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

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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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