Magnepans vs. Electrostatics. What is the better technology? What do you prefer?

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
3,016
21
38
#1
I prefer stats, but I do like the Maggies a lot.

And if you ask the engineers, most seem to think that stats are better technologically, at least in the midrange. Yet most audiophiles have more reverance for Maggies. And if you look at the reference systems of reviewers, there seem to be more Maggies than electrostats.

Please share your thoughts and preferences.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,089
63
48
Manila, Philippines
#2
I prefer stats myself. I do like to play loud however so that's why I use dynamic speakers. I've owned Maggies in the past and loved 'em.

It is very, very tough to beat the price/performance of Maggies and man do they slay giants when owners put in the work on both matching and fixing up their rooms. The only drawback I encountered was that limited ceiling. No matter how much juice you might have behind them, at some point they will not get any louder, only compressed. You can raise this ceiling with frame modifications but as with anything only to an extent.

I also think they are in a unique place business wise and the same applies to modern esls. Maggies more so because they are still less expensive. While many dynamic loudspeaker companies have gotten really good at what these do best, this has come at the cost of big $$$$, costs that are mostly attributed to the cabinets. Ultimately, you are paying the bucks for the headroom. For those that do not routinely play music that demands this, ESLs, Maggies and other planars have proven to be very attractive options.

So one would think that there would be even more planars out there and there should. The limiting factor is one of real estate. They don't cost much but the room size you'll need to have them at their best will. :(
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,563
24
38
Monument, CO
#3
I have never actually owned ESLs but have had a number in my system and listened to many more, probably all the biggies (KLH, Beveridge, Acoustat, Quad, Soundlabs, Martin Logan, Sanders, etc. -- forgotten many of them, and of course the hybrid HQD system had ESLs in the midrange, sounded pretty durn good to me the few times I heard one). I have owned Magnepans for years (decades) and heard Apogee, Carver, and a few other planer dynamics or ribbon speakers. They all have pros and cons.

Disclaimer: I have not spent much time listening to newer models. Every time I post in a listening thread I get told how out of date I am. I have heard ML and Quad in the past few years but not Soundlabs nor Sanders. To me they are not revolutionary advancements over what I recall, with the possible exception of ML who seems to have resolved the panel/woofer matching that IMO was really bad about ten or so years ago. The newer models do not seem to have as glaring a transition from panel to woofer.

ESL's have that gorgeous midrange but full-range models often sound bloated in the lows to me, and the highs tend to be a bit harsh (many times because the amplifier does not like the low load impedance at the higher frequencies). They also tend to be pretty directional, which is a plus and a minus depending on how you think about it. Most ESLs are hybrids with a conventional woofer, and some use a separate tweeter (though few seem to do that now). Blending the panel to the woofer is always a challenge, and the image changes as you go down low (note crossovers are up in the 200 ~ 400 Hz range for a lot of hybrids). In the past ESL's had more limited dynamic range for playing loudly, though I think modern designs have mitigated that quite a bit. Even thirty years ago most ESLs would play more than loud enough for me, but anyone who's had them has probably heard the dreaded arc...

Magnepans and other planer-dynamic/ribbon speakers to me sound a little better over their full frequency range and the image is more stable. While IMO not quite matching the ESL's for midrange sound, they come awfully close, and with large bass panel area and line ribbon tweeters I prefer their low and very high end to most ESL's I have heard. To me Magnepan's offer a more balanced sound over their frequency range, a range as broad or broader than most panels.

The usual caveats about room and amplifiers apply; it takes a good amplifier and good room to hear any dipole at its best.

I would not say one is better, they are just different.

And I think any of them, like most other speakers ("full range" or not) benefit from a good sub or two.

All IMO - Don
 
May 25, 2010
823
58
28
SF Bay Area
#4
I started with Maggies as my very first hi end speaker, way back in the mid '70's. At that time they were the MG-2167F's the predecessors to the MG II's. Then, after my daughter was born in 1979 and knocked down one of the Maggies when she tried to stand up, I switched to regular speakers for a few years until she was older. I then bought a pair of Acoustat 2+2's and those were followed by Quad ESL63 US Monitors with Crosby Mods. So I've done both planar and electrostatics. I would agree that the electrostatics were faster, but with less bass, even the big 2+2's would be pinned with big bass notes (like deep organ notes). I think that much of the success that Magnepan has had is that it is a very good design and Jim Winey has been doing it for a very long time, perfecting the speakers. I think that is more so than the various manufacturers of electrostatics, with Quad a possible exception.

Larry
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,089
63
48
Manila, Philippines
#5
I started with Maggies as my very first hi end speaker, way back in the mid '70's. At that time they were the MG-2167F's the predecessors to the MG II's. Then, after my daughter was born in 1979 and knocked down one of the Maggies when she tried to stand up, I switched to regular speakers for a few years until she was older. I then bought a pair of Acoustat 2+2's and those were followed by Quad ESL63 US Monitors with Crosby Mods. So I've done both planar and electrostatics. I would agree that the electrostatics were faster, but with less bass, even the big 2+2's would be pinned with big bass notes (like deep organ notes). I think that much of the success that Magnepan has had is that it is a very good design and Jim Winey has been doing it for a very long time, perfecting the speakers. I think that is more so than the various manufacturers of electrostatics, with Quad a possible exception.

Larry
That's funny Larry. I went on a cone and dome hiatus and went planar for a few years when my babies were small and moved back when I was sure there would be no more poking. :D
 

thedudeabides

Active Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,208
7
38
Alto, NM
#6
ESL's have that gorgeous midrange but full-range models often sound bloated in the lows to me Don
Hi Don,

As you stated, ML has in fact made substantial progress in the "blending" of the stat panel and the powered woofer models. The Summit X and the Montis are very good examples of this new technology.

Several years ago, I switched to the MBL 116's (had four different ML models over some 25 years) and found that they are similar but do improve on the "immersive" presentation that stats provide given the omni directional tweeter and midrange pods.

I would encourage everyone to check out the two ML models referenced above.

And I do agree that stats and maggies have their individual strengths and preference for either will be up to the individual to decide.
 

MtnHam

Industry Expert
Jan 13, 2014
201
0
16
Nothern California Wine Country
#8
Having listened extensively to Maggies, I can attest to their many qualities, and believe they are a bargain. But, IMO, if you want the best recreation of live music, Sound Lab electrostatics, particularly the large ones such as the Ultimate U-1PX, when well set up, can not be beat. Any WBF member who would like to visit and experience this for themselves is welcome.
 

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
3,016
21
38
#9
Caesar, if I recall correctly, Myle's ref speaker is the ML Summit.
Yes, I believe they were for a long time, but he has since switched to the Magico S5. Also, Jeff Tonepub had the ML CLX's for a while, but now has Kef Blades, I believe.

Yet when you look at guys like HP, Valin, Jacob Heilbrunn, an up-and-coming guy calling himself a "Part Time Audiophile", and a few others whom I don't currently recall. And although Myles and Tonepub are great guys, they do not have the gravitas of the "experts" who are Maggie supporters.
 

Whatmore

New Member
Jun 3, 2011
1,063
0
0
Melbourne, Australia
#12
Out of curiousity, have you ever compared the Sanders to Logan or to Soundlab?
I've heard a few Martin Logans - up to the Summit and (in my opinion of course) they are all let down by the bass integration. To my ears the Sanders integrate seamlessly, I can't hear any difference between panel and bass. The Logans all sounded like there are two different speakers in the room.

I've not heard the soundlabs (I'd love to, but not sure if anyone brings them in to Australia)
 

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
3,016
21
38
#13
Full range stats are hard to beat, as long as you don't rock out too hard. For the hybrid models, does anyone understand why it is so difficult to integrate bass cabinets with electrostatic panels? Is it a matter of dis-attaching the subwoofer part of the speaker from the panel for better placement in the room?
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,672
38
48
#14
Just a question...what were the Apogee Full Ranges? Stats? What are the Audio Analysis...stats only or stats with magneplanar bass? Their 4-stack Orion reference speaker has a 7 foot tall bass panel...

thanks...
 
May 30, 2010
14,531
227
63
Portugal
#15
I prefer stats, but I do like the Maggies a lot.

And if you ask the engineers, most seem to think that stats are better technologically, at least in the midrange. Yet most audiophiles have more reverance for Maggies. And if you look at the reference systems of reviewers, there seem to be more Maggies than electrostats.

Please share your thoughts and preferences.
IMHO you can not refer to stats as being an unique type of speaker sound. We have many brands and types, sounding very different. And although electrostatic are more complex speakers and because of this can use more modern technology, Magnepans also include a lot of new technology. For more detailed information on these matters one can look at the Planar Speaker Asylum section at Audioasylum http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/MUG/bbs.html. After you read from Magnepan owners, the Magico or Wilson fan club will look like a children's choir ...
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,563
24
38
Monument, CO
#16
Just a question...what were the Apogee Full Ranges? Stats? What are the Audio Analysis...stats only or stats with magneplanar bass? Their 4-stack Orion reference speaker has a 7 foot tall bass panel...

thanks...
The Apogees were full range ribbons. Not sure on the Orions... I thought they were planer magnetics? Don't really know, might be thinking of something else. Carver's Amazing Loudspeaker was ribbon plus woofer array IIRC (been a long time since I last saw/heard them).

ceasar, integration is IMO a problem with several facets. Getting the woofer in phase with the panel at the crossover is a biggie and not as trivial as it seems. Another is the transition from a line source panel to conventional radiator. You have to make the transition well below the point at which the panel has moved from a dipole/line source radiation pattern to keep the image from collapsing. This is difficult when panels do not handle the higher power lower frequencies require. Many hybrids cross over a several hundred Hz, making the low midrange/upper bass transition somewhat jarring IMO. Then there is the problem making the woofer's time-domain characteristics (Q in frequency domain) match that of the panels, at least around the crossover region (and below for those with higher crossover points). Controlling ringing and such is difficult for any design.

Panels have their own problems, including dynamic range, modes in the panels that cause frequency aberrations, providing adequate bass without rolling off the highs, that line source radiation pattern (reduces interaction with side walls but many do not like the directionality), and ESLs drop very low in impedance at high frequencies. Magnepans split up the frequency bands to help alleviate some of these issues, but then you have the problem of maintaining seamless sound (imaging etc.) across multiple panels. You also have to deal with arrays of magnets vs. charged (electrostatic) films, etc. ESL's need a power supply and high voltages that can attract dust in dry climates and arc in high humidity, etc. And so and and so forth...

Everything's a compromise. - Don
 

BobM

Member
Feb 5, 2014
162
3
18
59
Long Island, NY
#17
Maggie's are popular because (a) they are less expensive than their competitors, (b) there are a ton of them in the used marketplace, and (c) they sound damn fine and mostly crush any competition around their price point.

But if we are just talking about quality of sound, I will keep my Apogees.
 
May 30, 2010
14,531
227
63
Portugal
#18
Just a question...what were the Apogee Full Ranges? Stats? What are the Audio Analysis...stats only or stats with magneplanar bass? Their 4-stack Orion reference speaker has a 7 foot tall bass panel...

thanks...
Lloyd,

You can find all you want to know about the Apogee Full Range in this link http://www.apogeespeakers.com/full_range.htm. I only owned the Duetta Signature and recently found in my drawers a cylindrical box containing a spare tweeter ribbon. The discovery made me nostalgic ...

We can have two basic types of planar magnetic speakers - in a pure ribbon the conductive foil is the only moving element, but in many models the wires or ribbons are attached to a mylar foil that vibrates pushed by the conductive element. Many models use a mix of these modes, as far as I remember even the Full Ranges and the Scintillas used the 'quasi-ribbon' for the bass.
 
Sep 10, 2012
490
5
18
scotland
#19
Out of curiousity, have you ever compared the Sanders to Logan or to Soundlab?
Owned ML , maggies , Quads & Soundlabs myself over the last 20 years now use Sanders
Agree Sanders one of the great bargains in audio
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,672
38
48
#20
Lloyd,

You can find all you want to know about the Apogee Full Range in this link http://www.apogeespeakers.com/full_range.htm. I only owned the Duetta Signature and recently found in my drawers a cylindrical box containing a spare tweeter ribbon. The discovery made me nostalgic ...

We can have two basic types of planar magnetic speakers - in a pure ribbon the conductive foil is the only moving element, but in many models the wires or ribbons are attached to a mylar foil that vibrates pushed by the conductive element. Many models use a mix of these modes, as far as I remember even the Full Ranges and the Scintillas used the 'quasi-ribbon' for the bass.
Thanks, Micro!
 

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