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The Computer Audiophile

Article: Magico LLC December 2013

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"Alon and I discussed industry product markups and the quality of parts manufacturers place in products. Everyone agrees manufacturers need to make money to stay alive. Marking up one's product from the Bill of Materials cost to the MSRP is how businesses make money. However, when manufacturers use incredibly cheap parts and mark the price up ten times (or more) the BoM cost it frustrates both Alon and myself. Magico's markup isn't nearly as high as many of its competitors"

 

Chris,

 

First, Magico has indeed done much to advance speaker design, no doubt. Most discuss the pluses and minuses of a speaker and/or design having never owned them or having heard them in the suboptimal conditions of a show. Likewise I would say listening to a speaker in the unrealistic situation of a sound room such as that available at the Magico factory is "unrealistic" for most of us, even those willing to shell out the kind of bucks a Magico sells for.

 

I have owned what many consider the best of the Magico line, namely the Q1 with a Constellation Centaur Stereo amp and all the MIT Matrix cables recommended with my MSB DIamond signature as my source. First, they are very accurate speakers with an amazing ability in the lower octaves particularly given the size of the speaker. However, from my perch, they were not very engaging and in fact, I found them somewhat sterile. I had them for 4 months with free reign (thank you Mrs.) to place them wherever I wanted to optimize sonics. I consider my room pretty good. I tried them with my ARC gear, which is IMO a lousy match and they did indeed perform much more accurately with the Constellation. After four months I sold them. They just weren't my cup of tea.

 

Where I take some issue is in the above quote. "Value". I am not sure you are comparing apples to apples when you and Alon compare "value" to his competitors. Kudos to Alon for doing what few have the gonads to do, namely fabricate his own enclosures with what HE believes is the best material for the same having purchased very expensive and accurate aluminum carving factory gear. Similarly with his own driver fabrication.

 

However, all of this has huge overhead, which knowing Alon, like any successful businessman, which he surely qualifies as, is marking up his products not strictly based on cost of materials and time of labor, but also based on ROI given the huge $$ invested in his factory and should he stay successful and when his investment becomes fully amortized his margins will significantly increase and the net sum game is that he too will be providing a product with not only much higher margins but in quantities others can't. All great business moves, but hardly "good value" to the end user as most of that "value" is going to Alon both in the short term and especially in the long term.

 

As to the resale market, his speakers, with the exception of his "less expensive" equipment, sell at similar discounts to other brands such as Wilson, TAD, etc. In fact, like all expensive speakers like Magico, the more expensive the speaker the bigger the discount the end user must offer to resell the speaker should the end user decide to do so and since more Magicos fall at the higher end of the price spectrum, I could make an argument that the value of a Magico is worse not better.

 

Just my opinion. Not debating the quality of his speaker or performance, the former surely there the latter the end user's preference. Value, another thing altogether.

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Having visited numerous dealers showing the Magico line I've never heard them perform in either a consistent or stellar manner, even with some of the best electronics and sources. I'm guessing that they are very, very room dependent. Sounds like the factory has designed the ideal room around the speaker, rather than developing a speaker design that is suitable in "real world" environments, especially in the home, where it's often lower ceilings and a wide mix of flooring and furnishings. For those with the "sweet spot" room, it likely performs quite well.


Steve Schaffer

Roon Nucleus/ WD USB Drive / dCS Vivaldi Upsampler  / dCS Vivaldi DAC / dCS Vivaldi Clock / Spectral DMC-30SV preamp / Spectral DMA-500 monoblocks / Wilson Audio Alexia Series 2 speakers / Shunyata Denali - DPC6 - Sigma Ethernet / Synergistic Research Galileo interconnects / Uptone EtherREGEN switch

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Excellent article. I do believe Magico is creating great value for the price. More importantly, Mr. Wolf is saving me time and money since I am no longer cycling through speakers...buying, selling, auditioning. I have had the S5 speakers for over a year and am happier with them today than the day I bought them. Previously I owned monitors, floorstanders, Maggies and various other speakers...always appreciating the one or two strengths each brought to the party (e.g., wall of sound and speed of a Maggie, dynamics and imaging of a box speaker), but never really getting lost in the music. The Magico S5 speakers paired with Constellation Centaur amp, with ARC reference preamps fed with good vinyl upstream, makes for listening sessions where I am focused on the music and not the gear. And always a little startled by the sheer degree of the S5's finesse, detail, engagement, extension, power, dynamics, spaciousness, etc. The S5s are only fully brought to life with the right ancillary gear feeding into them - I've tried 4-5 different tube and solid state amps and preamps, and the Constellation amp paired with ARC tube preamps is the ticket for me. Recently I tried the little Air Tight ATM-2 80 wpc tube amp paired with the matching ATC-2 preamp, and was blown away with the quality of that sound as well. #2 best sounding pairing behind the Constellation/ARC combo. So, I was pleased to know tube gear could also bring the mighty Magicos to potential. I have nothing but gratitude and admiration for Mr. Wolf and the rest of the Magico crew. Well done. One day I hope to have the Q7s...something to aspire to. BTW, I have no affiliation to anyone or any company...just to my ears and my wallet.

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Excellent article. I do believe Magico is creating great value for the price. More importantly, Mr. Wolf is saving me time and money since I am no longer cycling through speakers...buying, selling, auditioning. I have had the S5 speakers for over a year and am happier with them today than the day I bought them. Previously I owned monitors, floorstanders, Maggies and various other speakers...always appreciating the one or two strengths each brought to the party (e.g., wall of sound and speed of a Maggie, dynamics and imaging of a box speaker), but never really getting lost in the music. The Magico S5 speakers paired with Constellation Centaur amp, with ARC reference preamps fed with good vinyl upstream, makes for listening sessions where I am focused on the music and not the gear. And always a little startled by the sheer degree of the S5's finesse, detail, engagement, extension, power, dynamics, spaciousness, etc. The S5s are only fully brought to life with the right ancillary gear feeding into them - I've tried 4-5 different tube and solid state amps and preamps, and the Constellation amp paired with ARC tube preamps is the ticket for me. Recently I tried the little Air Tight ATM-2 80 wpc tube amp paired with the matching ATC-2 preamp, and was blown away with the quality of that sound as well. #2 best sounding pairing behind the Constellation/ARC combo. So, I was pleased to know tube gear could also bring the mighty Magicos to potential. I have nothing but gratitude and admiration for Mr. Wolf and the rest of the Magico crew. Well done. One day I hope to have the Q7s...something to aspire to. BTW, I have no affiliation to anyone or any company...just to my ears and my wallet.

 

Well "great value for the price" I would take issue with. You state you are no longer "cycling through speakers" yet then go on to state "one day I hope to have Q7s"

 

Look I know Magicos are wonderful speakers, not everyone's cup of tea and they weren't mine, BUT "value" is not a term in the dictionary to describe a Magico speaker.

 

In any case enjoy. It is a great thing when you can truly enjoy your music which is what it is all about.

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Thanks, Chris. Enjoyed the article. Would like to have the same experience. Just finished off a great evening playing tunes for family and friends. Remain very happy with my Magicos!

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Thanks, Chris. Enjoyed the article. Would like to have the same experience. Just finished off a great evening playing tunes for family and friends. Remain very happy with my Magicos!

It's hard to beat playing great music for family and friends on a great system. That's part of what life is all about.


Founder of Audiophile Style

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Very interesting read Chris. As a owner of a pair of Q1 it is a lot of fun to have a look at the factory. Unlike Priaptor, I am very happy with my Q1, after having lived with Infinity IRS, Wilson WP, APL, Triangle, Evolution Acoustics MM3. None of my previous systems reached the same level of transparency, ease, and sense of listening to a live event. What is shocking with Magico speakers is the complete absence of coloration - this disturbs some people who have been listening for years to colored speakers, they may hear them as "flat". For me they just sound real, Magico speakers are the one which approach the most what I am hearing at concerts and therefore are the one which provide me the most emotion.

 

I completely agree with you on the notion that Magico are very good value for money. Unfortunately a lot of people are thinking that good value means cheap. Magico speakers are expensive, but you know what you pay for:

- silver and gold Mundorf XO component and Mundorf internal wiring whereas a lot of famous brands (see the list above) are using parts 10 times cheaper. This has a huge impact on transparency

- Custom designed drivers (berrylium tweeter, Nanotec medium and bass). Designing your own drivers is a huge expense for a small company like Magico, when most of famous brands are using an off the shelf Scanpeak, Accuton or Focal driver (e.g., Wilson). But this again explains why these speakers are so true to the source. Focus is on getting a pistonic behavior, to reduce distortion to the absolute minimum. When you have a look at the latest Hifi Critic distortion and linearity measurements for the S5, it seems that Magico is right now in a different league: just compare it with the measurements of the Raidho D1 in the same issue, or of the Alexia a few months back.

- Aluminum cabinet, with extensive aluminum bracing, designed with an advanced CAD software to simulate speaker behavior. When looking at the picture of the internal structure of a Q5, this speaker may require a week of machining.... You may argue it is over the top (knowing that 90%+ of companies buy in China cheap MDF enclosure for probably 1/10th to 1/20th of the cost), but it seems to me they just know what they are doing, even if it costs them much more: switching to such a construction has drastically reduced the box coloration of the speakers, compared to the previous generation of wood speakers and to any other brand on the market.

Bottom line, it you are in the market for a high end product, I believe Magico line up is today the best value for money: Bill of material as % of MRSP is probably the highest of the industry, they sound great (both the S line and Q line), they have very good designers who (finally!) brought a scientific approach to the speakers industry and they keep re-investing on pushing the boundaries of what is possible (the Q7 is in a class of its own).

Last, they are assembled like a Swiss watch. Quality of finish and of construction is top notch, I enjoy watching them and touching them even when the music is off, which doesn't happen often

Sorry for sharing my excitement! ;-)

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Great article Chris. Magico are one of the finest speakers available as they trade away nothing given the cost. The cabinets on the higher end Q's are a bit excessive but when you have the $$$ to spend, why not? I'd like to see more high end audiophile types put the $$$ where best served......speakers!

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nicely written... marketing article.

Hi Johniboy - Please explain. Otherwise entering the discussion under an anonymous username to snipe a comment and exit is quite cowardly.


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As we have often remarked on this forum. What is the business model for companies that produce such expensive gear? How can Wilson and Magico et al stay in business?

 

There must be container ships full of Magico speakers heading to China (I hope so).

 

If there are a million citizens in....say.....Ubonia, with a net worth of over $10 Million US, how may of these citizens are interested in uber high end music reproduction? We spend a lot of time complaining that our hobby is dying off faster than WW2 vets, I mean the number of potential customers for dual 18 inch subwoofers at $36K EACH must be limited to a fraction of these wealthy Ubonian residents.

 

I would love to see a Harvard Business study of these companies.

 

Bless them, and I hope they are successful and once my retirement plan (AKA: The Power Ball Plan) kicks into action, I will certainly purchase some new gear.


In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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Ok, let me try to explain. The entire article reads like a marketing brochure to me. A well written one. By the way, I do not doubt that Magico is producing great speakers.

If you go through the paragraphs, one by one, this is how it reads. I will now phrase them more bluntly and exaggerate on purpose to make the point.

 

1. Magico builds the best speaker in the world

2. Overview of the company: Magico builds the finest products that is why they are so successful. The speakers are made of special wood that everybody raves about. They now had to move to new production facilities, because they are so successful.

3. Magico is using the highest quality parts to assemble their products and have high QC standards.

4. Description of the S3 and QSub (and of an "stunning" listening room), including pricing.

5. The 100k Magico products are worth the money (because of the points listed above).

 

The language of the article is filled with adjectives and superlatives. Just go through and mark them, you will be surprised. Again, its very well written but could be printed on glossy paper and distributed as sales brochure. And at the end I went away with the feeling that someone just tried to convince me why its ok to spend 100k (or even 600k) on THESE speakers.

 

In my opinion, I would have liked to see a bit more objective article describing pros and cons, not just the pros. When describing the company it would have been nice to see some comparison with other manufacturers. I bet that most of them have high QC standards and a "stunning" listening room. When describing the drivers, wood, anodization, what were the criteria for the selection, again, what the pros and cons. A "scratch resistance" can´t be the only criterion.

 

Just my 2 cents and MY opinion.

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Well "great value for the price" I would take issue with. You state you are no longer "cycling through speakers" yet then go on to state "one day I hope to have Q7s"

 

Look I know Magicos are wonderful speakers, not everyone's cup of tea and they weren't mine, BUT "value" is not a term in the dictionary to describe a Magico speaker.

 

In any case enjoy. It is a great thing when you can truly enjoy your music which is what it is all about.

 

We each have different ears and listening preferences, and the S5s are certainly appealing to a very wide range of listeners, so they are the cup of tea for many. Being happy with my S5s and knowing I have an aspirational speaker of the same DNA is completely different than cycling thru speakers. Seems you have an axe to grind even with those who are happy with Magico sound.

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As we have often remarked on this forum. What is the business model for companies that produce such expensive gear? How can Wilson and Magico et al stay in business?

 

There must be container ships full of Magico speakers heading to China (I hope so).

 

If there are a million citizens in....say.....Ubonia, with a net worth of over $10 Million US, how may of these citizens are interested in uber high end music reproduction? We spend a lot of time complaining that our hobby is dying off faster than WW2 vets, I mean the number of potential customers for dual 18 inch subwoofers at $36K EACH must be limited to a fraction of these wealthy Ubonian residents.

 

I would love to see a Harvard Business study of these companies.

 

Bless them, and I hope they are successful and once my retirement plan (AKA: The Power Ball Plan) kicks into action, I will certainly purchase some new gear.

 

They are actually a very successful company. Alon is no dope, has found a fantastic niche in this absurd hobby of ours, despite my preferences to the contrary regarding his products. I personally prefer other speaker designs and can speak from experience as I owned them. I also don't fall for the hype regarding his aluminium enclosures and bracing as the "best" and most "inert" there is. But that is a subject for another time.

 

Your point is dead on. It is amazing that people can talk value and Magico in the same sentence. That gives me a good laugh.

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We each have different ears and listening preferences, and the S5s are certainly appealing to a very wide range of listeners, so they are the cup of tea for many. Being happy with my S5s and knowing I have an aspirational speaker of the same DNA is completely different than cycling thru speakers. Seems you have an axe to grind even with those who are happy with Magico sound.

 

Axe to grind? Why because I question the veracity of the claim of value when it applies to Magico? Sorry, I am not a sycophant of any equipment manufacturer, so if I question the use of value in describing Magicos then I guess I do have an axe to grind in that regard.

 

Few products at this end of the spectrum can be described as "value" products, including the products I own and enjoy. I haven't lost touch with reality as it seems some have. But that's me.

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Ok, let me try to explain. The entire article reads like a marketing brochure to me. A well written one. By the way, I do not doubt that Magico is producing great speakers.

If you go through the paragraphs, one by one, this is how it reads. I will now phrase them more bluntly and exaggerate on purpose to make the point.

 

1. Magico builds the best speaker in the world

2. Overview of the company: Magico builds the finest products that is why they are so successful. The speakers are made of special wood that everybody raves about. They now had to move to new production facilities, because they are so successful.

3. Magico is using the highest quality parts to assemble their products and have high QC standards.

4. Description of the S3 and QSub (and of an "stunning" listening room), including pricing.

5. The 100k Magico products are worth the money (because of the points listed above).

 

The language of the article is filled with adjectives and superlatives. Just go through and mark them, you will be surprised. Again, its very well written but could be printed on glossy paper and distributed as sales brochure. And at the end I went away with the feeling that someone just tried to convince me why its ok to spend 100k (or even 600k) on THESE speakers.

 

In my opinion, I would have liked to see a bit more objective article describing pros and cons, not just the pros. When describing the company it would have been nice to see some comparison with other manufacturers. I bet that most of them have high QC standards and a "stunning" listening room. When describing the drivers, wood, anodization, what were the criteria for the selection, again, what the pros and cons. A "scratch resistance" can´t be the only criterion.

 

Just my 2 cents and MY opinion.

Johniboy - Thanks for expanding on your first comment.

 

Adjectives and superlatives are not a bad thing when deserved. If there is an inaccurate superlative I'll be the first to make a correction. I wrote the article and am not surprised by the number of adjectives when re-reading it one more time. I wanted to write a little Magico story along with my experience at the factory. If my creativity comes off as something that could be printed on glossy paper and distributed then so be it. Maybe I should enter a different career that actually pays :~) I wasn't interested in visiting several loudspeaker manufacturers and comparing and contrasting each business. I don't have the time right now to do a thorough job on such a piece. I like what Magico has done and I wrote about it. I like to share what I like with CA readers. A few months ago I wrote about Pearl Jam. Similar to Magico, Pearl Jam isn't all that computer audio related but I like to share things that bring me enjoyment. I hope CA readers can find some enjoyment in Pearl Jam and Magico.

 

I believe you're right that many have high QC standards, but few have a Klippel system. You're incorrect about the listening rooms of many manufacturers. I've visited many over the last several years and you'd be surprised at how un-stunning the rooms are compared to the Magico room.


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Axe to grind? Why because I question the veracity of the claim of value when it applies to Magico? Sorry, I am not a sycophant of any equipment manufacturer, so if I question the use of value in describing Magicos then I guess I do have an axe to grind in that regard.

 

Few products at this end of the spectrum can be described as "value" products, including the products I own and enjoy. I haven't lost touch with reality as it seems some have. But that's me.

 

value |ˈvalyo͞o|

noun1 the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something:your support is of great value.• the material or monetary worth of something: prints seldom rise in value | equipment is included up to a total value of $500.• the worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it: at $12.50 the book is a good value.

ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French, feminine past participle of valoir ‘be worth,’ from Latinvalere .

 

 

 

Value is relative. The price of a good or service is often quoted when discussing value, but it really doesn't have much do with value. I think percentage is a better marker. If I purchase a $300,000 Bentley Mulsanne for $200,000 and the BoM cost is $180,000 I'd say that is a value. Some people might suggest paying $200,000 for a car is preposterous but again, the price is irrelevant. Even if I paid full price for a Bentley Mulsanne I could still say it was a value. The number of zeros before the decimal point shouldn't cloud our judgement of value.


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We each have different ears and listening preferences, and the S5s are certainly appealing to a very wide range of listeners, so they are the cup of tea for many. Being happy with my S5s and knowing I have an aspirational speaker of the same DNA is completely different than cycling thru speakers. Seems you have an axe to grind even with those who are happy with Magico sound.

 

What "axe to grind" If you read my post in it's entirety you would have seen "Look I know Magicos are wonderful speakers, not everyone's cup of tea and they weren't mine, BUT "value" is not a term in the dictionary to describe a Magico speaker". The "axe I have to grind" is the absurdity of qualifying Magico (or any of the absurdly expensive equipment in this crazy hobby of ours) as "value".

 

To the contrary it seems you have an "axe to grind" with anyone remotely casting ANY aspersions on any aspect of the Magico Lore. All that matters is that you love them, they move you like no speaker before and you are happy. That is a great thing. Enjoy. I wish you luck in achieving your Q7 goal

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Chris

Enjoyed the tour and agree with your post article comments. I have enjoyed immensely my Q5's and feel they will probably be a long term purchase unlike other parts of my system that will chnage over time. I would love to take a tour as you have and in that abensce will use your photos as a substitute!


thanks

Francisco

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value |ˈvalyo͞o|

noun1 the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something:your support is of great value.• the material or monetary worth of something: prints seldom rise in value | equipment is included up to a total value of $500.• the worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it: at $12.50 the book is a good value.

ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French, feminine past participle of valoir ‘be worth,’ from Latinvalere .

 

 

 

Value is relative. The price of a good or service is often quoted when discussing value, but it really doesn't have much do with value. I think percentage is a better marker. If I purchase a $300,000 Bentley Mulsanne for $200,000 and the BoM cost is $180,000 I'd say that is a value. Some people might suggest paying $200,000 for a car is preposterous but again, the price is irrelevant. Even if I paid full price for a Bentley Mulsanne I could still say it was a value. The number of zeros before the decimal point shouldn't cloud our judgement of value.

 

Chris,

 

I am glad you chose to use exotic cars in your analogy as that may be the only product that loses more "value" than high end audio equipment once it leaves the showroom.

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Chris,

 

I am glad you chose to use exotic cars in your analogy as that may be the only product that loses more "value" than high end audio equipment once it leaves the showroom.

 

Ha! I like the sense of humor :~)


Founder of Audiophile Style

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... I wanted to write a little Magico story along with my experience at the factory. If my creativity comes off as something that could be printed on glossy paper and distributed then so be it. Maybe I should enter a different career that actually pays :~) I wasn't interested in visiting several loudspeaker manufacturers and comparing and contrasting each business. I don't have the time right now to do a thorough job on such a piece. I like what Magico has done and I wrote about it. I like to share what I like with CA readers. A few months ago I wrote about Pearl Jam. Similar to Magico, Pearl Jam isn't all that computer audio related but I like to share things that bring me enjoyment. I hope CA readers can find some enjoyment in Pearl Jam and Magico. ...

...

 

Well, I think it has been proven time and time again that while everyone here is surely interested in Computer Audio, just as surely we are all interested in other things as well. I liked the story you wrote and even though I am not likely to be a Magico customer anytime soon, I can appreciate them better after reading your story. Please keep doing what you do!

 

-Paul


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Ha! I like the sense of humor :~)

 

Chris,

 

The sadder fact is that during the financial crash stereo equipment and cars turned out have better "value" than my investments.

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Nice article. I like to read about stuff that is bleeding edge, even if I will probably never even sniff it.

 

To me the "value" of magico is that it lets me delude myself that other speakers like Vandersteen 7s maybe aren't all that obscenely expensive, or that even the flagship Maggies are downright reasonable ...


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