Magnepan MGIIIA Floorstanding Speakers

Magnepan MGIIIA Floorstanding Speakers 


Magneplanar Speaker with true Ribbon, predecessor to MG3.5/R series.
3 Way planar design, bi-am option available, sensitivity 85dB 4ohms, frequency response: 30Hz to 40kHz, dimensions 2" thick, 2ft wide & 6ft height.
(no longer in production) successor model: MG3.6/R retails around $4700 pair.


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[Apr 11, 2013]
Audio Enthusiast

this is my second pair purchased
i sadly sold my first pair 15 years or so ago.i purchased these online a year ago
the ribbons were recently replaced..they soun relly nice so i decided to mod them
i updated all the caps to solen and replaced the coils i used the mug site specs
to change the xover frequencies(now flat 25-25k)
also camfered the ribbon hole edges to widen hf pattern
with these mods these sound as good as 3.6/r(almost)
these speakers are awesome for vocal classical and light rock
my system is as follows
krell hts processor
philips dvd1000 player(universal)
bat vk1000 (for stereo)
rotel rmb1095(multi channel)
jbl 8340 surrounds
entech lf-10(2) subwoofers
nordost blue heaven interconnects
mit mh-750(2 channel)
standard 4g for surrounds
50"lcd monitor
mac pro(8 cores)music server

i do use the maggies for movies sometimes but the jbls are better sound for movies
but for under a grand of dough you can't beat the sound of these panels..........period.

[Feb 18, 2010]
Raj J

I had posted two later reviews of the MGIIIA with my updated system just last week, however the reviews did not post due to techincal errors with my login, hence I have created a new account.

I will keep this as brief as possible; for those maggie owners who are looking for that musical golden glow of wonderful soul soothing sound, please try lowered powered amplifiers with plenty of high current drive. Whether tube or solid state, somewhere around 60 - 100 watts on tube amps would be georgeous, and around 120 - 150 watts on solid state. I am currently using a 60 watt stereo from conrad johnson (MV60se) amp to drive my MGIIIA's and they sound glorious, better than ever compared to when I was driving my previous MG3.5/R with massive 350 watt monoblocks by Manley labs.

I have also got a brand new pre-amp from conrad johnson the Classic SE, which I had never experienced this level of musicality before. The classic SE version consists of all the top end goodies, such as Teflon caps, vishay resistors, and a top precise alps volume control that makes this a true high end classic. The beauty of this preamp is that it is very simple - no remote, no frills and bells & whistles, just a plain line stage with a simple input selector and level control that's about it! This is what most preamps should do especially if yuo are a dedicated two channel listener, like my self. I do not like home theatre nor annoying big sound or remotes either, they make the music feel like a drag, it is not musical!

If you are into movies and theatre, then go and see the actual theatre event or buy tickets to your favorite movie and go see it on the big screen with THX certified equipment, you'll enjoy this better than just home theatre...

I must say that my system has reached its pinnacle, and cannot sound any better, that's when you must stop and enjoy what you have and be satisfied with what you have! I know this personnally since I have experienced it all...

Initially I probably had the best system in the entire little island of colombo, but I had to venture into better ideas and think I could always improve something in the sound and eventually ended up back at square 1, with nothing. Then I had to start all over again after owning some of the best audio gear after 12 years. since then I have matured a lot as well and can say that when you have something good, please enjoy it with trying to think there's something better out there. because the moment you upgrade one component, very soon you'll be upgrading the whole dam system and there's absolutely no end to it... at the end of the day just ask yourself whether you have really enjoyed the music? or were you just interested in what that new piece of gear can or cannot do... this is where most audiophiles get it wrong. they don't realize that what they already have is of audiophile quality, therefore all you have to so is just match the system as a whole and ensure that it delivers life like music on a life like scale without any strain or harshness, and this is exactly what maggies can do when they are driven with the right pre-power combination.

please email me you have any questions regarding maggies, since I have owned various types since 1989, happy to chat;
happy listening and enjoy your music!
cheers RJ

[Sep 16, 2008]
Rajeev J


live musical passages, very accurate, precise soundstage, precise timbre & timing, and don't require a sub. Subs don't work for me since these are full range di-pole panels; the moment you place a sub in there you are actually killing the natural bass these speakers can deliver!

very open soundstage, one of the best I have heard compared to other esoteric desings such as those mentioned below with electrostats. beautiful mid range and silky highs; probably one of the best tweeters out there is the "true ribbon" tweeter!
directs the sound as a line source, and not a point source; by this the sounds projects into the listening room with the panels entire height of 6ft; therefore musicians are life-like and in full 3 dimensional, not small and tiny or small scale like those box designs. Hence this is why those mega nuck dynamic designs have either huge tall front baffles or have angled fronts, or allow you to angle the speakers/tilt backwards; enabling the soundstage to lift off the ground, rather than get stuck between the lowest driver and mid range driver.


the one and only weakness I point out very clearly is: the ribbon element is very delicate, you cannot allow it to be blown even slightly, such as the air flow from a pedestal fan, or ceiling fan. no blowing whatsoever directly/ or in-directly onto the panel front. this will make the ribbon to sag over time and sort of stretch eventaully causing it to break. I have had experience with this back in my home country with the MG3.5/R; had to replace both tweeter ribbons on both panels. was a very time consuming affair, and not fun!

Therefore please take care with these speakers, these are precision musical instruments that must be handled with care! once that is done and your mind is made up for mature listeing, you will be rewarded for many many years!

I have posted two new reviews of the amps that I am currently using in conjunction with these speakers. please see reviews for Conrad Johnson MV60SE (power amp) & PV10AL (preamp); review date Aug 31, 2008.
I previously owned a pair of MG3.5/R driven with a c-j premier 11A power amp and c-j PFR preamp. this was an outstanding combination and probably the best system I ever owned...
Moved to Aussie, hence had to sell the entire system, & start from scratch. Managed to acquire a virtually brand new c-j mv60se and pv10AL in mint condition! Also purchased a pair of older maggies in mint condition which is the one in this review: MGIIIA (manufactured somehwere back in 1987). since then there've been several later models: MG3.3/R, MG3.5/R and their newest one MG3.6/R. I have listened extensively to all these models, and find it very interesting indeed.
1. I will start with the speakers, since that is what this review is about; please follow Magnepans instructions!!! very simply put, you must place these speakers with plently or adequate room around the back and sides of the panels. currently their placed as follows: 3.5 ft from the back wall, 2.5ft from the sides, leaving 6ft between the panels. Listening distance approx. 12ft. This is the minimum best for these big maggies, hence more space around the back and sides the better, but please remember that optimal speaker placement is determined by YOUR room geometry and not the dealers! I have heard maggies in an ideal set up having 4 to 5ft from the back wall, with 3 ot 4ft from the sides and around 7.5ft apart, with the listening position at 14ft respectively (excellent placement!) since these conditions are not available to many, the distances I have listed out above should be more than adequate, and those really tight for space should then perhaps go for the smaller maggies such as the MG1.6 or MG12 and try to adhere to these measurements as close as possible.
2. The other important factor is to have some sort of hard wall or (wooden panelling, dry wall, brick or hard board as the main material for the back wall) please do not use glass covered with curtains! this is what I used back home in Colombo and the MG3.5/R never sounded close to what these older maggies sound like right now! regardless of the distance/measurements, I didn't have a back wall, in stead I had pur glass windows that would open out into a massive garden. hence material covering these windows were very thick curtains, that defened the sound and crippled the "di-pole" radiation pattern these speakers are capable of. Hence, I could say that my room/listening hall was actually more designed for dynamic type speakers, and that is the very reason why my older Infinity Ren 90's sounded awesome driven with huge Manley 350 watt monoblocks. They would never sound good driving a pair of maggies... and now I know why!
3. The third most important thing is to "toe in" the panels towards your listening position (I have the panels set up with the tweeters on the outside). You must carefully angle the speakers tweeters towards your listening seat, that's it! only angle them in from the tweeters edge, so as the edge of the left tweeter seems to be directly pointed towards the edge of your left ear; hence the right tweeter's edge should similarly be pointed towards your right ear, not towards your face!
you will find this set up to be the most accurate, you don't want the panels facing you directly as to have the sound "in your face" type of set up. Therefore slightly angled is the key. Placing the panels apart is very easy; begin with 4 to 5 ft and increase slowly as you eventaully get a wider sounstage with a dead centre vocal and precise image. once this gets fuzzy, that means the panels are too far apart, plus you may have also run out of space! My present room also has 10ft ceilings (avearge height in most rooms) and wall to wall carpeting (not thick fluffy carpeting, standard floor carpeting) at the back of the room is open, towards the kitchen area, plus guest rooms. hence this type of room is not fully enclosed, allowing standing waves to filter out, rather than get stuck in corners. A lot of so called audiophiles have dedicated listening rooms that are totally enclosed and boxed in. these rooms sound very dull and boomey, no life or air in such rooms. Hence, when they listen to my advice and take their panels out towards their lounges or living room areas, the sound is unbelieveable that they're wondering whether this is still the same system they had running in those dingy little rooms.
Magneplanars need room! not a whole lot though, but just enough to be able to breath and disappear like they do, and when that happens boy do they sound awesome!
4. Having said that, with the above placements/measurements this is what I get:
ample depth and layering of all instruments, soundstage and highly accurate timbre, plus vocals are very precise, dead accurate pinpoint holographic images. Diana Krall is right there in front of you, performing as she would in whatever setting she is in, including her ensemble. My listening tastes are mostly jazz, from modern vocal/pianists to the older classics such as Carmen Mcrae and Dinah Washington; other such as Stan Getz, & Ray Brown to the newer Bob James and Larry Carlton are simply outstanding. Perfect timiing and timbre of all instruments is highly accurate.
5. I have used maggies with other types of electronics, such as Manley power amps, Parasound, Adcom, VTL, Conrad Johnson solid state amps (their older MF2300 series including the MF2100), also used Forte and Threshold power amps. All of amps worked fine with maggies, however to my ears the most musical sounding and accurate to me were conrad johnson tube designs; not one of these other mentioned combinations could reproduce what c-j could. as c-j says "it just sounds right". Just to mention there are other makes out there that would be outstanding to partner with maggies, such as Lamm monoblocks and Cary audio design special edition monoblocks that would sound fantastic with maggies, and yes I have heard them! But in this price range we're talking somewhere around $20 grand just for a pair of monoblocks!

The main goal for any music system is to be able to re-create some of that original magic from the live performance itself. Although no play back system can fully re-create the live event, there are systems that come quite close and near to live musical nuances and deliver the emotions of music. Many audiophiles whom I've come across are always interested in what the components are doing or what the components can or cannot do, rather than listen to the music itself! This is where most of them get it wrong, to begin with the basics have not been met. such as room acoustics, speaker placements, "unhindered" power supply requirements etc. these basic elements must be met in any play back system, if you want to begin to enjoy music.
Having said that, I hope I have made some sene out of all this, and offered some good advise to those most needing it. All in all, please listen to the music and try to derive the emotions out of it; if you do just that, you will enjoy your music collections better than your next door neighbor who happens to have a system that only cranks out noise and distortion! in which case it would be better for them to attend a live rock concert! there's nothing better...

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Similar Products Used:

magenplanars: MG3.3/R, MG3.5/R MG3.6/R, Quad ESL 63, Quad 9802, and MArtin logan SL3.

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