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Magnepan vs. Europa, etc. Hawk-bait?

 

New member
Username: Fishpatrol

Cincinnati, OH

Post Number: 10
Registered: Oct-04
Twice now at the local audio shop I've been pulled into the Magnepan room, and twice I've been knocked out by the sound. It just sounds live, and that's the kind of sound I'd like to have around.

People here (like Hawk) have raved about the Maggies, and I understand why. I've also heard raves about the GMA Europas and several others and wonder if anyone's listened to Mags and Europas who could give a comparison. Take these stars head to head.

FWIW, I'll be driving with a Classe CAP-100.
 

mauimusicman
Unregistered guest
Audition them both yourself. The Maggies will have a bigger sound. Expect that. Your call.....your ears. These ears have heard nothing finer than the Europa's at under $4k a pair. And these ears have heard one heck of a lot of speakers. I'll say they destroyed the Paradigm Signitures at $2k, as they did the Sonus Faber's at $1500. and the ADS 1290's at $2K, The Revels at $3k, Accoustats at $4K, Magnaplaners at $10k as well as the Infinity IRS at $90k. YMMV
This is not a knock on Maggies.....they are fine speakers. GMA is in another class.
 

Gold Member
Username: Project6

Post Number: 1782
Registered: Dec-03
Is there anyway for you to audition the GMAs? That is the only way for you to decide, we all like different things. Maui can try to convince you that GMAs are the best and I can try to convince you that Martin Logans are IT, and some love Bose. Unless you listen, you cannot really tell.
I don't know if the GMAs have an audition period, but that is one way to try.
oh and by the way, the Classe is pure garbage......................................................................... ................................................................................ ....................................................just kidding!:-)
How do you like the Classe?
If you love them and, perchance I don't, would it matter??? In the end, you only have yourself to satisfy! (that last sentence should not be taken in the wrong context)
cheers
 

Bronze Member
Username: Fishpatrol

Cincinnati, OH

Post Number: 11
Registered: Oct-04
Oh you nasty, sneaky ellipses, you. The Classe is still on its way to me, but I'll certainly give some impressions when I've heard it in a couple environments.

No, if I liked a certain sound that you disliked, it wouldn't matter. But sound is so often described in visual/emotional language. It brings things back to earth, a bit, to have listened to some of the same equipment. If you describe the sound of a speaker I've heard and compare it to a speaker I haven't heard, I have some small basis to guess the sound you're listening for and interpolate how the other might sound.

The funny/obscuring/gassy thing about speaker reviews is that most comparisons are made on an extremely small playing field, usually by price and category. A review of 4 turntables by a single manufacturer can yield 4 reviews of 4.5 stars because each is being compared to a mythic group of peers. 4.5 stars for the entry-level unit, 4.5 stars for the top end. Is there really so little difference? I don't think so, and I understand why reviews are done this way. It's hard to please both the manufacturer and the reader. But finding reviews that cross these boundaries is difficult. What differentiates the low-mid range model from the upper-mid range? Or worse, can someone compare a door-sized electrostatic vs. marble-cabinet monitor? Good luck finding that.

I'd certainly like to audition the Europa. Haven't yet found any nearby dealers. I emailed GMA for a dealer listing and have heard nothing back. Their web site's pretty well blank--no contact info besides the email address I already tried. If there's a dealer anywhere near the Cincinnati/Indianapolis area, tell me tell me.

I've heard some low-end MLs and really didn't care for them. The sound seemed constricted, like it was sealed in its own bubble. I believe these were a different tech from the larger models, but they're out of my price range. Even the B&W 704 and 705 I heard sounded like they were fighting for air. The Magnepan's just breathed, like a singer who truly knows how to open his mouth and let the sound flow from the diaphragm. The Mags sang from the body, not just the face.
 

Gold Member
Username: Project6

Post Number: 1784
Registered: Dec-03
hoooh boy!!! You really have a tough decision to make! I like the way you described the Maggies. You do have a good point. A description somewhat brings it down to a discernable level, but alas, I have not the fortune to listen to the GMAs:-(
 

Silver Member
Username: Jonmoon

Post Number: 125
Registered: Dec-03
Fishpatrol, there are some many variables here. Which Magnepans did you listen to? Which Martin Logans did you listen to? What kind of music do you like? Do you play music loud or soft? What kind of room are you going to have your speakers in. The thing about the Magnepans and the MLs is that they both need careful placement in the room. I listened to the 3.6s and the 1.6s at the audio store in the same set up with the same amps driving it. The 3.6s sounded like you described them. The 1.6s, to me, didn't sound very good. The highs seemed compressed and the bass rolled off really fast. I don't have the money, time or need to get the high end equipment that is needed to drive those speakers which, by the way, are HUGE. Not too many rooms nor families can accomodate those speakers. As for Martin Logan, I have only heard and bought the ATF hybrids. I have the Montages and am soon to have the Mosaics. I love the sound of those speakers which can be driven by my NAD T763 and NAD C372. They are the not the electrostatic wonders that Berny probably is used to. But for me, I get a detailed, beautiful high and mid range speaker with pretty decent imaging.

There are lots of speakers I wish I could audition or could be shown here. In my city, there is really very little choice for higher end stuff. I wouldn't sweat the speakers you can't have access to. There are so many opinions out there about what is great. I have found the hardest part about this is actually being satisfied with your ultimate decision.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Fishpatrol

Cincinnati, OH

Post Number: 12
Registered: Oct-04
I know I can't listen to everything, but I also think that there are a few speakers for the price that are worth tracking down. If I do the research, listen to the sets that have caught my attention, and then after I buy some other amazing speaker comes out for the same price or cheaper, then I'll just give a shrug. I did my part. That's what I'm trying to get to.

Thing is, I recall hearing the 704 the first time and just laughing to myself that it was so sweet. Listening this most recent time, I just didn't hear what had excited me before. Seemed almost like I was sitting behind the speaker rather than in front of it. So I don't know if the equipment was cold (I believe it was the same stuff as last time) or the speakers were poorly placed or something in the room dynamics was changed. This time I'd also just walked out of the Magnepan room, and maybe that's different.

The Mags were 12s and 1.6s. Listening to "Let Go" by Frou Frou, which has a very low synthesizer bass line, the bass just fell apart. Kinda sad, really. The most obvious roll-off I've ever heard, just brutal. To some extent, electronica is a different breed. Hard to listen for instruments because they're mostly fake to begin with. Put in Paul Simon's first solo CD, though, and I heard guitars that actually sounded like guitars--a big, open sound far different from the B&Ws that just sounded crowded out.

I think I heard the ATF hybrids, and my response was similar. Heard these in the B&W room as well--maybe that room was having a bad day.

Normal listening level is probably just below normal conversation level. When I crank it up, it's usually just for a song or two. I don't usually listen so loud that I can't think. But I definitely like a sound that would make you think the players are live in the room.

I listen to a lot of singer-songwriter stuff (I like words), choral to folk rock, is the general spectrum. I know this stuff is hard to talk about in very concrete terms, but I do get something out of it when people try.
 

mauimusicman
Unregistered guest
Fishpatrol, you can find what others are saying comparing the Europa's to many many speakers costing more money on audiogon. http://www.audiogon.com
Click on discussion forums on the right side of the page then search for europa. You may be suprised what you read. Heck, you may be shocked. These things do human voice better than anything I have heard at twice the cost, they dissapear in the music, they are an easy load for your amp, they make bad recordings enjoyable, they will rock your socks off (108db all day) and they have very suprising low end. My son says they go almost as low as his 2-12" subs in his Mercedes. Best of all, they sound great with less than top quality amplification.....something most high end speakers cannot claim. Look at it this way: If you buy them and don't love them (fat chance) you can unload them on Audiogon. Never seen a pair last more than a couple days there used. Yeah, they are THAT good.
 

mauimusicman
Unregistered guest
Fishpatrol, Just got off the phone with Roy Johnson from GMA. He tells me the Europa is now a mail order only speaker. He suggests you phone him during business hours and talk to him directly. His number is (719) 636-2500 You'll find Roy extremely personable and easy to talk to. Call him before you buy anything else. If nothing more, he can offer you some advice on other products you have available to listen to. Good luck
 

Bronze Member
Username: Brijesh

BudapestHungary

Post Number: 15
Registered: Jul-04
Ok guys .. let me throw a spanner in the works ... I wonder if any of u guys have heard of a speaker called Cadence ... They are hybrid electrostatics ... And they from India ... (Do they make high end speakers in India ... i can almost see u guys scratching ur heads) ... I have nt listened to the Europas but have heard Maggies and Cadence head to head ... I love folk - Dylan, Leonard cohen (If he is folk) etc... they were driven by tube amps - (Cadence makes some decent ones) ... i could had goosepimples ... especially on Tracks like Idiot Wind by Dylan, Famous Bluw raincoat - by Cohen. They do retail in the US. The one model that i liked was "Amaya" - i think around 5K. Check out their site - www.cadenceaudio.com.

Who knows ... lightning might strike !
 

mauimusicman
Unregistered guest
Brijesh, looking over the website, a couple things jumped out at me about the Cadence speakers.
1) Kevlar drivers. Not a fan of these, sorry. Some folks may be.
2) Linkwitz x-over's will have more phase issues than the Europa's simple 1st order x-over
3) Electrostats are always a tough load on an amp. Thats fine if you have a top notch amp...but many don't. Nor do they see the need to spend mega bucks on a 50 watt amp when, for a couple hundred they can have a killowatt in some manufacturers lit. "Jumbo" watts are usually cheap. *LOL*
I'm sure they sound good. Most electrostats do.
Europa's are a pretty hard speaker to compete with for a plethora of reasons.
1) they sound F***king unreal
2) they are time/phase aligned
3) They are an easy load for any amp
4) They make you entire cd and record collection listenable and enjoyable. Whats that worth? How many speakers sound like junk on bad recordings?
Biggest drawback to the Europa's is they are factory direct only....meaning your gonna have to A) take my word for how awesome they are (many here have doubted me....as they did on Audio Asylum but now everyone there loves them) or
B) Find someone close to you that owns the Europa so you can hear them. They are most definately worth searching for. Check out http://www.audiogon and search for Europa's. You'll quickly see i'm not the only one singing their praises. They sorta have a cult-like following.

 

bob triban
Unregistered guest
Well I've auditioned both the maggies and the gma's "a friend has a pair"

To me there is no contest the maggies blow away the gma's.
"my friend is probably going to get rid of his gma's"
Don't know if their is something I just like that maggies do better or what.
Probably the same as maui their is something about the gma's he likes.

Everyone has their own taste and not everyone is going to like the same speaker!
But for myself and a friend the gma's didn't cut it!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Doctor_t

Post Number: 15
Registered: May-04
When people talk about GMA vs Maggies it sounds like you're comparing the whole company. Both these manufacturers make very expensive speakers that sound a lot better than the entry level speakers that people have commonly heard or heard of.

The (Magnepan) 1.6/QR is an amazing speaker, specially if you like the sound of a 'stat. They do a lot of things right but they don't do EVERYTHING right for everyone. For one, placement is an issue. For another, they take up a lot of space (won't even talk about WAF). They have a tighter sweet spot and are more directional than Europas. The highs are not as extended. They are harder to drive. When you listen to certain instruments you can hear some soundstage / imaging anomalies - eg a classical guitar that sounds 6ft high. And they cost twice as much as Europas (but still punch in way above their weight class.)

On the other hand, they have that amazing electrostatic speed, a purity and immediacy that is hard to match with conventional drivers, and if the other things are not an issue, they might be the speaker for you.

The question you have to ask yourself is - can you accomdate the requirements of the 1.6/QR and the more important question, are you 'stat man or a cone man? (OK that sounds strange, but you know what I mean)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Cornelius

Post Number: 57
Registered: Jun-04
Another option is the Ohm MicroWalsh. Big soundstage, big sweet spot, excellent tonal balance, lots of bass, easy to place and WAF.

Just another idea!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Fishpatrol

Cincinnati, OH

Post Number: 14
Registered: Oct-04
I've jumped ship entirely. Heard a pair of Reference 3A Dulcets this weekend that sounded wonderful. Warm, musical, bright. Though all this only after switching out the CD player (from the great, high-end "analog"-y box to a Marantz SACD box, don't tell me the CDP doesn't make much of a difference). I'm real glad I haven't already bought a CDP.

Size and power requirements definitely a factor in this decision, though I certainly don't think this is everyone's answer. I also heard several sets of Totems that were very pleasing. Maybe the Europas would beat the Dulcets in a race, but I'm not really concerned.

As people have said here before, it isn't really possible to listen to every set of speakers in a specific price range. Hopefully it doesn't come down to choosing a speaker on the basis of its drawbacks, lesser of six evils, but on the basis of its benefits. Listen around, but if you can find one you really dig, snag it and who cares what people say you should like more.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Cornelius

Post Number: 58
Registered: Jun-04
Reference 3As - nice! I haven't heard the Dulcets yet, but I hear great things. I've heard the De Capos and they are GREAT speakers.
 

Silver Member
Username: Jonmoon

Post Number: 140
Registered: Dec-03
Fishpatrol, glad you made a discovery. One of the great things about this forum is learning about new products that you otherwise would never even hear of.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Fishpatrol

Cincinnati, OH

Post Number: 15
Registered: Oct-04
I can't claim too much credit. Stumbled across a shop that had a whole pile of stuff I'd been hoping to listen to. Once we'd swapped CDPs, I only got to A/B the Dulcets against the Totem Model 1s. The M1 was quite impressive, with a bit more oomph in the bass. Just seemed a little harsher, not quite as musical, and the Dulcets only had 100 hours on them, so I hope they'll shine even more after being fully broken-in.

He had de Capos set up as well, Cornelius, and I chickened out and didn't listen to them at all. I could barely afford the Dulcets thanks to Audiogon, so I knew the Caps were out of my range. No need to invite envy before the first set are even home. :-)

I do wish I could have listened to more speakers with that same setup. Heard the Meadowlark Swifts in another room and came away largely unimpressed, mostly with the sound around the vocal register. It lacked an openness that I was specifically hunting for. I wonder if part of that lack at least was from his choice of CDPs, if he was trying to showcase a sound I didn't myself happen to care for. So in that case I probably jumped the gun so I could make that Audiogon deal. There's really nothing like A/B listening to tell you what you want to know.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Cornelius

Post Number: 59
Registered: Jun-04
When I heard the DeCapos the salesman (whom I'm friends with) said "you don't want to hear those" because he knew they were out of my price range and that I'd like them.

I heard the Swifts also, and I was surpised that I didn't like them. I used to really like the original Kestrels.

The A/B thing is interesting. When I was doing the at-home demo with the Ohms, I was comparing them directly to some other speaker hooked up to my system. The comparisons were very revealing!
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