By Keijo Tanskanen
Hifi Guru continued their successful tradition of open door events, again, at the same weekend as High End Hyvinkää. Just like to High End Hyvinkää event, we went as a group to Hifi Guru. The opinions of all of us are taken account for in the sound evaluation of this writing.
This time, Hifi Guru relied on the Magico S3 speakers in the demo. It had been noticed several times in Hifi Guru’s listening room that on the sidewall, which has big windows, the placement is better for certain speakers. This was the case with the S3 as well and that is why they stood on the sidewall. I had listened to the S3 two times before by quite the same equipment and already knew very well what was coming out!
There were also excellent services in the kitchen. A well-known waiter took care of the services and the visitors really could not be stay thirsty and hungry during the visit. The listening chairs were actually much occupied and one had to be fast when they were free!
Burmester 089 CD-player
Clearaudio Master Reference vinyl player
Clearaudio Master TT2 tonearm
Clearaudio Goldfinger V1 cartridge
Burmester 077 line preamplifier
Burmester 100 phono stage
Burmester 956 Mk II monoblocks
Transparent Reference XL MMII signal cabling
Transparent Powerlink MMII power cords
Burmester 948 power filter
During our visit, Guru played several well-known CD samples, which were mostly classical music. We got both sweet spot listening and side listening. The interpretations were exceptionally transparent and authentic. Also, the dynamic parts of the played music went through with very fast attacks and superbly controlled releases. Have these strengths constructed by the cost of others? Fortunately not! The entirety of the music reproduction was very well in balance. The lacks, which were noticed, were subtle and more or less a matter of a taste. So, the start was superb!
The articulation and resolution of the demoed system, especially in the midrange, deserves a separate praise. There was an enormous amount of details in music interpretations. Actually, the hammer touches and string vibrations of pianos were astonishing. I have heard several very strong setups, other Magico setups, Acapella setups, Wilson setups and electrostatic speaker setups, and I have kept my own setup as one of the references, but I think that this one was even a tad better in this specific manner. So, the setup went straight to the very top on my ranking list in piano music reproduction, not much, but anyway it did. Surely, the result is dependent on the several issues, for example on the very high quality and well matching equipment, the very good acoustic treatment and professional setting up. Still, I believe that it was Magico S3 which made the strongest finger print to this!
Timbres of the instruments were very natural-like and had a great amount of harmonics and richness, although some thoughts of the extra brightness came sometimes in my mind. I think that the system might be so revealing, as the best systems are, that the production of the media becomes into a real day light. If the sample was made harsh or thin sounding, it was reproduced just so by this setup! I have used to call this as a merciless sound reproduction. This was really the case during our listening.
The fact is that if your aim is to have body shaking punch effects, you need a big speaker and big elements. S3 has two 8” woofers on bass which delivers very good, very well controlled and resolving bass reproduction, but naturally slightly lacks on weight and extension on the low end. For example, the big drums deliver plenty of vibrations of membranes. They were reproduced amazingly well, but some weight was still missing. Here, the 8” woofer technology comes to the end of their limits. In this feature, even Wilson Audio Sasha, which in my opinion is a king of the 2x8” design speakers in bass, must throw a towel into the arena (after a good fight!) when it is compared to really big speakers. So, it is not a surprise that S3 had to do it as well.
As I already said, the attacks and releases of the music were reproduced superbly. But, how the setup will do in higher volume levels, which requires maximal dynamics? Well, practically, there was no problem at all. During this visit, we did not play very loudly, but during the previous visits, I took at least 100 dB listening levels and still the sound was clean. Anyway, S3 is a home speaker, not a PA speaker, and naturally have its limits in this manner. If you want to have 110 -120 dB SPL at your listening position, you must go to really big high-end speakers or PA.
Although “no-speaker” effect was not quite as shocking as it was when I listened to MG-20.7 in the same room and with almost the same electronics, S3 and its front end reproduced a sonic view, which knocked us out. It was neither because of the size nor the depth of it. It was because of the transparency and how the things were organized. Although not quite reaching the atmosphere of a real piano concert (no system actually does it), this was next to it!
This time, Hifi Guru delivered a very premium sonic performance. It was smoother than any of the systems we listened to at High End Hyvinkää, naturally. Actually, the performance was among the very best ones in many sonic areas I have ever heard! The piano music reproduction might well be the best one. It rarely happens that open doors sonic performance reaches my reference level, but this time it really did.
Naturally, the presented setup had its limits as well. It could not quite reach as extended and punchy sound as some other reference setups have done. But, typically, those setups have had more expensive and bigger speakers. Also, the sonic picture was not as deep and big what I have been experienced in a couple of listening rooms by specific reference setups. What does this tell us about? Well, practically it tells us about physical limitations of S3 (S3 is only a midsized speaker), slightly different kinds of preferences in the speaker design, different acoustics and couple of other small things, which also affect the sonic results.
My final declaration is that, when all the listening results of the visit are taken into account, this was the best Magico sound I have ever heard. Not by a big marginal, but surely it was. Also, the performance reached the top ten I have ever experienced. How high it is valued by other enthusiasts is another question. Anyway, I’m sure most of the visitors heard something special and some of them even very special. As always, the final evaluation has been done and will be done by each listener. Now, I have done mine and I can only thank Hifi Guru for the very special sonic deliverance and other services, once again.