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|Suggested Retail Price:||$3200|
|Description:||3 Way Planar Magnetic Loudspeaker w/true ribbon tweeter|
|Review by jimmyjames (A) on March 20, 2003 at 11:58:28|
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for the Magneplanar MG3.5R
As it is raining for the 4th day straight and I am bored to death, I thought I would post a review of a speaker I lived with for 6 or 7 years. Prior to that I owned MGIIIa's for about 12 years and the MG1a for one year before that.
The 3.5R was and is a great speaker. A classic most recently refined by the 3.6 update. Audiophiles, audiofools and audio dealers speak of it's ribbon tweeter in terms of deep reverence. Most would agree that the Maggie ribbon tweeter is something to behold and a most elegant solution to your high frequency transducer needs. It makes the 3.5/3.6R. Without it, the speaker would just be an Mg1.6, no slouch on it's own. How does on describe the ribbon tweeter? It's fast and it's everywhere. That's what a 5 foot tall tweeter does.
The rest of the speaker mates well with the tweeter. I would not call it seemless but I never heard any discontinuity in the high to mid frequency range. I never considered the bass to be shy but now realise it was far from dynamic or subterranian(sp).
This is really not a loud rock-n-roll speaker. You can rock out with the 3.5R but not loud and not long without blowing fuses. I had these speakers through 3 amps, 2 different vintage Adcoms and a Mark Levinson 332 and if it got loud loud, the speaker fuses blew. This speaker does jazz very well. More suited to piano jazz than sax jazz. I never really listened to much classical music on any Maggie I owned so I can't really comment there. Acoustic guitar sounded great on these as well.
Of course these speakers have a sound stage to die for. Wide, deep and tall. I miss the height of the soundstage that my Maggies had with my current Aerial 7b set up. Maggies are fussy about set up and really I don't know a speaker that isn't but my local Proac dealer says Proacs are the least fussy about placement and set up of any speaker he has ever come across and he has been in audio a long long time. He loves the Maggie ribbon tweets but says that Maggies don't come alive until around 70db. I don't know about that, but I always found myself turning them up louder and louder through a listening session. The sound was never fatiguing or deafening.
It wasn't until I decided or my wife decided that if I was going to have a big screen TV it was going to be in the same dedicated room with the stereo rig. This caused problems for my Maggies as I had to put the big screen in the middle of the room where my equipment rack had been and go horizontal with all the gear. This spread the maggies out to where the entire short side of the room was taken up with tv, gear and Maggies. It was also at this time that I started auditioning some box speakers again. As I was playing around with some other bookshelf speaker projects that I came across said Proac dealer who also sells Revel. The Studios and the Salons are awesome speakers in the right room or with the right room treatments. Out of my price range though. I went to my Maggie dealer who I have known for 20 years and auditioned the Aerials and the Wilson Sophias. Started cruising Agon for Aerials with an eye towards a pair of model 5 bookshelf speakers when I saw a deal I could not refuse on a pair of Aerial 7b's. I had heard the 6's and the 7b's in the store. All Aerials image like nobody's business and and the bass was dynamic and went pretty low. Well the 7b's fit the bill for the new HT room layout and I also found a steal on a pair of 5's for the rears and the rest is history.
I miss many things about the Maggies especially the ribbon tweets but found the tweeters and the bass in the Aerials to be more full range and dynamic. They have much higher WAF and look like furniture. They are also built like a tank. If I learned anything in 20 years of Maggie's is that so far there is no perfect speaker for all types of music. Maggie's are magic and the 3.5/3.6R's are truely magical with the right associated gear and music. But if bass is your thing, you are probably not reading this anyway. Ideally I would have 20.1's for my refined critical listening and some other possibly horn loaded speaker with huge woofers or subwoofers for rock-n-roll. I would spend more time with the big Revels before jumping head long into the 20.1's I guess and with the price increase on the 3.6's now, I would have to audition some other contenders in that range but I don't know what they would be if anything.
|Product Weakness:||Lack of dynamic bass and lack of low bass.|
|Product Strengths:||Incrdibly refined sound. Silky smooth ribbon tweeter.|
|Associated Equipment for this Review:|
|Preamplifier (or None if Integrated):||ML380S|
|Sources (CDP/Turntable):||Rega p2|
|Music Used (Genre/Selections):||Rock-nJazz|
|Room Size (LxWxH):||25 x 20 x 8|
|Room Comments/Treatments:||sheet rock and carpet|
|Time Period/Length of Audition:||6 years|
|Type of Audition/Review:||Product Owner|
When I upgraded to the ML #336 amp, I no longer blew fuses on my 3.6's. I was blowing a lot of fuses when I was using a smaller amp.
I've blown tweeter fuses on my old 3.5s when using a Bryston 4BST, but never with a Krell or a Levinson. I've never had a blown fuse on my MG20Rs in combo witha Pass X350, either. Leads me to believe that blown fuses are associated with amplifier clipping behavior. Jsut for the record, I run 'nekkid' - i.e., no fuses - on my MG20Rs. I found that stainless steel bolts in place of fuses actually sounded better than various copper wire/tubing combinations that I've tried.
Never saw any indication of clipping with any amp I owned but if the solution was buy a bigger amp, I did the right thing. What I really wanted to do was go outboard XO and stereo subs but I could not get a handle on a combination that worked and I could afford. Nice system by the way!
I'm not that familiar with Mark Levinson equipment. What's the power output for the 332 into 4 ohms.
Be-Bop and Mahler
I have been thinking about picking up another Bryston B-10 Sub XO and integrating a pair of stereo subs as well, but haven't found any I like yet.
I am not familiar with this speaker. I searched the web and found a Totem Lightning, is this the same thing? Any info or pointers ???
It's purported to be the Lightning with a beefier amp & twin passive-radiators on either side of the active radiator all to extend bass response. Since it is new, no one knows about it. Therefore, it is easier to get than the revered Lightning.
♪ moderate Mart £ ♫
How can it be easier to get, if you can't find it anywhere ???
I searched the web and only found references to it on the Asylumn. Do you know the specs and cost or have a URL for it?
How is it suppose to compare against Rel or Sunfire? Is it targeted at home theater or music or both?
Lightning is all music but hasn't the extension for HT. As such, Totem is thinking that the Thunder may be the 5-channel music sub. Anyhow, the only thing I noticed was cone break-up when trying to couple with some Aeros (4" woofers). However, no Maggie owner would XO that high.
My Totem dealer has Thunders but no Lightnings. Across the street is the Maggie dealership. Now, since I'm not in the sub market, I can't ethically home audition.
♪ moderate Mart £ ♫
some points from another 3.5 owner (have had them for 9 months now, gone through several amps, wires, tweaks since then)
I have 3.5R's and have blown fuses and even broken a tweeter (probably a mechanical issue not current from the amp). However, the more power I put into amplification, the less often I blew fuses. Since I moved to Odyssey mono blocks, I have not blown a fuse yet. IU assume the most common reason for blown fuses is a clipping amp.
In my case, the size of the sound stage seems to go with speaker placement more than amplifier changes. Even the position of equipment on the rack I have between the speakers is critical. I am about to move the speakers even further off the wall, add some sound DIY sound lenses behind them, just to get rid of the occasional "one sidedness" that was discussed in the forum a few days ago.
Note, I only have a 13" TV and a few smaller components on a steel rack, so there's not really that much stuff that can affect the back wave deflection, but it still seems to matter. HT is not an issue for me - perhaps I'll get a bigger TV once I move the speakers further off the wall, but I'll keep them in the current room. the 2-channel reproduction of movie sound tracks on the 3.5Rs is simply outstanding (that soundstage again!)
I may get a subwoofer one of these days - there's clearly a problem with very low frequencies and the panels (which somebody on the forum confirmed to still be part of the 3.6Rs as well). I'll probably do this subwoofer addition at the same time I move on to active bi-amping to get rid of the external crossover of the 3.5Rs. I expect to find even better sound from the 3.5Rs by going that route, and given the cost of new 3.6Rs or even 20.1s, I think my 3.5Rs with some tweaks will hold up quite well at a much better price/performance ratio
I enjoyed the review as well.
I think you make a good point of the amplifier problem. With 100WPC tube power (oh, it's SO different, isn't it?) on each mid-ribbon and woofer panel (400 total) I was still blowing the fuses AND the ribbons. With 600WPC (one amp) I don't do that anymore.
Screw Home Theater. It has nothing to do with good sound and all to do with sedating you after work. If I want sedation, I'll have a few bourbons and some good music, and it still sounds good.
Be-Bop and Mahler
How loud are you guys plain' it. I listen to a lot of loud rock, rap and techno music, and I have yet to blow a fuse. That seems strange to me.
I have a pair of MG3.5/R with a sunfire subwoofer. I was running a pair of B&K M200 monoblocks and I would blow fuses every once in awhile. I recently upgraded to the two Channel Sunfire and have had no blown fuses at all. I am currently concidering upgrading the external crossover with Jensen or Solens parts. Have any of you tried the external crossover upgrade?
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