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To Jeff Fritz,
I am looking for a major speaker upgrade for my system and am considering a new pair of Magico Q3 speakers and a demo pair of Magico M5s. I read your review of the Q3 with great interest and it certainly piqued my interest. Wonderful writing and very honest. I'm ready! I wonder if you have any insight as to the relative differences in sound of the Q3 versus the M5, though. Strengths, weaknesses, overall thoughts, etc. Any insight you have would be greatly appreciated.
I've not heard the M5 in my room, but I'll take a general crack at it nonetheless. The M5 is a larger four-way speaker with more internal air volume and a completely different look that might suit some rooms better than others. I would expect it to play slightly deeper in the bass and have an excellent sense of dynamics -- I've heard this much from it at shows such as CES. On the other hand, the Q3 has a better tweeter that will be more extended in the highs and lower in distortion across the board. It is also more efficient, meaning you can use an amplifier with less power. The Q3 also has a more svelte all-aluminum cabinet that I would think is superior to the M5's aluminum-and-wood enclosure and will also disappear easier in a room. Even with all these differences, though, I would still expect the speakers to be more similar than different. Both are sealed boxes, both use Magico-made drivers, and both share the same type of crossover topology. Still, I'd personally go with the newer model -- the Q3 -- if only for the new tweeter. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Jeff Fritz,
I wanted to write and say thank you for your brutally honest Magico Q3 review. These days, it seems as if reviewers are increasingly afraid to offend manufacturers and therefore they don’t call it like it really is. I am the owner of one of those speakers that I would wager is not on your "good list." I now know why after months of frustration. Although I have tried to get them to sound great (even good), and my dealer has also done quite a bit to help (I don't blame him), they just don’t have the mid-to-tweeter coherence and smooth non-fatiguing sound that they should have for the money I spent. Now that I have read your review I finally have a clue as to why. I'll seek out an audition of the Q3 and hopefully I can get a good trade-in on my speakers. You're doing what reviewers should do. Keep it up.
Thanks for the kind words, Marcelo. Good luck with the Q3 audition and please let me know how it turns out. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Jeff Fritz,
First of all, congratulations on your review of Magico Q3 loudspeakers.
I am from Slovenia and I am intending to replace my Cabasse Kara loudspeakers with new loudspeakers. I have a Gryphon Mikado CD player, Accuphase C-2410 preamplifier, and Accuphase A-45 power amplifier with only 40Wpc in class A. My listening room is 50 square meters and the distance between loudspeaker and listener is 3m. I prefer to listen to acoustical music, cool jazz, vocal jazz and radio.
I am in doubt which loudspeakers to buy. My candidates are: Magico Q3, Sonus Faber Amati Futura, Franco Serblin Ktema, Marten Coltane or Bird. I like the character of my Karas. Before Karas I had the Sonus Faber Cremona (the model before M). Cremonas were too slow and sweet for my taste. Would you be so kind and propose to me which speakers according to your opinion would be the best for my system? I am also worried if my Accuphase amplifier has enough power for the Magico Q3s?
In advance, thank you very much for your answer.
The key to your decision is determining what type of sound you're trying to achieve. If you're after the most neutral, resolving sound imaginable that is also transparent to the extreme, then the Magico Q3 is the speaker I'd buy hands down. If, on the other hand, you're trying to make your system sound a certain way, with a specific character or coloration, then avoid the Q3 altogether. When you say, "Cremonas were too slow and sweet for my taste," I'm led to believe that you would enjoy the neutrality and speed of the Q3 immensely.
As for your amplifier, I do know the Accuphase amps are quite powerful and yours would almost double in power into the Magico's 5-ohm impedance. Still, if you could drag your amplifier along to the audition you'd be wise to do so. That way you'd know for sure and wouldn’t be in for any surprises. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Jeff Fritz,
I just read your Magico Q3 review and I am glad someone has the balls to flat out say one speaker is better than another; it is refreshing. No "if you like this then you will like that" BS. Your Q3 review was done very well and easy to read.
My only qualm is the price. As an engineer myself I feel good engineering is performance while maintaining cost. Models that also include good engineering (without wasting money) are the Thiel CS3.7 and the Revel Ultima Salon2. I feel these are the speakers to beat in their price range (not the 803 Diamond, etc.). It sounds like the Q3 sets the bar VERY high for the $30k+ range.
As always, enjoy the music.
To Jeff Fritz,
I ordered the Paradigm Reference Signature S2 v.3 speakers after reading your article in "TWBAS." Quite frankly, I was more than a little surprised to see you compare Paradigm Signature speakers to those from YG Acoustics and Wilson Audio. My 6-12-month plan included upgrading my Usher Audio Mini Two Diamond speakers with those in the $10k-$25k range. Your article really intrigued me and, given the Paradigm’s modest price, I figured I had little to lose.
Some quick facts: my listening room is small-medium in size. My in-room low-frequency extension with the S2 v.3s: -6dB at 31.5Hz. Source: Mark Levinson No.512 SACD/CD player connected directly to a Bryston 4B SST2 amplifier via AudioQuest WBY interconnects. Speaker cables: AudioQuest Redwood. Power delivery: Synergistic Research PowerCell 10 Mk2 and Hologram SE A and D power cords. Vibration control: Stillpoints ESS rack, component stands and Ultra cones.
I cannot get over how wonderful these speakers sound: transparent, dynamic, harmonically natural. Before the Ushers, I had the Dynaudio Confidence C1s and before that the B&W 805S. The Paradigms, which are cheaper than all of the above, are by a large margin the most natural and accurate speakers I have had in my listening room. You are right: the price-performance curve is not linear. Thank you, Jeff, for being willing to ruffle a few feathers to inform your readers of an awkward fact. I still have the budget for costlier speakers but I’m thinking I’ll use it for a couple of nice watches.
John Lee, MD
To Jeff Fritz,
You weren't kidding. I did end up buying the Merak/Sheritan 2s and there is simply no area where the Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy 6es hold a candle to the Rockports, which do things I've never heard a speaker do: freedom from congestion and coloration regardless of volume, detail retrieval for a monkey coffin (inertness has its benefits), along with staging and singular coherence that is remarkable. What nits to pick are minor (top-end extension of the old Dynaudio Esotar tweeter), and are sins of omission, not commission (which are more objectionable). And, as you said, they care not a whit what music you play through them.
Despite the price, this is amongst the best audio purchases I've ever made. Many thanks for your input -- you were dead on. I appreciate your candor and accuracy -- that's the only standard for a reviewer to achieve, so good on you JF.
To Jeff Fritz,
I just want to let you know that your review of the Rockport Technologies Mira loudspeakers was not only well done and informative, but dead-nuts accurate. Thank you. You are the most logical candidate for the Mira 2 review, and Andy [Payor] says it has a new and much better tweeter, midrange driver, as well as crossover. Doug Schneider did not hear the Mira 2 against the Magico V2. I can tell you hands down the Mira 2 is a no-brainer in my opinion. Please do get back to me on a review and keep up the excellent writings.
I have been in touch with Rockport about the possibilities of reviewing the Mira 2 or, perhaps, their new speaker, the Avior. I simply can’t wait to see and hear what Rockport has been doing for the past year or so. If the past is any indication, Andy Payor is pushing the loudspeaker-performance envelope once again. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Jeff Fritz,
I wanted to thank you for your review of the Tidal Piano Cera speaker system. I found your writing succinct and refreshingly free of the type of over-the-top hyperbole that defines most audio reviews these days. I came away from your article with a good knowledge of how the Tidal speakers sound instead of just knowing that they are "a dream come true" or some other reviewer nonsense. It is very rare these days to actually have a reviewer give a full accounting of the actual sound instead of just trying to impress the company. I now know the Piano Cera (or Diacera) will be on my shortlist to audition. I'll follow your writing from now on.
To Jeff Fritz,
I just ordered a pair (Piano Black) after reading your "TWBAS" review of the Paradigm Reference Signature S2 v.3/Sub 2 combo. Question: Should the grilles be on or off for best performance? Thank you.
I used the speakers with the grilles off, as I do most everything that comes in for review unless there is a specific instruction from the manufacturer to do otherwise. However, I do know that Paradigm always designs their loudspeakers to perform at a high level with the grilles on. The frames are contoured around the drivers to avoid diffraction. Still, there will always be some high-frequency attenuation with the grilles on. Ultimately, I would suggest you try them both ways to see if you have a strong preference. There is a mesh cover over the beryllium-dome tweeter, so you don’t have to worry too much about damaging that. Congrats on a fine loudspeaker system purchase. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Peter Roth,
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review of the Ayre QB-9.
I am building a high-end computer-based audio system and would love to know if you still feel the Ayre QB-9 is the USB DAC to beat in its price range? There are so many getting good reviews -- the latest Weiss DAC, the latest Benchmark, Wyred 4 Sound, Naim, Bel Canto, etc. Since the QB-9 is almost two years old now, do you feel it still holds up as the "gold standard"?
The other approach I am considering is the Linn Majik DS, which of course avoids the computer altogether in favor of dedicated processing straight from hard-drive storage.
Have you had a chance to explore this option and, if so, is the QB-9 more musical overall? Appreciate any thoughts you can offer!
The key revolves around the qualification "in its price range." For a computer audio digital-to-analog converter in the $2-3k range, I continue to strongly recommend the QB-9. In fact, I am listening to Dave Douglas playing through my QB-9 at this very moment. While it certainly can be bettered (e.g., Ayre's own DX-5, the Wavelength Audio Crimson HS, and the dCS Debussy that editor Jeff Fritz loves so much), you have to spend a whole lot more before achieving material performance increases. In any event, the QB-9 is never less than musical, and given that it fully services up to 24/192, it will be great for years and years to come. Whatever you do, I would go with a DAC that has asynchronous delivery (like the dCS, Wavelength and Ayre), as I believe the resulting low jitter is a big deal.
Two less-expensive alternatives you could consider (both of which feature asynchronous delivery), would be the Wavelength Audio Proton ($900) and Grace m903 ($1900). I've spent a lot of time with the Proton and, while not as accomplished as the QB-9, it is surprisingly good for under a grand (although bandwidth limited to 24/96 files). The Grace is more of a full-featured product, offering S/PDIF inputs (in addition to USB), a headphone jack and volume control (for directly driving an amplifier).
Let me know what you ultimately select, and keep reading Ultra Audio. . . . Peter Roth
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