Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Unboxing the SVS SB16-Ultra Subwoofer

Rarely does high-end audio offer a value proposition like that seen in the SVS SB16-Ultra subwoofer ($1999.99, all prices USD). Now that might sound like a bold statement, but as I was unboxing this big, bad SVS sub, I couldn’t help thinking about just what was enclosed in the massive cardboard box my son and I had hoisted up into my listening room.

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Magico M9 Loudspeakers: No Compromises Allowed

My visit to Magico LLC at its Hayward, California, factory on July 16, 2021, was all about the company’s new M9 flagship loudspeaker ($750,000 per pair; all prices USD). You’ve seen the M9 press release. Maybe you’ve seen a few of the available M9 photos. My goal was to dig into the heart of it. I wanted to see the guts of the M9: cabinet, drivers, nuts, and bolts. And once I had all of that digested, I wanted to hear it.

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From Monitor Audio Studio to Gold 100 Loudspeakers: Part 4

As I said in “Part 3” of this series, Monitor Audio sent a Gold W12 subwoofer ($3300 USD) to pair with the Gold 100 loudspeakers I had in for audition. I’ve owned Monitor’s discontinued Studio loudspeakers for several years, and I wondered what the logical next step up the Monitor line would be. The Gold 100 proved to be a worthy successor to the Studio, although the improvements were more subtle than groundbreaking—after all, the Studio is a fantastic speaker in its own right. Would the W12 take the Gold 100s to the next level?

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From Monitor Audio Studio to Gold 100 Loudspeakers: Part 3

Happy with the transition from a pair of Monitor Audio Studios to a pair of Monitor Audio Gold 100s, I wanted to see what it would take to get to the next level of sound quality with my A/V setup. The current system is powered by a vintage Coda Model 11 stereo amplifier capable of outputting 100Wpc in pure class A. The Coda is fed by an Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player using its analog RCA outputs and integral volume control. Cables are AmazonBasics speaker cables and RCA interconnects. The primary source for this system is an older Roku digital media player connected to the Oppo via an HDMI cable. I watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, YouTube, and FloSports over this system.

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From Monitor Audio Studio to Gold 100 Loudspeakers: Part 2

In “Part 1” of this four-part blog on my journey with Monitor Audio loudspeakers, I gave you a brief rundown of the physical and design differences between the Monitor Audio Studio ($1400 per pair, all prices USD), a pair of which I own, and the Gold 100 ($2300/pr.). I decided to compare the Gold 100 to the Studio for a couple of reasons: first, the Studio is now discontinued, and the Gold 100 is a logical purchase for someone in need of a reasonable-sized standmount speaker at a good price. Second, what audiophile would not enjoy the experience of comparing some closely matched loudspeakers?

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From Monitor Audio Studio to Gold 100 Loudspeakers: Part 1

Monitor Audio’s Studio loudspeaker was introduced in 2018 and was touted as having Platinum-level drive units in a clean, simplified cabinet (Platinum is Monitor’s flagship speaker line). As I needed something to fill the (speaker) void left when I moved from my longtime residence to a rental house, while my family and I searched for a larger home, I promptly bought a pair. I detailed this purchase in “Jeff’s New Temporary Audio System,” published in May 2018 on SoundStage! Ultra. The $1400-per-pair Studios (all prices in USD) would be driven by a vintage Coda Model 11 class-A, 100Wpc stereo amplifier. When we moved into our current residence in summer 2018, the Monitors and the Coda moved, too. Although I built a new reference system, the Studios and the Model 11 were set up as part of a simple A/V system that I still use today for streaming movies and listening to music over YouTube.

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Magico Beats Revel

The Revel Ultima2 Salon2 has been around since the beginning of high-end audio. OK, not really, but it feels like it. Doug Schneider reviewed it and made it his reference back in December of 2009, and it’s still his go-to speaker to this day. At $21,998 USD per pair, the flagship Revel represented to many the best you could do for 20 large back in the day. With the excellent Harman research and testing facilities and a design team led by industry stalwart Kevin Voecks, the Salon2 was part boutique high end, part corporate branding exercise, and part measurement reference for other companies to shoot for—it’s a high-end audio icon of sorts. The four-way, six-driver Salon2 is still a very competitive product by today’s standards—a testament to its design team if there ever was one—and you could do much worse than acquiring a new pair.

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MSB Technology: Can Entry Level Be Near State of the Art?

I’m forever counting my blessings as an audio reviewer. Despite having been with SoundStage! for over 23 years now, I’m always mindful that I get to do something most audiophiles only dream about: listen to, enjoy, and assess a wildly varying array of stereo equipment from talented designers and forward-thinking companies from all over the world. I got my first stereo system from my parents on Christmas Day—Santa bought it from Sears—when I was 12 years old. Back then, I could never have dreamed of listening to the system that is set up before me today.

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Do You Know About These Siltechs?

When audiophiles think of Siltech, my guess is that they often have visions of audio cables that run into the many, many thousands of dollars. Everyone knows that this company from the Netherlands manufactures some of the best audio cables -- made from their proprietary blends of sliver and gold -- available at any price. And those prices can get quite dear, especially for their Royal Signature line.

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Bel Canto's Flagship Digital Arrives

Bel Canto Design has taken the concept of separates in high-end digital audio to perhaps its logical conclusion with their flagship three-box DAC/power-supply/digital-converter setup. The DAC3.5VB Mk.II ($3495) digital-to-analog converter is the heart of the system. The Virtual Battery Supply 1 (VBS1, $1495) upgrades the power supply of the DAC3.5VB Mk.II by adding increased power filtration and greater isolation from power-supply-induced noise. The highly regulated VBS1 comes in a chassis that mirrors that of the DAC itself. Lastly, the REFLink ($1495), also in the same-size chassis as the DAC and power supply, is a digital converter that you'll need if you use a USB digital output from your music server or computer-based system. The REFLink then sends the DAC3.5VB Mk.II a digital signal that it can decode.   

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A New Pro-Ject

Is it absurd to think that you could replace an entire audio system -- excepting the speakers and their cables -- with a single box that measures a mere 206mm x 72mm x 195mm? Well that's just what I did today.

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Magico's S1 Makes an Appearance

The Magico S1 is the new floorstander from Alon Wolf and company. It's priced at $12,600 per pair and is a two-way design that features an extruded-aluminum cabinet and a pair of drivers: a 1" beryllium-dome tweeter -- the same one used in the company's S5 -- and a brand-new 7" Nano-Tec midrange woofer. Now the S1 you see below is in the company's M-Cast finish, in this case bronze. The exterior feel is slightly textured, unlike the piano finishes you see on many speakers (including some Magicos where their M-Coat is optional). The paint looks to me like it would be quite durable, but I don't want to test that theory! I know their hard-coat anodized finish is very solid.

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