Magico Q5 loudspeaker Page 4
Handel-Halvorsen's Passacaglia and Sarabande for Violin and Viola in g features pizzicato playing that the Q5s reproduced with the same noticeable correctness of attack that they managed with plucked double bass. The lack of boxy colorations allowed the Magicos to consistently produce delicate instrumental images that floated freely in three-dimensional space.
Piano Music in a Church, Endre Hegedüs's recital of solo-piano works by Chopin and Debussy (CD, Tone-Pearls TPRCD1)I hope it's still in printrevealed more of this "Almost Analogue Digital" recording's tape hiss than I remember hearing through either the MAXX 3s or the Vandersteen 7s, yet the piano sounded neither hard nor bright, though I distinctly remember the Vandersteens reproducing more of the church's reverberant field than the Q5s did. That was one of the 7s' stand-out abilities in general. However, the applause preceding Chopin's Prelude in c, Op.28/20, sounded eerily real through the Q5s. If you love solo piano, you need to find this disc!
The perfect loudspeaker?
There's no such thing, of course. Although, as I've described above, in some ways the Q5 exceeded the performance of any other speaker I've heard, in one area they did not.
While waiting for a rock concert to start, have you ever watched the drummer sit down at his kit, and give it a run-through to test the instruments' physical positions, functioning, and miking? A good example is at the beginning of Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus (LP, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 2-013): after the band shares a joint and warms up by singing backstage, the microphones follow Lowell George and the Feat onstage. The late Richie Hayward sits down at his kit and gives the kick drum a few wallops, sending shock waves through the PA that fill the hall. There's a familiar sound and feel to thata visceral punchthat the Q5s didn't do, and I don't think it was a function of my room. I just don't think it's in the speaker's DNA.
The Q5's bass was texturally and tonally superb. No, it was better than thatin most respects it was the best I've heard, but the tradeoff to get that textural and tonal perfection was a lack of the visceral impact that I believe is contained by many recordingsrock, jazz, and classicalnot to mention live music. Some recordings are intended to punch you in the stomach. The Q5 can't do that. It's soft and polite. That works well for many recordings, but not all. The ability of other speakers to reproduce that visceral impact is not a hi-fi distortion caused by vented or powered woofers. It's real. In this respect, both the Wilson MAXX 3 and the Vandersteen 7 have it all over the Q5.
If you listen to a lot of rock, you will not be disappointed by the Q5's upper-frequency response or, particularly, by the cleanness of its transient reproduction of electric guitars, where it is spectacularly revealing. But the bottom-end weight and drive needed for hard rock is not there. I also felt that this paucity of weight sometimes affected the Q5's ability to capture the growl of the cello's lowest notes. When my stomach should have begun to churn, it did not. But above the churn region, the Q5 was exceptional.
Despite its 11"-wide front baffle, which otherwise might have been expected to produce diffraction artifactsI couldn't hear anythe Q5s produced a magnificently stable, deep, wide, and appropriately tall soundstage. Even when I sat unusually close to them, the Q5s "disappeared" to leave an open, airy, transparent, uncluttered stage populated by solid, three-dimensional images.
Overall, the Magico Q5 was the smoothest, most detailed, least mechanical-sounding speaker I've heard. It sounded that way at what I used to think were impossibly low levels, and it sounded that way at uncomfortably loud levels, leading me to believe that a pair of these relatively compact speakers could easily fill a very big room. Its micro- and macrodynamic capabilities were unlimited, with the exception of the bottom octaves, where they lacked visceral punch. But elsewhere in the audioband, I never wanted more of anything, though a little less in the upper octaves might have produced a more accurate balance, if perhaps not as much pleasure.
If you listen exclusively or mostly to acoustic music, you'll find the Magico Q5 sets new standards in many areas of speaker performancetransparency, resolution of low-level detail, and freedom from boxy colorationsthe Q5's overall freedom from obvious colorations and mechanical artifacts and its audible lack of "box" put it in a league of its own, in my experience. The Q5 imposed on familiar recordings the least amount of its own personality, and overall had the least "sound," of any speaker I've heard. It was chameleon-like in that regard, and its ability to produce pleasing sound with even poor recordings was in no way due to its homogenizing the input signalin fact, quite the opposite. It revealed more variations in recording quality, yet somehow, even the poor ones were made more bearable, perhaps because they didn't trigger mechanical artifacts inherent in the speakermuch as the best turntables seem to suppress pops, clicks, and other record defects.
As a work of industrial art, the Magico Q5 is beautiful, though to some it might look cold and uninvolving. But that's a more personal issue than the sound itself. When you first listen to it, the Q5 may also sound uninvolving because it has little or no personality of its own. But in a loudspeaker, that's what you want. 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.
I can't imagine anyone who's in this game for the music and not the gear, and who's okay with the Q5's subtler bottom octaves, who wouldn't want to own a pair of Magico Q5sparticularly if they listen mostly or exclusively to acoustic music.