The way we define a problem or frame a question shapes how we and our fellow hobbyists understand things, answer threads, and act. The audio media elites seem to lecture us that emotional response to gear is meaningless, worthless, and that it doesn't matter. Correct imaging and soundstage and transparency are paramount. All these lackey reviewers seem to be in love with Magico, calling them 'best', but missing the big picture – Magico speakers lack to convey the emotion of a musical performance. I just care about good sound for its own sake because gear that sounds like music makes my life a bit better. I'm not hating on Magico at all. I’m just reframing the issue. I’m just calling a spade a spade. This is a completely different value proposition than what is commonly written about in the main stream, elite audio press. I could care less about magico. I don’t care if they thrive or go out if business. In a free society, if it’s not them, it will be Revel or Tad or dCS or Bryston or Esoteric or someone new that will come along to do the same emotionally-dead thing they do. There is a market for that and someone will step up fill that market niche. Yet despite their emotionally challenged presentation, Magico is sucking up too much air. And their main PR guy, Valin, happens to be in a position of great power and influence. His TAS bosses (Martin, Harley) have abdicated their leadership posts, so he is free to work for his interests. And he sure is good at that. He keeps the Magico speakers as long as he wants. Wolf flies him out to San Fran, wines him, dines him, puts him up, etc. In return, he is great at bringing up Magico at any chance he gets. He is a very good hit man and he has gotten really aggressive lately - taking the air out of the comparably priced Nola's product launch at RMAF (needs a cabinet redesign, per his blog). He has also given the much more real sounding Scaenas a very lukewarm review recently. Scaena is “too big for his room”, while the huge Magicos are just fine, thanks to the tuning forks in his room. Well, Scaena phones were definitely not be ringing as much as they should have with new speaker orders this holiday season. Neither did Nola’s. What the Magico lackeys don’t tell you though, Randall, while I do, is that Magico lacks a soul while Nola and Scaena light the human spirit on fire.
Let me also address some of your other points, Randall… First, let me clue you in on some facts of life. Not all babies are cute. Some cook great tasting meatloaf, but when others cook meatloaf, it tastes like sawdust. Most dinner guests are too polite to tell you the unvarnished truth. “How's the meatloaf?” “Fine”, they say. “Delicious” if they care about you or think it will make you happy. How many people volunteer they are having a lousy day? It’s human nature to put a bright face on a crappy situation. But the “Fine” response is a joke. There's no value in it. Fine is a 4 letter word. So it's useless to ask most people what they think. Most are too gutless to tell you what they really think. I, on the other hand, have no problems telling folks what I think.
And you also blame the internet for my comments, Randall. Yes, Randall , it is the Internet! It allows us to bring diverse points of view together. On the one hand you love magico for its technological advancement, yet you are upset by another technical marvel, the internet. This comment about the internet just reeks of the arrogance of the main stream audio media. You had no problem saying that Wilson sucks in the other thread. Go ahead, disparage bloggers and online critics. Thanks to the net, voices like mine can counterbalance the propaganda from the audio media elites. I happen to have a lot of experience with gear and a lot of self confidence behind my opinions. With voices like mine, definitions of good sound and bad sound have become democratized, and myths have been busted. And yes, I feel more qualified to judge the sound than a salesman or marketing rep for magico who is masquerading as a “neutral reviewer”. I'm a critic, but unlike you or your colleagues in the elite media, I am not beholden to anyone. I am not looking for Wolf to send me free speakers, buy my advertising, fly me out to his place and take me to expensive San Francisco restaurants, etc. So I feel free to speak my mind.
And what's with the personal attacks, Randall? It's my hobby just as much as it’s your hobby. And if I feel like reacting to something I see, I will not hesitate. Isn't this the purpose of this discussion forum? The question is why are you acting like a PR man rather than a content creator and an analyst? Just a small hint - Valin and others will get the q7 to rave about way before you will. This is not a personal attack. It’s just reality, based on a simple concept of “status” from sociology and economics of who can sell more gear for Wolf.
And of course there is subjectivity, Randall… One man’s dream house is another man’s eyesore; ones mans beautiful prairie garden is another man’s patch of weeds. Yes, there is no consensus on one way to obtain pleasure. Beauty begins with a universal human need, buts manifests itself heterogeneously, subjectively, and is constantly changing. Our response to beauty is hard wired and governed by circuits in the brain. This differs from individual to individual, of course. But the main stream reviewers, it seems to me, have forgotten what the audio hobby is about. They are like plastic surgeons at a gentleman’s club - looking for imperfections rather than letting go of their left brain and just enjoying the view. So they push us toward functional accuracy and scientific perfection, calling these emotionally dead products like magico ‘best’, while ignoring the fact that for those of us who really love music, the purpose of the gear is to make life enjoyable and that emotional response to music dictates the speaker choice. Of course, what most audio reviewers who are calling Magico “best” and “product of the year”, “speaker of the year” neglect to mention that it's best on meeting audiophile terminology, while lacking a soul. Yet many of the audio media elites are pushing this Magico drek on us with constant speaker / product of the year awards and Best pronouncements.
But in reality Magico is not ‘Best’ at all...Great speakers effect human beings in ways that are immediate, perceptual, and emotional. When people are able to concentrate wholeheartedly on an activity, they lose awareness of peripheral problems and distractions. The state of complete absorption is called Flow by psychologists. During Flow, our experience of time and self is altered. We become lost in the most positive of senses. Psychology studies show that people are most happy in a state of Flow. So I look for gear that is designed to make that optimal experience easier to achieve. Magico, on the other hand, tells and instructs rather than delights. It's a cognitive and analytical experience while listening to the Magico speaker, rather than complete absorption during the experience followed by the analytical reflection after the experience. Since it seems like we are operating on different planes of audio gear experiences, let me provide you with another analogy: to me and other music lovers, listening to a Magico is kind of like watching an engrossing movie, and just as you are being be drawn in, some jerk is constantly playing with the movie projector. In essence, magico is emotionally dead to someone who cares less about audiophilia, but loves music.
You and Magico’s supporters in the elite audio media seem to get excited about wolf's stiffness of enclosure and his crossovers, while I get excited about a speakers ability to convey emotions. To each his own! You can take this most expensive magico and compare it to a $35 k Sonus Faber and the SF will win. It will better magico not because of a supposedly stiff material and super-duper resolution, but because it creates an enjoyable and pleasurable experience. Gear like that brings music lovers joy. In comparison, magico is emotionally dead.
Just read how dull and dispassionate valin's reviews have gotten in the last few years. The reason is simple. Unless you are more into physics than the art of music, how can you get excited about transparency, the crossover, and the size and soundstage, while ignoring the musical whole? Valin’s dull and dispassionate reviews reflect what he is hearing in Magico. Instead, if you don’t know what I am talking about, read Bruninger's recent MBL review in TAS for a nice contrast of what the audio hobby is about for music lovers.
So Randall, many people in this hobby work 60 hours + per week, have families with small kids and busy lives. When they have a chance to turn on their system for 60 minutes a day, they would love to get lost in the music and forget about the gear – and forget about everything else in their life. I hope I am making clear that for many of us, this hobby should bring heightened meaning and pleasure to the substance if our lives, or there is no need for it.
He just didn't have the courage to say in print that he was not emotionally moved by Magico.
However, while I agree with almost all of your points, perhaps it might be an idea to consider that not everyone has the same goal or feels the same sense of enjoyment as you do in regards to what's important for them in our hobby.
Personally, i always, always, take with a MAJOR grain of salt everything that a reviewer writes in any review of audio gear. I have been involved in our hobby for nearly 35 years, and without fail what I have seen is a consistant adoration for the latest and greatest product by the audio press, only to find them dismissive of the same gear in the very near future. To say that almost all reviewers are "fickle", would be an understatement IMHO. To me, the ONLY way I have ANY interest in a product is to hear it for myself and then to decide if it is worthy or not. In fact, the more hyperbole that i read about a product, the more likely i am to be suspicious of it and to hold it to a higher plane-- that usually exposes its many warts and wrinkles.
If one was to read all of the various rave reviews that have been foisted on the public by the likes of Fremer, Valin, Harley et al, over the many years, one would easily come to the conclusion that not only are they in many ways biased in favor of the highest cost product, but also in some ways infantile in their thought processes towards what is really being sought after by the vast majority of the a'phile public.
After all, how stupid do these people really think that the reading public and audiophile hobbyist really are.....because in my experience there are few of us who will go solely on one person's opinion when deciding to commit any large sum of money to an audio purchase. Contrary to what the manufacturer may believe or what the reviewer has sold them on; my experience is that a'phile's will only make a purchase decision based on their personal experience and expectations of the piece under consideration....
Unfortunately, I can see from your prior posts, and even this post, why Randall believes that you hate Magico and maybe have a personal vendetta against this brand....BUT what i think is in question is whether you feel the same way about YG audio for instance, or TAD, or numerous others that are getting great press at the moment...IF you had personally heard these speakers and dislike them for whatever reason, then your opinion is valid for yourself, BUT not necessarily so for others....remember the old YMMV saying, well that seems apropos in this instance. Just IMHO.....
Last edited by DaveyF; 01-07-2012 at 12:06 AM.
What you describe about Valin and Wolf is something all manufacturers would do if they were in that position. So no points won for you on that one. Wilson have also been in the position Magico is now for many years. They used the same tactics. There is no point in thrashing Magico for taking advantage of their position. Everyone would have done the same.
I think your disagreement is based on something else fundamental. You want the components and speakers to be musical. Others like me want the speakers and components to get out of the way, have no sound of its own and convey the artistry of the performers as accurately as possible. In my world with my priorities Wilson sucks and Magico is king (along with a few others like Rockport Technologies and Tidal Audio). Why not just accept that we all have different tastes and because of that make different choices.
Coming back to Rockport, other than my Slamms, i [think] the only speaker i would ever wish to consider an upgrade to would be the Arrakis...and that's based just on what i heard that day with the Meraks, which are well below the Arrakis by all accounts. Mostly likely will stick with the Slamms for a long time to come and possibly do Series V upgrade (if at all) which is way more economical.
It was not my intention to offend any Wilson owners. My phrasing was provoked my the contents in Ceasars post. However I would like to comment that newer model Rockports are more linear than older models. This also the area where Wilson's speakers fall through. They will of course never suck but they represent what I like to call "designsound". The bass is not linear because the speakers are designed to sound a certain way as opposed to get out of the way and not have a sound of its own.
I also admit that i have learned over the last 14 months that getting the right balance of superb equipment can allow me to focus on equipment that 'gets out of the way'. I used to run older CJ equipment, Zanden and SF STrads...mellifluous, but not tight bass, not disciplined instrument separation...but beautiful in its own way. (as you say, in "its own way"...ie, not necessarily the original recording).
Today, with my current equipment, it still clearly carries the same signature of me in it...but far more linear, more disciplined, more truthful, yet again still retaining much of the 'natural tonal character' that my ear still prefers. Perhaps, over time, i will continue down this path and get rid of the CJ GAT, the Zanden, even the Gryphon, and the Wilson (i seriously, seriously doubt it)...though i admit, for the moment, i by far the most intrigued about changing my transport and seeing what that does to my system.
As you know, i have been looking recently at some "sota" options...will keep you posted via PM.
About Jonathan Valin...well...you can also say that he really MUST like the Q 5 if he is willing to beg for them ;-) . And the world is not fair (really?!?), bills must be paid ... even by The Absolute Sounds ;-)
i tried to read your entire response, but I got bored and skipped over most of it because it seemed to be written by someone trying to prove something to himself. I guess I represent the audio media to you, and as misguided as that may be, feel free to swing away. i am not a magico lover. I do not own a pair of their speakers, do not long to own a pair of their speakers, and do not expect to ever review a pair of their speakers. I currently own a pair of Vivid V1.5's that are very good speakers. Before that, I owned a pair of Rockport Mira's. The Mira's were too big for my current room, so I downsized speakers and upgraded electronics. In the end, I miss the Rockports. They were really exceptional speakers and they were special to me. The Vivid's do not have the same affect on me. I understand what you are trying to say, you just haven't been able to say it without sounding like a complete prick. You are way too over the top and you rub me the wrong way. You are to me what Magico is to you.
I believe that a music lover can love his favorite music by listening to it on an alarm clock radio. If you love the song, it doesn't really matter what you listen to it on, if you can hear it- you can connect with it. This hobby is just as much about the gear as it is the music. I have music I enjoy listening to and music I listen to to enjoy the quality of my system. The question becomes, what are your goals? IMHO, if hi-fi is your goal, being truthful to the recorded source is what it is all about. If you like speakers that perform magic tricks with your music, then knock yourself out. The Magico's provide laser imaging, extreme transparency, and a neutral presentation, do they take away from you experience because you have never heard that from your system? You know, many people do not know what reference sound is. People have their preferences and that is fine, but not knowing the difference between your preference and what is actually reference level is a problem. Your preference is not our reference. Is that ok with you? Does that make everyone that disagrees with you wrong?
Reviewers do not always love audio gear because they get great deals on them. There are many brands that do benefit by providing reviewers INCREDIBLE deals, but you are not bitching about those brands. Only Magico because they don't do it for you. Well, here is a hint, no one cares about you like you care about yourself. I have never seen someone take as much time to type out a response like the one you posted today. It reeks of narcissism. You go after Magico every chance you get, but you fail to realize that they are playing a game that has been around for a long time. They employ a marketing strategy of stating that they are the best. That is what made Wilson so successful. If you do not like Magico, why are you wasting your time talking about them? Go listen to your magic system.