maggies with true ribbon tweeters (3 and 20 series) because of the discontinuity between the ribbon and planar magnetic drivers, even the new 3.7s. Otherwise, I think the big Maggies are great provided you have a big powerful amp, preferably tube.
Dracule, please note what I said about the Valin comment -- "I think most people would second that, while agreeing with some of your other objections." I wasn't commiting a fallacy of authority; I quoted JV merely because he had said, elegantly and concisely, what I and many others I've spoken to have said over the years (and I'd just seen the quote in the latest TAS).
Since this is almost the main strength of Maggies, one that impresses everyone I've ever played them for, I was puzzled by Charles1dad's statement that dynamics offer more realism and transparency, when I think most would agree that very few do. In my experience, people who make these comments often haven't heard Maggies set up properly. That's why I asked.
Whereas other criticisms I've seen here -- limited slam, bass, low WAF, disontinuity between the ribbon and other drivers -- all make sense to me. Or if he'd said that stats are more transparent.
In any case, it wasn't about Valin's authority as a reviewer, although I've read enough of his loudspeaker reviews to know that he hears the same things I do -- which, to me, is the hallmark of a reviewer whose ears I can trust (since I think it highly unlikely that we would notice the same things purely by chance). This isn't the same thing as a value judgment, just the ability to hear and describe fairly subtle sonic characteristics, such as the "snare drum" self noise someone mentioned.
for me, the maggies are kinda like a a porsche--great performance, but not necessarily practical or a good choice for your everyday commuter. personally, it think the 3.6/3.7/20.1 sound fantastic, even transcendent. however, many people can't deal with the low waf and the limited sweet spot. plus, when you're done adding the megawatt amp and the necessary sub or two, they don't seem like quite the bargain they appear.
It seems to me that all of your ducks need to be in a row if you are to like Maggies. Meaning, issues that come into play are: amplification, location, aesthetics, etc. I only heard one pair of Maggies in my life and it was an awful experience, but more on that later. Amplification: Maybe many people don't pair them with the appropriate amps? I don't know why, with the plethora of information here and other sites, how can you go wrong? Location: Being dipoles, I understand they need to be out far from the front wall with some acoustic treatments behind them. Aesthetics: Let's face it, if the monoliths are not in a dedicated listening room, they look ridiculous. Sorry to all of the Maggie owners who are trying to convince themselves otherwise but let's be real, the marriage to a pleasing aesthetic simply doesn't work here.
So maybe all of these things are factors to someone's overall negative opinion of these "supposedly" great speakers. Oh yeah, the one time I did hear Maggies was a disaster. In an Audio store in NYC. New Maggie 20.7's driven by Mcintosh monoblocks, Mcintosh preamp, and source was top of the line DCS stack. I wanted to beg the salesman to scratch his fingernails on a chalkboard to save what was left of my hearing.
In their defense, the speakers were close to the back wall but, that said, given the reputation of the speakers and the cost of the overall system, that simply was no excuse for one of the worst systems I've ever heard.
Have owned few maggies, including 20.1's. Love, love the sound. What I didn't like is:
-huge, heavy power amp(s) needed to wake them up and get full performance out of them
-poor low level sound
-small sweet spot
-room domination, they're big and need to be way out in the room to sound right
This is why I don't own them anymore.
I also question speaker designs that mandate the use of high power amplifiers.It seems a flaw to make speakers this inefficient and miss the opprotunity to use really good low-moderate power amps that are simpler and sound fantastic.Many threads on this site concerning maggies are usually about how much power one needs to get them to 'come alive'and open up.
Maggies were born in another era when SETs were the not buzz. It was an era of very large ARC tube amps that only made 110-150 wpc but were biamp'd into tympanis with unprecedented results. They are a small company that has changed little, offering its time tested formula at ever more reasonable pricing compared to an often ludicrously priced competition. It works for Magnepan, if it does not work for you, they and you can live with it.
According to Wendell Diller at Magnepan, the reason Maggies aren't more efficient is that neodynium magnets would cost the buyer more than a more powerful amplifier. That being said, they'll work perfectly well for most people with an amp of moderate power. If you want 115 dB SPL's out of them, well, then you'll need a big amp. But most people don't listen at those levels.
Devilboy, Magnepan is one of the largest high end speaker manufacturers, with over 100,000 sold. If so many things had to line up for them to work, that wouldn't be the case. As it happens, few of us have setups that are ideal for Maggies, or for any speaker. But they do quite beautifully even without, indeed, like other line source dipoles, they are less sensitive to room acoustics and require less room treatment (the flip side being that they're more sensitive to careful room setup).
If the 20.7's sounded bad, it was the dealer setup. Period. Nobody who has heard them has had anything but raves. Dealer setups are a chronic problem with Maggies, they almost never sound right.
I suggest you listen under better circumstances. They won't work close to a wall, no dipole will. Those who can't pull them out should get boxes -- most boxes aren't at their best against a wall either, but they do better than dipoles -- or a dipole that's specially designed to be used on a wall, like the Magnepan on-walls or the Wisdom in-walls.
...But, I do like Magnepan speakers, but, I like a few (and I do mean a few) other speakers more.
For a basic box speaker to be really inefficient is something of a design flaw. However, if it's not a box speaker, then I think different standards apply. It's also just as easy to say that low wattage amps are a design flaw since they don't match well with really good sounding low efficiency loudspeakers.
It's also worth noting that there are planar magnetics that do use neodynium ribbons and give you amazingly high efficiencies, like the Wisdoms and Graz's Apogees. However, one look at the price of these and most people will gasp and go back to the Maggies and a more powerful amp.
Magnepan does use neodynium magnets in some models, where nothing else will do the job.
"I do not like thee, Dr. Fell
Why this is I cannot tell
But this I know and know full well
I do not like thee Dr. Fell"
Your taste is your taste and asking for explanations will not change it.