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).


Dan's picture

How does this room compare to the GR Researchand Green Mountain Audio Rooms?

Buzz's picture

You absolutely, positively, must go to the GR Research (room 2024) and listen to that setup.

DaveP's picture

"$60K speaker sounds amazing shock"An industry digging its own grave, and rightly so.

Chop's picture

I don't know what people hear because this room wasn't that good!! Please others respond.

DanP's picture

Jason is right on!! Best room at the show by FAR. Everything was just right. Bass was the best I have ever heard. I had a hard time leaving the room, and by the end of the day, many rooms later, I was sorry for not staying longer...

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I regret that I didn't get to the GR Research room. There were just too many exhibits to cover. I did return to VTL/Wilson, and discovered that the system had settled in far more than before. The CD, certainly, was excellent. I also liked the very different sound in the Tidal room. I would never presume to declare a "Best of Show." All I can say is "Best I Heard," and they would be, in this order, Magico, VTL/Wilson/dCS, and Tidal. So you know, my territory was the 9-11 floors of the Tower. There are MANY more blogs to come. As of Sunday at 4:55, I've only finished my blogs from Friday.

Maximillion's picture

I covered most rooms and thought the Vandersteen, Audio Research was best of show. Synergistic Research maybe number two with the small YG'S. Best I heard all weekend was at a friends house. Avalon Ascendants, Ayre, Cardas, and his home brew power line devices.

Jerry's picture

DaveP you are so right. The old adage; "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" applies here both to exhibitor's and the staff of most audiophile publications including this one.They haven't learned a thing from the last 2 Stereophile Surveys. Excessive compulsive is the name of the day.

Larry Ogden's picture

Personally, I want to be part of an industry where excellence is pursued. And shouldn't this then be demonstrated to the public?I hope that if a system sounded as good or better for a fraction of the price this would be reported. Hopefully, the cheaper spin offs will follow, then everything gets better for everybody.An industry without visionaries does not have a future.

Darren's picture

I really wanted to like the room. Too much amazing talk about it. But I just don't get the hype. On a different note a friend with me who is a reviewer from Germany felt the room to be extremely neutral and revealing. A few other friends felt the room to be very good. But when I asked how they felt it compared to the TAD / Technical Brain room, they felt that TAD room was in a higher league. I felt the best sound at show was the Sasha/ VTL room. Stunning dynamics and realistic cymbals. Something I did not get from the Magicos. And I did hear the Nojima plays Liszt. In my own system it sound 100 times better.

Jake's picture

I am sick and tired of all this talk of the "high price" of quality equipment killing the Industry! I was at all 3 days of the show and saw huge crowds, high price equipment and great value in a large number of rooms! Anyone that could not find a wonderful music experience and a price they could afford just wasn't looking. Good job on a great show.

Bill's picture

I thought the Vandersteen 7s fared better as I think the sound of the Q5s, while excellent, overwhelmed the smallish room in which they were being demoed.I'd be anxious to hear what these speakers could do in a more reasonably sized space.

Jim M's picture

This Magico demonstrated attributes that it could be a great speaker but you could not tell that in this room. The sound overwhelmed the room. Bass was natural and deep but there was little air around the music. Too bad it was not shown in an environment similar to how it would be setup in someones home.

Peter McStubbins's picture

Honestly, this room felt very dead to me. Perhaps the speakers did nothing wrong, but they were just not getting me jazzed at all. I had expected to really love them. I left puzzled and disappointed.And yeah, it's probably the speakers because the rest of the system was extraordinary. And no, I wouldn't blame the room entirely but for what they are charging, they couldn't get a bigger room? Hmm.

Thomas's picture

Best sound of the show period. This was a great experience and it was amazing. 9.4 out of a 10

Eric's picture

The sound was easily one of my top fives. low level dynamics sounded very right and extremely pleasurable, but I do think that the room was a little too small for this space. My favorite this year was the Dartzeel/Evolution space, maybe it was the Studer R2R. The Vandersteen 7s I thought sounded better last year in their smaller room.

Eric R's picture

I thought the Magico room was good but did not have that live feel or excitement achieved by the Acapella or the Hanson Emperor room. Those rooms left me wanting to applaud at the end of some tracks. The Magico felt a little dry in comparison.

Bob's picture

I thought the Magicos were good, but not great. My room of the show was undoubtedly the Vivid audio set up by On a Higher Note. Nicely neutral, polite yet detailed, LOUD but controlled, articulate but with balanced extension - that's what I look for in a high end speaker. Also, real LF detail is a rare thing but Vivid seem to have found it with their G2 design.

L.Thialan's picture

I guess just like food(one mans food is another mans poison) Music varies accordingly. I own a pair Magico Q5 recently. That too after listening to V2, V3 and then the Q5. It delivers the music "as it is". Driven by soulution Its "music will never be the same again". For your info all the reviews cannot be wrong so far. Expensive it is , but its value for money. So much said, Hear it in the right environment with the right accessories. All the best.