Magico’s new S3 2023, plus gear by Convergent Technology, Wadax, Antipodes

I wasn’t necessarily expecting to find Alon Wolf (right) striking dangling bars of aluminum with a small mallet. Had Magico’s celebrated designer embarked on a second career as a percussionist? Nah. He was demonstrating to Stereophile Editor Jim Austin (left) and myself that aluminum, which Magico has long used as the ideal material for its enclosures, rings, but can also be very effectively dampened by sandwiching a proprietary elastomer between two layers of it. The first (untreated) bar rang like a bell. The second one had a padded adhesive backing that took away about 80% of the effect. The last bar was the aforementioned sandwich, and yup: dead. No ringing.

Taming vibrations isn’t optional when you build some of the world’s best speakers. To further drive home the point, a cutaway of a Magico S3 2023 was on hand, showing extensive internal bracing through the use of five thick, precisely machined and horizontally mounted aluminum plates.

The company explains that its new in-house 3D laser interferometry system measures each S3 enclosure panel, “up to 1000 points a side, and calculates the aggregate SPL resonance of the entire enclosure.” This lets the engineers pinpoint resonances in relation to the acoustical output of the four drivers, showing them where and how to apply internal bracing and damping. Magico says that the S3 2023 is 30% quieter than its predecessor. Wolf has graphs on his phone to support the claim, and happily shares them with his visitors, the way a proud dad shows photos of his newborn.

The S3 2023, which stands just 44″ tall but weigh a whopping 222lb, sports upgraded transducers, including a 28mm diamond-coated beryllium tweeter diaphragm (up from 26mm). The 5″ midrange driver has a new underhung neodymium-based motor system that employs two extra-large magnets.

The proof of the aluminum sandwich is in the listening, and on track after track, the S3 2023s brought the joy. “Violetera,” a classical-guitar recording by Gianluca Marino, stood out for lightning-fast transients and a velvety midrange. Via the Magicos, Lyle Lovett’s understated duet with Rickie Lee Jones on “North Dakota” made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

The speakers retail for $45,000/pair, or $52,000 in high gloss. At AXPONA, Stealth cables tethered the S3 2023s to a couple of Convergent Audio Technology JL7 monoblocks ($33,990/pair) and a CAT SL1 Legend Black Path preamp ($42,000). The DAC, a $69,000 Wadax Atlantis, was fed by Antipodes’s $25,000 Oladra music server.

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