Understanding the Rules of the Road
To cut straight to the chase, let me say that the Mini-Maggie system can work well, actually very well, in small-room applications, provided that you are willing to accept certain set-up requirements and also willing to accept a few performance caveats. Let’s discuss requirements, guidelines, and caveats first, and then talk about the benefits, so that you can realistically weigh pro’s and con’s of using Mini Maggies for your whole-room application.
Requirements: To get the Mini-Maggie system to work well in whole-room applications, you’ll first need to address several basic equipment and room requirements. Specifically, you will need:
• A good pair of speaker stands on which to place the Mini-Maggie satellites—ideally stands that will position the speakers at or near ear-level for seated listeners.
• A powerful, high-quality amplifier. Note that the power requirements for the system tend, as a rule, to increase for whole-room applications.
• A reasonably small and appropriately shaped small room. Rooms in the range of 120-200 square feet seen to work well, although this is not a hard, fast rule. Note, though, that the system generally works better in rectangular than in square rooms.
• In almost cases, you will need to add a second DWM mid/bass module ($795) to the system in order to get adequate bass performance and optimal overall tonal balance. It is important to understand that DWM module normally benefits from a significant amount of bass reinforcement when placed in the foot well of a typical desk. The under-desk placement also helps roll off some of the midrange output of the DWM—a factor Magnepan designers have taken into account when voicing their desktop system. When you move the DWM out into an open room, however, you typically encounter two problems: bass reinforcement falls off significantly, while effective midrange output increases—effectively making the system sound midrange forward and somewhat bass-shy. The best method I’ve found to combat these problems is to add a second DWM module, and then to follow the placement guidelines I’ll sketch out below (though as always, your mileage may vary, so that experimentation is the order of the day).
After considerable trial-and-error experimentation, I’ve come up with several recommended set-up guidelines for using the Mini Maggie system in small rooms.
• Place the Mini Maggie satellites on stand at ear level for a seated listener, and locate the satellites well away from nearby walls. Leave plenty of open air space behind the satellites.
• Toe-in the Mini Maggie satellites toward your listening chair (feel free to experiment with “tweeters in” or “tweeters out” orientations to see which sounds best to you).
• Try for left/right symmetry of placement where possible: Ideally, the Mini-Maggie satellites will sound best when both satellites are placed the same distance away from their respective sidewalls of the room.
• If you wish, you can experiment with using just one DWM module, though my experience has been that two are almost invariably needed for whole-room applications. If you chose to try the system with just one DWM, place the DWM on the floor, so that it faces directly toward your listening chair and is precisely centered between the stand-mounted satellites. Note: the DWM should be placed the same distance from your listening chair as the two satellites (you can use a tape measure to verify this). Wiring, when using a single DWM, is the same as for the desktop system.
• When finished, the single-DWM system arrangement should look something like the configuration shown in Illustration 1, below.
• In all likelihood, however, you will find that two DWM modules will be needed for optimal in-room sound. Where this is the case, I would strongly recommend following the placement guidelines below.
• Place one DWM to the far right side of the room, so that the right edge of the DWM, as viewed from the listening chair, actually touches the sidewall of the room (this placement restores much-needed bass reinforcement). Repeat the process with the second DWM, but on the left side of the room.
• Important tip: Do not toe-in the DWMs toward the listening chair (this is very important, since the system’s tonal balance is most even from the listener’s perspective when the DWMs are heard from off-axis).
• Make sure the both DWM panels are perpendicular to the sidewalls of the room, so that each DWM is “firing” along the axis of the sidewall.
• Where more bass reinforcement is desired, orient the system so that if “fires” down the long axis of the room.
• Make sure that that both DWMs are the same distance from your listening chair as the satellites left and right satellites (you can use a tape measure to verify this).
• Also make sure that each DWM is the located same distance from its associated satellite speakers. Left/right symmetry of placement is very important to the overall sound, especially in terms of achieving well-focused imaging.
• Wiring: Route the right channel speaker cables to the right DWM, and then run “stub” cables from the DWM to the right satellite. Repeat the process for the left DWM and left satellite.
• When finished, the dual-DWM system arrangement should look something like the configuration shown in Illustration 2, below.