Magico Steals the Show (So Far)
The sound was so full, so all encompassing, and so natural in the small Magico room (Tower 9022) that I doubt I'll encounter another display at RMAF that will top it. Certainly on the first day of the show, the sound achieved by (pictured, left to right) Tim Marutani of Marutani Consulting (Emeryville, CA), Alon Wolf of Magico, and Maier Shadi of The Audio Salon (Los Angeles) was so satisfying that it topped anything else I heard on Day One by a long shot. A very long shot.
As eager as I was to attend the seminars presented in the room by the likes of Prof. Keith O. Johnson of Reference Recordings, the folks of Meridian/Sooloos, and award winning mastering engineers, I was happy to enter when Wolf was playing a full range classical orchestral showpiece. The bass on the Magico Q5 ($59,950/pair, reviewed by Michael Fremer in the November issue of Stereophile) was fantastic: solid, deep, and full. The midrange was ideal, the top true. There was nothing glitzy, overly jazzed up, or illuminated in neon. Every instrument sounded as close to the real thing as I have ever heard from a high-performance system.
The difference between the sound of the prototype Q5 displayed at CES 2010 and that of the final product now being shipped is immense. What these boys have achieved in such a small room was nothing short of tremendous. I guarantee, if I can cover all the rooms on my list by the end of Saturday, I'll be back listening on Sunday afternoon.
The Magicos scored equally well on hi-rez computer files and open-reel tape from the Tape Project. I can't pretend that I'm totally enamored by the sound of the piano on Nojima Plays Liszt, but I can't blame the system for that.
Heard with the Magico Q5, in no particular order: Nagra T Audio 1/4 tape machine with Bottlehead Tube Repro electronics (out of production); Spectral DMA 360 Series 2 amplifier ($20,000); JSX Audio room treatments; Meridian Sooloos music server system including Control 10 ($5500), MS 600 ($3500), Twinstore ($3600) with 2 TB Seagate Constellation drives, and fiber optic LAN system (in prototype stage); Brinkman Bardo turntable ($8000), 9.6 arm ($4000), and Pi cartridge ($2700); a Computer Audiophile music server built for Marutani Consulting with Merging Technologies hardware and software and no moving parts (approx. $11,000), Oyaide clock wire ($500); Pacific Microsonics Model 2 (out of production); TAD D600 SACD/CD player and DAC; and MIT cabling. (Don't think that there was a price list in the room. Not that these boys were alone. Despite requests from the press and a strong urge from RMAF, a good 30% of the rooms I entered lacked information on models and prices).