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05 Mar

Magico A3 Presentation at Presence Audio Conseil, The Musical Exception So Close to Your Hand…

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Magico-A3-Presence-Audio-Conseil-ParisMagico is an American brand of speakers that began recently to make its way in Europe and in France with several models and series of loudspeakers whose design quality does not suffer any complaints. A fact that already excludes some competitors, Magico has budgeted for the research and manufacture of uncompromising loudspeakers to achieve a kind of technical and musical perfection, as far as it is possible to do so. Acoustic speakers renowned in Europe, Magico is naturally part of the High End of High Fidelity, accessible to those who already have a budget to invest in a pair of exceptional speakers. For my part, I had already listened the S3 MkII, a pair of speakers I appreciated in Brussels on Nagra electronic. The stereophonic image, the coherence and the precision of these speakers had strongly left their mark on me at the time.

The story of Magico began in 1994 in Hayward, California, more than 20 years ago… Its founder, Alon Wolf had the project to manufacture its own speakers, in a concern for perfection. Again, many competing brands are based on other considerations. Many manufacturers probably prefer to offer good speakers to their customers, without necessarily having the idea of the High End in mind. This breadcrumb of acoustic perfection is a specific idea to rare manufacturers, of which Magico belongs to. With ranges of speakers divided into several series (Q, M, S, Limited), the Magico A3 inaugurates a new series with an obvious talent to listen, to put it mildly. Présence Audio Conseil will have made us discover it in World premiere

My first visit at Présence Audio Conseil to discover the new Magico A3 loudspeakers

Magico-A3-ParisIn fact, it was my first visit to Presence Audio Conseil even though I had already met Jérémy at the Son & Image 2017 Festival in Paris. Listening to the Magico S3 MkII with the Soulution electronics had already impressed me. I really enjoyed this system even if the conditions of demonstration in hotel and with a patio door were not really optimal. Regardless of this event, this Saturday, February 10, 2018, a few months after listening to the Magico S3 MkII, I went with great pleasure to Présence Audio Conseil to discover the new model of this American brand of High End speakers.

Certainly… you will tell me that Magico speakers are known to be sold at a very high price that makes them moreover inaccessible to most audiophiles who can not spend 36.000 Euro in a pair of speakers. It was a bit because of this fact that the Magico A3 came into being, presenting a pair of exceptional speakers for a budget that has become more affordable, however without compromising on the quality of manufacture but with the experience of the higher series of range.

The Magico A3 benefit from the technological advantages of the higher ranges of the brand…

Indeed, with the Magico A3, we benefit from the closed reinforced aluminium charge that has made the success, if not the hallmark of the brand. The A3 and the other loudspeakers present in the US manufacturer’s catalogue do not compromise on the excellence of the design: Complete aluminium fabrication, careful and precise filtering, micro-metric precision of the assembly, beryllium tweeter and membranes in Graphene, a material even more rigid than carbon while keeping the advantage of the lightness of the material. The enclosure design exudes quality from the first to the last millimetre, with total rigidity. The A3 Magico breathe excellence in detail, so they have the best arguments to please me. But what about listening?

Magico-A3-Ayre-electronicsFor my part, I was arriving in Paris and I jumped out of the bus. I quickly took the Metro to come out a few stations further, rue des Filles du Calvaire, in the historic district of the Marais. In short… I was felling immediately at ease. A few steps from the Metro, the window of Presence Audio Conseil was discreet and I entered with a little impatience.

After the presentations and a very interesting discussion on the demonstration of the Soulution electronics at the Paris Novotel Exhibition, I finally found Jérémy and I entered the back room where the Magico A3 were associated with the Ayre AX5 and QX5 electronics that I knew already, at least for the integrated amplifier. The vast majority of the demonstration will be carried out via streaming; a Cyrus transport, coupled with the QX5 DAC, however, was increasing the possibilities of listening sources.

Ayre and Magico A3, an Association of Equilibrium, Finesse, Details and Emotions…

I already knew the brand Ayre for having listened to it several times in different exhibitions. I was finding again this delicate blend of clarity, liveliness, and sonic matter that is so typical of the American brand of Boulder, Colorado. Such as an exercise particularly difficult to achieve, there are few electronics in the world capable of also brilliantly combining the clarity of listening essential to the understanding of the finest details of the music with the exact sound matter and the respect of the timbres that we expect from the instruments. The Ayre electronics can precisely create this masterful tour de force without any shine to the listening. And for the occasion, the marriage with the new Magico A3 is a spectacular success because you are at the show… you really enjoy live music, and very closely.

Magico-A3-Ayre-AX5-Crystal-CableIndeed, it is extremely rare to find yourself in a listening situation where the character of electronics and speakers completely disappears to make its way to music. The relation to the direct, and to the idea of a veil or a colouring between the music and you will fade away instantly or we would rather say, at least for 99.9999%; perhaps a bit like the quality of a copper or silver conductor whose extreme purity would be synonymous with absolute transparency of the musical signal.

In this, the association between Ayre and Magico is exceptional because the speakers of Alon Wolf show a staggering transparency, to the point of transcribing  the character of the associated electronics with impressive accuracy. Here, I can actually compare with the listening of the Magico S3 MkII on Soulution electronic where the magnitude is more present compared to the integrated Ayre AX5, without falling into a sound too rich in matter that would erase the details. Let’s say that with such transparency, it becomes very easy to discern the character of an electronic or a particular brand of cables.

Crystal Cable perfectly conveys the complexity of the sound message translated by the Ayre AX5 to the Magico A3

Magico-A3-Paris-Ayre-electronicIn this regard, Crystal Cable was in charge to transport the musical message released between the Ayre amplifier and the Magico A3 loudspeakers. Brand of cables that I have criticized in the past, at the contrary I found that the marriage between Magico, Crystal Cable and Ayre was particularly judicious on this high fidelity system. Cables as well as electronics were going in the same direction and complement each other with an astonishing wealth of detail and balance; the integrated Ayre AX5 was just as transparent as to show a sound materiality very close to reality.

As I pointed out above, the impression of musical as well as acoustic reality was particularly successful. In this regard, the transparency was such that the slightest misstep in recording or mixing was heard immediately; the verdict was without appeal. In this perspective, I had taken the album “Blood” from Lianne La Havas, an album that I appreciate but that goes very bad on my high fidelity system, precisely because of a heavy and unwelcome emphasis of low frequencies. On the title “Green and Gold“, the trio Ayre AX5 / Magico / Crystal Cable has reproduced this defect with a sharpness just as unpleasant as at home, if not a little more. From there, it becomes very easy to sort the wheat from the chaff…

Magico gives you all the truth to hear, a quality not always accepted by all ears…

Then, it’s up to you to consider if you like to hear the truth or if you prefer a more conciliatory sound but Ayre is not known to round off the angles, and the Magico loudspeakers transmit perfectly this quality. About listening itself, we have appreciated some classics but also jazz, blues, contemporary music and a few artists that I did not know yet. For example, the very subtle “Si j’étais blanche” from Josephine Baker taken over by Cécile Mc LorinSalvant where the voice of the singer can be appreciated just as if you were a few meters from the stage only. The intonation, the phrasing and all the subtleties of voice of this extraordinary singer are reproduced with a flexibility and a facility that we can still listens too rarely in the world of the High End of High Fidelity.

Magico-A3-Ayre-Crystal-Cable

Front: Magico A3 speakers. Back: Magico M6 !

On Manu Katché’s “Live in Concert“, the precision of the instrumental timbres is astounding in terms of accuracy. The notes and melody of a piano are coming with an equally astonishing suppleness. The rhythmic precision is such that we do not ask any question but we are literally lost in the music, and it happened several times for me… Here again, it is rather rare. The drums also allowed us to enjoy the equally amazing bandwidth of the Magico A3 that perfectly associate precise instrumental tones, harmonic richness and sound materiality. The bass drum is easily recognizable, both in terms of descent into the bass frequencies than to hear the hammer hitting the skin.

Everything comes together with astounding ease, with an accuracy just as impressive as the bandwidth, able to be wide in bass frequencies as in treble, as long as the recording requires it. The stereophonic image is perfectly consistent with the recording, there is no overlap between the instruments and nothing will create any doubt about the musical interpretation. The small orchestral formations such as – Michel Godard Monteverdi “A trace of grace“, is staggering of realism whereas the great symphonic formations suffer no flutter, from the first to the last row of musicians. Finally, let’s underline the quality of the treble, very easily reproduced by the beryllium tweeters of the Magico A3 speakers. They can rise very high in frequency with a total realism of the instrumental timbres, without tiring the ear. however, I could still give you other examples because I really took a great pleasure to lose myself in each of the songs played during the afternoon, just like everyone that day at Presence Audio Conseil in Paris.

I would just add that for my first visit, I really spent a great moment of listening, with the kindness and the obvious professionalism of the entire Presence Audio Conseil team as well as the designer of the A3, Mister Alon Wolf, this Saturday, February 10, 2018. I can only thank them warmly. Last point that I wanted to clarify in this article, despite the fact that I rarely mention prices on my blog – because of the bad talkers and their critics, is that a pair of Magico A3 is sold at 12500 €. Just compare the Magico A3 with other brands on listening and other criteria; most of them will have a hard time keeping up the comparison. Without a doubt, these speakers are born with an exemplary seriousness of design but also a genuine respect for music as well as an obvious respect for those who know how to listen with the utmost discernment. It is a rule still too often forgotten in our little world of audiophiles…

Eric Mallet

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