They turned up with two rooms, the first one with the metallic blue S7 speakers ($58.000, launch expected for this summer) paired with Constellation electronics and MIT cables; the second with the new top-of-the-line Q7 Mk2 model ($230.000) driven by Soulution electronics, with Vovox cables of Switzerland taking care of the connections.
Constellation brought the new Centaur II power amplifiers ($80.000 for the pair of monos) and Peter Madnick, VP of engineering, explained me how the power supply got beefier with 10x the MkI’s filtering capacitance, bigger toroidal transformer and generally speaking, even more “trickled down” technology coming from top-of-the-line Hercules model. Along with, Peter also brought the Virgo III preamplifier and the new Cygnus Digital File Player / DAC with an external power supply ($35.000).
On paper, this should be a great system, but left me perplexed, wondering what was wrong during “Heart is a Drum” from Beck’s 2014 album Morning Phase. Bottom extension was all there but at the same time, the mids were simply wrong. I like Beck’s musical style, but to be honest my ”thing” is classical; Irv Gross from Constellation’s marketing team agreed to play the allegro from Mozart’s violin concerto in D major with Marianne Thorsen (2L records), but still, I made no emotional connection with the system.
The other room, the one with the Q7 MkII, was better, with slightly fuller mid-range frequencies and excellent top-end extension during Paganini’s Capricci with Mayuko Kamio (RCA). The sensation of a stronger presence coming from the improved graphene-carbon mid-range driver was confirmed by Bonnie Raitt singing “Back Around”, where her voice was definitely warmer than usual (with “usual” being the typical previous generation almost “dry” Magico sound). Soulution was helping drive the Q7s with a full stack of their latest electronics, including the 725 preamplifier, a pair of 701 mono power amps and the new 760 DAC ($59.000). Interestingly, they also had on display (though not playing during my two visits in the room) a (very well made for being a prototype) turntable fitted with EMT cartridge on a Thales tonearm, and connected to the all-new 755 phono stage ($59.000). A special mention must be made for the gorgeous Critical Mass Systems Maxxum Racks, among the best out there.
For being a half a million dollar room, the sound, while not bad per se, was just not what I expected for this category of equipment. It is not a matter of “playing right”; systems of this caliber have to do everything by the book and even more so. It actually comes down to sensations, and while I think the Q7 Mk2 are a clear step forward for Magico, there’s still some room to grow.