Glenn Islat's 
Date of "Visit":
27 December 1999

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the back side of the racks

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Glenn Islat

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I first got into the world on high end audio about ten years ago. Like most dedicated audiophiles, frequent upgrading is a must in the search for the perfect sound. I started with the entry level Magnepans and worked up to the MG20R. Although they are expensive, Magnepan has always given top value for the dollar. Few speakers can reproduce the realistic sound stage that these large panels create. The Sounlab A1 is very close if not slightly better in the massive soundstage department but at least for me the wife acceptance factor was too low. I have switched to tube amps in the last couple of years. With the Maggies, the tube amps produce a much sweeter sound than solid state. The Maggies need a lot of power which many tube units do not supply. My current Melos monoblocks put out 400 Watts per channel. My home theater features Madrigal electronics as well but the sound is no match for the Maggies. Those audio reviewers who feel the future of audio is in multi channel sound should come listen to a good two channel setup.

My system is in a 900 square foot L-shaped room in my basement. The large room allowed me to place the Maggies several feet from the side and back walls.

I listen to almost 100% jazz. Some good reference CDs include: anything by Holly Cole that is the Canadian cut, all of the Patricia Barber CDs especially the HDCD version of Cafe Blue. The CD Sex without Bodies by Dave's true Story is a great DVD audio CD. My vinyl purchases are usually remasters on the Blue Note Label.

System's Components
Turntable: Linn LP12 with Troika MC cartridge
CD Transport: Mark Levinson 37
D/A Converter: Mark Levinson 360S
Preamps: Mark Levinson 38, Bryston phonostage
Power Amps: Melos Mono 402 gold
Speakers: Magnepan MG20R
Interconnects: Madrigal CZ Gel
Speaker Cables: Straight Wire
Line Conditioning: Tice Audio and Van Evers
LP Cleaner: VPI

Glenn's comments about his System:

AA: "Glenn, how would you describe your system's sound?"
GI: "The sound is very accurate. Although no speaker/system can match the feel of a live performance the Maggies come very close to taking you there."
AA: "Do you think there is room for improvement?"
GI: "Magnepans have never been known for massive bass. The low levels on the MG20's are much better than the MG3.5 I upgraded from. The use of a separate Sub seems like overkill to me." 
AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"
GI: "I recently auditioned the VTL 450 (vacuum tube logic These are killer monoblocks! The low end was a lot better than the Melos. This will likely be my next upgrade. I would like to get a better projector television but the "entry level" front projectors that will do HDTV start at the price of a small car."