Maggie Oh Mye! Magnepans and Mye Stands

Posted May 26th, 2011 in Magnepan Area

How much do Mye Stands improve Magnepans?

 

I’ve always been a function over form guy. Back in college my car’s nickname was the Dish Rack because it had an old school pole/rubber band ski rack on top and a pipe insulator/duct tape covered bike rack on the back.  The bike rack was coincidentally the most attractive part of the car.

In keeping, my first set of speakers was a set of Bose SA-1000 Big Box Speakers which I had purchased from a Big Box Store.  I somehow, probably from Stereophile, got the idea to mass load them.  What to use? Well, conveniently enough my one and only bookcase was made with large cinder blocks and was, indeed, fairly useless as my entire personal library consisted of two coloring books, only one of which I had finished coloring.

So artistic dreams on hold, I nuked the shelf and used three cinder blocks on top of the speakers and one below which clamped the speakers and made them much more rigid and weighty.  This added 120 lbs of weight to each speaker and also did away with quite a bit of their cabinet resonance.  The change was big in the quality of bass that this brought about as well as the lack of resonant coloration.   I was a life convert and still to this day I will occasionally place cinder blocks on speakers here in the store when audiophiles visit for for critical auditions. A fairly dramatic extrapolation of a still verses moving speaker is the Leslie Speaker’s rotating horn driver which produces a fluttering sound to add ambiance reminiscent of the sound of large church organ pipes resonating off of one another.

In this track, Dangermouse’s Hammond Organ has a Leslie rotating speaker:


Gnarls Barkley Live from The Matrix

Listen for oscillating fluttering sound of the rotating Leslie Speaker in the above track. Listen also for how Cee Lo changes his singing vibrato to match with it for dramatic effect. This track by the way sounds AMAZING with our Ayre QB-9 USB Dac.

Which brings me to the one obvious ‘flaw’ in a Magnepan.  They MaggieAFlutter.  What is a MaggieAFlutter?  Well a MaggieAFlutter is the flan, er excuse me, fan like back and fourth movement of a Magnepan as it plays music. You see the stands that Magnepan makes are simple metal feet that sit flat on the floor and have 1″ welded box sections roughly 7″ high that bolt to the 5-6′ tall magnepan speakers.  Simple physics will tell you that these stands are going to be challenged by the sheer height and leverage angle of the maggies.  The extreme leverage angle disadvantage of the stands causes this.

Extreme Leverage Angle? ELA? Let me explain.

Assume you’ve become dissatisfied with the available information on industry supplied chickens and you wish to build a chicken coop to create your own organic supply.  Imagine driving your slate blue Subaru to Home Depot to buy a 4×8 sheet of plywood.  You wander forth, ducking all those he-man flannelbelly contractor guys (where do they buy those suspenders?), until you find the 4×8′s.  They have these stacked up horizontally.  Like every other Commando wannabe on the planet, you walk up to and try to pick up a 4×8 sheet of plywood by clamping your hands on one end then lifting.  You lift, exactly nothing happens.  The image of our nearsighted idol carrying a tree on his shoulder flashes by.  You look around sheepishly then grip again, really crank back, and again, exactly nothing happens.  Next you slunk around the plywood pile to see if there are some steel bands or perhaps a discrete sign saying that these are glued together for safety.   Eventually you give up, look around to make sure nobody is watching, and you quietly slide the sheet onto your little orange girlie cart.  Why did this happen?  Well Monsieur Dumas, it’s because of the leverage angle.  Even when I assemble Magnepan speakers I occasionally try to pick up a maggie by the end and cannot.

Magnepan 1.7 Pearl Audio VideoThis is also why Johnny the Bully can walk up to a Magnepan 1.7 speaker, lightly push on the top edge and easily flex the speaker an inch or so.  It’s not that Magnepan is building a crummy stand. In fact their welded steel stands are very well made (gotta keep Wendell happy).  They just made a design decision to A, keep the speakers physical design a bit more sleek n slender, and B, keep the cost down.   Call me what you will but I think they designed an ideal excellent compromise.  Magnepan’s have always been about being an affordable high performance speaker and I applaud them for this.

Well with this compromise there is indeed a bit of flexing and fluttering of the panel resulting in a subtle amount of sound degredation.   As that panel sways to the music the movement will produce an audible smearing of the notes as they are launched from a source that is moving back and fourth as it plays.   This effect will worsen as more bass heavy music is played.

Well as they are, Magnepans sound terrific, but if you want to have even better sound, you can take steps to reduce this flutter effect.  How?

Well the cheap way is to superglue your Magnepans to the floor then stick some broom handles between the top of the speaker and the rear wall.  One of my single friends does this. Trouble with this approach is that you are now using a broom handle to excite the drumhead/sheetrock of the wall behind your Maggies.  I’ve actually heard the broom handle thing setup and it does indeed improve sound, and the owner is indeed, single.

The elegant and excellent way is to build a compact, rigid, heavy frame that will both brace your Magnepans panel so it doesn’t flex, and braces the Magnepans top part to the floor.  You need some big metal triangle’s!   Since you already know where Home Depot is, you can of course construct something like this out of two by fours and wood screw them into the Maggie.  I’m sure this has been done but of course there again it is generally a single solution.

Magnepan 1.7 Mye StandTwelve hundred useless words later, enter the real purpose of this article – to talk about the Mye Stands.  I don’t even sell them!  Twelve hundred words wasted?  No, not really, these articles are to help people out, and spread the majesty of high end audio to all.

The Mye stands are commercial aftermarket stands that solve this fluttering issue.   They are basically well finished triangle stands that attach to the rear of the Maggie and keep it from getting all-aflutter.  Sonically  they have the affect of ‘calming the ship’ and bringing a sense of solidity to the presentation. It’s actually a little bit like the effect I get when go all out on an audio system by placing the gear on footers and the speakers on well adjusted spikes.  There is no rocking, no rolling, no tomfoolery nor bally-hoo.

The sonic images are outlined in a greater sense, and the individual notes have a greater sense of clarity and purity.  As a friend told me, if you think about it, you are essentially enacting the reverse of physical reverb.  Ever hear a singer move the microphone back and fourth as they sing for a flutter effect?  Ever hear an electric guitar player move his guitar back and forth in front of the amplifier. A fluttering speaker is doing the same thing.  Now make everybody stand still.  That’s what the Mye stands do.

One of my good friends who bought Magnepan 3.6′s (and now MG 3.7′s) had them put on and to me they brought the 3.6 about 1/3 the way to the 20.1.  One of the big sonic improvments of a 20.1 is their much heavier frame and feet, so they are by nature doing some of what the Mye stands do.   Another installed them on his 1.6′s and, in my opinion had an even greater effect. As I understand it the stock Maggie 1.6 Mye Stand will fit the new Magnepan 1.7.

With the Mye stands you definitely get a large sonic benefit. The only downsides I can see is that the speaker is now a bit larger visually since they don’t follow that slim thin-mint form factor we’ve grown to love with Magnepans.  They also are a little harder to move.  When I owned 1.6′s, I loved the fact that they were so light it was reasonable to just slide them against the wall when not in use, then slide them out a few feet into the room when listening in ‘high performance’ mode.  The 1.6/1.7 is the only speaker I can think of where it is feasible to do this on a daily basis.

If you want to learn more check out the Mye website.  I don’t sell them as they are factory direct, but wholeheartedly recommend them!

Mye Sound Website

Be calm, be quiet, and listen to music.

John.

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