Magico, Pilium, Antipodes, Vyda

Magico turns 20 this year, but founder and chief designer Alon Wolf isn’t the type for gauzy remembrances. In Magicoland, looking ahead beats looking back, so we’ll have to marvel some other time at how the Californian brand has shot to the top of the high-end heap.

At this year’s AXPONA, Magico introduced an upgraded S5 speaker—the S5 2024 ($74,500/pr)—but while it was present for close-up inspection, it wasn’t hooked up to anything. Wolf had decided that the standard hotel rooms he’d been able to rent weren’t large enough to do the new S5s justice sonically.

On paper, the improvements Magico has made to the previous S5 model are substantial. The cabinet has grown some 30 percent in volume. Along with upgraded dual 10’’ woofers, this makes the new S5s truly full-range, with a low-frequency response of 20Hz in-room, down from 25. The cones of the midrange transducers now feature aluminum honeycomb cores with graphene-reinforced carbon-fiber skins, as well as pure titanium voice coils. In practical terms: the drivers have shed weight and gained damping.

Visitors eager to hear some Magico magic were not turned away. Wolf and his team had set up a pair of A5s ($26,000; see Jim Austin's review), finished in silver. Vyda cables carried signal from the Antipodes Oladra music server ($30,000) and fed the 220lb Pilium Leonidas dual-mono integrated amplifier (200W into 8Ω, 400W into 4Ω; $39,000).

The system performed with beauteous authority, breathing new life into Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” and Dire Straits’s “Iron Hand.” Through the A5s, an acoustic-guitar version of “St. James Infirmary” sparkled and shone, with bell-like overtones that seemed to illuminate the space.