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High End 2014: The 4 horn, 5 way, 6 hundred thousand dollar Magico Ultimate III

DSC01166-2 By Dr. Panagiotis Karavitis This was without doubt the most discussed product of the show. Everybody was talking about it: “have you heard it?-yes, not yet, I will, you must”. Even engineers from other brands cued just to take a picture or two. The Magico Ultimate III, a hybrid horn, aluminum made speaker system with a staggering price tag of $600.000. What you get for this kind of money? Four horn loaded compression drivers that cover the spectrum down to 120Hz, then a conventional 15” woofer for the lower octave amplified by a few thousand Watts of Class D amps. Cross over is electronic and Alon Wolf, president of Magico brought a few Nelson Pass First Watt amps with him from the States. A Reference Pass Labs pre-amp, EMM Labs transport and Pacific Microsonics Model 2 DAC (modified by Magico) completed the rig. Magico was giving a half-hour presentation every hour and there was a ton of people waiting at the entrance, from morning till closing. On my second attempt, I finally managed to be seated and hear for myself what’s all that buzz about. Expectations were very high.

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In Dead Can Dance classic “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove”, the sitar was as realistic as it gets, while the ambience created by the Ultimates was phenomenal. Then the California Guitar Trio performed “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the system revealed a transparency close to being unreal (actually the Pacific microsonics did that but we felt the guitars being in the room). Alan Taylor’s voice on “Scotty” was deep and natural with background piano notes being uncolored and faithful to their true tonality.

So, is this the ultimate loudspeaker? If I wanted to be picky I would point out that the system also included two double 15” Q-Subs, so the abyssal bass we heard from those Taiko drums actually came from a total of 6 active woofers, and not just the two of the Ultimates. Mr. Wolf said they could have done it without but they brought ‘em “just in case”. What bothered me the most was not that much the need of extra subs but the slight drifting of the soundstage I heard in female voices. During playback, I could almost see the soundstage climb slightly and the come back again to the original position as if the singer stood up from the chair during the recording, only to sit back again after a few seconds when her voice returned to the previous frequency.

I did my best at being picky for all of you, so we don’t just drool after something we simply cannot afford.

Yeah. Not working.

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11 Comments on High End 2014: The 4 horn, 5 way, 6 hundred thousand dollar Magico Ultimate III

  1. earflappin // May 28, 2014 at 8:17 AM //

    I continue to be amazed that the global high end audio market can support all of these mega-buck, boutique speaker and electronic companies. I have always thought of the audiophile market as being rather small….which I know it is compared to the the mainstream audio and video markets….but still….amazing.

    • It’s small, but filled with people with stacked pockets…pockets full of stacks, made with stacks!!!! The mainstream market – you try to sell by volume, but in the super high-end, if you sell 2 systems in a years time – you’ve made your money for the year. In a typical $300k system, there’s generally no more than $20k in parts and labor….huge profit margin!

  2. Napoleon complex…

  3. I wouldn’t want them in my listening room. They look rather ugly to me, definitely not my taste

  4. Funny, really, but I’m not drooling. Enormous is not a substitute for greatness.

  5. Altan basaran // May 27, 2014 at 9:44 AM //

    First of all, if you missed it, you lost NOTHING. It is not special, or ultimate in anyway. Also it is very meaningless play a drum song with a two huge subwoofers. I think nobody expected these monsters to fail producing drum voices. Song list was awful, maybe but with a big question mark, maybe better music choices may reveal these speakers talents. There were too many better rooms, for example, silbatone was special, Lanche was very good also Raido, nearly the best was Kharma room. Best in my opinion, chp and techdas room.

  6. My ultimate dream spkrs bar non! Thanks!

  7. I hear that the Living Voice speakers gave the Magico’s a run for the same money (both at $600k)?

    • Panagiotis Karavitis // May 27, 2014 at 1:41 PM //

      Yep, the Living Voice room with complete Kondo tube amplification was at least as expensive (if not more). Report will follow shortly, stay tuned.

      • Looking forward to a comparison report of the two titans. Magico and Vox Olympian. One Solid state multi amped and the other Tube with passive crossovers. Could you give a more lenghthly review of the two if possible. From what I heard from some people at the show was that these two speakers were on a completly different level than most of the other terrific speakers. Was that the story?. How would you compare the FM Acoustics room to the two big horns? Thanks,

  8. I’ll reference the most noteworthy spec, the $600k price. It reminds me of a story my friend “CT” from California told me about a man we’ll call “Kevin.” CT agreed to build Kevin’s home theater room in his custom craftsmen home. Regarding the front projector screen, Kevin told CT he wanted “X” dimensions, and wanted never to visit any neighbor’s HT and see a larger “screen.”

    The poor schmucks who can afford only a measly $75k for speakers must be gnashing their teeth.

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