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

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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#21
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.
i think i could greatly enjoy a system with Magico's and darZTeel......with a good room and time to work it out. it would not be plug and play.
 

Al M.

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#23
Really? Never heard anything close to that. I hear "detail" but not resolution, not the subtle stuff.
Really? What is the subtle stuff then that you don't hear?
 

JackD201

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Apr 21, 2010
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#24
Except that Peter's Q3 sound in his system warm in the best sense of the word. Again, context.
The Local Magico distributors are some of my closest friends in the industry. For years we've had rooms at our show across each other and beside two other groups we are close to. We have provided each other with gear and software and we have common clients as well. Thee most recent being an M3 owner who revamped his S5 Mk2 system almost completely for whom I provided the new table (AF 3 P), electronics (Andromeda, Pictor, Taurus Monos), MB cables, CMS amp stands and CS footers.

Peter asked for our personal impressions and that is all I provided. Can a Q3 sound warm sure. I never said it wasn't or could't be. If memory serves me right, I was the only one that voted Q3 when Peter was deciding on what to replace his Mini's with based on his Pass/SME/Matsudaira/Townshend/Vibraplane system while everybody else was shouting S5. Warmth is easy to add, speed not so much.

MY context is between the wood bodies, Q3, S5 Mks 1 and 2, S7 and M3 or roughly 12 years of Magico sound.

What thread was that Peter?
 
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Folsom

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#25
Really? What is the subtle stuff then that you don't hear?
The kind of stuff that is like the flavor of the studio it was recorded in, a sort of sound that comes with an entire album. I don't here serious character in the voices, I can hear their moisture level but not the essence of voice. Guitars lack that sort of goosebump factor of fuzzied but sharp edge to overdrive. Pianos sound really one noted, they don't have the right ring to the notes. It's a lot of stuff. I'd generally just say that maybe it's not the speakers fault entirely, but not combination of electronics have ever made them sound capable of really good resolution to me. And based on what I know about their box styles it makes perfect sense. The energy coming from the drivers can only reflect back into them because of the stoutness of their enclosures.
 
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MadFloyd

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May 31, 2010
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#26
When I saw this thread I assumed it was an old one until I saw the date. Wow, Magico house sound. IMO it's changed drastically so many times. My first Magicos were V2s. They sounded wooden in the highs. Could not do cymbals convincingly (e.g. compared to Wilsons) and of course they lacked deep bass, but they were very musical in the midrange.

The Q series could easily sound sterile, thin and non-musical. I believe it takes effort to tame them as they fall on the lean side. Any mispositioning of the speaker and you get a very forward tipped up presentation. Get it right and they can sound spectacular.

The S series has been a favorite. Very robust and musical. My S5's, with two 10" woofers produced a lot more bass energy (think slam) than my M-Pros (three 10" woofers). I find my M-Pros tricky to balance out (compared to the S5) even though they are much better speakers in terms of transparency and resolution. I heard the S5 Mk II and was very impressed.

I've also heard the A3s a year and a half ago at a Florida show paired with Luxman integrated and setup exquisitely by Suncoast Audio and/or Magico's Peter McKay and I'll never forget how good they sounded.

I've heard the M3s a couple times and they didn't really move me. In some ways they sounded like a smaller version of my M-Pro but perhaps due to the electronics they didn't quite connect.

So much of the impression a speaker makes is due to setup and pairing of electronics. I remember hearing my M-Pros at an audio show; they sounded so bad that if I hadn't already owned a pair there's no way I would even consider them.
 
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Duke LeJeune

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#27
The energy coming from the drivers can only reflect back into them because of the stoutness of their enclosures.
I would have expected them to use internal damping material. Do they not?
 

Al M.

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#28
The kind of stuff that is like the flavor of the studio it was recorded in, a sort of sound that comes with an entire album. I don't here serious character in the voices, I can hear their moisture level but not the essence of voice. Guitars lack that sort of goosebump factor of fuzzied but sharp edge to overdrive. Pianos sound really one noted, they don't have the right ring to the notes. It's a lot of stuff. I'd generally just say that maybe it's not the speakers fault entirely, but not combination of electronics have ever made them sound capable of really good resolution to me.
Hmm. I don't quite follow any of your complaints. I guess you've heard Magico with the wrong electronics then. It just so happens that the most believable piano reproduction that I have heard was on the Magico M Project. One noted? That's an odd perception. I very much love my speakers on piano too, it's still pretty darn amazing. Yet there's just not the same coherence and "gestalt".

And based on what I know about their box styles it makes perfect sense. The energy coming from the drivers can only reflect back into them because of the stoutness of their enclosures.
Armchair engineering imaginations.
 

Al M.

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#29
I've also heard the A3s a year and a half ago at a Florida show paired with Goldman electronics and setup exquisitely by Magico's Peter McKay and I'll never forget how good they sounded.
And I have heard the A3 at a dealer and they sounded in the range from mediocre to just plain awful, depending on the kind of music. Just goes to show how impressions depend on circumstances.

Based on that audition, I would never in a million years consider A3s. I suppose they must be much better than what I heard, but I have a hard time imagining. I even heard a lot of what normally would go by cabinet colorations (awful), but it must have been speaker/room interaction? Or loose screws? (You see, I'm grasping for straws ;))
 

Folsom

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#30
I would have expected them to use internal damping material. Do they not?
Between the driver and the enclosure? I doubt it. I believe that's as solid as man can make it. The midrange has it's own internal cone like shaped thing that helps dampen it, which I'm sure it needs some since they wouldn't want it to be damped too much in the driver itself or the miss-voicing with the lowers would be stand-out-noticeable. Maybe I'll post more later when I'm not so tired, but in general I just think you can't get all the way there with that type of setup. Maybe it's just the type of damping alone, but I doubt it.

I haven't heard a crazy inert speaker yet that I thought checked off a box for everything, because I think there's more to it than that.
 

bonzo75

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#32
I think you are addressing the M5's - great big speakers
Are you referring to these, these were the old M5 with wood on the sides that we heard at Gian's friend audio graffiti, with spectral pre, basis audio work of art, and MBL amps.

24C72DC4-0D78-4346-8272-C158764DB931.jpeg
 

howiebrou

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#33
Are you referring to these, these were the old M5 with wood on the sides that we heard at Gian's friend audio graffiti, with spectral pre, basis audio work of art, and MBL amps.

View attachment 66744
Loves the looks of the old Magicos, the M5, Mini and Mini II.
 

Alpinist

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#35
In my opinion, Magico’s house sound over time is one of increasing transparency or no house sound. True to the source. Minimal artifacts.

With their latest iterations, the speakers step out of the way and provide a clear window that enables the listener focus on and enjoy the music.

Ken
 
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bonzo75

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#36

tima

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#37
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.
Thanks for that Mike - your point is clearer to me - can't say if I agree or disagree. Both are much talked about here on WBF. I have a couple Master Sigs myself and agree that the cartridge takes careful setup. Never setup any Magico speakers to know if they are the vdh Master Signature of speakers but I'm sure they too require attention.
 
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morricab

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#38
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.
Yes they seem to like loud and I think this is Folsom's argument above that they lose some subtle detail...what I THINK he meant was at lower volume levels. Many speakers lose believability quickly as the volume goes down.
 

Tango

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#40
Wouldn’t you say that that’s exactly like live music sounds. It thrllls, draws you in in an effortless way, transmitting verve, energy and excitement. You become aware of all the musicians and their contributions.
I deleted my comment and decided I will no longer comment on equipment I don't have actual experience in my system. Live music doesn't grab my attention all the time. Do you always go wow on live performance?
 

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