Magnepan 3.6R $3600
Please note mine are black on black.
Their soundstage was huge—extending well outside the speakers, and the deepest of any speaker I've used. Front-to-back layering was superb; in fact, the 3.6s set a new standard in this regard. They didn't just clearly define the position of the instruments on the stage and the surrounding hall boundaries, or even do so with a greater degree of precision and specificity than other speakers—they also quite clearly described the spaces between the performers, and between the instruments and an adjacent hall boundary. A lot of speakers can do this in the lateral plane, but none—in my experience—can do it so well with respect to the front-to-back distances.
Taken on its own, however, the Magnepan Magneplanar MG3.6/R is a sensational speaker. In some respects it's the best speaker I've heard, period. Even in the areas where it's perhaps not the very best, it's awfully close—even when the very best is several times more expensive. Some speakers I admire, some I like...the Magnepan MG3.6/R, I think I'll keep. Very highly recommended!
All of these peripheral considerations aside, the MG3.6/R is one fine speaker -- the best sub-$10,000 speaker I've heard. So much of its sonic aptitude boils down to the clarity with which it reproduces music throughout its entire range. I've come to associate even the best speakers that use ribbon tweeters, often smallish OEM drivers, with hard, splashy highs that "tizz" even when a brush lightly caresses a cymbal. Not the nearly five-foot-long Magnepan true ribbon. I have heard the MG3.6/R's treble sound hard at shows, but I can say with complete confidence that this is due to the partnering electronics, not the tweeter itself. Driven by Lamm M1.2 Reference amps (a great pairing, by the way), the ribbon's pure, filigreed sound is a revelation. Such extreme high-frequency detail is something listeners usually pay for with fatigue, but not with the MG3.6/Rs and a very good amp. Treble speed, air and delicacy are consummate, but not overblown in order to achieve such performance. Taken on its own, the Magnepan ribbon is the very best tweeter I've heard.
Magnepan CC3 Center Channel $1000
As a center-channel speaker for multichannel music and home-theater systems, the CC3 remains unsurpassed at anywhere near its price point. Vocal and instrumental articulation, transparency, and authenticity join an open and spacious presentation that box speakers can only approximate. If you don’t have room on the center of your wall for a full-range floorstanding Magneplanar, the CC3 is a highly attractive alternative that is both space-efficient and cost-effective.
Magnepan 1.6QR speakers. $1400
The Magnepan MG1.6/QRs are great speakers and one of the best values in the world of high-end audio. They take sonic performance well past the domain of most similarly priced minimonitors and well into full-range-speaker territory, but without the additional cost. The MG1.6/QRs' list of strengths, few compromises, and relatively low cost for the quality of sound offered are hard to match.
And while you may not be equal to the full investment required for owning a pair MG1.6/QRs -- namely, the sacrifices you’ll make to décor, room arrangement, domestic tranquility and the cost of the associated power amplification -- if you make the effort, you will be rewarded. The MG1.6/QRs are speakers that can more than satisfy audiophiles and music lovers, and you will not outgrow them as either the years or equipment upgrades pass by. They are ready-made classics.
When I listen to the Magnepan MG1.6/QRs, I get the eerie sensation of being there with all the musicians who make me love music. That ability to "disappear" and take you right to the heart of music is what makes them such a great joy to listen to, and such a superb value in the audio world.
The '1.6/QRs were equally proficient at portraying spaces and performances of all sizes. Solo instruments and small ensembles had the proper size and weight, and the balance of distance and space—listener to performer to surrounding space—seemed appropriate for the scale of the instrument or group. Large orchestras were handled unusually well too, much better than I've heard out of box speakers at anywhere near the Maggies' $1475/pair price. The '1.6/QRs' soundstage was quite large, particularly in the width and height directions, and there was never the sense you get with a lot of speakers: of a miniature orchestra on a toy stage . A round of thrift-store shopping one weekend led to my having a Scheherazade Festival, comparing London, RCA, Columbia, and Everest versions. The '1.6/QRs did a great job of portraying the different views of the orchestra and space, and always seemed consistent in how they balanced perspective, scale, and distance.
A few things stand out very clearly from my time with the Magnepan MG1.6/QRs. First, this is a spectacularly enjoyable loudspeaker—the sort that a music lover could happily buy and never look back, spending the rest of her time and money on building and enjoying a music collection. On the other hand, a die-hard audiophile could assemble a killer budget system around the '1.6/QRs and spend the rest of his life upgrading components around them. The little Maggies won't bite the heads off of lesser upstream components, but they will most definitely respond to the quality of signal they're fed.
The second thing that strikes me is how impressive an evolution of the Magneplanar design the MG1.6/QR is. It manages to retain all of the traditional Magnepan strengths—the coherence and the wonderful disappearing act—while spectacularly improving on the company's past performance in the areas of dynamics and resolution of detail. These are now arresting, outstanding performance attributes, not areas where compromises must be made.
Proceed (Mark Levinson) Pre/Pro $2800
Almost exactly the same as the Levinson NO. 40 which retails for $35,000. Unbeatable for music and movies.
Sunfire Signature Cinema Grand 5 X 800 Watts@4 Ohm Amplifier $2600