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TBI Magellan VIII XU sub-bass system

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TBI Magellan VIII XU sub-bass system.

Associated equipment;


Technics SP10 Mk II, with Sedco arm and Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cartridge.

Juicy Music Tercel phono stage.


dCS Puccini CD/SACD player

dCS U-clock


McIntosh Mc275 Mk IV amp.

Crown Cdi 1000 amp (subs)


Max Townshend supertweeters

Stacked Quad ESL57s.

Back in the eighties, when I was a young man, I bought a pair of Quad ESL57s. The story of how I lost them is for another time, however, five years ago, my uncle entrusted his pair to me. I was only slowly converted them. I learnt that like all sensitive creatures, they needed careful encouragement to express themselves.

Their introduction to the McIntosh MC275 was the starting point. I started to understand their potential.

I soon found myself wanting the impossible; music from 20-20K and beyond with that magical, beguiling mid-range which the Quads are famous for, plus weight and power.

The first step was stacking them, in a solid frame. Immediately, there was more weight and presence.

But I wanted to get that extra weight and authority which comes from a really solid, low bass presence, without detracting from these speaker’s great strength; their breathtakingly musical and precise mid-range.

Early attempts were unsuccessful. Only reducing the various subs I tried to irrelevance caused them not to stick out.

I now have the Magellans. I will say at the start that properly sorted out, these are a perfect match for electrostatics.

As I have them set up now, they are quite different from other subs, because they do not have a sound. Rather, there is simply a greater weight, presence and sound-stage in the overall presentation.

I could talk about the added palpability of the double bass in “A Man and a Woman” on Songs from the Front Lawn, or the bass guitar in Kris Kristoffersen’s cover of “Please don’t tell me”, or the added weight, soul and sense of scale in the wonderful, mournful bassoon opening to Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony (and to the double bass, celli, and even violas), and that is important, because they make these bottom registers music, rather than just bass.

I could more broadly, talk about the sense of space, space, space, presence and scale given to every symphony orchestra which finds its way on the turntable.

However, what is equally important about them is what they don’t do, which is get in the way of the rest of the music, or call attention to themselves in any way whatsover; I just hear music, very capable, full-range, full-bodied, precise music. That is, what I had before with more.

These subs, together with the Townshend Super Tweeters, achieve what I have been trying to achieve, which could be described as a modern version of the HQD stack which Levinson made famous in the 60s, or more accurately described as all the benefits of the original Quad ESL57s.

Set up is still very important.

I should add that it is not just a question of plugging them in, however. There were a number of things I had to do to get them to perform their amazing act of vanishing while still being there.

First, I would recommend a pro-amp with full EQ and crossover capabilities. I quickly discarded the amplifiers I purchased from TBI directly. At least in my room, more flexibility than simply varying the cross-over frequency was needed, as well as a more controlling amplifier. The subs do not perform their best with the TBI stock amplifiers. If you have a good enough room, the more expensive, class D amplifiers they now offer may be sufficient. You will need two if you consider stereo subs important (which I do, trusting my ears rather than theory).

Second, the best way to achieve integration is to take a signal from the amplifier which powers your main speakers, and attenuate this signal to line level, and then feed that to your chosen subwoofer amplifier.

Finally, with the stacked Quads, I ultimately settled on a cross-over frequency of 45hz (24db slope).

I am very happy with the Crown amp that I am using. It is a CDI 1000, and I can control the EQ and cross-over from my laptop.

There is no distributor for the Magellan subs in Australia, and they can be purchased directly TBI Magellan. You can find them easily on the internet. I found Jan Plummer, the director of the company, very helpful.

I would recommend the TBI Magellan VIII SU over the TBI Magellan VIII. I actually purchased both (as I have two systems), and this is the one that is easiest to integrate.

Anyone in Sydney is welcome to come and listen.

Edited by Orpheus
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