Does Magico have a "house sound", and if so, how would you describe it?

One reads many comments about this brand, both positive and negative. Often the opinions are quite strong and infer, to me at least, that people think there is a particular "sound" to the brand. I would like to better understand what people think Magico speakers sound like.

I wrote a long post in another thread describing my thoughts on the "Magico sound" and thought I would start this thread by copying that post here:

Thank you Bob (Rhapsody). I think that is a pretty tough question. I am curious because you have referred to the "Magico sound" a few times in this thread when suggesting that if one likes the "Magico sound", he will like the Magico A5. This suggests that you think there is such a sound and hence my interest in how you and other people might describe it.

It is clear that some people simply don't like Magico speakers, and they too must be referencing a particular "sound" when making such comments.

I have heard many different Magico speakers in many different system contexts and rooms. They have sounded sufficiently different to me, that I find it challenging to identify a brand signature. The degree of dynamics and tonal colorations seem to me to be more dependent on the amplifiers driving them or even the cables than on anything inherent to the brand.

The specific lines do have some traits in common, and this seems mostly based on the construction of that line to meet a certain price point or value proposition, or some idea of "voicing" to please a particular type of customer. Pass Labs seems to have a similar approach with their various amplifier lines, the X and the XA, and then their .5 and .8.

The few attributes I have heard consistently from all of the Magico speakers I've heard, except for the V3, is incredible driver integration, very low cabinet coloration, and timbrally accurate low frequencies. This then leads toward transparency to the upstream components. In that sense, I would describe the brand as chameleon-like: very responsive to system and room context and to set up with very little coloration or character of its own.

For instance, I have heard Magico speakers with the clarity and speed of some panel speakers, the dynamics of some horn speakers, and the coherence of single driver speakers. I have also heard them disappear as some omi-directional speakers do. This is why I find it quite difficult to describe a "Magico Sound."

Finally, the brand does tend to be inefficient and somewhat difficult to drive. This requirement for robust amplification combined with the brick and mortar dealership model might well lead to the favoring of certain types of speaker/amp pairings which may also be very responsible for a type of "house sound" in so much as people generalize about "solid state" and "tube" sound which is then reflected in the listening experience because the speakers are to my ears so transparent to amplification. One is probably less likely to get certain attributes that one associates with SET amplifiers from a Magico system because the speakers can not be driven by such amplifiers.

I admit my experience with a broad range of alternative typologies or even with typical cone/dome drivers and enclosed cabinets is much more limited than to what other audiophiles may have been exposed over time.

Anyway, those are some musings about how I would describe the brand sound, or lack of it."

Magico.jpg
 

Comments

JackD201

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#2
In a word I would describe the current models as vivid. I think their sound has been continuously evolving since the first time I heard them with the wood bodied Vs, I think the V2 was pretty sweet. Probably my favorite of the generation. The Qs came in and the word would be fast. The S's came in and warmth came back and so we are back to the new 2nd gen Ms which are vivid IMO as I've said. The 1st gen M, well, not much I can say as the 5 was it? Was hideously hard to drive and so I think I never really heard it at its potential. The S I would describe as comfortable. The voicing again IMO fits a broader swathe of potential owners but does't have the life of the current Ms.

In a nutshel while there are commonalities in the top to upper midrange, all bass is quick but now differently textured, I think Magico has a sound per series. I would venture to guess, not having heard the A series that Bob is referencing the current M series. Bob?
 
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shakti

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May 9, 2015
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#3
In a word I would describe the current models as vivid. I think their sound has been continuously evolving since the first time I heard them with the wood bodied Vs, I think the V2 was pretty sweet. Probably my favorite of the generation. The Qs came in and the word would be fast. The S's came in and warmth came back and so we are back to the new 2nd gen Ms which are vivid IMO as I've said. The 1st gen M, well, not much I can say as the 5 was it? Was hideously hard to drive and so I think I never really heard it at its potential. The S I would describe as comfortable. The voicing again IMO fits a broader swathe of potential owners but does't have the life of the current Ms.

In a nutshel while there are commonalities in the top to upper midrange, all bass is quick but now differently textured, I think Magico has a sound per series. I would venture to guess, not having heard the A series that Bob is referencing the current M series. Bob?

I never owned a Magico speaker, but I gave them very often a listening.
Your description follows my personal experience as well.
All series are slightly different, still depending of the room you here them.

When I listen to my speakers from Neil Patel or David Wilson, I do understand, what their vision of music reproduction is.
Avalon and Wilson are different in their approach and in their Designs. But within the product family they are consistent.

If their is a change in voicing, like Avalon did a couple of years ago, this is consistent to every new model as well.

But I have a problem with the Magico sound (not only them...), searching for Alon's vision about his personal best music reproduction, as I cannot identify a consistent house sound for all series.

But maybe this is not the goal, maybe he likes to address different target customers with differently voiced speakers?

Anyhow, so far no Magico speaker demo were able to connect me to the music.
I believe, that I never heard a set up, which was able to show the qualities of the speakers in the best way.

So I have to wait, the time will come, that I will understand the Magico way of Music reproduction :)
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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#4
i've never owned Magico. a friend who is a recent 'former' Magico M3 owner characterized his feelings as 'bored with them'. which is different than that they are boring. it's possible he just wanted to try something different. is that a product or user issue? maybe a little of both.

i'd say they are a 'left brain' leaning product that is very needy of a soul-full environment or the right owner. in the WBF vernacular the vdh Master Signature of speakers.

as a brick and mortar brand lots of upgrades always going on and so lots of used ones in the air. and since it's so successful as a brand and has so many different families of models it gets closely analyzed.....and a popular subject to debate.

my personal feelings are that i've yet to wrap my head around a metal cone or metal cabinet speaker (i know not all Magico's are all metal cabinet). but i've not heard one in a mature system either.
 
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Al M.

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#5
I have heard many different Magico speakers in many different system contexts and rooms. They have sounded sufficiently different to me, that I find it challenging to identify a brand signature. The degree of dynamics and tonal colorations seem to me to be more dependent on the amplifiers driving them or even the cables than on anything inherent to the brand.

[...]
The few attributes I have heard consistently from all of the Magico speakers I've heard, except for the V3, is incredible driver integration, very low cabinet coloration, and timbrally accurate low frequencies. This then leads toward transparency to the upstream components. In that sense, I would describe the brand as chameleon-like: very responsive to system and room context and to set up with very little coloration or character of its own.
Agreed, Peter. I have heard over the years the M Project speakers in our friend's Ian's house with a number of different variations of acoustics, speaker set-up and especially electronics so that I can confidently confirm that the speakers are chameleon-like and have very little sound of their own. Just recently I have heard vastly different types of sound character on these speakers by just exchanging the preamp in the system. Depending on the context of electronics, the sound can range from more "analytical" and even thin in some frequencies to a full-bodied, authoritative sound throughout the frequency range which one might also find "warm", yet which with the best electronics is not euphonic. You can also get a euphonic sound if you want -- the speaker doesn't care, it just reproduces what's in front of it in the chain.

Frankly, to speak of a "house sound" thus makes no sense. I agree with your assessment that in Magico speakers there is commonly "incredible driver integration, very low cabinet coloration, and timbrally accurate low frequencies. This then leads toward transparency to the upstream components."

In that sense there really is a lack of a brand sound.

If people think there is a defined "house sound" in Magico it is by lack of sufficiently varied experience with the brand in different settings. Even if you have heard Magico speakers 20 different times, sorry.
 
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Al M.

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#6
i'd say they are a 'left brain' leaning product that is very needy of a soul-full environment or the right owner. in the WBF vernacular the vdh Master Signature of speakers.
Again, that depends on the context. With good speaker set-up, the best fitting electronics and in a good acoustic environment, the sound from the Magico speakers I have the most experience with can completely energize the room and be incredibly engaging on the level of emotion and soul.
 

Al M.

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#7
The Qs came in and the word would be fast. The S's came in and warmth came back
Except that Peter's Q3 sound in his system warm in the best sense of the word. Again, context.
 
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#8
In a word I would describe the current models as vivid. I think their sound has been continuously evolving since the first time I heard them with the wood bodied Vs, I think the V2 was pretty sweet. Probably my favorite of the generation. The Qs came in and the word would be fast. The S's came in and warmth came back and so we are back to the new 2nd gen Ms which are vivid IMO as I've said. The 1st gen M, well, not much I can say as the 5 was it? Was hideously hard to drive and so I think I never really heard it at its potential. The S I would describe as comfortable. The voicing again IMO fits a broader swathe of potential owners but does't have the life of the current Ms.

In a nutshel while there are commonalities in the top to upper midrange, all bass is quick but now differently textured, I think Magico has a sound per series. I would venture to guess, not having heard the A series that Bob is referencing the current M series. Bob?
Howdy Jack,

How are you? All that I have been talking about really applies to the A5s. Your descriptions are spot on. The M series give away nothing to A5 in overall performance, BUT transparency and resolution do seem to be heightened with the A5's as I have pointed out.
 
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cannata

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#9
There is a clear common thread between all the Magico I owned and heard, and it is a lack of coloration. That is what throws people off. It may not be as exciting on a quick demo, but its longevity is secure. I used to be just like many here if the bass was not elevated to a point where my bones rattled, and the tweeter was not splashing “air” left and right ( turned out its just noise, that is not on any recording!), I was not engaged.
I evolved ;)
 

Blackmorec

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#10
I’ve owned a pair of Magico S1 MkIIs for roughly 18 months. Whenever you think you’ve pinned down a particular characteristic all it takes is a change of recording to utterly void the observation. In terms of house sound there really is none that I’ve identified and not had immediately contradicted, but there are house characteristics:
  • Extremely transparent of the recording. Every recoding sounds unique and different
  • Able to build a room filling soundstage that is as large or small as the acoustic on the recording
  • Able to disappear completely, leaving only musicians playing in a cohesive acoustic space, independent of room size
  • Able to produce highly believable instrument timbre including whisper quiet bass notes.
  • Able to resolve even the most subtle spacial differences between instruments on a recording.
  • Able to reproduce music that sounds like its being ‘made by the instruments’ rather than ‘coming from the instruments’. In other words it doesn’t sound like music made by a trombone....it sounds like a trombone making music.
  • Chrystal clear with super extended treble that shimmers and sparkles and provides tremendous reality thanks to its tremendous energy, accurate timbral information and dynamic resolution
  • Amazing dynamic speed, which revolves the beautiful shape of notes from the initial pinpoint percussive source, the bloom and expansion and the often directional decay.
  • Amazing speed and rhythmic drive
  • A warmth or dryness that reflects exactly what’s on the recording
  • SoTA listener involvement and ability to engage and stimulate emotional response.
When I first bought the Magico i did think they were rather expensive for a 2 way speaker. I now think of them as something of a bargain given theIr abilities.
For those who may get a demo of Magico speakers I would say this. If you can sit and listen comfortably with the lights on and your eyes open, they are not producing anything like they are capable of because if they are, at least with appropriate recordings the contradiction between ears and eyes is so extreme its quite disorientating.
 

Folsom

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#11
They seem to need amplification that doesn’t have too much feedback on many models. That or they at least need a lot of current on some others. They seem slightly picky but not always for the same thing.

I think that they are damped in a way I don’t like sometimes, or not at all. They don’t seem able to produce subtle information because of that.

Getting them to point where they’re giving you the desire to listen all the time is a challenge. They wouldn’t be my personal starting choice but I wouldn’t claim its impossible. For what a lot of people like they’re super good. For me it’s just too much “this should be better” without a reason to why it acoustically is in fact better.
 

morricab

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#12
For whatever reason, the only pair I ever heard that kind of engaged me was the old wooden bodied big floorstander (M1?) that was made from layered plywood and had two of those carbon mids. It was with an all Spectral system. All other times I have heard the brand I found it lacking in dynamics and tonality was on the "grey" side. Instruments were not breathing like they do live. Now, maybe it was the electronics...maybe, but I did hear them with various brands. Whatever else, they somehow failed to engage me.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Mike - Can you say this with different words? I don't understand the Master Signature comparison, given the previous clauxe.
i will try.

i've owned 10 van den Hul Colibri cartridges. 3 in the last couple of years, the last one being the Master Signature. if you read about the MS, it's a very low distortion, plain talking cartridge, that lives on a knife edge of open and highly detailed and dynamic presentation, falling into edge or snarl if things are not just right. you can read about Tang, or Peter A., or a number of other MS owners who love it, and others who could not tame it fully to work for them. for myself, i did not own it long enough to say which camp i would have fallen into. it does deliver high levels of information. and since it's much talked about here on WBF, i assumed many could relate to my connecting the MS with the Magico sound.

i do think there is one fundamental difference between a speaker and cartridge. you can, and many do, switch cartridges, or switch to digital oR tape, but your speaker is pretty much there all the time.
 
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PeterA

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#15
i'd say they are a 'left brain' leaning product that is very needy of a soul-full environment or the right owner. in the WBF vernacular the vdh Master Signature of speakers.
Mike, I think this is a very interesting comparison, especially as I own two Master Signatures (one since exchanged for the Grand Cru) and I have owned two Magico speakers. Both products are designed and developed by extremely talented and driven people, always searching for ways to improve the sound of their designs. What may at first appear to be "left brain", I find is actually the merging of art and science in a way that serves the music and solicits deep emotion in the brain of the listener.

I find both the speakers and the cartridges to be very revealing, highly resolving, and to my ears, very natural sounding. However, it took a long time for me to get both to sound that way. Set up and associated gear are critical to optimize the performance.

When set up well, I find both brands add little of their own character to the sound, allowing the music to flow through. They are tools or instruments to reveal what is on the recording, and in the best cases convey the musicians, or composer's intentions. I know others will find this analogy sacreligious, but I appreciate your making the comparison.

Here is a fascinating chart drawn and originally posted by member DDK placing the Master Signature along a scale of cartridges. I agree with his assessment and would place the Magico Q and M series (with which I am most familiar) somewhere near the center on a similar scale for speakers, at least of the few speaker brands I've heard.

I hope that DDK does not find my posting this here to be inappropriate, but to me this is a very clear illustration of where I would place the Magico brand on a neutral/natural progressive scale, right near where he places the Master Signature. Others will surely find such a placement controversial.

Cartridge Scale-Web.jpg
 

Al M.

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#16
I think that they are damped in a way I don’t like sometimes, or not at all. They don’t seem able to produce subtle information because of that.
Really? Outstanding resolution of subtle information is what I hear from Magico speakers all the time!
 

Al M.

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#17
PS: For those who wonder why I am such a strong voice for Magico here: I don't own Magico speakers. And for various reasons, I probably never will. And I am incredibly happy with my own Reference 3A Reflector monitor / dual JL Audio F112v2 sub combo -- thank you very, very much.

Thus, I have no skin in the game. However, I just cannot stand the persistent misperceptions about the brand, since I constantly am able to hear what Magico speakers can do with my own darn ears. I care about the truth.

If you've had one or 20 or 100 -- I don't care one bit -- bad auditions of Magico, that's your own little problem (I've had three bad ones too at a dealer, but two good ones as well). I know what those speakers can do.
 
May 30, 2010
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For whatever reason, the only pair I ever heard that kind of engaged me was the old wooden bodied big floorstander (M1?) that was made from layered plywood and had two of those carbon mids. It was with an all Spectral system. All other times I have heard the brand I found it lacking in dynamics and tonality was on the "grey" side. Instruments were not breathing like they do live. Now, maybe it was the electronics...maybe, but I did hear them with various brands. Whatever else, they somehow failed to engage me.
I think you are addressing the M5's - great big speakers, curiously they could disappear even better than the Mini II's, but needed large rooms . Probably some of the best sound I ever listened from the big DartZeels NHB458's.

IMHO most Magico's like be played loud, and are of critical placement.
 
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Al M.

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#19

Mike Lavigne

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Here is a fascinating chart drawn and originally posted by member DDK placing the Master Signature along a scale of cartridges. I agree with his assessment and would place the Magico Q and M series (with which I am most familiar) somewhere near the center on a similar scale for speakers, at least of the few speaker brands I've heard.

I hope that DDK does not find my posting this here to be inappropriate, but to me this is a very clear illustration of where I would place the Magico brand on a neutral/natural progressive scale, right near where he places the Master Signature. Others will surely find such a placement controversial.
how could you not place Magico in the middle of your own sweet spot? and how could ddk not put his favorite cartridges in the middle of his sweet own spot? does the scale have widely held truthful relevance? for some obviously.

i'm the one who mixed cartridge presentations with speaker presentations, so blame posting the scale here on me.
 
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