Good Reputation, Poor Sound!

Magnepan MG1.7

We sold some Magnepan MG 1.7i’s the other day to a fellow who is building a new system. The 1.7i’s are about the most cost effective way to start a system with GREAT resolution. Even though he loved the demo before buying… their positive reputation had preceded them. If everyone seems to love a product, it’s gotta sound great, right?


MG 1.7i’s ability to cast a life sized vocal and guitar presentation, for example, is just about as good as it gets! For us classical piano fans, it just doesn’t get any better. Resolution. Tautness in the bass register. Maggies are flat out great!





Hegel H80
You can get outstanding results driving them with a fine integrated amp like a Hegel H80 for $2k, or an NAD C-368 for $900. The Hegel puts you in a better echelon of “intimacy” but the NAD is not to scoff at if the budget won’t accommodate a Hegel.



This fellow has been reading forums until all hours and has formed opinions that people in the flesh will have a tough time changing. He has copious hours of surfing in the middle of the night to experts and hobbyists all over creation. Some of these “characters” have become friends, more than pen pals.

He beamed as he told me of what he was planning on mating with the Maggies. The wind blew out of my sails as he told me where he was going with this system. It didn’t stand a chance. Despite corresponding with rabid hobbyists, he was getting poor advice= poor sound.

It started well with the Maggies. Then it went right in the tank with an $800 subwoofer which is basically a home brew. While it has a brand name on it, it’s a plate amp with sub driver right out of a bin. The cabinet is heavy but can’t save the generic amp and woofer. You and I can buy the same parts for a modest price from Parts Express and get the same soggy performance as he did from a brand name.

It went on. He was going with a $1400 passive preamp which had gotten raves from his amigos. Oh no. 0-2. You want to talk about a death spiral? A soggy sub. A boring preamp. The Maggies will show you what’s on the other side. It’s not their fault if the sound isn’t dynamite!

The power amp in the plan would be fine. It’s a respectable 100×2 for a grand. A lot of the web hounds like it cuz you buy direct. It has to be a better deal than what any store could provide, right? Ah, NO!

Rather than be a jerk and say, “Danger Will Robinson!” I politely say thanks for the biz. Be sure to save your receipts in case you don’t like how the associated gear shakes hands with the Maggies.

In short order he visited with head down. He had gotten these new products and could tell his system didn’t have the definition, attack and spaciousness he’d heard in our shop. He asked me where I thought the problem was. What do I do? Whiz all over these three products he bought because everyone and his brother on this or that forum was WRONG?!


Emotiva XPA-2

Power Amp

I could provide a significantly better power amp for the same price. I’ve got the Emo 300x 2 for $1000. It has 300×2 and much more hardware. His amp has 100×2, 400vA transformer with 4 output transistors. Despite some guys in the forums saying this is a great buy, it isn’t. It sounds fine. But a great value, it ain’t. We have an Emo amp for $400 that is even better than this amp!





I could provide a significantly better preamp for $300 less. Passive preamps invariably sound mundane. Some guys love ’em due to the academic design. Sorry boys, they put me to sleep! The Emo XSP-1 stereo preamp for $1200 is a true dual rail design supporting balanced operation. No contest fellas. The Emo has attack, air and space in spades. The passive guy is asleep at the wheel.



GoldenEar Force Field 5


I could provide a much better sub for a grand. The GE FF5 has a 12″ active, long throw front firing driver, along with a massive down firing infrasonic radiator. The on board amp is 1500w and is controlled by DSP. His three letter word sub won’t hold a candle to the FF5!