Magico Q3 (£34,900)

The Q3 employs superb engineering to great effect

   But it’s not some daft ‘concept speaker’, where form overrides function. Nor is there anything especially touchy-feely about the huge black slabs of aluminium that clad the outside of the layered cabinet or the 287 steel bolts that bind this composite and its internal alloy matrix together. With function clearly the priority, the Q3’s form is still not inelegant. The curved lowdiffraction baffle is not a casting but is machined from a solid billet of aluminium, anodised to a very hard finish. A lack of any protective grille warns against small fingers…
   Building a box that has the stiffness to support multiple bass drivers while damping a resonant frequency that’s being pushed upwards is still a tricky proposition. In practice, Magico’s internal bracing matrix of aluminium rods and sections elevates the resonant frequency(s) of the structure, these high-Q modes then quelled by constrained layer damping. The aim is a very quiet box with minimal losses from driver interaction.
   The three 7in bass and one 6in midrange driver are all bolted directly onto the main cabinet faceplate while an intermediate polymer/mastic ‘filling’ is squeezed between this and the curved baffle. Only the 1in beryllium tweeter, which requires the separate mass for its own damping, is directly bolted to the front baffle. Mid and treble drivers operate into an entirely separate enclosure that also houses Magico’s crossover network. Single speaker terminals preclude bi-wiring, and the collar-locking spikes are an integral component.

With the speakers thoroughly runin we found the Q3s sound very quick, clean and unfussy. There’s no bloom or overhang at any point in the spectrum, but while they are ruthlessly insightful they’re not clinical, cold or dispassionate. Indeed this wasn’t just a ‘sound’, it was music at its most compelling: a broad and deep canvas alive with detail and vivid with colour. And the energy that the Q3s can convey is truly astonishing.
   We squeezed Yello’s Race remixes from our media server into a Devialet D’s digital input and the Q3s responded with a turn of speed that would have left Usain Bolt dazed on the starting blocks. The Q3s powered both the impossibly quick drum line and reverb-fuelled guitar riff of ‘Tied Up In Gear’ without pausing for breath. Power, clarity, a clean and extended bandwidth – the Q3 offers all this and more because its dynamic highs and lows are bound into an effortless and cohesive whole. Every piece of music was conveyed as a discrete event, reflecting the genre and tenor of the recording itself rather than any character on the part of the speaker.

Once heard, the Q3 ‘experience’ is not easily forgotten. The enthusiast lucky enough to entertain them will also need a capable and neutral solid-state power amp for Magico’s out-of-this-world loudspeaker.

Originally published in the Yearbook 2011