Magico Loudspeakers -- Los Angeles Audio Show 2017

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Beverly Hills, CA
#1
I have a confession to make at the outset: I have never cared much for the original versions of Magico loudspeakers. I found them dynamic and transparent and neutral and extended in the low frequencies and the high frequencies and very well-made --but I never felt that they sounded like live music They never connected me emotionally to the music. They were, to my ears, technically accurate and very competent, but not pleasurable or musically enjoyable or emotionally engaging. It was not lost on me that these impressions were highly correlated with listening to Magico speakers in systems invariably with solid-state electronics and often with digital sources.

Since these early impressions two important developments for me have occurred: 1) Magico has replaced most of its speakers with Mark II versions, and 2) I have four times now auditioned Mark II versions of the speakers driven by tube electronics.

I heard at Rhapsody Music and Cinema in Manhattan, New York, the M3 speakers driven by 50 watt Class A single-ended triode Kondo Kagura monaural amplifiers.


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I have heard at Myles Astor's home the S5 Mk. II driven by Conrad-Johnson ART amplifiers.

This weekend at the Los Angeles Audio Show 2017 I heard in the Brooks Berdan Ltd. demo room the S3 Mk. II speakers driven by Jadis JA120 100 watt mono amplifiers ($23,900) using KT120 output tubes. The pre-amplifier was the Jadis JP80MC ($19,900). The Vertere MG-1 Magic Groove ($13,000) with the Vertere SG-1 tonearm ($3,200) played the vinyl. On the tonearm was mounted an Acoustic Systems The Archon ($3,295).


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In the Scott Walker Audio demo room I heard the S5 Mk. II speakers driven by VAC Signature 200 iQ mono amplifiers. Scott was using Arian Jansen's Sonorous ATR-10 reel-to-reel tape machine. This machine, based on a Revox PR99, has an on-board tube pre-amp stage.


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I want to disclose, also, that in each of these four last auditions the source was analog -- both vinyl and tape -- my extremely strong preference.

In all four of these cases the tube amplification transformed the sound coming out of the Magicos. Gone was (to me ears) the edginess, the overly detailed presentation, the “clinicalness” of the sound. What remained was Magico’s legendary dynamics, transparency, driver coherence and transparency.

I am sure a lot of the difference has to do with the Mark II versions, which, to me, has made the speaker models less edgy sounding in general. But the tube amplification I think played an even bigger role.

Between the Brooks Berdan Ltd. room driving S3 Mk. IIs with all Jadis tube electronics and the Scott Walker Audio room driving the S5 Mk. IIs with VAC electronics I personally preferred overall the Brooks Berdan Ltd. sound. With the Jadis electronics the sound was especially natural and sweet. I heard nothing harsh or edgy whatsoever.

I kept looking at the S3 Mk. IIs in the Brooks Berdan Ltd. room wondering who put different drivers in a Magico cabinet! If I had listened to this system blind it never would have remotely occurred to me that I was listening to Magico speakers. I also want to note that as much as I loved the sound from this system, I think the Jadis electronics were obscuring a bit of the transparency I am used to hearing from Magico speakers driven by solid-state electronics. For me personally, however, that trade-off of a bit of transparency for all of the musicality I heard from that system is a great trade to make.

It is baffling to me that it has taken Magico and Magico’s dealers this long to realize that Soulution solid-state electronics are not necessarily the right solution to making Magico speakers make music. I am grateful that Magico’s team seems finally to have realized this. I am confident that demonstrating tubes on Magicos opens up for Magico an new market segment of audiophiles who like the slightly softer, sweeter presentation of tubes.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
8,856
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48
London
#2
Wow Ron impressive. And hearing it with both Jadis and VaC at that. I agree, Jadis can be hazy but I love it, there is something very natural about that sound
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,459
8
38
Utah
#3
It is baffling to me that it has taken Magico and Magico’s dealers this long to realize that Soulution solid-state electronics are not the right solution to making Magico speakers make music. I am grateful that Magico’s team seems finally to have realized this. I am confident that demonstrating tubes on Magicos opens up for Magico an new market segment of audiophiles who like the slightly softer, sweeter presentation of tubes.
Magico/Soltion, Magico/Boulder, etc. reflect Alon's preferences for type of sound you described.

david
 

PeterA

Active Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,881
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North Shore of Boston
#5
It is baffling to me that it has taken Magico and Magico’s dealers this long to realize that Soulution solid-state electronics are not necessarily the right solution to making Magico speakers make music. I am grateful that Magico’s team seems finally to have realized this. I am confident that demonstrating tubes on Magicos opens up for Magico an new market segment of audiophiles who like the slightly softer, sweeter presentation of tubes.
I'm glad you have had those recent experiences with Magico speakers, Ron. The only tubes I've heard with Magico is MadFloyd's MPro/CAT combination. I understand that you don't like the Magico/Solution pairing, but have you ever heard Magico with either Pass or Spectral SS? I am partial, surely, but I really like Magico/Pass, both with the legacy Mini IIs and with the contemporary M Pros. Some of the Magico speakers are fairly difficult to drive, especially to loud levels in large rooms. Did you hear any strain with the tube pairings?
 

PeterA

Active Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,881
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38
North Shore of Boston
#6
The M3 is a huge step up for sure.
Ron, what were your impressions of the M3 at Rhapsody compared to the S mk2 series?
 

PeterA

Active Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,881
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38
North Shore of Boston
#7
Magico/Soltion, Magico/Boulder, etc. reflect Alon's preferences for type of sound you described.

david
David, is this observation about Alon's preference based on historical pairings or has he spoken or written about this specifically? I know at the factory, they have many different electronics in and out for audition, both SS and tubes.
 

Folsom

VIP/Donor
Oct 26, 2015
2,557
2
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Eastern WA
#8
M3's sound like they have really made the crossovers work better to me. They seem a lot friendlier between different amps, and you get a much more cohesive sound between top to bottom of the frequency range. Where as the S series I heard didn't like amps without higher dampening factor, and there was some tension between bass and highs.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,068
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48
Beverly Hills, CA
#9
. . . have you ever heard Magico with either Pass or Spectral SS? . . .
Dear Peter, No I have not -- but you know what I am going to write. :)

It would be a very risky bet that I would prefer Spectral or even Pass on Magicos over high-power tubes.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,068
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Beverly Hills, CA
#10
Ron, what were your impressions of the M3 at Rhapsody compared to the S mk2 series?
There is no way for me even to hazard a vague guess. All I know is that the M3 and the Mk. IIs in general sound different to me than the earlier speakers.

When I saw and heard the S3 Mk. II in the Jadis system on Friday and then again with Keith on Saturday I thought to myself that you should buy that speaker.
 

still-one

Member Sponsor
Aug 6, 2012
1,363
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Milford, Michigan
#11
My experience is the opposite of Ron's. I had no appreciation for Magico speakers until I heard them with Soulution gear.
 

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
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#12
Rons appraisals and comments most welcome and the foresight to admit some reservations with products to be admired--kudos for honesty :)

Myself I have to admit I've never heard a Magico Speaker that would say "buy me" but personal prefs are what they are.

As for the Jadis products--I've owned at last count, 6 units over the years plus heard many demos/etc from the Goldstein era through to Bluebird/ ABSound UK and present day--I sincerely hope the QC

is up to snuff--I had Power Transformer failures in the Amps-- and those damn 150 Ohm R's across the Tubes blowing willy nilly:mad:

Apart from those hiccups they made glorious Music come to life--!

BruceD
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,459
8
38
Utah
#13
David, is this observation about Alon's preference based on historical pairings or has he spoken or written about this specifically? I know at the factory, they have many different electronics in and out for audition, both SS and tubes.
It's from the company's choices at shows like CES where they have full control, my personal conversations with him and having visited his home. Yes, they do have many amps on hand as do many other manufacturers, but taste is taste and no right or wrong here.

david
 

DaveyF

Active Member
Aug 1, 2010
5,633
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38
La Jolla, Calif USA
#15
I thought the S3's at the show that were demonstrated with the CAT Legend and Statement amps were a great match up.
I have heard Magicos demonstrated with Boulder and thought that was a little too dry for my taste, but with CAT gear, that's a superb set up!
 
Last edited:
Jun 2, 2016
47
3
8
Tampa, Florida
#16
My 2c's. I have never made a purchasing decisions based on demo's. Just too many variables. Might seem like blasphemy but in close to 30 years of participation in this hobby, I've only been wrong once. I heard my first set of M3's in Magico's own listening room with all the optimized hardware and cables he used and while impressive, it paled in comparison to what I heard with the M3's in my room with my cables and equipment. I purchased based on Magico's design concept and the recommendations of people I trusted. In this case, I hit a grand slam home run. Fully broken in, in a properly treated room, I am hearing the best sound of my life. The files are now the limitation, not my hardware or interconnects.

Cincy
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,889
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Greater Boston
#17
The files are now the limitation, not my hardware or interconnects.

Cincy
Glad to hear you're happy with your speakers and system, but the above is a dangerous thing to say, imo. I overcame some limitations in the presentation of orchestral violin sound, which I thought were at least partially due to the 16/44 CD format, by changing interconnects. It was not the format itself -- at least it is not to the degree I expected.

Of course, you have top notch components and interconnects, but there is always some limitation in the hardware, even with the best one.
 

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