My speakers are set. Magnepan Tympani IVs

A year ago I acquired a pair of restored Tympani IVs (not IVa). I have been driving them with an Adcom  GFA - 555 that I have had for decades.  The matching pre-amp died and has been replaced with a Schiit SYS Passive pre.

The primary source was CD but has transitioned to a Bluesound Node 2 running TIDAL. I will be playing the MQAs whenever possible. My musical tastes are eclectic, with a pronounced preference for female vocalists, piano and acoustic guitar. Genres include rock of the 60s, jazz, folk, world, Celtic and classical.

The Tympanis do not suffer from the lower register issues to the same degree as some of the other Magnepans, but are still prone to occasionally overwhelming highs.  New components should tend towards the warm to mitigate this issue.

It is time to upgrade the amp.  The consensus judgement of people whom I respect and whom own these speakers are that they should be bi-amped.  Options include separate amps for highs and lows and an electronic crossover (Horizontal ?) or monoblocks (Vertical ?)   

I am only into the Tympanis for $1000, but have budgeted $2000 for amplification. One thing I have come to learn is that the traditional percentages of investment don’t always apply when Magnepans are involved as they offer such a high sound quality/cost ratio.

Cables and room treatments are on the to-do list. As always, I am here to draw upon the experience of the Audiogon community.  Please share your thoughts.  If you see something for sale here, please call it out as I am having trouble sorting through the plethora of options.

@kythyn, great price on the T-IV’s! They’re worth about twice what you paid for them. I have a pair of T-IVa’s (I sold my IV’s a year ago, but not for $1k ;-), and if at all possible, yes, bi-amp them. But to do so well will cost you more than $2,000.

First, you’ll need an electronic x/o to provide the 1st-order high-pass and 3rd-order low-pass filtering. The First Watt B4 and Marchand’s are popular with Tympani owners, but the old Dahlquist DQ-LP1 provides that exact filtering, and can be picked up for around $300 (sorry, I sold mine just a couple of weeks ago).

As you have discovered, that great T-IV ribbon tweeter really tells you what the high end of an amp sounds like, so you may want to consider tubes. But the speaker is a 4 ohm load, which tubes don’t like. That is less true of the Music Reference RM-200 Mk.2, however, a great amp for the T-IV (if bi-amping).

For the bass panels, there is no such thing as too much power. Tympani aficionado Satie over at The Planar Speaker Asylum (a great source for all things Maggie) uses a Crown Macro Reference (2000w/ch @ 4 ohms).

If the above is out of reach, look into finding a used Sanders Magtech amp, and forget about bi-amping.


Thanks for the response. I tried to go with Satie’s approach. Bought a Crown 5002 amp, located the only servicer for Crown in south Florida and left it with him.  That was a year ago, and now he and the amp have disappeared.

What other options would you suggest for the bass panels?
Get two Crown XLS1502's ($400 each) and a Crown x - over! This combination will get the job done!
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If you only use Crowns for the bass you may be O.K., but these are really awful sounding amps otherwise. IMO they are completely incapable of any type of organic presentation and completely lacking in nuance. They really werent very good even back in the day. I'll bet an OTL for the tweeter would be a good fit. I am not a fan of the Sanders amp, but it would get the job done in simple fashion just not allow your Maggies to sound as good as they are capable. 
Hi Kythin, I ran T 4s for two years when I was down in Alabama. That is what I had when I met my wife so she knew up front what she was getting into. This is not an easy loudspeaker to deal with. Above 250 Hz everything is wonderful. Bellow, is....difficult. I could never get it quite right. Forget about bi amping for now. You need as much power as you can get. The suggestion for a Sanders Magtech amp used is a great one.
Down the line if you want to biamp you can always add on when finances allows. I got the best performance with the outside woofer panels just a few inches from the outside wall and I put acoustic foam tiles directly behind the tweeter which tightened up the imaging and cooled of that tendency to get a little hot. I did not have time to experiment further as I was moving back to New England, I had a buyer and I was offered a deal on the then brand new Apogee Divas which was back home in Massachusetts. No bargain by the way as the Divas proved to be just as difficult and way more fragile. Good luck and have fun!

mijostyn, if you look at my virtual system you can see my current setup and positioning.  I’d appreciate your feedback on what you see.

jssutter, I understand the hesitance about the Crowns. What other options, biamped or not would you suggest?

roberjerman, I take it that you agree with bdp24’s position that power is the primary requirement for the base panels. What would you recommend for the tweeter / midrange amplification?

The Tympani IV are a great speaker, a while back a cusomer had a pair with CD and my passive pre.
He wanted a balls to the wall amp for them, so he trial’d Allan Wright’s (RIP) massive monoblock tube amps, and they sounded great, then the next day for an A/B I bought around my own built (2 man lift) water-cooled pure Class-A amp. Class-A up to 150w @ 8ohms then 200w to A/B, stable down to 1ohm with massive current 36 x BJT output solid state, he bought it on the spot after hearing it.
So I would suggest a pair of used Parasound Halo JC1’s on the high bias Class-A setting, or for more $$$ one of the Gryphon amps which are also able to have high Class-A settings.

Cheers George
Good luck finding a pair of JC1's or a Gryphon for $2,000! What CAN be done at that price is a cheap high-powered amp on the bass panels, and a better amp on the m/t (that Maggie ribbon tweeter reveals any grain or hardness in an amp). Bi-amping removes the power requirements of the bass panels, making the use of a (relatively) lower-powered (say, a hundred watts into 4 ohms), sweeter-sounding amp on the m/t panel. The high-pass filtering can be done cheaply by installing an r/c network (just a single cap and resistor) on the input jacks of the m/t amp, only an active 3rd-order filter then required for the bass amp. As I said above, the Dahlquist DQ-LP1 is perfect for the job.
What CAN be done at that price is a cheap high-powered amp on the bass panels
Yeah a class-D they’re good for that.

and a better amp on the m/t (that Maggie ribbon tweeter reveals any grain or hardness in an amp).

And high biased Class-A a/b amp maybe a used Parasound Halo A21 or 23

This was Absolute Sounds take on the John Curl designed Halo A21

Its treble wasn’t rolledoff, airless, bloomless, or dead, nor was its upper midrange notably bright and aggressive or caramel-colored.

Cheers George

The A-21 is quite good even with revealing Carbon tweeter in the Vandersteen s
the RM-200 also
might I also suggest calling Roger at MR, he has some old stock Beveridge active filters, they are not going to be $400 but they will be lifetime keepers

A great subwoofer to complement them and a steal is the New
SVS 3000 SB Subwoofer -2 even better and controlled by a very good can do music excellent for $1k
will truly take the stress off your bottom end and sound even more effortless.
A great subwoofer to complement them
If I remember them right they don’t need a sub, that bass panel with the right amp moves a lot of air and goes down low, I think they do close to 30hz flat.

Cheers George
Right George, the Tympani bass and midbass is really something: very "percussive", taut. They do a drumset like nothing else I’ve heard. An aptly named loudspeaker! ;-) They "go" lower than do many cone woofers (the two bass panels compromise a considerable square footage), but to get the most bass out of them they need to be braced. Grant VanderMye makes a great stand for the Tympani, but it'll cost ya. A cheap way to do it is run a wood rod from the back of the bass panels to the wall behind them. Not pretty, but effective.
My friend got more bass another way by adding a dummy wood panel (called wings) same size to the side of the bass panel, this gets even more out of the bass.

Cheers George
Hey, that's a great idea. My pair of Eminent Technology LFT-4 have a short (half-height) wing on either side of each panel for that very reason. It partially prevents the front and back wave from meeting on each side and cancelling (the dipole effect), thereby extending the speakers' low end bandwidth and output. Side wings could also provide structural support for the panel, preventing front-to-back "sway".
It partially prevents the front and back wave from meeting on each side and cancelling (the dipole effect)
Correct, my friend panels were actually a new interior door blanks, bought from "Doors Plus"

Cheers George
Good for you!  These are excellent speakers.  Personally, I use Tympani III speakers and have an "extra" pair that are still in the boxes that Magnepan sent them to me in after a refresh there.  I BELIEVE they were the last set of III's they refreshed.  

I still use the Hafler 500 I built in 1977 with a CL-32 pre-amp.  Not the best, but what I can afford right now.  I sold Audio Research and Magnepan in my shop when these companies were marketing their products together, and I have never heard better sound than that combo (back then, of course).

Today, Magnepan has more advanced speakers, but I agree that there is no more accurate music reproduction than Maggies regardless of the model you use.  If I had the funds, i would, of course, use Audio Research gear all the way, but restoring cars (currently a '66 'vette) and playing with "toy" trains (with engines in the $2000 range!) and playing at music on various instruments takes both time and funds, so I am just fine with what I have.

Enjoy your Maggies, and if you can get some Audio Research stuff eventually, you will enjoy them even more.


Oops. In rereading my comment above (06-02, 9:35pm), I see I stated "the two bass panels compromise a considerable square footage", when I of course meant to say they "comprise" such.
By 'restored' have the 'voice coils' on the membranes been checked out or replaced?
This is a speaker that tubes can drive quite effectively. A customer of ours (Kalvin Dahl, formerly of ARC) ran a set of our amps on IVs for quite some time. We found that they were quite sensitive to speaker cables, and ultimately placed the amps directly behind the speakers so that we could run very short (8") speaker cables. This really helped out the bass.
Atmasphere, the ribbon was replaced on one side. It appears that the socks have been off all the panels, so I believe they were checked thoroughly.  What amps did your customer run?

richopp,  which ARC gear specifically would you recommend?  I have read about some of the later (and more affordable) D-300 and D400 working with later Maggie’s, but haven’t found much about them with the TIVs

Georgehifi, which class D would you suggest for the bass panels?  The JC1s are about twice my budget for a pair.  Are they enough to drive these speakers or would I still need a tube amp for the midrange/highs?
Georgehifi, which class D would you suggest for the bass panels?  The JC1s are about twice my budget for a pair.  Are they enough to drive these speakers or would I still need a tube amp for the midrange/highs?
A pair of the JC1's on high bias Class-A mode would be magic driving these full range, you wouldn't want for anything.

As for bi-amping any known used Class-D on the bass will do as they are all good at doing bass in to 4ohms loads. And the Parasound A21 on the mids/highs, it will do them full rage also, but the JC1's would be better.

Cheers George
@kythyn   He ran a set of our MA-1s and also MA-2s. IME you can use any good 200 watt tube amp and it will run quite nicely. A good inexpensive example is the RM-200 from Roger Modjesky.
Georehii - thanks for all your help. I will know in the next couple days if I can stretch to a pair of the JC1s. Will hey work with my passive preamp or should I start looking for another preamp, and should it be tube or S.S.?

atmasphere - will the RM-200 handle the Tympanis IVs full range or should I plan on a class d for the bass panels?
@atmasphere, thanks for mentioning the RM-200, it unfortunately is not as well recognized as Roger's other designs, but it is quite a work horse. It is also fully balanced from input to output, the only time Roger made a commercially available balanced amp. The amp has 8, 4, 2, and 1 ohm taps and is the only tube amp I am aware of that puts out more power into lower speaker loads.

@kythyn, there are a few Martin Logan customers we know of that use the RM-200, and I believe @bdp24 owns one, but not sure he has used it with his Maggies. Personally I like the idea of bi-amping.
kythyn OP
Georehii - thanks for all your help. I will know in the next couple days if I can stretch to a pair of the JC1s. Will hey work with my passive preamp or should I start looking for another preamp, and should it be tube or S.S.?

Perfect, as the JC1’s only need 1v in to give their full output of 400w!!!!
Definitely no need for any active preamp with gain, and the input impedance is 100k XLR and 50k SE again perfect for a passive.

And don’t discount the A21 they will also drive the Tympani’s full range, but if you can, get the JC1’s because with those you can up the anti on the Class-A with the bias switch on the back, and they will sing in the mids/highs and give bass like nothing else mentioned here, except for the bigger Gryphon’s but they will cost big time.

Cheers George

@kythyn, if you’re pretty sure you will be sticking with the T-IV’s for the long term (I don't blame you, they're fantastic loudspeakers!), and want to stay within your $2,000 budget, consider getting a good high-power solid state amp that you can run full range for now, and on just the bass panels when funds allow you to add an electronic x/o and second (perhaps tube) amp for the m/t panel, bi-amping.

I say this because a used Music Reference RM-200 alone will cost you your $2,000, and the improved Mk.2 version a grand more. As I said on 06-01 and atmasphere did just above, that amp would be great on the Tympani’s, but it alone will most likely not provide enough juice for all 6 Tympani panels. The RM-200 is 100w/ch into 4 ohms, enough for the m/t, but not the 2 bass panels per channel. For them, the more power the better. The m-p midrange driver and ribbon tweeter appreciate finesse, the bass panels muscle!

@kythyn Well, ARC has so many products out there today and I have been out of the retail audio business for a long time, so it is not easy for me to suggest current products.  If your dealer sells AR, borrow a few and see what you hear.  I would guess that Maggies still respond well to the tight bass they had on the D-76A and D-150, but those amps are way out of production (1970's) and have been replaced with better ones, I would guess.  As for a pre-amp, I like phono sections since I like records, so borrow one with a phono section if they have one and you play records.  ("LS" ARC preamps do NOT have phono sections.)

Failing in that (your dealer does not carry ARC products and no one near you does), I would go after a medium-priced used tube amp with the most power you can afford.  While the IV's are more efficient than earlier models, with Maggies, the more the merrier, especially on those power-hungry low notes in both modern and orchestral recordings.  Match it with a tube ARC pre-amp from the same basic generation as the amp you get and I would guess it would work out fine.  Also, Maggies work well with ARC external crossovers (if you can find one!), so you may eventually bi-amp in the future.

BUT, don't ever keep anything you don't love.  We always asked customers to bring their favorite tunes to the shop to play on the system they were evaluating, but also cautioned them that their ROOM was more important to the sound than the equipment.  Thus, we always let the customer take the stuff home and try it out there.  Of course, we went out to set it up correctly for them, but then they decide what to keep.

Buying used is somewhat treacherous, of course, but a seller who is also a dealer is fairly safe; get it all in writing!  Failing that, there is always this site or evil bay.  They have a pair of 600 monoblocks right now for $8650, which is a steal if they work properly (AND if you have $8650 lying around, of course!).  There is also a 100MK3 for $5900 and so forth.  Your budget is the key, of course, and new is better than used, usually(!), so starting  your journey at your dealer and going out from there would be my best advice for now.  If I still sold all that stuff, I would take care of your requirements; any good dealer will.


@kythyn Sorry, forgot to suggest you buy electronics that ARC still services.  OR, make sure you have access to a company to service older ARC stuff.  They have been bought out, and only service some of the older stuff due to parts, time, their desire to sell you something new, etc.

MANY good deals on evil bay; hard to tell what will be best, but look at the sellers' ratings before buying, and communicate with the seller many times before buying any electronics, please.  You can get a good deal if you perform due diligence.  I see several out there now I would go after if I were in the market and had the funds!

(Don't buy a C-2 Corvette unless you have tons of extra hobby money lying about!)


atmasphere - will the RM-200 handle the Tympanis IVs full range or should I plan on a class d for the bass panels?
The Tympanis allow either, and the RM200 would have no worries playing full range. The real question then is 'is 200 watts enough power'? That has to do with the size of the room and your listening habits.

When I heard them 200 watts seemed like plenty of power.
kythyn OP

Here’s one of Audiogon’s members that just received his new/used Parasound A21 which would be very much in your starting budget if you can't afford the JC1's, and it will drive your Tympami’s full range, and still do justice to the bass.

Be good to have a discussion with him, as his speakers he’s had are similar loading and difficulty to drive, Martin Logans, Aerial 10T’s very hard to drive.

Cheers George
I had tympani iv. in the mid 80s using a Mac 2002 and felt the need for more bass so biamped with a John Iverson Eagle 3a on the bass that did the trick so I vote biamp
They need subs, if you really want the full jist out of these speakers. They all sound thin on the low end, have a Tympani I (rebuild by magnepan) 

They don't go down to 30hz , least not on the right db numbers. Also I read the most exotic amplifier "requirements" it's inherently false. 

These speakers are a resistive load to a amplifier. In short the don't swing impedance wise, like a cone does. It's more a synergy thing (it reflects merciless, how your amp performs) 
I didn't like mcintosh at all on them, the auto formers always introduced a own sound I never liked. Not on my quad esl57 nor any Maggie I've had/have. 

They don't require 1.5kw monos to run right really. I've heard them play on 50watter tubes, and blew my mcintosh into the "for sale" bin easily. 

Anyways fantastic speakers, it pushed my infinity rs1b to the secondary system I have downstairs. The sound field these can produce, it's just in a league of its own !