MAGICO M3

PW07.03.2021

Floorstanding loudspeakers

With their “M” range California-based Magico have abandoned all-metal speaker cabinets in favor of building something like an F1 monopost: an engine (five engines in this case) mounted onto an elaborate and stiff yet lightweight chassis enclosed in an aerodynamic cockpit. The result is a skillfully balanced work of loudspeaker art that uses conventional trade-offs to its benefit.

100% reference

Function and form

98%
Ease of use
95%
Sound
100%
Appearance

At the time of publishing this review the “M” range means four models: M9, M6, M3 and M2, all sharing the same know-how. The skeleton of the M3 is a complicated system of aluminum rods and braces to which the thick aluminum front baffle is attached. The cockpit, made of carbon sheets and foam core sandwich is, according to Magico, a better alternative to heavy and dense enclosures as it is relatively lightweight yet stiff and thus should not store delayed energy or contribute with its own resonances. The bottom and top panels are aluminum again. The fact that the whole assembly is bolted, not glued, asks for periodical check of whether all bolts have the right tension – for this very reason a precise torque tool is a part of packaging.

For Magico never looked at costs, at least not too much, for the M-series speakers they employed woven graphene for driver cones. This way the company claims 20% lighter and 300% stiffer cones than in any previous Magico speakers. There are four Graphene drivers: 1x 12cm midrange driver that operates its own dedicated polymer sealed sub-enclosure, and 3x18cm bass drivers that operate into sealed cabinet. This is pretty unique approach, however not surprising if you consider that the best subwoofers are all sealed. The absence of bass-reflex ports asks for very rigid construction and has some consequences, yet it was required to achieve tight and dynamic bass and articulation.

The midrange and bass drivers are complemented by another unusual driver, a 28mm diamond coated beryllium tweeter. By combining these two materials with a neodymium based motor system and a shallow waveguide Magico achieves low distortion and wide dispersion pattern for highs.

Please note that despite I used the word “lightweight” several times each speaker weighs 145kg; don’t expect you’ll be able to move them around easily.

The downsides: the Magico M3 does not provide a bi-wiring option, requires uber-expensive M-Pod feet that are sold separately (I will discuss them later in the review), and asks for a lot of power and control from the partnered amplifier. Though the manual states that “recommended power is 20 - 500 watts” I can say that a 20-watt amp is only good for testing that the M3s’s drivers are connected and can play.

Bass management

Weight
93
Slam
96
Articulation
96

My recommendation for auditioning the Magico M3 is the following: forget about its price, its technical finesse, and its legendary status. If you don’t you may be disappointed, at least for several minutes into the listening session. With passing minutes, however, one starts to realize that there is something special going on. And the first thing that has the “I will never go back” effect is the M3’s phenomenal control of bass.

It seems as if the bass was a focal point of the M3´s design, it is that good. I am not saying it cannot be better – in fact there is slightly less energy and fullness in bass than in the Magico M7 that I reviewed 5 years ago, nor the M3s can generate the massive rumblings like Estelon X Diamond or Legacy Audio Whisper XDS. Yet their bass is sublime for it is accurate, fantastically textured and unobscured. It does not hang in speakers as if was completely detached from drivers’ membranes and it is completely colorless. I don’t mean it lacks the musical colors, rather than that it lacks cabinet and driver coloration. As such it can operate down to below 30Hz with exceptional control and punchy neutrality and something I’d call  “singing bass”.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
98
Air
97
Transparency
98

The highs of the Magico M3 are mystery to me. Looking at the measurements taken by some prestigious audio magazines one can see a roll off from as early as 10kHz in Magico designs and I can attest that the same philosophy applies here too. In essence the M3s are closer to the understated presentation of Vivid Audio’s top models or the silkiness of Sonus Faber, rather than being analytical. Why the mystery then? Purely subjectively I don’t miss anything in the M3’s treble. It might have something to do with the openness and transparency of the Magico’s midrange with which – as a consequence – the highs don’t have to fight. The seamlessness of the M3s’ sound and their top-to-bottom coherence in how ‘colorless’ the drivers are and how similar they are in their speed and dynamics successfully projects into the M3s behaving like one driver rather than a system of 5 drivers. So, despite the detail is not thrown in the listener’s face it is there and it is so well integrated that one concentrates on the musical content rather than its form.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
95
Dynamics
95
Temporal resolution
95

The Magico M3 has unusually wide sweet spot. Moving you head 20-30cm to sides does not represent a real problem and images remains stable and focused. It is not a sort of imaging when speakers beam at the listener and project holographic images for just one listener in his carefully fine-tuned listening position. It is closer to what I am used to hear from e.g. new Revel speakers where the soundstage is inviting and ‘just there’ rather than projected, or from planar speakers. The other asset of the M3 is that neither the proportions of the soundstage nor the speaker’s tonal spectrum does not change at any listening volume. The speakers remain composed, midrange remains wonderfully lifelike without usual audiophile accents like exaggerating warmth. The microdynamic gradations are perhaps the subtlest I have heard from any speaker at any price. And once again, as there is the superb control from all the drivers then one does not mask the other which greatly enhances perfect legibility of playback, no matter what music you are listening to.

Spatial resolution

Holography
95
Soundstage width
95
Soundstage depth
95

Although it is not obligatory, each speaker should be mounted on a tripod base with three isolation M-Pods threaded into it. The M-Pods themselves are very expensive (circa 6k€ for a set of 6) and for the sake of clarity they are included in the price stated at the end of this review because… because they are indispensable.

The M-Pod is a solid copper disc sandwiched between two polymer discs and two aluminum casings with a spindle running through the center. Once the M-Pods are installed to the speaker and it safely rests on them, by pulling out a security pull-pin the speaker basically floats on the sandwiches. So there is nothing new in this idea and everything was seen many times before in other aftermarket feet, but Magico fine-tuned the M-Pods to complement and enhance the sound of their speakers so there is a certain synergy that should not be underrated. Before you ask: for sure I tried Stillpoints Ultra 6 V2 in the place of M-Pods but the result was not the same. While Stillpoints increased resolving power of the M3s and made transients “harder-hitting”, the M-Pods went in entirely different direction which I would call “analog-like musicality”. The music with them is more natural, better flowing and colors are better saturated, all this without losing a bit of the openness. At the end, if you can afford to pay for the M3s then you’ll be able to pay for the M-Pods too.

Yes, the Magico M3 is an insanely expensive speaker but it must be heard to be believed. The need for excellent adjacent electronics that will be able to drive the M3s to full satisfaction makes them even more expensive. I am not therefore saying the Magico M3 are good value. They are not as for their asking price one can buy a flat (or a dedicated listening room). Yet for audiophiles of unlimited income, or for old men that have nothing else to buy to keep them happy, the M3 definitely sparks the joy of listening to music again.

Price as reviewed:2 680 000,- Kč

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DE: Audio Components GmBH, Hamburg

Associated components

  • Sources: CD/SACD/DVD-A Linn Unidisk 1.1, TW-Acustic Raven One turntable, Graham Phantom tonearm, Transfiguration Orpheus cartridge
  • Amplifiers: Spectral DMA-150, Constellation Audio Pictor preamplifier, Constellation Audio power amplifier, phono Gruensch Reference Phonostage MCS
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: MIT MA, MIT MA-X XLR, MIT V2.1 Oracle, Stealth Audio Hyperphono
  • Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio Sasha W/P
  • Power conditioning: Shunyata Research Triton v2/Typhon, Shunyata Research Python Zi-Tron, Shunyata Research Sigma v2 XC and v2 NR

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