Magnepan 1.7i vs. Martin Logan ESL 8

MWalt

Active Member
Ok, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but here is where I am with these speakers so far. When I first powered them up I was thinking to myself, "what have I done!" They sounded very unlike what I heard at the dealer. I took break in into consideration and tried what worked with other speakers I have had. I set them up in exactly the same spot as the Qacoustics 3050i's, 4 feet from the front wall and 3 feet from the sides with the tweeters on the outside. I couldn't get the staging right. I tried a lot of different things, but it took me until 10 o'clock last evening to figure out that they sound best in my room with the tweeters ON THE INSIDE and 5 or 6 feet from the front wall. The farther I moved them from the wall, the deeper the sound stage became. Instruments then appeared outside the speakers into the side walls. The soundstage was so wide I checked the polarity of the speaker leads to make sure I had them correct! After fiddling with them for 7 hours I finally got my first glimmer of the "magic" I had read about.

My observations. First the bad. These are the most finicky speakers, bar none, that I have ever dealt with. I am STILL working with them to find the apogee.

They are very hard on amplifiers. I tried the Vidar, the amplifier section of a NAD C356bee, and a Primaluna Prologue Classic. I was surprised that the NAD sounded as good as it did, but it got real hot. The Primaluna didn't sound at all like it does with my ProAc Tablette 10's. It sounded sort of soft. Definitely a bad match. Just not enough juice. The Vidar worked best and is probably the minimum amount of current/power you need with these and sounds real good with the magnepans. I CRANKED Stevie Ray Vaughan's Tin Pan Alley and the Vidar went into protection mode. In my mind I could hear Brody telling Captain Quint, "I think you're gonna need a bigger amp". But, for now, I think the Vidar/Freya Plus is a good match.

As expected, the off axis response sucks. But, even though it was bad, I didn't feel like I had a "head in a vice" sweet spot.

These things are freakin huge, but on a positive note my wife thinks they look great. I wonder if she would still feel that way if I moved them down to the great room? They may possibly be too big for my listening space.

Bad recordings are brutal, but good recordings sound as good as anything I have heard. They are almost too revealing.

Now for the good.:

Huge scale.
Wide soundstage.
Very resolving and coherent.
Although the rear soundstage isn't the deepest I have heard, the music just kind of floats on and around the speakers. Imaging is good, but different from the pinpoint imaging I get with the ProAcs. The holography gets a little addictive and I can understand the almost cult like following these speakers get.
When the music is well mastered, the 1.7i's are as good a speaker as I have heard. Not up to the level of the 58k
Wilson Alexia 2's at the dealership that I listed to, but not too far off the mark.

Oh, a couple of surprises. They are heavier than I expected. Very solid and well built. The bass is also way better than I expected. The maggies blended easily with my subs. I tried 3 subs; an REL T/5i, a Rythmik F12, and a 10" sealed Emotiva. The Emo sucked, the REL was good and the Rythmik F12 was outstanding.

With all of the positives I got from these speakers, I am still not sure that the maggies are a good match for me. I like them, will continue to tweak placement, and then decide if I want to keep them, or sell them and continue chasing rainbows.


IMG_1766 (1).JPG
 
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Richard Austen

Junior Member
I set out to buy Magnapans based on reading about them but I couldn’t get them to sound good on enough genres of music. The 1.7s led to auditioning 3.6s at the time, and I liked those a lot better but the next week I heard Quad 63s and those did the trick - but- my Harbeths beat those.

if you want weight I’m not sure either of these is the trick?
I think to a degree it depends what you compare things to - back in the day, I was a huge B&W speaker fan because they beat all the other things I was listening to. So depending on what the dealers carry will also have a major influence on what you think of a pair of speakers. I would take ML or Magnepan over an awful lot of speakers - I would take a 1.7 over the B&W N805 and considering the N805 is $6,000 then the 1.7 comes across as a major bargain. Plus maggies are pretty easy to sell if in 6 months you don't like them. It's not a big risk. I have thought about buying them just to see if I can do something with them. The best sound I got from them was with a Single Ended Pentode tube amp.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I think to a degree it depends what you compare things to - back in the day, I was a huge B&W speaker fan because they beat all the other things I was listening to. So depending on what the dealers carry will also have a major influence on what you think of a pair of speakers. I would take ML or Magnepan over an awful lot of speakers - I would take a 1.7 over the B&W N805 and considering the N805 is $6,000 then the 1.7 comes across as a major bargain. Plus maggies are pretty easy to sell if in 6 months you don't like them. It's not a big risk. I have thought about buying them just to see if I can do something with them. The best sound I got from them was with a Single Ended Pentode tube amp.
That particular day I compared the 1.7s to the 3.6 and the 20.1. The 20.1 were one of the best speakers I’ve heard. They also had the big B&Ws, which I’ve never liked, and Wilson Sashas, which were ok but I’ve never clicked with them. All in all I didn’t gel with any of the options that day- the 20.1s were just too big.
 

Try1256

Very Special Member
With all of the positives I got from these speakers, I am still not sure that the maggies are a good match for me. I like them, will continue to tweak placement, and then decide if I want to keep the, or sell them and continue chasing rainbows.
Just don’t give up too soon. I can’t count how many times I was ready to throw in the towel on the LRS. It was very frustrating. Right now I have achieved a lot of what I was looking for including consistency, they sound the same 24 hours later. That took a little work. Also, I am convinced that the 100 hour breakin they speak of is just the beginning. They seem to get better the more that I run them. The down side? I have a lot of records that won’t make the cut anymore. Good music, poor recording/mastering. It has to be a little good in both arenas. Good news is I can listen to those record on the vintage system and the will probably sound great. Hang in there!
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Ok, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but here is where I am with these speakers so far. When I first powered them up I was thinking to myself, "what have I done!" They sounded very unlike what I heard at the dealer. I took break in into consideration and tried what worked with other speakers I have had. I set them up in exactly the same spot as the Qacoustics 3050i's, 4 feet from the front wall and 3 feet from the sides with the tweeters on the outside. I couldn't get the staging right. I tried a lot of different things, but it took me until 10 o'clock last evening to figure out that they sound best in my room with the tweeters ON THE INSIDE and 5 or 6 feet from the front wall. The farther I moved them from the wall, the deeper the sound stage became. Instruments then appeared outside the speakers into the side walls. The soundstage was so wide I checked the polarity of the speaker leads to make sure I had them correct! After fiddling with them for 7 hours I finally got my first glimmer of the "magic" I had read about.

My observations. First the bad. These are the most finicky speakers, bar none, that I have ever dealt with. I am STILL working with them to find the apogee.

They are very hard on amplifiers. I tried the Vidar, the amplifier section of a NAD C356bee, and a Primaluna Prologue Classic. I was surprised that the NAD sounded as good as it did, but it got real hot. The Primaluna didn't sound at all like it does with my ProAc Tablette 10's. It sounded sort of soft. Definitely a bad match. Just not enough juice. The Vidar worked best and is probably the minimum amount of current/power you need with these and sounds real good with the magnepans. I CRANKED Stevie Ray Vaughan's Tin Pan Alley and the Vidar went into protection mode. In my mind I could hear Brody telling Captain Quint, "I think you're gonna need a bigger amp". But, for now, I think the Vidar/Freya Plus is a good match.

As expected, the off axis response sucks. But, even though it was bad, I didn't feel like I had a "head in a vice" sweet spot.

These things are freakin huge, but on a positive note my wife thinks they look great. I wonder if she would still feel that way if I moved them down to the great room? They may possibly be too big for my listening space.

Bad recordings are brutal, but good recordings sound as good as anything I have heard. They are almost too revealing.

Now for the good.:

Huge scale.
Wide soundstage.
Very resolving and coherent.
Although the rear soundstage isn't the deepest I have heard, the music just kind of floats on and around the speakers. Imaging is good, but different from the pinpoint imaging I get with the ProAcs. The holography gets a little addictive and I can understand the almost cult like following these speakers get.
When the music is well mastered, the 1.7i's are as good a speaker as I have heard. Not up to the level of the 58k
Wilson Alexia 2's at the dealership that I listed to, but not too far off the mark.

Oh, a couple of surprises. They are heavier than I expected. Very solid and well built. The bass is also way better than I expected. The maggies blended easily with my subs. I tried 3 subs; an REL T/5i, a Rythmik F12, and a 10" sealed Emotiva. The Emo sucked, the REL was good and the Rythmik F12 was outstanding.

With all of the positives I got from these speakers, I am still not sure that the maggies are a good match for me. I like them, will continue to tweak placement, and then decide if I want to keep the, or sell them and continue chasing rainbows.


View attachment 40243
Well he looks very happy with them. I was always more excited than my father was when he got new stereo wares. I’d tell all my friends at school about it.
 

MWalt

Active Member
I think to a degree it depends what you compare things to - back in the day, I was a huge B&W speaker fan because they beat all the other things I was listening to. So depending on what the dealers carry will also have a major influence on what you think of a pair of speakers. I would take ML or Magnepan over an awful lot of speakers - I would take a 1.7 over the B&W N805 and considering the N805 is $6,000 then the 1.7 comes across as a major bargain. Plus maggies are pretty easy to sell if in 6 months you don't like them. It's not a big risk. I have thought about buying them just to see if I can do something with them. The best sound I got from them was with a Single Ended Pentode tube amp.

Yeah, I hear you. This is an audio road (stats, planars) that I have never ventured into. The dealer had me listen to the 3 series Vandersteens, which I liked, and then took me into a special well treated room that had Wilson Alexia 2's run by equally hi end gear as a reference. WOW, amazing sound. Not in my lifetime though. I will give the dealership credit. They were good at what they do and treated me very well. Sort of reminded me of being at a BMW dealership.
Well he looks very happy with them. I was always more excited than my father was when he got new stereo wares. I’d tell all my friends at school about it.
My son is a 6th grader that thinks they are cool because they are so big. I am waiting on the day he shows interest in the hobby so I can set him up.

Just don’t give up too soon. I can’t count how many times I was ready to throw in the towel on the LRS. It was very frustrating. Right now I have achieved a lot of what I was looking for including consistency, they sound the same 24 hours later. That took a little work. Also, I am convinced that the 100 hour breakin they speak of is just the beginning. They seem to get better the more that I run them. The down side? I have a lot of records that won’t make the cut anymore. Good music, poor recording/mastering. It has to be a little good in both arenas. Good news is I can listen to those record on the vintage system and the will probably sound great. Hang in there!
It is good to know that we both have experienced the same issues. I am working toward optimum placement and break in. I was playing them last night listening to a well mastered Patricia Barber CD and they were sounding incredible. At the moment, I am using both the Rythmik and REL sub. I may move the REL back to the bedroom set up and go solo with the Rythmik. Just going to tweak until it is as good as I can get it with what I have.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, I hear you. This is an audio road (stats, planars) that I have never ventured into. The dealer had me listen to the 3 series Vandersteens, which I liked, and then took me into a special well treated room that had Wilson Alexia 2's run by equally hi end gear as a reference. WOW, amazing sound. Not in my lifetime though. I will give the dealership credit. They were good at what they do and treated me very well. Sort of reminded me of being at a BMW dealership.

My son is a 6th grader that thinks they are cool because they are so big. I am waiting on the day he shows interest in the hobby so I can set him up.


It is good to know that we both have experienced the same issues. I am working toward optimum placement and break in. I was playing them last night listening to a well mastered Patricia Barber CD and they were sounding incredible. At the moment, I am using both the Rythmik and REL sub. I may move the REL back to the bedroom set up and go solo with the Rythmik. Just going to tweak until it is as good as I can get it with what I have.
I don’t know how much you need but when I was looking at Maggies I had a 400wpc Levinson amp, which is why the dealer was excited to show me the 20.1s, as I had the perfect amp for them. He said the more power the less finnicky, to a degree. They would become more dynamic. Which of course makes sense. I auditioned the smaller ones on a big Classe amp. Felt like they still wanted more.
 

MWalt

Active Member
I don’t know how much you need but when I was looking at Maggies I had a 400wpc Levinson amp, which is why the dealer was excited to show me the 20.1s, as I had the perfect amp for them. He said the more power the less finnicky, to a degree. They would become more dynamic. Which of course makes sense. I auditioned the smaller ones on a big Classe amp. Felt like they still wanted more.
I would kill for that amp about now. I can achieve nearly ridiculous volume levels with the Vidar, but I want a lot more headroom. The maggies are getting better as I get more hours on them. I am searching for a bigger amp as we speak.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I would kill for that amp about now. I can achieve nearly ridiculous volume levels with the Vidar, but I want a lot more headroom. The maggies are getting better as I get more hours on them. I am searching for a bigger amp as we speak.
I came pretty close to buying the 3.6s (I think they’re up to 3.7 now?) but my room at the time had a wall of glass behind them. It was one of the more enjoyable auditions ever, a late Tuesday evening alone in the store with the nice owner, who opened up about the difficulties of running a store. And how the 20.1s sabotaged all of his big sales- they were 1/2 the price of the big B&Ws, but sounded better- yet they were so big nobody would buy them, and so would leave. They were in a huge A-frame room with some treatment which helped.
Seemed there was one magical spot for the smaller ones in every room.
Good luck with this adventure- they’re such intriguing speakers. I remember being fascinated by their forerunners in the 90s when I walked into a store as a poor college student to buy their cheapest used NHTs.

anybody near you who can loan you some wattage?
 

MWalt

Active Member
You sound like you were a lot more hi fi savvy than when I was a poor college student. My friends and I would admire Bose 901's, the big Cerwin Vega's and the biggest Japanese receivers of the day.

Good brick and mortar audio stores are hard to come by here in Chattanooga. I had to drive 2 hours to ATL to audition gear. I will say that I really liked the audio store I got the Magnepans at; great staff that earned my future business. One thing I miss about where I lived in Ohio is more places to go for this stuff.

What do you think of this Class D Hypex NCore amp? VTV AMPLIFIER Stereo Hypex NC502MP NCore Amplifier 500WX2 | VTV Amplifier

Or this one: VTV AMPLIFIER Stereo PASCAL L-PRO2S Amplifier 800WX2 | VTV Amplifier
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
You sound like you were a lot more hi fi savvy than when I was a poor college student. My friends and I would admire Bose 901's, the big Cerwin Vega's and the biggest Japanese receivers of the day.

Good brick and mortar audio stores are hard to come by here in Chattanooga. I had to drive 2 hours to ATL to audition gear. I will say that I really liked the audio store I got the Magnepans at; great staff that earned my future business. One thing I miss about where I lived in Ohio is more places to go for this stuff.

What do you think of this Class D Hypex NCore amp? VTV AMPLIFIER Stereo Hypex NC502MP NCore Amplifier 500WX2 | VTV Amplifier

Or this one: VTV AMPLIFIER Stereo PASCAL L-PRO2S Amplifier 800WX2 | VTV Amplifier
I really wasn't (more savvy). I'd read a review of NHT SuperZeros in one of the stereo magazines while drinking coffee at borders, and it was so over the top in 'giant killer' territory that I had to have them. I didn't look at anything else, I just called a store that was nearby and they had a used pair that just fit my budget. While there I auditioned a few things, all of which sounded better, but I figured I must be doing it wrong and that the magazine was right. The store owner told me to trust my ears but I was adamant that I wanted what I'd read about.

I think this is all still why I have a chip on my shoulder around the audio magazines :)
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
If I had those speakers this amp would be at the top of my list. It’s made by ATI and flies way under the modern day HiFi radar. It would manhandle those panels like nobody’s business and sound great while doing so.

 
Giant killer doesn’t exist. There are huge value products but they don’t slay any dragons. They put up a good fight before they get toasty though.

For the record I am a fan of Maggie’s. They are quite good when set up, but the issue is what you are experiencing - setup in a real world setting is a headache at minimum. If you can accommodate them they are huge value products.

Also for the record, the Alexia 1 was my reference until I heard Rosso. I thought they were exceptional, but after hearing Rosso I realized what was missing. This goes to the point laid out earlier that your frame of reference only goes as far as your ignorance. Compared to Maggie’s, Rosso gives that same presentation but in a package that is much more waf friendly as well as setup friendly.

I hope those Maggie’s can claim a spot in your house. They can reward in many ways.
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
I would kill for that amp about now. I can achieve nearly ridiculous volume levels with the Vidar, but I want a lot more headroom. The maggies are getting better as I get more hours on them. I am searching for a bigger amp as we speak.
@MWalt , maybe add another Schiit Vidar, dual mono configuration for a 400wpc output. That might be enough to show those Maggie’s a thing or two.
 

Richard Austen

Junior Member
I don’t know how much you need but when I was looking at Maggies I had a 400wpc Levinson amp, which is why the dealer was excited to show me the 20.1s, as I had the perfect amp for them. He said the more power the less finnicky, to a degree. They would become more dynamic. Which of course makes sense. I auditioned the smaller ones on a big Classe amp. Felt like they still wanted more.

It's funny how folks have different reactions - my dealer in Victoria BC carries Magnepan, B&W, Harbeth, AN, Quad, Dynaudio, Paradigm among several others. I was pretty disappointed with the 20.1. I auditioned several albums in a SET based system - Acoustic Jackson Browne some Beethoven and loud pop from Lady Gaga or something and AC/DC. All the recordings sounded quite different being from different genres. The big system upstairs had the absolute top-of-the-line Class power amps (!000 watts) or close to that. And the recordings sounded rather flat and too much like each other.

I remember looking over at my sales guy and he just said "we know." They were not too impressed but I appreciated that they sold gear that the people wanted and not just gear they personally liked. And if asked they were honest about it. I did audition them several other times and no luck for me - it's been replaced and I do find the .7 series to be MUCH better than the .6 series. I don't know what Magnepan did there but to me, it's a pretty big improvement.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
It's funny how folks have different reactions - my dealer in Victoria BC carries Magnepan, B&W, Harbeth, AN, Quad, Dynaudio, Paradigm among several others. I was pretty disappointed with the 20.1. I auditioned several albums in a SET based system - Acoustic Jackson Browne some Beethoven and loud pop from Lady Gaga or something and AC/DC. All the recordings sounded quite different being from different genres. The big system upstairs had the absolute top-of-the-line Class power amps (!000 watts) or close to that. And the recordings sounded rather flat and too much like each other.

I remember looking over at my sales guy and he just said "we know." They were not too impressed but I appreciated that they sold gear that the people wanted and not just gear they personally liked. And if asked they were honest about it. I did audition them several other times and no luck for me - it's been replaced and I do find the .7 series to be MUCH better than the .6 series. I don't know what Magnepan did there but to me, it's a pretty big improvement.
This place had a room essentially built around/for the speakers. Which seemed the level of commitment you needed to get the right sound from them. I wouldn’t describe what I heard there as subjectively good. It was inarguably good.
 

MWalt

Active Member
I talked to Eric at Magnepan and he told me that I need a bigger amp. He said the Vidar is fine for the LRS but not the 1.7i. So, I guess I am looking for a new amp. It needs to have power that doubles into 4 ohms with high current delivery. I would like the budget to be not greater than 2k. Any suggestions?

If I had known I needed another amp I would have just waited and bought the LRS for a quarter of the price and probably been pretty happy with it.
 
I have a Krell KSA200s that you could get for $2k but you'd have to cover shipping. I also have a NAD M32 but I'm not sure that's beefy enough.

This is part of the downside of Maggies. I remember before I was a dealer I had the opportunity to pick up Hales Transcendence 8's for $1500. I wanted them SO bad, but in the end I passed. I had just dropped a few grand on some 845 monos and a preamp and couldn't justify the additional cost of an amp to power those behemoths that were notoriously hard on amps. Those massive value products sometimes require massive investments elsewhere.
 
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