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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Source: Zanden Audio Model 5000 MkIV DAC; Accustic Arts Drive-1; Bel Canto Design PLayer PL-1A [on review];
Preamp/Integrated: AUDIOPAX Model 5
Amp: AUDIOPAX Model 88; Pass Labs X350.5 [on review]
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustics Duo
Cables: Crystal Cable Reference complete wire set of analog and digital interconnects, speaker cables and power cords; Z-Cable Reference Cyclone power cords on both powerline conditioner; 2 x Stealth Audio Cables Indra analogue & Varidig S/PDIF cable
Stands: 2 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco four-tier
Powerline conditioning: BPT BP-3.5 Signature; Walker Audio Velocitor for source components
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for tube amps; GPA Apex footers underneath stand and speakers; Walker Audio SST on all connections; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; WorldPower cryo'd Hubbell wall sockets; Musse Audio resonance dampers on DUO subs; Mapleshade 4" solid maple platform under BPT conditioner
Room size: 30' w x 18' d x 10' h [sloping ceiling] in long-wall setup in one half, with open adjoining living room for a total of ca.1000 squ.ft floor plan and significant 'active' cubic air volume of essentially the entire (small) house
Review component retail: $20,000/pr with stands as shown

Extreme. While the subject of this review is a conventionally sized sealed-box two-way, neither the Mini nor its designer Alon Wolf go about things conventionally. To appreciate the design genetics of the Mini's extreme bloodline, a glance at Alon's soon-to-launch 5-way Ultimate hornspeaker and some of its precursors will be, er - as instrumental as the piano and guitar above. Among other things, Alon studied classical guitar and plays to this day. He won the Sharet Scholarship for Gifted Musicians at age 16, six years after building his first Peerless kit speaker.

Recording maestro Paul Stubblebein owns the anthracite 1000 lbs Reference towers above. Jeff Rowland showed with Alon's Minis at CES 2005, ordered a pair and already owns the red Model 3 [above with ribbon tweeter]. Wayne Garcia of The Absolute Sound lives 10 minutes from Alon's Oakland digs yet never knew about it. This is representative of Magico's behind-the-scenes evolution. They've been building colossal machined or cast aluminum enclosures in one-up iterations for a decade now to perfect the art. They take ambitious 3-D renderings and computer simulations to rubber-on-the-road reality testing and subsequent performance in the homes of a few in-the-know 'philes and industry insiders. While certain ecstatic owners thus know about Magico and keep the underground grape vine alive, the industry and press at large neither know nor buzz. Yet. That's about to change. Asia's most prominent HighEnd magazine Stereo Sound will publish a review of Magico's Minis in the next issue. The Japanese connection just established in the wake of Magico's CES 2005 showing. The speed by which our top-ranking Asian colleague purportedly reacted to the landing of the Magico Mini on Nipponese soil -- and put pen to paper nearly instantaneously -- seems indicative. Writers thrive on feeling inspired.

Until Stereo Sound's and our own feature review of the Minis, the major reason why Magico will soon enter the limelight of serious attention? For launching the most ambitious production hornspeaker ever attempted. The above Reference is nearing completion as I write this. In fact, your reporter is scheduled to revisit Oakland in a few month for an on-site feature session on the first pair. It will be installed at Dr. Jim Langham's. Jim graciously set me up in his home while I was testing Alon's Mini in two different systems during a recent weekend visit. I wanted to presample the Mini to determine whether to do the review honors on its formal US debut. Affirmative on the latter. More on this in a bit.

Creativity in extreme action, without accepting inherent compromises -- by cutting corners to reduce costs and evade certain manufacturing complexities -- usually entails one-up custom work. This is reminiscent of the blue-blooded art patrons and benefactors of Europe's 19th century Renaissance courts. Composers, painters, sculptors, poets and architects could pursue their muse because a duke or count shared their artistic vision and financed its manifestations with prepaid commissions.

Alon's prior work has convinced a number of well-off music lovers that his 5-driver 4-horn dream will become the ultimate expression of the art. Commissions for a few pairs have greenlighted the project. It's nearing completion in a few months. This includes a 5-way active digital crossover by way of a heavily modified DEQX and custom 5-channel Benchmark DAC tweaked and hotrodded by Stephen Balliet of Reflection Audio. Stephen delivered a prototype to Alon during my visit. We heard the converter in stereo by paralleling 10 DACs per channel for true 21-bit resolution. Future owner Jim Langham heard it as well - and he uses the most current dCS triple stack (extensively modified with Bybee devices), the Meitner DAC, a Goldmund transport and the Altis digital duo in his personal setup. Stiff standards, those. For now, let's just say that the ears of our test group pricked up in a big way when Balliet's converter fired up.

The scale of the Ultimates becomes appreciable when you consider how the 6' deep and 4' wide solid aluminum Tractrix mid-bass horn dwarfs the custom welder in the left photos. To put raw parts cost of this extreme attempt into perspective, consider that the Ale compression drivers from Japan weigh in at $10,000/pr and there's three per side plus a TAD midbass unit. Last but not least is the massive new 15-inch Aura woofer that will reproduce 100Hz-down bass in a sealed enclosure. I snuck in a CD for scale. Can you say monstrous?

Dr. Jim Langham has owned Avantgarde Trios and still owns Dunlavy's top model with the expanded time-aligned d'Appollito array terminating in 15" woofers top and bottom. A veteran audiophile with extensive experience over a 40-year career, Jim has concluded that he needs horn-loaded drivers and perfect phase/time behavior to have it all. When Alon demonstrated a jerry-rigged mock-up system [above] to test the concept, Jim and another Bay Area aficionado knew in an instant. The rest will soon be history. 6moons is privileged to have been invited for the scheduled launch at Cape Canaveral/Oakland. Talk about anticipation.