To Jeff Fritz,
I’ve been a Magnepan owner for 27 years with MG20.1 speakers for the last five years. I’m moving to a condo with a listening room that is 12’ x 12’ and 9’ ceilings. I’m trying to leave the Maggies for a box speaker.
I heard the Magico S1 and Q1 and was taken aback by the Q1. How does the Q1 compare to the S5 and would the S5 be too big for this size room? I listen mostly to rock.
I also wondered how the Rockport Atria would compare to the Q1 or S5. I will be driving them with 350W Goldmund monoblocks.
I get more e-mail asking about Rockport Technologies and Magico loudspeakers than any other brands, and by a large margin. So I’m going to use this opportunity to answer the question “Which one?” hopefully in a definitive manner that will help those trying to decide what brand is right for them.
It is no secret to anyone who reads this site that those two brands -- Magico and Rockport -- sit at the pinnacle of what I consider the best of the ultra expensive loudspeakers. While I deeply respect several other brands -- Vivid and TAD come to mind -- that I know are producing really fantastic loudspeakers, years and years of listening to the uberspeakers has convinced me that Rockport and Magico make the most complete high-end loudspeakers of anyone, when taking everything I personally value into account. Could I live happily with either? Certainly. That does not, however, mean that the two brands are interchangeable in every system and to every listener. So, consider this my definitive once-and-for-all answer on what makes the brands different from each other and, also, unique in the world of high-end audio.
The current Rockport speakers are easily the highest-resolution speakers yet from Andy Payor. They marry, in an almost impossibly realistic manner, extremely high levels of transparency, naturally developing highs, a textured midrange, and excellent resolving ability across the range, with a powerful, rich bass response to create some of the most listenable speakers ever made. When you couple these performance attributes with their fanatical level of build quality -- including quality-control steps that verify the acoustical output of each and every speaker sold -- with a painted finish quality that is the best in the business, you end up with a product that is truly superior in the high-end marketplace. Consider this: Andy Payor fine-tunes every crossover in every speaker, measures the result himself before the crossover is potted, and inspects and listens to each and every loudspeaker personally. You can't get that anywhere else, period.
Magico makes the most resolving loudspeakers in the world, currently. The Q7 stands at the pinnacle, being the most complete speaker I've ever heard. It is as true to the source as I have experienced in my 15 years in the hobby, and will play anything, at any loudness level, essentially perfectly: ultra low distortion, superb linearity, vanishing levels of resonance-related noises, etc. Alon Wolf has expended more resources -- into manufacturing infrastructure, modeling software programs, quality control suites like the Klippel system, and engineering talent -- than anyone in the business today. When you hear a Magico -- particularly a model from the Q series -- you’re hearing deeper into the recorded event than you can with any other speaker. The bottom line is that, in terms of resolving ability, you can’t match them with anything else, at any price, period.
So which should you pick for your room? The Q1. In a room the size of yours, that speaker -- which you have already heard and really liked -- will be just about perfect. Knowing the surprisingly prodigious bass capability of the Atria (I have them in for review), I fear they would easily overload your small room. With the S5's dual 10" woofers, so would they in all likelihood. Since your budget allows, spring for the Q1 over the S1 (which I also really like) and have a complete solution that will fit your room perfectly. You'll have tremendous pride of ownership when you glance over and see that Q-series cabinet in flawless anodized-black finish staring back at you. So just do it and don’t look back.
Ultimately the question of Rockport or Magico is a personal one. Both brands make the perfect speaker for the right listener, and both brands stand head and shoulders above, in my opinion, such popular brands as Wilson and Avalon, for example. I know there are several dealers around the United States that carry both brands and, therefore, one of those would be my destination if I were shopping for a last speaker purchase. Good luck in your quest, and congratulations on whichever direction you take. You’ll have a truly superior loudspeaker. . . . Jeff Fritz