Magico Ultimate II Horn Loudspeaker- Following A Dream- Tom Martin

Halcro -- Sat, 10/24/2009 - 07:54

 Having just received the Dec TAS issue I would like to thank and congratulate Tom Martin on his review of the Magico Ultimate speakers contained therein.
For many years, we readers of the Consumer Hi-Fi Journals have ben complaining about the lack of any real critical assessment of components which used to attract us to the original TAS and Stereophile reviews of 20 years ago.
Bland cliches and meaningless phrases are the general order of the day unless there is a 'rave review' for a product at the 'cutting edge' of sound (and price) whereby it is usually proclaimed "The Best' and 'Unrivalled' and 'Close to Perfection'.
Both types of review generally leave us readers with little real knowledge of the actual sound, its merits or any weaknesses.
Well Tom has ditched any mealy-mouthed pandering to Manufacturers and/or potential Advertisers with a review which leaves me with a distinct aural impression of the Magico Ultimate speakers which at almost $400,000 would have most reviewers (or listeners) shaking in awe at any thought of even a slight criticism.
One can ascertain that there are great aspects to these speakers as well as some limitations and compromises. There is no mistaking that it is a 'good' review and yet it also retains perspective.
If TAS has the guts to include more of these types of meaningful essays in their future issues (or at least give Tom more equipment to review), there may indeed be a bright future for TAS.

discman -- Wed, 10/28/2009 - 20:06

Sure, as far as an out of context quote goes. I read your earlier comment as suggesting three things:
1. That TAS is giving unequivocal raves to Magico speakers. That isn't the case; your selective quotation leaves out the issues raised about the speaker, which by definition means the review is far from unequivocal.
2. That TAS has said that Magico's are the best in the world, and more or less always says that. At least in the case of this review, that is clearly not the case.
3. That there is some nefarious relationship between TAS and Magico. In this case, I don't see evidence of that, and I think Halcro's original post supports that reading.
But I understand we write these comments quickly and that my reading may not reflect your intent.

Roy Pan -- Wed, 10/28/2009 - 10:20

I visited  Hong Kong last month where I had the  pleasure/privilege to hear the Ultimate. Magico distributor in HK, Sound Chamber, has them set up in their store. To say that it was a "life changing experience" would be an understatement. If anyone wonder where the limits of sound reproduction are, I would urge them to travel to HK to hear it. Be warn that there is no going back after hearing this set-up. Many of the "limitation" we all got use to living with, are gone. Completely. I spent 6 hours there and has not been able to listen to music since.  That has never happened to me before. I have been an avid audiophile for over 20 years now and heard/own just about anything out there. This was not just another good system. It was truly a devastating  revelation. I read Tom Martin clip on the subject and I must say, it falls short in describing the true essence of these loudspeakers. Sometime, when you are trying so hard to stay "calm" you miss the point. Perhaps it would take a writer like JV to fully grasp the enormity of such an experience.

Angelo (not verified) -- Wed, 10/28/2009 - 20:42

 Magico cones are imbedded with nanotubes to increase stiffness. Two completely different things all together.
So how do you know this, beside Magico propaganda ?
Nano has officially become the most misused word in the English language. Everything from the Ipod Nano to anything smaller than a Mac truck gets “nanoed” by clueless – or savvy, take your pick – marketing experts. It’s crept into everyday use as well: “I’ll be there in a nano.” Sure you will.
I would like to see something, that convinces, that  Mr. Wolf  does not use " Nano " just as propaganda tool........ specially from TAS reviewers. Otherwise, this is a indication that everything they are told, they do not check, and print it, if true or not, is not important..... 

discman -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 08:29

Angelo: the review that is the subject of this post doesn't refer to nano-anything. My read is also that the review presents Magico's views as Magico's views. To wit: "Alon says" and "According to Magico". This is standard journalistic practice. On top of that, TAS or The New York Times really have no way to check many technical claims. If a doctor has spent 10 years researching something, they can't very well replicate that effort in a couple of hours (they don't have the expertise) and neither can anyone else (they don't have the time). This is an epistemological problem in a complex, rapidly moving, technical society.
The Ulitmate II "review" addresses this problem in a sensible way IMHO: "Audioporn is cool, but really doesn’t matter much. What matters is how the Ultimate II sounds."

louis (not verified) -- Wed, 10/28/2009 - 23:33

Interesting article. Again, you should read it yourself. Seems to support Magico "propaganda" quite well.  " ...Another important area for nanotechnology is coatings.... list of potential uses is almost endless make stiffer tennis racquets and sharper, more resistant snowboard edges, in lightweight nanometal foam helmets that provide up to 7 times the protection of conventional models...."
Man, have you taken your meds today?  What is it about Magico that brings all these party poopers out?

curious1 (not verified) -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 10:21

 In one word, Jealousy,

joegh (not verified) -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 12:01

 I disagree.  I'd say two words: overpriced scam

Chris Martens -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 15:21


I've read and enjoyed your article on the Magico Ultimate II, but wondered if you might supply some additional comments to compare and contrast the sound of the Ultimate II both to the Magico M5's, as you heard them at Jonathan Valin's home, and to your own MBL 101e's.


Chris Martens

Chris Martens
Editor, Perfect Vision 

Tom Martin -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 14:13

With the caveat that I am comparing different speakers in different rooms with different equipment at different times (which is pretty hard), I would characterize things as follows:
1. The Ulimates have the highest resolution and best micro-dynamics of these three speakers. The mbls are the lowest resolution in this group.
2. The overall tonal balance of the Ultimates seems the most neutral of the three systems I heard. The mbl system I have is a little darker than neutral and JV's M5 system seemed slightly less present in the lower midrange than neutral.
3. The mbls create a soundstage recording after recording that sounds un-hi-fi-like -- they really get the image off the speakers.
4. All three speakers deliver a package that makes you initially think "this is the most realistic sounding reproduced music I've ever heard". Over time you hear reproduced music artifacts, but there is a coherence to the choices made by the designer of each speaker that is musically consonant.
I don't know if that's what you were looking for, but that's one perspective.

CEO and Editorial Director, Nextscreen LLC

Chris Martens -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 16:21


While I am not entirely unsympathetic to your point of view (I love value-oriented engineering in audio products and wish our industry held itself to much higher standards of value), I would nevertheless like to stress two points:

1. There is a difference between "exceedingly expensive" products vs. "overpriced" products.

2. There is also a (huge) difference between "exceedingly expensive" products vs. products that constitute a "scam."

Is the Ultimate II exceedingly expensive? Yes. Is it overpriced? That depends: can you name a speaker that you know for a fact performs better, yet that costs less? If you can, and a number of would-be Ultimate II buyers agree with you, then yes, the Ultimate II probably is overpriced. But if not, the Ultimate II is, as Tom Martin suggested, a wonderful dream speaker that can only be purchased by a very tiny handful of prospective customers. Few of us could ever own the Ultimate II's or, for that matter, a Ferrari Enzo, but that does not mean they aren't both spectacular expressions of human art & science. I can find real beauty in things I can never own, can't you?

Now let's talk about your use of the word "scam." Where I come from, "scam" is considered a very ugly word, and "scam artists" are (rightly) regarded as low-life scum-of-the-earth types. Do you really mean to suggest Alon Wolf is a "scam artist" and that his Magico speakers are "scams?" If so, on what grounds?

Let me ask you this: have you ever personally met or talked with Alon Wolf? Have you ever heard him out on why he designs or builds Magico products as he does? Have you ever heard Magico speakers in action? I'm guessing the answer to these questions is probably "no." If that is the case, then I would politely ask you to suspend judgement until you do meet Mr. Wolf, listen to him in an open-minded way, and--most importantly--listen to his products to see what you think.

I don't know Mr. Wolf nearly as well as Jonathan Valin does, but I have met Wolf and (briefly) talked with him about his design approach. My impression was that Mr. Wolf was intelligent, well versed in the art, science, and craft of speaker building, a creative problem solver, and a man extremely passionate about music reproduction. I grant you that Wolf's approach to speaker-building leads to some exceedingly expensive designs, but that does not by any stretch of the imagination make him somehow greedy, insincere, deceptive, or fraudulent in his efforts to make and sell loudspeakers. Whatever else he may be, I think Mr. Wolf is certainly no "scam artist." 


Chris Martens

Chris Martens
Editor, Perfect Vision 

Sam -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 16:48

Finally someone from the Industry or TAS related person.  Thanks Chris for your post and thanks for being open and honest about the 2 sides of Magico.  So far, Those who favor just blindly fight that its worth it and those who disregard just disregard it.  I think Alon Wolf does deserve the credit of being an awsome speaker designer and that he has the power or resources to take up these out of the world challanges. I don't think he is a scam artist and even if he was in this country everyone is innocent untill/unless proven guilty.  Last time I checked he was a free man. I am also shocked at the out of this world prices of his products what you call "exceedingly expensive" or "of Value" and thats why I commented on that I hope this company can follow through this stuff for many years to come, even though they are on a high right now.  How the insider audio world politics work, I don't know.  I know that in almost every other field in this world the saying that "its not what you know, its who you know", applies significantly. But I know this much that I start believing in God when I hear that someone would have enough money to spend $400,000 on a speaker or a car and would have followers who say its of great Value.  In this economy when the whole country is struggling, when so many people in this world are dieying of hunger there is this distribution of wealth thats beyond comprehension.  A dream may be? May be just stupidity.  I think the argument for VALUE can go on and on at any level but where does it end?  I think $400,000 cars and speakers are truely that upper end to almost insanity. 

staxguy -- Sat, 10/30/2010 - 20:53

Re: The upper limit of insanity.

If you look at the amount of diesel consumed by the a "typical" mega-yacht fleet (these ships should almost be nuclear) along with the infrastructure of off-shore stations and perhaps the necessity of military escorts, off of Africa, or for a better example, perhaps the Pyramids of Egypt, then one can begin to talk insanity with respect to spending.

In the context of $100,000,000 homes or so, however, I can't think of half million dollar speakers as "insanity." It isn't enough to build a school here in Canada, these days, yet alone, buy a house or a smallish condo here in Vancouver, BC.

Compared to the relative slave labour and exploitation I have read that have gone into producing a typical pair of Nike shoes back in sociology class, I can hardly see "house made" speakers from a small company like Magico qualify as "insanity."

In the audio world, look a pipe organs and what it would cost to have a nice, cathedral-sized one made for you today, perhaps as "insanity." :)

I don't know about you, but I hate to have labourers in my home for weeks or months. Why? I live in a small place (by my standards) and it disrupts my cherished "tranquility" and piece of mind, as I notice schedule slips, and things eventually missing from my home, after they have gone. :)

The Ultimate II's look a bit ugly for me as do quite a few horn designs. Probably the largest loudspeakers that would fit in my listen room and match my decor would be Klipschhorns, I'd say, or Duntech Soverign 2001's boxwise, to stay retro.

The Magico Q5's look a little bit better, to my taste, and I'd still have room left to walk about. :D

My 2c.


Angelo (not verified) -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 17:56

I s the Ultimate II exceedingly expensive? Yes. Is it overpriced? That depends: can you name a speaker that you know for a fact performs better, yet that costs less? If you can, and a number of would-be Ultimate II buyers agree with you, then yes, the Ultimate II probably is overpriced.
i think , that ALL speakers of MAGICO are completely and  ridiculously over prized. To justify it, Alon Wolf says he utilizes drive units, which are amongst the most expensive ones on the market. I doubt on that. Of course he is not alone , offering over prized products, it is a tendency of general high-end audio products. 
Of course, the TAS reviewers do not have to care about it, since it is not THEIR money spend on Magico, and other Audio products, but the consumers money. And the consumer is in the end free to spend its money the way he wants. If someone   thinks, TAS, and other main stream Audio magazines are a trust worthy source of Audio education, then shall it be. I put my question point on it. 
The Magico Ultimo's do have obvious design flaws, and these can be pointed out easily from anyone, that has a little clue of horn speaker building. There is a reason why i wrote in my forum :
I liked the performance of the frequencies above 300hz.Very clean and detailled . Bass and Midbass were poor performing.
That hudge midbass horn , that covers only the 150 - 300hz frequency range , is very badly integrated in the system. That channel is almost not heard, no wonder, since  it covers  such a small frequency range. That is a very bad design choice, a big flaw. The best position for a mid-bass horn is on the floor,   that would give some little more output in the cutoff range. The woofer is also not satisfying, and poor performing.There is absolutely no advantage and need in using expensive aluminium to manufacture   horns. Wood is the best material. It just needs to be massive, to avoid resonances.The drivers are not vertically , and not physically time-aligned . The need of  phase and time-alignment electronics in the chain to compensate this flaw just makes the end result being worse.  A simple first order crossover with oil in foil caps, and quality Coils is enough for the channels above 150hz, and a good mosfet plate amp for the bass with 24db crossover resolves the amplification and crossover for the bass section. That said, if someone wants to stick to ultra expensive boutique japanese compression drivers, shall it be. There is no need to contract  MAGICO to produce magic. He doesn't. Just buy the drivers and horns direct in Japan, and eliminate a un-necessary middleman, that just makes you spend more, and build your horn system by your own.
But if not, the Ultimate II is, as Tom Martin suggested, a wonderful dream speaker that can only be purchased by a very tiny handful of prospective customers. Few of us could ever own the Ultimate II's or, for that matter, a Ferrari Enzo, but that does not mean they aren't both spectacular expressions of human art & science. I can find real beauty in things I can never own, can't you?
Why should it remain a dream, to own a speaker, that can have a even better performance than Magico Ultimo  ? It IS possible to built a even better performing state of the art horn speaker system at a FRACTION of what the Ultimo's do cost.  There is in my opinion NO need to buy these butique compression drivers from Japan. There are other drivers as well, that cost much less, and do deliver a performance at the same or similar  level. I would say it is possible to have a better performing system  as the Ultimos for less than us$10k !!!! 
Do you really mean to suggest Alon Wolf is a "scam artist" and that his Magico speakers are "scams?" If so, on what grounds?
I would not say that. But i think, that mainstream general high-end Audio has taken a VERY bad direction , which serves the industry, but not the consumer, and Alon Wolf/Magico, and many other players, TAS, Stereophile, and other Main Stream Audio magazines do make part of it. The result is mediocre sound,  at unreasonable expenses, in the homes of bad educated Audio consumers.  

Sam -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 18:09

Angele said: "I would say it is possible to have a better performing system  as the Ultimos for less than us$10k !!!! "
I wouldn't be surprised if thats true!  I think $10 to $15K speakers could very likely get close to the state of the art sound if not surpass some of the crazy prices of audio butique companies.

discman -- Mon, 11/02/2009 - 15:29

When you both suggest "it is possible to have a better performing system  as the Ultimos for less than us$10k !!!!" are you suggesting that there hypothetically could be such a system if only someone would get around to making it and selling it? Or are you suggesting that such a system (or systems) exists in the market?
If the former, there really isn't much to say except: with hundreds or thousands of audio manufacturers, if this is possible wouldn't someone have done it? If not, why haven't they?
If the latter, can you name the systems which outperform (in your view) the Ultimates for less than $10k? Maybe Martin or Heilbrun have heard these and can comment.

Roypan (not verified) -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 18:14

we go way back and although not as moronic as Roman, your attempts to dismiss the Magico brand have been well documented. Perhaps you also should disclose that at least at one time you have tried to market your own speakers. Not much success I take it?? I already told you, first time you showed up, if you got something to sell, start your own marketing campaign instead of trying to ride on others back. Have not seen you or your products anywhere. Showing your frustration in public is not a good marketing scheme.

Angelo (not verified) -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 18:56

hi Roy
i was , and am a hobbyst and DIYer, and for me Audio is FUN, not more than that. Fortunately, i  do not have to make a living out of Audio, and therefor my view of things is not biased, and in order to manipulate people to buy a  product of mine. I have not earned money with audio in the past, and there is no intention to do so now, nor in the future.  You will find this out very clearly at my forum, where i present and write about any kind of horn speakers, companies, loudspeakers, vintage, DIY , etc. , and there is no main focus on what i do as hobbyst. 

Chris Martens -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 18:25


You raise some very interesting points regarding value.

One common sense metric for assessing "reasonableness" in the pricing of a high-end audio component is to look at how other advanced, high-tech, high-performance, low-volume products are priced. And that is precisely where I personally stumble over the pricing of the Ultimate IIs.

Consider this: for the same $400k (or to be precise, for about $51k less) one could buy a very high-tech, all-composite, 4-place, IFR-ready, Diamond DA40 airplane, complete with (no, I am not making this up) full "glass cockpit" instrumentation arguably as sophisticated as the avionics you'd find in many modern jet airliners. Hmmm? Magico Ultimate II's or a gorgeous airplane plus $51k in change? I believe I'd take the plane and buy a darned fine high end audio system with the change.

Here's my thinking. I believe there is simply a ton more engineering, and no less in the way of advanced applied materials science technology, in the Diamond airplane as compared to the Magico Ultimate II's.  Also, you could argue that the airplane, while perhaps not as exclusive as the Magicos, is nevertheless a very low-volume product, and therefore enjoys a good measure of exclusivity in its own right. It is also a product that has been put through unbelievable levels and layers of FAA certification testing before it could ever be offered for sale. No matter how I look at the matter, I can't help but think that the plane offers quite a bit more technical sophistication and "goodness" per dollar than the Magico does. This, of course, leads me to wonder whether it might be possible to build and sell a speaker such as the Ultimate II for considerably less than $400k, while still allowing the manufacturer/designer to realize a very handsome profit (I'm all for people realizing solid profits from their hard work).

On the other hand, there is what I would call the "Da Vinci" argument, which goes something like this: you just can't put a price on the works of legitimate geniuses like Leonardo Da Vinci--because, frankly, their works are essentially priceless. If you believe that a speaker as good as the Ultimate II's can only be created by an authentic genius, and if you believe that Alon Wolf is that genius (which, for all I know, he could well be), then perhaps a $400k price is not out of line...

Food for thought or further discussion, no?


Chris Martens 

Chris Martens
Editor, Perfect Vision 

discman -- Mon, 11/02/2009 - 15:55

I concur that you get a lot more technology in an airplane than in a speaker. And you get a lot more technology in a speaker than you do in a painting. I think you point this out in your Da Vinci argument. But where that argument goes wrong, for me at least, is that argument is based on the idea that the value of something is based primarily on its contents or its construction attributes. That may be true in some cases -- I don't find some modern art especially compelling but because a famous guy painted it, it sells for a lot and has value to someone apparently based on those attributes. This approach values a receiver over a preamp, a keyboard over a guitar, a jet over a sailboat etc. Since value almost certainly requires a subject, this is fine for some folks. And I can see this view -- I appreciate toys as much as the next guy.
The alternative is to find value in things based on the experience they deliver. I like guitars, sailboats and tube amplification because I like what they do. I don't mind that they are simpler and that I get less technology for my money. So they are worth more to me than the technologically superior alternatives.
If you want to argue that technology is always art and never does anything beyond the intellectual (you study how the thing is made, but don't use it) for folks, have at it. But that's pretty extreme if you ask me. So what I don't understand is why it isn't okay in some minds for there to be another value system -- one based on what things accomplish for their owners?

Roypan (not verified) -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 19:08

Not a good analogy. The Ultimate is not a piece of art (Although, they sure look like a modern sculpture). It is the best engineered and executed piece of audio gear I have ever heard. If you understand manufacturing costs of “one offs”, you will quickly see how the money was spent. Was Wolf crazy to spend ¼ of a million dollars on tooling cost so he can cast the big midbass horn from Aluminum? Yes, he probably was/is. But was it worth it? Absolutely! Regardless the fact that I would never be able to buy them, they are anything but overpriced. Beside, who can put a price on “better than live” concert in your house every night?

Angelo (not verified) -- Thu, 10/29/2009 - 19:10

what other high-end horn speakers have you heard ? 

Cemil Gandur -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 08:58

I've not heard the Ultimates, nor am I likely to.
However, at their price points, the Magicos V3, Mini 2 and M5 have been the best speakers I have ever heard. They are very expensive, but until someone comes up with something equivalent at a cheaper price, they are good value for the money!

Roypan (not verified) -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 12:21

The question of Magcio "value" has been beaten to death here. The core problem with this industry is that everyone and their sister can declare themselves experts. In an industry where the top loudspeaker manufacturer does not even have one real engineer on the payroll (Unless biology counts), everything goes. As far as I know, Magico is the only loudspeaker manufacturer today that not only have solid, properly engineered solutions, they also manage to execute them properly. We have gotten use to such crap, cheap and expensive, that when someone comes alone with real solutions, that unfortunately can't be executed cheaply, hall break loose. Making really good loudspeakers is expensive. Those who do not get it, are simply not well informed. Unfortunately, they like to hang around forums like this one...

Angelo (not verified) -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 13:39

 The question of Magcio "value" has been beaten to death here.
this was not the issue of my  question. Again :
what other high-end horn speakers have you heard, beside the Magico Ultimo ? 

Angelo (not verified) -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 13:40

 However, at their price points, the Magicos V3, Mini 2 and M5 have been the best speakers I have ever heard.
this is a irrelevant statement, since nobody knows, what else you have heard.  

Angelo (not verified) -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 13:47

 If you understand manufacturing costs of “one offs”, you will quickly see how the money was spent. Was Wolf crazy to spend ¼ of a million dollars on tooling cost so he can cast the big midbass horn from Aluminum? 
beeing a Machine Designer, i have worked over one year at the factory , to understand the assembly process of Mill machines. Maiby you can tell this kind of fantasy to people , who have no clue about the manufacturing process, but not to me. I would like to see what kind of tooling Mr. Wolf had to produce, and spend a quarter  million dollars to make it. 

Roypan (not verified) -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 13:59


Over the years you showed little credibility around here. Your comments are faulty (Intentionally), or simply incoherent (Unintentionally). I already told you that if you got something to say about your DIY loudspeakers ideas, find the proper place to express them. It ain't here.

joegh (not verified) -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 14:28

 I disagree.  He's making much more rational sense than you, imo.

Angelo (not verified) -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 16:09

 Over the years you showed little credibility around here. Your comments are faulty (Intentionally), or simply incoherent (Unintentionally). I already told you that if you got something to say about your DIY loudspeakers ideas, find the proper place to express them. It ain't here.
do you think YOU are earning more credibility, by avoiding to answer my questions ? If you think my observations are wrong, please point it out, what exactly is wrong. BTW. i am talking about Magico Ultimo II, this is the right topic. Or is it only aloud to express positive comments about a product at this forum ? opinions, that please TAS reviewers, the designer, and the ones, that become a mental orgasm only by hear the name MAGICO ?  

Tom Jannetton (not verified) -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 15:40

I think Louis and Roypan have been sniffing the marijuana smoke.

Roypan (not verified) -- Fri, 10/30/2009 - 18:24

I enjoy reading your posts. It is not all that often that we get reasonable intelligent assessments of some of the "confusion" we find on the forum. Do not get discourage, some of us do read what you have to say.

SundayNiagara -- Sun, 11/01/2009 - 12:46

Registration should be a requirement to bost on this board.

brian -- Sun, 11/01/2009 - 15:16

Not only that, treating others with dignity and good manners should be, too. Name calling is unacceptable.

Brian Walsh
Essential Audio  ~  Chicago area ~ 773-809-HIFI (4434)

Gadgetman -- Mon, 11/02/2009 - 14:49

Brian: here is our policy on dignity and manners:


"By agreeing to these rules, you warrant that you will not post any 
messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-oriented, hateful, 
demeaning, threatening, or otherwise violative of any laws."


If you have any suggestions about how to expand this or improve it, we'll gladly consider them. I don't think the policy is the problem though.


We've considered requiring registration. The reason we don't is that we want to encourage people to participate. Usually that works, but every once in a while someone takes over for this own benefit. We'll consider it again, but I think the best approach is to ignore weirdness and get on with the thread. At least for now.

AVGuide webmaster and general drudge

SundayNiagara -- Mon, 11/02/2009 - 15:42

Make 'em register!

M.R. HODGSON (not verified) -- Sun, 11/01/2009 - 23:28

One of my student have brought these posts to my attention. As a physicist (PhD) with an M.S in  Acoustics, and a big horns fan, I like to say that I found very little merits in Romy criticism of the Ultimate horns. After spending some time on his website, trying to weed out relevant information to support his dismay (That was hard), I only came up with one coherent point which relates to time alignment. I would like to point out that the benefits  of "time alignment" in multi-way transducers line-up is controversial at best. This is due to the very simple fact that "proper" physical alignment is truly only possible in a concentric devise. One that none of these big horns relates to. Beside, since it looks like the Ultimate is running through a DSP XO, I am sure that a delay can easily be introduced to create a much more accurate time alignment then merely a physical one.  Romy can jump all he likes but the "questionable validity" of vertical physical  time alignment has been proven by people with much more appropriate credential then a hobbyist/entertainer.

SundayNiagara -- Tue, 11/03/2009 - 09:50

Enough of this nonsense!  That was meant for Romy.

discman -- Tue, 11/03/2009 - 10:57

The review (which is the subject of the original post) makes the point that all designs involve tradeoffs. M.R. Hodgson points out one of these (a horn trades off some form of time alignment for another and then has to use an electronic crossover to partly compensate). We could then argue about whether that is a good tradeoff or a bad one. Unfortunately, when you start taking all these tradeoffs into account, in all probability you end up with a specific system whose performance most of us can't predict from theory. In fact most designers of complex systems know they can't exactly predict how the tradeoffs work out. That's why they build prototypes and develop them (R&D, where a lot of the actual results come from D).  I'd say we should take any comment about the technical merits of a design with a block of  salt. It helps to look for patterns if trying to understand tech choices. If dealing with one system, a simple way to address this for most of us is to listen to the result. Or, to read a review (which is a limited proxy, but as close as most of us will get in the case of these speakers). The focus here on technical and theoretical critiques of one speaker, not on the review and related questions, indicates there is another agenda.
My interest is in what these speakers and horns in general tell us about the use of narrow directivity speakers. Have people who have heard many of these been able to see a pattern in performance? If so, is narrow directivity desirable? Why and why not (what tradeoffs)? Is it preferred to heavy acoustic treatment with wider dispersion speakers? Is narrow directivity rare because of cost alone, or are there other issues?

Angelo (not verified) -- Fri, 11/06/2009 - 11:52

 that paper will give you a good explanation :

discman -- Fri, 11/06/2009 - 12:42

Thanks. This is about the theory, which is nice and intutively appealing. My questions, though, were about what people have learned from actually listening to real examples of different system types. There are many theories, and I'm not in a position to sort them out (and life shows that too often theory and practice aren't as closely related as we'd like).

zead (not verified) -- Fri, 11/06/2009 - 16:24

 its really sad that this thread as many others become hi-jacked with the wrong slant and the opportunity to address serious technological advances in audio gets lost in the process......... we have spent all this time addressing Wolf's  character istead of looking into this great mind that has definitely opened up some new dimensions in audio......damn! i'm beginning to loose interest in the forum.

discman -- Fri, 11/06/2009 - 17:17

I'm doing my best to stick with the original post and to engage anyone with an interesting thought. Join in! What in particular struck you as specail about the Magicos you've heard? Did it square with what the review says about the Ultimates?

Angelo (not verified) -- Fri, 11/06/2009 - 21:30

  we have spent all this time addressing Wolf's  character istead of looking into this great mind that has definitely opened up some new dimensions in audio......damn!
what kind of new dimensions are you talking about ? if you mean Nanotubes, these have just been highjacked as smart propaganda argument to convince simpletons, how innovative Wolf's  speakers are. I still  miss to see hard facts and proofs for his assertions . As far as i know, the truth is, these Nanotubes are still under chinese research and  development.
Innovative, i would consider speakers, like the Janus50
or the infraplanar :

Roy Pan -- Fri, 11/06/2009 - 22:37

Here we go again. This moron just can't stop. Can a moderator put Angelo and Roman (Name and IP address) on a permanent  ban from this forum?

Angelo (not verified) -- Sat, 11/07/2009 - 07:34

 at the very exact moment, a Audio forum does not aloud JUSTIFIED  critics anymore, it is doomed. And from you, Roy, i have not yet received a explanation of the 1/4mio tool Mr.Wolf built to make his aluminium horns..... i am patiently waiting...... 

SundayNiagara -- Sat, 11/07/2009 - 11:02

You and the rest of your ***** ilk need to take a permanent HIKE!

Francis Leung (not verified) -- Fri, 11/06/2009 - 22:50

 Basically for Tom Martin:
1. Would you be able lay hands on the top model of the Avantgarde in the near future? It is a horn based system with the lowest octaves handled by 12 inch drivers going through horns as well. Whilst your impressions of the Ultimate II are still fresh, a comparison between the top model of these two brands may help you discern more of their differences. I suggest this review because the Avantegarde is selling at one-third of the price of the Ultimate II and I guess TAS readers,  especially the few potential buyers of the speakers will be glad to know of the results of the battle before writing out their cheques. My listening notes of the Avantegarde speakers at the Hi Fi show in Hong Kong in August were full of accolades, and these speakers sounded much better than the more expensive Westlake, NTT and Focal being demonstrated in other rooms. 
2. The MBL speakers you are using. I trust they are the same German brand to which I listened last year. The speakers demonstrated were the top model with the mid and high drivers in one column and the bass in another. Do you find the midrange a bit coarse and strained? This was my impression and my speculation after looking at the midrange drivers closely is that the metal strips are too thick, thus causing the slow response, producing the coarse and strained sound, meaning, distortion. 
3. I thought the aim of TAS is to tell readers how close a component or system gets to the absolute sound--live music. If this understanding is correct, It really does not matter what materials, be they horn, electrostatics, cone, tube, transistor etc have been employed. Lengthy discussions on components and their pros and cons seem more suitable elsewhere in technical journals. Just as TAS when reviewing DACs did not even mention whether Wolfson or Burr Brown devices were being used, let alone the differences between them. Merely the component sounded good or not and how close it was to the absolute sound. 
Francis Leung

Angelo (not verified) -- Sat, 11/07/2009 - 07:38

 having had the pleasure and honor to be  a guest at Holger Frommes house, owner of Avantgarde Acoustic, and heard his Trio system with basshorn there, i still regard that presentation as the most remarkable and unforgettable audio experience. The Trio is technically and sonically far more advanced than Magico Ultimo, even without employing the ultra expensive ALE compression drivers. 

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