Affordable used amps that work with magnepans?


Bronze Member
Username: Cheapskate

Post Number: 55
Registered: Mar-04
i've been wanting to try magnepan MMGs for a while now after being wowed by the speed and coherency of their bigger brothers.

unfortunately, my onkyo reciever (and most others) won't do 4 ohm loads. i wanted to build a 4 maggie surround system, but the ONLY affordable route i know of is NAD and i don't like NAD sound. it's too muffled for my tastes (i own an NAD 20 watt reciever) and maggies sound a little polite in the treble compared to B&Ws.

now i'm considering buying a used "high-end" amp as ebay has a great selection of all kinds of equipment.

my first choice would be 60-100w adcom amps as they seem plentiful and are stable into 4 ohms and have always gotten good reviews.

some other amp choices that i looked into include:
hafler (really cheap and plentiful)

as those are respected and not to $$$.

does anyone have any experience with these or other high quality affordable amps, especially with maggies?

i prefer neutral leaning towards dry sound and don't like polite or warm. i'd like to play on maggie speed along with avoiding top octave rolloff.

NAD just sounds muffled to me unless used with bright metal dome tweeters. maggies sound great but ever so slightly polite. i'd like a little more treble extension.

are adcoms the best choice? i've heard raves AND rants for haflers and considered a new rotel as stereophile calls it brighter than NAD, but rotel can't be mail ordered, but is available used.

what do you think?

any other possibilities i haven't considered yet are welcome too. i'd like to spend around $200-$300 and plan on using the amp for my sub until i audition MMGs. adcom 60 watts for selling $150 or so sound like the best bet so far.

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

Do the Hafler.


New member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 3
Registered: Dec-04
you're talking cheap to try, go for the hafler

Gold Member
Username: Project6

Post Number: 2140
Registered: Dec-03
I'm also voting for Hafler

Bronze Member
Username: Cheapskate

Post Number: 56
Registered: Mar-04
wow... 3 hafler votes and no adcom. i'm a little surprised. i'm sure i read a review of some hafler amp somewhere that said that it was something along the lines of a "little harsh" or "had treble hardness" or something to that effect. i'm a confirmed treble fanatic. i couldn't live with any amp that gets the treble wrong.

i could deal with bass rolloff, but not weak or distorted treble. one of the reasons i want to audition maggies is because my great little superzeros are just a little bit polite and slow in the treble (even with my bright onkyo reciever) but they do image like crazy.

i'm not looking for the the cheapest amp i can find really. i just don't want to spend more than $300. i'd like the best sound possible for the money. i know my handle is "budget minded/cheapskate", but i don't mind spending more if i get value for my dollar.

could anyone tell me the pros of "hafler sound"? are they great imaging amps? are they great at dynamics? do they have super extended treble? are they midrange champs? all around competent?

is there anything "wrong" with adcoms? one of the reasons that adcom was my first choice is because i like the plain black box look, but if haflers would offer noticeably better sound, then i could compromise.

i had no particular amps in mind. i'm just wondering which brand is a best bet in the sub $1000 range. any elaboration on "magical haflers" would be appreciated.

Bronze Member
Username: Cheapskate

Post Number: 67
Registered: Mar-04
i was browsing hafler ads and came across the reason i have an aversion to hafler amps. the amp was a mosfet and was described as "warm and tube like".

that equals terrible sound to me.
too much bass
not enough treble
describes warm and tube sound by my standards.

i prefer a more analytical sound with tons of treble speed and extension. a warm amp is totally the OPPOSITE of what i'm looking for.

onkyo recievers have a reputation for being too bright, but with my superzeros, my reciever isn't bright enough. i'd use it with maggies if it could handle 4 ohm loads.

maggies already sound slightly warmish to my ears. adding an amp with the same qualities makes them even worse.

i'm looking for a poor man's halcro or fm acoustics amp, not a tube wannabe. there are other affordable amps that i'd be interested in, but i can't remember their names, so again... other recommendations are welcome.

hafler is out. besides, most of their amps are 19" rack mount (not) and they all look butt ugly to me.

i'd appreciate feedback regarding the most neutral and fast amp i can afford. forget ANYTHING that can be described as warm. nad AND hafler are no-nos.

rolled off bass isn't a crime to me, but rolled off treble is.

Unregistered guest
Budget, for what its worth What Hi-Fi have just described the C352 amp as wiry and lean, and a little ragged in the upper mid and treble...or words to that effect.

Don't know which NAD receiver your using, but the 352 is not as "warm" as my old 3130 was.
Have you thought about Cambridge Audio 540 or 640, or the Rotel amps? They are fast and lean sounding (to my ears that reads as no bass all trble). Sorry have no experience of Haflers or adcom. Not much help sorry.

Bronze Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 11
Registered: Dec-04

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

You ask for an opinion and you get three that agree. But you don't like what you have read. You have something in mind but "i had no particular amps in mind." Make up your mind. You don't like what we have suggested but you will believe what someone else, who has no knowledge of your request, has written. You seem to be, well, I'll just leave it at you seem to be ...

If you want bright buy a used Threshold or PS Audio. But then you'll probably find something about them that says they won't be to your liking. If you think tubes and MOSFETs have to be "dull" then open your ears and your mind. If you like super bright why buy the Magneplanars?


Bronze Member
Username: Cheapskate

Post Number: 76
Registered: Mar-04
i made my comments clear in this post i thought.

"i prefer neutral leaning towards dry sound and don't like polite or warm. i'd like to play on maggie speed along with avoiding top octave rolloff.

NAD just sounds muffled to me unless used with bright metal dome tweeters. maggies sound great but ever so slightly polite. i'd like a little more treble extension."

i DO know what i want. i want SPEED, CLARITY AND TREBLE EXTENSION. i hate warm sound with a passion. i never wanted my 12" sub. i wanted an 8", but MCM had sold their 2X8" cabinets out.

i like maggies because they're lightning fast and uncolored. i wouldn't call them warm, but compared to B&W "limitless treble" they are just a tad too polite. if i thought that my onkyo could handle a 4 ohm pair (my local maggie dealer assured me it could despite my owners manual) i would be happy enough not having to upgrade.

yes, my nad is an old one, but even now, nad still has a warm sound according to the reviews i've read. in fact, stereophile compared nad head to head against rotel integrateds. they preferred the nad slightly because it was warmer. i hate warm. i hate huge ported woofers. i hate "british sound".

i'm kind of leaning towards rotel as i WANT a brighter amp. i want treble that never quits.

if you like warm sound, that's fine, but i hate it. it literally gives me a headache. i'm basically trying to find an affordable high end amp that will drive MMG tweeters hard. i actually like maggie rolled off bass especially because it's lightning quick.

i have sonic priorities more than brand loyalties, but warm apms are poison to me. my $300 onkyo TOTALLY blew my older but similarly priced 20-25wpc nad away. maybe the nad has more bass power, but the onkyo treble is waaaaaaaaay more open and detailed. the nad wasn't simply dull.. it sounds like someone draped a blanket over my superzeros. i'd bet that the nad would work great with my overly bright missions though.

like i said, i prefer a sound that's "drier and more clinical" as long as it doesn't go into brittle and hard territory.

i appreciate everyone's feedback.

i'll restate my goal...
i'm looking for the most natural sounding amp that will make maggies treble monsters that are available for under $300 used. i need an amp that will fit in a shelf unit. (rackmounts are out) any amp that even slightly leans towards warm isn't for me.

yes, i had 1st considered cambridge integrateds, but all of the reviews for them that i've read indicate some treble hardness. i'm a treble freak, so hardness is nearly as bad as rolloff for me. i found similar reviews for other sub $500 integrateds whose names i've forgotten.

i'm just hoping that someone who has more listening experience than me and who gets my priorities can point me in the right direction.

threshold is more "my kind of sound" from what i remember reading, but i doubt i'd be able to afford their amps... ditto ps audio, but i'll look into them.

harmon kardon? i love hk super extended treble, but they're amps aren't 4 ohm rated. my onkyo has awesome treble, but is 8 ohm only too. i'd bet that hk would be less likely to blow up though.

some of the amps i had considered looking up but forgot the names of were:
mc cormack
creek (good luck finding one)
and musical design...
basically the best under $1000 new amps i can think of.

i had thought that adcom was totally neutral from what i vaguely remember reading and i love the spartan looks. if someone could comment on adcom, that would be cool.

as it stands now, rotel is where i'm leaning. maggies could stand a little bit of up front boost to my ears.

i want speed, clarity and treble extension. i want a system that doesn't obscure the top octave low metallic sound in the solex track that i use to demo tweeters. B&W kicks much extension butt on that track. i want b&w treble out of maggies. those tweeters didn't sound the least bit bright or hard, but show how polite soft domes that are rated to 24,000hz actually are.

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Highlands Ranch, CO USA

Post Number: 674
Registered: Dec-03

I appreciate your desire for something less warm and drier sounding than NAD, but you also want what I call "slam" (read: hard-hitting speed). Now, the Maggies are the fastest speakers out there, IMO, so one amp I would recommend is a Parasound, if you can find one in your price range. Many British mags will dismiss the sound of Parasound as too "California" or too "American." What they are really saying is that the amp is not warm enough for their tastes. Nevertheless, they cannot criticize the detail or the accuracy of the amp. I have heard Maggies driven by Parasound amps and they make an excellent combination if you want something a little drier than the NAD.

I am somewhat surprised by your decription of the bass from the NAD as being "light." I say surprised since most NAD critics have suggested the NAD is too bass heavy, not too light. I have both an NAD based system and a Rotel based system, and the NAD has much more bass info even though it is rated 30 wpc less than the Rotel. As I have said many times before, neither is better--they simply cater to different tastes. However, I wonder if your impression of the NAD is caused by such a small amp--20 wpc is pretty small these days. You might try out a larger NAD amp to see if the sound isn't somewhat improved to your ears.

Now, I have owned MMGs myself and I loved them, but they are very power-hungry. 60 wpc is just barely enough, IMO, and then only with some real headroom. I drove mine with a 100 wpc Kyocera amp and even though it had a good power supply, it needed every watt of power the old Kyocera had. Nevertheless, I know of an excellent 70 wpc Adcom that would work well with the MMGs because the Adcom has such a good power supply (better than my old Kyocera). Check out the B-stock sale at Audio Advisor here: -6002%20Amplifier%20--%20B-Stock

This is a very nice amp at a sweet price. It is just slightly above your budget, but just barely, and I don't think you will find a better amp for the money. BTW, Audio Advisor lets you try their products for 30 days, so you have the option of trying out the amp in your home with the MMGs to see if it suits your taste. If not, just send it back.

Good luck!

New member
Username: El34eh

Grosse Pointe, MI.

Post Number: 4
Registered: Dec-04
Hi Budget minded: " One of the best demos of the Maggies, that I recall was at a friends' home first in 1989 & later in 2003 with either his Maggie MMG's,or later on in years on his pair of 3.6's. They were being driven by a Muse Model 100 or, Forte Model 4a. These were both very musical sounding SS Amps. Yet, In my opinion..........,I loved what the Forte Model 4a Amp. was doing the most. As, it had an overall more refined sound. I don't believe You could go wrong here."

Unregistered guest
Just listen to anything which is on your shortlist.
I think you would like Rotel very much, although I don't know if the RA-02 (which was tested side by side with NAD c320Bee in Stereophile, I've read that review too) is powerfull enough to drive your speakers.
And I'd listen to Hafler. The description "a little harsh" in reviews could easily be not your opinion (maybe that reviewer likes NAD which sound you think of as too polite). The Stereophile review of the Rotel amp did use similair descriptions as too bright and I don't sense any doubt in your postings about this amp.
3 votes for the Hafler: you're obliged to have an audition!

New member
Username: Rberger

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-05
I'm planning to get a pair of MG 1.6QR speakers. I'm looking for a quality integrated amp that will complement these 4 ohm speakers. My musical tastes lean toward classical/jazz ... looking for good detail, neutral transparency and enough juice to make the maggies sing.
Before spending considerably more on something like Musical Fidelity (which my dealer is pushing), I'd like to know whether something like a NAD C372 would sound nearly as good.
Seems that all more expensive amps nearly double their continuous output at 4 ohms vs. 8 ohms. I've asked NAD via e-mail to explain why their specs say 150 wps into 8/4 ohms ... is this an indication that the NAD design can't deliver sufficient current for the maggies? Hawk your posts have been tremendously helpful.
I know I could go Rotel, but if I'm going to go beyond the NAD price range my take is to get into a class above Rotel ... something I'll be happy with for quite some time. So what would be the best integrated amps to consider up to perhaps $2500 (Bryston, etc.)?
What I've been reading about NAD is pretty enticing at it's price point ... I can get a new C372 for just $675. I'm not really budget minded, but I don't want to spend a fortune just for snob appeal.
My listening room is 14' x 11' x 10' (ceiling), but the room is open on one end to an adjacent kitchen, with just a 4' high countertop separating the rooms. Will 14' give me enough room to place the speakers far enough out from the wall with a listening position not too close for good imaging? Would I be better off just getting MMG's for this amount of space?

Bronze Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 14
Registered: Dec-04
Once again, you might wanna try the h/k, maybe an avr75/85.
I run my 65 into 4 ohms without a problem. Mine are coils, not Mags, but the amp doesn't complain or get TOO hot.
The high current for the Maggies screams for the high current of an older h/k.
Thats my take on it, you will get the trebs you crave with the pre-amp unit you are using, and trust me, you will get the rolloff/ramp/up you want for the highs.
Get one cheap(and they dont break).



Unregistered guest
NAD will run them with ease, I'm pretty confident about that.
I'd listen to NAD C372 first, if you like it then you have a real bargain.

Musical Fidelity is great, but its extremely neutral sound demands a very good source.
You can descripe the sound as very clear (not bright) and transparant, but also a bit cold and characterless. The source must make the difference in this case.
Very good for classical music: fluid and clean (depends on what source you use, as I already said).

I once was in the oppurtunity to connect my cheap Marantz cd 5000 with a Musical Fidelity A-3.2 amp. The sound was horrible: cold and lean. This cd player sounds a lot better with NAD and Marantz amps.

A full blooded Rega Planet or Arcam cd player will sound great with Musical Fidelity, I guess.

Bronze Member
Username: Cheapskate

Post Number: 81
Registered: Mar-04
i said the opposite. i said that the NAD probably has MORE bass than my onkyo while the onkyo has more treble.

i'd LOVE to be able to audition maggies on a variety of equipment, but unfortunately, i live in a small town with only a couple of tiny salons.

the only things i could afford at the maggie dealer are marantz (not likely 4 ohm capable) and adcom. i sure as heck can't afford mcintosh! LOL

i can't readily audition the amps i want either as i'm looking to buy used online, so there's no way to mix and match like i wish i could. besides, i'd feel guilty about wasting the maggie dealer's time when i intend to buy direct only MMGs.

that's why i'm here... to try and get a lowdown on "house sounds" of various amps. so far, rotel (not in my town) and parasound sound like they are the closest to my tastes. thanx for the parasound lowdown hawk! now we're getting somewhere.

NAD sound is definately NOT to my tastes. too much bass and not enough treble and i know first hand about NAD reliability issues as the tuner's leds are shot on my reciever. i'd prefer something more solid.

in general, i think most people prefer "warm" sound. i don't, i hate it. it literally gives me a throbbing headache. i so much want to get rid of my 12" sub.

so far... parasound and rotel are my shortlist until someone "defines" adcom sound.

thank you all for using more adjectives this time around everyone. ;)

p.s. i don't plan on driving the maggies hard at all. i never go past "45 out of 68" on my 50 watt onkyo driving tiny inefficient superzeros. most of the time, my volume level is 40 and late at night 30-35.

i think i can live with an amp under the 100w recommended power. actually, one of the reasons i want maggies is they're superior low level resolution for late night listening without breaking my lease.

i like clarity way more than volume.

Bronze Member
Username: Cheapskate

Post Number: 82
Registered: Mar-04
to the other person looking to buy maggies, i've heard a couple other ecoustics members call the maggie/NAD combo "magical". NAD warmth goes well with maggie bass rolloff if you're into bass and/or not running a subwoofer.

where does nad warmth come from... the amps or the preamps? my nad was going to be my preamp until i make another upgrade after getting an amp and the speakers themselves.

unfortunately, my onkyo reciever is totally inflexible.
no tape monitor

onboard digital AND multi channel inputs can't be monitored line level... there's no way to upsample and use the onkyo as a d/a converter

no way to feed the line level subwoofer output into the center channel multi-channel input except for using multichannel ONLY. no onboard d/s and no radio and no vcr.

great treble... but zero tweakability. i had considered converting my reciever's amp outs into line level for 4 channel maggie use. how hifi is using a power amp as a preamp? that's rhetorical. it would suck.

i'm planning on keeping my zeros for home theater while running maggies for stereo only.
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