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

DaveC

Industry Expert
Nov 16, 2014
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Just a note about shows
Shows have some of the worst, saggy, highly impedance, overloaded, noise polluted mains on the planet....way beyond what an average conditioner can fix
Shows are also literally EMI/RFI soup and who knows what the quality of network feeds are like given the amount of bandwidth being consumed.
The rooms are generally asymmetrical and the furniture is removed to make room for seated listeners, who come and go, changing the room’s RT from under-to over and occasionally perfectly damped.
Speakers are set up to allow the maximum number of listeners to get a reasonable impression of performance, so there really is no sweet spot and most seats will not enjoy proper channel balance and symmetry.
The partnering equipment is often loaned and may well include items not fully run in. In addition, all equipment has been packed, transported and only installed the day before the show. In some cases, speaker manufacturers may not really know the sound they are aiming for
Typically the hotel has very high levels of ambient noise...while this may not be heard directly it certainly masks a lot of ambient detail and subtlety .
Earthing at shows is probably both highly polluted and high impedance.
Foot traffic and multiple systems will massively increase floor borne vibration

So all in all, if any manufacturer or dealer can achieve even half decent sound at a show, it demonstrates an extraordinary level of skill, or a highly refined and stable process based on a carefully chosen set of ‘show components’ in order to make the set up as reproducible and stable as possible.

Apart from the mains , everything else can be controlled ..

Well, not to brag, but the two times I showed my modded SurgeX with my power cables at RMAF the room won awards, including a TAS Best In Show in the cost-no-object category and multiple other awards I need not mention. The 1st year it was added last minute as the room had lots of issues, and I suggested it was a result of the AC power quality, so we tried the SurgeX. The SurgeX may not have reduced the issues to zero, but it did get rid of a vast majority of the issues and allowed the potential of the gear to much more fully realized.

So, while AC power is certainly an issue at shows, it's also true that the issues can be mostly taken care of by high quality surge and emi/rfi filters. The issue is that many do not use such devices for whatever reasons.
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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Each speaker manufacturer worth his/her salt measures and knows their speakers' dispersion patterns, and recommend in their manuals optimal positioning, including toe-in. Magico speakers' dispersion patterns do not seem to support zero toe-in, and they are not alone. This is contrary to horns, for example, which by large should support that. The lack of support for zero toe-in in your set-up was quite apparent to me when I last visited you - totally unnatural and weird sound.
Dispersion patterns are often quite narrow and require tie-in. I would expect a wide even dispersion design to require little, if any, unless placed close to side walls to lessen first reflections. If dispersion is not uniform from mids up due to differences in driver/crossover behavior then that too can be a reason for needing toe-in.
 

Alrainbow

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Dec 12, 2013
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Toe in makes it worse if no proper spectrum balance...!
 

morricab

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Presenting a $1M system and not taking everything into consideration for those power hungry amps ..

:)
This is why Living Voice brings their own huge battery supply for their room every year...those guys get what it takes...
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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Okay. Did you have a larger point that I missed?
Just I have tried a number of times across a spectrum of models, rooms and electronics and struggled with the sound. I would love to hear their monster horns with top tubes...with SS they were a bit too incisive.
 
Likes: tima
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IMHO if any speaker needs special power supply requirements to sound excellent there is something wrong with it or the system that is powering it.

Power tweaks, grounds or cables surely can tailor sound to our preference, but can not change the fundamental aspects of a speaker sound, as long as mains keeps in an acceptable voltage.
 

Folsom

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IMHO if any speaker needs special power supply requirements to sound excellent there is something wrong with it or the system that is powering it.

Power tweaks, grounds or cables surely can tailor sound to our preference, but can not change the fundamental aspects of a speaker sound, as long as mains keeps in an acceptable voltage.
Hmm... sorta true, but the quality of power going in can truly make a stereo hard to listen to in a fatiguing way, even though it displays many positive qualities. I don’t see the point of trying to philosophize it.

While it is possible to design to be better for the AC quality, sometimes the sonic costs become detrimental. I honestly think in general few designers really can play both fiddles. It’s not something well understood in any discipline of electronics.
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Except if they don't like Magico sound in a WBF thread on Magico ... :eek:
Francisco, I invited people to discuss their thoughts about Magico speakers in this very thread about the brand’s house sound. People have been free to fully express their opinions, and they seem to be doing so.

I failed to see the point you are trying to make.
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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Except if they don't like Magico sound in a WBF thread on Magico ... :eek:
What a silly post. The subject is asking people what they think of Magico, not only if they like Magico
 
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Tango

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What a silly post. The subject is asking people what they think of Magico, not only if they like Magico
You and Peter a tack team now. :D
 
Likes: christoph

morricab

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IMHO if any speaker needs special power supply requirements to sound excellent there is something wrong with it or the system that is powering it.

Power tweaks, grounds or cables surely can tailor sound to our preference, but can not change the fundamental aspects of a speaker sound, as long as mains keeps in an acceptable voltage.
I disagree with this and I have an interesting experience that highlights (and not coincidentally turned my attention to power issues). I was at the Munich show back in 2008 as a KR Audio dealer. I was in the KR/Cessaro room (my first experience with Cessaro and it was the Alpha speaker system) and not really loving the sound. It was lacking the expected dynamics, was spatially flat and shrill at the top somewhat.

I was having a chat with a guy as 18:00 rolls around. The room was almost empty as a result (It was closing time) and we had the music at a moderate level. Suddenly my attention was jerked away from the conversation to the sound of the system that had, out of nowhere, become amazing. Tone, depth and dynamics were there in abundance as one would expect from such an expensive system.
I realized then that most of the exhibitors had shut down their systems and that lead to a dramatic cleanup of the power and perhaps RFI. The system literally went from “meh” to “wow” at the flick of some power switches!
 

tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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IMHO if any speaker needs special power supply requirements to sound excellent there is something wrong with it or the system that is powering it.
Hmm... sorta true, but the quality of power going in can truly make a stereo hard to listen to in a fatiguing way, even though it displays many positive qualities.
I realized then that most of the exhibitors had shut down their systems and that lead to a dramatic cleanup of the power and perhaps RFI. The system literally went from “meh” to “wow” at the flick of some power switches!
I'm inclined to agree with Micro while not disagreeing with Folsom. A speaker that requires its owner to purchase or create special power supply requirements is dependent on third-party contributions to be successful. I don't believe manufacturers ever put themselves in that situation. "Buy my speakers but you have to buy this too, but I don't make it." Nah.

While power quality can vary somewhat and there are always exceptions and one-offs, most designers and manufacturers typically accept some notion of 'nominal' power conditions, some range of what is considered acceptable. If something is needed for their product to work well, they provide it themselves (filtering, etc.). I could see where power conditions may vary from country to county or continent to continent and some manufacturers do have special versions for different regions.

Show conditions are an exception aren't they? The typical audio system does not operate on a line that also serves 50 to 100 other audio systems. (An audio show is probably an excellent venue for power conditioner before and after demos.) But imo the show condition example does not counter the general point that a speaker (or system) that requires special power supply requirements has real issues. Granted some will upgrade their power supply - special grounding, their own transformer, etc - but those may not be requirements for acceptable performance.

I don't that any of this relates to Magico speakers.
 

Blackmorec

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Feb 1, 2019
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IMHO if any speaker needs special power supply requirements to sound excellent there is something wrong with it or the system that is powering it.

Power tweaks, grounds or cables surely can tailor sound to our preference, but can not change the fundamental aspects of a speaker sound, as long as mains keeps in an acceptable voltage.
Unless we’re talking active speakers, mains has no influence whatsoever on the way speakers sound. How do you build a speaker that’s independent of mains power quality when it doesn’t use mains power? Passive speakers are 100% dependent on what comes out of the amplifiers to which they are connected.
Without mains power, there is no drive from an amplifier... in essence, AC power is supplied to pre-amp and amplifier circuits, where it is rectified and modulated first by source signals and then by the preamp signal to produce the final high current drive to the speakers.
In order to assure good sound quality outputs the amps require enough current to exceed their highest demands, low impedance, undistorted AC power with a minimum amount of noise.

Typically, serious audiophiles know that a dedicated mains supply, separate from the normal household supply is required to achieve anything like decent sound. Why? A typical household supply is carried through low grade, poorly insulated, poorly screened cable with multiple, very poorly executed joins and junctions and is subject to the noise generated by dozens of switch mode power supplies, fridge and freezer compressors, light dimmers, motors, and host of other household appliances, all of which inject noise back into the system. Using household or hotel mains for high-end audio is akin to drinking water from the waste water system.
For a set of audio electronics to reach high sound quality standards independent of power supply quality, its power supplies would need to emulate the qualities of both the dedicated mains supply and any further mains conditioning that’s applied. I would submit that such a pre-amplifier and amplifier would require such an over-engineered solution as to be completely unfeasible. Personally I am not aware of any hi-fi electronics that have not been improved by better mains isolation and noise reduction, which according to the logic of the above statement would mean that all the systems that have respond positively to mains improvements are flawed In some respect.
Getting back on topic, Extensive audiophile experience tells us that even the best Magico speakers are going to sound below par if the supporting hardware is supplied by sub-standard mains. This is one of the major challenges facing exhibitors at shows and a very good reason not to use show listening experiences as the sole arbiter in judging any loudspeaker‘s performance.
 
Last edited:

Alrainbow

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I disagree with this and I have an interesting experience that highlights (and not coincidentally turned my attention to power issues). I was at the Munich show back in 2008 as a KR Audio dealer. I was in the KR/Cessaro room (my first experience with Cessaro and it was the Alpha speaker system) and not really loving the sound. It was lacking the expected dynamics, was spatially flat and shrill at the top somewhat.

I was having a chat with a guy as 18:00 rolls around. The room was almost empty as a result (It was closing time) and we had the music at a moderate level. Suddenly my attention was jerked away from the conversation to the sound of the system that had, out of nowhere, become amazing. Tone, depth and dynamics were there in abundance as one would expect from such an expensive system.
I realized then that most of the exhibitors had shut down their systems and that lead to a dramatic cleanup of the power and perhaps RFI. The system literally went from “meh” to “wow” at the flick of some power switches!

Mostly due to the lack of clipping from lowering the volume that was no longer needed due to the lower noise floor of an empty show ..
 

south

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Nov 4, 2011
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You seem to ignore what we, the people who own Magico products, are trying to say; the Magico will sound more like what's driving them, and less like what they might actually sound (assuming everything has a sound). You can go back and look at all measured data on Magico loudspeakers, they are all reasonably smooth and balanced both on and off-axis, with extreme low THD (https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16&Itemid=140).

It is not the house sound that is changing (it just gets better); it's the systems used to drive them (Ask Caesar who flipped 180° when heard the S5 on the CAT).

Most speakers suggested here as "role models" are so colored, their sound signature will triumph any ancillary equipment driving them. Therefore you have a similar "house sound" no matter what.
Any well conceived speaker allows to hear the differences between alternative sources and amplification. But the idea that speakers can be entirley neutral and transparent and act as a window revealing whatever drives them is not matched by my experience. Some are more transparent than ohers, but t is a matter of degree and trade offs. In the case of Magico, the fact that they have often changed the materials used and the technology of the units seems to confirm this.
 
May 30, 2010
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I disagree with this and I have an interesting experience that highlights (and not coincidentally turned my attention to power issues). I was at the Munich show back in 2008 as a KR Audio dealer. I was in the KR/Cessaro room (my first experience with Cessaro and it was the Alpha speaker system) and not really loving the sound. It was lacking the expected dynamics, was spatially flat and shrill at the top somewhat.

I was having a chat with a guy as 18:00 rolls around. The room was almost empty as a result (It was closing time) and we had the music at a moderate level. Suddenly my attention was jerked away from the conversation to the sound of the system that had, out of nowhere, become amazing. Tone, depth and dynamics were there in abundance as one would expect from such an expensive system.
I realized then that most of the exhibitors had shut down their systems and that lead to a dramatic cleanup of the power and perhaps RFI. The system literally went from “meh” to “wow” at the flick of some power switches!

It is why I made an exception to low mains voltage. This is particularly true with many power amplifier tubes, as most of the time their power supplies are not regulated. But this condition is extremely easy to check, we just need a cheap meter.
 

Folsom

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Any well conceived speaker allows to hear the differences between alternative sources and amplification. But the idea that speakers can be entirley neutral and transparent and act as a window revealing whatever drives them is not matched by my experience. Some are more transparent than ohers, but t is a matter of degree and trade offs. In the case of Magico, the fact that they have often changed the materials used and the technology of the units seems to confirm this.
It’s not supported by measurements either. Speakers are not perfect and cannot be within our realm of current capabilities.
 

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