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Of the three you have listed, I have heard all three although NOT nearly within an acceptable time period. Different audio shows. Among them, I prefer the Martens. I value reasonably full range without brightness. It all depends though on your preferences and existing equipment. The Martens can sound pretty magical and are not a tough load for an amplifier. With that being said, its your money. If it were my money, and it was recently, none of those were (or would have been) on my short list including the Magicos. Horses for courses though. Good luck in the search.
A couple of Wilson Audio models, Focal Sopra. Wasn't always a fan of either brand but either I have come around or they have. LOL. Several factors were at play for me, I have a large volume room that is pretty hot, I don't listen at high volume levels and I like a certain sound that maybe others don't, who knows. The Focal Sopras are very nice, the Kantas are compelling as well, I just preferred Wilsons. Lets respect the thread though, back to the OP.
Sorry to be so long...
I was thinking of a bit softer sounding, not quite so analytical without losing any detail. Perhaps no BE tweeter? I do not listen at very high volumes. I am limited in placement space although a friend came over and we measured the room and went through the Sumiko placement routine.
I only mentioned those speakers above because I have never heard ceramic drivers.
Perhaps Wilson Audio Duette 1 for its flexible placement attributes or a ML 13A with room correction should be considered.
It seems you are ready to reboot, based on your comments. Where do you live? The wilson Sabrina is sublime, makes sophia 3’s sound kindof broken to my ears. YMMV. There is a preowned paid of sabrinas at audio arts in new york presently. 1st rate dealer, Gideon.
As for Duettes and Duette 2’s, Ive owned both. The Duette 2 is quite a bit more refined but it should be for the price leap. There is a pair of Duette 2’s pre owned for a crazy good price.
what equipment are you using presently?
I was reading the Duette 2s were redesigned to only work best against the wall whereas the 1s were more flexible?
I am using Aurender N100H as source
WW Platinum 7 USB cable
PS Audio Direct Stream Dac
Siltech XLR Classic 770i
Oasis S-200 monos (200W Class A)
Silnote Speaker cables-all copper-had AQ Redwood-too bright for Magicos
All power cables are Art Audio except for Aurender PAD Aquila
Two twenty amp dedicated lines-10AWG wire-same phase -Oyaide R1
I live around Hilton Head, South Carolina
Listen, I'm no expert, I don't know what you like, I don't know your room, etc. You should listen to a trusted dealer and learn from their mistakes. They readily share their knowledge and if it is withing your means, you might consider therre is real value that many of them add. Find the speakers you like and work backward from there. The Allnic stuff is nice but it is hardly the "traditional" tube sound you may have been trying to introduce. What led you to believe the Allnic would be a great fit for your source and your amps? As for the Wilson Duette series 1 and series 2's and any other speakers you may be considering, go listen. I found the series 1's to be very nice. I had them out into the room and never seriously tried them against the wall but if you were to listen side by side, you would likely understand how the series 2's just sound more complete, more seamless with the driver integration. If you grew up on the watt/puppy sound, the duette 2's and sabrinas dont sound like they were built by the same company, at least not to me. Also, the series 2's close to the wall fill out the deeper bass nicely but out from the wall its not like they suffer materially. Good luck, identify your speakers and be open minded that even though you have purchased alot of fine equipment and cables, you have introduced so many wildly different variables to the equation that you may never sort it out by guessing what to buy by long distance. Also, a tough question we must all ask ourselves from time to time: are you a music lover or an equipment lover? What if you went for a demo, heard some speakers that sounded exquisite only to discover that during your demo they were driven by a single box....would you be ok with that? Some on these forums would not...they want racks of black boxes, lots of wires suspended on elaborate miniature trapezes made by former lute makers, rituals, which camp are you in and which would get you closer to what you are looking for....I'm ok with simplicity that sounds amazing rather than eye candy that does not. Again, the most important disclaimer: I like what I like and only you can determine what is right for you but objectively speaking, if you would like to get off the merry-go-round, make a plan and stick to it. good luck.
Have to admit I'm a little shocked here if I have this right. You run the PS DAC directly into your amps right? Then you insert an $11,000 very highly-regarded tubed preamp and you basically hear no difference? I'm sure you heard what you heard and I know every system is different, but damn I'm really scratching my head over this one.
That aside, some speakers I've heard that are detailed but maybe a bit less analytical sounding than the S5s are Rockport, Nola, Verity, ProAc, Vandersteen, Joseph Audio, Sonus Faber, Martin Logan. Also, you may want to explore speakers that employ the Raal ribbon tweeter -- the speakers I've heard with it are very detailed but incredibly refined and sweet sounding, which may appeal to your tastes. Anyway, just some thoughts to possibly explore FWIW, and best of luck in your search.
“Funny you mention a one box solution. Jeff Fritz gave a glowing review of the new McIntosh MA 9000. I also may like the dartzeel LHC-208. So no, I am a music lover and want to get back to just enjoying...“
jglacken, once again, its your money and your journey but have you selected speakers and is jeff fritz familiar with what you like? Your room? The mac and the dart are quite different. Additionally, the Marten Birds are amazing and yet, much like other manufacturers like Wilson and Focal, the Birds dont sound like the Djangos. Good luck on your journey but be patient unless buyin and selling is also a passion. Not that theres anything wrong with that!
Thanks and you are correct in all you say. Unfortunately I don't live very close to any audio shops so the chance to listen to various equipment is just about nil. 3-4 hour drives at best or flights to who knows where.
Quite frankly the journey has become a pain in the butt.
You sound like you have heard most everything you have mentioned so far. May I ask where you live and where you shop?
Greetings! Once again, a disclaimer: I am not a pro, I am not in the industry and I have no affiliations. I dont have golden ears nor am I an expert in anything except in the area of mis-spent funds. I have bought more gear and sold more gear than I care to remember. These days, I tend to buy for my main system and then drop vetoed items into a second system and then sell on thereafter. I used to be more of an equipment guy who enjoyed music and would always opt for the multiple boxes when in doubt. I have settled in with audio research, transparent cabling and wilson speakers. I like a bloomier presentation in my second system and lean toward warmth.
Now, to your question: Birds have a ceramic composite woofer and a diamond tweeter. Cabinetry is quite different even though they are similar footprint (Django painted mdf I think, Birds more traditional). Django's have an aluminum woofer and ceramic tweeter, guessing that the price differential includes many more differences. What do these differences add up to? They are both excellent speakers just quite different from one another and built to a significantly different price point. Minutes of listening time so I have no opinion if they are better than X speakers or even one another.
Fortunate to live in Southern California for many years had easy access to hear. Even same speaker in different dealers to form opinions about the speaker and room interface. Fun to attend the audio shows as well, if only a flyby. Consider taking a long weekend trip with appointments at a number of dealers. So many of us are interested in audio but resist investing in the personal experience by traveling but take a look at the investment you already have and are considering. One wrong purchase, unless buying everything used, usually costs big dollars in depreciation. Plan a long trip, flights are cheap, dealers are cool when communicated with openly. "Hey, I'm interested in this speaker that you handle but Im also interested in this speaker at another dealer. My timeline for purchase is X and I will be flying in and want to make a firm appointment."
You will be surprised by the positive reaction of most. Anyone gives you any grief or lip, scratch the dealer off your list. Have a list with serials of the equipment you may wish to trade and photos. Again, make a plan. There is nothing wrong with buying and trying from the comfort of home. W have all done it, and continue to! My present setup I heard at the LA show 2 years ago and I just waited for the pieces to come available either in demo or used. You could spend alot of days in LA and likely see and hear everything you are interested in. Hiring a driver would also be fun because you could read up and surf the web in between appointments. Good luck and sorry for the long post.
I've Allnic L3000 Mk2 preamp. It is an amazing preamp. The fact that you couldn't tell that an preamp was inserted into the chain, goes to show how good it is. It has the best bass and dynamics from any preamp I've heard including SS and tube preamps. It gives a wide and holographic soundstage in my system and very refined yet detailed. Allnic preamp is the foundation of my stereo to be honest
We all hear things differently and prefer different things. There's no right or wrong. But it seems you may want traditional tube sound. In that case, I urge you to listen to Melody P2688 preamp. You'll be in heaven.
@jglacken The Charney Audio Concerto would be a great fit for your room. It is a 7' tall full range rear loaded horn that delivers serious musical engagement. Charney is close to the Newark International in NJ. I'm sure he would be glad to pick you up and return. Heck there are so many audio shops and dealers in the NY,NJ area you could make it a multi day trip and probably find what your looking for.
"G- have you heard the MA-9000 or the dartzeel lac-208?"
I don't recall which dartzeel model I have heard but if I recall correctly it had a built in dac. Heard it with some evolution acoustic speakers for like a millisecond a few years back. Sounded smooth. I walked away thinking that MAYBE I would explore it further to see if I could live with it but never did, very Swiss. I used to own a Nagra 300b integrated tube amp and the dart frankly seemed smoother but we all know audio memory is unreliable. This was with Alma Audio in San Diego and I bought some Avantgardes from them at the time. Great guys.
Haven't heard the MA-9000 but I have heard/owned several Mac integrateds pres/amps through the years with the last integrated being the MAC-6700 and I recently had a MHA-100 headphone amp. If you like McIntosh, you will like them. I am NOT a fan of the McIntosh built-in dacs at all. They are fine for background listening. They dont suck but they aren't to my liking. You may have a different opinion upon listening. For instance, the in board dac in the Audio Research GSI75 in my estimation is reference quality, stunning in fact, although I dont feel remotely the same way for the in board dacs in the macs. The new module may be better, your ears will tell you. The tone controls would likely be useful, especially if you are trying to dial in your room with your speakers. Mac service and support will be superior due to their critical mass.
You are considering some great gear but pick out your speakers first. Both of those integrateds are serious. If you want to stick with SS, you could do alot worse.
How about the Vitus RI-100. Dac is an option but needs to be sent back to Europe to install according to one dealer for $2800. plus.
I wonder if any tube amps would number one power the Magico correctly and two add some tube warmth.
I heard SF Il Cremonese in Florida driven by ARC GS 150 and did not care for the sound at all. Perhaps ARC stuff is now more neutral, so wouldn't help the Magicos.
If you are going to visit NYC you may want to add Auio Doctor to your list.
We have a set of speakers that are quite amazing and are very close to the $180k Gauder Acustik's top of the line model.
We have a demo set of Polymer Audio Research MKX-S. there are $68k reference grade loudspeakers that were built to take on Magico the company is very small so you don't hear much from them.
The Polymer weighs neigherly 400lbs yet is very small, only 41 inches height 12 inches wide. The weight is due to the speakers all metal cabinet the front bafle is 120 lbs of composite metal.
The drivers are the famous Acuton pure Diamond Midrange which is a $10k driver mated to the matching $3k, Acuton pure Diamond Tweeter.
So you have $26k in just four drivers! The system then uses a lower midrange and two long throw 7 inch bass drivers in addition to the above mentioned drivers.
Intermal wire is all silver so are the inductors,so basically you have the best of the best parts in the world.
The sound is richer than the Magico's with incredible spped with a very holographic sound.
We are selling our demo pair at $28k because the new Pardigm Personas offer many of the same attributes for only $35k. The Polymers do have a richer quality in the hiighs and the mids which make them so special and you have the perfect sized room for them, the Polymer play loud but were not designed for really giant rooms, our demo room is 26 by 20 with 10 foot celings.
Here is our showroom tour which shows off the Polymers
Please reach out to us if you would like to experience these unique loudspeakers.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
It may not make cents, but when my Genesis 5.2s went on the fritz, it was time to find another speaker. Not being one to buy new, I did not want to visit too many dealers due to the travel required and the guilt of knowing I was waisting their time and using them. However, a dealer in Fl. was selling demo S-3 and a dealer in Atlanta was selling a demo S-5.
BTW, I had Genesis M-60 tube monos at the time. Dealer in Fl. was driving S-3 with D'Agostino (model?) and dealer in Atlanta was driving S-5 with Constellation. I did not care for the Constellation sound or the price and the Dags were expensive too.
So, did I fall in love with the speakers, not really. But I liked them a lot and thought with the enclosed cabinet, I would not have as many bass issues as I had with the 5.2s even with their servo controlled powered adjustable woofers.
Then, decided I would need different amps as most have said the S-5s would like high powered, high current SS amps. So bought some 200W class A monos with 220,000 uF capacitance and away we go as I found a pair of S-5s being sold by a real gentleman on the west coast for a competitive number.
During my visit to Atlanta I did stop in at one other dealer to demo some Wilsons (Alexias?)that were paired with Mac gear and was not blown away.
All over the place is relative. I asked about Vitus because a Magico dealer said the best he ever heard Magicos was driven by a Vitus setup.
He on the other hand is a Dag dealer.
When I asked a respected writer about the Dart, Vitus or Mac, he liked all but implied the Vitus would be the way to go. Dart and Vitus used, Mac new. Similar money.
JG, terrific then. It appears you have a clear course charted for which way you want to go with your system.
Apparently the Dart or Vitus amps (which you haven't heard) would likely be the best match for your speakers (which you bought but admittedly did not love) unless there is another dealer out there who would trade his speakers (that you also have not heard) for your speakers (which you do not love). You imply your class a amps should do the trick but that may remain to be seen as well as the insertion of a proper pre-amp might or might not improve things. As an aside, the wilson alexias you heard that were being driven by McIntosh (that you were also not blown away by) somehow inspired you to consider another model Mcintosh amp (which you also have not heard but was recommended by a writer).
In the monetary arena you are playing in, it would be quite simple to put together a system that could please you but I also get the idea that you don't really want your search to ever end. Good luck with your quest and best wishes.
You should be very cautious proceeding; the S5 are way superior to any of the other speakers mentioned here. They are definitely the best thing you have in your system, so if you don’t like the sound, you should first look at the rest of your equipment. And if you really want an upgrade the only way up from what you have is the S5 Mk2. Any other movement is pure madness, which we, audiophiles, are known to possess 😊
The S5 are not just different, they are objectively better. Much better. However, people do have the right to like whatever they like, just look at politics :-(
BTW, since you mentioned Focal, here is an interesting read for you:
What is "better"? More impressive to your guests? More precise measurements? Flatter frequency response or simply more enjoyable to listen to for the purchaser?
There is no "objectively better" because no one person gets to determine better, especially when it comes to the actual person choosing to make a purchase. No one besides the end user may determine what traits they value more than others. There is no doubt that Magico builds exceptional speakers with a very high degree of quality and workmanship. That is not in question. There are many people who like them alot and thats cool.
For me and I'm sure for others too, I valued the traits of the speakers I chose as being more applicable to me than the traits Magico has on offer. I prefer paintings over photographs. That doesn't make me right or wrong, it just happens to be what I prefer. I prefer tubes to solid state, same thing. I enjoy the organic texture but I'm also not the kind of guy who sets up a shrine and must listen to music in a ritualistic manner from a vise-like sweet spot. I listen, have fun, dance a little, walk around, plan the day outdoors, etc, etc but hey, I live outside Aspen, CO with a perfect wife.
To those who love their speakers, thats awesome and thats the goal. The original poster isn't in love right now with his Magicos and while it is almost certainly an upstream mismatch causing his dissatisfaction, only his ears get to make the evaluation. In closing, while I have deep respect for Magico, I've not fallen for their sound for me.
There are clear criteria for what is better (that is if you understand loudspeaker design). No one should argue that if all things are being equal, lower distortion levels, smother dispersion pattern, or greater extension is a bad thing. There is a reason people preferences are similar in blind listening tests, we know what is good, when we keep our bias out.