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Magnepan upgrades

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Customer email newsletter dated: September 15, 2009.

Magnepan upgrades
September 15, 2009
In This Issue:
Many of our customers have used, or are using, the famous Magnepan speakers. How do we know this? Because we get calls and consultation requests for systems based around these speakers on a daily basis.

Since the popularity of these high performance planar speakers has never been greater, and some of our consultants actually use Magnepan speakers in their systems at home, we thought that now would be a good time to share some of our experience in getting additional performance from these speakers.

Even if you don't have Maggie's, take a quick look at the below information. Most of the "themes" have many other audio applications and at least some will be relevant for you.

1. Replace those Fuses.
2. Crossover boxes and jumpers.
3. Speaker stands.
4. To Sub or not to sub?
5. Speaker Cables.
6. Bi-Amplification.
7. Speaker Placement.

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1. Replace those Fuses.
Replacing the standard fuses with the HiFi Tuning fuses is highest value upgrade. The fuse is directly in the signal path on these speakers and relying on a piece of "pot metal" to carry your signal adequately to the drivers is just not a good idea.  The HiFi Tuning Fuses' pure silver element makes a significant improvement in resolution and even adds low level balance and detail (something that Maggies are NOT known for). 

What fuses do you need?  That's simple - we have compiled a chart of the more popular Magnepan speakers and their fuse requirements for you.  ALL would be Large size (on special for $35 till month end!), Fast Blow fuses, but the values are slightly different for each model.

MMG  3A Large Fast Blow
MG12 4A Large Fast Blow
MG1.5QR - 4A Large Fast Blow
MG1.6QR - 4A Large Fast Blow
MG 2.5R - 3A Large Fast Blow
MG 2.6R - 3A Large Fast Blow
MG 3.5R - 2.5A  and 4A Large Fast Blow
MG 3.6R - 3A  and 5A Large Fast Blow
MG 20R - 2.5A  and 4A Large Fast Blow
MG 20.1 - 3A  and 5A Large Fast Blow

When should you NOT replace the fuses?  Magnepan puts the fuse(s) in place to protect the drivers and to keep you from having to box up the speakers and send them back to the factory for repair.  The single most common reason for the fuse(s) to blow is that the amplifier you are using to power the speakers is clipping - i.e., it does not have enough power to drive the speakers at the volume level you are trying to achieve without distorting. If you are blowing the standard fuses now, upgrading the fuses is not the answer - upgrading the amplification is the answer in this case.

2. Crossover boxes and jumpers.

On many models of these speakers, Magnepan located an external crossover box on the back of the speaker which connects the speaker cables to the box and the box to the drivers using those horrid "maggie pins".  While this gives the end user some flexibility in wiring options and/or amplification options, it creates a smearing in the midrange sound due to the vibration of the panel shaking the components in the box as well as the box itself.  If your Magnepan speakers have an external crossover box, your next most cost effective upgrade is to remove that box from the back of the speaker.  In order to accomplish this, you will need to get some jumper cables.  Depending on the model of speaker, you will need either one set (of 4) jumpers or 2 sets (of 4) jumpers.  Generally 12"-15" length  is more than sufficient to get the crossover box far enough away from the panel to prevent vibrations.  Be SURE to order them with bananas - preferably BFA-type.  These newer style bananas will fit the "maggie pin" holes perfectly and make a far more solid connection at both ends.   Use the same jumpers as speaker cables from the crossover to the amps, or Analysis Plus is a good option for a wide variety of affordable jumper cables (copper or silver conductors) with BFA bananas that work very well for this application.  Try to match the jumpers' gauge to your main speaker cable gauge and the conductor material to your speaker cable's conductor material as well.

OK - now that you have the crossovers off the back of the speaker and jumpered to the speakers, what do you do with the crossover boxes?  There are any number of good solutions to supporting and isolating the crossover boxes from Cardas Myrlewood Blocks to Symposium Ultra Padz.

Now for even a higher level of  improvement (at the crossover box), we suggest that you get a Gutwire Notepad II to be placed on top of each of the crossover boxes.  These amazing vinyl "pillows" dampen vibration and absorb RF, both of which give you a nice improvement in sound quality for just a little bit of money.

3. Speaker stands.
Magnepan is kind enough to send stands with their speakers which make them easy to move around until the right position in the room is found.  From that point on, however, the stands are a detriment to good sound, not a help.  The way that a planar speaker works is that the diaphragm is supposed to move in a rigid frame to produce sound.  When the speaker itself bounces and moves around (as it does with the Magnepan stands), however, what you end up with is smeared sound, predominantly in the midrange frequencies.

Sound Anchors (among others) makes very high quality stands for Magnepan speakers that hold the speaker rigidly and couple the speaker to the floor using spikes. This prevents the speakers from "swaying in the breeze" - the breeze the panels themselves create!  As an added benefit, with these stands, the speakers themselves can be tilted forwards or backwards using the turnbuckle device on the stand. Some listeners find this to be a useful tool for fine tuning the speaker to the listening position.
4. To Sub or not to sub?
Magnepan speakers can and do produce bass, given the right size room and a lot of amplifier power.  Most of the time, however, the very lowest frequencies are not reproduced with any authority, so many Maggie users augment the low frequency response with a subwoofer.  Keep in mind that Magnepan speakers, by their very nature have incredibly fast response time, so home theater subs and most ported subwoofers will NOT integrate seamlessly with a Magnepan setup - they are just too slow and bloated in comparison.

There are a number of very good subwoofers that will work well with planar speakers and augment the low frequencies.  One that has been successful for a number of our customers are the Revel subwoofers, in particular the B12 and B15 models.   We have two of the Revel B12 subs on closeout available in our used component category that would be a bargain to anyone considering the addition of a sub to their Maggie-based system.

5. Speaker Cables.
We had to arrive at this area - after all, we ARE The Cable Company!   Many different speaker cables work well with Magnepans including (and depending on the ancillaries) Cardas, MIT, Acoustic Zen, JPS Labs, Analysis Plus, Purist, Kimber, Alpha Core Goertz, and Silent Source.  Depending on the rest of the components, the rest of the cabling, and the types of music that you prefer, we should be able to help narrow down the choices for you.   We have a Library stocked up with more than $2.5M in cables, so borrowing a couple of pairs to try in your system requires little more than a phone call to your consultant. 

6. Bi-Amplification.
Since planar speakers are notoriously inefficient speakers to drive (but with a fairly flat, reasonably benign impedance curve), many Magnepan owners are using bi-amplification as a method for getting more power to the speaker.  While this can be an excellent upgrade to make, there are too many complexities to discuss intelligently in a few paragraphs.  If you have the option to biamp and want to discuss, give us a call or drop us a line.
7. Speaker Placement.
Similarly the issue of placement is too big a topic for this mailing. Everyone agrees that these speakers need plenty of space around and bihind, but otherwise:
Short wall?
Long wall?
Cardas Golden Ratio Placement?
Toe in?

Topics for further discussion!

For additional information on these offers and frequent updates speak with your Cable Company consultant, or visit our websites: and www.ultrasystem.comFor hundreds of specials on used and demo cables, visit

Or call us Mon.- Fri. 10 -6; Sat. 11-5 Eastern time on 800-328-9973 (or 215-862-4870). Fax: 215-862-4871
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