The Magico Q1 is a standmount loudspeaker with an integrated stand (which is bolted to a recess in the underside of the speaker) and is shipped as standard with this mounted in place. It’s a two-way sealed box that sits on a single column pedestal. And that is inevitibly going to be twisted into “it’s not a real standmount” by rivals. Because “it’s not a real standmount” is going to be the excuse that will issue from those trying to justify their place in a post-Q1 loudspeaker world.
Their styling is bold... and none more black. The Q1s stand tall for a pair of floorstanders (the 25mm Beryllium dome tweeter is above ear height for most sofa-dwellers) and the squared off corners and thick black aluminium plates make the Q1s look like small monoliths from 2001 – A Space Odyssey. I left some Ligeti playing overnight to give them some running in and by the time I came down next day, my cats had started using primitive hand tools. Three days later, they were building a space station.
Joking aside, the Q1 are an uncompromising styling exercise for the home. Deliberately so; they make the big, bold physical statement because audio makes a big statement in its own right through these speakers. Music is an unapologetically stirring experience through these speakers and we need more things this uncompromisingly good and exciting if we are ever to reach out to a new audience.
Although you’ll never get to see inside the box (it’s a sealed box design, and they do mean sealed), it’s like a little city under the hood. The cabinet bolts to a complex cross-braced aluminium skeleton, with additional mounting plates at the front and rear of the cabinet, for the drivers and the crossover respectively. These massy plates also add stiffness to an already unfeasibly stiff cabinet. There’s constrained layer damping inside instead of anything soft and sticky, fluffy or foamy, because the cabinet is so thick and dense and non-resonant that a spot of BAF wadding or long-haired wool wouldn’t make a shred of difference to performance. This does.
The drive units could be seen as a sign of just how seriously Magico takes the whole process of speaker making. The 25mm beryllium dome tweeter and 177mm NeoTech (carbon fibre meets Rohacell sandwich) mid-bass unit have been seen before in the Q5. Except they haven’t; in the intervening time between the first and subsequent Q models, Magico has been performing a series of improvements to both drive units. Not significant enough to warrant Q5 owners returning their speakers for a new set of drivers, but specific improvements to the Q1 driver set to make the speaker all the more correct. But in a way, you can see the dedication that goes into the Q1 in every aspect of the speaker, even down to the little spike wrench the company supplies with the speaker.
The reason for the stand being an integral part of the design becomes clear if you scratch the surface (good luck with that by the way; you might want to try a diamond cutter, because that’s probably the only way you’ll get under that black coat). The stand is directly coupled to the speaker by being bolted to it. That acts as an effective damping mechanism, in precisely the opposite way most stand-mounts at the high-end tend to work; Magico feels the normal way of minimizing resonance in standmounts (adding mass to the stand and decoupling the loudspeaker) is fundamentally flawed.
The result of all this development was a long time coming. A two-way sealed standmount like this, with its single-wired crossover and slightly curved front baffle, shouldn’t have taken long to engineer, given the whole Magico way of things (everything, right down to the aluminium factory, is in house or made to order). But, given the whole Magico way of doing things (no retreat, no surrender, no compromise), it actually took a surprising amount of work bringing these speakers to market. There is a lot of computer modeling, prototyping, measuring, listening, re-working and going back to the computer CAD/CAM pen tablet type thing (it was so much simpler when it was ‘back to the drawing board’).
The result is a speaker of powerful appearance. It’s a simple, timeless design in the same way a Le Coubusier chair is timeless. Functional to the point of utility, engineered at a premium for those who have no knowledge of the meaning of the word ‘over-engineered’, well proportioned no-quarter stuff. It’s the kind of loudspeaker that you want to know how to field-strip it in less than 30 seconds flat with your eyes closed. It’s all very Y-chromosome stuff; like flight-recorder boxes, boxing stats and Tonka toys.