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To Jeff Fritz,

I enjoy your reading your reviews and columns at Ultra Audio very much. I've written to you once before, a few years back, and you were kind enough to write a thoughtful answer so I have another question for you concerning speakers.

I currently own the Magico M5 speakers driven by the VTL Siegfried amps and the VTL TL-7.5 Series III preamp. I have a pretty good room acoustically, and fairly large -- 20' wide, 33' long, with 12' ceilings. I enjoy what I hear very much. I am thinking about a speaker upgrade, but to change, it would have to be a real upgrade in sonics and not just a change in sound as I really enjoy what I hear. My question revolves around the new Magico speakers. I've read your Q3 review so I know what you think of that speaker and I read the answer you gave someone concerning purchasing the Q3 versus the M5. It's the same answer I would have given as well (even though I haven't heard the Q3). My questions are:

1. Do you have any thoughts on how the Q3 and Q5 compare in sound quality? And perhaps any other thoughts on how these compare to the M5 other than what you wrote in that letter's response?

2. The last time I could tell, you were using the Rockport Arrakis as your reference speakers. Are you still with the Rockports? If so, what are your thoughts on how the Q3/Q5 speakers compare to them. I know there is a large difference in price, etc., but I am curious what your thoughts are on this.

By the way, I read one of your letters concerning the CH Precision digital front end. I had an opportunity to hear the CH precision gear in my room this past weekend. As a digital front end going through my preamp it was very good and better than what I currently use -- an Esoteric P-03/D-03/G-0s stack. Not better enough to make me change, but it was better. However, given that the C1 box is also a preamp, when we switched to drive my amps via the C1 it was quite amazing to hear. I don't know how CH does what they do, but once you hear it, it's difficult to go back to any other digital front end.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to reading what you can share with me. Thanks again.


Thanks for the note. It sounds as if you have an amazing setup in a room that can comfortably house such a reference system. But I, like you, know that when the upgrade bugs bites, you start looking at ways to improve things, even if what you have is amazing already. I'll address your questions in reverse order.

Regarding CH Precision, I have them scheduled to come in for review in 2012. I have only heard good things about them and your experience confirms what I've heard from others who have used their products. I think any conversation about top-flight digital has to include them at this point. They are certainly a new player on the scene that is shaking things up at the edge of the art!

The current Rockport Arrakis speakers are totally different animals than the models I had. The new ones have beryllium-dome tweeters and an active crossover for the bass section. Their D'Appolito-style configuration and ported design mean that they load a room completely differently than a point-source design does. The Arrakis is a stunning speaker in every respect and I think the current version is a must-audition in the cost-no-object speaker realm if you have a room that can support their size.

As for your speaker upgrade, I think you have to be quite careful. What you have now is exceptionally good. I've heard the M5s on several occasions and they are accomplished in many ways. Having said that, I think the Q5s represent a ground-up rethinking from Magico, and are a definite improvement over the M-series speakers you have. If you are considering moving into the Q line, the Q5 is the only logical choice to make. Although I do think the Q3 would improve on the M5 in some ways -- after all, it does have the Q-series cabinet platform and the Be tweeter, both improvements versus the M5 -- in a room the size of the one you have I would want a larger speaker. I have spoken to Alon Wolf about the differences between the Q3 and Q5 (I have not heard the Q5 in my room) and he tells me that the Q5 is more revealing and utterly neutral, and plays louder and deeper. It simply does more of what the Q3 does so well. I feel fairly confident in predicting that the Q5 would improve on what you hear from your M5s in every way. Please do let me know what you decide to do. . . . Jeff Fritz