Will the design of the M-Project influence future Magico loudspeakers?
Of course! In fact, it already has: the Q7 Mk II happened as a direct result of the M-Pro. Magico wasn’t going to do a second version of the Q7 until I heard the top end of the M-Pro. And then I realised we had to. So, that’s the reason we did the Mk II; the tweeter, and the graphene midrange.
We also offer a complete upgrade for Q7 owners, and it’s the same amount of money that adds up to the price of the second one, so we made it fair. It’s still a lot of money, but it’s a big upgrade: you have to send the speaker back and we have to change the faceplate because the tweeter is bigger, it’s a new crossover, and so on… it’s a big job!
And now, it's my turn to talk!
In fairness, Alon Wolf is one of the easiest people to interview: he speaks in publishable sentences, and if you say "Tell me a bit about your loudspeakers?" he can talk for hours without a break and with a fairly high degree of passion. When it comes to interviewing him, it's more about getting a word in, and trying to stop him talking before your recorder's batteries run down or your SD card fills up. But, eventually it was my turn to listen to the loudspeakers.
Faced with the M-Pro as a product in its own right, you get to understand why Alon Wolf is so passionate about that tweeter. A select group of Magico owners and reviewers gathered in Lisbon to listen to the M-Project as it should be heard. OK, so ‘as it should be heard’ meant an absolutely top-notch system comprising Metronome’s top four-box CD player, Constellation Audio’s Reference Class electronics (including the European first listen to the mighty Hercules II stereo power amplifier), and Transparent Audio’s Magnum Opus cables. In other words, audio’s Formula One! The M-Project demands such uncompromising products in partnership, but this is also self-selecting: a $130,000 loudspeaker is unlikely to wind up being driven by a $399 receiver found on eBay.
That tweeter absolutely didn’t sound like a tweeter, because the loudspeaker didn’t sound like audio. It sounded more like the real thing. Yes, we inch closer to this goal with every generation, and yes, audio reviewers tend to hype these incremental steps up, but this one is different; it draws practically no attention to itself. In a way, the performance is that of well-engineered designs (such as the classic BBC loudspeakers, or the likes of those coming from PSB), but with even less coloration and attention drawn to the influence of the loudspeaker.
The resolution on offer here was so significant; it almost made a mockery of what we hear from other systems. One live Mozart recording, you could not only hear two people coughing in the audience, you could not only identify where they were in the physical space, but you could tell one of them was considerably more bronchial than the other. One was polite coughing, the other was ‘have you taken your medication’ coughing. On other systems, you barely hear there is an audience.
So the magic of the Magico is there is no magic – it is all science; just science sufficiently advanced to make it seem like magic to most listeners. The loudspeaker was resolving of system enough to easily hear the difference between digital filters, or switching between triode and solid-state output in the Metronome and throwing a soundstage sufficiently large enough to impose imaging limits at the side-wall diffraction panels, and the sealed-box precision and speed to the bass made it one of the most agile large loudspeakers I’ve heard.
In short, this was one of the most – if not the most – significant audio encounters I’ve had in my career, and those 50 owners are some of the luckiest audio enthusiasts out there.
More importantly though, what’s the point? What is the point of a loudspeaker of this magnitude, if no one else learns from it? This is the reason for this feature; not just to discuss the best loudspeaker you, me, and seven billion other people will never own. Not simply to point out that the audio world ended up being the first place an atom-thick form of carbon called graphene went commercial.
No, the point is, we should all be learning from projects like this one. OK, so graphene and diamond-coated-beryllium are not the stuff of drive units in $400 loudspeakers, but this raises the bar for audio, and everyone should be both pleased at that, and desperately trying to leverage parts of that technology to better their own designs.
In other words, the M-Project is more than a top loudspeaker that falls into the hands of a lucky few dozen well-heeled audiophiles; it’s a $130,000 gauntlet thrown down to the audio world. Are you up for the challenge?