I recently had the opportunity to hear the new Magico A5 at high-end retailer Rhapsody in NYC. I’d been reading about some of the new tech incorporated in Magico’s A Series flagship, and was curious to hear how these innovations translated into performance. Bob V, purveyor of audio fineries at Rhapsody, had been raving about the A5 (seriously raving, like a kid drinking Godiva hot chocolate for the first time), and I couldn’t pass up an invitation with that much enthusiasm behind it.
The $21,800-per-pair A5 is industrial art—simple, compact, efficient, and elegant in a Washington Monument kind of way. I really liked its looks—a three-way, five-driver system in a sealed, 10.5" wide, 14.9" deep, 44.75" tall, aircraft-grade aluminum enclosure, anodized and finished in brushed black. The boxes use internal bracing and cabinet materials previously reserved for Magico’s top-tier Q Series numbers, which results in detail and dynamics unexpected in a speaker at this price point. Oh, did I mention the A5s are 180 pounds each?
The A5’s three 9" woofers use Magico’s graphene-layered carbon-fiber diaphragms, newly modified to be even stiffer and lighter via new core material, mated to a newly optimized frame. Magico clearly doesn’t rest on its laurels, choosing to innovate after it has innovated and just before it is about to innovate again. (I encourage you to go to the company’s website to get more specifics about these woofer advancements.) Speaking of innovations, the Magico A5 uses Mundorf’s new M-Resist Ultra foil resistors, which are said to deliver “greater power handling, transparency, and liquidity.” The tweeter has a 28mm pure-beryllium diaphragm, implementing the same design principles found in Magico’s S and M Series speakers, including a specially engineered back chamber that allows for super-linear performance with low distortion and superior dynamics. (The A5 tweeter lacks the diamond coating that the higher end S and M Series models employ.) To me, what is most exciting about the A5 is the premiere of Magico’s newest aluminum-honeycomb cone design—an ultra-thin aluminum honeycomb matrix overlaid with a layer of carbon fiber. These new carbon/aluminum sandwich drivers come as close to being perfectly pistonic, while controlling the breakup, as is currently possible, according to Alon Wolf, Magico’s founder and lead designer, offering the perfect combination of light weight, stiffness, and rigidity.
A phone interview with Alon gave insight into the pride he has in his newest innovations. He described how the new 5" aluminum honeycomb matrix with unique foam surround results in better dispersion, inaudible breakup, a reduction in distortion, and improved fidelity. He also explained that the A5 cabinet is as damped and rigid as that of the M2 speaker, but lacks the added benefits of a curved cabinet. I received a brief but fascinating lesson on the advantages of underhung driver-motor design. Wolf also explained his Elliptical Symmetry Crossover topology, which features a 24dB-per-octave Linkwitz-Riley filter, using fewer passive parts, that maximizes frequency bandwidth while preserving phase linearity and significantly minimizing distortion. Alon talks about acoustical theory, material implementation, and pistonic motion as comfortably as the rest of us discuss milkshakes and cheeseburgers (two of my favorite topics of conversation, I might add). He is clearly a very smart man, driven to advance the science of speaker design and passionate about the science and engineering that make that task possible. He was never condescending nor egotistical; he simply endeavors to share his passion and have others understand it as well as possible.
Bob V is always a well versed and charming host, and his excitement for the A5 was bordering on uncontainable. He and I had arranged a listening list of his and my favorite tracks in advance, and we quickly sat down to the task at hand. My listening session ending up extending into two parts, separated by about three weeks. I will admit that in Round Two we did compare the A5 with the almost three times more expensive M2, although not by moving and perfectly aligning each speaker—the M2 was on the inside and the A5 on the outside. I will say nothing of that comparison other than to note that the A5 held its own in more ways than one.
The A5 is a speaker that makes no excuses. It is well proportioned, well executed, and designed to accomplish a singular task. Interior decorators were barred from the design room, and Alon makes no apologies for that. At $21,800, it is certainly not inexpensive, though for all that it offers it most certainly is. Its sealed enclosure makes it flexible in placement and well suited to near-wall location. It’s under 11" width and under 45" height makes it small enough to sit in most living rooms without calling much attention to itself…until it starts to play.
For a sneak peek, I’m doing a terrible job of keeping this brief. So I’m going to say this about the A5’s performance. Its treble is light, extended, airy, detailed, and delicate without ever ringing, breaking up, shouting, or becoming fatiguing. And it’s got dynamics to spare. The new 5" aluminum honeycomb matrix driver shines, rendering midrange reproduction that I have only before experienced in significantly more expensive speakers. Timbre, presented in a natural and coherent manner, just sounds and feels very real. It’s simply a midrange done right. Bravo, Alon! Add to this, the three 9" woofers in an enclosure of the A5’s diminutive size offer crisp, clean, tight extension down to 24Hz. I always find the adjustment from ported to sealed-bass designs enlightening. My first impressions of Magico’s low-end performance, years ago, was that it was light in the bass and lacked impact and rhythmic drive. I have since learned to appreciate what sealed enclosures do better, just as I have learned to appreciate a beautifully crafted rye whiskey. Bass is not just a matter of impact and scale, it’s also about a clean, articulate, absolutely phase-linear presentation that neither calls attention to itself nor needs to apologize for any deficiencies.
The A5 could be considered a turning point in price-to-performance-ratio in the Magico lineup. I would put it up against Magico’s higher-priced S Series brethren and am sure I could find rooms in which the A5 would easily walk away the winner. Alon himself admitted, when pushed, that the A5 is priced too low, although I was certain I detected a Cheshire Cat grin on his face over the phone when he said it.
I hate the term “giant killer.” And I don’t really believe that concept exists. But Alon has created a product that demands attention. And certainly justifies donning a mask and venturing out to your closest Magico dealer—to hear what cutting-edge technology combined with next-generation thinking can accomplish.
Bob’s enthusiasm is justified. As is Alon’s pride in what he’s done. Watch for a full review in an upcoming issue.