New Magnepan 1.7 system from scratch for 7k

morgan -- Fri, 06/25/2010 - 01:42

I am a newcomer to hi-fi, and appreciate any advice.  I am building from scratch a 2-channel system for jazz and classical music, to be listened to at low-to-medium volumes, in a 14x18 furnished living room that is basically drywall and carpet, but later will most likely become a slightly larger irregular room with hardwood floors.  I have ordered a pair of magnepan 1.7s but thats all so far.  This leaves me about 5k and a clean slate for amp, CD player, and cables, (or less if possible) to create a recipe that will be respectable for the 1.7s.  I do desire a sub but doubt at this point that the budget will hold it vs what I need to get to drive the speakers properly.  So here goes my starting positions / questions:
 
AMPS:  I have budgeted about 3k for amps or separates.  I don't think I want tubes. I do want at least 4 inputs. I would prefer not to mix brands between, amps, tuners, CD players, etc (as long as it will complement the 1.7s).  I prefer a clean and un-colored sound for acoustics and orchestral strings.  Within dozens of amp choices out there, on the table so far are Krell S-300i ($2400), Bryston integrated B-60 ($2100 with remote), Bryston integrated B100 ($3400 with remote), Anthem 225 Integrated ($1500), and a set of Arcam separates C31 and P38 ($3200) that seems like a great deal for a non-integrated setup (and I admit I like the aesthetics of the casing on the Arcams).  They also have a lot of matching components.  But the Krell is was what I listened to (and enjoyed) and was highly recommended.  I can’t really afford other components in the bryston or krell lines at this point. I just dont know enough to narrow this down, and I cant listen to them all.   
 
SUB:  I listened to a JL 12” sub and was not entirely comfortable with how it interacted with the mags, but I am not an experienced listener.  Since I am waiting on this anyway because of the budget, its not a huge issue except that I have to be able to hook up most likely one or two JL fathom 10 inch or other similar recommended subs to whichever amp I get.  I know nothing about crossovers except that I will probably have to use them (?).
 
CD PLAYER:   Arcam has the FMJ DV139 for DVD / CDs (at $3000) but also a SACD player FMJ CD37 (for about $2100).  But I wonder if all my music isnt going to end up as high quality digital files anyway on a mac mini / apple tv anyway (I dont have a CD collection built up yet).  So that of course tempts me to put yet more money back in amps or subs, increasing my amps up to almost 4k maybe.   I have a $200 brand new sony blu-ray player that I can use for awhile.
  
CABLES, POWER, AND CROSSOVERS:  I am budgeting on my best intuition and recommendations, approx $500 for flat -type nordost speaker cables.  I may need some crossover components (dont understand this at all) for one or maybe a pair of JL subs.  Regarding power supplies, cleaners, and power cords I have no idea where I fit in.  At my budget these dollars may go better elsewhere but then again I dont really know.  
 
The big picture is that I believe that I am on the road to creating a great system that was probably not possible even a couple years ago anywhere near this price - so I am really thankful and excited to move forward.  I figure its like a recipe to put these things together and have cake at the end, at any price level, so any advice at all is greatly welcomed!  THANKS!!

ilxman99 -- Fri, 06/25/2010 - 15:27

I'm a former Maggie 1.6 owner and can give you some insights based on long experience. BTW, due to several moves for work I sold off my entire system and so will be re-building a system from scratch as well (I've been a computer/headphone guy in the interim). I will likely go Maggie for my speakers once again, after auditioning numerous others--so allow me to echo JV that the 1.7s are one of the best bargains in all of hi-fi. FWIW, here are a couple of key points:
1) You simply must resolve to drive Maggies with a very stout amp (i.e., lots of current and a large power supply able to deal with low impedances); otherwise, you will not get the performance of which they are capable. Krell is known for just such capability, so if you've already auditioned that amp and love it go for it. Whatever you do, audition your amps and push them hard to see if they measure up to your expectations.
2) Beware of adding subs! Most cannot "keep up", i.e., they lag behind the Maggies and are thus obviously separate sources of sound. This kills that astounding Maggie ability to sound truly life-like. I used a REL Storm III sub with my 1.6s and it was absolutely superb--read: I couldn't tell it was on and thus the 1.6s simply sounded like they went down to 25 Hz. In fact, the REL enhanced their performance beyond bass by seemingly expanding the soundstange. I would suggest you check out the lower end of the REL line and perhaps JL or put the sub on hold for a later upgrade.
3) Unless you already have a large SACD collection, I'd go for a DAC hooked up to your computer (which you presumably already have). It's more cost effective since you don't need to pay for a transport and cosmetics. I also don't believe in spending too much $$$ on digital since the SOTA moves forwrard too quickly. In other words, a Benchmark DAC1 ($1,000), Hegel HD10 ($1,200), Ayre DAC ($2,500), or others in that price range give you access to CDs and hi-rez at a world-class performance level (though not absoute SOTA) for a reasonable price. In 2014 you can sell it off and buy the current SOTA, etc. If you need SACD, go for the Sony XA5400 (I forget the exact model designation). It's $1,500 and gives you multi-channel SACD capability at a near-top level of performance.
4) You do not need an external crossover; that's something for much, much later experimentation. As for cables, start with good solid performance and don't sweat the 1,001 choices in cable flavoring. I'd suggess Transparent's entry level cables and power conditioner. Also check out Paul Speltz Anti-Cable and Kimber Hero/8TC cables.
Hope that helps.
4)

morgan -- Fri, 06/25/2010 - 16:27

ilxman,

Thanks for you great reply to my long post. I am convinced for now - I will put in everything I can for the amp and let the sub go. I havent even set it up yet seems logical anyway to listen for awhile first. The Krell I was looking at had no output for sub, so I thought some sort of external cabling / crossover is required for a sub later?

I am lately looking at odyssey stratos mono extremes and candela preamp. This doesn't leave me much for a DAC or cables but seems like it might be an awesome foundation. I will start reading up on your recommendations for cables and DAC - thanks again

staxguy -- Sat, 08/11/2012 - 09:51

Morgan, if your budget is $7K, why don't you try:

1) Magnepan 1.7 - $1995
2) Sanders Magtech - $4995

When your budget increases, you can upgrade to the 3.7, or even the Sanders 10c.

www.sanderssoundsystems.com/products

Emotiva would be a great bet for a DAC at $199.

ilxman99 -- Fri, 06/25/2010 - 17:10

Odyssey is an excellent choice for amplication; by all means audition them.  If budget is an issue, check out Benchmark and Hegel DACs (http://stereomojo.com/Hegel%20HD10%20DAC%20review.htm/HegelHD10DACreview.htm). You can find reviews re the cables I mentioned in TAS. Enjoy.

morgan -- Fri, 06/25/2010 - 19:05

thanks ilxman - I will definitely be looking at these links, I have already been looking at the hegel. Auditioning the Odyssey components appears to mean purchasing one and trying it out, but I think I may be willing to take a leap of faith here. I said I didnt want tubes but probably should not say this yet as I have auditioned a limited number of systems

RanaKabir -- Fri, 06/25/2010 - 19:11

After building systems around Maggies for over 25 years (personally & professionally) I have logged some consistent observations that might be of help:  (Your budget constraints are tough, most of the systems that I have designed around Maggies in the 2K bracket needed at least 10K for the rest of the system to be worthy of the speakers/show off what the speakers are capable of. SO within the constraints of $5K after the speakers, let’s see….

First and foremost is the High Current issue which is discussed in the AMP section. This is very important. And then there is the issue of SNYERGY. Some equipment works better with Maggies and in certain combinations than others. For this reason I would STRONGLY advise you to change your, “I would prefer not to mix brands between, amps, tuners, CD players…” mindset!  Within your budget you will go significantly farther in the bang-for-the-buck department if you DO mix brands.  Finally the room/acoustic interface with the Maggies. Be prepared to allocate some budget for room treatments (for such as early reflections). You will NEVER hear the full potential of these speakers without considering the listening room/area as part of the system. (To this end refer to Jim Smith’s excellent and highly respected book, Get Better Sound.)

AMPS/Preamp: High Current amplification is an absolute necessity. Must get beefy amp. Contrary to expectations this is not for loudness, but to ensure good control of the drivers which can be appreciated at low volume levels. SO Your most expensive piece is going to be here. Towards that end the Brystons & Maggies have good synergy. (Maybe why Magnepan showcased the 1.7s with Bryston amplification at the CES Show this year.) Bryston’s 20 year transferrable warranty begs exploring the used market such as Audiogon to accommodate your budget. Do NOT use an integrated amp (trust me on this). The Emotiva XPA-1 works particularly well and is the least expensive amp high current amp I have ever heard that is worthy of Maggie consideration. I would urge exploring this amp. (They are having an Independence Day sale right now which makes them an incredible bargain.) Preamp from Parasound such as the P 3 is an excellent match to complete this trio.

CD PLAYER: In your budget you only have two choices. The Sony SCD-XA5400ES or the Oppo BDP-83SE. The OPPO-83SE, like the Maggies, is a giant killer! You will NOT get better performance than these two until you reach around $4-$5K. SO these are serious Bang-for-the buck equipment just like the Magnepans. Read the reviews and then listen for yourself. The Sony and the Oppo are currently in Stereophile’s Class A list ahead of the units you mentioned, selling for far less money (you choices by the way are not making any sense since if you spend $3,000 on the CD player then you only have $2K left over after the speakers for everything else and that’s not going to work).

CABLES: JPS LABS Cables have excellent synergy with Magnepans. After trying just about every manufacturer I found the JPS Superconductors brings these speakers to life. They sound very smooth, totally dynamic and neutral. They are also very fast so they complement the fast panels in the 1.7s. In fact the consistent theme in my recommendations is components that are neutral and fast. Avoiding bright & etchy (or sluggish electronics) are crucial since the Maggies are very highly resolving and you can very quickly arrive at an overly bright sound if you are not careful about what’s upstream. (One reason why a tube preamp sounds magical with the Maggies especially if your room is bright.)

POWER: PS Audio’s AV Power Center 3000 is the minimum needed with this system since you won’t find a better Power conditioner at this price and you need at least this much conditioning considering your system. 

SUB: Try and configure your room/placement of speakers to maximize bass output WITHOUT a sub.
1.7s have surprising amount of bass if properly setup when driven by a high current amp. A sub is going to compromise their wonderfully fast bass panels at the expense of perhaps a little deeper bass. (In my bedroom system I have managed to get useful output to 25Hz from the smaller MMGs to prove it can be done if one knows how to do it. Again refer to Jim Smith’s Get Better Sound.) If you must have subs then use two in stereo mode (as opposed to dual mono). TWO lesser quality Subs in stereo will give you SUPERIOR performance than ONE of higher quality. This is a fact! I am using two Velodyne DD-10s with a very low 40 Hz crossover in my HT room with excellent results. ONLY fast subs apply. And those are pricey putting them out of your budget for now. Most subs will totally destroy the sound of Maggies because they are not fast enough to keep up with the panels. So FORGET subs for now and save up.

CROSSOVERS: Forget that for now. Going to outboard crossovers and mods for the 1.7 requires experience that you will gain in the years to come. The speakers are already good enough that this requires serious equipment and KNOWING your current system. Let me make something very clear about the Maggie 1.7. They require far better ancillary equipment to realize their full potential than your current budget allows for right out of the box. I would spend the money on the best amp/preamp, cables and SACD player I could afford right now and forget about everything else. Fortunately you are building a two channel system and that’s great. I have approximately $45,000 in my system that I have built around them and they have responded with each change. Eventually I will rip out the existing crossovers and go with external electronic crossovers with separate amps for each individual panel like I did with my older Maggies, but that’s a whole another ball game. 

SO in conclusion,
Speakers - 1.7 = $2,000
Amp - Emotiva XPA-1 Mono Blocks = $1798/pair (on sale right now with free shipping)
Stereo Preamp - Parasound Halo P 3 $800
 SACD/CD/DVD-Audio player - Oppo Digital BDP-83SE = $900
JPS Labs UltraConductor Wires = $1,000
PS Audio AV Power Center 3000 = $500
Must have accessory: PS audio’s Critical Link Fuses to replace the cheap tweeter fuses that come with the Maggies. (Makes a big difference.) = $60
Jim Smith’s Get Better Sound = $40
You are already at = $7,098 + Tax

If you can scrounge up a little more money than move up to the JPS Superconductor line for an additional $1K and after that if you had another $500, the Sony - SCD-XA5400ES SACD player = $1500 (but will give up 24 Bit PCM on DVD-Audio Disks) .

This system will perform well beyond its price level with good synergy but you are still missing a good audio rack for equipment isolation & possible room treatment options.  These are fundamental to a good system and cannot be overlooked since 50% of the ultimate sound of your system is room and voicing dependent. Since you said you were new to this hi-fi game I can’t stress enough how important it is that you go out and buy the best audio manual there is on the planet, Jim Smith’s Get Better Sound, and absorb it before you spend any more money.

Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies
 

morgan -- Fri, 06/25/2010 - 21:17

Thanks Rana! ...for this well rounded and experienced reply complete with models, prices, reference books, and strategic advice! And its a setup right at 7k - I should be paying you guys by the hour. I appreciate your attention to the budget numbers...

I knew I was going to get hit about my “matching components” comment - so consider it in the rear view mirror (I’m an architect -- can be fussy at times). I figured the same about integrateds. With emotiva and odyssey options no reason not to be separates. (The emotiva looks like an incredible set of monoblock amps for the price). I am assuming mags 1.7s dont really have an upper limit of wattage that applies to my budget.

The parasound is SS not a tube amp which is a plus fo rnow - do you have a tube amp recommendation for the emotivas?


Your recommendation of the oppo CD / DVD / SACD player at $900 sounds like a near-perfect deal for my purposes, thus I can add it now or later in either case without pain. I will be looking at your posted Sony SCD-XA5400ES also. I am willing to wait on CD player for now for the amps and cables or other things I may need.

Like I posted I think earlier the subs are basically out for now - thanks for confirming this approach though this adds some comfort level I have options.

Crossovers - all I am really asking here is do I need them if my amp doesnt have a sub output (for someday in the future). Can I use preamp out or some other means? What if I want 2 subs? Does this matter for me now in amp selection?


Stand - I have a large 5quarter-sawn oak Stickley media stand built like a tank of all 5/4" thick pieces. Now it is wood not metal, but it weighs probably 250 - 300 lbs with plenty of air circulation - I could drive my truck on it and it wouldnt move. In fact I can barely move it across the floor. Is this an isssue being wood instead of a metal rack since of course wood likes to vibrate some but the wood is so thick and heavy its probably comparable to a certain gauge of metal

Thanks for including the book recommendations that is $40 that will be worth much more later I am sure. I will have to spend some time reading on the rest of your recommended notes and cables, etc. I assume that there is a bunch of specs you are giving me in these units that I dont understand or appreciate yet so this is a great set to mull over for awhile - Thanks again Rana.

bernardperu -- Fri, 03/23/2012 - 18:59

Dear Rana,

Just read your comments on Magnepan with great interest. I am considering two Musical Fidelity amps in order to drive my 1.7s to full or nearly full potential.

Room is 700 square feet and I care mostly about audio quality. That is, Which of the two will bring the best out of the 1.7s? If the only difference between them is volume capability, but audio quality is the same, I will go for the less expensive one.

Here are the two choices:

M6 PRX 260 wpc http://www.musicalfidelity.com/products/M6-Series/M6PRX/M6PRX.asp
M6 500i 500wpc http://www.musicalfidelity.com/products/M6-Series/M6500i/M6500i.asp

Your kind suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!!

Bernard

rocky3634 -- Sun, 12/30/2012 - 12:08

What an amazing thread this has been. And I truly hope that you still read this thread Rana.

I am in the process of building my system right now and need some additional guidance to what you guys have said here as I am not just building my system for music but also for surround movie watching in my Home Theater. We tend to lean more towards movies and then true music listening when groups come over or we have some parties. Don't get me wrong, I do listen to music alone but it is not the sole purpose of my system.

I am in a dilemma to begin with between the Maggies 1.7's and the 3.6's. I have heard both. The only thing bothering me about the 1.7's is if I am standing (being tall) I hear a dead area in the sound. Not the problem with the 3.6's which is why I am leaning towards those very strongly. But some people have said I am an idiot and should be going 1.7's. Advice?

2) I chose to buy the Marantz 7007 for all the options it provides and am thinking of adding a powered amp to this versus going the pre-amp/amp combo. Advice? Reasons why I should not do this? And if this direction is sufficient, what wpc should I be aiming for with my amp to push my speakers? What should I not go below perhaps is a better question.

3) I love the powered sub comments in this thread. I was thinking of going Left/Right/Center/Surrounds with no sub but I have never done this and didn't know if it would be wise for my sound needs. It seems like adding a sub would ruin the potential of the Maggies.

4) The wires I can handle. It completely makes sense. The power center is new for me. Could you tell me what this does or how it impacts my system? This may seem like a very basic question but is this a necessity? Does this system not pull enough power with the amp added to provide what I need? I feel like an idiot on this one.

5) Any suggestions for great DAC's without breaking the bank? But also providing me the best they offer? Running under 800 is this possible? Or should I be spending a little more for something truly great?

I appreciate the help....

bernardperu -- Sun, 12/30/2012 - 14:17

Hi Rocky 3634,

I own Magnepan 3.7 and 1.7. I have tested different sorts of equipment with them.

First of all, you have to ask yourself the following questions: 1) How good are your listening skills? Do you have golden ears? 2) Will you eventually find the time to listen to music actively and attempt to have the most immersive possible experience?

About question #1 there is equipment for those with very refined and highly trained hearing and equipment for the rest of us. About question # 2, I believe a well set up Maggie system will lead you to active listening. Music will become just way too beautiful and you might end up "stuck" with it. Why is this so important? Because a 2.2 system is the way to go for music (and many claim this is the case for movies as well, unless you have a large room and you manage to be in the center of your speakers.) 5.1 and 7.1 systems are also far more expensive.

Here is what I recommend and it works well for Maggie 1.7 and 3.7:

1) You may incline the maggies and compensate for your height. You can also buy the mye stands (google it).

2) Use two subs. I use gallo TR-3d for the 3.7s and TR-1d for the 1.7s. I have placed them right behind the Maggies and the point to the sides with a 30 degree angle towards the front.

3) DAC and Preamp is Nad M51 with an upgraded power cord (I currently have Audioquest NRG-4; and have requested the NRG-10 from my dealer).

4) Amps are mono. I have two pairs: Class AB Musical Fidelity 700WPC ($11k) @8ohm and 1300 WPC @4 Ohm and Class D Hephaestus ($5K) 600 WPC @8 ohm and 1000 WPC @4 Ohm. I would choose the Hephaestus, as they are more detailed and only weigh 3-4 pounds each! They are a technological marvel and have received excellent reviews. They are also much cheaper and come with a 7-year warranty. Joey, the owner, is a very attentive person and will answer your questions with blitz speed. I purchased the Hephas for 1.3k used at Audiogon!

5) Cables: Unless you have very good hearing and plan to do active-listening in a dark room (which is a great experience!), I would go for the "decent" stuff and save my money on this area.

6) Power conditioners: I don't used them and plug my equipment right into the walls. Any improvement on this would probably be very marginal as compared to investing in better amps, speakers, preamp, and Dac. (I could say the same about cables, except for the M51). A lot of the advice I am passing on to you I received from the factories themselves.

7) Set-up. Very important: Use the subs crossovers. They will guarantee the speed you need for the Maggies. So this is how it works: RCA cables go from the DAC/Pream to the subs and, then, on to the amps. Trust me, it works very well!

All the advice you find above is based on very extensive online research and my own tests.

I hope you can build a Maggie system that leads you to lots of active music listening :-)

Best,

Bernard

RanaKabir -- Sun, 06/27/2010 - 15:16

For all practical purposes using musical input there really isn’t an upper limit. (Just don't go hooking up a signal generator or a test disc and feed a sine wave into them with that much power.) With music I routinely send 1,000 watts peaks into my Maggies and they respond with tremendous dynamics. Remember we are talking about momentary peaks of a fraction of a second while the average power (RMS) being sent is usually less than 50 watts. Most of the excitement of live music resides in these very fast peaks. Today’s well recorded (read uncompressed) Jazz and classical recordings on the DSD & 24 Bit PCM format are very dynamic. The Maggies being planar magnetic will love the extra current since this translates to good control of the diaphragms which leads to tighter, more focused sound even at low levels. The fast current delivery of an amp is of real consequence to all Magneplanars.

I have found that Tube preamps from Audio Research Corporation have great synergy with Maggies due to their fast and clean circuitry. So do the Musical Fidelity products. However I am not sure a decent tube preamp to match the 1.7s within your budget exists since that would be out of proportion with the quality of the transducers. Your “newness” to the hobby demands the following disclosure. Tube gear especially lower priced tube gear requires additional responsibilities such as having to protect the tubes from microphonic affects of airborne and rack-borne acoustic energy which can be heard. There are also electromagnetic noise issues too complex to go into here. To this end there are accessories which you will need. Also tubes have to be tested frequently and replaced anywhere from 6 to 24 month etc. Contrary to common belief I have seen tubes degrade as fast as 6 months with most audiophiles not being aware of it since it’s a gradual tiny incremental daily/weekly change that is not detected easily. But having dropped new tubes in equipment throughout my life, I have been shocked at the difference even within 6 months and got tired of keeping up with it, eventually replacing my tube equipment for this reason. However going this route with this extra diligence has its rewards since a god tube preamp is simply wonderful with Maggies. I would suggest starting with the Halo Preamp and then in due time upgrading it (the Parasound Halo products retain 60-75% of their value on the second-hand market so you should be able to recoup some of your investment to apply towards a better preamp later).

Yes, the Oppo 83 Special Edition is a very special piece of equipment. This thing has the highest bang for the buck I have ever seen. Quite a few high-end manufacturers have lined up to make their products based on this little jewel. It has state of the art convertors, USB ports for hard-drive based music & video files as well as wired & wireless network connectivity options for usage as part of a home media network. Nothing even comes close! (Every reviewer on the planet that has heard it has awarded it with the ‘best equipment in its category’ award and has bought the review sample, which says something.) In reality you should start with this piece since you need a good source to set up the rest of your system as you move along. This is particularly helpful since Oppo includes two good test/demo discs to help you analyze and set up your system with the player.

No, amps don’t have subwoofer outputs. (Not any that I am aware of.) It would be available from the preamp. Also a simple (but good quality) Y interconnect solves that problem as well. (I myself prefer taking a parallel output from the amps directly to the subs Speaker Level inputs and running the Maggies full range. This gives me the best sound.)  So this is irrelevant to your amp choices.

Your equipment rack sounds (pun indented) reasonably adequate. Yes you are correct. Wood is definitely preferable to metal in audio racks since metal is generally more resonant (unless it is to be filled with sand, ballast etc).  But just because your rack is heavy and you can’t move it doesn’t mean it’s good for audio. The biggest problem is acoustic energy from the Speakers (and reflections from nearby walls) that is invariably going to vibrate the shelves. You do not want this vibration to reach any of the audio circuitry in any of the equipment especially the optical drive mechanism of the player. A good test is the “knuckle test”. Rap the middle (unsupported part) of the shelves with you knuckle. If it goes “clangggg” with a trailing decay then that’s bad and you are going to need additional dampening/decoupling. It should sound more like a dead “thud” as if you were knuckling a bag of mulch.  This is why one should NOT keep their equipment between/behind the Speakers contrary to the majority of the audiophiles. (A good exploration of this subject can be had in the manual “Get Better Sound”.)

Lastly the subject of Specs or Specifications. I don’t recall giving you any specs and I don’t want to. My classical education as an Electronics Engineer taught me specs were everything. But when it comes to Audio, a lifetime of experiences has proven otherwise! Use Specifications only as a guideline. As you grow as an Audiophile you will come to realize that spec tell you nothing about how good (or bad) a component is going to sound or how it is going to synergize with your particular system/room. This is a fundamental fact of Audio since we have yet to standardize a set of meaningful and accurate set of tests to correlate what we hear and how we perceive sound. This is as much Electrical as it is Acoustical AND Psychoacoustical. In my younger days I used to do consulting work as an Acoustical Engineer where I would routinely set up large venues for rock concerts. During those years I found that certain equipment (especially pro gear) that had fantastic specs sounded utterly horrible. What I heard from the actual instruments from the musicians on stage had no resemblance to what was coming out of the main monitors, the signal being seriously altered by the so called great gear boasting distortions in the .ooo% specs! I actually starting using studio recording consoles and audiophile gear in the field for pro use and these had a thousand times more distortion (on paper) but sounded much more natural and cleaner. Take Neilson Pass’s amps from Pass Labs for example. I think he produces some of the best sounding amplifiers on the planet. All his amps including $30,000 mono-blocks are spec’ed at 1% distortion. Now compare that to a mass market Japanese component that boasts .0001% distortion and within 5 seconds you will learn that .0001% distortion sounds broken, nothing like real music. There is a lot more to music reproduction that equipment specs. The room itself is the biggest component; the one most misunderstood and paid littlest attention to.

Let your ears be the judge (and read Get Better Sound). The most sure fire test I know of is to find good recordings of your favorite artists (the ones you have seen live), and see how close to the emotional involvement, that you felt during the live event, a particular component or system takes you. (Unfortunately an audio dealer's showroom is one of the worst places to get this. A better place is to get join/get involved with your local audiophile chapters (most cities has them and is easy to find on the internet) and listen to good systems properly set up in the owners’ homes.) A particular area of this test is image depth. My experiences have shown me with consistency that a better room, component and/or system will always generate a DEEPER, more three dimensional soundstage than an inferior one. The best stuff should take you closer to the real thing.  And that’s what this hobby of ours is all about.

Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies
 

morgan -- Sun, 06/27/2010 - 23:22

Rana

Thanks again for these thoughts. I will not make a long post this time, but I am taking all of this info to heart and its very helpful. I will be looking at musical fidelity and audio research that you have mentioned. If I do decide to go tubes, and was willing to replace them approx once a year, how much trouble is this? Also with regard to upkeep with a low to medium cost tube product, can you run that down for me just briefly, what would be the minimum effort at maintenance or accessories, just a taste anyway, of I would want to do to keep things respectably kept in good condition.
thanks

RanaKabir -- Mon, 06/28/2010 - 17:06

It’s not hard, just tedious. I clean/dust the innards of the equipment once I am in there to replace the tubes, then clean the pins on the new tubes (and the sockets on the board) with CAIG Laboratories contact cleaners and coat them with enhancers prior to insertion (put CAIG in your list of must have accessories since you will be using their stuff on all the ICs and Speaker terminals too).

The bigger headache is the fact that you have to make sure you acquire good matched pair/quad sets that are pre-tested and pre-matched for your particular gear. (This is particularly crucial for certain types of circuit design.) Generally, Mu (voltage gain), Gm (transconductance) and Rp (plate resistance) are the three electrical characteristics that make up the overall electrical characteristics of a vacuum tube. And these characteristics vary from tube to tube. I have tested many a tubes and unless they are Mil-Spec'ed tubes there can be a 50% variation from tube to tube due to Eastern Europe/China origin. Add to this the fact that as time goes by the tubes in your equipment will not age exactly the same way; the left channel Mu might drift quicker than the right channel. The better designed stuff (read pricey) will have auto correction circuitry that compensates to a degree so you can get by not having to replace as frequently but tube preamps in your current budget range won't. Unfortunately time constraints doesn’t allow for in depth tube maintenance discussions here but typing the phrase “tube maintenance” in Google should provide considerable guidance. (Just make sure it’s a credible source since there is a lot of misinformation out there! )

The better designed tube stuff will also be quieter (acoustically & electrically) than the entry level stuff which would require better mechanical isolation and power conditioning. So you will have to increase your budget quite a bit to match one worthy of your Maggies. (Incidentally The Parasound Halo preamps don’t have any of the SS harshness and tube lovers such as I can live with them.) You set the bar pretty high by starting with 1.7s since these speakers will let you hear all the flaws upstream. So don’t make the mistake of starting with something that wastes the capabilities of the Maggies. (Your $200 Sony Blu-Ray player is going to sound utterly thin and lifeless so don’t judge any component especially the 1.7s using the Sony as the source. Also Maggies need lengthy break-in, typically 3-6 months, especially for the bass panels before they loosen up to provide deeper/musical bass.)

Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies
 

morgan -- Mon, 06/28/2010 - 19:05

Thanks again rana. I did set the bar sort of high didn't I before I realized the big picture -- but I couldn't help it those magnepans 1.7s sounded awesome. In fact today I listened to a 15k system of bryston 4B SST and $5000 thiel speakers and its not really comparable to what I heard on the magnepans with an integrated amp (krell s300-i). Albeit I verified there was about $1500 of speaker cables and power cords on the mags when I was listening. In any case thanks for your comments on tubes I will take this to heart and allow the budget to flex some as required to put this together, esp. if I work with a tube preamp....

Gregory Macdonald -- Sat, 09/04/2010 - 19:23

Mr. Kabir ~

As a new owner of a pair of Magnepan 1.7s (upgrade from 1.6s) I have read your comments on this thread with interest, and I appreciate the experience, expertise, and dedication you offer to fellow music lovers. I'm writing here to ask if you might offer me a few suggestions (points of departure?) regarding room "tweaks" or, shall we say, treatments with the new Maggie 1.7s.

I'm driving my month-old 1.7s with an Audio Research VS-115 amp. (Upstream: Ayre CD player and pre-amp.) The speakers are 4' from the front wall, 3' from sidewalls, tweeters to the inside, tweeter elements about 6 1/2' apart, speakers toe'd in, aimed at the listening position (10' away from speakers) as Magnepan recommends. The room is carpeted, 19' long, 14' wide, 8' ceiling. Drywall. Minimal furnishings. I listen most often to small-group jazz, solo piano, small-group acapella vocals; some big-band jazz; occasional full-orchestra classical works (Mozart, not Wagnerian in scale); also solo classical guitar. I listen at levels that present the energy and presence of the music; no stadium-rock 'n' roll, no need to break windows.

Overall, and with many recordings, the musical experience is ... well, glorious, at times thrilling. But my room is too "live." Large-scale complex material lacks the clear and discrete definition of the small-group stuff; furthermore, solo piano or, say, alto sax in the jazz groups can be a bit bright on crescendos, somewhat "zingy," for lack of a better description. Once again, the overall musical presentation is big, and thrilling. The gestalt of the musical experience is more convincing and complete than with previous setups and systems I have used.

Room treatment: where to begin? Some damping material behind each speaker? In the middle of the wall behind the speakers? No damping behind the speakers, but, instead, some damping on the sidewalls? (More wine, or beer?) Any suggestions you have I would appreciate very much.

Thank you,

Greg
.

Greg 

gb -- Sat, 09/04/2010 - 22:35

Greg:
I would suggest damping the sidewalls about 4 feet to the side of and forward of the speakers (meaning, start at the sides of the speakers and towards the listening position). Also, behind the speakers, meaning directly behind and between them on the wall behind them. I don't have the 1.7s -- yet -- but they're  coming in shortly. I have a multitude of tube traps, so I'm very well covered for any acoustic corrections the room needs.
Now, I know that dipoles are said to have a "figure 8" dispersal pattern, but I've still found that they benefit from some damping on the sidewalls (to eliminate  slap echo). Tube traps in the corners behind the speakers work well, as do corners behind the listeners. You might try, as a less expensive alternative, Real Traps, which, although they do not have the absolute flexibility of tube traps, are still viable. Otherwise, you could as easily, in the short term, put ficus trees on  on the sidewalls (the irregularity of the leaves break up the reflections, although I found the fact that the leaves were shiny could still have some small reflections. I actually rotated the ficus trees and found it astonishing that  by rotating them I could get better breakup of the first reflections. Go figure).  You could also place blankets, rugs (Cordesman once wrote that he used wall rugs [he travels a lot!])  to break up the first reflections.  REG posited that bookcases with different sized books work well, and don't try to keep everything linear (meaning all tall books, then short ones. I believe he wrote that in audio, a messy room actually assisted in better sound than an absolutely tidy one. I found that suggestion so easy to do as to be laughable).
Just damp the walls and see how it sounds.

Gregory Macdonald -- Wed, 09/08/2010 - 16:34

Hello Brion, and thanks very much for your suggestions. I will proceed with efforts at wall treatments (damping) and see how it goes. I got a chuckle from your experience with the ficus trees -- rotating the trees yielded different results -- and I have no doubt that you heard a difference. I have sometimes thought I noticed a difference (although late in the evening, after my second glass of Malbec) when I changed from street clothes into my large, bulky terry-cloth bathrobe (!).

Just by way of sharing with you and others who may be reading this post, I thought I'd provide a few examples of the different experiences I've had with different recordings. The recordings do vary tremendously of course -- some are natural and realistic sounding and some are bright and edgy. However, I think some wall treatments are in order. (Once again: Ayre CD and pre-amp; ARC VS 115 power amp; Magnepan 1.7s; Audio Quest "Colorado" dbs 72v interconnects; Kimber 8TC speaker cables.)

Joshua Redmond's alto sax on some of his more esoteric forays into the stratosphere -- unpleasant, too thin and bright; Paul Desmond with Dave Brubeck on the "Time Out" album -- dreamy, beautiful stuff; Oscar Peterson's solo piano as he really rips a few of those arpeggios into the upper registers -- instead of the expected Steinway sparkle you get a bit of a zing as the last few notes ring your brain, ouch!; Manhattan Transfer singing "A Nightingale Sang In Barclay Square," on "Best of the Manhattan Transfer" -- oh yeah, this is why I bought these Maggies, each of the four vocalists is on a stage right there at the front of my living room, each voice so real it's intoxicating; in the "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" on Santana's "Abraxis" album, the tinkles and pings of all those little bells is too loud, has too much energy, whereas all the whooshes and shimmers of the cymbals sound so real; on the "Bluesville" track on Count Basie's "88 Basie Street" CD, Basie's piano is right there, the big bass lines have punch and solidity and truth of timbre, and as the sections of the band begin to play -- the saxes, the trombones, and finally the trumpets -- the whole front third of my room is filled with a huge three-dimensional illusion of Basie's BIG band -- all the tonalities and timbres so real you just sit there and shake your head in amazement.

Okay, so the recordings are a major factor in what we hear but there's no doubt the new 1.7s are, at times, too bright and energetic. For starters I'll try some wall treatment on the front wall behind the speakers, and if need be, I'll add some on the sidewalls.

Hey, Brion -- you'll be so thrilled with your new 1.7s. The coherence of the musical presentation, the solidity and foundation of the overall sound -- the presentation of not just the music but also the musicians themselves -- well, the word I keep coming back to is glorious. Dig it, man.

Greg
.

Greg 

quadlover -- Sun, 09/05/2010 - 21:09

May I suggest something different. 
Maggie 1.7                                                                $2000/PR
Wyred for Sound Sti 500 Integrated                      $2000
Wyred for sound  dac 1 or Benchmark                 $1000
Oppo 83 SE                                                                $900
Cables, Cords Etc...                                                  $700
PS Audio Quintet                                                        $400
Total outlay  $7100 at rounded off list.  With a little serching maybe less...use any extra money for sound treatment for your room.  I've heard 500 watt/channel W4S with 1.6's...it pushed them NO PROBLEM.

hartrr@comcast.net -- Sun, 09/19/2010 - 07:21

 
I second the W4S amplification. You really can't do better at anywhere near the price. I use the W4S 4 channel MC 250/500 amp to drive my Magnepan 3.5Rs (and gold fuses).
My source is a Raysonic 228, which replaced a Raysonic 168. In addiion to great value they are  both fully balanced designs (as are W4S amps). Both include a terrific variable output stage (tube) that easily compares to a $2-3K preamp, but has no inputs.Later on you can add a preamp, but will have a hard time finding one as good for under $2K, plus you would need  another power cord, set of interconnects, shelf... increasing your real world cost significantly!  My 168 needs a good home (see AudioGon ad).
I replaceed the Maggie XO with a Behringer active XO ($200). Do this before considering parts upgrades. The Behringer also has a sub I/O which helps blend the sub into the Maggies. I have done a lot of testing various isolation devices, the changes are very apparent, so the XO is not in the way at all.
Speaker Cables/Interconnects- Clear Day Audio cables (pure silver)  replaced PS Audio/DH Labs and various expensive speaker cables. They are light weight, extremely flexible with fantastic sound reproduction.
I use an SVS Ultra sub.
If possible install a dedicated A/C line, and most def put a PLC on your short list. Mine is a PS Audio Premier Power Plant.

hartrr@comcast.net -- Sat, 03/24/2012 - 09:02

Oft overlooked is the importance of a differentially balanced system. No potential for cross-talk, and significantly better interface connections. I upgraded some components since my 2010 post. As I still bi-amp, I still use the Behringer. I bought Parasound as an eperiment. It is fantastic on either the ribbons or the bass panels. I use it on the ribbons .
CD Player Oppo 95SE plays every music medium + has true balanced output. $1000
Amp?Pre: Parasound P3/A23 The balanced I/Os are differential. <$2000 (Paul Simons drummer has these!)
Cables:  Clear Day: Cables. I replaced much more expensive interconnects and spk cables with these. Pure silver. Not bright like many.Provides proper warmth, when the source is. I use the double Shotgun. ~ $1200 for all
Accessory: Silent Plugs. An absolute must have item.
 
I still run an SVS powered sub, but doubt you will need one, especially once you hear what the Silent Plus do for overall musicality

Zach -- Sun, 03/25/2012 - 10:58

 My recomendation nods to the Krell S-300i integrated amplifier as a solution for amp/preamp. As a source, the Ayre QB-9 DAC would be the best for this combo (the Krell S-300i has a balanced input). Cables, again Transparent audio has great options with outstanding value to price ratio. 

AMIYA RANJAN HATI -- Mon, 04/30/2012 - 12:39

Hello Mr. Kabir,
I have followed your suggestions for the above set up with the exception of the PS Audio power conditioner and the tweeter fuses .These should follow in the next purchase.I am happy with the overall system performance and would like to Thank you for having made this easy for me.
However I intend to add a sub woofer to the set up to manage the low freq.s.My current room size is 35 * 20*10 feet and 1.7s are at times sound inadequate in the low frequencies. Would you have any economical suggestions ?Also since I am a  novice at setting up these systems it should be something simple to set up as well.
Regards
Amiya
 
 
 
     

Amandela77 -- Mon, 04/30/2012 - 17:43

Morgan: what a wonderful dilemma. Here are some other options:
1. Music Direct is selling the superb Denon 100 Anniversary integrated amp and matching SACD/CD player for $1500/each. The CD player will accept feeds from other sources like a computer so you can use it as a hard drive-based server system.
2. The amp puts out a very conservative 160/wpc into a 4 ohm load, ideal for smaller Maggies in a smaller space. The amp weights in at 60lbs. This is what we call heirloom gear, products that you can use for the next ten years and not want for more. 
3. Snag some nice Nordost cables from the same retailer at 50 cents on the dollar.
4. If separates are your desire the Parasound P3/A23 pre-amp/amp combo is nicely built, sounds great and works within your budgetary constraints. The amp rocks and finesses in equal measure, delivers approx. 200/wpc into a 4 ohm load, and sounds great with smaller Maggies. An Oppo disc player would round out this combo nicely. Cables: Nordost from Music Direct at half-price.  
5. Make sure to save 3-400 for music. 

Amandela77

earwaxxxer -- Sun, 05/20/2012 - 22:48

Hey Morgan - many good suggestions above. I second the JPS Labs wire, Emotiva gear, I would go with a HSU sub. I would ditch the CD player and rip it all to a laptop. Use a Squeezebox Touch and pair it with a good DAC of your choise and price range (Wyred4sound would be a good start). My Maggies sound great with tubes on the front end (preamp). I think the Emotiva sounds great paired with tubes as well.
Enjoy! - Eric

Maggie MMG's (modded), Squeezbox Transporter, Emotiva XPA-2, HSU Research sub, Sub amp - Crown, MSB Link DAC lll, Bottlehead Quickie preamp (modded), JPS Labs Digital powercord, MIT Z-cord, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 interconnect and speaker wire

Ejcj -- Thu, 05/31/2012 - 14:45

 Greetings from Madison WI.  I currently am using a pair of Maggie MG 12's which are not as good as the 1.7 in some ways but are really really good.  I have reviewed many of the above comments and I have some thoughts of my own.  I have owned the Krell integrated and it is good but not great.  I listened to it in my system for more than 3 years.  While Krell is known for power the integrated is limited and simply will not drive the Maggies as well as they need to be driven.  In my humber opinion you need 250 solid watts of power to drive them properly.  100-200 will play ok but I don't think you really hear them breath until you put some real power on them.  I have also tried a set of vincent audio mono block amps which were about 150 a channel.  They are a hybrid design tube and solid state and simply did not have enough power to drive maggies well.  The two amps that I would recommend are a Bryston 4b or what ever the latest incarnation is or a Parasound A 21.  I am currently using both an A21 and a Parasound P7 and the combination sounds great.  The p7 recently got a great review in Home theater magazine.  It is an analog multichannel preamp but I use it as a two channel preamp.  The great thing about it is that it has subwoofer outputs with an adjustable crossover so that you can better integrate a sub.  They are both transparent as hell and powerful the (amp is 250 watts per channel). One thing that people seem to have overlooked is that the specs on the P7 are almost the same as the specs on the JC 2 preamp which is an absolute sound preamp of the year winner.  If you need to save money, I have owned the P3 and it is also really good for the money.  Both preamps are quiet and grainfree and allow the music to come through which is what you want.  The Krell has deep bass but is a little more analytical sounding and over time you fatigue of it.  It is also not as transparent as the parasound combination.  
Regarding the sub situation, I have read on a lot of forums about difficulty integrating subs with the speakers and I am not sure I understand what all of the fuss is about.  I agree you need something fast.  Everyone recommends Rel,  I have three subs right now and I am evaluating a forth.  They are two Monster THX select 200's  each (200 watt's) and an HSU research VTF1 which is an entry level sub with 150 watts built in.  i also have on hand right now a paradigm Seismic 110.  paradigm subs have a usb input which allows you to hook up a lap top and use their PBK bass managment system.  Basically it maps out the correct set up curve so that you bass output is correct and flat no matter what you room is.  This elimates the guess work that most of us do in trying to integrate the sub.  The seismic 110 has 850 watt RMS and 1750 peak power.  So I have listened to my system with one, two and as many as three subs.  If you are able to purchase both the p7 and the a21 you can run balanced cables between those two pieces (recommended) and you can run two subs out of the rca preamp outputs utilizing the built in crossovers in the subs, finally you can run the third sub out of the subwoofer output and set the internal crossover in the preamp at 50 hz. The Monster subs are parallel to the panels and the HSU is in the corner near the right speaker.  
So why bother with the subs.  Two main reasons.  I have found that the bass on jazz lps and cds is just fantastic (in the pocket) in a groove in a way that simply is not there without the subs.  This of course is provided that you don't cross them over two high and that the volume output is not too high.  And on classical music they are really great with kettle drums and large scale orchestral and symphonic pieces to get that visceral feeling that is intended as music comes to cresendos etc.  I have a cd the sound track of Crouching tiger hidden dragon that has some fantastic kettle drum work and beautiful violin with proper sub set up the music is simply fantastic.  
One important point about subs that I think is overlooked and often not talked about is subwoofer break in.  I found that it took 2-3weeks before my subs loosened up and started showing what they could really do.
 
Cables
I am not an advocate of spending gobs of money for cables and frankly because the rest of the world has lost their minds in search of the rich luxury market does not mean the average listener should follow suit.  I am currently using all audioquest dbs cables.  Their entire line of cables sound great from top to bottom of their market.  I highly reccomend the columbia interconnect with dbs system and the GO4 speaker cable also with dbs.
Regarding power cables I would recommend shunyata research (I want but don't own yet) or PS audio cables.  I think changing power cables on your amp is especially important and you want cables that can deliver ample current.
Front end
I would recommend that you listen to the latest Rega cd player, and I have listened to and like the latest Rotel CD player.  The top Oppo is fine if you want to play universal discs (sacds, dvd audio discs etc) but if your collection is mostly cd's then the rega is a great player it is warm and analog like.  I have also listened to and liked the NAD cd players but the Rega and Rotel sound better to my ears.  The Nad was a little fatiguing over time but it is a great value.  You might also consider just running music from your lap top or computer into a Rega dac and if you want easy access you should look at a SONOS system which will take a wireless signal from your computer and output a digital signal into your dac which you can then run into your system.
Last but not least  Just have fun doing it all and enjoy the music.   You can email me direct at ecrimjr [at] gmail [dot] com if you have any questions.
 
 

 The Big Blueberry

Ejcj -- Thu, 05/31/2012 - 14:46

 Greetings from Madison WI.  I currently am using a pair of Maggie MG 12's which are not as good as the 1.7 in some ways but are really really good.  I have reviewed many of the above comments and I have some thoughts of my own.  I have owned the Krell integrated and it is good but not great.  I listened to it in my system for more than 3 years.  While Krell is known for power the integrated is limited and simply will not drive the Maggies as well as they need to be driven.  In my humber opinion you need 250 solid watts of power to drive them properly.  100-200 will play ok but I don't think you really hear them breath until you put some real power on them.  I have also tried a set of vincent audio mono block amps which were about 150 a channel.  They are a hybrid design tube and solid state and simply did not have enough power to drive maggies well.  The two amps that I would recommend are a Bryston 4b or what ever the latest incarnation is or a Parasound A 21.  I am currently using both an A21 and a Parasound P7 and the combination sounds great.  The p7 recently got a great review in Home theater magazine.  It is an analog multichannel preamp but I use it as a two channel preamp.  The great thing about it is that it has subwoofer outputs with an adjustable crossover so that you can better integrate a sub.  They are both transparent as hell and powerful the (amp is 250 watts per channel). One thing that people seem to have overlooked is that the specs on the P7 are almost the same as the specs on the JC 2 preamp which is an absolute sound preamp of the year winner.  If you need to save money, I have owned the P3 and it is also really good for the money.  Both preamps are quiet and grainfree and allow the music to come through which is what you want.  The Krell has deep bass but is a little more analytical sounding and over time you fatigue of it.  It is also not as transparent as the parasound combination.  
Regarding the sub situation, I have read on a lot of forums about difficulty integrating subs with the speakers and I am not sure I understand what all of the fuss is about.  I agree you need something fast.  Everyone recommends Rel,  I have three subs right now and I am evaluating a forth.  They are two Monster THX select 200's  each (200 watt's) and an HSU research VTF1 which is an entry level sub with 150 watts built in.  i also have on hand right now a paradigm Seismic 110.  paradigm subs have a usb input which allows you to hook up a lap top and use their PBK bass managment system.  Basically it maps out the correct set up curve so that you bass output is correct and flat no matter what you room is.  This elimates the guess work that most of us do in trying to integrate the sub.  The seismic 110 has 850 watt RMS and 1750 peak power.  So I have listened to my system with one, two and as many as three subs.  If you are able to purchase both the p7 and the a21 you can run balanced cables between those two pieces (recommended) and you can run two subs out of the rca preamp outputs utilizing the built in crossovers in the subs, finally you can run the third sub out of the subwoofer output and set the internal crossover in the preamp at 50 hz. The Monster subs are parallel to the panels and the HSU is in the corner near the right speaker.  
So why bother with the subs.  Two main reasons.  I have found that the bass on jazz lps and cds is just fantastic (in the pocket) in a groove in a way that simply is not there without the subs.  This of course is provided that you don't cross them over two high and that the volume output is not too high.  And on classical music they are really great with kettle drums and large scale orchestral and symphonic pieces to get that visceral feeling that is intended as music comes to cresendos etc.  I have a cd the sound track of Crouching tiger hidden dragon that has some fantastic kettle drum work and beautiful violin with proper sub set up the music is simply fantastic.  
One important point about subs that I think is overlooked and often not talked about is subwoofer break in.  I found that it took 2-3weeks before my subs loosened up and started showing what they could really do.
 
Cables
I am not an advocate of spending gobs of money for cables and frankly because the rest of the world has lost their minds in search of the rich luxury market does not mean the average listener should follow suit.  I am currently using all audioquest dbs cables.  Their entire line of cables sound great from top to bottom of their market.  I highly reccomend the columbia interconnect with dbs system and the GO4 speaker cable also with dbs.
Regarding power cables I would recommend shunyata research (I want but don't own yet) or PS audio cables.  I think changing power cables on your amp is especially important and you want cables that can deliver ample current.
Front end
I would recommend that you listen to the latest Rega cd player, and I have listened to and like the latest Rotel CD player.  The top Oppo is fine if you want to play universal discs (sacds, dvd audio discs etc) but if your collection is mostly cd's then the rega is a great player it is warm and analog like.  I have also listened to and liked the NAD cd players but the Rega and Rotel sound better to my ears.  The Nad was a little fatiguing over time but it is a great value.  You might also consider just running music from your lap top or computer into a Rega dac and if you want easy access you should look at a SONOS system which will take a wireless signal from your computer and output a digital signal into your dac which you can then run into your system.
Last but not least  Just have fun doing it all and enjoy the music.   You can email me direct at ecrimjr [at] gmail [dot] com if you have any questions.
 
 

 The Big Blueberry

bernardperu -- Thu, 05/31/2012 - 16:36

 I have been following this thread with great interest and have some experiences to share which might interest some.
I first powered my 1.7s with NAD M2. Not enough power and now the M2 powers my Gallos 3.5 (I live in two cities in South America).
I have purchased a Musical Fidelity Integrated 500 WPC (haven't triedit yet, but it is waiting for me back home). There was a 3-month delivery wait so I purchased the PEachtree Grand Integrated and the result with the 1.7s is great. I cannot compare it to anything superior, but I can assure you that this combo will provide much joy. I am pretty sure I like the Grand Integrated + 1.7s a tiny bit more than M2 + Gallo 3.5. 
Peachtree Grand Integrated is a Class D amp. Even if other Amp classes may be superior with Magnepan (cant testify to this as my hometown has only one HiFi store with very little stock) I assure you that good Class D + Magnepan will deliver audio you can abstract to and enjoy (mind goes blank and music takes over). 
Peachtree Grand Integrated is an inexpensive option; it has a great DAC, tube preamp; and excellent headphone amp. I bought it almost brand new for 3.2k from a nice fellow at Audiogon.
Hope my feedback helps. I purchased the Grand Integrated after doing some research online. 
Best,
 
Bernard
 
 

jleebron -- Thu, 08/02/2012 - 08:05

Morgan I would be interested to see with what equipment you finally ended.  I have fully Gunned 1.6s and have been driving with Marantz, but as of tomorrow, I will have the XPA-1 monoblocks to drive them.  The Marantz is a bit anemic.  The Marantz is the PM-KI-Pearl, 140 watts into 4 ohms.  I feed this with an SACD, the Marantz SA-KI-Pearl and a Music Hall MM-7 turntable.  The integrated amp is slaved to a McIntosh 5200 feeding the McIntoch ML-1c speakers.  The system sounds great, but I believe it will sound better when I put in the monoblocks.

jleebron -- Thu, 01/03/2013 - 15:52

 I have been extremely pleased with the Emotiva XPA-1 mono blocks. Into 4 ohm they are 1,000 watts, so I've had zero problem with the 1.6 Maggies. I also upgraded my external cross-overs to Peter Gunn's new design, and I have to tell you that those cross overs will make more difference than anything else you do. They take some time to break in, but once ther, you may find no need for a subwoofer. Movies probably would need one, however. For music, detail and dynamics will give you goose bumps and never fatigue. Happy New Year!  I hope all is well.  
Jack

mikex5 -- Sat, 01/12/2013 - 11:15

I've owned Maggies since 1978 and I would go with a used Audio Research tube amp/preamp. Something in the 75-100 watt range will be fine. The sound is beautifully magic for the cost. Since it would be used you could set back a little money to have it re-tubed at a high end audio store. As for a player you may want to check out the new Oppo BDP-105. It's a lot more than just a disc player.

thotdoc -- Mon, 01/21/2013 - 11:20

I'll add that you can use Atma-Sphere MA-60 monoblocks; find them used for $2500.00 or less. Use 1 foot of 9 ga. speaker wire to manage the current. These are high current amps. You need current, the power is less important. With these amps you will be entering a magical world where the Maggies live up to everything you've read or imagined about a high end system. For now, you can not use a pre-amp. Drive the amps directly from your computer through a used Wyred 4 Sound DAC2 ($1000) and manage the loudness with Pure Music ($129). Run it all balanced and use Mogami balanced studio cable (very cheap and fabulous for starting out. You will have to spend a lot of money to get better. When you get more money, buy an Atma-Sphere MP-3...pre-amp.  Use Synergistic Research Basic Telsa cables ($250) where needed.  Let's see: 2500+1000+129+300 (for interconnects and cables) + 750 for power cables if the amps do not come with cables or 250  for the DAC= less than $5000.00. Add a HSU research SW, still less than 5000. Downside? You will be hooked on listening to music that can be real extremely real sounding, real people in your room, that also has all the buzzy things like huge sound stage, space between people, atmosphere of the event, etc.

bernardperu -- Mon, 01/21/2013 - 13:07

 Here is the system I have in my office. It is the result of plenty of research done online and plenty of trial and error.
2x Magnepan 1.7  2k
1 x Peachtree Grand Integrated 4.5k   (this one is also a great match for my Audeze LCD-3s and Hifiman HE-500s) 
2 x Gallo TR-1D subs 1.2k 
Source is my Macbook pro Intel core i7 with a high capacity SS Drive connected via Furutech ADL USB cable.  
 
Cables and power cords can be of the less expensive kind and I dont use a power conditioner (plugged to walls). For speaker wires I use Audioquest type 4 (inexpensive) and my power cord is an Audioquest, but Peachtree recommends Shunyata which is cheaper (some audio firms are very helpful and they will answer your emails). 
If you find these products in the used market, you can save significant money. 
Important Note: Speaker + Subs speed is a must. This is what I have done: I use the speaker crossovers in the subs. So Speaker wire goes from my Peachtree to Sub, then, to speakers. Based on my listening experience, the sound is awesome! 
 
 
 
 

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