Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

We always expect to encounter statement-level products here in Munich, especially loudspeakers. What's interesting is to see the cost of one company's efforts versus another's; some of the behemoths that we see can run well, well past the six-figure mark. The three speakers below greatly impressed for less than that figure despite wildly different approaches to their respective architectures, materials, and underlying philosophies.

Hans Wetzel listening

It took only a few seconds to recognize that Focus Audio's $45,000/pr. flagship Master 2 BE sounded phenomenal. The massive, D'Appolito-arranged speaker uses a mirrored-driver complement consisting of a pair of 1.1" beryllium-dome Scan-Speak Revelator tweeters, two 5.5" Nomex/Kevlar midranges, and matching 11" Nomex/Kevlar woofers serving as bookmarks on the top and bottom of each 71"-tall, 220-pound beast.

Focus Audio Master 2

The Master 2 BE is spec'd at 20Hz-25kHz, ±3dB; 92dB efficient; and with a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. While an amp with some serious current delivery looks to be a prerequisite, I was taken aback by how effortless and expressive the Focus Audio speakers were driven by the company's Liszt Concerto mono amps, which are tube-based designs. The treble was effervescent, offering up a fabulous sense of space and sparkle, while the midrange was well integrated, offering up a lithe but textured sound. With many of the rooms here in Munich proving to be rather uncooperative in terms of bass modes, the Master 2 BE sounded quite composed in its low-frequency reproduction. The bass-reflex design not only dug well down into the 20-cycle range; it did so with a control and slam that was satisfying. For a speaker this size, and seemingly quite accomplished, $45,000 almost seems like a bargain.

Magico's new $58,000/pr. S7 offers a rather different sort of excellence. Despite standing far shorter in stature, the Magico has a robust profile, and weighs 380 pounds. That said, the contours of the S7 might just make it the best-looking Magico product to date. It uses a 1" diamond-coated beryllium-diaphragm tweeter, a 6" graphene-coated midrange unit -- the first of its kind to use the promising material -- and a trio of 10" bass drivers.

Magico S7

The S7 sounded seamless from top-to-bottom, with an overall clarity, transparency, and coherence that was exemplary. Most impressive was the athleticism of the S7's bass response. As a sealed-box design, it did not have the weighty slam of the Focus Master 2, above, or the sheer volume of bass on offer from Marten's Coltrane 3, below. What it did possess, however, was an unassailable sense of speed and concussive force the likes of which I have rarely heard. It's just so fast. It might be easy to mistake it for sounding a touch lightweight, but this is one of those instances where sounding different from most everything else may actually be a good thing.

Finally, Marten has introduced the €97,000/pr. Coltrane 3 loudspeaker, and its stout, 48"-tall, 209-pound frame makes it the smallest and lightest of the three loudspeakers here. Despite that, it's packed with some of Accuton's finest drivers, including a 1" pure-diamond-dome tweeter; a 7" ceramic midrange unit featuring the company's CELL technology; and two 10" aluminum-honeycomb bass drivers, each possessing a linear excursion of ±16mm. The cabinet is constructed from 25mm of carbon-fiber laminate, and finished with seven polished layers of piano lacquer.

Marten Coltran 3

Predictably, the Coltrane 3s had big, room-filling, and floor-shaking bass -- this is a powerful, articulate loudspeaker. The speakers had an airy, extended top end, and a clean but richly textured midrange. A sultry thing, the Coltrane 3.

For what's middling money here in Munich, these radically different but highly accomplished floorstanding loudspeakers are producing sound that, in some instances, is far better than more expensive offerings on display -- music to my ears.

Hans Wetzel
Senior Contributor, SoundStage!