Magico SPod Footers Review
After his in-depth exploration of the Mpod footers provided for his review of the company's M2 speaker in this issue, Martin Colloms realizes it's time to reassess the Junior version.
I reviewed these vibration-controlling feet, accessories designed to be fitted to the Magico S5II speakers and also other S series models, within HIFICRITIC Vol 11 No4 Oct-Dec 2017. As I explained in that assessment, for my installation at least, the results were certainly not unqualified, for while there were tantalizing gains in transparency, image depth and micro detail there were some accompanying losses when it came to low frequency slam, pace, rhythm and timing.
As I said at the time, my results were somewhat equivocal and I left the purchase decision with the reader, while noting that for other systems and arrangements, results could well differ from those I experienced.
Recently, working on the Magico M2 loudspeaker review for this issue, I was once gain presented with the issue of proprietary supports, these being the newly designed but related MPod accessories for the prestige M series loudspeakers. If I had thought that Magico was rather keen on their 'S' series pods, the company was still more so for the latest 'M' type, and the three armed base with which they were supplied. The particular virtues of the review M2 loudspeaker were said to be more than materially advanced with the fitting of the MPod 'system' in place of floor spikes, and yet once again I had misgivings about some sound quality aspects analyzed during the M2 review.
I tried removing the MPods and fitting the alternative trio of spikes, as usual bearing on stainless steel footers, resting on my hardwood floor. Now there was a good measure of rhythm and timing, but a large proportion of the previously experienced and particularly magic degree of spatiality, subtlety, micro-focus and detail had evaporated. What on earth was going on? No solid answers were forthcoming from Magico and the phenomenon seemed to be outside of the company's experience. So, what could be so different between my long-established room arrangements and the design/auditioning set-up at the factory?
Concerning the behavior of MPods on my high mass rigid floor, in the M2 review I eventually surmised that it had to be down to some kind of residual vibration, an unwanted higher frequency resonance which was significantly blurring the timing instants, a form of mechanical jitter.
This can be a product of a spring-like interface where there is insufficient mechanical damping. Damping materials are ideally of a resistive rather than of a rubber-elastic nature even if they are designed to be partially visco-elastic. The latter property is frequently strongly frequency dependent and may introduce coloration, and It seemed possible that the particular visco-elasti c interlayer installed in the MPods had been designed and calibrated for more conventional flexible and absorptive suspended timber floors, very likely carpeted, this type of foundation more probable for most installations. On a rigid platform such as mine it was plausible that the operational loudspeakers were being excited into lower frequency resonant vibration of undefined duration. As I noted in the M2 review:
Accordingly I placed a small square of short pile, heavy duty, office grade wool carpet (woven hessian backing, and not rubber underlay), chosen for its mainly resistive mechanical properties, under each freshly MPodded, loudspeaker, and pressed that virtual play button on my streamer control iPad. Caramba! that was it: the Magico M2 was absolutely back in the game.
For my own S series loudspeaker example, the S5II, I reinstalled those contentious, previously set aside, SPods beneath my S5II speakers, on the usual included spikes and footers. As I had found before, when set on the rigid hardwood on concrete floor, the disturbed timing and the loss in low frequency dynamics and speed recurred with the SPods.
But adding that thin carpet interlayer under the footers provided a similar and overall substantial improvement as had been found with the M2. No, SPods with carpet pads did not transform the S5II into an M2 , but it did take this established and very familiar 'S' series design a noticeable way towards it. That previously held concern about bass precision, slam and timing when using the SPods – when compared with plain spike mounting – was now firmly dispelled, and for my system I considered the overall S5II sound quality gain substantial, and one which I wouldn't wish to do without.
Conclusion? For the want of a scrap of carpet the battle for better sound was lost, once again teaching us the importance of mechanical interfaces in the control of fidelity-robbing audio vibrations. Thanks to the experience gained with the M2, the concrete floor support problem for Magico Pod footers has been solved.
My S5II speakers, now re-fitted with SPods, sound reworked, turbocharged, and with fine rhythm, imaging detail and dynamics. Those previously contentious Magico SPods get a clean bill of health at last and – more than that – they are now highly recommended.
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