Auditioned Magico A3 at my hi fi dealer

Posted by: Bart on 31 October 2018

I got to listen to the A3's ($9800 +/-) for about an hour yesterday.  Setup at my dealer's very acoustically perfect (meaning, "dead") room was Uniti Nova / 250DR.  The Nova was the only pre-amp they had that could connect to the 250; they don't stock much Naim.  I used their library via Roon, and I brought a usb stick (into front panel of Nova) with my usual test listen tracks.  

My current speakers are Devore Nines.

The presentation by the A3's could not be more different than the Nines.  Perhaps these are about as far apart on the spectrum as one can get? I don't know.  The Nines are very midrange-forward, which (perhaps up until now) has been something I really like about them.  In contrast, the A3's sound much 'flatter' meaning the midrange is not emphasized.   I don't know what adjectives others use for this sort of presentation.  So with female vocals (Norah Jones), the vocals seem to fit much better INTO the mix with the A3's vs. being way out in front with my Devores.  With the Devores, maybe the vocals are a bit 'larger than life.'

Soundstage and imaging with the A3's was spectacular.  Now much of this is due to the room, but the soundstage in that context extended much further back (away from the listener) and a bit wider vs. the Nines.

Bass on the A3's was "interesting."  This flatter response aspect extended to the mid-bass.  At the very very bottom, the A3's could 'punch' me in a way the Devores can't.  But between there and the mid-bass, there was simply but enjoyably very controlled bass. Not boom; none.  Bass is definitely a bit fatter on the Nines.

Treble from the beryllium tweeter on the A3's was fabulous, but no more so than from the silk tweeters of the Nines to my almost 60-yr old ears.  Although on one track I'm sure I heard the drumstick hitting the high hat much more accurately than I'd heard it before.

At 50-60 on the Nova's digital volume control, the A3's were PLENTY loud.  So I do believe that the 250DR can drive them effectively.  While more current might help in transients, I'm thinking that they are served OK by a 250DR.

My initial reaction was that the A3's were not quite as emotionally engaging to me. I'm sure that's because of their 'flatter' presentation.  (I think that's a common 'dig' at "accurate" speakers, right?  Not so emotionally engaging?) On the other hand, I've come to realize that in my rather boomy room at home, I do get fatigued by the midrange from my Nines at volume.  So if there's a trade-off, it remains to be seen which presentation I'll be happier with.  And I'm going to get them to let me listen to the A3's at home for a few days in the not too distant future.  (Or maybe the Kudos 606's and 707's are somewhat in the middle??)

As for looks and finish, the black rectangular anodized aluminum boxes of the A3's suit me fine. Black anodized aluminum...sounds familiar right?  They'll look good with my black Fraim.

All input welcomed!

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by PSAN

Were the A3's fully run in? From your description it almost sounds as if they might not have been.

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by hungryhalibut

I suspect that they were a bit less engaging because you were sitting at the dealer and listening really really hard, in a strange environment, to see if you liked them and could justify the cost. Itís hardly relaxing. Once they are at home you can sit back and enjoy listening to music. Then you will know if they are engaging or not. 

Iíd still get a 300 though. Itís not about loudness, itís about drive and control. But then you know that of course. 

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by Bart
PSAN posted:

Were the A3's fully run in? From your description it almost sounds as if they might not have been.

They've been there for a while and given how popular they are, I suspect they've got some time on them.  But how much . . . I didn't ask!

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by Bart
hungryhalibut posted:

I suspect that they were a bit less engaging because you were sitting at the dealer and listening really really hard, in a strange environment, to see if you liked them and could justify the cost. Itís hardly relaxing. Once they are at home you can sit back and enjoy listening to music. Then you will know if they are engaging or not. 

Iíd still get a 300 though. Itís not about loudness, itís about drive and control. But then you know that of course. 

Two excellent points.  Not an environment that is relaxing despite being left along in their room full of a million dollars worth of kit!

The 300 is eating at my brain.  Once I get the subwoofer out of the way, there is room for 2 x Fraim Base + 2 levels.  I think that two 3-shelf Fraims might be better than one tall 6-shelf Fraim (base plus 5 shelves).

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by Suzy Wong

I heard some Magicos (dunno which model, but they not the ďbottom of the rangeĒ) on the end of a rack of US muscle amps a couple of years ago at one of the Whittlebury(?) shows. Quite simply, they were astonishing! They didnít just boogie, they rock Ďní rolled. 

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by hungryhalibut

Yes, two Fraims and a 300 is what you want. Come to think of it, why not get shot of the 252 and get the 552 you really want. Think how happy the 555 will be... You may as well upgrade in style. 

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by Robert Burgess

Thanks for the write-up Bart. My experience more or less matches yours, but think youíll find the home demo very helpful as I donít find the A3ís to be fatiguing at all.

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by Bart
Robert Burgess posted:

Thanks for the write-up Bart. My experience more or less matches yours, but think youíll find the home demo very helpful as I donít find the A3ís to be fatiguing at all.

Hi Bob. Fatiguing was a reference to the midrange of my Nines not the Magicos!

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by Bart
hungryhalibut posted:

Yes, two Fraims and a 300 is what you want. Come to think of it, why not get shot of the 252 and get the 552 you really want. Think how happy the 555 will be... You may as well upgrade in style. 

I give you an inch and you go the mile. 

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by Robert Burgess
Bart posted:
Robert Burgess posted:

Thanks for the write-up Bart. My experience more or less matches yours, but think youíll find the home demo very helpful as I donít find the A3ís to be fatiguing at all.

Hi Bob. Fatiguing was a reference to the midrange of my Nines not the Magicos!

My mistake - on re-reading I see you said  ďengagingĒ, not fatiguing. 

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by MangoMonkey

[@mention:6776267697733081] - I'm awaiting your report from listening to the 606s and 707s at Tylers. It is November - and the stock market should hopefully recover by the time you've had a chance to listen.

My key concern is that british speakers might be optimized to work well in british home constructions and not sure how well they would fare in american homes - wood scaffolding and drywall.

Harbeths seem to do well in the US market - but I don't hear much about them from folks living in England on this forum.

It would be interesting to see what you think of the Kudos 606s as compared to the Magicos. The Magicos are almost budget priced, compared to the price of the 707s. 

I mostly go by my emotional response to a piece of music - I don't listen for sounds. That gets tricky when you're evaluating a piece of audio equipment....

I know - pointless post....

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by yeti42

Did you take the 9s with you to the dealer or are you comparing A3s on a Nova/250 to what youíre used to at home on the end of a 555/252/250? The best you can hope for from that is to get a hint they might possibly be worth a home demo. Maybe he can check out how your ND555 is settling down if he were to bring them to you for a week or so.

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by Bart
yeti42 posted:

Did you take the 9s with you to the dealer or are you comparing A3s on a Nova/250 to what youíre used to at home on the end of a 555/252/250? The best you can hope for from that is to get a hint they might possibly be worth a home demo. Maybe he can check out how your ND555 is settling down if he were to bring them to you for a week or so.

No it was their Nova and 250, and I live 3 miles away but did not a vs. b compare to my Nines.  I will do that when they bring them to my home.  Living so close, the home demo isn't difficult.  The A3's come in big wooden crates but hopefully they can just wrap them in blankets and lay them in the back of their van.

Unfortunately my local dealer has very little Naim - it's not their strong suit to say the least and not where I've done my upgrades because of that.  They don't sell the ND555, as they don't want to buy one for their demo stock.  I think that the Nova and 250DR are their only pieces at the moment (their N272 is out for repair). So they don't even know what one should sound like.  

Posted on: 31 October 2018 by Bart
MangoMonkey posted:

[@mention:6776267697733081] - I'm awaiting your report from listening to the 606s and 707s at Tylers. It is November - and the stock market should hopefully recover by the time you've had a chance to listen.

My key concern is that british speakers might be optimized to work well in british home constructions and not sure how well they would fare in american homes - wood scaffolding and drywall.

Harbeths seem to do well in the US market - but I don't hear much about them from folks living in England on this forum.

It would be interesting to see what you think of the Kudos 606s as compared to the Magicos. The Magicos are almost budget priced, compared to the price of the 707s. 

I mostly go by my emotional response to a piece of music - I don't listen for sounds. That gets tricky when you're evaluating a piece of audio equipment....

I know - pointless post....

Yes I'm still going to "invest" in the trip to Chicago to hear the 606's and 707's; it'll be a nice weekend for my wife and I to just get away even if it includes hi fi geekdom.  She'll humor me   

I echo the need to engage emotionally; as HH wrote that'll be far easier done in my home.

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by hungryhalibut

I was interested in MMís comment about the Magicos being almost bargain basement in comparison with the Kudos 707. Here in the U.K., the A3 costs £12,000 and the 707 £13,000, so pretty much the same. I wonder what the prices are in USD. 

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by Timmo1341
hungryhalibut posted:

I was interested in MMís comment about the Magicos being almost bargain basement in comparison with the Kudos 707. Here in the U.K., the A3 costs £12,000 and the 707 £13,000, so pretty much the same. I wonder what the prices are in USD. 

The A3 appears to be priced at $9,800! Not sure if this includes sales tax, but still hugely cheaper than the U.K. price.

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by hungryhalibut

Wow, that is about £7,650. I imagine the 707 would be at least double that in the US. Itís going to have to be a heck of a lot better. 

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by Bart

Yes I think that the 707's are ALMOST double that I think...the A3's are widely reviewed as a "bargain." Real Magico bits and fit and finish . . . one just has to like that presentation (it's also real Magico sound) and be happy that you can get them in any color so long as it's black.

Im going to time things (hopefully) so that the A3's are in my home for a few days BEFORE I go listen to Kudos.

This has been an interesting experience for me, as I've not listened to different speakers and understood differences in presentation so well before. Very much a learning experience for me, which is part of the "fun" of this hobby.

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by Timmo1341
hungryhalibut posted:

Wow, that is about £7,650. I imagine the 707 would be at least double that in the US. Itís going to have to be a heck of a lot better. 

Itís galling enough to see the majority of prices for high end consumer electronics and luxury goods set at dollar = pound parity, but then to see these further discounted (or bumped up!) from £7,650 to £12,000 simply makes my blood boil! Shipping costs and import duties aside, someone is making a lot of money out of this, and it certainly isnít the U.K. consumer. When I questioned this pricing Ďscamí some years ago on a camera forum I was told that US customers simply will not pay the prices that UK customers swallow without complaint. Itís time we voted with our pockets, and refuse to pay the inflated prices asked for these types of products. I know the capitalist model says, basically, screw each market for whatever it will stand, but this is crazy.

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by Hook

Hi Bart -

Enjoying reading about your speaker auditions, and it is always fun thinking about ways to spend another forum memberís money! 

Have not heard the A3ís, but from reviews and your description, they appear to share most of the characteristics of latest generation Magicos:  flat response, tight bass, and extreme clarity. I never cared for the older Magico models, as they all seemed a bit too shiney on top, and the mids seemed to have a weird ďmetallicĒ feel to them. Too far from natural for my tastes. But this all changed for me with the S3. Heard them at two shows, and then at a local dealer hanging off of a large Hegel amp. Letís just say they ticked all of my boxes, but at $28K new, they were very pricey!

I mention the S3 for two reasons. If you like the Magico sound, it is probably worth knowing what the next step up sounds like.  Also, I have seen used and ex-dem models for sale in the usual places. Even an S3 Mk II can be found ex-dem for about $18k. Still expensive, but IMO, a fine choice for a long-term keeper.

Good luck finding the right speakers for you!

Hook

PS - I seem to recall Andrew Everard posting some very praiseworthy comments on the S3 here, so may be worth a search. 

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by Bart
Timmo1341 posted:
hungryhalibut posted:

I was interested in MMís comment about the Magicos being almost bargain basement in comparison with the Kudos 707. Here in the U.K., the A3 costs £12,000 and the 707 £13,000, so pretty much the same. I wonder what the prices are in USD. 

The A3 appears to be priced at $9,800! Not sure if this includes sales tax, but still hugely cheaper than the U.K. price.

$9800.00 plus sales tax (varies from state to state etc., with some cities imposing sales tax on top of the state sales tax, for a total of between roughly 5 and 10%).  I think that Magico charges ~$300.00 for the grills(!).  Maybe so many people don't want them that they find it good marketing to sell them sans grills.

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by hungryhalibut

Iíd want the grilles, as the speakers are pig ugly without them. Itís those two drive units at the bottom that look horrible. 

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by Bart
hungryhalibut posted:

Iíd want the grilles, as the speakers are pig ugly without them. Itís those two drive units at the bottom that look horrible. 

I'd definitely get the grills.  I'm a grills on guy anyway.  

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by Robert Burgess

Please note the grills cost $640 in the US, plus around 6-8% sales tax.

Also, to put US vs UK prices in perspective, in the US a 272 lists for $6,500 plus sales tax, or roughly STG 5,400 at today's fx rate. This compares to a STG 3,700 list price in the UK. Either way, there's always a big penalty buying imported gear.

Posted on: 01 November 2018 by Blackmorec
Timmo1341 posted:
hungryhalibut posted:

Wow, that is about £7,650. I imagine the 707 would be at least double that in the US. Itís going to have to be a heck of a lot better. 

Itís galling enough to see the majority of prices for high end consumer electronics and luxury goods set at dollar = pound parity, but then to see these further discounted (or bumped up!) from £7,650 to £12,000 simply makes my blood boil! Shipping costs and import duties aside, someone is making a lot of money out of this, and it certainly isnít the U.K. consumer. When I questioned this pricing Ďscamí some years ago on a camera forum I was told that US customers simply will not pay the prices that UK customers swallow without complaint. Itís time we voted with our pockets, and refuse to pay the inflated prices asked for these types of products. I know the capitalist model says, basically, screw each market for whatever it will stand, but this is crazy.

Take a US manufactured item. In the US the manufacturer generally pays for any trade shows and magazine advertising and employs sales people to service their distributors, run workshops and open days etc.  They sell product to their dealers at US MRRP less a discount and the dealer adds margin and any local sales tax. 

Now take exactly the same product sold in the UK. The UK importer usually buys at the same price as their US dealer counterparts. They then add shipping, forwarding, insurance, duty and sales tax...altogether probably 25%.  Then they pay staff to recruite, develop, maintain and service a UK distributor network. The importer needs to run adverts in local magazines and pay to attend local trade shows,  as well as supporting dealers with loaner kit and demo discounts.  They pay local taxes on any profits. Finally their dealers will order product and they will expect to make similar margins as their US counterparts in order to pay staff, rent, rates, heating, cleaning, insurance etc etc. 

Compared to the US product, you therefore must add all shipping and importation costs, all the importerís sales and markets costs plus a margin, and then figure that UK sales tax at 20% is on average double the US levels.  The importer pays corporate tax on profits and income tax on salaries, the dealer pays the same. 

So, when all is said and done, the only people making a lot of money in the UK is HMRC, with the consumer contributing by way of import duty, sales tax, 2 lots of corporate tax, 2 lots of income tax and of course the personal income tax the consumer paid on the money he\she needed to purchase the goods!