Magico Ultimate: The ultimate $600,000 speaker for the .001 percent

The Magico Ultimate is now in its third revision, and runs close to $600,000 a pair, too bad you didn't jump on the originals back in 2004, when they were just $229,000! The original and current Ultimate speakers share the same "horns," the megaphone-like pieces that sit in front of the drivers, but the new speaker has redesigned drivers, crossover networks, and amplifiers. The form-follows-function "Blade Runner" aesthetic won't appeal to buyers with traditional tastes, but Magico's line of box speakers is certainly more conventional looking, and affordable. Well, affordable in … Read more

Should the White House have a 'made in the USA' hi-fi?

America may not design world-class cars anymore. We don't build TVs, phones, tablets, cameras, or all that much consumer technology, but we're still at the top of the heap in high-end audio! That's why the White House should have an American engineered and built hi-fi system for use by the president and his invited guests.

I'll volunteer my services to coordinate and help assemble such a system (presumably donated by the manufacturers). On a leap of faith, I'm assuming the president still plays LPs, so I'd recommend the Spiral Groove turntable and tonearm from … Read more

The heavy-metal-speaker man

I interviewed Magico's Alon Wolf a few months ago when he visited his NYC dealer, EarsNova.

Like so many audio entrepreneurs I've talked with over the years, Wolf had started building speakers for himself years before he officially got into the business in 2005. Mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine was one of Wolf's first customers; he heard something in a Wolf speaker he couldn't get anywhere else.

Wolf was only interested in building the very best speakers he could without cost constraints, and that's his market niche. Thing is, it's also the most demanding market, … Read more

Magico's heavy-metal speakers

I recently dropped by EarsNova's spacious new high-end audio store, which has the best-looking showrooms I've seen in a long while. The vibe was relaxed, and the demo rooms' sound was pretty special, but it was the little Magico Q1 speaker that bowled me over.

Were my eyes deceiving me? How could this big sound come from such a small speaker? The sheer physicality and beauty of the sound required some recalibration of my senses to take it all in. Most bona fide high-end speakers are big, imposing things that dominate a room. They're so huge that … Read more

A $25,000 'bookshelf' speaker from Magico

Magico, based in Berkeley, Calif., has established itself as a major American high-end speaker manufacturer in just a few years. The company builds state-of-the-art speakers with truly innovative technology. I've listened to a lot of large and not-so-large Magico speakers over the years, and was never less than astonished by their sound. The company is just now introducing its smallest speaker ever, the Q1 ($24,950 per pair). The Q1's cabinet is an extensively braced-aluminum-and-copper design.

It's a small monitor speaker, but it's sold with an integrated stand. Mounted on the stand, the Q1 measures 44 … Read more

Precious metals: Stunningly beautiful high-end audio designs

High-end audio, just like high-end everything else--cars, clothes, watches, boats--is in large part about style. Sure, high-performance is part of the appeal, but exquisite build quality and eye-catching designs are essential for market success.

With that in mind I put together a nice assortment of some of the more dazzling high-end components currently on the scene.

Magico's speakers are built with solid, massively inert structures designed to ensure the only sound you hear comes from the speaker's tweeter, midrange, and woofer drivers. No other speaker I've heard approaches Magico's resolution and precision. The company's latest designs upped the ante and now feature even more extensive frames designed to quell structure borne resonance to produce the highest-resolution sound possible.

Founded in 1991 by legendary audio designer Nelson Pass, Pass Laboratories, sells its unique amplifiers, preamplifiers and speakers throughout the world. The company has been based in Foresthill, California, since its beginning, and is widely regarded as one of the most innovative audio brands in the world. Many Pass Labs amplifiers, like my XA100.5 are pure Class A designs, and deliver breathtakingly beautiful sound.

The Ayre MX-R mono amplifier (you need two for stereo) is a looker, but pardon me for a second while I get tweaky and gush over the MX-R's zero-feedback and fully-balanced circuitry. Ayre's founder and chief engineer Charles Hansen invests vast amounts of time fussing over the tiniest circuit details, listening obsessively to eke out a sound that gets his designs ever closer to perfection. Some of the MX-R's resistors and capacitors are built to his specifications.

The Krell Modulari Duo Reference is a blatantly original, thoroughly masculine design, but at 44 inches tall, 11 inches wide, and 29 inches deep, it can still fit in average size rooms. Each speaker weighs 345 pounds, it's fair to assume the bulk of the weight can be attributed to its thick-walled aluminum construction. If the goal was to make an absolutely dead cabinet, I'd say Krell has done it. The speaker's design shows a clear aesthetic kinship with Krell electronics.… Read more

Magico V2: A bargain-priced $18,000 speaker

Times are tough, and even high-end speaker manufacturers are feeling the pinch.

Take Magico, for instance. Its soon to be released V2 speaker is $9,000 less expensive than the current entry-level model, the V3. The brand's probably most famous for its Mini II monitors that go for $29,600. The top of the range Ultimates run, gulp, $329,000! Don't worry, all prices are per pair.

The V2 is certainly built like a Magico; its got the solid aircraft grade aluminum front baffle attached to a 17-ply, vertically stacked Baltic Birch wood cabinet. The entire cabinet is … Read more

The Magico Mini II: The world's best $30,000 bookshelf speaker?

The mass-market audio business is scared to death of iPods. Sales of $500 speakers are shaky, A/V receivers aren't exactly flying off the shelves, and nobody's getting rich selling $59 DVD players. Prices of flat screen TVs are still falling, and so are the profits. Meanwhile overhead and other costs go up every year.

The mainstream business model is faltering, but the two channel, high-end market is holding its own, thank you very much. THE hot speaker at the moment is Magico's Mini II ($29,600 per pair including floorstands). I was more than a little … Read more