Magnepan Magneplanar MG3.6/R loudspeaker Letter
Stiffen those Maggies
Editor: I read the August 2000 review of the Magnepan MG3.6/R with great interest. It was a very well-written, informative article. Brian Damkroger is among my favorite writers at Stereophile and has similar tastes in speakers to boot. However, I do have a couple of questions.
It was stated that Magnepan recommends setting the speakers up with the tweeters to their outside edges (or at least so that the tweeters are farther from the listener than the woofers). It was never stated if Brian ended up using them this way, or if he experimented with having the tweeters inboard.
Also—my main reason for writing—doesn't anyone make aftermarket stands for Magnepan speakers? I know how much importance Stereophile generally places on speaker stands, yet there was not even any mention of putting cones under the MG3.6/Rs' feet to stabilize these mammoth speakers. I can't see how the Maggies would not improve greatly from the use of some good-quality stands or, at the very minimum, a set of cones.
I have an old set of MGIIIAs for which I am fabricating a set of custom stands that will fasten to the standard bolt-hole pattern at the bottom, and will also fasten about 16" from the top. (The speakers can be easily moved 4-5" front to back at their tops; I would imagine the MG3.6/Rs are not much different.) The base will have 95-100 lbs of sand in it.—Grant VanderMye, email@example.com
Thanks for your kind words, Mr. VanderMye. To answer your questions:
I tried the Maggies in a wide range of configurations, including many with the tweeters to the inside. In my room, I could space the speakers farther apart, toe them in more, and still end up with the tweeters farther from my head. My preferred setup was the one I described, however. I generally got a more even, more expansive image with the tweeters outboard. Having them to the inside gave me a more triangular image, with the rear corners becoming murky and shrunken.
If, on the other hand, you're dealing with a long, narrow room, and have the speakers firing down the long axis, my experience with other Maggies suggests that you have to be concerned about proximity to the side wall. In those setups, having the tweeter outside might cause the image to move forward along the wall, "wrapping around" the listener a bit. I found (in a shoebox room) that I could sometimes get a better balance of image width and depth with the tweeters inboard. I would have included more on setup in the review, but it was already longer than it should have been.
I understand and share your concern about speaker stands. (I'm not positive, but I think that Sound Anchors may make stands for the Maggies.) It's certainly disconcerting to have this huge, flimsy panel waving in the breeze, after we've all convinced ourselves that super-rigid coupling is the way to go.
The Maggies' size may work a bit in their favor, because the panels don't have as much displacement as a cone driver. I did play around with Tiptoes with the 3.6/R and several other Maggies, but it never seemed to make that much difference in the sound. The floor/stand coupling isn't the weak link, in my opinion, but rather the stand/panel coupling, the rigidity of the stand itself, and the rigidity of the panel itself. Just putting the stands on cones—even bolting the stands onto cones—doesn't do much.
I didn't want to do anything beyond that, because my practice (and Stereophile's policy) is to test products in a completely unmodified state. Back when I had Infinity RS1bs, I did make modified bases for the midrange-tweeter panels that had a triangulated aluminum brace coming about two-thirds of the way up the speaker's back. But the Infinity's structure was far more rigid than the Maggie's, so the stand and coupling were easy to fix. I plan to keep the 3.6/Rs; maybe I'll play around with something like your attachment 16" from the top.—Brian Damkroger