Review: Magnepan MG-IIIa Speaker

Category: Speakers

What are your musical tastes? recordings you use for testing?

Tastes: Classical, some jazz.
Testing: JYT playing Liszt Transcriptions, Patricia Barber's Modern Cool.

What are the most important aspects of sound for you?
Sound stage focus and sonic detail in middle.

What is the worst thing a system could do to turn you off?
Hum along with the music and/or leave out the low range.

How long has this piece been in your system?
For about two years.

What did this component replace?
An entirely different system...a college-level system with Klipsch KB3s and Denon amp on a chip.

How did the sound change with this addition?
Night and day. I started listening to music again.

What are some of its strengths?
Unbelievable depth of sound stage, truly remarkable highs and fabulous middle (but only with a really strong power amp and a grownup CD player.

What are some of its weaknesses?
Needs LOTS of very clean amp power. Must have a sub for full spectrum repro.

If money was no object, would you still own this?
I'd upgrade to bigger/newer Maggies. You can't beat Maggie imaging. As a professional classical musician, I'm here to tell you that if you want to know what it's like to be IN an orchestra, sonically, listen to Magnepans. They're number one in my book.

Associated gear
Muse Model 18 sub
I've had the IIIA's for a few years now. They are a steal if you can find them used ($700-$900). I agree that these speakers require serious power. I use a Bryston 4bst (400 watts into their ohms) and still think I could use a bit more. I haven't found the need for a sub, although "need" here no doubt reflects listening prefences. With enough power -- PS Audio p-cords and plug help here-- the bass is articulate and rich. Due to the nature of the upgrade bug, I've considered other speakers, e.g. B&W and Audio Physic, but nothing from either line has had the texture and presence of the Maggies. In fact, I have yet to be tempted by any other speaker I've heard.