MAGICO MYSTERY TOUR EVENT
By Albert Dall
Hello SFAS members and friends! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! The long cold nights of winter are upon us and hopefully have given extra opportunity for systems to be warmed up and playing nice music for you to enjoy.
This article is to give a recap and impressions of the club tour of the Magico factory that happened on Saturday, December 2, 2017. I was not able to attend the tour from two years ago, so I was pretty excited to see and hear what all the hubbub was about.
The tours were divided in two groups for each 90min session. One group toured the research/development/production facilities while the other went to the dedicated listening room for a demonstration and Q/A session hosted by Alon Wolf himself.
I arrived twenty minutes late, thanks to our wonderful Bay Area roads and traffic problems, so as I skipped into the building I caught the crew going for the production side of the operations. David Shackleton, VP of Operations, guided us on a very informative, and impressive tour of the facility. The cleanliness, organizing, and detail throughout the factory was of the highest caliber. The main meeting room in the front of the building houses some enormous Magico Ultimate horn speakers, as well as some car sized subwoofers. There were also some Q7 MkII, and their latest and greatest speaker, the M6, in the front room. All beautiful, but standing quietly.
The first smaller room we were escorted to, might be called the Legacy Room. There we saw some of the original early design speakers that started the Magico lore and acclaim. These include the M5 and Mini that were made using beautiful birch enclosures with front and rear aluminum baffles tensioned together. This technique of isolating the drivers from the enclosure has carried through to their most and advanced speaker to date, the M6. Also in the Legacy room was a set of the M Project speakers. The M Project served as a limited production, research and development endeavor that culminated in one of the most sought after speakers in the audio world. It also was a celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of Magico Loudspeakers. An incredible accomplishment in just ten years.
Next, David led us to a pre-shipping and testing area. We were shown how the crates the speakers are packaged in serve as their own ramp and dolly for placement in customer’s home. Again, clean, clever, and safe for speaker setup. From there we were shown the production area for the carbon fiber side panels of the M3 speaker. This design is a descendent of the M Project. After ogling the sexy carbon panels we were escorted to the photography room. Magico does their own photography and video for marketing. Even the cool guitar riffs on the M6 video were played by founder Alon Wolf.
Of great interest on the production tour was the machining room. Here we saw aluminum billets shaped into the front, rear, top, and bottom baffles for the new M6 speaker. Each single piece is shaped to not have a flat surface, they are curved inside and out. When the baffles are assembled on the carbon fiber monocoque structure, there are no flat surfaces on the outside of the speaker, thus diffraction is nearly nonexistent. Inside, the curved shapes minimize internal reflections. And as we saw later in assembly of the M6, Magico also uses and absorbing foam on top of a constrained damping material on the internal surfaces of the speaker cabinet. The design, construction, implementation, and really, one would say completely over the top approach of the new M6 speaker is simply awe-inspiring.
The last room seen on the production tour was where the MPOD and QPODS are assembled and finished. The MPODS are footers for heavy equipment and speakers, while the QPODS are intended for use as isolation footers for source equipment and preamps. The finish and detail of these little handheld gems is another example of Magico’s complete dedication to creating the finest audio listening experience in the world.
And that’s what I was treated to next!
Again in the main meeting room, the two groups paired off, this time I was going to the listening session. The dedicated room at Magico is to be modeled after. It is a room inside a room. What I mean by that is it is sound insulated from the whole building itself. As later listening went on, and I was in the main room with VP of Global Sales Peter Mackay, and other SFAS members, there was not a sound of music (heh heh, pun intended) heard outside the listening room. And the converse held true. Sound inside the quiet listening room was vanishingly low. Someone asked about a dB for the room, but I didn’t write down the response. 37dB? Am I remembering correctly? I don’t know, but I can say there was not a rumble, hiss, whir, nothing to be heard other than a few low voices speaking to one another, until Alon played the first track.
Prior to describing the sound, I want to tell you about the equipment employed. Digital tracks were played via Baetis Media server to a Berkeley Alpha DAC. The final track was analog playback via an AMG Viela TT, and 12JT Turbo Tonearm. A CH Precision Phono Stage, Preamp, and Power Supply ran the front end, with Soulution Monoblock Amplifiers powering the American debut listening of the new Magico M6 speakers. MIT cabling and interconnects tied everything together. Whoa! Nice stuff! Now, the music!
Track 1: I don’t know the name, but it was an Asian Percussion piece that rang out with a giant drum that pressurized the room with perfect tone of bass and reverb. As high frequency cymbals and percussive instruments carried the song and performance along, absolute clarity and placement of the instruments were observed. Fundamentals of first strike to harmonics that faded into infinity gave a realness, depth, width, image size and stability that I’ve heard in audio very rarely.
Track 3: Dire Straits, You And Your Friend, from the album On Every Street. I’m a diehard Dire Straits fan, and this album, as they all are, is a favorite. On the track played, the steel guitar, drums and keyboards came to life! And as Mark Knopfler sang with his low gravelly voice it was if the whole band was performing right in front of us.
Last Digital Track: Copland’s Fanfare For The Common Man. As we’ve heard this standard at many events and shows, there’s a familiarity and emotional response. I felt more at this listening than any previous. Mostly because it felt as though a live performance had just been witnessed. So much so, I noticed myself and others holding their breath, muffling a cough, and reflexively wanting to clap at the finish. Astonishing, as Mr. Spock would say.
Last Song, analog playback: Dean Martin singing If You Were The Only Girl. I’ve never heard this song before. I like it! Dean’s voice was clear and bass baritone deep. The electric jazz guitar strumming along on stage right was as real as if coming from the player’s amp itself. Each note, each time played was rock solid, as though an audio hologram allowed me to visualize the real thing.
The Magico M6’s were like that for all of the music I heard played. All the music sounded to me as if I was at a live performance. And, I think I can speak for everyone who attended in saying that Alon Wolf is to be congratulated once again for production of their latest flagship product, the spectacular M6.