It’s almost unfair.
Not only does Magico come up with what promises to be a more affordable statement speaker in the Q5, but it has (as of this writing) decided to show at CES with what I think are the most lifelike solid-state electronics I’ve yet heard. I may be letting a cat out of the bag here in re my future TAS review, but since this cat is going to pop out on its own in Vegas in just four days, I guess that’s OK.
Those of you unfamiliar with Naoto Kurosawa’s solid-state marvels might want to take a look at my blog from last summer at www.avguide.com/blog/high-end-audio-japan-part-four-solid-state-technical-brain. As I said in that blog, in Japan Mr. Kurosawa is an acknowledged technical wizard and bona fide audio perfectionist. His TBP-Zero ver.2 monoblock power amplifiers and TBC-Zero preamplifier use unique patented circuits that eliminate emitter resistors and any mechanical contacts, relays, or line fuses. With special hand-wound flat-coil fifty-pound transformers that have very low magnetic flux density and meticulously matched bipolar transistors in a chassis in which all wiring and components are painstakingly laid out to eliminate noise and vibration, the fully-balanced, non-servo TBP-Zero ver.2 achieves megahertz bandwidth with no group delay from DC to 500kHz, a rated output of 350W into 8 ohms (700W into 4 ohms, and 1400W into 2 ohms), peak current of over 100 amps, a damping factor of over 550, and distortion less than 0.02% maximum into 8 ohms at full rated power from 20Hz to 20kHz. <o p=""></o>
As genuinely exceptional as these specs are, it is the sound of Mr. Kurosawa’s amp and preamp that is going to turn heads. And do keep this in mind—those of you who are heading for Vegas—when you audition the Q5s because what you will be hearing isn’t just a potentially great pair of speakers, it is also an unquestionably great preamp and amp.<o p=""></o>
Since I have heard the TBP and TBC with Magico M5s (and I believe I’m the only one in the U.S. who has heard this combo, including Magico’s Mr. Wolf and Mr. Tammam), I’m here to tell you that, with these speakers, the Technical Brain electronics set a standard of sonic realism that other top solid-state contenders—Soulution and BAlabo, par excellence—don’t quite equal. This isn’t to say that Soulution and BAlabo don’t have their own areas of considerable strength: The Soulution gear is incredibly transparent to sources and incredibly high in resolution, telling you exactly how well or how poorly a record has been recorded, while the BAlabo gear is ravishingly beautiful in timbre and texture on all music (and no slouch at resolution, either), making listening a truly joyful experience. For those who want to hear precisely how a record was engineered and mastered or just want to hear music made beautiful, they are, respectively, the kings.<o p=""></o>
But if you are one of those listeners who wants recorded music to sound like the real thing (in so far as the engineering allows it to sound like the real thing), then Technical Brain may well set the standard. To my ear the TBP and TBC sound a bit like ARC tubes in that they have a lifelike luminousness in the mids and upper mids that makes instruments and vocalists sound more natural, more present, more “there.” At the same time, they reproduce exceptional amounts of musical detail in the midrange and at the frequency extremes and do so without adding grain or color. With the M5s, the Technical Brain gear makes a sound to die for, if the sound of the real thing is what you’re after. Which is why I am waiting for CES before jumping on the Q bandwagon. I’ve heard the TBP and TBC with M5s, and the Q5s are going to have to sound really special to outdo what I’m already very familiar with.<o p=""></o>
We will soon see. One thing is certain: Magico is pulling out the stops for this debut.