There’s a move by our nanny state to rid us of all the things we use to relax after a long day in the office/ boardroom/bedroom/invading a country or two. Wind down with a nice cigar? Think of the carcinogens. Chill out to glass of Chablis? Make sure you check your alcohol intake. How about a fine meal? Watch out for bad cholesterol and free radicals. Dour Gordon and his un-merry men seem to want us to be in a state of constant upset. Sod ‘em… the Magico V3 is the cure. Stick on a pair of these masterpieces at the end of the day and musical passion will soon take over, washing away any politically correctness in the process.
This is a new and titanic floorstanding design, that at first inspection looks chunky and well constructed, but thoroughly conventional. That is, unless you happened to try and move them. A speaker standing just over 1m tall and 38cm deep shouldn’t weigh 72kg. I mean, that’s nigh on 11st 6lbs; roughly equivalent to a fight-ready Chris Eubank per channel, without the cane and monocle. Worse, there’s not even a large port to act as grab handle – the Magico V3 is a big deadweight, despite being the Company’s lowest priced product!
That weight comes from the extensive use of aluminium. Normally praised for its lightweight characteristics, in fact what’s really appealing about aluminium is its rigidity. So when the front baffle is made from an inch thick billet of aluminium, CNC milled and anodised (not painted… Magico laughs in the face of paint and tweaks the nose of piano gloss), and then held to the rear panel with tensioning rods, you are looking at something that makes conventional baffles seem as stiff as wet paper. It could also double up as spare armour for an Abrams tank in a pinch. Those tensioning rods hold in place the inch thick sheets of ply that form the top and sides of the cabinet. Unusually, the ply is set side on, forming the almost zebra-stripe patterning on the sides of the cabinet. It’s a faintly old school look, reminiscent of bold 1950s furniture, but a successful one at that. OK, so it might not be the hi-fi equivalent of the Eames chair, but it’s got the makings of a timeless design, all the same. Disregarding the tweeter, which is ‘merely’ a 25mm ScanSpeak ring radiator, the 150mm midrange and the pair of 180mm bass units are all in-house designs. The tweeter and midrange are mounted at the top of the design, the pair of bass drivers toward the bottom. The drive units feature a hefty neodymium magnet coupled to a titanium voice coil. More interestingly, the cones themselves are made of Rohacell (the stuff helicopter rotor blades are made from) coated with a layer of carbon nano-tubes. The resultant material – Magico calls it Nano-Tec – is disturbingly stiff for its mass (you could easily load a cone with 1.6 standard Eubanks standing on it without stress). So, it’s as near a perfect piston as you’ll find in a set of speakers.
All four drivers are set into the inch-thick aluminium front baffle; the ScanSpeak tweeter is mounted conventionally, but the Magico units are clamped to the rear of the front baffle. This gives the speaker two advantages over normally mounted drivers; it reduces diffraction problems resulting from the speaker’s frame and provides a more consistent junction between driver and baffle (as well as minimizing the likelihood of the drivers’ screws working loose over time).
Naturally, the crossover has its own ‘first’ to its name too. It’s the first to feature the company’s own Elliptical Symmetry Crossover (ESXO) design, but no-one seems to know what this means (asking the proprietor Alon Wolf is not much help; he does understand what ESXO means, but attempts to disseminate the idea to this puny human were met with a blank, open mouthed expression) but I’m sure it’s very, very clever. It is also – as you might expect – packed with audioyummy components. In fact, Magico claims the components cost in the crossover alone is greater than the cost parts of whole speakers from some competitors.
Okay, so by now you’ll have deduced that Magico are not averse to blowing their own trumpet. Other companies have bolted or clamped speakers to the back of the baffle – some have even mounted the drive units to the rear of the cabinet. Magico is not the first company to have used aluminium and chunks of real tree in place of veneer. It’s not the first brand to sport drive units with cones featuring state-of-the-art materials science (while carbon nanotubes are hardly news) and using extremely high-grade components in the crossover is not patented by Magico. Indeed, the Eben C1 reviewed on page 32 takes many of these ideas just as far and in some cases further. But speakers like the C1 and Magico’s V3 are definitely exceptions to the rule, exhibiting a thoroughness in their design and construction that genuinely sets them apart from the crowd. Magico might well be accused of sounding their own fanfare, but then at least they’ve got something to shout about. It would be interesting to see the Magico team at work; there’s a perfectionism that borders on obsessivecompulsive disorder here. Not the OCD that causes people to wash their hands 32,000 times a day, but the benign, engineering superhero kind of OCD that keeps a designer awake night after night wondering whether the crossover board should be moved half an angstrom to the left. Nothing whatsoever is left to chance. Including, of course, the sound quality. Naturally, when you are putting together a system with a pair of ultimately perfectionist speakers on the shouty end, the rest of the chain needs to be beyond the pale too. We used a Metronome Technologies Kalista Reference CD transport and C2A converter, a Krell Evolution 202 preamp and a DarTzeel NHB-108B power amp, with similarly take-no-prisoners ancilliaries. Heady stuff indeed. Briefly swapping out the Metronome fourboxer for a Mimetism 20.1 CD player showed how good the Magico’s are at resolving the differences between players, and how good the Metronome really is, but the basic magic of the Magico remained untarnished.