Magico

leading a no-holds-barred assault on what is possible in contemporary loudspeaker design from the USA.
We create industrial “works of art” that simply out-perform any custom or commercially available speaker system in the world.

MAGICO was created over a decade ago for the sole purpose of leading a no-holds-barred assault on what is possible in contemporary loudspeaker design.

Inspired by the unique vision of industrial designer Alon Wolf, every MAGICO speaker is designed against the standard of perfect audio reproduction - live music.

At MAGICO, we strive to lead in the creation, development, and manufacture of the most advanced loudspeaker systems in the world.

MAGICO uses state-of-the-art computer graphic modelling, precision real-time analysis, and the most sophisticated CAD acoustic simulators and emulators available today.

We create industrial “works of art” that simply out-perform any custom or commercially available speaker system in the world.

MAGICO is located in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California.

ENCLOSURES
Resonances in the body of a musical instrument are an essential part of defining its nature and quality. The opposite is true of a loudspeaker.

Cabinet panel resonances are a significant cause of sound coloration. Heavy bracing of a typical MDF enclosure can help reduce enclosure flex but at the cost of increased energy storage and damping factor. Although a welcome attribute for midrange outout, over damping is detrimental to bass performance (high energy storage, low wide Q and low resonances).

MAGICO has spent many years developing an enclosure system that successfully balances the 3 elements that constitute a proper loudspeaker enclosure: stiffness, mass, and dampness.

No singular material can satisfy all of the properties desirable in a loudspeaker enclosure.

As stiffness increases, moving from MDF to phenolic resin to aluminium, cabinet vibrations are drastically reduced, although a sharpened Q of the resonance results in an audible ring.

By damping the high Q resonance via elaborate constrained layer damping we have eliminated all energy storage and audible resonance from our enclosure.

MAGICO has pioneered the use of aluminium in loudspeakers design. We built our first aluminium enclosure back in 1994 and have never looked back. Extremely stiff yet easy to damp, a properly designed aluminium enclosure is the ideal platform for high-performance loudspeakers. So inert, the enclosures have no discernible coloration of their own-allowing the drivers to operate with the utmost clarity and dynamics. Though costly to implement, the use of aluminium in our enclosures plays a vital role in our design philosophy.

The chassis: Like any modern mechanical device, its effectiveness is determined by the ability of its moving parts to travel efficiently.

The new Q series is designed with the same principles applied to automobile or airplane construction.

Intricate internal framework makes up an extremely rigid chassis to which all of the mechanical, passive and active parts are mounted to maximise the efficiency of each component.

The end result is the most well adapted loudspeaker enclosure ever built.

DRIVERS

Magico is one of a handful high-end loudspeakers companies who develop and manufacture their own drivers.

Our abilities to have full control over all drivers unique functionalities and parameters, allow us to build complete systems without the typical compromises many high-end loudspeakers manufacturer have to make.

Recent advances in break-up mode control of Beryllium diaphragms combined with our MR-1™ motor system led to the development of the MBe-1. The result is a tweeter with significantly wider extension, lower distortion and greater power handling than anything available on the market today.

Our Nano-Tec® drivers are the first transducers that use carbon nanotubes in their cone construction. These cones operate as perfect pistons throughout their entire operating range. The Nano-Tec® cones exhibit extraordinary strength and are also an efficient heat conductor. Their outer carbon skins are made of one of the strongest and stiffest materials known, both in terms of tensile strength and elastic modulus respectively.

A multi-walled carbon Nano-Tec® outer skin has a tensile strength of 63 GPa. In comparison, high-carbon steel has a tensile strength of approximately 1.2 GPa. Rohacell® foam is used as the core in our Nano-Tec®-skinned sandwich-cones.

The result is a cone that displays bending strength, self-damping and attenuation of ringing that are all an order of magnitude or more higher than that of conventionally manufactured cones. it is this attention to detail and relentless pursuit of the best attainable technology that defines MAGICO.

MAGICO’s robust, under-hung motor system, comprising a 75 mm titanium voice coil and a radical neodymium SD magnet system, reduces distortion levels to a fraction of those found in even the best commercially available alternatives.

A 0.15" thick, 4.9” diameter copper sleeve encapsulates the entire voice coil gap. It decreases the inductance from a typical 3.0 mH on an 5” voice coil to less than 0.3 mH at 1 KHz! This feature substantially reduces the driver’s non-linear and intermodulation distortion while increasing its overload-handling capability.

In the development of the Q7 Drivers a colossal effort was made to minimise Eddy currents in the iron parts of the under-hung motor system. Eddy currents are created by the voice coil movement and produce a chaotic magnetic fields which is working "against" the fixed magnetic field and thus create distortions. The best way to reduce these currents is to saturate the iron as much as possible. When the iron around the coil is totally saturated no induced flex can be develop, i.e. no Eddy currents.

In order to do that a lot of design, precision machining of the parts and huge magnets are required. In the picture you can see the flux density of our 10” motor system. The colour purple represent fully statured iron, yellow is about 90% saturation. These are breakthrough performance which enables the voice coil to move without any electromagnetic obstructions ( the inductance of the woofer is measured at 0.085 mH!! )

Featured

All Products

Reviews

Featured

MA 02 SF S1 CA
NZ$ 26,995.00 (incl. GST)
At first glance the S1 Mk II may appear similar to its predecessor. However, it is entirely redesigned, and incorporates distilled elements of our most recent and ground breaking engineering...
This review has been a long time coming. I first laid eyes on the original Magico S1 in Las ...
MA 03 SF S3 CA
NZ$ 35,995.00 (incl. GST)
The S3 is a full-range, floorstanding loudspeaker that offers cutting-edge technology and unparalleled performance at its price. According to Magico CEO and chief designer Alon Wolf, "By drawing from...
A 'tour de force' is not only realised in the materials and manufacture of Magico's S3 but also in...
MA 05 SF S5 CO
NZ$ 69,995.00 (incl. GST)
The new S5 Mk II silhouettes its predecessor however that is where any similarity ends. Significant performance enhancements are realised with the implementation of new and advanced transducer and...
I thought i'd post a short review of the new Magico S5 Mk2 speakers which I have on order in...
MA 07 SF S7 CO
NZ$ 103,995.01 (incl. GST)
Towering over other S-Series models, the S7 is a full range, 3-way loudspeaker that incorporates new tweeter, midrange and bass driver designs which are derived from the engineering triumphs in the M...

All Products

Audio Racks & Speaker Stands

MA 01 IS QPOD 3
NZ$ 2,250.00 set (incl. GST)
Qpod - Throughout the development process of the Q platform numerous advances in the area of resonance management were made.
MA 01 IS QPOD 4
NZ$ 2,995.00 set (incl. GST)
Qpod - Throughout the development process of the Q platform numerous advances in the area of resonance management were made.

Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

MA 01 SB S15 CA
NZ$ 17,495.00 pr (incl. GST)
Equally suited to traditional two-channel or complex multi-channel applications, and with colour options making it aesthetically compatible with any décor, the S1.5 delivers design and performance in...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
MA 01 SB S15 CO
NZ$ 23,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Equally suited to traditional two-channel or complex multi-channel applications, and with colour options making it aesthetically compatible with any décor, the S1.5 delivers design and performance in...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
MA 20 SF Q1 CA
NZ$ 42,995.03 pr (incl. GST)
Replacing an iconic and revolutionary product is as much an exercise in understanding human emotion as it is in engineering. For any new generation of products, in addition to being compared to its...
EXTENDED REVIEW: Last weekend I traveled to Berkeley, CA, and spent three solid days listening to...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
MA 21 SF Q1 AN
NZ$ 46,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Replacing an iconic and revolutionary product is as much an exercise in understanding human emotion as it is in engineering. For any new generation of products, in addition to being compared to its...
EXTENDED REVIEW: Last weekend I traveled to Berkeley, CA, and spent three solid days listening to...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

Floor Standing

MA 02 SF S1 CA
NZ$ 26,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
At first glance the S1 Mk II may appear similar to its predecessor. However, it is entirely redesigned, and incorporates distilled elements of our most recent and ground breaking engineering...
This review has been a long time coming. I first laid eyes on the original Magico S1 in Las ...
Floor Standing
MA 02 SF S1 CO
NZ$ 32,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
At first glance the S1 Mk II may appear similar to its predecessor. However, it is entirely redesigned, and incorporates distilled elements of our most recent and ground breaking engineering...
This review has been a long time coming. I first laid eyes on the original Magico S1 in Las ...
Floor Standing
MA 03 SF S3 CA
NZ$ 35,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
The S3 is a full-range, floorstanding loudspeaker that offers cutting-edge technology and unparalleled performance at its price. According to Magico CEO and chief designer Alon Wolf, "By drawing from...
A 'tour de force' is not only realised in the materials and manufacture of Magico's S3 but also in...
Floor Standing
MA 03 SF S3 CO
NZ$ 42,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
The S3 is a full-range, floorstanding loudspeaker that offers cutting-edge technology and unparalleled performance at its price. According to Magico CEO and chief designer Alon Wolf, "By drawing from...
Floor Standing
MA 05 SF S5 CA
NZ$ 61,995.01 pr (incl. GST)
The new S5 Mk II silhouettes its predecessor however that is where any similarity ends. Significant performance enhancements are realised with the implementation of new and advanced transducer and...
I thought i'd post a short review of the new Magico S5 Mk2 speakers which I have on order in...
Floor Standing
MA 05 SF S5 CO
NZ$ 69,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
The new S5 Mk II silhouettes its predecessor however that is where any similarity ends. Significant performance enhancements are realised with the implementation of new and advanced transducer and...
I thought i'd post a short review of the new Magico S5 Mk2 speakers which I have on order in...
Floor Standing
MA 07 SF S7 CA
NZ$ 93,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Towering over other S-Series models, the S7 is a full range, 3-way loudspeaker that incorporates new tweeter, midrange and bass driver designs which are derived from the engineering triumphs in the M...
Floor Standing
MA 07 SF S7 CO
NZ$ 103,995.01 pr (incl. GST)
Towering over other S-Series models, the S7 is a full range, 3-way loudspeaker that incorporates new tweeter, midrange and bass driver designs which are derived from the engineering triumphs in the M...
Floor Standing
MA 15 SF M3
NZ$ 120,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
HAYWARD, CA – Magico, the leader in high performance loudspeaker design and manufacture, is pleased to announce the new M3. Proposed ship date – 3rd Quarter 2016
EXTENDED REVIEW: After complaining about the (un)availability of Magico’s superb, limited-edition...
Floor Standing
MA 22 SF Q3 CA
NZ$ 75,595.00 pr (incl. GST)
The latest addition to the family, the Q3 flaunts its pedigree inside and out. The Q3 achieves a 90dB efficiency rating, setting a new standard for moderately-sized, full-range loudspeaker...
Floor Standing
MA 23 SF Q3 AN
NZ$ 80,995.01 pr (incl. GST)
The latest addition to the family, the Q3 flaunts its pedigree inside and out. The Q3 achieves a 90dB efficiency rating, setting a new standard for moderately-sized, full-range loudspeaker...
Floor Standing
MA 24 SF Q5 CA
NZ$ 106,018.01 pr (incl. GST)
Standing on the shoulders of past successes to create a new standard of technical excellence. Can there really be an answer to the question “is there such a thing as a truly better loudspeaker...
Floor Standing
MA 25 SF Q5 AN
NZ$ 115,895.00 pr (incl. GST)
Standing on the shoulders of past successes to create a new standard of technical excellence. Can there really be an answer to the question “is there such a thing as a truly better loudspeaker...
Floor Standing
MA 26 SF Q7
NZ$ 369,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Q7 Mk Ii - In the constant pursuit of perfection, the new Q7 Mk II represents Magico’s leading edge engineering capabilities which allows us to surpass the superb performance of the original Q7. The...
Floor Standing
MA 27 SF Q7 UG
NZ$ 79,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Q7 Mk II - In the constant pursuit of perfection, the new Q7 Mk II represents Magico’s leading edge engineering capabilities which allows us to surpass the superb performance of the original Q7. The...
Floor Standing

Home Theatre

MA 09 SC SCC CA
NZ$ 26,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Movies place huge demands upon a loudspeaker, from alien invasions to a pin dropping, from a thunderous soundtrack to a gentle kiss - but the most important function is the accurate rendition of that...
Home Theatre
MA 09 SC SCC CO
NZ$ 30,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Movies place huge demands upon a loudspeaker, from alien invasions to a pin dropping, from a thunderous soundtrack to a gentle kiss - but the most important function is the accurate rendition of that...
Home Theatre

Sub Woofers

MA 12 SW SUB CA
NZ$ 23,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Sub Woofers
MA 12 SW SUB CO
NZ$ 27,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Sub Woofers
MA 28 SW SUB15
NZ$ 35,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Sub Woofers
MA 29 SW SUB18
NZ$ 58,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Sub Woofers

Reviews

Magico’s S1 Mk.II is where excellent materials meet excellent sound. It’s the finest two-way speaker I’ve heard.
Hans Wetzel

REVIEW SUMMARY: With its immaculately lifelike sound, sterling midrange neutrality, and soaring top end, Magico’s S1 Mk.II revealed an incredible amount of low-level musical detail without sounding clinical, and was engaging without resorting to artifice. Most impressive, it produced a good portion of the tight-fisted, concussive bass you’d expect from a small three-way design, and in that sense is the first two-way speaker I’ve heard that doesn’t sound like a two-way. Marry this to its beautifully finished, minimalist cabinet and top-to-bottom cohesiveness of sound, and Magico’s S1 Mk.II is where excellent materials meet excellent sound. It’s the finest two-way speaker I’ve heard.

This review has been a long time coming. I first laid eyes on the original Magico S1 in Las Vegas in January 2013, at the Consumer Electronics Show. I was smitten. From its B-2 Stealth Bomber matte-black finish to its tall, narrow profile and gracefully curved cabinet, I thought the S1 was the most attractive model in the company’s lineup. My experience of listening to them was equally enjoyable. I marvelled at the S1’s startling talent through the midrange, as well as its soundstaging feats. I lobbied for a pair of review samples that never materialised. But three years later, serial numbers 00001 and 00002 of the S1 Mk.II arrived on my doorstep. Apparently, patience is a virtue. Game on.

TAKE II

The S1 Mk.II is far from the least expensive two-way speaker around. Having reviewed almost a dozen other two-ways in the past few years, Vivid Audio’s V1.5 floorstander being the most expensive, I was a bit dubious about the Magico S1 Mk.IIs, which cost more than twice as much, but like every other Magico product I’ve seen at audio shows over the years, the attention to detail lavished on the S1 is extraordinary. My samples were shipped in robust, double cardboard cartons; the magnetic grilles, hexagonal aluminium footer nuts, tapered aluminium spikes, and aluminium footers -- all of which Magico manufactures in-house -- arrived in a separate container.

As I pulled the all-black, M-Cast-finished speakers from their boxes, something Magico’s founder, Alon Wolf, had told me two months before echoed in my head: “We make loudspeakers, not furniture.” In any usual sense, the S1 is not beautiful. The slender (43”H x 9.8”W x 8.5”D), 120-pound speaker very much reflects the philosophy of its creator, who sees beauty through the austere lens of material and mechanical excellence. For Wolf, flourishes of design and creative expression solely for the sake of appearance are ultimately at odds with an audio device’s intended purpose. Make no mistake, the S1 Mk.II is a tool designed for one thing: the delivery of brutal, uninhibited musical candour.

To that end, the cabinet is shaped from a single, rounded triangular chassis of 3/8”-thick extruded aluminium, and sealed with top and bottom plates. Each top plate takes 90 minutes to be machined from a block of solid aluminium in Magico’s CNC machines. That’s because it’s subtly convex -- its shape not only complements the curves of the rest of the cabinet, but also helps minimise internal standing waves. The tiny details are all accounted for: the floor spikes screw smoothly into the bottom of the speaker, the solid aluminium footers felt substantial in my hand, and the robust binding posts were a pleasure to use. Everything about the S1 just felt solid. Then there was the M-Cast finish: flawless. I saw zero imperfections in the highly textured application, in which are suspended lightly reflective specks that sparkle in direct light. I have no doubt that the optional high-gloss M-Coat finish would also have been well executed, but I’d opt for M-Cast every time.

Inside the S1 Mk.II’s sealed enclosure are a 7” M390G graphene-coated, Nano-Tec midrange-woofer and a 1” MBD7 dome -- the same tweeter that’s used to great effect in mighty Magico’s S7. Compared to the tweeter in the original S1, which had a 50µm-thick beryllium dome, the Mk.II’s beryllium dome is 40µm thick, with a 5µm-thick diamond coating applied by an outside vendor. The MBD7 also has a new motor system, while retaining its predecessor’s neodymium magnet. The 7” midrange-woofer is based on the driver used in Magico’s Q1 two-way. Compared to the midrange-woofer used in the original S1, the Mk.II’s has higher-quality neodymium magnets, and more copper in its voice-coil. The Nano-Tec cone has a different carbon-weave structure than the original, which reduces the cone’s mass, while the single layer of graphene -- an exciting new material that’s extremely light yet stronger than steel -- helps decrease the cone’s total mass by 20% while increasing its stiffness by 300%.

The cabinet’s internal braces are secured with bolts from outside, then welded to conceal the bolt heads, which purportedly yields a much stiffer cabinet. The crossover is at the bottom of the cabinet, and while Magico doesn’t reveal what sort of filter it uses, I was told that the crossover frequency is 2.2kHz for the proprietary Elliptical design, which makes use of “the highest quality Mundorf components.”

In fact, Magico publishes few specifications for any of its speakers. The S1 Mk.II’s sensitivity is a modest 86dB -- par for the course for a two-way design -- and the nominal impedance is 4 ohms. The frequency range is a claimed 32Hz-50kHz, and Magico recommends driving the speaker with at least 50W. While many readers are no doubt aware of the benefits and drawbacks of the sealed, non-bass-reflex speaker enclosures that Magico is so fond of, it’s worthwhile listing some of them. The primary benefits include better phase linearity and minimum group delay, and reduced ringing in the time domain, which results in better transient response in the lower registers, no port noise, and a slower rolloff of 12dB/octave. By contrast, a ported design benefits from a sensitivity 3dB higher while offering augmented bass response, but at the expense of a steeper (24dB/octave) rolloff.

As ever, loudspeaker design remains a careful balance of trade-offs. Having never reviewed a passive sealed-box loudspeaker before, I was eager to hear the S1’s bass performance in my own system.

SETUP

The S1s arrived at a perfect time. My mainstay integrated amplifier-DAC, the Hegel Music Systems H360, with its 250/420Wpc output into 8/4 ohms, provided more than enough power and current to whet the appetites of the moderately hungry S1s. But I was also able to make use of T+A’s PA 2000 R integrated amplifier and matching MP 2000 R DAC/network client, in addition to Gryphon Audio Designs’ biblical Diablo 300 integrated amplifier with optional DAC module. The T+A amp outputs only 100/200Wpc into 8/4 ohms, but its trick power supply provides loads of current, and it’s stable down to 2 ohms.

The Gryphon Diablo 300, meanwhile, is a statement-level model that musters 300/600/950Wpc into loads of 8/4/2 ohms. At no point did the S1 flummox any of these amps, but I can’t make promises about driving the Magicos with tubed and/or class-A gear of modest output. Alon Wolf did advise that the S1 Mk.IIs had played nicely with a 30Wpc tube amp in Magico’s dedicated listening room, so the suggested 50Wpc minimum power rating may be a bit cautious. Details of the cables and interconnects I used (DH Labs, Dynamique Audio, Nordost) can be found in the Associated Equipment box, below.

I placed the S1s approximately 8’ apart, 16” from my front wall (I had to -- I live in a narrow city living space), and slightly toed in. I found that the tweeter’s on-axis treble output leaned toward prominence, which required a less acute toe-in angle.

SOUND

The Magico S1 Mk.II didn’t sound like any other two-way loudspeaker I’ve heard. So many of the two-ways I’ve listened to over the years seemed to be trying to sound bigger and bassier than they actually were. Those that didn’t just sounded thin, as if something fundamental to the music had been left out. This has made it difficult for me to ever really fall for a two-way -- it seemed that the compromises inherent in such designs were often all too audible. But in the all-important bass, Magico’s S1 succeeded where other two-ways have failed.

The S1’s bass response didn’t sound lightweight -- as if, below 50-60Hz, its low-end response had hurled itself over a cliff. Instead, the S1 made clever use of its cabinet volume and sealed design to reproduce a linear bass curve with credible extension down past 40Hz. Now, it certainly wasn’t flat below 40Hz, but there was still meaningful output down there. Moreover, the quality of this bass performance was exceptionally tight and well controlled -- it didn’t suffer from the bloat and overhang of a bass-reflex design that’s being asked to overextend itself. No, it admittedly couldn’t pack the visceral punches to the chest, the “slam” that so many audiophiles crave. But more than any other speaker I’ve reviewed, the Magico’s low-end performance was properly concussive in nature, and addictively quick-footed. All this from a single, 7” carbon-fibre cone that covers the audio-band up to 2.2kHz. Special, that.

In February 2016, I visited Magico’s factory in Hayward, California. During my time there, with Alon Wolf at his iPad selecting the tunes, I listened to a pair of S1 Mk.IIs through some fabulously expensive electronics. But at the onset, he’d asked what music I liked.

“ELRCTRONICA . . . ?”

He seemed to inwardly wince. Not only was that the most non-audiophile thing I could have said, but electronica’s preponderance of pounding bass lines would be a torture test for something like the S1.

Wolf chuckled. “How about jazz?”

The fact is, back in my listening room, the S1s handled my extensive collection of electronic garbage better than I ever could have imagined they might.

Before he was a film and TV composer nominated for three Grammys, Englishman Rupert Parkes was a DJ known as Photek. His 1996 single “The Third Sequence” (16-bit/44.1kHz ALAC, Astralwerks) isn’t the prettiest or most sophisticated music you’re likely to hear, but when I need to see maximum driver excursion, this is the track I rely on for its throbbing bass line. As I ratcheted up the volume with my Hegel H360, the S1s’ carbon-fibre cones and substantial rubber surrounds were moving in and out so violently that I was concerned about taking a shot of Nano-Tec to the face. In fact, I was almost sure I’d hear the S1s struggle to maintain their composure.

Yet even with “The Third Sequence” at 90dB (measured at 1m), that moment never arrived. Instead, I heard a torrent of bass energy that, while less vigorous than what I’ve heard through many three-way designs, was still every bit as composed as it had been at more reasonable volumes. The sheer speed and impact of the S1’s single 7” cone, which moved with shockingly quick reflexes, were delightful. Magico has clearly opted for bass impact over bass weight; in my humble opinion, they’ve succeeded. When, within reason, I tried to abuse the S1, it doled the abuse right back at me in equal measure.

For me, what separates merely very good from great speakers are the formers’ abbreviated soundstages. The S1s painted immaculate soundscapes. In “No Son of Mine,” from Genesis’s We Can’t Dance (16/44.1 ALAC, Atlantic), a metronomic tone rings from the right channel, a guitar is repetitively strummed in the left, and lead singer Phil Collins’s voice springs to life right through the middle of the recording. Through less accomplished speakers, the three can sound a touch disconnected from one another. Yet the S1 contrived to paint a complete, coherent aural picture.

The hallmark of the S1 was its unimpeachable midrange, with the tonality of Collins’s voice the very best I’ve heard: an intoxicating combination of buttery-smooth attack and decay, with no hint of imposed edginess on the leading and trailing edges of his voice, as well as an effortless airiness to his delivery that sounded completely non-mechanical and entirely unrestrained. There was very little inherent midrange sweetness or bloom, but a virile tube amp would ameliorate that nicely. The S1’s midrange was a model of neutrality: nothing added, nothing taken away, and reference-level transparency.

However, the treble was slightly prominent. I doubt that anyone would describe the S1 Mk.II’s sound as “polite.” Yet it would be unfair to characterise the S1’s high-frequency performance as bright or edgy. It was merely . . . prominent. With “No Son of Mine,” this manifested itself in the drums and hi-hats that fill in behind Collins’s voice as the song continues; they took on a brasher, more vibrant sheen than I’m used to hearing. With Max Richter’s “recompositions” of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (16/44.1 FLAC, Deutsche Grammophon), as performed by the Berlin Concert House Chamber Orchestra conducted by André de Ridder, this treble prominence revealed itself in a different way via the violin of soloist Daniel Hope. Hope’s instrument sounded positively electric through the S1, with soaring extension, liquidity, and a wicked turn of pace. Despite pushing his instrument harder and harder as the piece progresses and the high-frequency transients become increasingly frenetic, the Magico’s diamond-coated beryllium dome never sounded hard or brittle.

While I didn’t challenge the S1s with the deafening volume levels that I save for three-way designs, not once during my listening did I hear the Magico’s even begin to compress. Given my medium-size listening space and my proclivity toward raucous music, I thought that was quite an achievement. At one point I did manage to bottom out the S1’s midrange-woofers, when I played “Why So Serious?” and its thumping, mid-30Hz bass line, from Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s score for The Dark Knight (16/44.1 ALAC, Warner Bros.). Even then, I heard only the slightest of struggles from the Nano-Tec cone and surround.

COMPARISON

Up to this point, Vivid Audio’s V1.5 floorstander with its 1” catenary aluminium tweeter and 6.2” aluminium midrange-woofer, had been the best two-way speaker I’d heard. Its avant-garde appearance leaves its visual attractiveness up for debate, but I thought it was a sonic masterpiece. I felt the Vivid’s defining characteristic was its speed. From the lower midrange up past 20kHz, the ported V1.5 sounded obscenely fast and light on its feet. As with Magico’s S1 Mk.II, high levels of transparency and resolution were present and accounted for, but the way the Vivid achieved them was a bit different from the Magico’s. Indeed, while neither speaker demonstrated even a hint of midrange coloration, I found the S1 to be the more honest speaker. The V1.5 sounded consistently fast, which I attribute to a dash of upper-midrange sparkle. While I don’t necessarily think that a bad thing, the S1 Mk.II just sounded “right.”

What wasn’t small was the difference in bass performance. Presented with challenging low-frequency material, the Magico’s remained calm, composed, and utterly nonplused, even at high volumes. Moreover, the integration of the outputs of their tweeters and midrange-woofers was terrific. The Vivids, however, run into difficulty, sounding as if, below 100Hz, their 6.2” midrange-woofers are struggling to keep up with the rest of the audio-band. The result is punchy, reasonably extended bass that’s nonetheless a bit lethargic and plodding in comparison to the speaker’s crystal-clear midrange and treble. I find this sort of sound common among two-way designs, which must mean that it’s a constant challenge to engineers: maximise bass reach, or maintain linearity? Magico’s real success is in seeming to have achieved both goals in the S1 Mk.II, which makes it a more complete loudspeaker than the Vivid V1.5.

CONCLUSION

With its immaculately lifelike sound, sterling midrange neutrality, and soaring top end, Magico’s S1 Mk.II revealed an incredible amount of low-level musical detail without sounding clinical, and was engaging without resorting to artifice. Most impressive, it produced a good portion of the tight-fisted, concussive bass you’d expect from a small three-way design, and in that sense is the first two-way speaker I’ve heard that doesn’t sound like a two-way. Marry this to its beautifully finished, minimalist cabinet and top-to-bottom cohesiveness of sound, and Magico’s S1 Mk.II is where excellent materials meet excellent sound. It’s the finest two-way speaker I’ve heard.
. . . Hans Wetzel

I think this model will become the sweet spot in Magico's range
Bodhi

I thought i'd post a short review of the new Magico S5 Mk2 speakers which I have on order in beautiful M-coat titanium. My pair are due to ship some time in March, so can't wait!

I previously owned a pair of S5 Mk1's which are very good speakers in their own right. The S5's have deep, tight, accurate bass, smooth midrange with nice tone, timbre & textural shadings, and a fast, smooth & resolving tweeter; qualities which are not always associated with BE domes. There is a touch of warmth, and the S5's have a slightly laid back presentation (in comparison to the Q3). Basically they are well balanced and coherent speakers. I describe them as "great allrounders".

But as good as the S5's are, the S5 Mk2 is a completely different animal. In fact, the only carry over components from the S5 are the extruded aluminium side panels & speaker binding posts. Everything else is new. Much of the technology found in the Mk2 has filtered down from the M project speakers, which was first adapted to the S7.

So what's new? The Mk2's 10" bass drivers use a lighter aluminium cone which was made possible by the hybrid carbon Nanotube / Nanographene dust cap which is 20% lighter & 300% stiffer than the previous model. Behind the driver cone, it's basically all-Q series technology with MUCH bigger & more powerful magnets. I attached a photo below showing a comparison between an S5 & S7's bass drivers (which are virtually identical to the S5 Mk2). Apparently you could lift an S5 bass driver with one hand, but it takes two hands to lift the new bass unit!

The new model also benefits from the copper woofer coupling system first used in the S7 which has a much higher damping factor than the previous aluminium mounting. In fact, the copper O-rings were so wildly successful they are being trickled "up" to other models.

The new 6" midrange uses a hybrid carbon Nanotube / Nanographene cone which again is 20% lighter & 300% stiffer than the previous model. The underhung neodymium base motor system uses two extra-large magnets which provide an ultra-stabilised magnetic field which improves accuracy and dynamics. The midrange also benefits from a similar computer-modelled polycarbonate enclosure to the S3. Marketing hype doesn't always match reality, but having heard the S3 and S7, my ears tell me that thing works a treat! Midrange clarity is definitely improved & the sound stage really opens up.

The S5 Mk2 also features a new 1" tweeter with a diamond-coated beryllium diaphragm, shorter voice coil, and slightly modified motor system compared to the tweeter used in the S5. The new BE diaphragm has a five-micron thick layer of diamond applied using a very difficult process. Alon said they broke 10 tools trying to design it! The new drivers also allowed the breakup point to be moved beyond the bandpass, which enabled Magico to remove the crossover's electrical traps necessary for controlling driver breakup, thereby simplifying the crossover & improving resolution.

Apropos which, Alon used some very nice caps in the critical position; the new Mundorf Mcap Supreme Evo Silver/Gold in Oil caps. Internal wiring has been improved & has been changed from Mundorf solid-core wire to 10 gauge stranded wire sourced from Japan wound in different geometries for (+) and (-).

The cabinet has also been revised & features a heavy machined 3D convex-shaped top plate to minimise enclosure diffraction and break-up vertical standing waves (similar to the M Pro). There is also a heavier bottom plate featuring 4-point outrigger feet like the S7 which lowers the centre of gravity & increases overall stability, resulting in a lower noise floor and increased dynamics according to Magico.

Taken as a whole, and drawing on my experience from hearing the S7, the S5 Mk2 should be a BIG step up from original S5. And with the advent of the S7, I think this model will become the sweet spot in Magico's range actually. Looking forward to sharing my 1st impressions soon!

.........Bodhi

for classical/jazz/acoustic-pop music lovers in any size room who want very close to the ultimate in transparency, resolution, and refinement…..the Q1 would definitely be the Magico ticket I’d ride.
Jonathan Valin

REVIEW SUMMARY: It goes without saying that I highly recommend the Magico Q1 to all but the hardest of hard-rock music lovers. It is, as I said, the highest-fidelity, fullest-range, most transparent-to-sources two-way I’ve come across (and I’ve heard a few). It is also, in my experience, one of the two finest speakers—the other being my beloved Q5s—that Magico has yet come up with. (I haven’t had enough listening experience with the Q3 to include it in the charmed circle, although by all reports it too may very well belong among the Magico elect.) For listeners in small-to-medium-sized rooms who can’t house (or won’t stand for) big boxes or large panels that clutter up the décor, or for classical/jazz/acoustic-pop music lovers in any size room who want very close to the ultimate in transparency, resolution, and refinement at much less than a Q3/Q5 price, the Q1 would definitely be the Magico ticket I’d ride.

EXTENDED REVIEW: Last weekend I traveled to Berkeley, CA, and spent three solid days listening to Magico’s latest aluminium-enclosed speaker, the $25k stand-mounted Q1 mini-monitor. To be honest, though I’d been invited to audition the Q1s several months before, this was a trip I’d decided not to make. The way I saw it, having reviewed the Minis, the M5s, and my current references the Q5s, I’d done enough Magico’ing for awhile. Plus I had my hands full with other loudspeaker-review projects, including the Scaena 3.4 that so impressed me at CES 2011 and the Audio Physic Avantera that had done a bit of the same thing at this year’s Munich show.

However, when my colleague Jim Hannon’s raved about the Q1 in his California Audio Show report, I got curious. Like me Jim is an electrostatic enthusiast—and for the very same reasons that I am. Up until very recently there was simply nothing in a dynamic speaker that could match the transparency, disappearing act, and, with a first-rate source, realism (at least on acoustic music) of a really good electrostat or planar—nothing with multiple cones that could compare to the seamless presentation of a “boxless” Quad or CLX or Sound Lab or Maggie, or equal their transient speed and low-level resolution. True, as I’ve noted before, big multiway cone speakers own the bottom octaves and impact on the loud side of the dynamic spectrum; they also have more three-dimensional “body” than ’stats and, sometimes, tighter image focus and wider soundstages. But, as I’ve also noted before, the price you pay for these things in octave-to-octave coherence, overall neutrality, low-level resolution (particularly at lower volume levels), room interaction, and transparency to sources can be steep—too steep, in fact, to interest a listener like me (until the M5, followed abruptly by the Q5, came a’callin’). No bass is better than lousy bass in my book (yet to be published, BTW). And even if the bass proves passable, hearing different sounds in the low end, the midrange, and the treble from ill-matched drivers in a large noisy enclosure is simply an unacceptable trade-off for an extra octave of bottom end.

Indeed, until about two years ago the only dynamic speakers that passed muster in the Valin house were two-way mini-monitors. Why? Because they sounded more like single-driver electrostats and planars (augmented by some of the virtues of cones).

Of course, it’s a lot easier to design and build a good two-way mini-monitor than it is to design and build a three-and-a-half or four-way or five-way behemoth. First, you only have to deal with two drivers and one crossover—not that this is a snap, but it is certainly simpler than wrestling with five or six drivers and multiple crossovers. Second, you only have to deal with a tiny box. Once again, engineering and constructing a really good tiny box isn’t a walk in the park, but whatever the build-quality it is substantially less difficult to make a small enclosure disappear into the soundfield than it is a large one.

All of which means that minis inherently have a leg up when it comes to driver coherence and enclosure inaudibility. In addition to this, they generally don’t produce much (if any) low bass making them a lot less likely to excite those 60–80Hz room nodes that automatically remind you that you’re listening to a woofer in a cabinet. Their much smaller footprints allow them to be placed farther away from side walls and back walls, further reducing room reflections and allowing them to throw vast, minutely detailed soundstages into which they more or less disappear.

This said, many of the same things that a mini gets right it also gets wrong. First, there is the bass issue. Minis generally don’t have any. From a room-interaction viewpoint, this is great (as noted)—from a musical one, not so much. Electrostatic Quads and CLXes and planar Maggie 3.7s may not plumb the depths below 45-55Hz, but they go down low enough to give you a fair semblance of the sound of bass fiddles, pianos, tubas, contrabassoons, etc. Oh, they may not reproduce the lowest pitches of these instruments (or all the power with which fortes are sounded), but they get the harmonics right and thanks to the way our brains and ears work we supply the missing fundamentals.

Many two-ways, on the other hand, are lucky to make it down to 80–90Hz. They often have a built-in bump at their LF cutoff, intended to give you the impression of deeper-going bass, but (minus the addition of a subwoofer, itself a very iffy proposition) a typical two-way mini-monitor cannot “imply” the bottom octaves or fill in the “power range” from 100Hz to 400Hz the way a good ’stat or planar can and does. As a result, two-ways tend to sound thin in balance, lacking the body and weight and power of the real thing. Of course, this lighter balance also makes them sound nimbler in the midrange and can foster the impression of great transparency and detail, in the same way that certain electronics that are depressed in the mid-to-upper bass and lower mids can sound more transparent and detailed.

Second, there is that soundstage. Because they only have two drivers, a (relatively) simple crossover, and tiny enclosures with much less surface area to reflect/diffract off (and much less mass to resonate), minis, as noted, tend to disappear into the soundfield more completely than any other kind of speaker, including ’stats and planars. However, at the same time that their diminutive enclosures and simple complement of drivers allow them to disappear as sound sources, those selfsame diminutive enclosures and simple complement of drivers are also constantly reminding us of their presence in the thinness of timbre and lack of weight, body, and power that I’ve already mentioned, and the miniaturisation of instruments and voices that I haven’t. Detailed a mini’s soundstage certainly is, often vast in width and depth and precise in focus. But realistic image height is almost always a problem. Now it’s true that all loudspeakers have a “size” issue—I’ve never yet heard one capable of reproducing the sheer breadth (and enormous power) of, oh, a drumkit as it is heard in life, much less a symphony orchestra—but when it comes to lifelike imaging mini-monitors typically are worst-case scenarios. They tend to shrink instruments and voices to unusually small dimensions.

Unfortunately, image size isn’t the only thing they shrink. A single 5-7" mid/woofer in a tiny box simply can’t move the amount of air that a big panel or several large woofers in a well-engineered cabinet can move. The result isn’t just a lack of low bass; it is an overall lack of dynamic range and impact onsforzandos and fortissimos and a definite SPL limit at the loud end of the loudness scale. As is the case with ’stats and planars, this dynamic shortfall on the very loud side is compensated for by superior speed of attack and greater delicacy of timbre and texture on the very soft one. Nonetheless, dynamic-range and ultimate-loudness limits are the banes of most minis.

In small rooms on a large slice of acoustic music, mini-monitors can (minus image size) sound very persuasively realistic—and very transparent to sources. But they won’t do the big orchestral stuff—or any power rock—with the verisimilitude of larger dynamic, planar, or electrostatic speakers. It is just the price you pay for what mini-monitors do well.

At least, this was the scenario chez Valin up until the arrival of the Magico Mini and Mini II about four years ago. Thanks to the superior engineering of their cabinets, drivers, crossover, and heroic T6 aluminium-and-birch stands, the Minis (which were rather misleadingly named, in that they were much much larger and more substantial than typical two-ways) began to turn the ship around.

The Minis and Mini IIs had all the virtues of two-ways—the neutrality, the low-level resolution, the coherence, the vast soundstage, the incomparable disappearing act—but they also had three things that other minis did not (or at least not in this abundance): bass, dynamics, and image size. Now when I say the Minis had bass, I don’t mean they plumbed the depths the way the M5s or Q5s do. But their carbon-fibre drivers, massive neodymium magnets, unusually well-engineered spiders and suspensions, and sealed birch-ply-and-T6-aluminium cabinets allowed them to play down into the upper-forties flatly and to roll off below that at 12dB/octave, giving them “usable” response into the mid-to-low forties and upper thirties. Many ’stats, planars, and smaller three-way dynamic speakers would’ve been proud to own the Mini IIs’ bass, for it was not only extended, it was also discriminating—a far cry from the humped-up bass of earlier-gen two-ways.

With this increase in bass extension and resolution came concomitant increases in neutrality through the power region, volume limits, and overall dynamic impact. The Mini IIs could play louder and with greater power than other minis I’d owned or reviewed. And this expansion of dynamic range made them more suitable on a larger variety of music, although they were still far short of the ideal speakers for certain kinds of rock-and-roll, electronica, and very-large-scale classical.

Whether because of their sleek tapered enclosures, their superb stands (which lifted them further from the floor than typical mini stands), their new-tech drivers and crossovers, or the combination of the three, the Minis and Mini IIs were also not “miniaturising” loudspeakers. They managed to produce closer-to-life-sized voices, violins, even pianos, and they did so without the laser-cut focus of most two-ways. They were larger and more naturally expansive-sounding, without any loss of stage width or depth or inner detail.

As good as the Minis were—and they were the speakers that put Magico on the high-end map—they weren’t perfect. Their tweeter was rather bright and although its out-of-passband breakup modes (and those of the mid/woof) were greatly reduced in the Mini II version of the speaker, the tweet was still vaguely audible on-axis (much less so off-axis). There was also a graininess—not dissimilar to the brushed-snare noise in all but the latest-gen Magneplanars—to the Minis’ soundfield that I assumed came with the cone drivers (particularly the ring-radiator tweeter). In addition, the Minis were not easy to drive. Like all Magico speakers they were a difficult low-sensitivity load that necessitated the use of the best and most powerful amplifiers, tube and solid-state, to get the best sound.

Replacing a classic is never an easy task, but Magico has made a habit of trumping its own best efforts (often with disconcerting rapidity, as in the cases of the Mini I and Mini II and the M5 and the Q5). So when Wolf and Co. showed a mockup of the aluminium-bodied, beryllium-tweetered Q1 at last year’s CES, I was sure that the new speaker would be better. What I didn’t guess was how much better.

As I started off by saying, it took Jim Hannon’s rave write-up to get me interested enough to toy with the idea of paying Magico a visit after all. As was the case with the M5/Q5, I was promised a side-by-side comparison of the Mini II and the Q1, using the same electronics (Solution 700 monoblocks and 720 linestage, with which I am very familiar) and, to further entice me, using the same analog sources—a Clearaudio Innovation Wood turntable, a Graham Phantom II Supreme tonearm, and my current reference mc, the Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement, plus a variety of phonostages from Aesthetix, Soulution, and (the surprise of the bunch) the Tube Preamp from Dan Schmalle of The Tape Project and Bottlehead Electronics. I was told I could bring as many of my own LPs as I could fit in a carry-on suitcase and listen at length to recordings I know by heart through electronics that were until lately my references. (Magico had never showed its gear with vinyl prior to this past Munich High-End Show. Now I’d be surprised if it didn’t. Alon Wolf is nothing if not a true believer and once he finds a “better thing” he goes all out to find the best of breed. The wonder, to me, is that it took him this long to rediscover the joys of LPs, especially since he has thousands of albums in his home and in his showroom.)

Before I cut to the chase, a few words about me and Magico. There are folks out there who seem to think that I only like Magico loudspeakers (and I advise them to read my reviews of the Quad 2905s, the MartinLogan CLXes, the Magneplanar 1.7s and 3.7s, the Morel Fat Ladies, the TAD CR-1 Compact Monitors, the Nola Baby Grands, the MBL X-Tremes, etc.—and also to take a close look at my RMAF and CES show reports). Though I confess to feeling odd about reporting on yet another honest-to-goodness great loudspeaker from this little Berkeley-based company so soon after reviewing its great Q5, what should I do in the face of genuine sonic distinction? Keep mum? Pass on the opportunity? Wait till next time? Before I read Jim’s CAS report, all of these thoughts went through my head. But after reading it, it came to me that my primary job at TAS is to report on cutting-edge excellence, whatever its source. And while Magico is certainly not the only speaker manufacturer at the pointy end of today’s technology, it is one of the foremost. Ergo, this review.

So, to get the sticky part over with, let me just outright say that the Magico Q1 is the highest-fidelity stand-mount two-way I’ve yet heard. It is not just a little better than its predecessor, the Mini II, it is a whole lot better in every sonic regard. Switching from the Mini II to the Q1 (on the same sources with the same electronics) is almost exactly like switching from an LS3/5a to a Quad 57—or for that matter from an M5 to a Q5, only in a couple regards the Q1 is better than the Q5.

I suppose the first thing that stands out about the Q1 is its much lower noise floor—the virtual elimination of the upper-midrange/treble hash and grain of the Mini II. As was the case with the Q5 vis-à-vis the M5, a good deal of this lower distortion has to be attributed to the Q1’s superior, elaborately braced aluminium enclosure, which, unlike the Mini II’s birchply-and-aluminium enclosure, is not storing energy and then playing it back ever-so-faintly in a time-smeared fashion.

But with the Q1 the improvement in the cabinet is only half the story. The other half is the improvement in the blend of its 1" beryllium dome tweeter and its 7" NanoTec carbon-fiber-Rohacell-sandwich mid/bass. It is my understanding that, since the launch of the Q5, Magico has been “working on” its beryllium tweeter and, one assumes, on the crossover between the tweeter and the other drivers. I don’t know precisely what has changed here but I can tell you for a fact that this is the most seamless blend of a beryllium tweeter and a cone mid/woof I’ve heard. As a result, the Q1 come closer to sounding like a single-driver loudspeaker (on-axis) than any loudspeaker Magico has yet made. The effect is magical—like getting a Quad or a CLX (with better bass and large-scale dynamics than either) in a 9" by 14.2" by 14.2" package. Where the Q5 comes very close to this same magical seamlessness (when listened to slightly off-axis), I’m not sure that it fully matches that of the Q1 in the upper-mids and treble, where the little speaker isn’t “virtually” like a ’stat but is “fully” so. In the treble, its low-level resolution is at least as good (if not better) than that of the Q5. In fact, the only area in the upper-mids and highs where the Q5 seemingly exceeds the Q1 is transient speed—and that may be because its slightly “rougher-sounding” (on axis) beryllium tweeter is goosing up attacks. In any event, this is one very neutral, very detailed, very well-integrated, very transparent loudspeaker that not only taught me a few new things about recordings I know well but also taught me a few new things about the Soulution electronics it was being used with (for which, see below).

Let’s turn to the bass and dynamics, as those are the bêtes noires of minis. Magico claims that the Q1 is capable of 32Hz extension +/-3dB and has the measurements to prove it.

While I’m not sure that the Q1 was going quite this low this flatly when I heard it, it was certainly going lower than any other two-way I’ve auditioned—flat at least into the upper 30s. In stand-mounts only the TAD CR-1 equals it in bottom-end extension (and exceeds it in bottom-end clout)—and the TAD CR-1 is a $40k three-way with a separate 8" woofer.

Once again I’m not sure how Magico achieved this legerdemain from such a small box and driver, but musical notes that would’ve been veiled or absent on the Mini II—such as the capering contrabassoon and double basses in the Overture of Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements [Decca], the thunderous pedal point of the piano in Paul Dessau’s First Sonata [Nova], and the sharp cracks of the drumkit in Reiner Bredemeyer’s Schlagstück 5 [Nova]—are here reproduced almost in their entirety.

I say “almost” because while the Q1 can supply a low-end clarity and extension that puts other minis to shame, it cannot supply all the power that accompanies these deep notes (where the much larger Q5 can). You simply don’t get the room-shaking power and utterly clear pitch-definition of Tina’s rumbling bass intro on “Take Me To The River” through the Q1s the way you do with the bigger Q5s. Let’s face it: There is a limit to the amount of air a 7" driver can move, although I think you would be surprised, as I was, by how close the Q1 comes to reproducing lifelike bass-range dynamics, particularly in the mid-to-upper bass.

Above the bass range, the Q1 is a dynamic dynamo (as was the Mini II, to be fair), although because of the unusually smooth blend of tweet and mid/woof (and the lower noise of its enclosure) that dynamism has a less roughed-up, lower distortion, more civilised feel. The new Q is also—with the right source components—a paragon of transparency and resolution, reproducing subtleties like Joan Baez’s and Melody Gardot’s tremolo with the clarity, delicacy of timbre and texture, dynamic range, and sheer “in-the-room-with-you” realism of an electrostat, albeit with more body and dimensionality than a ’stat.

Naturally, the Q1’s soundstaging is vast (when the recording permits) and the speaker disappears into the soundfield—as all minis do—so completely that you have little-to-no sense of the sound being projected from or painted on drivers and faceplates. On top of this, the Q1 (like the Mini II before it) does not miniaturise instruments, although it does focus them a bit more crisply than the Mini did. Thus something like the concert grand piano in the aforementioned Dessau LP has the height, volume, and most of the power of a piano reproduced by a much larger multiway loudspeaker.

Now let me say something about this speaker’s transparency to sources. With a couple of the phonostages we used, the Q1s had a sound that I associate with the Soulution 700 monoblock amps and MIT cables—very clear, neutral, and fast on transients but just the slightest bit “over controlled,” as if some kind of sonic brake was being applied to the duration of notes after the sounding of the starting transient. This sense of over control or restraint makes music sound slightly less freed-up, slightly less vital and lively than it does through a select few other components. Frankly, I thought this mechanisation was due to the very elaborate feedback circuit in the Soulution 700 and to the networking of the MIT cable and interconnect. But, as usual, I was wrong.

When we stuck in a third phonostage at the end of the second day of listening, the Q1s sprang into even more convincing life—transparency, resolution, delicacy of tone and texture, see-through clarity, and above all liveliness markedly increased and the vague sense of mechanisation vanished. Clearly it was not the amps or the cables that were causing the problem, such as it was (and you’d have to be familiar with the LPs and certain other very high-quality electronics to be aware of it); it was the other two phonostages. When a loudspeaker can discern this sort of thing, while also reproducing instruments and vocalists with astonishing realism, you have a transducer that will please “fidelity to master tapes” listeners and “absolute sound” ones equally. And that, folks, is quite an accomplishment.

It goes without saying that I highly recommend the Magico Q1 to all but the hardest of hard-rock music lovers. It is, as I said, the highest-fidelity, fullest-range, most transparent-to-sources two-way I’ve come across (and I’ve heard a few). It is also, in my experience, one of the two finest speakers—the other being my beloved Q5s—that Magico has yet come up with. (I haven’t had enough listening experience with the Q3 to include it in the charmed circle, although by all reports it too may very well belong among the Magico elect.) For listeners in small-to-medium-sized rooms who can’t house (or won’t stand for) big boxes or large panels that clutter up the décor, or for classical/jazz/acoustic-pop music lovers in any size room who want very close to the ultimate in transparency, resolution, and refinement at much less than a Q3/Q5 price, the Q1 would definitely be the Magico ticket I’d ride.

My time with the Magico Q1s is over, but they are not forgotten. They have left on my ears an indelible mark.
Peter Roth

REVIEW SUMMARY: The Magico Q1 is a more than worthy successor to its category-defining predecessors, the Magico Mini and Mini II. Despite its smaller exterior dimensions (yet larger interior volume), the Q1 goes noticeably lower in the bass. With its superior drivers and advanced aluminium enclosure, it leaves the Minis behind in Magico’s ongoing quest for utter neutrality. In reducing Magico’s Q series to its essence in a two-way stand-mount, the Q1 performs its own magic trick, unfolding what in lesser monitors remains miasma. Almost shocking in its ability to exceed expectations, it left agape the mouths of a string of visitors to my listening room. The visceral results ranged from tormenting to thrashing to unexpected, beckoning depths, but were most notable when the Q1s reproduced bass passages, from orchestral crescendos to hard-rock drum kits. 

EXTENDED REVIEW: When any audio component comes in for review, it’s usually several weeks before its true nature begins to fully reveal itself. Familiar recordings of different musical styles, placing different demands on a playback system, are selected to tease out the character and capabilities of the device under test. But every once in a while, the initial impact made by a component is so clear that it stands out in stark relief from the rest. In those rare circumstances, the hundreds of tracks played in the following weeks serve only to confirm that initial impression, rather than blaze a circuitous trail to its real character, hitherto unrevealed. 

One such rarity is the Magico Q1, a sealed-box, two-way, stand-mounted loudspeaker ($26,500 USD per pair, including stands). Immediately after setting up the well-traveled review samples and connecting them to my small reference system, I was gobsmacked. Here was a product that demanded I immediately pick up the phone to invite friends and colleagues to sit in the sweet spot with a teasing “You’ve got to hear this for yourself!” I finally and fully understood what the Magico buzz is all about -- an understanding that had somewhat evaded me at audio shows. Every day thereafter, the Q1 left me shaking my head, and the mouths of my compatriots agape. It is very nearly a full-range speaker crammed into a package measuring just 14.2”H x 9”W x 14.2”D. But I get ahead of myself . . . 

One serious box 

Because I review audio equipment, a steady procession of equipment boxes, cartons, and crates flows back and forth among manufacturers, their distributors, and me. And while I can’t judge a book by its cover, I can generally ascertain how committed a company is to its equipment by the lengths it goes to ensure that equipment’s safe arrival. It’s hard to find more serious efforts than those made by Magico: a coffin-sized crate containing, side by side, two supine, fully encapsulated Q1s, their integral stands already attached. The shipping weight of the crated pair is about 280 pounds; each speaker itself weighs 60 pounds, and each stand the same, for a total net weight per side of 120 pounds. Magico’s almost over-the-top effort to ensure that their machines reach their destinations intact is no doubt appreciated by its customers, but it does beg one question: Where to store the crate? 

Removing each speaker-and-stand combo from its resting place (a two-man job) grants access to a briefcase nestled in the base of the crate, in which is stored a complete set of cones and “spike shoes.” Also included is a pair of white gloves, to prevent the fingerprinting of the Q1s’ satin-like finish, and a microfiber cloth to remove any evidence of such smudges. The speakers themselves are draped in a form-fitting velvet sheath, under which awaits the final layer of protection. Given the delicacy of the dome tweeter’s beryllium diaphragm, a secured protective ring must be decoupled from the baffle, and a complement of thick masking material removed; for shipping purposes, this material adheres to each surface of the speaker that could possibly come in contact with the shipping supports of closed-cell foam. 

A chip off the new Q 

Anyone familiar with Magico’s Q series of aluminium constructed speakers will recognize the Q1’s similarities to them. Like its larger brethren, the Q1 strikes a dense, purposeful pose, and is elegant in its monolithic solidity. In fact, with the visual design interplay of stand and monitor, the Q1 is arguably more interesting to look at than all but the mighty Q7, which tops the line. The bead-blasted, hard-anodised finish is unsurpassed in my experience, and should survive a lifetime or two. The metalwork embodies an attention to detail and a satisfying luxuriousness seen only in top-of-the-line electronics from the likes of Jeff Rowland Design Group, Zandèn, and Ayre Acoustics’ R series. 

The Q1 is more austere than its spiritual predecessor, the Magico Mini, which, with its combination of stacked-birch ply and aluminium, first turned heads and ears toward Magico, and almost singlehandedly launched the category of super-premium, stand-mounted speaker. The Mini and Mini II were considerably larger, at 16”H x 12"W x 17”D and 80 pounds each (plus 120 pounds of stand). While it’s a bit of a stretch to call the Minis “minimonitors,” they certainly displayed visual character. With the Q series in general and the Q1 specifically, I’m sure designers Alon Wolf and Yair Tammam would say they’d traded out some character for enhanced purposefulness -- a necessary step in their quest to design and build “Extreme Fidelity Speakers.” Let’s see what has changed. The Q1 more closely resembles a two-way, stand-mounted version of the venerable Q3 than a successor to the Mini and Mini II. 

The Q story can be distilled into three elements: Magico’s development of an advanced set of custom drivers, the acquisition of its own machine shop in San Jose, California, and the release of the Q-series cabinet platform. 

Advanced Finite Element Analysis, made possible by a suite of development tools (COMSOL Multiphysics, ReSHAPE, etc.), was used to determine an optimal application of the enclosure and resonance management of the Q platform. In the Q1, such dynamic, multi-environmental modelling resulted in a sealed enclosure of smaller exterior dimensions and larger interior volume than either Mini, and bass response that went 7Hz deeper than the Mini II (which itself extended the bass performance of the original Mini). A knuckle-rap test of the Q1’s inert enclosure resulted in nothing but bruises, as would be expected by even a brief examination of the Q1’s skeleton. The precision machined chassis is not only formidable, but the number and location of each of the many bolts has been critically established to raise the resulting resonant frequency while narrowing the quality factor (Q) of that frequency, and greatly simplifying the capture and elimination of resonances by proven damping agents. The front baffle consists of a constrained-layer-damped sandwich: two aluminium elements separated by a viscous damping material. The remaining panels are affixed to the underlying structure in such a way that the only clues that the Q1 is not cut from a single billet of aluminium are found on the back and bottom. 

Magico also uses Finite Element Analysis in its march along the road to ever better drivers. Accordingly, instead of the 1” ring-radiator tweeter and 7” woofer used in the Mini II, the Q1 has essentially the same custom, 1” beryllium-dome tweeter found in the Q3, as well as a thoroughly engineered, 7” Nano-Tech woofer exclusive to Magico. Wolf is especially proud of the drivers he and Tammam have developed for the entire Q line, a project that culminated in the new drivers for the awe-inspiring Q7. Here is where the computational horsepower of Finite Element Analysis and simulation were concentrated, to simultaneously correlate acoustical, electromagnetic, mechanical, and thermal behaviours. One focus of the engineering team in this regard was to attain high levels of pistonic operation, to minimise distortions through the selected bandpass. As expected in this super-premium category, and with the Q1’s aspirations, Magico asserts that the crossover between the two drivers applies an evolution of the Elliptical design of the Q5, and uses nothing but premium parts. 

Shazam!

As mentioned in the introduction, the Q1 made on me an immediate positive impression -- one that summoned up the feelings I’d had at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, where I first experienced the Magico Mini (driven by electronics from Balanced Audio Technology). But unlike in 2007, I could now judge the speakers’ contributions in the context of my small reference system. For the first several days I devoured my music library, thoroughly engaged and excited by the sound. Among the selections were a handful that I returned to again and again, as I demonstrated the Q1s to friends who had answered my calls or had merely dropped by. 

First on the demo list was the title track of Donald Fagen’s Morph the Cat (CD, Reprise 49975-2). This Grammy-winning 2006 album is my go-to choice for torturing systems. Through the Q1s, the opening strains of drums, electric bass, and rhythm guitar filled the room. Avoiding any sense of the sloppy flapping that can overwhelm the subsequent entrance of voices through lesser speakers, the Q1’s bass (rated at -3dB at 32Hz, in-room) was every bit as tight and controlled as its “locked and loaded,” metronomic groove. A perfect complement to Fagen’s meticulous arrangements, recording, and production, the Magicos’ reproduction of “Morph the Cat” provided exactly the propulsive support needed to establish the vibe that then is carried through the entire album. Furthermore, the composed, top-to-bottom continuity of the Q1 cut through the strata of the sonic landscape, laying bare the wit and sardonic perspective embedded in song after song. 

In their ability to transmit intact the myriad spatial cues that are rife throughout good live recordings, the Q1s proved transportive. Perfect examples abound, such as the recent Miles Davis release Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1 (CD, Columbia/Legacy 94053), which saw frequent replay during the Q1’s tenure. Perhaps most insightful was Mike Garson’s “Trio Blues,” from Reference Recordings’ HRx Sampler 2011 (24/176.4 WAV, Reference HR-2011), a previously unreleased outtake from Garson’s Serendipity (Reference RR20, analog master). While an early flub by Garson effects a midstream restart of this outtake, nothing diminishes the attention to detail and master-file nature of this Prof. Keith O. Johnson recording, nor the artistic command of Garson and his players. In fact, the open window on the studio shuffling and chit-chat as the ensemble resets is voyeuristic. The Q1 reproduced all of this with aplomb, displaying the deft ability to track all of these sonic masterpieces of recorded sound. 

In many ways, the Magico Q1 was like a perfected electrostatic speaker. It displayed the qualities of detail, resolution, and transparency that electrostats are known for, yet avoided their practical limitations in terms of output levels, large-scale dynamics, and, but for the last half-octave or so of bass, bandwidth. The Q1 also had very well-controlled directivity in my room. In my experience, the only other compact speaker that can match the Q1 in these regards is the TAD Compact Reference, a stand-mounted three-way notable for its high-technology beryllium concentric drivers, a significantly larger displacement, and an even higher price ($37,000/pair).

One thing evident about the Q1 from the start was its ability to relay everything occurring upstream. I suspect that attributes often glibly ascribed to Magico speakers are rather the attributes of their associated equipment. From this perspective, the Q1 proved an exceptional monitoring device. For my last week with the speakers, I relocated my review pair of Audio Research Reference 250 monoblock amplifiers from my big system to the small. Not only did the Q1s help cement my impression of the mighty 250s; the extra smidgen of humanity on offer from the ARCs’ KT-120 tubes made it clear that there was nothing inherently antiseptic about the Magicos’ sound. 

Returning to acoustic piano -- specifically, Ola Gjeilo’s “North Country II,” from the excellent 2L-TWBAS 2012 Sampler (24/176.4 FLAC, 2L/SoundStageRecordings.com) -- was sheer delight. As I’ve mentioned in past reviews, this track is a favorite of mine. As with the Garson track, the Q1s reproduced all of the resolution, tonality, microdetail, and timbre captured on the recording. Most important, the emotional impact of the music was fully conveyed. What both my ARC and Ayre MX-R monoblocks made clear, however, was that the Q1s liked to have gobs of high-quality power. 

The LeBron James of minimonitors 

A natural comparison point for the Q1 was the Crystal Cable Arbesque Minii, which I reviewed just over a month ago and which retails in the US for $25,000/pair, including stands. Both speakers have aluminium enclosures designed using COMSOL and similarly advanced design tools. Both have beryllium-dome tweeters and advanced woofers. Both are highly refined, reference-level products. In many respects, however, they could not be more different. Whereas the Magico surprised in the way its performance defied my expectations, the Arabesque Mini more closely conforms to what’s expected from a small speaker, yet does so with a refinement and a grace that reflect the philosophies of its creators. 

The Q1’s sound was much more visceral; the Arabesque Mini’s concentrates on nuance. For example, the extra bandwidth offered by the Q1 made a palpable difference in experiencing the bass thrust of Fagen’s “Morph the Cat.” In this respect, the Q1 reminded me of NBA star LeBron James, whose raw athleticism leaves fans shaking their heads in awe: “How does he do that? That move can’t be real, can it?” With the Arabesque Mini I am reminded of ballet, and talents such as Mikhail Baryshnikov. While, again, world-class athleticism is on display, it is grace and nuance that separate the masters from the merely exceptional -- and grace and nuance are what the Dutch speaker is all about.

As to which is the better value at nearly the same price, that will depend on what the customer seeks. In the States, my choice would be the Magico. Yet if I were in Europe, where the realities of international distribution result in the Q1 costing almost twice as much as the Arabesque Mini, I might go the other way. Ultimately, I think the question of value is answered less by cost and more by character. Each speaker has its own distinct character, and offers different choices. To quote Lady Gaga, “It’s good to live expensive!” 

Conclusions 

The Magico Q1 is a more than worthy successor to its category-defining predecessors, the Magico Mini and Mini II. Despite its smaller exterior dimensions (yet larger interior volume), the Q1 goes noticeably lower in the bass. With its superior drivers and advanced aluminium enclosure, it leaves the Minis behind in Magico’s ongoing quest for utter neutrality. In reducing Magico’s Q series to its essence in a two-way stand-mount, the Q1 performs its own magic trick, unfolding what in lesser monitors remains miasma. Almost shocking in its ability to exceed expectations, it left agape the mouths of a string of visitors to my listening room. The visceral results ranged from tormenting to thrashing to unexpected, beckoning depths, but were most notable when the Q1s reproduced bass passages, from orchestral crescendos to hard-rock drum kits. 

My time with the Magico Q1s is over, but they are not forgotten. They have left on my ears an indelible mark. 

. . . Peter Roth

if you buy the Q1, you get to be the audiophile equivalent of a Formula One driver.
Alan Sircom

REVIEW SUMMARY: So not only is the Magico Q1 an excellent loudspeaker, it will help bring out excellence in future loudspeaker designs. Rival manufacturers will need a solution that challenges this speaker, fast. That being said, I think I’m comfortable in saying it’s going to be some time before anyone catches up with the Q1. Few companies could even start to build with the dedication and single-mindedness that is needed to build a speaker this fantastic.

The Magico Q1 is a standmount loudspeaker with an integrated stand (which is bolted to a recess in the underside of the speaker) and is shipped as standard with this mounted in place. It’s a two-way sealed box that sits on a single column pedestal. And that is inevitably going to be twisted into “it’s not a real standmount” by rivals. Because “it’s not a real standmount” is going to be the excuse that will issue from those trying to justify their place in a post-Q1 loudspeaker world.

Their styling is bold... and none more black. The Q1s stand tall for a pair of floorstanders (the 25mm Beryllium dome tweeter is above ear height for most sofa-dwellers) and the squared off corners and thick black aluminium plates make the Q1s look like small monoliths from 2001 – A Space Odyssey. I left some Ligeti playing overnight to give them some running in and by the time I came down next day, my cats had started using primitive hand tools. Three days later, they were building a space station.

Joking aside, the Q1 are an uncompromising styling exercise for the home. Deliberately so; they make the big, bold physical statement because audio makes a big statement in its own right through these speakers. Music is an unapologetically stirring experience through these speakers and we need more things this uncompromisingly good and exciting if we are ever to reach out to a new audience.

Although you’ll never get to see inside the box (it’s a sealed box design, and they do mean sealed), it’s like a little city under the hood. The cabinet bolts to a complex cross-braced aluminium skeleton, with additional mounting plates at the front and rear of the cabinet, for the drivers and the crossover respectively. These massy plates also add stiffness to an already unfeasibly stiff cabinet. There’s constrained layer damping inside instead of anything soft and sticky, fluffy or foamy, because the cabinet is so thick and dense and non-resonant that a spot of BAF wadding or long-haired wool wouldn’t make a shred of difference to performance. This does.

The drive units could be seen as a sign of just how seriously Magico takes the whole process of speaker making. The 25mm beryllium dome tweeter and 177mm NeoTech (carbon fibre meets Rohacell sandwich) mid-bass unit have been seen before in the Q5. Except they haven’t; in the intervening time between the first and subsequent Q models, Magico has been performing a series of improvements to both drive units. Not significant enough to warrant Q5 owners returning their speakers for a new set of drivers, but specific improvements to the Q1 driver set to make the speaker all the more correct. But in a way, you can see the dedication that goes into the Q1 in every aspect of the speaker, even down to the little spike wrench the company supplies with the speaker.

The reason for the stand being an integral part of the design becomes clear if you scratch the surface (good luck with that by the way; you might want to try a diamond cutter, because that’s probably the only way you’ll get under that black coat). The stand is directly coupled to the speaker by being bolted to it. That acts as an effective damping mechanism, in precisely the opposite way most stand-mounts at the high-end tend to work; Magico feels the normal way of minimising resonance in standmounts (adding mass to the stand and decoupling the loudspeaker) is fundamentally flawed.

The result of all this development was a long time coming. A two-way sealed standmount like this, with its single-wired crossover and slightly curved front baffle, shouldn’t have taken long to engineer, given the whole Magico way of things (everything, right down to the aluminium factory, is in house or made to order). But, given the whole Magico way of doing things (no retreat, no surrender, no compromise), it actually took a surprising amount of work bringing these speakers to market. There is a lot of computer modelling, prototyping, measuring, listening, re-working and going back to the computer CAD/CAM pen tablet type thing (it was so much simpler when it was ‘back to the drawing board’).

The result is a speaker of powerful appearance. It’s a simple, timeless design in the same way a Le Coubusier chair is timeless. Functional to the point of utility, engineered at a premium for those who have no knowledge of the meaning of the word ‘over-engineered’, well proportioned no-quarter stuff. It’s the kind of loudspeaker that you want to know how to field-strip it in less than 30 seconds flat with your eyes closed. It’s all very Y-chromosome stuff; like flight-recorder boxes, boxing stats and Tonka toys.

Installation is simple, but deserves and demands painstaking adjustment to get it right. Give it some air, preferably a metre or so from side and rear walls and somewhere between two to three metres apart, with a slight toe-in. Fortunately, being sealed boxes with almost no rear or side radiation pattern, if you cannot quite achieve the rear and side-wall positioning, it’s not a big deal. Like the Mini II’s these speakers replace, they benefit from being placed in a larger room than you’d normally consider for floorstanders, but unlike the Mini II, that’s ‘benefit’, not a mandatory recommendation.

Similarly with amplifier choices, the church has been broadened. It’s a relatively low sensitivity speaker by today’s standards (claimed 86dB) but a relatively benign load by the same high-end benchmarks (five ohm nominal, with just a four ohm impedance dip at 156Hz). This means amplifiers of 50W and above will drive the Q1 well, although a couple of hundred watts of good, clean power will drive them exceptionally well. Especially as the Q1s seem to have been designed for the occasional Mr Hyde elements inside all of us that leaps out and turns the volume up to stupid for a while.

There is no such thing as an unburstable loudspeaker. Too little power played pushed into clipping, or way too much power burning out the voice coil can kill drive units. But with the Q1, you’d have to really hook the speakers up to something outrageously powerful and have scant regard for your hearing to do overpower the drive units. I played AC/DC so damn loud on these babies, I was unable to hear myself speak two rooms away and they didn’t turn a hair. For the bulk of the test, I used a Devialet D-Premier to drive them perfectly (I’d imagine two of them would drive the Q1s perfectly squared).

My listening notes on this loudspeaker are, er, brief. In fact, just two words, written big. The second word was ‘… me!’ The other word was short and earthy and not suitable for publication. The big reason for this; it goes back to that old and lost goal for audio – high-fidelity – and makes you remember why it was important. The audiophile-baiter might turn up their nose at this statement and point at a lesser loudspeaker and claim that it does the same job at a fraction of the price. And that argument has complete validity... until they get to the end of the first bar of music played through the Q1, and realise just how much closer Magico gets to that high-fidelity goal than other standmounts.

It gets voices right, making them sound like real people, not wide-mouthed human impersonators. It gets instruments like the piano right too, and it’s perhaps here where you start to get an understanding of why it is so good at its job. Of those 88 keys, I’d say 82 of them were all present and correct. Of the remaining six, they were portrayed without boost or bloat, but just didn’t have the same energy and dynamism of the rest of the left hand. That in itself is remarkable on any speaker, but on a standmount it’s worthy of high praise indeed.

But what really got me was the way it not only tied everything together musically, but made a truly huge sound in the process. Not artificially big, bloated or bounced off the side-wall expanded, but just right. So when you played ‘Flume’ by Bon Iver, you got that small, falsetto-frail voice and a real-sized guitar, and when you switched to Beecham conducting Carmen (EMI), you got all the scale of the operatic stage. And yet in both cases you could get past the scale and listen into the music. Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) is particularly key here, because the recording isn’t stellar and lesser ‘audiophile’ speakers will be caught out by that. The Magico Q1 just resolves good music.

The big advantage to standmounts is they image better than otherwise similar floorstanding peers. The disadvantage is the lack of bottom end. So any speaker that can do both would be an immediate winner, but to date none do. Until now. Magico claims 32Hz at -3dB in the wild, which is deeply impressive, but I think is understatement. In my room, there was still a lot happening at 28Hz. Even the mighty Mini II it replaces couldn’t compare. The Mini II had slightly less bass and was a lot more demanding of the room it sat in. The Q1 has a good 8Hz at the bottom end in room on the Mini II (which means it has a good 8-10Hz in room at the bottom end on almost every other small speaker), and the Q1 is quite capable of being installed in small to medium room; the ideal place for a small loudspeaker to behave like a loudspeaker, which was the big limit for the Mini II.

By making a loudspeaker that works in a small room and delivers unparalleled bass response, Magico has answered the Big City Audiophile question. Those who have enough money to afford speakers like Q1s tend to make their wealth in cities. And if they live in the big city where the money happens (be it London, New York, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Singapore or what have you), space is often at a premium. The traditional loudspeakers the size of a garage door will not work in a room 3m wide and 4m long, but even that space may set the listener back a fortune.

This is perhaps the most important loudspeaker I’ve ever sat in front of. Why? Because it doesn’t try to bend the rules of physics. Instead, it shows us just how much more we can get out of the physics if we try really hard. Magico’s Q1 demonstrates that real-world and honest bottom-octave sound is possible from a two-way standmount sealed box loudspeaker, and from a speaker design that isn’t the size of a large fridge. That throws down a challenge to all – if the Q1 can do it, why can’t your speaker? Hopefully, others will rise to the challenge, and that suddenly raises the standard for audio across the board.

And there’s more! For those who can’t afford the Magico Q1, you should still be happy this loudspeaker exists. This is the Formula One car of our world. Things that go on inside this speaker are being watched by intellects vast and cool and sympathetic to the audio cause, just as things that go on inside a Formula One car are watched by those looking to create the next generation of production car. What the Q1 does is create a trickle down set of ideas for subsequent generations of loudspeakers (whether or not they have a Magico badge on the front). That way, audio gets just a little bit better at doing its job. Of course, if you buy the Q1, you get to be the audiophile equivalent of a Formula One driver.

So not only is the Magico Q1 an excellent loudspeaker, it will help bring out excellence in future loudspeaker designs. Rival manufacturers will need a solution that challenges this speaker, fast. That being said, I think I’m comfortable in saying it’s going to be some time before anyone catches up with the Q1. Few companies could even start to build with the dedication and single-mindedness that is needed to build a speaker this fantastic.
........Alan Sircom

A ‘tour de force’ .....Magico’s S3 in its exquisite delivery of the music.
REVIEW SUMMARY (2014 Year Book): A ‘tour de force’ is not an uncommon cry in the promotion of high-end audio, but this promise is not only realised in the materials and manufacture of Magico’s S3 but also in its exquisite delivery of the music. But you will need an amplifier of equivalent calibre.
A 'tour de force' is not only realised in the materials and manufacture of Magico's S3 but also in its exquisite delivery of the music

The guiding philosophy of Magico’s indefatigable CEO and designer Alon Wolf is along the lines of ‘if you want it done properly...’

This extends not only to the largely bespoke drivers but in particular to those famously inert cabinets, employing copious quantities of alloy, innovative scaffold-like internal bracing and constrained-layer damping.

The Magico S3 is a three-way, sealed-box design combining the same advanced MB30 beryllium tweeter and 6in M380 midrange unit seen in the S5 [HFN Dec ’12]. But it’s the implementation of the M380 that Alon Wolf describes as ‘the biggest deal of these loudspeakers’ – the driver working into its own specially shaped sub-enclosure fashioned from a polycarbonate resin. This elongated bubble enclosure provides the ideal acoustic termination, reducing distortion over a 200Hz-2kHz bandwidth by around 5dB.

The chamber also isolates the midrange unit from changes in pressure caused by the pair of newly-developed 8in woofers. These employ a hybrid ‘Nano-Tec’/aluminium cone material combined with a huge voice coil and underhung motor system.

All that noted, we consider the S3’s extruded contoured aluminium cabinet – claimed to be the world’s largest monocoque enclosure with ½in walls and having the potential to minimise diffraction effects, internal resonances and damping requirements – to represent the ‘far bigger deal’.

The tall structure is stabilised by matching alloy outriggers fitted with exquisitely-machined adjustable spikes. Cable connection is via a single set of 4mm lock-tight bananas per cabinet. Meanwhile, Magico’s standard satin-style powder-coat finish comes in a set range of colours for a £25,000 ticket, but the glossy automotive paint M-Coat finish commands figures closer to £29,000.

Just relax

The S3s took around two weeks to warm up and ‘relax’ before the music really flowed. Ah, but when it did, they sounded astonishingly quick, the bass utterly free of bloom or overhang, securing musical rhythms with the deadly authority of a nail gun.

The segue to Magico’s topmost drivers is subjectively seamless, its mid deliciously detailed, the treble sweet but so obviously extended beyond the grasp of the ear.

The S3 is analytical by design but sympathetic, musically, in its approach. Thus it revealed the layering of The Beatles’ ‘Back In The USSR’ [White Album] without tearing this vintage masterpiece to shreds. The drone of aircraft in the background remained as clear as day, setting the scene for McCartney’s slightly nasal vocals and enthusiastic percussion. The value of remastering this vintage recording was especially clear as the S3s rolled out the red carpet for the Fab Four, the boys performing with a clarity and energy that belied the tape’s humble origins.

Moreover, the S3s create a capacious and very transparent soundfield without the conspicuous presence of an archetypal ‘big box’. Like all Magicos we’ve heard, they vanish from the picture.

Verdict

A ‘tour de force’ is not an uncommon cry in the promotion of high-end audio, but this promise is not only realised in the materials and manufacture of Magico’s S3 but also in its exquisite delivery of the music. But you will need an amplifier of equivalent calibre.

Audiophiles who really want to hear their recordings, take note: Your invitation to join that club has arrived in the Magico S3.
Ryan Coleman

SUMMARY: One of the ways I found myself listening differently with the S3s than with other speakers was that I could enjoy music at different volumes and in different ways; it took me some time to put it all together. The S3s, being resolution monsters, didn’t require a higher volume setting for me to hear the nuances of some recordings, as I found when I listened to The Lumineers and, for the first time, heard the studio reverb on the lead singer’s voice in “Morning Song.” I also spent a lot of time listening at stupid-loud levels, and enjoyed every minute of that as well -- another way of saying that I never found a volume level at which the S3s didn’t like to be played.

Magico S3Reviewers' ChoiceThe floorstanding Magico S3 costs $22,600 USD per pair and measures 48”H x 12”W x 12”D, a small footprint that makes positioning them considerably easier and more rewarding, particularly in rooms not dedicated to listening. The speaker’s effective width is increased to 16” with handsome outrigger stands that, when set properly, couple the speakers to the earth’s continental shelf. Despite its modest size, each S3 weighs 150 pounds -- like all current Magico speakers, its cabinet is made of aluminum well damped to suppress any ringing. The S3 is also the largest of Magico’s S models to have a monocoque chassis, which is claimed to provide greater stiffness than the multi-piece construction of, say, the S5.

The S3’s fit and finish in one of Magico’s six basic M-Cast finishes (Black, Pewter, Silver, Rose, Bronze, Blue) is beyond reproach. For a modest upcharge, you can get the S3 in a painted, M-Coat finish. Like other Magico speakers, the S3 is made almost entirely in house. No off-the-shelf drivers for these guys; the S3 has the same beryllium tweeter and Nano-Tec midrange driver found in the S5 ($29,400/pr.), along with a pair of newly developed 8” woofers instead of the 10” model used in the S5. While I greatly admire inventors who first must invent something else in order to realize their true inventions, I sometimes wonder if it’s actually necessary, or merely marketing fluff to justify a designer’s OCD. In the case of Magico’s Nano-Tec drivers, it seems to have been necessary. Here’s why.

The enclosures of Magico speakers are sealed boxes; that is, they have no ports. A port allows the backwave of air pressure generated by a speaker’s drivers to leave the cabinet quickly, reducing internal pressures and, according to Magico, the resultant distortions on the drivers. However, every type of speaker design is a compromise between strengths and weaknesses: ports allow a speaker to play louder and with seemingly more bass -- “seemingly” because ports are tuned to augment a small narrow frequency range, and usually roll off quickly thereafter. Without expert voicing, this can result in too much bass in one area and not enough further down. In contrast, a sealed-alignment speaker, while unable to play as loud, will behave more linearly in the bass and go lower in frequency (all else being equal), but at the risk of higher levels of distortion. Magico believes that a sealed alignment is the only way to get truly accurate bass (more about this shortly), and to prevent pressure-related distortion from compromising the S3’s linearity, they’ve given it a monocoque aluminum cabinet, with braces machined in their own CNC facility. Aluminum is considerably more rigid than the medium-density fiberboard (MDF) of which many speaker cabinets are made. Finally, to fully realize the promise of a sealed-alignment design, Magico had to invent the Nano-Tec driver, currently the only driver based on carbon nanotubes that’s used in a commercially available loudspeaker. Magico’s published specifications indicate that the S3’s distortion is only 3% higher at 20Hz than at 80Hz, in contrast to the 300% higher distortion over the same bandwidth with drivers made of more typical materials.

I also found the design of Magico’s Elliptical Symmetry Crossover to be compelling. Magico was able to achieve a 24dB rolloff between drivers, but their Elliptical Symmetry Crossover allows this to be done with half the number of parts used in a traditional crossover. And as there’s no such thing as a perfect part, fewer parts usually means higher quality, all else being equal.

Two criticisms: The S3’s drivers are protected by magnetically affixed grilles that appear to be made out of aluminum. You’re welcome to listen to the S3s with their grilles on, just as you’re welcome to tour the Fine Arts wing of the Smithsonian Institution while wearing sunglasses. I’d advise against doing either, as both impose horrible colorations on artistry. Also, while the fit’n’finish of the speakers, stands, and packaging was exceptional, no physical manual was included (it is, however, available online once the product is registered). Granted, setting up the S3s was as complicated as setting up a pair of lamps, but still -- nothing?

Listening

“Music is beautiful the way it is. It needs no help or enhancement.” -- Alon Wolf, President, Magico.

As I’ve said in multiple prior reviews, the cabinet that flexes least sounds best. You’ll bruise your knuckles if you knock them anywhere on the Magico S3’s cabinet of 0.5”-thick aluminum, and while the S3s made some beautiful music, rest assured: their cabinets did not sing along with the tunes. The Magico S3 demonstrated a remarkable ability to play cleanly and loudly at the same time -- that’s what a stone-dead cabinet will do for you. Precious few manufacturers make genuinely inert speaker cabinets, and of those that do, few of their models have as small a footprint as the S3’s -- and I can’t think of a single full-range model that costs less. That’s not to suggest that the S3 is a one-trick headbanger’s speaker (it’s not), but it is to say that, to ensure that the dynamic range of music is properly expressed, a speaker cannot resonate and thus add distortions to the music at dynamic peaks, regardless of what sort of music it’s reproducing.

The S3 was linear and predictable, as I found when listening to “The Battle,” from Hans Zimmer’s score for the film Gladiator (CD, Decca 289 467 094 2). Overall volume levels within this track range from soft to stupid loud, and depending on the volume setting, the only change I noted was in terms of room resonances (stuff on the walls started to rattle). The S3’s sonic character never flinched with the volume setting. Sure, when I pushed them to jet-landing-in-my-room levels, the frequency balance tilted upward; that wasn’t distortion per se, but the sealed-box design demonstrating its limits -- the bass output will lag behind the ultimate output levels of the midrange and tweeter. But again, that happened only at stupid-loud levels -- or in a room much too large for the S3s, and more suited for the larger S5s.

I frequently host other audiophiles for listening sessions. Many folks whose ears I trust stopped by to listen to the S3s, and invariably described them as clean (i.e., non-distorting) and resolving. And if I had to sum up the S3’s sound in just two words, those would be the words. The S3s were among the most resolving speakers I’ve heard in mine or anyone’s home, and those that may have had a smidge more resolution have cost exponentially more (as have the associated gear). In my own room, there was no question about the S3’s superiority of resolution vs. prior residents. Listening to “Bag’s Groove,” from Jerry Garcia and David Grisman’s So What (CD, Acoustic Disc ACD-33), a track I’ve used as a demo for years, I heard a wealth of information that was new to me -- not just the ringing, but the fretting of Garcia’s guitar strings, the decay and inner detail of Jim Kerwin’s double bass, and the space between the notes of the handheld shakers (I heard each rattle as a distinct sonic object) -- all this from a track I’ve heard hundreds of times. The S3s revealed new things about long-worn recordings to a degree that I hadn’t thought possible this long and far into the audiophile game.

I found it impossible to point to any single reason why the S3s sounded heads and shoulders above the rest -- a system’s sound is a function of every element in the chain, as well as of how the speakers interact with the room. But in terms of resolution, let’s not gloss over the laundry list of technologies that may have contributed to the S3’s world-class resolution: superstiff monocoque cabinet with sealed-alignment for the bass, the new midrange enclosure (found only in the S3, and purported to reduce distortions to a fraction of those found in other types of enclosures), the proprietary Nano-Tec drivers and Elliptical Symmetry Crossover, and the extensive QA process by which all these technologies were optimized. The sum total of the Magico S3s -- the technological tour de force that they are, and how they interacted with my room -- left me awestruck by how much more info was conveyed from each shiny disc I put in.

And while the treble and midrange were both stunning for their transparency, the part of the audioband that really stuck out for its paradigm-shifting resolution was the bass. There was not “more” bass with the S3, nor did the bass sound deeper, despite frequency-response plots telling me otherwise. What the S3 did that no other speaker I’ve had in for audition has done was deliver degrees of bass texture, definition, and transient fidelity that I hadn’t known existed. Magico is firmly in the camp of those who believe that a sealed alignment is the only way to get accurate bass, and given that I’d never heard such accurate bass as I heard from the S3, I can now only agree with them.

Listening to the SHM-CD remastering of the Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72 (CD, Warner Bros. 3WX 2668), I found myself nodding along with any instrument I focused my attention on (again, that superior-resolution thing). But it was when I focused on the virtuoso lines of bassist Phil Lesh that I realized how far the S3 had raised the bass bar. The Magicos got it all: the minor tonal differences of notes close together in harmonics and in time, the rapid-fire acceleration followed by a tempo change and lingering decay to nothingness, and above all, the weaving of the electric bass into the fabric of the entire performance -- the S3 delivered. Was it the sealed alignment, the advanced technology used throughout the S3s, or the unique way the S3s coupled to my room that provided such clearly superior sound? I can only say yes to all three, while assigning a special weight to none -- they all mattered. In short, the Magico S3 is the first loudspeaker to let me hear what was really going on in the bass. Such an experience is not to be missed -- and, once heard, it won’t be easily given up.

That’s not to say that the S3’s bass was without flaw. Physics got the better of it with some ultradeep (sub-30Hz) bass lines, which I heard (or didn’t) in some staging cues, the decay of kick drums, and some organ parts of orchestral works. Two 8” woofers in a sealed box can move only so much air, and while the electric bass was represented throughout its ranges of weight and depth, some harmonics were missing during the decay of the kick drum in the title track of Steely Dan’s Aja, as the second verse ends. While the frequency-response plot would indicate that the S3 puts out bass into the bottom octave, the level down there was attenuated. I’d estimate that more than 80% of the decays were there, but the last bit was rolled off. This, along with the absence of a ported design’s frequency bump, will no doubt have some listeners thinking that the S3 doesn’t have as much bass -- which I didn’t find to be true.

When I threw on “Paper Tiger,” from Beck’s Sea Change (CD, Geffen 493 393-2), one visitor commented, “Where did all that bass come from?” There really isn’t much musical information below 30Hz, particularly on pop or rock records, and the S3s could still rock, covering those genres with all the heft and depth that rock instruments deliver in real life -- but no more. The S3 didn’t sound as thick in the bass as ported speakers do, but whether or not ported speakers’ bass is accurate is a separate matter. All this means that, for the uninitiated, the S3’s bass may sound a bit less grounded than that of a ported speaker. But good luck finding a ported speaker with as much bass definition as the S3 -- or as much midrange definition, for that matter, for they’re interrelated: bass bloat smears midrange resolution and transparency. The S3s delivered levels of transparency and resolution in the bass and midrange that I’ve never heard from ported speakers.

The Magico was about as transparent and uncolored a loudspeaker as you’re likely to hear, and extremely responsive to changes in upstream components. While the S3s will limit their owner’s choice in amplification -- they loved power, preferably class-A solid-state, another byproduct of a sealed alignment; owners of flea-watt, single-ended-triode tube amps should look elsewhere -- all other changes I made upstream in my system were clearly audible with the S3s in place. A great example (my editor will hate me for this) was when I began playing with footers under my TG Audio power-conditioning boxes. When I played “Zombie,” from Fela Kuti’s The Best of the Black President (Megaforce/Knitting Factory KFR1001), the horn section went from having a tonally bleached quality with my homemade footers under the TG boxes to a more accurate tonality with the Stillpoint footers, which maintained all the blat of the saxophones while removing the whitish treble, which I found objectionable. Surprisingly, adding the Stillpoints also improved the bass depth and heft, which I would never have expected from merely using different footers under a power conditioner. While this is an endorsement of the Stillpoints, it’s also a statement of the exceptional transparency of the Magicos -- the sonic signature of footers, cables, AC outlets and plugs, etc., were all laid bare with the S3s in my system, while lesser speakers often didn’t indicate any difference in the efficacy of these tweaks. OC-type audiophiles (i.e., 98% of us) will love that the S3s can be “tuned” in this way. Of course, the S3s aren’t changing at all; they’re simply telling you all that can be told about what you’ve put in front of them -- and that will be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your system and your willingness and ability to fine-tune it as needed. But I dare say the Magico S3s themselves will never sound bad, for that would imply that they have a sound -- and to my ears, they did not. However, if they’re installed in a system that hasn’t been optimized and the overall sound is bad . . . well, if you don’t like the message, don’t blame the messenger.

The combination of the S3s’ increased resolution and narrow front baffles, the latter minimizing diffraction effects -- i.e., soundwaves from the driver that are reflected off the front baffle and compromise staging and tonality -- led to a greater sense of soundstage depth and dimensionality, while also making it easier to follow individual performers on that stage -- both their instrumental lines and their onstage positions. This was obvious when I listened to “My Old Timey Baby,” from The Most of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks (CD, Epic EK 65481) -- I sensed greater amounts of space around, between, and behind the performers, while also being able to follow their individual instrumental and vocal lines, and gain great insight into their musicianship. While it was easy to forget all the audiophile mumbo-jumbo and just listen to music through the Magicos, it was also easy to hear and see how the parts comprised the whole.

One of the ways I found myself listening differently with the S3s than with other speakers was that I could enjoy music at different volumes and in different ways; it took me some time to put it all together. The S3s, being resolution monsters, didn’t require a higher volume setting for me to hear the nuances of some recordings, as I found when I listened to The Lumineers and, for the first time, heard the studio reverb on the lead singer’s voice in “Morning Song.” I also spent a lot of time listening at stupid-loud levels, and enjoyed every minute of that as well -- another way of saying that I never found a volume level at which the S3s didn’t like to be played.

Conclusion

The Magico S3’s uncolored sound and virtually nonexistent sins of commission have made it one of the easiest products to review in my experience. Is it perfect? Of course not -- as mentioned, the bass below 30Hz isn’t particularly satisfying, and I’d have preferred a bit more dynamic aplomb and foundational heft, and the grilles are sonically intrusive. Those criticisms are mostly of sins of omission in a small floorstanding speaker that punches well above its weight. But when it came to all the sins the S3 could have committed, well, it just didn’t.

I’m not surprised about the lack of such errors. One of the things I respect and admire about Magico is the lack of variability they introduce to the entire pursuit of reproducing music in the home. Musicians and the people who build instruments will tell you the value of a good piece of wood in the making an instrument, as there’s no consistency in the batches of wood from suppliers -- let the musicians, not the speaker builders, pick the wood.

Clearly, Magico has invested several million dollars in fixed assets to maximize the sound of every speaker model they produce -- models are designed, tested, measured, adjusted, retested, remeasured, readjusted, ad infinitum, solely to alter the signal as little as possible. That’s why Magico pursues (and achieves) vanishingly low levels of distortion in their speakers.

Some will say that Magico speakers don’t have a soul, as if that’s a criticism. I agree: Magicos do what the upstream components and signals tell them to do. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, I can assure you that it’s not the speakers’ fault -- it’s what you’re feeding them. They’re just doing what they’re told to do, within the context of what, thanks to Magico’s relentless drive to minimize distortion, they were designed to do: reproduce music with reference-level resolution.

Audiophiles who really want to hear their recordings, take note: Your invitation to join that club has arrived in the Magico S3.
..... . . Ryan Coleman

Although more expensive than the S1, S3 belongs to the best speakers in the market.....
RUUD JONKER…..MUSIC EMOTION ,,,,Hifi.nl

REVIEW SUMMARY: The S3 is just as perfect as the speaker S1. The S3 does not necessarily fits only in larger rooms. In the smaller room where the S1 is functioning properly, can also be an S3. Which then provides the necessary extra body to specific types of music. In principle, here and there with the known exceptions, there is a relationship between the speaker and the size of the room. You'll never be able to hear more than what can be a Q7 or other larger systems without the required space. The purchase of too large reproducers, in view of the available space, is so costly overkill. Therefore, the S3 is an excellent solution for the average living up to roughly 80 square meters. Although more expensive than the S1, S3 belongs to the best speakers in the market and can still defend and accessible option for a musical arrest system. Much more quality and a much better value for money than most of the priceless nonsense products that plague the market. With S3 and good (affordable and appropriate) electronics'm just ready. In all fairness there is little to be desired. 

EXTENDED REVIEW: Last year in June 2013 published the review of the Magico S1 in Music Emotion. Meanwhile Magico the S3 has put on the market. Why would you, given the perfection of the S1, S3 still go for? The following listening experiences to formulate an answer.

Magico belongs to those innovative companies that actually advance the loudspeaker technology. The discussed last year S1 for consumers with a Dutch living room of an average of forty square meters the ideal transducer. In a decent acoustics and with matching electronics there is hardly anything to be desired. The S1 is a closed two-way very modest dimensions. In fact the ideal construction principle. At the key features hear the phenomenal homogeneity, dynamic capabilities, the holographic presentation of the soundstage and very deep and linear continuous layer. With the S1 base and carefully chosen electronics there is an ultimate system for the music to roughly 20K.

That is serious money in absolute terms, but for those looking for perfect viewing a viable option. Remember that it is very easy to hi-country to buy an absolute mess for 150K. A potential problem could arise with the S1 as the listening room is very large and vigorous program material must be turned at full strength. With a sensitivity of 86dB and a recommended capacity of 50 watts, is no speaker in a room of one hundred square meters of an electrical power of 300 watts can convert into 120 dB sound pressure level over the entire frequency range. Actually, the S1 is a mini-monitor with a superior quality coating system. Suitable for almost all music, except when it comes to Mahler, hard rock, modern dance music and organ. At least, if that really needs to be shown with big volume.

Magico S3 is put in the market to cater to consumers with larger listening rooms and musical wishes to place extra demands on reproducers. Physically, the S3 on all sides roughly 5 cm larger than the S1. Technically speaking, the S3 is a three-way system with two bass drivers, a midrange and a tweeter. The sensitivity is 89 dB, the lower limit frequency is 22 Hz (S1: 32 Hz) and the recommended amplifier power of 50-1200 watts. That seems reasonable "vandal-proof", but there are those customers who get everything broken. Since each hi-fi dealer can write a book about it. It is in any case containing a starting point in larger spaces, with music that a lot of low-frequency information to be able to perform well. Because of the other technical architecture of the S3, there are, of course, to be expected sound technical differences with respect to the S1.

For a variety of logistical issues, the less likely was to listen to the S3 here in the studio. Then, as the fog-controlled acoustics, the ability to measure and to match it with a large number of disposal amplifiers. So this time no super-optimization trick. On the other hand, this is not a problem. There are basically no 'reference amplifiers "and" reference images "to be able to hear what a speaker. Any experienced importer, retailer and technician can hear in almost any reasonable amplifier and a CD of the Kermisklanten what a speaker. As long as you listen to the properties' of the speakers. Therefore, the S3 is heard at four international locations ...

The last listening session was held in The Hague, after Barack Obama was gone and the whole street had caught her security rushes. Chattelin Audio Systems offered benevolent its recently upgraded acoustic listening room to, along with a number of adjacent electronic components. They are listed here in exceptional cases. Music Emotion has not, the task to advise the optimum system match to be made around a speaker. That task belongs to the expertise and (extra) services of audio retailer. Many consumers think that they themselves can create the ideal system match and acoustic conditions. But, be honest but that is not so. The S3 was driven by the Soulution 501/520 combo with a CEC TLO 3.0 Transportation and dCS Debussy converter.

The comparison between the S1 and S3 is similar to the game of 'spot the ten differences. Obviously the familial similarity between the two Magico's obvious. But there are also differences. The main difference concerns the "level of maturity". The S3 is the extent to which a room-filling 'live performance' can be put down larger. The S3 also does powerful presence felt in the lower frequency regions and simply about 10Hz deeper than the S1. Who really looking for a wall of sound may continue to scale up in a large room for a Q7 or Q5. Although the S3 can put a convincing stage, it remains a relatively reproducer of modest dimensions, therefore a high degree of acceptance within interiors where vigeren other values.

so the S3 has an ideal quality / WAF ratio. Another difference is that the S3 is richer in low and midlaag. The degree of holographic spaciousness for the S3 a dash less exuberant than the S1. Clearly, these small differences, which also are dependent on the acoustics, placement and control. Along with the Soulution set the S3 sounds musically neutral 'with a beautiful sound, excellent balance and very dynamic. Fairly close to a studio monitor. And recently brought a captured image of the St. John Passion was allowed to hear Magico's very similar to the output from the studio mastering system. The latter shows more detail hear compared to the Magico, but that has less to do with the S3 than the control. In which direction is also a choice. The Soulution set sounds quite neutral, musical, but unfussy and precise. Anyone looking for additional sound some extra 'bloom' and a deeper harmonic interpretation, can operate with a tube of Sands or something.

S3 allows effortless hear all the differences and the choice is 'up to you'. What is striking is that the S3, in any case, in comparison with the S1, a dash is 'more musical'. Modern speakers, developed using computer technology, taking sometimes the criticism that they (too) sound neutral and clinically. It will well be a "clinical" and cool sounding transducer designed. However, the use of modern design technology does not automatically sound speakers and clinically uninvolved. Then goes namely something wrong somewhere. Comments, which are sometimes made on the S1, being it would sound these speakers 'clinical', here are therefore not recognized. If S1 is controlled well, let them hear what exactly happened during the shooting and communicates flawlessly all existing richness of sound.

The problem usually sits to the side of the listener. A number of music lovers and audiophiles are not accustomed to speakers that give a much better and fairer picture of recording reality. It is too focused on their 'own sound' and should sound an own misinterpretation of the music. In a few years will perform identical virtually all speakers. That's the way it is supposed to be. A speaker must emphatically do not own character, except in scale and it depends on how big those things may be. Display differences should emerge from the recording and not from speakers. Magico S3 comes another notch closer to what the recording offers. Call it "more musical", but that is not the right concept. It also does not mean that the S1 is not "musical". 

Conclusion 

The S3 is just as perfect as the speaker S1. The S3 does not necessarily fits only in larger rooms. In the smaller room where the S1 is functioning properly, can also be an S3. Which then provides the necessary extra body to specific types of music. In principle, here and there with the known exceptions, there is a relationship between the speaker and the size of the room. You'll never be able to hear more than what can be a Q7 or other larger systems without the required space. The purchase of too large reproducers, in view of the available space, is so costly overkill. Therefore, the S3 is an excellent solution for the average living up to roughly 80 square meters. Although more expensive than the S1, S3 belongs to the best speakers in the market and can still defend and accessible option for a musical arrest system. Much more quality and a much better value for money than most of the priceless nonsense products that plague the market. With S3 and good (affordable and appropriate) electronics'm just ready. In all fairness there is little to be desired. 

RUUD JONKER…..MUSIC EMOTION ,,,,Hifi.nl

My jaw literally dropped when I listened to The Weavers at Carnegie Hall,
Jonathan Valin
REVIEW SUMMARY:
All told, the M3 is the most exciting new product from Magico since the revolutionary M Pro, whose legacy it continues and, in many important ways, improves upon. For those of you hungering for the virtually un-obtainable Pro (only 50 pairs of which were built, most of them pre-sold), Wolf and Co. have finally provided an option that 
can be listened to and purchased. Whether you’re in the market for such an expensive item or not, this is a loudspeaker you need to hear—something wonderful made better. I will have a full report on the M3 when I receive review samples.

EXTENDED REVIEW: After complaining about the (un)availability of Magico’s superb, limited-edition, $129k M Project loudspeaker , I am happy to report that Alon Wolf has done something to make things better. No, he hasn’t built more M Pros, but he has launched an entirely new line of loudspeakers based on the driver and enclosure innovations first seen in the Pro.

On a visit to the Bay Area in late August, I spent the better part of two days listening to my own vinyl (I brought some 20 LPs) and select digital files through the first offering in Magico’s new M Series lineup—the US$75k (excl sales tax) M3 three-way, five-driver, sealed-box floorstander—and if this new speaker is representative of what’s in store for Magico fans, you’re going to want to give the M’s a long listen.

Wolf claims that the NEW M3 is the most technologically sophisticated speaker he has made. In fact, he thinks it is his best work—but then he always thinks his newest babies are his best work. This time, however, he might be right.

The M Pro aside, the M3 certainly sounds different than previous Magicos in ways that are, to my ear, entirely for the better. Though neutral in balance and still blessed with the ultra-high transparency, speed, and resolution that are Magico hallmarks, the M3 has the same strong taste of natural timbral warmth and sweetness from the bass through the treble that I’ve grown used to with the Pro. However, it does something else that even the Pro doesn’t do to the same extent—the M3 pulls off a disappearing act that sets a new high for Magico multi-ways, and a soundstage of dimensions that set a new standard for me in all-dynamic floorstanders.

My jaw literally dropped when I listened to The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, a record that (God knows) I’ve heard heard a few times, as the seemingly vast reaches of Carnegie opened up behind the M3s with a width, depth, height, and volume unparalleled from a three-way cone loudspeaker. For once, Carnegie actually sounded like Carnegie. Venue, audience, musicians, and instruments were equally “there”—the hall huge and filled with joyous listeners sitting at various heights and depths, running from the orchestra level up to “glee club” in the top tier of old Carnegie’s wedding-cake layout, the timbres warm and natural, the transients with the genuine snap of gut-and-steel strings, and the individual voices and instruments imaged as clearly as if you were staring at them in a large-format photograph. This is the kind of densely populated, three-dimensionally immersive, wrap-around stage that I’ve only heard in the past with the MBL 101 X-treme Radialstrahler and the slim-line, quasi-line-source Raidho D5.1 (both of which cost a quarter-of-a-million dollars)—and I’m not sure either of those were quite this immersive.

Of course, Wolf’s custom-made, reflection-free listening room clearly had something to do with this extraordinary staging and imaging. And I’ll have to wait to get the M3s in my own reflection-filled listening room to see if I can duplicate the feat. (For the record, I can’t quite do it with my reference M Pro/JL Audio Gotham system, which costs considerably more than the M3, or even the M3 paired with QSub15s.) But a good deal of this standard-setting soundstaging has nothing to do with Magico’s bespoke digs and everything to do with the M3’s new enclosure, which is clearly the best the company has engineered.

Derived from the Pro (with an added fillip taken from the S Series and a new innovation in driver coupling), the M3’s box uses Magico’s traditional, massive, damped aluminium front, rear, and bottom panels—and its elaborate, bolted-together, aluminium latticework/substructure inside the cabinet—but adds curved carbon-fibre side panels à la the M Pro and a brand-new aluminium top cap (not found in the M Pro) that has a machined-in curve to it. The physical result is the most aerodynamic, diffraction-free enclosure Magico has yet come up with, and the sonic result is the standard-setting disappearing act and soundstaging I just reported on.

There is an additional benefit to Magico’s best-ever, lowest-diffraction enclosure that can be heard in the seamless blend between the tweeter and the midrange and the natural warmth of timbres (orchestral strings, such as those on the great RCA recording Rhapsodies with Stokowski and the RCA Symphony of the Air, are simply and breathtakingly gorgeous), though this may also be due to refinements in the driver complement. Indeed, while similar to the M Pro, the M3 uses somewhat more sophisticated drivers than the Pro—its three 7" woofers, have later-gen graphene diaphragms (said to be 20% lighter and 300% stiffer than the nanotube-carbon cone material used in the Pro)—and a new and improved driver mounting system that employs a solid copper gasket to maximise coupling to the chassis and minimise the transference of resonances. The large 28mm diamond-coated beryllium tweeter (the same one used in Q7 Mk II) is also an improvement over the tweet in the M Pro. The other driver in the M3—the 6" graphene-diaphragm midrange—is the same as that in the Pro, and Magico has included the same polymer sub-enclosure for the midrange found in the Pro (and derived from the S Series), which is said to enhance control and articulation, not that Magicos ever wanted for such things.

The fact that the M3 uses three 7" woofers, rather than the three 10-inchers found in the M Pro, makes for a slight difference in power-range fullness and low-bass extension (the M3 is said to play on its own into the upper 30s) vis-à-vis the Pro, though the difference is surprisingly small and can be completely eliminated by adding a pair of $22k QSub 15s or $12k JL Audio Gothams to the package, crossed over around 45-55Hz. (For all sorts of reasons, I’m all in favor of using really good subwoofers, like the Magico Qs or the JL Audio Gothams, with full-range loudspeakers.) With the QSubs in and Soulution electronics driving the entire she-bang and TARA labs Zero & Omega Evolution SP audio cables hooking it all up, I would be hard pressed to say that I heard a substantial difference between the M3s and the M Pros on a powerful, deep-reaching pop cut like “I’m the Man to Be” from El Vy’s Return to the Moon. No, you don’t get all the mid-bass slam you may be used to from a ported loudspeaker, but you will still get goose bump raising power, sub-20Hz extension, lifelike tone colour unobscured by port resonance, and the peerless bass-range clarity of a sealed box.

All told, the M3 is the most exciting new product from Magico since the revolutionary M Pro, whose legacy it continues and, in many important ways, improves upon. For those of you hungering for the virtually un-obtainable Pro (only 50 pairs of which were built, most of them pre-sold), Wolf and Co. have finally provided an option that can be listened to and purchased. Whether you’re in the market for such an expensive item or not, this is a loudspeaker you need to hear—something wonderful made better. I will have a full report on the M3 when I receive review samples.

BEST OF SHOW (COST NO OBJECT) CES 2014 – THE ABSOLUTE SOUND
 
The Magico S3/Vitus/Synergistic/dCS system. thought far from the most expensive, proved the most all round enjoyable”
 – Alan Taffel, The Absolute Sound, April, 2014

“The sound that the Magico S3’s produced was absolutely stunning; it was immediately discernible how good these speakers were. Everything sounded right, from the fast, tight bass, to the extremely wide and deep soundstage that sacrificed nothing in terms of imaging, to the effortless ease with which the speakers filled the very large room with the sense that I was “there.” What’s more, the S3’s kept ripping me out of “reviewer mode” and made my hands clammy with passion. Yes, this is how it’s supposed to be done; precisely the emotional response that makes you fall in love with a speaker…. Maybe it’s the new polycarbonate midrange enclosure, or the newly developed 8″ woofers, or the superb overall design concepts at Magico, but the S3 is the epitome of “the most bang for your buck.”
 – Spencer Holbert, CES 2014 Show Report, The Absolute Sound

“I want to share with you an experience we had last night listening to Magico S3 Loudspeaker for the first time. This is not something I normally do, but as it turns out, the S3 is quite special – even by Magico standards. As you know, the S3 has a newly developed internal midrange enclosure. This new housing has been created with the latest state-of-the-art simulation software. The unique shape and carefully chosen materials, when combined, create the ultimate “sound pressure absorption device.”  The results are nothing short of amazing, both in terms of measurements and performance. I was shocked to hear the clarity and palpability achieved with this new design in place. This is a major benchmark that is moving us even closer to the original recording. It is not everyday that I hear such an improvement. It only took one note to realize there is something new and special here… We are very excited about these new guys and look forward to you all hearing them very soon.”
 – Alon Wolf, President, Magico LLC

“The Magico S3 Loudspeaker does astronomically priced speaker performance without the Apollo Space Mission speaker price… this makes for the perfect ‘now’ loudspeaker; highly accurate, designed for modern life and without any of the fake ‘niceness’ or ‘impressive’ tailoring that normally comes with a high-end design. Highly recommended!

  – Alan Sircom, HiFi+, Sept., 2013      

My prediction? Magico will sell more of these speakers than any other model in the company’s history. They are that good for a price that is that right!”
 – Jeff Fritz, The Soundstage Network (read the review)

Overview Magico S3 Loudspeaker
Magico, the leader in high performance loudspeaker design and manufacture, is proud to announce the expansion of its award winning S- Series with the addition of the S3. The Magico S3 Loudspeaker is a full range, floorstanding loudspeaker that offers cutting edge technology and unparalleled performance at its price. According to Magico CEO and chief designer Alon Wolf, “By drawing from our technological well and in-house manufacturing capabilities, we are now able to deliver a remarkable value proposition in the S3, one which will become a new benchmark in its category.”

Magico S3 Loudspeaker shares the same engineering heritage of its two siblings, the S1 and S5, and sits squarely between them. As with all Magico loudspeakers, the S3 is uses an acoustic suspension enclosure, one whose further refinements include a new uniquely designed sub-enclosure for its midrange. The polycarbonate enclosure utilizes a combination of advanced materials as well as a specially developed shape. Both of these features when combined create the ideal acoustic properties and control for a sub- enclosure in a loudspeaker cabinet. Its contoured extruded aluminum cabinet – the world’s largest monocoque enclosure at 16″ in diameter with 1/2″ aluminum walls – minimizes diffraction effects, internal resonance, and damping requirements. Structurally, the S3 is mechanically sound and without any weak points. A tour-de-force of new technologies, the S3 utilizes the same advanced MB30 Beryllium tweeter and MB390 midwoofer that Magico uses in the S5, coupled with two newly-developed 8” woofers. These new advancements contribute towards the S3’s capabilities of delivering the lowest octave of bass performance combined with both the speed and accuracy we are known for.

As always, the anticipation is high for any new Magico product release. The S3 doesn’t disappoint and is a standout performer, with high quality ingredients, state-of-the-art driver technology, the most mechanically solid and rigid cabinets, and the most sophisticated crossover network. The elegant S3 is a gifted precision instrument that is available in over a dozen different finishes, thus making it able to deliver a bravura performance while aesthetically fitting in any environment.

About MAGICO
Magico was created over a decade ago for the sole purpose of leading a no holds-barred assault on what is possible in contemporary loudspeaker design. Inspired by the unique vision of industrial designer and accomplished musician Alon Wolf, every Magico product is designed against the true standard of perfect audio reproduction-live music. At Magico, we strive to lead in the creation, development, and manufacture of the most elegant and technologically advanced loudspeaker systems in the world. Each product expresses our passion to craft uncompromising devices that reveal the music as never before.