I would be curious to hear which amps, tubes or ss, you have found to be the best match with the 3.6Â´s :?: What are your thoughts on VTL MB450 Series II, Lamm M1.2Ref/2.2 or ARC Ref210/110 :?: Your input would be highly appreciated.
When I tried out the Maggie 3.6s almost a decade ago I used the small, very affordable Goldmund SRM monoblock amps--solid-state not tube. For whatever reason those amps made a superb match with the Maggies (phenomenal with the 1.6QRs). However, I don't believe they're being made anymore, and I have no experience with the latest generation of Goldmund amplifiers (although our Internet sage sacduser does, so you might ask his opinion).
Nowadays, I'm not entirely sure what to suggest. The amps you're considering are all excellent. I do know several reviewers who use the Maggie 20.1s with big VTL amps. So by numbers alone the VTL MB450 would seem like a highly recommendable pick. From experience I can tell you that both the ARC Reference 210 and the Lamm 1.2 are superb, and that, in the past, ARC and Maggie were the combination of choice. (Magnepan often showed with ARC electronics.) Maggie also used to show with Bryston, and current reports suggest that the latest-generation Bryston amplifiers are really good. Something like the 900Wpc (into the Maggie's 4 ohms) 14B stereo amp or the 1000W 28B monoblocks would be well worth a listen, I think. Also highly recommendable in solid state (from personal experience) are the GamuT amplifiers, particularly the GamuT S300 MkIII.
However, if I were forced to choose one amp ahead of all these worthy contenders, it would be the Audio Research 610T, which is simply the best amplifier I've ever heard. I haven't tried it with the 3.6s but I cannot imagine that the combination wouldn't be fabulous.
I agree with Jon about the synergy between Maggies and ARC equipment. I heard or read somewhere that Bryston equipment was used to voice Maggies, however every time I heard Maggies at a show they were with ARC electronics. I use ARC electronics with my Maggies.
The ARC 210 might be a little power challenged, the VTL is a no brainer.
A pair of used 750's would also be fantastic.
As a point of reference I own 20.1s and have had 210s, 610s, and vtl 750s.
I thought you were using Rockport Hyperions!
I've used a Jadis Defy-7, then later a pair of ASL Hurricanes with my Maggies 3.5. I was happy with both amps. I moved up to the Hurricanes due to the increased power. I lost a bit of magic that the Jadis had, but it was a bit underpowered.
I would think the 210 should be fine to drive them.
I totally agree with JV re the 610T :)
Many thanks guys.
Jon, IÂ´m sure the 610s are stunningly good but unfortunately way out of my budget :wink: . Do you think the Lamm hybrids and the 210s have enough juice to power the 3.6Â´s?
Rupe, how did the 750 stack up against the ARC amps? Any chance you have compared the older VTLs to their latest offerings?
All of the above suggestions are apt and very good. I listened to a pair of 3.6's a few months ago with Ayre MXR monos and really liked what I heard. The Ayre doesn't sound solid state at all, but embodies all the fine qualities of tubes but with more control and quicker response to complex music. This setup used a VTL TL7.5 Series II as the preamp and the EMM CDSA as the source. The Ayre might be worth looking into as an alternative to high powered tube amps.
Quote:Do you think the Lamm hybrids and the 210s have enough juice to power the 3.6Â´s?
I think that depends on how loudly you typically play your music (and how loudly the music you play wants to be played to sound like a live version of itself).
Here's the thing about big true-ribbon-based Maggies. As many have already noted in the past and on other threads on this site, at low average SPLs Maggies lack some dynamic range and scale on the piano (soft) end. The "solution" has always been to play them louder, bringing up the volume level of the piano parts (while also, of course and thereby necessarily, bringing up the volume level of the forte parts) and increasing perceived dynamic range. Although Maggies are the opposite of a "difficult" load, they are very low in sensitivity. In other words it takes a lot of power to get them going to begin with, and because of their dynamic-range/scale limitations at lower volume levels it takes even more power to bring them up to the higher SPL levels at which they start to "come alive" dynamically. This said, when they do "come alive" they are phenomenally lifelike--with two little exceptions.
Exception one is the very low bass--the bottom octave. Big Maggies, like the 3.6s or the 20.1s par excellence, do play very deep but they are constrained at very loud levels--as all membrane speakers are--by the excursion limits of their diaphragms (and by phase cancellation issues that I won't go into). Don't get me wrong: Maggies can play very loud, but at some given level you're going to reach a point in the bottom octave where they simply can't go anymore and power delivery, impact, and dynamic scale will suffer. (This is one reason why so many Maggie owners end up yoking them--in my personal experience, unsuccessfully--to cone subwoofers and sometimes to cone woofers and subwoofers.)
Exception two is the treble. As I just noted, to get big Maggies to "come alive" you need to play them louder than you might play, oh, Quad ESL-2905s. The louder you play--up to the point that I just mentioned where the Maggies simply can't go anymore--the closer you come to getting dynamic scale right on piano as well as forte passages. However, the louder you go the more the Maggie's ribbon tweeter sticks out.
Let's face it, the Maggie ribbon tweeter is a wonder but it is inherently faster and audibly more discerning than the quasi-ribbon mid/bass panel, and, thus, more audible as a separate driver. This has always been my peeve about the big Maggies (and why I honestly think the all-quasi-ribbon 1.6QR is the most coherent full-range speaker in the line); I simply hear that tweeter sticking out some.
There are ways around this, of course. And I've heard some very successful "fixes." But the fact remains that the louder you play, the more audible that slight tweeter discontinuity becomes. So...you end up gaining dynamic range and scale at a small price in tonal balance and in top-to-bottom continuity. (This is another reason why Maggie 20.1 guys use subs--to rectify the slight tip toward the treble at louder volumes with some added weight on the bottom.)
I'm guessing now, because my experience with current VTL products is limited to shows, but (at least in the past) big VTL amplifiers and preamps were softer and "more forgiving" on top and richer, more powerful, and more voluminous in the upper bass, the power range of the lower mids, and the bottom octave than big ARC amplifiers, which were, by comparison, brighter and leaner in balance. Depending on the listener, combining a brightish, leanish amp with a brightish speaker can be problematical. You gain transparency, transient speed, and a tremendous sense of midband liveliness and presence, of course, but you also potentially aggravate the problems inherent with ribbon Maggies.
As I said, I don't really know the sound of current VTL amps from personal experience, but if they bear a family resemblance to previous VTL amps, then they are likely to play well to the ribbon Maggies' weaknesses as well as their strengths. (My friend Jacob Heilbrunn has written that the new VTL 750s are considerably less lush and romantic than the generation of VTL amps and preamps Iâ€™m more familiar with.)
Let me add a specific, experience-based comment to this highly generalized and possibly overgeneralized analysis of Maggie combos. There was a time when I would've called ARC amps and preamps bright and lean; the current generation is not. It is the most nearly neutral line of tube electronics I have yet heard, phenomenally lifelike in bloom, tone, and texture with near-solid-state-like transient speed, neutrality, and resolution (without any trace of solid-state-like analyticity). I purely love the sound of the latest ARC gear.
Whether the Ref 210 is powerful enough for the 3.6s...I just can't say. Rupe says no, and Rupe should know (although Rupe does tend to play back music a lot louder than I typically do).
Very interesting, thanks for the clarification Jon.
jvalin wrote:Quote:...There are ways around this, of course...
For brave souls, there many sites around the web that deal with Maggie modding and that address Jon's insightful reservations.
I also highly recommend Grant VanderMye's stands for your Maggies. I feel they are essential for getting the best out of the speakers.
A customer of ours that owns 20.1's has just added a pair of VTL MB 450 II's to his 7.5mkII pre and the combination is sounding very very good. They seem to mate tonally really well with the Maggie's and have no problem at all driving them, therefore you should have no concerns in that area with 3.6's.
To add to what Jon has pointed out about the Maggie ribbon/dynamics/volume issue, it is critical to get the placement of these speakers optimized to your room the best you can. I have had 20.1's in my home system now for nearly 5 years and are still tweaking with their position as I learn more about the strengths and weakness's Jon mentions. It is only recently that I finally settled on having the tweeters inside after running them on the outside for 4 years. On the inside they are toed in less which in my room makes the sound more coherent. Surprisingly the sound stage is wider with them on the inside than they were facing out.
I personally believe the 3.6 and 20.1 can be more coherent than the 1.6, but that coherence is only achieved through critical setup. The 1.6 is more forgiving of placement, toe in, listening room acoustics and electronics. If you don't get this right with the ribbon models they will bite you in the behind with a hot, over bearing treble. They are a continual learning curve that I admit to be still climbing.
Oh, and I run my 20.1's on the end of Naim 500 series components which is probably the weirdest combination your likely to come across. :D
258 Hardy Street
Jon's got it pretty much spot on :)
I used a resitor (Maggie supplied) to attenuate the ribbon a notch, because my room is big and I usually played them loud, and the tweeter could get to be a bit much.
I've had a few attempts at subs and the like. What was lost was much greater than what was gained. Having said that, I've not tried them with recent subs such as the WB Torus.
Over the 14 years that I've lived with my Maggies, tweeters out was much preferred mode, although I did periodically switch them around to check. My feeling is that this is very much room dependent.
Btw, I still have these Maggies in the basement. If I can tear myself from the Magicos (and feel like doing some physical excercise) some day, it might be interesting to bring them up and hook them up to the Ref3 / 610T combo :)