No speaker is without flaw, and that includes the Magico V3. Here, given the size, weight and driver configuration, you might be forgiven for expecting a bit more extension down at the subterranean end of things. It’s not bass light by any stretch of the imagination, but at the price of admission, many rivals deliver a few key cycles per second lower than this speaker. But here’s the thing; in most cases it won’t matter one iota to the listener. Instead we get a speaker that has the same ethos, the same character from where it starts doling out the frequencies until it stops; no little lifts or dips, no covering its tracks or trying to hide (this is so profound, many will mistake the speaker for sounding relaxed in the mid-band, where really they are too used to speakers sounding mid-forward). If anything, the bass acts as the Magico graduate exam, but for the listener, not the speaker; if you find yourself looking to that bit below 32Hz and cannot get past that point, it means one of two things – either you are a fan of dub reggae versions of Leftfield tracks played on church organs, or you’ve reached the point where you confuse the medium with the message. The rest of us will be too busy playing music on the V3 to notice.
If there’s a major criticism of the speaker, it’s that it is the most expensive speaker you will ever buy, because it will end up costing you a fortune in polycarbonate. And it will affect your friends similarly. Here’s how; you invite a friend over, they hear your CDs and have to buy about half your collection. Then they come over with a suitcase full of their own CDs, half of which you will end up having to buy as well. Your friend brings a friend... Pretty soon, Amazon will set aside a delivery van especially for you. If there had been ten pairs of these speakers dotted around the country a couple of years ago, Fopp would still be doing a brisk trade buying up old Our Price sites. A hundred pairs of these around the country and we could put the music industry back on its feet.
In short, the V3 is a speaker that has lofted the brand into the company of the very, very best that audio has to offer. To some, that might seem cocky and arrogant of the Magico people; a brand should spend decades working its way up to hanging out with the best. But if so, it’s the cocky arrogance of one who knows they have something to be cocky and arrogant about. It’s the swagger of a 100m Olympic Gold medallist, the confidence of the Formula One winner, the surety of a mathematician, knowing they’ve just submitted a prize-winning thesis. For the rest of us, those not possessed of such precocious talents, that’s a humbling thing to be around, and that’s what most comes with the Magico V3. It’s not one of those speaker systems that will be forgotten; it’s not a speaker system that lets you do that. It’s also the breathlessly rare sort of speaker that flattens any of those inverted snobbery arguments about ‘the law of diminishing returns’. This is one of the best, and that shines through whatever the price, and whatever you think about the price.
People say dog owners start to look like their pets. In this case, Alon Wolf of Magico is very like his loudspeakers; outspoken, selfassured and – just maybe – right. I asked him how Magico came into being and what processes go into making a truly world-class loudspeaker…
AS: Why did you begin to design loudspeakers?
AW: The process started from frustration. I’ve been buying loudspeakers for almost 30 years now and I’ve always taken them apart and tried to improve on them. About 15 years ago, some people heard what I’d been doing and liked it enough to ask if I could build loudspeakers for them. Every time I built someone something, I learned a little more in the process and improved the speakers. Five years ago, a distributor in Hong Kong asked me to build the ultimate two-way. So, I built the Mini, which because it was built properly, threw people off – no one had heard a two-way standmount design that has more extension than a lot of big speakers, and more resolution than anything else that was out there. The guy in HK backed down thinking it was too expensive, but others started buying it, then the Absolute Sound heard it, and the rest is history.
AS: The V3 cabinets are extremely heavy. How and why?
AW: You want your bass driver to be mounted in a stiff enclosure so that the resonant frequency of the structure will not interfere with the band pass of the bass driver. You want to damp the midrange, because you want the resonant frequency to be outside that driver’s range. And you want mass, so that the tweeter will not excite the structure. An MDF box is damped – and can be massy if you make it heavy enough – but it hasn’t got the stiffness. Aluminium is a very good material to build a loudspeaker box from, but you need to make it big to get the mass. The energy you lose to the box is minimal. With models like the V3 and the Mini, we mount the drivers on thick aluminium plates for the stiffness then couple it to the birch ply for the damping. And that makes a massy cabinet.