Magico – Why We Do The Things We Do: The New Listening Room

Magico writes: “Carefully shielded from outside noise by a thick shell of extremely stiff material, meticulously treated to control reflections and suppress standing waves, tastefully decorated and furnished, the listening room at Magico’s Hayward, California facility has been a touchstone of excellence in the audio community.” 

Robert Harley of The Absolute Sound recently wrote about it, “I had visited Magico’s listening room… and thought it was the best room I’d heard.”

So why did we rebuild it?

It gets back to the fundamental mission of Magico. From the very beginning, we have pursued an ever-advancing campaign to identify and eliminate sources of loudspeaker distortion. And given the investments we have made in our other evaluation technologies, the listening room, once the crown jewel of our facility, was no longer up to the task. For us, the listening room is the ultimate laboratory instrument. And even slight compromises here were no longer acceptable.
 
While it’s easy to focus on our distinctive features – diamond coated Beryllium domes, Nano-tec Graphene carbon fiber, honeycomb sandwich cores and the like – more important to us is our distinctive development process. This process has three stages, each of which is set apart by the finest available technologies.
 
Simulation. Magico speakers benefit from the ground-breaking computer simulation software created by our chief technology officer, Yair Tammam. This tool enables us to simultaneously model driver and crossover behavior in the mechanical, thermal, electrical, and magnetic domains. As a result, we are free to test, reject and refine dozens of designs. This empowers our engineers to explore beyond obvious solutions and conventional limitations.
Measurement. While previous generations of loudspeaker designers could only guess at the minuscule details of diaphragm movements, distortion modes, and radiation patterns, we can analyze them all with unprecedented accuracy using the world’s most advanced measurement techniques. These include laser interferometry with our Klippel Large Scale Identification system, Klippel scanning laser vibrometer (mentioned here), and Polytec PSV-500-A scanning laser vibrometer (described here.) Now our ability to measure has been tremendously enhanced by the Klippel Near Field Scanner 3D. It can capture response down to 20 Hz and conduct full 360º “Spinorama” measurements, all without the need for an anechoic chamber. While this latest system represents a major investment, the insights it delivers into loudspeaker performance are without equal.
Listening. Our listening room is more than a comfortable place for enjoying music. It is a key test instrument, the final tool we use to evaluate loudspeaker performance. If a loudspeaker is voiced for a particular room, it likely won’t be right in others. As accurate as our existing listening room was, it still allowed some resonant modes below 120 Hz. It became increasingly difficult to resolve any conflict between the low-frequency measurements and the listening. Some ambiguity remained. Given all the investments we had made in simulation and measurement, we were resolved to bring our listening room up to the same exacting standards.
Rebuilding the listening room was no simple undertaking. The complete process required five months and an investment well into six figures. After stripping the room down to the extra-thick shell, we applied layers of insulation and huge quantities of sound absorption, diffusion, and reflection materials.
The result is a sonic revelation, far closer to a neutral listening room than ever before. Equipped with this new evaluation tool, we are best prepared to hear what the speakers, and only the speakers, actually sound like. We’re achieving a predictable correlation among simulations, measurements and listening impressions. And we’re closer than ever to our ultimate goal: neutral, balanced speakers that will work in any room, once room issues are mitigated.