Stereophile's Products of 2011 LOUDSPEAKER OF THE YEAR

2011 LOUDSPEAKER OF THE YEAR

Magico Q5 ($59,950/pair; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.33 No.11, November 2010 Review)

2011 RUNNERS-UP (in alphabetical order)
Atlantic Technology AT-1 ($2500/pair; reviewed by Erick Lichte, Vol.34 No.9 Review)
Bowers & Wilkins 800 Diamond ($24,000/pair; reviewed by Kal Rubinson, Vol.34 No.5 Review)
Focal Chorus 826W 30th Anniversary ($3495/pair; reviewed by Robert Deutsch, Vol.33 No.11 Review)
Sony SS-AR1 ($27,000/pair; reviewed by Kal Rubinson, Vol.34 No.7 Review)
Vivid Audio B1 ($15,000/pair; reviewed by John Marks & John Atkinson, Vol.34 Nos. 2 & 10 Review)
Voxativ Ampeggio ($29,750/pair; reviewed by Art Dudley & John Atkinson, Vol.34 No.8 Review)
Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia 3 ($17,600/pair; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.34 No.2 Review)

As always, the race for our Loudspeaker of the Year award was fiercely contested—three different models were awarded three first-place votes each, and six speakers earned at least one first-place vote. In the end, however, Alon Wolf's meticulously designed Magico Q5 stood quietly and rigidly apart from the pack.

The first thing that struck me about the Magico Q5 is its extraordinary price: At $59,950/pair, the Q5 costs more than twice as much as any other speaker in our competition. At 387 lbs, it also outweighs the competition by a great margin; and, while the speaker's perfectly smooth and seamless outer skin is rather somber, it's what's inside the sealed-box Q5 that's most impressive: A complex, rigid structure of multiple, thick-walled chambers and aluminum truss rods tightly secures the front baffle to the rear panel, and incorporates more than 50 machined parts, over 200 threaded holes, and more than 350 fasteners of various types. In addition, all of the Q5's drive-units—a 1" beryllium-dome tweeter, a 6" cone midrange unit, a 9" cone midbass unit, and two 9" woofers—are designed by Magico and the cones of the lower-frequency units are made of the company's stiff, lightweight Nano-Tec material.

Mikey Fremer found the Q5's sound to be clean, uncolored, well balanced, and consistently engaging at both uncomfortably high and impossibly low levels. In his listening room, the Q5 produced a fast, open treble, a pure midrange, and bass that was texturally and tonally superb. "Overall, the Magico Q5 was the smoothest, most detailed, least mechanical-sounding speaker I've heard," said MF. "The longer I listened, the more I appreciated the Q5's ability to get out of the way and let the recording's own personality assert itself."

It's that respect for the music that makes the Magico Q5 our Loudspeaker of the Year.

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