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bifcake
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The saga continues

I spent some time listening to Legacy speakers at DUP's and at a dealer's. I was quite impressed with what I heard, alas, like anything else, nothing is perfect. I was quite impressed with the Legacy Focus, but I wanted to hear the Magnepans one more time to get a better feel of the differences between the Focus and the Magnepans 3.6R speakers.

I want to Lyric yesterday to listen to the Magnepans and since they advertised a 25-80% sale, I figured I might actually get them if they rock my boat as much as I remembered.

When I walked in, the store was empty (no customers), which surprised me since I figured it would be packed with people trying to take advantage of the sale. I introduced myself and I told the sales guy that I called the day before inquiring about hearing the Magnepans 3.6's and the 20.1's. The guy looked bored and uninterested. He told me to sit and wait. I sat and waited... He came back, put me in a room where the 20's were situated, put in my CD and left. The room wasn't a good room for the 20's. it was cramped, there was so much equipment there, that I couldn't even sit in the sweet spot without bumping into speakers. The Magnepans were set up almost in the middle of the room, and my listening position was about 6 feet from the speakers with the speakers being about 3 feet from one another. The 20's were powered by Levinson equipment throughout the playback chain.

The 20's sounded a bit dull. The highs and the mids sounded refined, but they didn't grab you. They sounded ok, but nothing really to write home about. I figured it must have been the horrible setup. The bass was something else though... It was there, but it sounded like an acknowledgment that there is bass, rather than the kind of visceral bass that one hears at a concert. It's a bit hard to describe since I never heard anything like it before... I heard bass, it wasn't the deepest bass, but it was deep enough, but it didn't sound realistic. It didn't sound muffled, it just didn't have the pop. The drums didn't sound like drums, they sounded as a check mark next to "drums" on a list of things to have. Yes, we have drums, but look at our horns! The bass was the the thing that I couldn't merely attribute to the setup. It just didn't sound right. I figured let's hear the 3.6 Maggies. Perhaps a different setup would make it better.

The sales guy took me to another room, and in his disinterested, bored demeanor told me to listen to these as he left. The room contained the 3.6 Magnepans powered by a Mac integrated and a Rega Saturn CD player. I put on my reference Pink Floyd CD... The 3.6's were good. The highs sparkled without being bright, the midrange while wasn't as good as the highs was still top notch especially considering the price of the speakers, but then the drums hit... and my heart sank. No slam, no impact, no realism. The sales guy came back and asked me what I thought. I told him that I felt it was a mixed bag. The Magnepans do the highs really well, they do the mids pretty well and there's no bass. He suggested Velodyne subs with the 3.6's. One Velodyne sub is half the price of the Magnepans, so the whole set up would put me in the 7-8k range. I told him that I never heard a setup that integrated the subs well with the satellites. He told me that it wouldn't be perfect, but if I wanted bass, that's what he recommends. I asked if he could set it up, to audition. He said no. He said that he's got a customer who called him with a 150k order and just told him to put together a system for him, so he suggested that I trust him when he tells me that a sub, and THIS particular sub is the way to go. I understood why he had that bored, disinterested demeanor: I wasn't spending 150k and he would actually have to do an audition to make a commission of my lousy 5 or 7k. I told him that I would have to think about it and figure out what I want to do.

And so, here I am. I have a number of routes that I can go:

1. The Legacy Focus is a good speaker. It's a VERY good speaker. It's the only speaker for under 10k that actually does bass and it does bass really well. Its midrange and its highs are very good, but they're not magical like the Magnepans.

2. The Magnepan's tweeter is by far the best I've heard. It rivals any tweeter our there at any price. Its midrange is very good. The combination of the tweeter and the midrange produces absolute magic. Alas, bass is missing in action. It's missing in action not because it's not there, but because whatever is there doesn't make bass instruments sound like they should. It's a MAJOR shortcoming. I could go the sub route, but that would mean doing so blindly and it would put me in the 7k range.

3. If we're talking about spending over 7k, I could get the Avantgarde Duo's on Audiogon for that kind of money. They don't have the same bass impact as the Focus, but it's good enough. The tweeter is delicate and rivals Magnepan's and the midrange is a bit better than Magnepan's. However, the Avantgardes being horns come with their own set of issues. I think that my electronics would have to be changed, which would mean further experimentation, search and expense down the road.

So, at this point, there are 3 candidates:

Legacy Focus - around 5k

Magnepans - around 7k+ with sub

Avantgarde Duo's - around 8k plus whatever upgrades.

What to do? What to do? What to do?

Any thoughts are appreciated.

dbowker
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Re: The saga continues

Before you write off the Maggies for lack of bass, read this review (below). It truly, EASILY could be a bad setup you heard! Or wrong electronics, and most of all the wrong room. Maybe they need to be much close to the walls, or any number of things.

If they have any interest at all in selling them to you, speakers like that need to be demoed properly, preferably in your house. If it's the same bored guy, and he's not the owner, talk to him instead.

Mag 3.6 review

CECE
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Re: The saga continues

I'd go FOCUS!!!! They weren't heard in a good room eitehr where they as I recall? Lyric sounds like a crap store to me, if they are disinterested in demoing, I'd be disinterested in doing business with them....$150K or not, you where there, some imaginary $150K wasn't. Focus on it. Better store, better speakers, mean better setup. If Magnaplanar has that kind of representation, they really don't want your business. Any dealings I've had with Legacy has been top notch, from day one. Focus gives you a finished system, not having to tag on stuff to make it sound like a complete system.

CECE
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Re: The saga continues

Excuses excuses excuses, Legacy is the way to go.

CECE
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Re: The saga continues

And it appears ROOM PLACEMENT is a major issue with Magnaplanars, Legacy is designed for real world, less if not any room problems..a superior design, by a superior designer.

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues

Doug,

The 3.6's were set up decently. They were in their own room, not a huge room, but enough for them to breathe. They were close enough to the walls to get the bass re-enforcement and the electronics driving them were comparable to what I have. So, I see the 3.6 set up as more or less representative of what I would hear in my living room.

As far as Lyric is concerned, I've had a mix of experiences there. I've had them trying to peg me as to how much money I have by asking me to look at my watch, asking me where I live and my house, etc. I also had a really good experience with them the last time I was there (in December) when I first heard the Magnepans.

I read the review and I am not sure if the guy is on the level with what he describes because that's not what I heard. I'm not too keen on going the sub route, but that mid and tweeter magic is very seductive.

DUP,

I agree with you regarding the dealer experience at Legacy. It's a night and day difference. The guy at Rock Dreams was helpful, he was engaged, and he was no bullshit. It was a whole 'nother experience. I like the Focus as well. If I could marry the Focus with the Magnepans, I would have a perfect speaker. The Focus midrange is terrific, the highs were a bit shrill, but if I remember correctly, there's a switch in the back of them that can attenuate the highs a bit. I can't say that I couldn't live with the Focus. I think they're fantastic, I just think the Maggie's mids and highs are magical. I'll have to think about it, although honestly, I am leaning towards the Focus. The idea of subs and integration issues, etc doesn't really appeal to me.

RGibran
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Re: The saga continues

Sounds like someone needs to make up their mind as to Bach or Rock!

Pink Floyd on Maggies? Your joking us, right Alex?

Didn't you learn anything at Dup's house?

RG

CECE
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Re: The saga continues

Yes, the Focus have a switch AND, they will modify stuff for you on ordering a set too, I have read where they do some customization of subtle things if requested, don't know about pricing though for such mods.

CECE
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Re: The saga continues

Focus and Whisper handle anything from Blues, Rock, Bach, Choral, Ochestrations.

tom collins
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Re: The saga continues

maggies + legacys = martin logan. they have about a $5k speaker with real bass and crystal highs and mids.

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues


Quote:
Sounds like someone needs to make up their mind as to Bach or Rock!

Pink Floyd on Maggies? Your joking us, right Alex?

Didn't you learn anything at Dup's house?

RG

I kid you not. It's not that I can't make up my mind as to Rock or Bach. I know what I like. I like both. I expect my speakers to do both with equal aplomb. I don't subscribe to tuning one's equipment to the music one listens to. Good equipment should be able to recreate high fidelity sound regardless of the source content.

Tom,

I heard Martin Logans. I was not too impressed with them. They're a bit veiled and syrupy for my taste. Not enough high frequency extension, sloppy boomy bass.

dcstep
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Re: The saga continues

Man, if you're going to read reviews you need to learn to read between the lines. He closes the review saying that bass lovers won't be happy with the Maggies.

Alex, go with those Legacy things if you're limited to these three choices.

All of them will sound better in your room than in the dealers; however, you can't make bass out of nothing and the poor Maggies just don't have the balls needed for realistic bass, not even string quartet. In your price range you deserve the whole enchilada.

Dave

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues

Thanks Dave,

I'm seriously leaning toward the Legacies. They are the best compromise. I was hoping the Magnepan's bass would be enough for me to live with. I didn't expect perfection in that department, but I was hoping it would be just acceptable enough. Alas, it's not even close. The Legacies are very, very good and I think I will be happy with them. I was just hoping to have that maggie mid and high range magic.

RGibran
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Re: The saga continues

I don't know if you have ever heard or heard of these but something tells me they may be to your liking. Just under 5K and several dealers in New York and New Jersey.

PMC OB1i

RG

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues

Thanks. I'll check them out. What made you think I would like them?

RGibran
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Re: The saga continues


Quote:
What made you think I would like them?

Refinement and slam! A tough line to straddle. Bass response down to 28Hz. Easy room placement.

RG

dbowker
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Re: The saga continues

Have you considered the new Epos M16i? Epos makes some great speakers- VERY good quality for the money.

Welshsox
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Re: The saga continues

Hi

I know it will sound strange but check out the Quad 22 floor standers, they sound fantastic on delicate material but also can get it on for rock.

Alan

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues

Can you provide a link? I don't see the Quad 22's on the Quad web site. -thanks

Doug,

I heard Epos, and I don't think they're in the same league as the Legacies or Magnepans for that matter.

Welshsox
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Re: The saga continues

Alex

Here you go

http://www.quad-hifi.co.uk/model.php?sector_id=2&range_id=11&model_id=37

Im not an expert but i searched for a long time to find a musical speaker with good dynamics. This fit the bill nicely

Alan

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Re: The saga continues

Sounds like you will not be terribly HAPPY with either the legacy or the maggies. I'd say keep looking. At that price level you should be pretty excited and very pleased with your final choice, and that's not where you're at right now.

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues

Actually, I think I would be happy with either Maggies with a sub or the Legacies. I just don't think that either would be perfect. I want perfect.

Another thing is that believe it or not, but it's TOUGH to find anything that sounds even remotely decent (full range) for under 20k. That's why I was so excited when I heard the Whispers at DUP's because you can pick them up for around 7-8k on Audiogon, but they don't show up very often. I guess I could wait for the Whispers as well, but the nice thing about getting the Focus from a dealer is that he'll deliver.

Buddha
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Re: The saga continues

DeVore?

Plus, you can go hear them locally.

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues

I heard the DeVore and they're 15k.

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Re: The saga continues

REL subs are a killer match for Magnepan speakers. They really add a nice foundation, but are still quick enough to keep up with the Maggies. Few other subs can do that. Of course the Velodyne will have more impact and more force but sound very mechanical to me. I have Martin Logan CLS speakers, which are a full range electrostat. Very similar to the Magnepans sonically and the only sub I'd ever consider is a REL. I've tried a number of things including a Velodyne DLR 4000R, which I still own from a previous system. It didn't cut the mustard, nor did the other contenders.

AlexO, what's in the rest of your system out of curiosity? What's your room size?

CECE
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Re: The saga continues

Focus go down to 16Hz. As mentioned in teh Stereophile review of teh previous version, most speaker for teh money is FOCUS, nothing comes close. Shopping is done. And that was at list prices Alex, the deal is even better. ain't it?

CECE
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Re: The saga continues

In that range Whispers smoke em all. Also most speaker ya could find. Nothing comes close. Once you experience Legacy, you are very hard pressed to beat it, and buying on the mortal price level.

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues


Quote:

AlexO, what's in the rest of your system out of curiosity? What's your room size?

The rest of my system as follows:

Rega Planet 2000 CD player
Cary SLP-88 preamp
PS Audio 200C amplifier

My room is 12x25 with 8 ft ceilings.

BillB
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Re: The saga continues


Quote:
Actually, I think I would be happy with either Maggies with a sub or the Legacies. I just don't think that either would be perfect. I want perfect.

Another thing is that believe it or not, but it's TOUGH to find anything that sounds even remotely decent (full range) for under 20k. That's why I was so excited when I heard the Whispers at DUP's because you can pick them up for around 7-8k on Audiogon, but they don't show up very often. I guess I could wait for the Whispers as well, but the nice thing about getting the Focus from a dealer is that he'll deliver.

OK, perfection is desired, I understand. Good luck! (meant in both ways!)

dcstep
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Re: The saga continues

I think that avoiding a sub is wise, UNLESS you just can't live without the Maggies. Integrating a sub is seldom that successful in 2-channel.

Also, plan on upgrading your power down the road. Your PS Audio will work for now, but everything you're considering will benefit greatly from much more power than you now have available.

Dave

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Re: The saga continues

Sheesh Dave,

Are you doing a Dup on us? 400 watts into 4 ohms. 1,000 watts into 1.5 ohms. Ya really think he needs more?

RG

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Re: The saga continues


Quote:
REL subs are a killer match for Magnepan speakers. They really add a nice foundation, but are still quick enough to keep up with the Maggies.

AlexO,

Take mrlowry's advise, as did I, regarding the Maggies and REL's...a marvelous match. Granted, I did not spend anywhere near the $$$ you have in mind but you should certainly consider this combination. What is so impressive with the REL is that the amp is a class A/B not a D that is found in, practically, all other subs. It makes a tremendous difference.

SAS Audio
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Re: The saga continues

Hi Alex,

As a suggestion, SP Technologies has the Continiums, about 7 grand if I remember correctly. I don't own them, and no financial affiliation etc with them. Just heard them with the Belles new Reference 350 amps about 2 years ago.

Just a thought Alex.

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Re: The saga continues


Quote:

Quote:
REL subs are a killer match for Magnepan speakers. They really add a nice foundation, but are still quick enough to keep up with the Maggies.

AlexO,

Take mrlowry's advise, as did I, regarding the Maggies and REL's...a marvelous match. Granted, I did not spend anywhere near the $$$ you have in mind but you should certainly consider this combination. What is so impressive with the REL is that the amp is a class A/B not a D that is found in, practically, all other subs. It makes a tremendous difference.

Roadster-

Glad to hear that you bought a REL and are loving it. Isn't it amazing how they completely disappear when you have them set up right? RELs are amazing at adding bass without calling any attention to themselves as the source of the extra bass. Rarely do I say that anything is the best of any category but the REL products are an exception. Only the Thiels are as good, maybe slightly better. But if they aren't being integrated with Thiel speakers they are a way more expensive solution.

jackfish
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Re: The saga continues

I'd listen to the Vandersteen Quatro.

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues

I got 200 wpc into 8 ohms and 400wpc into 4 ohms. How much more power do I need?

dcstep
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Re: The saga continues

I'd stop short of our man DUP, but 1,000 watts into 4 ohms will not be wasted on all those big drivers in the Whispers.

It's not about loudness, it's about control. The more speakers and the larger the speakers the more power needed to control their resonances and move them with all due speed. There's lots of inertia there.

My little Vienna Acoustic Beethoven Baby Grands came alive when I threw my Jeff Rowland Continuum's 1,000 watts into their 4 ohm-ish load. My prior Conrad Johnson had just under 300 watts into 4 ohms and the step up was dramatic and apparent. My VAs are relatively flat down to 30 hz and then drop off sharply. Those Whispers will get you down to 20 hz in the right room.

You'll be able to enjoy your new speakers with your current rig, BUT adding power will yield large improvements.

Dave

SAS Audio
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Re: The saga continues

Just a small correction, but it is the output impedance (Z) that controls the woofers, not the power supplied. The lower the output Z the more control of resonances.

Damping factor is the normal term, not power.

Also, I think it takes a very large room to really appreciate 20hz. Correct me if I am wrong on this point.

Now back to the regularly scheduled program.

dcstep
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Re: The saga continues


Quote:
Just a small correction, but it is the output impedance (Z) that controls the woofers, not the power supplied. The lower the output Z the more control of resonances.

Damping factor is the normal term, not power.

Also, I think it takes a very large room to really appreciate 20hz. Correct me if I am wrong on this point.

My room is 15'X36'X9' and it's only down 10dB at 20Hz.

I'm reluctant to use the term "damping factor" because there's more to it than that. My Continuum has a very respectable damping factor of over 1000; however, many will tell you that a damping factor at infinity will have very little effective difference from a damping factor of 50 or so.

I don't understand it and I've never found anyone that can even begin to explain it, BUT I hear a correlation in bass control as watts go up and the damping factor is at least decent (say over 50).

One possible explaination is distortion. Perhaps the woolly bass we hear in seemingly uncontrolled woofers is really distortion from underpowered amps driving the woofers in a distorted path.

All I know is that it doesn't take "golden ears" to hear the impact. Even the greenest newbie can hear what I'm talking about.

BTW, I recently heard a 200 watt amp with a damping factor of 1000+ compared to a 500 watt amp from the same maker with the same damping factor on the same speakers (DALI Helicon 400 Mk IIs). The woofers seemed much better controlled with 500 watt than with 200 watts.

Dave

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Re: The saga continues


Quote:
I don't understand it and I've never found anyone that can even begin to explain it, BUT I hear a correlation in bass control as watts go up and the damping factor is at least decent (say over 50).


Can you describe what you hear as different? How does the bass change?

I am curious as to what you are experiencing as differences.

You know, just use words to describe a sound - easy, right?

dcstep
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Re: The saga continues

Well, listening to the nominal 4 ohm, floorstanding DALI Helicon 400 Mk II.

    First I heard them with a Primare 100-watt integrated amp with unknown damping factor. (It probably has around 200 watts into 4 ohms). The bass was wild and woolly , with way too much bloom an boom. It was totally unacceptable.

    Next I heard them with the Rowland 102 stereo amp, which is around the same power as the Primare, but a damping factor of 500. It was much better and the bass became more focused and controlled.

    Next came the Rowland 501 mono blocks with 1,000 watts into 4 ohms and a 1000 damping factor. The bass became quicker, extened deeper and had no extra bloom or boom. You could more easily hear the harmonics of bass instruments.

    I came back to the store with my Conrad Johnson CA200, with about 300 watts into 4 ohms and an unknown damping factor. It was between the Rowland 102 and the 501s, with good harmonic detail, but not as much ease in bass dynamics. There was only slight bloom as compared to the 501s, but not enough to disqualify the amp or speakrs. (I think this is where Alex will be with his PS Audio, in the good but not great category of bass control).

    Finally, I brought my Continuum 500, which basically sounded the same as the 501s driven by the Rowland Capri preamp.

So, an amp with 200 watts into 4 ohms was unacceptably woolly, bloomy and boomy in the bass, while another amp with about the same wattage, but a high damping factor was better. When we went to very high wattage and high damping factors things improved even more, with all bloom and boom disappearing and the harmonic bass detail getting much richer and detailed.

Dave

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Re: The saga continues

Great descriptions.

It's hard to really know what's going on - whether it is power or damping, or both.

My guess is that one needs enough power to properly excite the woofer - then damping becomes the important factor.

dcstep
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Re: The saga continues

When you think of it, the woofers are almost always moving and changing directions, seldom is there a note and then the woofers come to rest. So, I'm thinking that it's kind of like the inertia needed to accelerate and stop a care that the watts are providing. If you get distortion in the bass region, maybe it's not particularly ugly sounded, just overripe and out of control. When you consider all the harmonic frequencies that are excited all at once, it's amazing to me that speakers can approximate anything like music.

Dave

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Re: The saga continues


Quote:
When you consider all the harmonic frequencies that are excited all at once, it's amazing to me that speakers can approximate anything like music.


No kidding!

bifcake
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Re: The saga continues


Quote:
When you think of it, the woofers are almost always moving and changing directions, seldom is there a note and then the woofers come to rest. So, I'm thinking that it's kind of like the inertia needed to accelerate and stop a care that the watts are providing. If you get distortion in the bass region, maybe it's not particularly ugly sounded, just overripe and out of control. When you consider all the harmonic frequencies that are excited all at once, it's amazing to me that speakers can approximate anything like music.

Dave

So... what are you saying? Are you saying that DUP is right????

SAS Audio
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Re: The saga continues

Hi DC,

"All I know is that it doesn't take "golden ears" to hear the impact. Even the greenest newbie can hear what I'm talking about.

BTW, I recently heard a 200 watt amp with a damping factor of 1000+ compared to a 500 watt amp from the same maker with the same damping factor on the same speakers (DALI Helicon 400 Mk IIs). The woofers seemed much better controlled with 500 watt than with 200 watts."

Of course I don't know the design of each, but if electrolytic caps are not isolated well from the direct circuit path, the wooley bass can be caused by the caps, even though the damping factor is extremely high.

Also, it is amazing how just a small change in certain caps can have a profound sonic difference in the music.

Another area to look is the ss devices. I was amazed how much musical information comes through a ss device that is bias past cutoff. The impedance was quite low, approx 50 ohms give or take on both sides of the ss device.

I found this out when performing listening tests.

Just my .02 worth.

Welshsox
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Re: The saga continues

Hi

I recently experimented with a Crown CTS 3000 amp, this is a very high quality proaudio amp @ 1500 watts per channel. The bass control was fantastic, the issue I had was that the mids and highs sounded very dry, the was also an issue of the fans kicking on.

Would it be feasible to drive a pair of bi ampable speakers with a sweet sounding amp like my current Quad 909 and the to drive the wooofers with a pro audio amp like the Crown ?

Is there any inherent issues with this idea ? it sounds in simple terms like id get the best of both worlds

Alan

dcstep
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Re: The saga continues

Yes, DUP is getting at least a few things right.

Dave

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Re: The saga continues

Alan, bi-amping can be a good thing, BUT amp builders like Jeff Rowland can give you the whole enchilada in one box. Crown is great stuff for pushing PAs and stage monitors. They had a brief foray into hi-fi about 20-years ago. Amps built specifically for home audio by great designers are generally going to sound better top-to-bottom than gig amps. There can be exceptions, but you heard for youself the hardness of Crown's highs.

Dave

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Re: The saga continues

Sas, thanks for sharing your experience.

Dave

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Re: The saga continues

Dave

I understand that a high end design would be the best way to go but that type of power in a high end amp is going to cost a lot of cake, $10k +

What are the inherent flaws in my thinking ? the mnain one I can come up with is getting the levels correct to balance the two power amp outputs.

How do Valve amps enetr into this discussion about bass control ?

Alan

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