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Charles_mbush's picture
Last seen: 5 years 7 months ago
Joined: Mar 25 2012 - 9:48pm
From the beginning...

Hello, I'm brand new to the forum here, (My first post, of course) and the newest of the new when it comes to practiced hi-fi, though I've read dozens if not hundreds of reviews for speakers, amps, headphones, even cables and stands for months. My only problem is now, on the brink of my building my first system from scratch, I have no idea what to do to get there.

My situation is this: My audio or stereo experience is limited to a vintage Sansui tower and a Sony A/v receiver. Armed with only this, I am now wishing to build my own entry-level hi-fi system (Under 2k absolutely, under 1k preferably). After much research, I have decided that the Magnepan MMG's are the speakers for me. They seem to receive nothing but glowing reviews and they have the 60-day return policy in their favor.

Aside from this, I am at a loss. I would like to run these maggies through a receiver along with a separate surround system, to consolidate controls and price. However, I know that 99% of A/V receivers under 1k will not run them to their fullest, much less anything in addition. I am hopeful that here is a way to run a (cheap but adequate) amp through the receiver and use it only as a connector from my speakers/amp to my CD player/etc.

So, in a nutshell, I have never done anything like this before, and I would like any sort of advice on equipment or techniques available to keep my system under the 1-2k mark, but first and foremost, I need a step-by-step guide on how to properly connect an amp/speaker combo and/or a receiver/(pre)amp/speaker combo, from start to finish. I don't even know for sure which type of connectors would be appropriate, so please, as clearly and as detailed as possible. Any links to a tutorial of this type would also be greatly appreciated.

If it helps, I am willing to add a sub, as this may also be a part of a home-theater setup, but I would estimate the MMG's will be used for 2-channel stereo ~80% of the time. I would prefer to buy new, and I will likely be adding to this setup later in increments, as funds are made available.

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Last seen: 5 hours 56 sec ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm

IMO there are few if any receivers that can do any Maggy justice. Maggy's are a 4 Ohm load that need plenty of current. Most receivers aren't capable of supplying enough current at 4 Ohms to make them sing. I suggest an integrated amp or preamp/power amp with an HT bypass switch. This would allow you to use the Maggy's directly connected to a preamp/power amp or integrated. You could then use a separate pre/processor. The front line level outputs from the preamp/processor would connect to the HT bypass input on the stereo preamp. It and a power amp would drive the front speakers. A different power amp would be connected to the surround processors rear line level outputs. You would connect all HT/MC sources to the preamp/processor. All two channel sources would connect directly to the two channel preamp.

With this setup you have pure two channel stereo. Hit the bypass switch turn on the surround processor and rear amps/speakers and you have surround sound.

This is my own solution to the dilemma. I have a Lexicon MC8 processor connected to an ARC SP-9 preamp. The SP-9 drives a pair of bi-amped esl's. In bypass mode the Lexicon drives my front power amps along with the rear amps and speakers.

For two channel the signal goes from a source to my ARC preamp to the front amplifiers and speakers. The surround processor, speakers and amplifiers don't need to be turned on.

It's almost a given that you'll want a subwoofer if you go with MMG's.

Take a look at the Emotiva two channel preamp and power amps.

Charles_mbush's picture
Last seen: 5 years 7 months ago
Joined: Mar 25 2012 - 9:48pm
An interesting idea..

@ Joe 


So what you recommend is instead of a receiver (with surround speakers)->amp-->MMGs; a setup along the lines on Processor->amp for MMGs +amp for surround-->respective speakers? This is an intriguing idea, and exactly why I came here. I just fear that this setup would put me way over my 2k budget, I haven't seen any processors cheap enough to fit in there, though I have only given them a glance. The Lexicon seems to be out of both production (again, I would like to stay with new components, more so because I am fretful of used condition), and is most likely out of my price range anyway. Can you suggest any other entry-level processors or any reliable locations to look for them?

As far as Emotiva, the XPA-3 is the smallest model I would feel comfortable with, and it is 200w x 3 channels (a boost to 300w @ 4-ohm). Would this allow me to power a complete HT setup(5.1 is fine with me), forgoing the need for dual amps? With that much power could I conceivably build a system with more Maggies, say 2 MMGW and a center MMGC with that amp alone? Also, as a comparison shopper, any similar models with this 3-channel capability would be greatly appreciated.

jackfish's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
The best thing to do is to develop a potential Emotiva system

list and then make the plunge knowing that you have 30 days to evaluate it before you can return it if it does not meet your needs. The UMC-1 is a capable AV preprocessor, but you could also look into a competent AV receiver with the desired processing capabilities and preamp outputs. That way you could power your frontstage (Mains and center) with an XPA-3 and use the AV receiver to power the surrounds. The Onkyo TX-NR709 for $480 from Accessories4Less would work pretty well, even running two surround channels into the MMGW's 5 Ohms. If you are getting an all Maggie system I'd recommend a sealed, servo-controlled, low-Q subwoofer like a Rythmik.

You could also look into the Emotiva UMC-1 AV processor, a USP-1 stereo preamp, an XPA-3 for your fronts and center, and a mini-X a-100 for the surrounds. This way you could use the HT bypass features of the UMC-1 and USP-1 when you listen to two channel music.

Charles_mbush's picture
Last seen: 5 years 7 months ago
Joined: Mar 25 2012 - 9:48pm

Okay, thank you for the rundown on the diferent model numbers and what everything could (should may be a better term) be used for, that's really one of my problems. I understand the theory behind receivers, amps, and speakers, but the actual "I need this to do that" is a bit less obvious reading about each component separately.


Anyway, I've been reading up on Emotiva products and general, and they seem to have a very mixed reputation. Looking around, they seem to give great bang for your buck, but I'll have to listen for myself. Until then, I'm going to continue to explore my options. At least now I believe I can get whatever I decide upon into a working configuration.

commsysman's picture
Last seen: 1 day 2 hours ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am

I would suggest that you consider using a Vincent SP-331 amplifier to drive the Magneplanars.

This  is a far better amplifier than the others mentioned and will sound great (The Absolute Sound designated it Amplifier of the Year in 2010); it runs $1300...a steal at the price.

I am assuming that you do not have have outputs from your current equipment to drive an external front-channel amplifier.

I recommend that you get an Onkyo TX-NR709 receiver, which is a very good receiver with preamp outputs for all 7.2 channels and has good amplifier power for the other channels plus lots of other features (for around $600 from Amazon or ?).

BTW...I strongly recommend against using ANY center-channel speaker with the Magneplanars; it ruins the imaging they are noted for.

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