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Teresonic Magus A-55 Bookshelf Speaker Review

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Teresonic Magus A55 bookshelf speakerEarly in 2010 I wrote a review entitled “A Flight of Lowthers”. After that review I decided to purchase the pair of Teresonic Magus that had the Lowther Alnico Silver Drivers. I use them in my video and digital system. This driver paired with the Magus bookshelf cabinet became Teresonic’s production model known as the Magus A-55. A year later, I am even more impressed with this beautiful little speaker.

The Teresonic Magus cabinet is a strikingly beautiful, 15-inch tall, multi-chambered cabinet with a curved front. The cabinet is certainly furniture grade; maybe it would be more accurate to say the finish is more like that of a fine violin. The Magus cabinet is designed for a five-inch single driver. If you choose to stand mount it, Teresonic offers very nice matching stands that subtract nothing from the attractive cabinet, and are well designed to help you get the most out of the speakers sonically. The shelf under the speaker is adjustable, allowing an ingenious method to adjust their distance from the port.

The Lowther A55 driver is a 5-inch paper driver with a large Alnico magnet. It is available in your choice of 8 or 15 Ohms impedance. The pair I had purchased was the 15 Ohm model. Alnico magnets, for years, were the only magnets people thought of when they thought of Lowther drivers. Alnico magnets are admired by many for their exceptional ability at reproducing the harmonic structure of instruments and voices. Many believe that speakers with Alnico magnets sound more real than any other speakers.

Personally, I can hear the benefits of both the Alnico magnets and their newer drivers which use Lowther’s “Rare Earth” magnets. In the smaller Magus cabinet, and especially in my digital video system, I prefer the alnico drivers with the silver voice coils. This combination produces a slightly warmer, and silkier sound than the Magus cabinet with the DX65 driver.

The good news for me was that the drivers on my pair were not new and had many wonderful hours of playing music behind them. Still, I must warn you that it is really amazing how long a pair of Lowthers takes to break in.

I use the A-55s everyday in my upstairs system that I use to listen to digital music, watch TV, and videos. For this review, I also took them downstairs and listened to them extensively in my reference system. Upstairs, I used them with the Roksan Caspian integrated amp or the Peachtree Audio Decco integrated amp. Downstairs in my reference vinyl system, I used them with my Wavac EC-300B with NOS Western Electric tubes, Shindo Giscours preamp, Auditorium 23 Homage T1 step-up transformer, Shindo 301 Vinyl Playback System, Shindo Silver wire, Audience Au24 powerChords, and Audience AV aR6-T power conditioner.

Design Goals

According to Teresonic’s website, Magus is the Latin word for “Magical,” and it’s their intention to bring the magical sound of a high-efficiency, single-driver speaker to us in a small compact package. The ability to build a cabinet this size yet with an efficiency rating of 98dB is quite a goal. The engineers at Teresonic really pulled it off, so congratulations are in order.

Another design goal for the Magus was to build a truly high efficient speaker that could be easily inserted into any domestic interior. It was their goal to build a speaker that was not overly sensitive to room placement, nor required a precise listening position in the speaker’s “sweet spot.” Since I use these speakers in the room with my TV, I can confidently tell you they deliver their incredible sound regardless of where you sit in the room.

Setup

The Magus are extremely easy to set up, but there are some decisions you will have to make. Decision #1 is whether or not to use stands. I personally like them best on the floors or the bottom panel of my entertainment center. Yet, if you want to get more of an audiophile soundstage, you should use stands. If you use the stands that come from Teresonic, you can adjust the bass via the panel beneath the speaker’s port, though the speaker should not be pulled too far out into the room. If you do pull them too far out, you will lose bass extension.

Well, I guess it’s about time we start talking about how the Magus A-55s sound. Let’s start with the:

Treble and Midrange

Three words immediately come to mind when I think of the treble and midrange of the Magus A-55: articulate, powerful, and fun. At least two of the descriptive aren’t words that audiophiles usually use in describing the sound of speakers, but I think we should them more often. Maybe the word articulate comes to mind because I spend so much time listening to TV, movies, and radio on these. I find these the best speakers for understanding dialog that I have ever heard. The other Magus models are also extraordinarily clear, but do not let you hear quite as much of the layers and harmonics of sounds.

This same ability brings an incredible reality to music as well as the spoken voice. They let you hear deep into the layers of music, and hear inner detail with stunning clarity. The next word I used was powerful, and this is so important to allowing an system to sound more like a real musical performance. This power is especially amazing considering the size of the Magus cabinet. I can literally sit them on the floor downstairs next to the six foot tall Teresonic Ingenium XR Silvers and when I play the Magus most people swear it is the big speakers playing.

The last word I used was fun. I know that doesn’t tell you much about how they sound, so maybe I should say they are very emotionally involving. They are truly very emotionally involving but most of all, they are just fun to listen to. If you don’t believe me just listen to some classic rock, or bluegrass through them, and you will see. If you need me to talk in more audiophile terms, I can tell you they are very transparent, immediate, dynamic, and alive sounding.

There are differences in the midrange between the Magus A-55 and Teresonic’s own Magus DX-65-equipped Silver XR. The Silver XR, are slightly more detailed, and have slightly better micro-dynamics, while the A-55s are more refined-sounding and let you hear more of the layers of music. All of the Magus speakers are beautifully detailed and unbelievably transparent.

As far as how the treble sounds, the A-55s pass my treble test. That is, I never thought about the treble one way or the other, which I consider the highest compliment you can pay to the top-end of a speaker. The Magus A-55s have a real presence and great sparkle. It may miss a little bit of air in the top, but the midrange has so much great air that you will never miss it.

Bass

Positioned correctly, all of the Magus speakers have bass that is very natural and quite satisfying. Of the three different drivers I have heard in the Magus, I find the A-55 to have the most satisfying bass while the DX-65 have the deepest and fastest bass. Still, with none of the three have I ever thought I was missing the bass of live music.

What the A-55s lack in quantity though, they make up for in quality. The bass has great attack and even better decay; again we come back to the ability of the A-55 to let you hear the layers of the music. The bass is also quick, tight, and carries a great beat. I should mention that I really loved the way they played the upright bass.

Soundstage and Imaging

In my review of the original Magus I said, “The Teresonic Magus has the kind of soundstage I feel is more like a real musical event. They produce a whole, complete soundstage. Maybe not the kind that makes you say, ‘hey did you hear that horn, it’s way back there, what about the triangles, they sound like they are over on the stairs;” no, but they do give you a wide and deep soundstage. The speakers totally are not there, just a real acoustic space with air, body, and space.” Truth is that all three of the Magus speaker have about the same soundstaging abilities.

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