Auditioned Magico A3 - VERY DARK...

So today after waiting for months to try and listen to the Magico A3, I went to Scott Walker audio at Anaheim and listened to the Magico A3, connected to some VAC Tube amp, being fed from a Sony audio streamer, here are my impressions:

- They look fantastic, I wish they made them in silver too, but they are just great in brush black aluminum
- They're quite small and could fit everywhere
- Fit and finish is impecable
- The bass they generated was nothing but amazing for such a small cabinet, you could hear the drums, the down beats and incredible depth of bass at an amazing level
- Imaging was INSANE, you could literally place everyone and everything...
- Sound was VERY VERY DARK!!! This was a bit of a surprise, the top end lacked for my taste to a quite a degree
- I felt like the combo of the Tube amp and Magico lacked resolution, while bass and mid was great, the top end absolutely lacked resolution
- The sound was extremely laid back, again dark
- It does NEED POWER, like he had to crank the volume up, to get good sound out of this, so be aware of that

Overall, I "personally" did NOT like the sound, it lacked details and resolution at the top end, while it was great at the bottom end.  Now, the rep and I think this is mostly due to Tube amp, and connecting it to a solid state amp would bring back resolution, but we simply didn't have time to do that today.  I look forward to listen to these at another time with some decent solid-state amp, but as-is, I was NOT as impressed as I expected and wouldn't have purchased one and I strongly believe Tube and Magico A3 do NOT go well together! 

Anyone else with similar impressions?! Curious to know what others may think, or maybe there was something else in play?

Alex, I think you answered your own question. As the salesman had to crank the volume up on the tube amp to get decent output, that tells me the A3’s were underpowered. The rolled off top end would be due to dynamic compression. I’m auditioning the A3’s early next week paired with the new Vitus RI-101 which I recently auditioned with the Magico S3 Mk2’s. That was an excellent match, so the Vitus should also pair well with the A3’s. I’ll let you know my thoughts after my audition.
The new Perreaux 255i would be an interesting match. Plenty of power. 360WPC in 8 ohms and530 into 4.
Answer is easy , try to get another  brand,  Different company  is using
different tweeter set up, some of then try to make flat response or sightly
coming down , some is set tweeter to little bright .  May be you used
before ,more bright speakers,  The best  advice- get Amps with Tone
control l
Magico sold out over 150 pairs of A3s i guess dark is in.I heard the A3s at Axpona with Dans amps they sounded wonderful NOT dark at all.You must get the best amp,preamp and great copper speaker cables and they will sound anything but dark.Enjoy!!
118 posts
07-07-2018 8:46am
power is absolutely no important

You must be high to make such a statement...........

  ozzy 574 post     Yes,  i make my statement , such  amount power is not  important to make sound bright . The same thing if you using some
amplifier and crank volume control from low to big, the  frequency response    shoud be on same  , but the human ears get different tone  sensitivity  . this is why
old fashion  amps get tone compensate volume control.

ebm@ you right - different people - different taste. One say bright
another dark for same speakers
Impedance curves I've seen in Stereophile's measurements of several other Magico speakers all show a peak of 9 to 12 ohms or so in the area of 2.5 kHz, followed by a rapid descent to 3 to 5 ohms throughout almost all of the treble region.

Currently produced VAC amps provide three output taps, designated as either 2, 4, and 8 ohms, or 1-2, 2-4, and 4-8 ohms.

Given the 4 ohm nominal impedance of the speaker my guess is that the dealer was not using the lowest of those three taps. And, assuming the A3 has an impedance variation that is similar to the other models I referred to, if he had been using the lowest of those three taps the darkness would have been significantly reduced.

-- Al
I can’t find any impedance curves for the A3’s, by the way.

As the salesman had to crank the volume up on the tube amp to get decent output, that tells me the A3’s were underpowered.

It could be:

  • Speakers are tuned to play loudly, so lack emphasis in treble for low volume listening
  • Low impedance in tweeter area depresses output for high impedance amps ( i.e. tubes)
Overall, 88 dB sensitivity, these speakers are not bad, certainly better than the S1 Mk II.

I do kind of agree with the statement that power doesn’t matter, but output (amplifier) impedance does. Often these go hand in hand. Really hard to find a 30 W amplifier with low output impedance.

I have said this elsewhere, that for the price, I expect the A3s to kill a lot of other speakers in the market, especially the Focals. They are also going to be much, much better value than the S1 Mk II. 
Hi guys, I am considering buying the A3s but I believe they do not support biwiring/biamping - is that a disadvantage? I thought most speakers in this price bracket would have that capability. Could that be why the OP had that impression? Thanks
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Having auditioned the A3s I agree they have at least the potential from what I heard to be class leading in their price and something of a giant killer.

Though it feels a bit odd to see myself write that insofar as they didn’t actually turn my crank at all. I much prefer, for instance, the Joseph Audio or Devore O series speakers I’ve just been auditioning. For instance, all the same drum tracks on the Devore speakers sounded significantly more "like drums" in terms of tone and character than through the A3s.  And the Joseph speakers had a similar sense of clarity, lack of grain (actually better than the A3s in that regard) and transient precision (though smaller sound), yet voices had an incredibly authentic sounding warmth of timbre, making voices sound "real" in a way that I never heard once through the A3s.(I'm always comparing real to reproduced.  

For instance a recording I often play for evaluating male voice is The Beast In Me from Johnny Cash's american recordings.  It's an amazing, bare recording of his voice with super soft guitar, that can sound startlingly real and in the room on the right system.  When I play it auditioning speakers it's often with someone else in the room, usually a salesman who I might talk with.  And when the recording is playing I listen carefully to the qualities of the "real" male voice vs the reproduce male voice - does the voice coming through the speaker have that same warm, damped, organic human quality and timbre I'm hearing from the real voice?  Johnny cash through the JA speakers were seemingly bang on.  About as close as I've ever heard.   As I said, I never got that from the A3s for whatever reason.

Also, whenever I audition speakers I investigate the sound from many angles and distances, to see where they integrate, sound most lively, or most rich, to move in or out of room nodes, etc.

I did find the A3s (driven by a solid state amp I can no longer remember) could sound a tad "dark" from a number of positions, not quite having the sense of "air" of some other speakers (which could just be in their frequency variations of course). Though in some other positions the tone sounded less dark and more natural to me (actually moving further or closer did this, in my audition).
To add to my and Erik's previous comments, I suspect that an Audio Research amp would have presented the speaker in a better light than the VAC amp that was used. ARC amps have significantly lower output impedances than most other high quality tube amps.

I say that as a happy owner of a VAC amp, used in conjunction with speakers having a particularly flat impedance curve.

-- Al
Magico's current line of speakers are so transparent, linear and resolving of micro and macro details, that your ears need time to adjust to what they’re hearing. That also means they honestly reflect what’s fed to them via upstream electronics. Rubbish in, rubbish out as they say.

In my experience, generally speaking Magico is best paired with warm, tube-like ss amplification or tubed amps with good power & low impedance drive. The best combinations i’ve heard in ss amps are Vitus Signature & Masterpiece series, the new Vitus RI-101 integrated, Boulder 1100 series, Audio Analogue & Audia Flight. In tube or tube hybrid amps, Absolare, CAT & Conrad Johnson ART have known synergy.
chandybe2 posts07-08-2018 2:44amHi guys, I am considering buying the A3s but I believe they do not support biwiring/biamping - is that a disadvantage? I thought most speakers in this price bracket would have that capability. Could that be why the OP had that impression? Thanks
Correct. The A3’s like most Magico speakers are single wired. That is mainly to avoid potential impedance issues with customers mixing different brands or models of cables for the low & high terminals. Bi-wiring has the potential to slightly improve the sound (providing the crossover is properly setup for bi-wiring).

That said, when I sold my Marten Coltrane Alto’s & bought Magico S5 Mk1’s, I sold my Jorma Origo biwire cables & used the funds to buy single wired Jorma Prime sc’s. So you can use the savings to invest in better cables which imho can result in a bigger improvement (than bi-wiring).

You mention that the A3 could fit anywhere. How about a very small room such as 13 x 12?
Heard the Magcos with a Rowland Integrated. Just sensational sounding. I like planers but these are the best cone based speakers I have ever heard. Certainly not dark. Can't imagine them not sounding good with the Vac amps
Thanks for the feedback guys. I heard what I heard. Some may claim Magico is the best speaker ever made, etc and it maybe true. However, in that setup, it didn’t at all meet my taste. It was 100% lacking on the top end as I played some familiar music that I’ve heard many many times in systems worth $100K+ or with best headphones. It very well maybe the setup in that room as even the rep admitted that. So, I reserve final judgement until I listen to them once more with solid state. Wiring was top notch, can’t quite remember the brand though so that’s not it. 

Re size: It has a smaller footprint that my B&W 805D with a stand. 
Hello, I heard the Magico S3 with a McInthosh gear. Also tube the 275 model and a tube pre (think it was C2600). No lack of details. Dark yes but good. There was a lot of details in the highs - for my taste somehow too much. 
@alexb76 , I don’t think anyone is suggesting your impression of the A3’s from your audition was not candid. And FWIW I for one would not claim Magico are the best speakers ever made. At this level “best” is a subjective term as we all have different ears and personal preferences.

Scott Walker is an expert in room setup & usually gets very good sound out of the Magico’s under notoriously difficult show conditions, so I’d rule out room issues. The bottom line is the jury is out as there was insufficient time in your audition to a-b compared a good ss amp.
I listened to the Magico S5's  and after about 2 minutes, I asked the salesperson "where's the bass?"  So, everybody hears things differently.
I also listened to the Audio Physic Avantera + and they were even more lacking in bass, in spite of their terrific imaging.

Ultimately, I listened to the Rockport Avior's and the EgglestonWorks Viginti.  I ended up buying the Eggleston's because I felt that they sounded better across the spectrum.  I made the right decision for me and could not be happier.  After a 100 hour burn in they sound amazing-- using tube amps, of course.
Tube amps are a pain. They have numerous problems that are caused by the quality of the tubes. Try a Paas Labs amp and some B and W speakers and you will hear a significant difference in quality. By this I mean excellent attack, bass, and sound stage with superb midrange and highs. 
@liamowen, Magico’s sealed box design isn’t for everyone. And that’s the beauty of choice. Congrats on your fine Eggleston Works speakers & enjoy them in good health!
IMHO the speaker is only reproducing what they are being fed.  Brightness/Darkness IMO usually comes from the source not the speakers (taking quality speakers).  There are many great speakers to hear/audition so enjoy the ride and Happy Listening.

"IMHO the speaker is only reproducing what they are being fed."

This may be true when switching sources but it completely rejects the results of all the A/B testing done when switching speakers in the same system. And we all know different speakers sound different in the same system and in the same room.  
Most Magico's I've heard, including A3, sounded very damped in the mids, which can be perceived as transparency.  I find myself looking at the speaker instead of the soundstage, and hear a slight woodiness.  But maybe that comes from sitting close.  The S5 Mkii sounded very good at Axpona, but it was a huge room and I was sitting 20 ft away.
Wonder what would the A3 will be like if driven with McIntosh MC601 monoblock 600watts which I have and like to audition the A3?
I think in general the consensus is that Magico may need careful pairing. They seem to recommend Hegel 360 as low end Amp that works well with it, and that’s a lot of power out of integrated amp and solid state with high damping factor. Pairing with Tubes maybe not ideal, but one may have to check various tubes and see which might work.
As I mentioned in my thread where I reported on listening to various speakers:  I listened to the A3s in a very large basement area that, at least on looks, should have provided very little issues in bass, and the proprietor said his room measures really well for bass (he demos Magico there all the time).   Yet I found the A3's bass on the tubby, uncontrolled side for quite a number of cuts that are not that way on my system, or many other systems I've demoed.   Just another anecdotal data point, there....
Having heard the A3’s on two different occasions, and with two different amps, one tube, I concur with the OP. These speakers sound dark and somewhat ‘colored’ to my ears. I suspect that the reason is the usual suspect...the beryllium dome that so many manufacturers insist on using. This driver, to my ears, always sounds bright and hard...sometimes resulting in a dark and ‘colored’ presentation...depending on the design of the speaker and the ancillary gear. Why so many manufacturers insist in using this type of driver is beyond me? There are so many great ribbon/ silk dome/ electro drivers out there, why bother with this design??
Since most if not all of the Magico drivers are sourced from Morel, perhaps it makes sense??
Magico speakers always sound wonderful to me NOT dark or bright.  You must use copper wires with the best amp and preamp to make them sound there best.
Regardless of brand and model of speaker, you can't just slap a rig together and expect fantastic results. Speakers can exhibit a wide range of sound characteristics based on component selection and wiring. In addition, listeners will vary widely on perception of what is "dark" vs. not. 
I have heard Magico sound meh, and pretty good at other times. 
@miketuason They sound very good. I listened to the A3’s through the 601’s with both the C2600 Mac preamp and also the AR ref 6. The AR and the 601’s were really a good combo as well. I didnt find them all that dark or overly bright. I played some Deep Purple and the bass was moving the room. So far I’m sold on the A3’s but doing my due diligence and listening to all contenders before I buy. I 
I auditioned the A3's at Rhapsody Music in NY, driven by a Constellation SS integrated amp. "Dark" is the last description I would use. They were so alive, natural and realistic, with amazing, accurate bass,  I ordered a pair on the spot, to be delivered next week. Will be driving them with a Krell FPB 300cx amp via Audience AU24 SX speaker cables, which should be a felicitous pairing, but we'll see. Always traumatic replacing speakers one has lived with for years (Von Schweikert VR5 HSE) but I have admired Magico's from the beginning and have always lusted after a pair.
Congratulations Neall! I'm reviewing the A3's for another site next weekend. I have to agree, they pack of a lot of Magico into $9800. It will be interesting to see how they stack up against my S5 Mk2's. Enjoy your new speakers in good health.
I think Doug Schroeder and a couple of others have made excellent points. Try hearing the A3 with some alternate pairings, it’s unfair to make a pass/fail judgement when it’s likely just a slight incompatibility issue. 
BTW, from my experience, Be tweeters are the way to go when done right although I have absolutely heard silk domes and ribbons that sounded amazing as well. As with most things it’s the implementation as much as the materials. Crossover quality and proper integration with the mid driver has a HUGE influence on what is perceived as the overall “tweeter sound”.
Re size: It has a smaller footprint that my B&W 805D with a stand.
That explains the "dark" sound. Close thread.
Alon used Odyssey Stratos mono's in his plant. His speakers work extremely well with that sort of high speed/ high damping amp. Coupled to a tube pre and it can be wonderful.
@ebm It perplexes me why it should take a $25K amp, a $10K or $15K pre-amp and $10K worth of cables to make a $10K pr. of speakers sound impressive!?
I’ve auditioned a VAC Phi 200, tubed amp, with several different speakers, including: Wilson Audio, Sophia IIs; Raidho, C-1.2s and the Quad ESL 2912s. The VAC had no problem nicely driving any of these fine speakers and while my preference over all was the Quads, I would not describe the sound of any of these speakers as being dark or sterile, when paired with the VAC.
It seems to me that it shouldn’t take $50K worth of equipment to make a $10,000 pr. of speakers sound good...just sayn...Jim


I’m a new owner of Magico A3 driven by an Hegel H360 and they sound very very good, in any case, not dark. For me, this amplifier is a very good pairing with A3.

I agree with Al, regarding using the 2 ohm tap on the VAC, when paired with the A3s.
I have no doubt that the Magicos could sound very good when paired with the right equipment, as well as a lot of care given to set up and room treatment...Jim
@satbox Others have said the same, regarding the Hegel H360 with the A3s.
Happy listening...Jim
@jhills, I don’t thing you need to throw $35-$50k worth of amplification at the A3’s to make them sing. However $10k worth of cables given even a simple system is not over the top imho. Re: amplification, I could name three integrated amps which would have good synergy with the A3’s & would not break the bank.

- Audio Analogue Maestro Anniversary which would retail in the US circa $9k
- Audia Flight FLS-10 which would retail circa $11k
- Accuphase E-470 which is $12kUS

The Audio Analogue amp in particular is a peach & punches well above it’s price point. Though in a larger room, the AF amp would be the better choice. Another integrated I recently reviewed, the Vitus RI-101 would also be an excellent choice, though that amp would be on the high side of $15kUS. And as you pointed out, there are probably several tube integrateds which would have good synergy with the A3’s incl: Vac and Octave Audio.
I heard Magico’s in two separate demo rooms at Axpona this year.  One room was “meh” and the other sounded quite nice.  There are so many variables here...every component in the chain as well as the room and most importantly the source /recording quality of the music.

To pass judgment, you probably need to go back with source material you know well and listen with the speakers in various positions with different amps.  If the speakers are too new the driver suspensions may also not be broken in.

i heard those Egglestons a previous poster mentioned as well and they were very nice.  I liked them better than Magico’s, but a quick listen at a big show with a single song is hardly enough to pass a fair judgment.  

My favorites at Axpona were Sonus Faber, GoldenEar, Wilson Audio, Ryan, Eggleston and Daedalus.  The Ryan’s are the best bookshelf size speaker I’ve heard, the sonus were the best cost-no-object, and the GoldenEar T-Refs were amazing - especially for their price.  They bested all but the Sonus and Wilson’s in my opinion.  
@dimora, those Magico speakers must not have been setup optimally. If I were setting up a room at a show with the A3’s, I would use the Vitus RI-101 integrated, Alluxity Media One, Gold Note Mediterraneo tt w/ B-7 ceramic arm + PH-10 phono stage, Taoc CSR series racks, Gigawatt PC-3 SE Evo+ conditioner & PAD Neptune series cables. For room acoustics, I would use Stillpoints Aperture II panels. I promise you that room would have lines out the door.
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I agree. Way over dampened. ( you wouldn't want that aluminum to start ringing ) I think the reason they sell so many ( ebm ) is not that they sound fabulous rather they advertise in the magazines and therefor get good reviews in the magazines and therefore people assume the are special.