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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Comments
soulful.terrain's picture
Surprised..well, sort of.

Never would have guessed the Voxativ Ampeggio would have garnered this awarding from Stereophile. Especially since this speaker is a single driver unit. Who'd a thunk it?

I too, was fortunate enough to hear them at Axpona in Atlanta this year. I remember saying to a buddy of mine that attended with me, "I can't believe the level of musicality I'm hearing from this somewhat minimalist speaker"?

If you take a look at all the German engineered speaker systems, the question begs to be asked: Are there any German made products that fall short of the sublime? If so, I haven't encountered any.

FranklinFQ's picture
Headphones

Interesting choices in your headphone category. Among users on HeadFi as well as other headphone enthusiast circles the UE18 is seen as somewhat of an Also-Ran product, released as a response to the JH Audio JH13 and the "driver wars". Very few people who have experience with the category would choose the UE18 as their top choice. 

There have been lots of significant advances in the headphone world of late. Audeze LCD-2 and now the new LCD-3. HiFiMAN HE-6 and HE-500. Westone ES5. Unique Melody Miracle and Merlin. Even UE's own Reference Monitor is more highly regarded than the UE18. I really can't see why you chose it. 

Regarding your comment about the "True Blood" headphones. Those are the V-MODA V-80 headphones, and are actually very highly regarded. You might check with your own headphone expert Tyll Herstens - he recently gave them a rave review, as have many other HeadFi members. I agree that the marketing seems goofy but you might want to look into things a bit before commenting. And speaking of Tyll - why wasn't he involved in this? You have one of the world's foremost experts in the field of headphones on your staff, and you don't bother to consult him?

Stephen Mejias's picture
something to consider

 Regarding your comment about the "True Blood" headphones. Those are the V-MODA V-80 headphones, and are actually very highly regarded.

I know what they are and I've read Tyll's review. I was just making a joke. I do, however, think it's funny to market a headphone around an HBO show about sex-starved vampires and mind-reading fairies. (Yes, I watch every Sunday night with the girls.) The press releases for the headphones do include the bit about "supernatural sound" and "immortal durability," so, they're clearly having fun with it, too.

And if audiophiles start wearing True Blood headphones, I will laugh. A lot.

And speaking of Tyll - why wasn't he involved in this? You have one of the world's foremost experts in the field of headphones on your staff, and you don't bother to consult him?

Something to consider for next year. 

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