Home Speaker Asylum

General speaker questions for audio and home theater.

I'm pretty familiar with the Mk I

I auditioned the S3 Mk I twice at a dealer in a good listening room and I have the S1 Mk I. They are very neutral speakers. By that I mean nothing sticks out or seems emphasized across the whole frequency range, and everything sounds natural and tonally correct. They are also very, very clear. And they excel at information retrieval at all frequencies. I think that some speakers which are known for sounding detailed and highly resolving are mostly emphasizing treble detail, whereas the Magicos seem highly resolving at all frequencies. I know some people have criticized Magicos for having an "analytical" sound, but the S series don't sound tipped up in the treble to me, not like Focal or Raidho for instance. From what I've read, the new tweeter that they are rolling out is a bit softer but no less detailed, so even people who didn't really care for Magico before are liking the S series Mk II versions.

The bass is tight, fast, accurate, and extended. I'm guessing they were flat in-room to ~30 Hz, with some output in the 20s. If you have a good, treated room, you will hear every bass note played accurately. What you might find lacking is bass weight and slam. When powered by a strong solid state amplifier, they have some punch, but the bass range overall is a bit lighter than most other floorstanders of similar size.

In a good room, they throw a wide soundstage with very precise imaging, but the soundstage depth and height is merely good. The smaller S1 seems a little better at disappearing like a minimonitor.

I used a variety of music while auditioning the S3. As you might expect, they make well recorded acoustic music sound incredibly good. Especially jazz. For big, dramatic orchestral music, you might wish for a little more weight. I have some well recorded trance, EDM, and some eclectic electronic music which they handled very well. They are fast and can play a rhythm and get your feet tapping. Good pop & rock music sounded good. Old classic rock recordings which are a bit on the thin side sounded thin. Highly compressed pop music sounded compressed and hot, but not uncomfortably hot.

I heard the S3 with Ayre, Simaudio, Hegel, and Linn amps, with Linn streamers and Berkeley DAC as sources. Because they are neutral and transparent, they pass on the sound of the source and amplification better than any other speakers I've heard. My personal preference is to pair them with a good solid state amplifier which leans toward the warm side in the upper bass and lower midrange. That helps give them more weight and scale on orchestral music and make them more forgiving of poor recording quality. At home I have a Luxman M-600A and a Simaudio W-5 LE. The Luxman, which is Class A but just 30W, has the warmth I was seeking but the bass is a little soft and it's not as dynamic as I'd like. The Simaudio is good in those areas, and is better at soundstaging, but it's a bit lean in the upper bass. The amp I really want to try is the Vitus RS-100. With the Mk II models, maybe a more "neutral" amp would be better but I'm not sure.

I have not heard Magico in a home theater. I also don't know how much you prioritize HT performance vs. music. But I don't think Magicos are as well suited to HT as they are music. One reason is that the quality of their bass makes it harder to integrate them with a subwoofer, which is pretty much a requirement for HT. They are also a little bit dynamically limited at higher volumes compared to other speakers of similar size. I use the Dynaudio C2 for HT and music upstairs. They are neutral like the Magicos, but they play with greater force and drive at higher volume levels.

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