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Magico Q5 loudspeakers Review, Part 1

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I consider myself an average joe living in the Silicon Valley under the shadows of high income techies. I studied Architecture in college, and decided to move home after graduating because I realized I would not survive on my own living in New York City with my meager entry level salary working in an architecture firm. Who knew the Bay Area would see a dot com boom and become the mecca for high tech & the internet of things. For us non-techies, it is doubly hard trying to survive in this high cost-of-living area. According to a recent article, a household income of $105,000 for a house of four is considered below poverty level here in the Bay Area. Maybe I should consider applying for food stamps and living assistance.

I could tell you that I started with a very meager system when I dived into this hobby. But my first system back when I was 22 was anything but meager. It consisted of California Audio Lab ICON Mk II CD player, Audio Research LS-1 hybrid preamp, Forte Model 6 amplifier, an API Model 1 power conditioner, and a pair of Thiel Audio CS2.2 speakers that had just came onto the market. I owned one of the very early pairs of this speaker. If you are old enough, you may recall that Bose sued Thiel Audio on trademark infringement for using the period in-between the two “2”s. Thiel lost the lawsuit and quickly change the designation to CS 2 2, dropping the period.

Through the years, I’ve had many equipment rolling through my front doors. When my first child was born, I was the one that brought up the fact that we need to upgrade our sedan to a minivan because it would be easier to haul the family around and it is easier on our backs putting that car seat in and out of a minivan than trying to do so in a cool-looking SUV. But my wife knew what I was really up to. The minivan was also good for hauling audio equipment.

As a young man, I’ve haul many equipment in the back of that minivan, which is still being used daily as my commute car while many of my friends couldn’t wait to ditch theirs and move up to the more masculine SUVs. But now, approaching 50, I am what the audio industry considers the target consumer, a middle age overweight man with some cash to spare.

Until recently, I have hauled equipment big and small into the house. The heaviest item on record had been my Pass Labe X350.5 amplifier which weighed 150 lb net. With some bribery of food and beer, I was able to bribe a friend to come over and help me get it out of the box and onto the amp stand. That was several years ago.

I will admit on record that I think mid-life crisis has hit me early. Instead of that fancy 2-door sports car, or the hottest toy in town, the Tesla Model S, I opted to upgrade my speakers. After some research, I had narrowed the choices down to a few: Raidho D3.1, Vienna Acoustics Klimt The Music, something from Gryphon Audio, maybe Tidal Audio, or Magico, or Wilson Audio, or Usher, or Estelon. Wow, lots of choices to consider! This is going to be fun!

Back in the days, everyone from audio magazines to manufacturers, all preached the idea that you should really spend some serious time listening to the speakers before deciding on one. I basically camped out at Champagne Audio in Urbana, Illinois for weeks before purchasing that pair of Thiel CS2.2. I believe the idea still hold true today. But the landscape has changed since the demise of (most of) mortar and brick audio stores. Most of them have disappeared here in the Bay Area except a few that I can count with a single hand. The only place that you could potentially hear any of these speakers would be at one of the larger audio shows.

So I tried calling the US distributor for one of the speaker brands to try to find out where on the continental US I can go to audition a pair of their signature reference speakers. Yes, I’ve searched online and read all the reviews about how good they sound. But will they fit my palate? That’s what I wanted to find out before throwing away, I mean “investing”, tens of thousands of dollars. But I was surprised by the answer that I received from the distributor telling me that they have just terminated their relationship with a dealer here in California and that the dealer is liquidating all the brand’s inventory he has on hand and I could get a pair of their reference speakers from the dealer at great savings. Uh, sorry sir, that’s not what I asked. I want to audition them before buying. I am willing to use the miles I’ve saved up all these years to fly anywhere in the US to listen to them. I think he must thought I was some old dinosaur in this day and age. You like it, you buy it. You don’t like it anymore, post it online and sell it – that’s the new law of the land in audiophile-country in this day and age. And we’ve all done that, buying and selling equipment online, buying equipment that we’ve never heard beforehand. Strike One!

4 Responses to Magico Q5 loudspeakers Review, Part 1

  1. Fred Crowder says:

    What a really great story, perhaps because it echoes my own experiences, except in my case the speakers were 850 pounds each. I look forward to your listening. In a way you are lucky that your seller broke them in for you saving many months of sub-optimal sound.

  2. David Snyder says:

    Hi Frank,

    I agree with Fred…a great story well told. I too am looking forward to hearing them in your system sometime soon. Cheers.

  3. Mike says:

    Hmmmm, a set of Magicos or a Porsche 718 Cayman?
    Decisions decisions.

    How is it possible that there is value equivilency here?

    • Frank says:

      Value system is a very personal paradigm. Only you can decide whether something is worth what you have to give up in order to obtain it. Most of us have limited disposable income, some more so than others. What tickles your fancy will be very different than mine or anyone else, for that matter. Same as to what you would be willing to trade for it. To me, value is created when a person develops an emotional connection whether it be an object, an event, or an experience. And then there’s priorities. We all struggle with it daily. If I decide to save that money, I could invest and make more money for later. Or, I could spend that money to do this, get that, or that instead. Should I spend it on this, or that, or that? No one can tell you whether the way you spend your money is right or wrong. If my wife had her way, she would have used all that money to fly all over the world to spend time with her relatives. In her mind, that has much more value than say sitting at home staring at two behemoths making noises.

      If you do decide on the Cayman, make sure you take me to the race tracks. I would love to take it through a few laps to see what it can do. But no, if I had to make that decision all over again, owning a sports car would still be near the bottom on my priority list.

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