Let’s face it: No speaker—no stereo system—is perfect. There are always trade-offs, and the trick is to find the ones you can live with longer term. Most of the time I could live with the downside of the D5s because—bass and presence-range issues notwithstanding—its upside was so substantial that it sounded exceptionally good on every kind of music, from small-scale acoustic to the hardest and noisiest of hard rock.
And then along came the Magico M Pros.
It is a sad fact that all you need to do to become increasingly aware of (and annoyed by) the flaws of a component you love is listen to a component that doesn’t have those flaws. Of course, that new component doubtlessly has its own issues, which you will discover over time, but at first its problems are not what you hear. At first what you hear is what your new flame is getting right and your old one isn’t.
A superbly engineered and built, superbly measuring loudspeaker, the M Pro was kind of the anti-Raidho D-5. Though sweet and lovely in timbre, it was not dark or bottom-up in balance like the D-5; instead, it had what might be called a warm, sunny neutrality—far more gemütlich than a typical Magico of yore. Though deep in staging and well-focused in imaging (albeit not as deep or as tightly focused as the D-5), the M Pro had no suck-out in the presence range or darkness in the brilliance range, making closely miked or centrally miked vocalists, like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on Analogue Productions’ superb 45rpm reissue of Ella and Louis, sound the way they were recorded—upfront and almost tangibly “there”—and making little nuances of articulation (such as Dean Martin’s breath control, or lack thereof, on AP’s benchmark 45rpm reissue of Dream with Dean) every bit as audible as they were through the standard-setting D-5, albeit more immediate in perspective.
Perhaps most importantly, in the bass and power ranges the Magicos didn’t have as much of a plateau as, and nothing like that double-digit peak at port resonance of, the D-5s. (Of course, the M Pros don’t have a port. They are sealed-box—and what a box!—transducers.) Thus, something like Ray Brown’s standup bass on the aforementioned Ella and Louis was beautifully resolved and defined throughout its entire range by the M Pros, where on the D-5 it sounded forward, gigantic, and out of control on certain notes.
No, the M Pros all by themselves didn’t have the horripilating midbass slam of the D-5s (though adding a pair of JL Audio Gothams cured that). And, no, their diamond-coated beryllium dome tweeter didn’t have all the smoothness, sweetness, and astonishing clarity of Raidho’s nonpareil single-ended ribbon tweet. All other things considered, however, the M Pros were simply much less colored than the D-5s, making the Magicos a quintessential “transparency to sources” transducer, with the kind of warmth and naturalness on acoustic music that “absolute sound” listeners crave and (combined with the Gothams) the kind of power and excitement in the bass that “as you like it” listeners can’t live without.
This is where things stood when Raidho’s Lars Christensen and Michael Børresen showed up in my third floor listening room to “make a few changes to the D-5s.” While the Raidhos weren’t exactly in the doghouse, I certainly wasn’t listening to them as regularly as I once did—or as often as I listened to the M Pro/Gothams.
Since their visit things have begun to even out.
So what’s new and improved in the D-5.1? Allow Mr. Børresen to explain:
“First, the magnet system of the new midrange drivers [the two old midranges are removed and replaced with new units in the D-5.1] has been improved in two ways—both of which aim at reducing as much inductance as possible. To begin with, we insert a copper Faraday cap/ring that efficiently DC-locks the magnetic force field; then we insert a sintered samarium-cobalt ring inside, on the pole piece. These two changes raise the efficiency of the new midrange driver by about 2dB. In addition, though the diaphragm material uses the same diamond composite structure as the old midrange, it is processed longer in the vapor-deposition chamber, making the outer diamond layer about 50 percent thicker.
“The increased efficiency and the vastly reduced driver inductance of the new driver increase midrange rise time by almost two times. (It is literally twice as fast.) This makes the new midranges much better matches to the Raidho ribbon tweeter, allowing us to improve linearity through the crossover region compared to the older D-5.