To Jeff Fritz,
Hope you're well. I really appreciate your advice on speakers. I'm auditioning the Rockport Technologies Altairs this summer in Boston, and hopefully the Q7s per your advice.
How much difference is there, in your opinion, between the Arrakis and Altair models you've heard? Is the Altair 95% of the Arrakis unless I live in an airport hangar . . . or more like 80%?
Your insights are appreciated!
You are going to Goodwin's High End, I presume, which is a great store. The room there that houses the large speakers is acoustically very good and I know they will have some of the finest electronics available to showcase the speakers at their best. And speaking of best, I assume you will hear both the Q7 and Altair (now in its second iteration) in the same room -- it will be an educational experience. A trip to the north just a few hours would land you at the Rockport factory, where you could also hear the Arrakis in what may be the best listening room of any manufacturer. I highly recommend the experience.
My take on your question is this: it is not a simple matter of percentages when discussing the differences between these two speakers. This isn’t a waffling reviewer answer, but simply a matter of the way the speakers are designed. The Arrakis is a D'Appolito-type configuration in terms of driver complement and positioning (excluding the side-firing woofers), and will therefore have a different dispersion pattern than the Altair, which is a quasi-point-source array. My sense is that the Arrakis will work in a room with higher ceilings and much greater overall volume, whereas the Altair will work in smaller rooms as well as larger ones. It is true that they both use very similar drivers and Rockport's composite-cabinet material -- so there are a number of similarities to be sure. However, in addition to the aforementioned driver-array differences, you also have the active crossover in the Arrakis, which will give you further room-tuning options. So ultimately, though I do believe there would be some definite qualitative differences between the Altair and Arrakis, I think perhaps the even greater difference is the way the two speaker models load the room in which they are housed. If you are auditioning the Altairs, you are certainly going to hear one of the finest speaker models on the planet, and one of my all-time favorites. They will most certainly trounce the speakers you own now, in every way. And they are surprisingly room friendly given their size.
The Magico Q7 is still the finest speaker I've heard to date. It is the most transparent, resolving transducer that I believe has yet been developed, though it is true that you must adjust your sense of what is "right" due to the extreme neutrality of the Magico design philosophy as applied to their statement speaker. You'll simply be shocked at the speaker's ability to articulate every sound. I suspect that the Goodwin's High End room and team will showcase the Q7 at its best -- they know the Magico brand very well.
Are these the top-two ultra-high-end loudspeaker brands? In my world, given my preferences for extreme neutrality and unrelenting attention to detail both in engineering and build quality, yes, they are. Ultimately, what you hear and experience will also determine your thoughts on these speakers. There's nothing I'd rather own. . . . Jeff Fritz