Maggie 1.7i's lack detail. Ideas?

In about 1979 I had a roommate who had a pair of Magnapan's, an amp, pre-amp (at least one of which was NAD, and a fairly high quality turntable.  I was shocked and amazed about the feeling the singers were present in the room with me.   The accuracy and detail of the sound.

Fast forward 40 years and I purchase a barely used 1.7is.   I have a new Marantz NR1200.  A 15 yo BK EX-440 Sonata (350WPC @ 4 ohms), and optical bit stream out Sony DVD player.  I use optical cable between the DVD player and NR1200.   I have fairly high quality cables between the pre-out of the NR1200 and the EX-440.  I have somewhat high gauge copper stranded cable, about 6', between the EX-440 and the speakers.

The sound is not bad but very much lacking the detail and immediacy I remember in the highs and mid-range.  A great disappointment. My question is what the most likely culprit?

Some possibilities:
1. My hearing has declined.
2. I've a romanticized memory of the sound quality.
3. What I was hearing was the mushrooms.
4. The speakers my roommate had were a bit wider.  Maybe more like the 3.7s.  Maybe 40 year old 3.7s are just that much better than current 1.7is.
5. Stranded wire cables.
6. Turntable that much better than CD.
7. ????


We need more detail on your room, the setup spacing, type of music, volume, etc., but the 1.7is are really good sounding speakers on most...but not all...types of music.  They must be minimum 3' out from the front wall.  There can't be anything between them.  The equilateral triangle seating position is a good place to start.  They won't have much deep low end in a bigger room.  And most important, they respond proportionately to the equipment that is feeding them and they absolutely love power....probably 3-500 watts minimum into 4 ohms.

I have a buddy who just bought a pair of LRS's.  He tried an 85 watt high quality, $3k integrated amplifier, mas....they sounded at best ok...then he switched to the Parasound Halo A21...400 watts into 4 ohms...HUGE difference.

I suspect you will need to upgrade your front end if you are going to keep the Maggies.





I vote for all of the above.  They did not make 3.7s forty years ago.

I think you should ditch the Sony dvd and get a modern cd transport and dac.

The 1.7s should make you happy.

I assumed the EX-440 (350WPC @ 4 ohms) would have enough quality power to do pretty well. Its pretty well rated.  A Halo A21 is a bit out of my budget.

I think I have the DVD player configured so it is sending bitstream out of the optical cable and the new NR1200's DAC is being used.   I could be wrong about that.


I suspect also that back in 1979, when the maggies were on of only a few panel speakers and sounded so much different than the sealed box speakers being sold that you did have a romantic memory of the sound.  

Unfortunately, they sound pretty mediocre when not driven by the best you might read through a number of the forums and see what people are using to drive their maggies and praising the sound....and then look for some preowned that might be in your budget

@snapsc , that's some pretty good advice right there.

Agree 100%


That should be enough juice to drive them, because that's the first thing I thought of that might be wrong. I had a pair of Maggies that I really wanted to like, and they just didn't work for me. It happens.


I’ve never had the experience in years of owning Maggies. But what you MAY be missing is the true ribbon tweeter. It’s glorious.

I appreciate all of your inputs.   I just did a little test and I think I found the critical piece.  I did a lossless rip of a cd.  Put it on thumb drive and put it into the USB slot in the NR1200.  What a difference.  The voices came alive.   So much more detail.  I either need to rip all of my 10 cds or get a better player.

Check the setup config of the DVD player. Make sure the digital output is set to PCM, not dolby digital.

Gotta ask, if you had the amp why did you buy a Marantz receiver and not just a stereo preamp?  IME, both Marantz and B&K skew to the warmer, fuller side and less detailed up top, so I don’t think either are helping you there.  Another issue is using the optical connection — that’s a big no no.  Use the RCA out. Also, what cables/interconnects are you using?  Before you go ripping all your CDs I’d recommend upgrading to a good RCA digital cable like Black Cat, DH Labs, etc. and see if that fixes the issue.  Best of luck. 

the BDP-S590 dvd player has optical, coax, hdmi, and line out.   The hdmi is noticably worse than the optical.   I haven't tried the coax.  I thought coax/optical digital was digital.   I set it to PCM and bitstream.

soix I chose these components mainly because I thought they'ld get me close to the sound I remembered without spending too much.   Maybe I should have done more research on the components that would get me there.  The Marantz was the cheapest option I could find that had all of the common inputs you would want these days and output stereo pre-amp out.   The BK I bought used about 10 years ago.   i assumed power was the main thing and it got good ratings.

The Marantz to BK connectors are SonicWave from Impact Acoustics.   

I can swap out my cheap optic cable for coax from Monster.

any thoughts on the stranded coper between the amp and the speakers?  What is good cable for Maggies crappy connectors?


Another thing to check is the the bar jumper on the bottom inputs (make sure that the connections are clean and tight).

Might as well pull and reinsert the fuses while you are @ it.


There is also the option of placing the tweeter section inside/outside.


They lack details from the very beginning so I guess it's normal for these speakers.

It is the Marantz who is weak in your system i can tell you this for a hunderd procent.

Buy a secondhand musical fidelity A5 or a 308 and you shall see whats happend.


Hey there,


Happy to respond to this inquiry as I've had similar issues with getting my Maggie 1.7is to "sing". I purchased my Maggie's from a dealer in March of 2020 and was initially powering with a multi channel Emotiva amp. I quickly found out that this was a non starter. I then went to the quest of trying out many different amps before settling (almost gave up and sold them!). I tried a modified Hafler 500, an Emotiva XPA DR2, tried some high powered tube integrated that a dealer let me borrow, nothing was doing it for me. Through many days researching, talks with magnepan, forum query, on and on, I found that Maggie's just require the biggest most balls to the wall amps to make them sing. You need lots of current and voltage to give them plenty of headroom, they need higher damping factor too. A solid class D amp can and will do it, but I would look towards high powered class AB amps. I settled on a Rotel RB 1090. The amp weighs nearly 100lbs, that will tell you what you need to know here. This amplifier has huge toroid power supplies and lots of capacitors, nice binding posts, 350 watts per side. It was like turning on a light switch, they sung so well. I believe this is what you're going for man. So to be fair this amp on the used market will run you well into the 1-$2,000 market. Magnapan themselves will recommend quietly that you use bryston amps which would be a fantastic selection but these are incredibly expensive solid state amps. I have seen success with using really well constructed class d amplifiers and it might be best you go that route. I do hope that this helps you in your quest. Separately I would say that at no risk you could get a pair of mono amps from Schiit (very reasonable for what you're buying) and test those in your stereo setup for a month without any problem. You can send them back if they do not work. Those might actually be really nice, lots of class a headroom here. You may also take others recommendations here and look at your digital source plus pre amp. Schiit sells all that stuff and it's all very nice plus prices are fantastic. Good luck and cheers

Not one receiver function on a hifi set!!! How can you use a 800€

Marantz as a pre amp???

OP, your main issue is your source, as you have found out, then next is your preamp. Work those issues and you will get pretty close. I'd also pull your speakers 5 feet out from your front wall, so those are the first steps. 

Occam's razor would indicate #1 and 2 and rationality would indicate #5 and 6, especially 5, would have no bearing. 

Also, work on positioning the Maggies in the room.  As @snapsc mentioned, place them 3 ft. from back wall, nothing between, but also work on the toe-in to get optimal sound.  If the toe-in isn't spot-on, you'll lose detail.

And, of course, as everyone else is saying, they have to be fed a big diet.  Anything less than 200W per channel just won't cut it.  Feed them as much as you can afford, preferably with a high-current amp.

Dont use silver cable with the maggies. What i told you before the Marantz and the Sony are the problems and nothing else. Sell your sonate and buy a musical fidelity A5 or the 308. They have also a ht pass through. Or look for the Hegel h300, some hegels have also a ht pass through. If you dont want to buy a normal Cd player try a cheap topping or a smsl dac behind the dvd player. Dont search it in cables at this moment. And please never put a subwoofer with magnepan, magnepan has the most natural low you can have. A subwoofer for me is the modern loudnes button.



This article has an unorthodox placement but I tried it with my LSRs and the placement raised the sound quality many levels above what I had before. I have plenty of room so this may not work for many but my room is also very bright with 14 windows and 2 half glass doors. Give it a try.

I ordered the stands that Tom Gibbs has recommended but, like many, they are having supply issues.

Magneplanar LRS Room Setup Tips

11-29-2019 | By Tom Gibbs | Issue 106

My Maggie 3.7s set aprrox. 4 feet from the wall. I mounted the panels on MYE stands. I put twice the distance between as from the side wall. (approx. 6 feet between and 3 feet outside). Some toe in, also. I power them with VTL300 Deluxe tube mono blocks. I use Audio Art cable....some silver. They sing. Detail is very good. Placement is most important to get that wonderful bass response. I replaced the jumper bars with 6 inch silver cable that match my speaker cable. (12 ft pair SC-5 e2 Cryo Speaker Cable w/Silver Banana) Have not done fuses. Again, the result is a performance....not just listening to music. I use a passive preamp. I am quite happy with my system. Ears are too.

Lots of good ideas here...I agree with upgrading your CD, and getting a real preamp...I have also found Mike Powells silver jumpers and fuse tube to be a great low cost tweak...also not sure that your amp was ever a detail champ, even when new a few decades ago, though it is very powerful and was a good value when new...

To the OP, I know what you seek. I seek the same. Details and wow factor are missing. When I purchased my 1.7i the dealer ran them on a McIntosh stack that probably cost $15K (USD) or more. Budget stuff for that brand but boy did these speakers sing. Details were there. You need to upgrade the front end and these speakers will show you what they can do.

I swapped out my speaker cables and I heard more detail. I swapped out my preamp and I heard the difference (always pros and cons). My front end only costs approx $5000 (USD) so it is not up to par for these speakers. I am going to upgrade from the amp to the source.

Just as everyone has said, watts and current are what you need. Bryston, Parasound, McIntosh, anything with high current and 200+ watts will likely work well. Don’t do a horizontal upgrade like buying anything under $2k or similar to what you already have. Save save save. Then move to preamp upgrade and then DAC\transport. I think the Maggies will highlight each change. Good luck.

37 yrs ago there were MG3s, with the first "true ribbon" tweeter Magnepan made.  I owned a pair, and their palpable realism and detail far exceed the Quasi-ribbons of the 1.7is of today.  So that is a big part of it, but also, using a Marantz NR-1200 as your preamp cannot be helping.  #s 1-3 must also be considered as likely culprits.

If you want to maximize your existing setup, the first thing I'd try is to get a legit preamp and a DAC (or one with an onboard DAC) and switch to a true CD player as transport.  Pro-Ject makes a Pre Box S2 Digital and CD Box S2T you can try for under $1500.00.

Also, 1.7is only disperse full range treble if your ears are aligned with the middle third of the panel...if you are too close, too high or too low, they drop off drastically, as I'm sure you've noticed.  Make sure you are in the sweet zone!

Buy a cheap secondhand Marantz sacd Cd player and a smsl dac.

I had the 3 and the 20 and now 1.7i the ribbon is also not the problem.

For example i drive mine mg20 with 4 cello performances the suite and a FM accoustic cross over with a jadis Cd player. That's the best sounds i ever hear. That was in the year 1993 till now they are writing about it. The 3 i drive with the cello duet and the encore and also fantastic i never used any sub. A magnepan needs power and a decent amp. 

Audiolab CDT6000 Transport and the Musical Fidelity V-90 DAC is a nice combo. You'll spend about $500 for transport (Audio Advisory price for new) You can buy a very good digital cable for less than $250. Audio Art, Straightwire, Acoustic Zen. So many to choose from. I won't name the other 100+ of them. I just own at least the 3 mentioned. Used usually comes with burn in time served, also. :) 

Pre+ Amp combo is a definite. Adcom 555 puts out 320/4 0hm load.You can buy a good 555 for $350 to $500. I have 2 555s and will run them in mono once in a while. ( Claim 800+ watts into 4 ohm. I also use them on my Acoustat Spectra 3s in various configurations. (One amp, bi-amp, 2 amps using the internal crossover)

 The 3.7s are just fine with me. I have had the Acoustats since 1988. I think the Maggies will take me down the road until the 6 feet under pair come out.

It ain't the speakers. I have Acarian Alon 4's, Audio Research LS-16 pre amp and McCormick DNA amp..Very happy with setup..Before my father passed away, he asked me to get stereo room 2 with $$ he left, so when I listened I would think of him. Covid had hit. I was familiar w/Magnepan and thought they would be a good compliment to the Acarian Alon 4's. Without demo, I bot the Maggies with Parasound A21+ and Prime Luna pre amp. Spent some time setting the speakers and the sound is better than wonderful. My thought is that you need better matching electronics. If cost is a matter (and isnt it always?!!), buy used solid state at half the price. Only other aspect is you bought these "slightly used". Do you have a dealer nearby??

The B&K EX 440 is perfect. I had the Maggies at one time. Loved the set up. Paired well with ARC LS2B MKII. The key I agree with SNAPSC need to be 3 feet from front wall. The only thing I had in between was The B&K.

Since that time I moved and did not have the room. I still have the B&K had it recapped. The Bass is incredible.

Thanks everyone for the input.

i don’t have a terribly large CD collection, maybe 150, so I am going to rip them when I want to hear one. That eliminates the DVD player issue.

52356: Your father sounds like he was a class act.

I bought the 1.7is used from a dealer. He said they were a trade in from someone they knew well. When I got them home they looked very much like they had never been taken out of the box.

Lots of good advice here. To roughly tally it up. The votes on what to blame (left off DVD player since I am now streaming bluetooth):

Marantz NR1200 dac/preamp 6

BK EX-440 amp 6

location 5

wires 3

jumpers/fuses 2

Quasi-ribbon vs true ribbon 2

My hearing has declined. 3

romanticized memory sound 3

mushrooms. 2


Maggies need great speaker cables and power amps. I'm an owner and fan (started with the MG2s) and now have an LRS in my "must hear every detail" lab and "experiment here" system. (I have five systems in the home and a very tolerant wife!) I use Starke A4-320 power amps in all my systems and have never heard anything better. They are not expenxive or pretty. Hooray and who cares! Everything makes a difference and the Maggies will tell the truth if you let them.

I have the 1.6’s modified by "Peter Gunn" into Magnestands and they are great!

I generally drive them with Parasound Halo JC-1 monoblocks, or the Halo A21 - which provide the high power, current and damping factor the Maggies need to sound their best.

As other’s have noted... Magnepan will often show them driven with Bryston amps, and I think I’ve seen them use Parasound amps as well. The Manufacturer will always be the best guide for the proper amp to use with their speakers for obvious reasons.

If I were you... I’d likely get the Parasound Halo A21+ to drive them - you will be very pleased. You can try one out from Audio Advisor and return it if you don’t like it... but... you will. Or, if you want to save a some bucks you will find a used A21 or A21+ for less on either AGon, or USAudiomart.  I might even be willing to part with one of mine - I've got 3 A21's - and an extra pair of JC-1's - all sound great with my Maggies. I'm a real fan... but... can't use them all.

Or... if you want a great integreated preamp / amp combo, the Hegel amps have much the same high current, high damping factor specs to drive the Maggies well, also. I also have the Hegel H590 integrated, which not only has preamp and amp, but also a great DAC - the H390 and H590 are true bargains and you eliminate the interconnect cables. Again great sound with Maggies.

But... you... should be considering something like those with at least 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms / 400 watts per channel into 4 ohms - more is better with Maggies.

Marantz typically has a bit warmer sound - not likely a good match.

I also have the Parasound Halo JC-3 preamp, which is great with the Halo amps.

And... I use Bryston BDP-3 digital player / streamer and Bryston BDA-3 Dac, as well as, the Schitt Yggdrasill R2R Dac which provide ultimate clarity and dynamics for the Maggies. I would always use a AES/XLR, or BNC, interconnect, or even a coaxial cable, between the my DAC and preamp - provides much greater clarity and dynamics than other options.

But... you will want to make sure you have sufficient current and damping factor to control the Maggie’s mids and bass - to achieve greatest clarity and dynamics in the mids and bass.

Prolly not what you want to hear - "go spend some more money" - but, unfortunately you will have to do that to achieve what you want from your 1.7’s.

Here are some links to consider with some good info... (lot of good information about Maggies here).



Stereo spread is over rated for I think it discombobulates the sound to some degree.  Try listening with tweeters 4 feet apart and tow slightly inside of straight toward you.  The purpose is to get the ambient field focused.  You get richer timbre and hall sound and less need for a sweet spot;  more like live music at 10 to 14 feet away.  One holistic sound.

@jros , probably a combination of all those factors especially the mushrooms.

The speakers should be three feet off the wall and the wall behind them needs to be completely deadened. I would use acoustic tile. 

Maggies do best with powerful class A amps. 200 watts/ channel RMS into 4 ohms is the real minimum. The 3.7i's are a much better speaker and one of the best values in a high performance speaker out there. For the best bass below 100 Hz you still need a subwoofer but otherwise they are brilliant. It is the real ribbon tweeter that makes the difference. It is arguably the best tweeter made.  It you want detail almost at the level of and ESL the 3.7i is the way to go.

I have a B&K EX-442 Sonata (it's "442", not "440", btw) running from a Parasound P5 preamp into a pair of Maggie MMGs (precursor to the LRS).  My system sounds outstanding (I run CDs through either a Denon DVD-2900 or OPPO BDP-95) both connected via RCAs.

I can tell you that as long as the 442 is functioning as it should, your issue is not with it (or likely with the Maggies either, for that matter).  While more is better, that amp should have plenty of good, clean power and high current for those speakers, IMO.

The first thing you should do is upgrade the fuse and jumper with a silver fuse and jumper. I did this to my 1.7i's and it made a very noticeable difference. And it will cost you less than $100. Start there. 

OP, by your description of how you came to purchase the gear, I am going to assume you are somewhat new to the pursuit of higher end audio.

While there may be some merit to the cable suggestions, I would suggest you put that aside from a budgetary perspective for a minute. These suggestions are from the tweakers that already have their base gear well determined and are seeking small incremental improvements as diminishing returns. Fuses are controversial but in any case when you have an AVR as a preamp you are far from the diminishing returns these types of things MAY offer.

Gear is not just about what inputs and outputs they offer. Your AVR receiver has pre-outs for convenience. The preamp on your AVR is geared to mate with the amp section and not necessarily to mate well with any external amp. And no AVR in that price range is engineered to optimize audio for music, and there may well be additional digital processing going on affecting the purity of the music signal.

Similarly, your source is intended primarily for movies. It’s not going to give you the musical nirvana that you mention.

Finally, Maggies will sing with the right power. But hold off on replacing the B&K until you get the upstream components right.

Bottom line, you do need a proper preamp, albeit you might find something quite affordable ($300-$500) either used or in something like the Schiit line of products, and you need a proper source, which in this day and age I would recommend be a DAC and then a source like a streamer or computer that can pick up Tidal or Qobuz as well.

When you get the source to preamp combo right, only then are you in a position to judge the B&K to Maggie combo. 1.7is should sound quite liquid, detailed and nice. If you are still not getting that sound then it could be the amp. I do also believe in room treatments, which can be an expensive rabbit hole but there’s usually some low hanging fruit - just start with speaker placement and toe-in angle. Some people reverse their maggies from right to left or front to back as well.

Welcome to the journey my friend. But part of what you need to learn is when to realize someone is suggesting fifth order tweaks that may have merit only when you have addressed several levels of the basics. Don’t worry about $200 fuses or $500 power cables or speaker cables. There’s much lower hanging fruit for your improvement at this point.

hartf36: my bad.  It is a B&K EX442 Sonata (not 440).   Thanks for the specific experience with the amp speaker combo.

thanks for the perspective jji666.  I was hoping for a cheap fix :-(

Thanks to everyone for all of the input. 

i hate to do it but I think the Marantz NR1200 has to go.   I really like that it accepts all of the inputs I need.   I also liked the price tag.  But I am going to bite the bullet and get a better DAC and preamp because my disappointment is killing me. 

Magnepans without the true-ribbon tweeters, such as your 1.7is, do lack some detail in the highs. Doesn’t matter what amp you pair with them, they will always lack some amount of treble detail compared to good dynamic cone speakers. Even when paired with the most transparent amplification in existence they will lack some detail, relatively speaking.


It’s most likely that your recollection of those older Maggies is based on their open, effortless soundstaging and imaging. That trait is what tricks the uninitiated into believing they’re more detailed than they are in reality. Also, they are very sensitive to toe-angle and can sound very bright if not positioned correctly, which probably also accounts for some of the perceived detail.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my Maggies. I own the .7s and previously owned the 1.7is. They’re great speakers but only in the context of their strengths (all speakers under ~$20K/pair have strengths and weaknesses). Those strengths are open/effortless scale and imaging, and midrange nuance unsurpassed by nearly any cone driver. They do have excellent midrange detail, just not so much in the highs. The true ribbon 3.7is have greater detail but lack the dynamic balance and imaging precision of my .7s. The LRSs are allegedly more detailed than the .7s. The 1.7is I owned were sorely lacking in midbass impact. So it seems to me that different Maggie models have different deficiencies, or strengths rather.

Anyhow, don’t go chasing detail that will never come. If you want Magnepan-like openness in conjunction with great detail, get a high quality coaxial monitor speaker with a stout cabinet (LS 50 Meta for example) and use subs to augment the bass.

Invariably, you’ll encounter some who will claim that Maggies are as detailed as any speaker when powered properly. I’d question the experience level of those who postulate such. My bet is they haven’t heard a good beryllium dome or a RAAL tweeter. That or maybe they’ve suffered too much hearing damage over the years.