Read the review.  Talk about pulling punches.

Btw, Eric, I read your other thread about speaker voodoo and at some level agree.  I think there's a lot of speaker hype out there.  And unfortunately, given the cost of most high-end speakers, their consider bulk and weight, ... home auditioning is difficult if not impossible.  Further, as many others have already said, speaker performance is highly dependent on one's sound room set up and ancillary equipment compatibility.   Talk about a crap shoot.
I dunno, this punch connected pretty hard:

" If you truly need speakers to act as transparent windows into a recorded environment that can be listened to for hours and never tire of I think you'll find these speakers too hot and seasoned for your needs unless you have matching hearing loss in which case they may actually be perfect."

Shorter Nigel - good for the semi-deaf!
I would not call this a review. It’s a useless piece of crap with its only virtue being that it’s the first assessment of the speakers. It’s a blog, not a review. The blogger is in an unfamiliar room with equipment he’s likewise unfamiliar with, and there are no other speakers used for comparison purposes. And we don’t even know if the blogger was familiar with the recordings that were being played. Further, we don't know how long the listening session was or if the speakers were completely broken in.  In my opinion this guy has no business asserting that his conclusions are valid in any way, and he doesn't even mention that all these variables may have affected what he heard.  Say what you will about the more established review publications pro or con, but at least most of the time you’re getting a review based on a known room with the reviewer’s own equipment, their own music, and their own speakers for basis of comparison. With all the variables involved and the lack of rigor on the part of the blogger, I would put zero credence in any conclusions drawn from this thing.

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I just looked at the blogger's other "review" of some Focal speakers.  His ONLY other "review."  In this one he whole-heartedly recommends the Magico speakers, that he wasn't overly impressed with, over the Focals.  Huh.  The fun thing is that it's not evident he ever even listened to the Focals.  The whole assessment seems based on videos and measurements taken by another publication.  Apparently we cannot only accurately assess the performance of a speaker in a strange room with unfamiliar equipment, we can just do away with the whole listening process altogether and make judgements on paper.  Who knew?  I feel like an idiot wasting so much time using my ears. 
By comparison, I think the Magico's are far better built than the Focal's, which is why I was so bent out of shape. Bent pressboard cabinets, miniature, underdamped tweeter motors and crossovers deliberately designed to create a low impedance in the Focals does not create a high value proposition for me, even if I think I can hear the Archangel Gabriel on the other side of the speaker.

Magico speakers, whether I like the sound they produce or not, are class acts all the way, from the quality of the drivers, integration and crossover components.  I could argue the internal wiring is "bargain" but I can't argue it's substandard by any means.

As for the room, I have to say, if Magico couldn't produce the absolute best sound in their amazing listening room with $200K tube amplifiers, where does that leave anyone else? That very wide listening angle in particular is something I think purchasers should consider. This would be a $5,000,000 purchase for me. I'd have to not only buy the speakers but a house with a room big enough to do them justice, so for me it's a weird little combination for the particular use of long-term critical listening. Also, your own ears matter a lot. Mine are really good for being nearly 50, so I'm a lot more sensitive to treble uptilt than others my age, and that lower male voice / piano I heard was just a little extra. .

Mind you, your ears and your room should be a better judge as to whether the Magico's should make you reach for your wallet or not. Please go listen to the Magico's yourself. My posting should help you avoid what I thought could be buyer/speaker mismatches that the dealer and current crop of professional reviewers would probably leave out.

A good question was what do I listen to.  I listen to custom speakers using parts from Mundorf, Scanspeak and measurably flat and with very low distortion. The good folks at Raal traded help with me do some of the measurements so I know what I am used to listening to is pretty neutral, and distortion free, and free of current high-end fads or signatures. So if you are used to an uptilt in the treble, the S1 may sound very neutral to you.

Again, not really interested in proving the value of the S1, just sharing how I would describe them in the hopes that everyone who buys a pair loves them for a long time. :)
Maybe this would help. By comparison to the Wilson Sasha Mk 2s or B&W 802D’s (last ones I heard) the Magico’s missed nothing. The B&W’s and Wilson’s I’ve listened to by comparison made me feel the treble kind of stopped too soon or I was missing something. I think if you hear the Magico’s in the right situation side by side, you’ll feel like you have not been hearing everything before. The treble uptilt is related, but really separate issue.

If you know anything about capacitors and their sound, Magico has been taking advantage of the latest Mundorf Evo caps across their range. They are gigantic and hideously expensive. I personally am not a fan of those particular caps and believe I detect a little Disney-like sheen, or fairy sparkle to the top treble, so I don’t use them. I’m not completely against euphonic gear, this just isn’t a trait I seek out.

Still, please buy what you like.
Dont you find Magico speakers Sterile? Lifeless?  Every time I hear a pair as good as they sound it does not convey any sense of engagement. They are built like tanks but when it comes down to listening personal opinion I would rather go for something else.
You absolutely should get something that makes you want to listen to them! :)  My current speakers make non-audiophiles stop talking in mid-sentence just to listen to what's playing. Personally that's what I seek out. Then I end up loosing sleep because I'd rather listen to music than go to bed.

I haven't spent a lot of time listening to other Magico's, but I found the S1's pretty dynamic actually. Maybe too dynamic to listen to at normal levels. They really do bring a sense of the dynamics of horn speakers into the room.

As for sterile, B&W's tend to be that for me, which is odd considering how their house sound / curve is tuned. I had a chance to listen to the original Nautilus in their Massachusetts offices and they were the same. Stacks of Krell amps and crossovers, and I would not really have been happy listening to them every day.
"On the positive note, the extra treble also had more treble. That is, it wasn't just a matter of being tilted upwards."

Besides the above kind of ridiculous statement, the author in no way is off putting , considering the fact that it was a totally informal initial evaluation of the speaker. For anyone to take it to heart, however, is a completely different manner. At least he senses.... In his subjective opinion, an initial straying of the speakers neutrality; something most music listeners today would have no clue as to what neutrality actually means!

Being smooth and being flat are two different things. Lots of "high end" speakers have a terrible and inconsistent high end. Wilson, B&W, Focal. Not smooth.

The Magico S1’s did not sound ragged to me at all. In fact it sounded very smooth and extended, just going up. I’m sorry that wasn’t more clear.

Still, as I make abundantly clear, only your own ears should determine what is worth taking out the checkbook for. Whether this is a smile shaped response, flat or whatever. The day that the pundits pay for my speakers I might let them choose them for me, but until then I’ll buy only what I like, I hope you do the same. :)
"The Bottom Line
While these speakers show an incredible amount of craftsmanship, unique designs and high tech cabinetry resulting in small speakers with really amazing output they are not for long term critical music listening. If you truly need speakers to act as transparent windows into a recorded environment that can be listened to for hours and never tire of I think you'll find these speakers too hot and seasoned for your needs unless you have matching hearing loss in which case they may actually be perfect."

The real problem here is that you are making extreme and definitive criticisms and recommendations based on a relatively brief and completely un-thorough audition in a strange environment.  It's really not that unlike any of us hearing unfamiliar equipment in an unfamiliar hotel room at an audio show and proclaiming the speakers as clearly flawed.  Among the myriad of other problems and inconsistencies here, how could you possibly know what you heard was in any way specifically due to the speakers???  It's absolutely impossible.  The fact that you dismiss the limitations of your "review" environment is, to say the least, disconcerting. 

Most of us know how flawed auditioning anything in those types of circumstances is, and, further, how irresponsible it would be to make firm or seemingly authoritative recommendations or assertions to others based on such a limited and compromised experience -- especially negative ones.  If you want to do this type of thing and have any credibility whatsoever, especially among this crowd, make the effort and take the time to borrow equipment from a manufacturer, properly set it up in your own room with your equipment and make sure it's sufficiently broken in.  Then spend a couple months listening to it -- comprising anywhere from 5 - 20 hours of actual critical listening time -- with a wide variety of your own music and then another 5 hours or so consolidating all that gained knowledge and writing a thoughtful, thorough, and comprehensive review.  I know first hand how critical this level of time and commitment is to write anything close to a valid review of someone else's hard and maybe even life's work that might possibly be of some value to audiophiles.  So for you to plop your butt down in a strange chair for a few minutes and spew out a half-ass blog and profess thatit has any credibility as a "review," -- well, let's just say I find the blog worth the effort that went into producing it and an insult to actual reviewers who spend the many, many hours of commitment it takes to produce something that holds out any chance of being even somewhat accurate and potentially useful to buyers. 

And, while we're at it, stop throwing measurements out there like they're proof of anything or that they in any way validate your own individual conclusions or biases.  Any seasoned audiophile knows that, while measurements are certainly important and worth looking at, they often have little to do with how things sound in a real-world environment with all the variables contained therein.  You seem to hold out your version of neutrality -- whatever the hell that is -- as the Holy Grail of audio and that anything else is flawed.  But then you walk it back by saying it's fine if it still sounds good to the hearing-impaired individual.  That's complete condescending bullsh*t.  You seem to think you've identified the end all be all of how things should sound.  Good for you.  Don't villify the rest of us as being hearing impaired because you've possibly found "your curve."  And make no mistake, you have a biased curve just like the rest of us -- you just hold yours out as being "right" and "neutral."  Here's a hint -- there IS no neutral.  And a speaker that measures flat in a lab probably sounds like crap in a real listening room.  But let's leave that aside.  Unless you're recording your own music flawlessly with likewise flawless recording equipment and playing it back with likewise flawless equipment in a flawless room, you have no more idea what "neutral" is any more than the rest of us.  So stop preaching to us that your half-ass "reviews" are in any way rigorous or accurate and that it's ok if us low-lifes think equipment you've deemed flawed might still be good enough for us because our hearing is compromised.  Good luck with that strategy in selling your blog.  I'm sure you'll gain a lot of traction with the more experienced people here with that BS, although I pity the poor newbies who may read your semi-informed, seat-of-the-pants crap and actually think it's worth something.  Then again, you build superior speakers as you and a few of your friends see it, so that's clearly a credible basis for being able to accurately assess speakers on the fly in strange systems.

By the way, I had the opportunity to speak with Alon Wolf one on one at length about speaker design.  Believe it or not he actually sounds like he knows what he's doing, but he's also a reasonable guy and I'm sure he'd be open to you explaining to him and his thousands of audiophile customers why his speakers aren't for long-term listening unless they're hearing impaired.

Best of luck with the blog. 



As most successful speaker companies know, why consumers spend their money is much more complicated than reference grade frequency response. Whether my criticisms are apt or not has little to do with whether Magico will continue to be successful.

I’m amused you took this all so personally, it’s rather funny. As I’ve mentioned many times, buy what you like. If you ask me if the S1 sounds neutral, no I think it’s smooth but a bit bright with a little extra in the mid-bass. You are right, I do have a curve, it’s the B&K curve which I know is a personal preference and used (knowingly or not) by many recording engineers. How do I calibrate my ears? With lab grade instruments and listening to music played live. Does that mean you need feel the same way? No.

Again, I heard those speakers in what I would consider the best possible circumstances.

I think you completely misunderstand the point of the posting. It was not to sit on a Judge’s chair and pass judgement as to whether or not the S1’s were worthy of being called "High End Speakers." It was rather to describe and inform, a foil against the undoubtedly universally positive reviews they’ll get. You contradict yourself, on the one hand, you say that there is no such thing as neutral, and at the same time you seem to be criticizing me for not calling them perfectly neutral. It seems that overall you are upset with me for attempting to describe them as having any sort of tonal characteristic at all.

I think the idea that all speaker buyers are going to sit and listen for hours every night and that is the only measure of a good loudspeaker hogwash. We all have different listening styles and different things we want out of speakers. Some watch more movies, games or have it playing in the background while working. That is the reality of consumers. Far too many buy speakers entirely on price so they can have the speakers parked like a Bugatti in a music room they never actually use. Could I sit and listen to the S1 for an hour playing Jazz at live levels, yikes! Not for me. Could I buy small speakers that take up at least 20 square feet of floor space each? Also, not for me. You clearly took offense that I did not universally praise this brand, and call them all things for all people. They are not, but for many they will be ideal, and for those I say, buy them. :)

By the way, have you even heard the S1 speakers?  It's amazing how much criticism I'm getting from people who have not. 

You're getting criticism precisely because your process is completely flawed.  You don't get it.  You heard the speakers in what YOU WOULD CONSIDER to be the best possible of circumstances.  That means absolutely nothing and lies at the heart of the issue I have with your so-called "review."  The problem is, you have no experience with that room, that equipment, or even the speakers.  Nor do you have any basis of comparison to verify what you heard is representative or is in any way accurate.  Heck, you could've brought your own speakers into that room and maybe they'd even sound bright, but you have no idea because it's a completely unknown situation.  Yet you hold your opinion of what you heard in those completely foreign circumstances as something worthy of potential customers making purchasing decisions.  You said, the speakers are "not for long-term (sic) critical listening."  That is a damning and definitive statement you have no business making under those circumstances.  That you throw in the caveat that people should make their own decisions is irrelevant and besides the point.  You're potentially influencing people's purchasing decisions based on a flawed and an unscientific and unreliable situation.  I heard the Q7s at length with my music in a treated but strange room with over a hundred thousand dollars of electronics driving them that I was likewise unfamiliar with.  But even with all that, I would not presume to have a valid idea of what the speakers sound like because I have no known, reliable, or familiar basis for comparison.  I could certainly relate what I heard, but it's just not valid.  Far too many unknown variables.  And certainly not worthy of telling potential buyers what they actually sound like.  That's the difference.  You honestly think what you heard is what the speakers actually sound like, and that may or may not be the case.  You have no way of knowing, which is what makes this exercise next to useless.  And just to be clear, I have no relationship with Magico whatsoever.  You could've written your blog about any speaker and I would've said exactly the same thing.  I have no doubt that you heard what you heard and are reporting honestly on it, but any audiophile will tell you that the circumstances are at least as important as the equipment you're listening to.  Again, sitting in a chair for a limited time in a strange room with unfamiliar equipment and music is not the basis for a review.  At best, it is an IMPRESSION that should come with all the caveats and limitations of the inherent conditions.  You heard what you heard.  Fine.  At least recognize the limitations of your experience and don't make definitive or anything like authoritative recommendations based on such a relatively brief and completely un-rigorous review process.  If you want to write legit reviews, roll up your sleeves and do the hours of work that it entails.  I could easily go to a number of local audio shops and write "reviews" based on my impressions.  They just wouldn't be worth much and, worse, could be completely misleading because it's just not a valid process for writing an in-depth and/or comprehensive review.  You can keep trying to polish this turd, but it's futile.  It speaks for itself.  There are no shortcuts to writing a comprehensive and actually useful review. 
You are the only one criticizing my process, and I'm sure if I had said nothing but great things about the S1 you would be singing my praises as the best example of the audiophile intelligencia. Basically you are unhappy that I put out my opinion and how I formed them.  Sucks to be in a country that mostly supports the right to free speech.

I was honest in my appraisal, and the circumstances thereof. I expect people about to spend nearly $20,000 on a new pair of speakers to use their own tastes as the final arbiters of whether the Magico S1s make the grade or not.  You however are free to disagree with my assessment.  Oh, wait, you haven't even heard them have you?  Hahahhahahaha. 

Your criticisms are ill placed and haven't a leg to stand on.  You sound like a dealer or dedicated fanboy. 
I rather enjoyed your assessment and review- Erik.
My best advice to you guys, regarding speakers, is to get out there and listen, listen, listen to the music!  My reference, for better or worse, are Thiel speakers.  Not to every man nor taste, but to my ears makes beautiful music. Tubed or solid state and will  not break the bank.

Happy Listening!
Guys,
when talking about speakers, owned or auditioned, always mention the cabling system(s) used.
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Just like I think readers will hear things for themselves and make their own decisions, I am sure they can tell when a fan-boy gets all butt-hurt that I rained on his favorite brand.


Erik
Yeah, this is just not getting through the thick wall of ego, so I'll try to make it more basic.  First, I said I'm not associated with Magico nor did I ever say I was a fan of them.  That's your invention in a fairly obvious attempt to try to defend your similarly obviously shallow efforts at reviewing a piece of audio equipment.  My criticism of your transitory impressions are, in fact, independent of brand or positive or negative recommendations.  

As far as me being the only one criticizing your "process," I'd refer you to Dweller and Bifwynne above who also question your methods and who also have over 1300 posts here on Audiogon.  But your're right, we're not criticizing your "process."  We are criticizing you precisely because you have NO process.  To clarify and simplify since it's clearly not penetrating the ego yet, let's use your own words to try to finally hammer it home.  Here's a quote:

"I forgot the source appliance, but it streamed through the Berkeley Reference DAC, another Bay Area manufacturer. I find the Berkeleys a bit too cool for my tastes, but I don't think they'll affect my comments here."

Um, why would that be???  So, I guess we'll dismiss this as an insignificant variable and just somehow magically listen through it.  Ok.  Then there's this...

"This was also my first time listening to CATs in any situation, so if you are familiar with them, apply your own adjustments to my comments accordingly."

Oh, yes, let's all channel our memories back to when we all had CATs in our system so we can adjust any of these comments accordingly.  Another meaningless caveat to the absolute lack of any meaningful review process. 

Now, in addition to looking past these two obviously meaningless inconveniences and adding, oh, let's see, transport, interconnects, speaker and digital cables, power cords, power conditioning, and a completely unfamiliar room, combined with the fact that you've never heard these speakers before -- why would we ever doubt that what you heard was worthy of specifically targeting the speakers as...

"not for long term critical music listening. If you truly need speakers to act as transparent windows into a recorded environment that can be listened to for hours and never tire of I think you'll find these speakers too hot and seasoned for your needs unless you have matching hearing loss in which case they may actually be perfect."

Ok, if you want to position this as an observation or impression that's one thing.  Or if you say something like "within the constraints of the listening conditions here this is what I heard," well then fine.  But what you do is pass this literal seat-of-the-pants transient audition as occurring in "what I would consider the best possible circumstances."  So, an unfamiliar room with unfamiliar equipment with unfamiliar music is "the best possible circumstances" for the purposes a meaningful and valid review that justifies your level of conviction for such extreme assertions on one specific component?  I think not.

A more robust, meaningful, and actual "process" would involve, at the very least, substituting known components in the audio chain, including other speakers in this instance, so there's an actual basis for comparison in real time in the same environment.  Without this, there's no hope of identifying the actual source of any sound characteristics you're actually hearing.  To do otherwise is at the very least arrogance, and at its worst, misleading for readers.  Or, put another way, it's just a really lazy way of stroking your ego and passing your voice off as some sort of authoritative wisdom.  If you want to put something out there that could be truly useful to audiophiles, make the effort and do the work to borrow, un-box, and break in equipment from manufacturers in your own system, listen for many hours and swap out your own equipment for comparison, and then spend many hours consolidating all that hard-won and actually valuable knowledge into a well-written and coherent review.  Given what I've seen I seriously doubt you've got the desire or work ethic to produce something at this level that could be truly meaningful or useful to this community.  But if you keep doing what you're doing you're just a lazy hack trying to make a name for yourself on the cheap, and I suspect if you keep trying to peddle it you'll find many more members than me and a couple others calling you out on it. 

Now, you can keep trying to walk all this back by saying that people should use their own ears, but by the nature of your half-baked, semi-informed, seat-of-the-pants, and completely un-rigorous methods you might actually stop someone who might actually like these speakers (or other products in the future) from actually auditioning them.  That's the real shame, although I seriously doubt anyone searching for speakers at this level would give your impressions any credence anyway.  They'll easily see your stuff for what it is.  But you keep on truckin' Tin Ear.  By the way, here's Webster's definition of tin ear...

"a lack of ability to hear something (such as music or speech) in an accurate and sensitive way."  Nice choice. 
Thick wall of ego.... took the words right out of my mouth. 

Erik
Ibid. Look it up tin head. And, just to be clear, I would never take any words out of your mouth.

Thanks to measurements taken at the National Research Center of Canada I've been able to produce an updated critique here. In some ways I was right, in some ways not so much.
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audio....

Great impressions! I won't berate you for not meeting any particular standards for listening like others here might! Hah. :) 

I'm curious though, you kind of hedged your statement at the end, keeping your comparisons to other Magico's.  How would you compare the S1 Mk II's to other speakers in the barely under $20k range you like? 

Also, how would you compare it to live music?  Do you think it was overall a better balanced 2 Way? 

Thank you for further insights.

Best,


ERik
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