Magnepan MG-1.7i, $2200pr
Magnepans have been among my favorite speakers forever. Given proper placement and amplification, they’re impossible to beat at what they do. Specifically, they provide a large and spacious image that is more like the real deal than practically all cabinet speakers. You just have to pay attention to placement and have enough amplifier to suit your musical needs.
As good as Maggies have always been, they upped their game substantially a couple years back when they went to the .7 series. Before the .7 series, Maggies consisted of wires adhered to a thin mylar diaphragm. With the .7 introduction, the technology improved to FOIL STRIPS adhered to the thin mylar diaphragm- instead of round wires. Magnepan terms this technology QUASI RIBBON.
The coverage of the diaphragm is now much greater, which provides an even more responsive performance. The sound is more clear, bass is stronger and efficiency is improved. All things good about Maggies got better with the .7 series!
As opposed to Magnepan’s history of introducing new technology and then trickling down, the .7 improvement was introduced in the middle of the line. We were delighted to be able to offer this upgraded speaker at $2200pr instead of a top tier price of $14k! On to the MG-1.7i.
The physics of how Maggies work in your room haven’t changed. Because they radiate front and rear, they need to be off the back wall by about three feet. This prevents the back wave from canceling the front- and killing the bass. Some well meaning audiophiles have bought Maggies and been coerced to keep them near the back wall for domestic tranquility. The down side is, they have no bass and don’t sound rich set up like that. If you pull them into the room about three feet, they warm up and come alive.
This really isn’t a tough thing to accomplish. Virtually all cabinet speakers are about a foot deep. They ALL sound better a couple feet out from the back wall. So the fact is, if the nose of the MG.1.7i ends up three feet off the back wall, I’ll bet ya any box speaker would end up in the same place to deliver its best, least boxy sound.
On to the issue of power. Audiophiles have spread the rumor that Maggies need 200 w/ch. There’s nothing wrong with using that much power. I love them with the PeachTree 220 ($1400) power amp and the new Nova 220SE integrated amp ($2000). Both are affordable and offer 220×2. But there are many applications where you don’t need anywhere near that much horse power.
Consider… Maggies are extremely light, tall diaphragms- large headphones almost. With the small excursion they need to travel, they sound absolutely outstanding at lower volumes than box speakers. We have many a Maggie running with a fine integrated amp of about 70×2 if you’re not trying to blast urban music. Keep in mind, your amp will muscle up its power into Maggies, a truly resistive 4ohm load.
If we use Marantz’s PM-8005 as our example… it’s a fine sounding, $1200 integrated amp with an excellent phono stage aboard. It is rated at 70×2 into 8 ohms and will pump out well over 100×2 into 4. It has a PURE AUDIO mode which provides the best sound (says me!). But it also has treble/mid/bass tone controls if you’re a dial tweaker. This amp at just over a grand is an outstanding integrated that will let Maggies do their thing beautifully. While we’re at it, get the Marantz SA-8005 SACD/CD player ($1200 also). It will allow you to play SACDs. Red Book CDs, and use the on board DAC to shake hands with your computer or iPhone/iPod. With this plan in mind, you’re sitting at only $2400 before speakers. Toss on the 1.7i’s and for $4600, well under $5k according my math, this is a GREAT system!
Now… we do have customers that throw state of the art electronics at 1.7i’s. This is kosher too. If you run them with Bryston separates for example, the improvement is well worth it. The 1.7i is so good that it just keeps revealing more and more musical goodness as you provide it the opportunity.
We have numerous systems running with the Bryston 4B-SST-2 power amp ($5k, 300×2) and even a couple with the 7B-SST-2 monoblocks ($5100, 600w each). You can’t believe that the MG-1.7i is the same speaker- when you’ve experienced it with this array of amps. They have that much to give!