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Sanders Sound Magtech Mono Amplifiers Review

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As I was saying… The Legacy Audio Whisper And Magtech

We return now to the discussion of the sound characteristics of the Magtech Monos with the Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition. Here the result was cuddly, but with a huge-fisted grip on the bass. When my sister and I were little my father won an inordinately large stuffed bear at the state fair. In my recollection it must have been over 3 feet tall. “Cuddles” was a lot of stuffed bear to love! It was huge, but so cuddly soft. It seems the overriding characteristic of the Magtech Mono is power such that one perceives a sense of hugeness, with soft tonality. This amp tends toward a softer, polite character more so than the majority of solid-state amplifiers I have used. It is the antithesis of the edginess exhibited by many Class D offerings.

The Whisper was not designed to be Legacy Audio’s last word in low frequency presence. Even though it utilizes four 15” drivers per side, they are configured in couplets, each pair having the front driver set only inches ahead of the other, such that they cancel out sideways emanation of the sound wave. Thus, the Whisper can be set quite close to room boundaries, something unusual for such a large speaker. I have at times placed them within 15” of the sidewall with no noticeable deleterious effects. The downside of it is that even though the speaker seemingly has so much bass potential, it is shallow for its size, reaching a measured 22Hz +/-2 dB. As such I have often put another four 15” drivers in the room to supplement in the form of twin Legacy XTREME XD Subwoofers. Yes, on several occasions I have used an even dozen 15” woofers!


Squirt guns and ocean waves

I hail from the era where during the summer children bearing squirt guns were not absent the back yards. When it gets too hot kids nowadays sit inside on their asses playing video games. When I was a kid up to general mischief, or at a church picnic, I might be shot with a stream of water at any moment. Yet, during all that time I never saw a kid taken down by a squirt gun. I have, however, seen adults rolled over by ocean waves. I myself attempted to body surf off the coast of Costa Rica in estimated 6-foot surf. It only took about twice for me to launch a bit cockeyed and get tumbled head over teakettle in the surf to conclude, “That’s enough of that!”

On a regular basis I hear speaker systems with bass production varying from a 7” driver to a six-foot tall tower speaker supplemented with a battery of 12- to 15-inch woofers standing nearby in their own cabinet. The frequency emitted, say, 35Hz, may be the same, but the experience is utterly different. The diminutive driver is like the squirt gun, as it has no significant dynamic impact. The tower of woofers on the other hand easily creates dynamic impact.

I mention this because there are many audio systems that inherently cannot induce appreciation for what the Magtech Monos can do in terms of dynamics. If a person were to place these amps with a speaker having a single 7” woofer, there might be some sense of improvement in terms of dynamics. However, use these amps with the Whisper speakers and EXTREME XD Subs and the improvement in dynamics is substantial. This is due to the control over the multiplicity of drivers the Magtech Monos assert.

A subtle illustration of that capacity of a high power, high current amp like the Magtech is seen in a piece such as Acoustic Alchemy’s “The Stone Circle.” The track opens with a low rumble, a synth creating the substrate upon which each developing layer of acoustic instrument will be laid. When I paired the Whisper, even using the XTREME XD Subs, with the typical Class A/B solid state design it was a struggle to even perceive that lingering note. One could sense it’s there, but it was indistinct. Conversely, with the Magtech Monos the note not only presented itself front and center but also revealed itself to undulate, revising the impression from substrate to oceanic undercurrent. This could easily be overlooked in a typical audiophile system.

Another example of the sheer fortitude of the Magtech Mono was found in Eric Clapton’s “Running on Faith” from the Unplugged album. I have heard others complain of the recording that Clapton is tapping his foot on the stage and it ruins the recording. I had heard in the past an intimation of that thumping, but it didn’t seem to interfere as much as people had said. I played it with this system and the mild thumping became a pounding, proving the microphone was picking up a lot more than was intended. To me this was not a tragedy, but rather a triumph of the system in obtaining a result that is closer to the live event.

The other pleasing aspect of a refined yet powerful amp such as the Magtech Mono was that it presented voices with a particular comfortableness. I often use cables to tune systems, to reduce the sense of strain in vocalists’ voices. The Sanders amp delivered a similar effect by opening and extending the acoustic envelope of the center image such that the voice was enlarged. Rather than hearing a searing solo, akin to staring at the Sun, I was treated to a bit more forgiving image, like the glow of a center of a galaxy at a distance. It’s obvious the intensity was there, but it’s not nearly so searing. Clapton’s seasoned baritone voice was armchair comfortable, which may help explain why this album garnished a 97% “like” rating from Google users!


What about the Sanders Sound Systems Preamp and Model 10 Electrostatic Speakers?

I’m happy that I had a chance to review the Magtech Mono Amplifier in my own home. I have received confirmation that this is a well-built, prodigious power performer. Roger had offered me the chance to add the Preamplifier and the Model 10 Speakers to the review, but I declined. The reason had nothing to do with the build or sound quality of Sanders Sound System products.

I shoehorned this review of the Magtech Monos in between several other reviews scheduled in the wake of AXPONA 2019. I hesitated before even accepting them, knowing that it would keep me overloaded in terms of reviewing activity. I put in approximately 25-30 hours of work on every review. It has gotten to the point that rather than listening to more music, I am always working on some article. I currently have five reviews in various stages of development. I do not resent it, as it is my system building bread and butter. But, it’s not fun when self-imposed pressure to finish articles saps the enjoyment of listening.

Thus, I determine where to draw the line. At some point it is worth more to me to ease up and coast than it is to drag every component under the sun through the room. No doubt if I were bereft of any electrostatic speaker system the Model 10 would already be in my room. Would I also be primed to swap the King III electrostatic speaker and after only a few years take a huge hit on devaluation in order to gain a hybrid speaker that I can simulate with addition of subwoofers? No, that is a remote possibility. The Sanders system is a package deal, and with so many irons in the fire I am not willing to entertain a sea change in my methodology of component and system flexibility to maintain many speakers with many alternative setups. As with certain other products, my methodology in reviewing influences how far I am willing to proceed.

I have no doubt that by using the Sanders Preamplifier and Model 10 I would be able to attain impressive results with the Magtech Mono amps, likely even better than with the King III and the Legacy Whisper, predominantly due to system synergy. But this has been done in the past by other reviewers, and the outcome is all but assured — they are great amps, and together with the preamp and speakers make for an even greater system.

Thus, my conclusion is limited, but perhaps helpful for those who wonder about the Magtech line for use with other speakers. My advice for those having hogs of speakers to consider whether you wish for a thrashing and a trashing of those speakers, or for a caressing of those speakers. If you want a rude outcome, go get some Crown amps or a 100wpc “good enough” that turns ghastly when you attempt to play at higher levels. But if you want a refined outcome with a beautiful blend of power and politeness — oh, yes, and with a rare lifetime warranty for any matching goofs that may happen — go for the Magtech Monos.


Associated Components:

Source: Small Green Computer sonicTransporter AP I7 4T and SONORE Signature Rendu SE and systemOptique; Salk Audio StreamPlayer Generation III with Roon interface

Streaming Music Service: Tidal premium

DAC:  COS D1 DAC + Pre; Exogal Comet DAC and Plus upgrade power supply; Eastern Electric Minimax DSD DAC Supreme with Burson, DexaNewClassD and Sparkos Labs Discrete Opamp

Preamp: TEO Audio Liquid Preamplifier; Cambridge Audio 840E

Amps: First Watt J2 (two); Exogal Ion (PowerDAC, used exclusively with Exogal Comet DAC); Gold Note PA-1175 (two); Sanders Magtech Monos

Integrated: Redgum Audio Articulata

Speakers:  Kings Audio Kingsound King III; Legacy Audio DSW Clarity Edition; Kings Audio King Tower omnidirectional; Vapor Audio Joule White 3; PureAudioProject Trio15 (Voxativ and Horn 1 versions)

Subwoofers: Legacy Audio XTREME HD (2)

IC’s: TEO Liquid Splash-Rs and Splash-Rc; TEO Liquid Standard MkII; Clarity Cable Organic RCA/XLR; Snake River Audio Signature Series Interconnects; Silent Source “The Music Reference”

Speaker Cables: TEO Cable Standard Speaker; Clarity Cable Organic Speaker; Snake River Audio Signature Series Speaker Cables;

Digital Cables: Clarity Cable Organic Digital; Snake River Audio Boomslang; Silent Source “The Music Reference”

USB: Verastarr Nemesis; Clarity Organic

Power Cables: Clarity Cable Vortex; MIT Oracle ZIII; Snake River Audio Signature Series; Anticables Level 3 Reference Series

Power Conditioning: Wireworld Matrix Power Cord Extender; Tice Audio Solo


Copy editor: Dan Rubin


4 Responses to Sanders Sound Magtech Mono Amplifiers Review

  1. Dave P says:

    I’ve been thinking about purchasing the stereo version of this amplifier for some time but paused for thought by the documented failures in the past. Now the mono version fails — during a review, no less. I’m not interested in paying God-knows-how-much to ship a heavy power-amp half-way around the world to the US if it’s faulty just after receipt. Mr Sanders has some explaining to do if his amplifiers are to be seen as anything other than great-sounding but unreliable (thus effectively junk for the prices charged).

    • We here at Sanders Sound Systems build Magtech amplifiers from the highest quality parts available. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, so a small percentage of parts from even the best suppliers occasionally fail, which of course, causes the amplifier to fail.

      Amplifiers contain hundreds of parts, so it is not surprising that you hear of failures. While all amplifier manufacturers suffer failures, the more amplifiers a manufacturer makes and sells, the more failures will occur. We have sold thousands of Magtech amplifiers, so even though our failure rate is very low, you have become aware of some of them.

      Because electronic failures cannot be completely avoided, manufacturers offer protection to their customers in the form of warranties. Because we build our equipment to the very highest possible quality standards, we can — and do — offer a life time warranty on our products. I am not aware of any other amplifier manufacturer who offers such fine warranty protection to their customers.

      It is standard industry practice to require the customer to pay for shipping faulty equipment to the manufacturer for warranty repair. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to repair or replace the faulty component at no charge. The manufacturer also pays for return shipping. So our warranty shipping policy is the same as any other in this regard.

      However, we are sincerely concerned about the cost and inconvenience warranty repairs cause customers. So we build our equipment in modular format. This makes it possible for us to send warranty replacement modules to customers so that they can fix the problem themselves. This makes it possible for us to give customers — especially our many international customers — the option to get problems fixed in their home without having to ship the amplifier back to our factory. Obviously this saves them time and money. So it is rarely necessary to ship anything to our factory for warranty repair.

      In summary, we offer the best customer support and service in the industry. We genuinely care about our customers and do everything possible to assure quick, easy service should a rare problem occur.

  2. Vladimir Dorta says:

    The 1kΩ balanced input impedance is so abnormally low that I checked the factory website in case this was a typo of your review (it wasn’t). A potential purchaser should make sure to check the compatibility of his preamplifier, or use only the unbalanced outputs.

  3. Charlie Mathews says:

    Hi Douglas,
    Correct me on this doesn’t CODA build the magtecch amplifiers?

    Anyway thank you for all your work that you do reviewing equipment…

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