Brian Kahn is the longest tenured writer on staff at HomeTheaterReview.com. His specialties include everything from speakers to whole-home audio systems to high-end audiophile and home theater gear, as well as room acoustics. By day, Brian is a partner at a West Los Angeles law firm.
My relationship with Magico's ACC ($6,800) got off to a painful start. The ACC arrived in a modestly sized cardboard box, so I thought nothing of bending down to pick it up as I would any center speaker of its dimensions (13 inches high, 12.7 inches deep, and 26 inches wide). I went to pick it up and immediately regretted it, as my back screamed out and I felt every ounce of the speaker's 96-pound weight. This is nearly as much as the company's A3 tower, which I recently reviewed.
Magico fans are probably laughing right now, as they know how the company's cabinets are built. I mention all of this to make the point that even though this is one of the least expensive speakers in Magico's lineup -- and a center channel at that, something shunned by some stereo purists -- the ACC is Magico through and through. To the company's credit, the instructions advise that the speaker be unpacked and put into position by two people.
The ACC utilizes the same driver complement as the A3. The one-inch Beryllium dome tweeter is top and center above the six-inch Graphene Nano-Tec Midrange, and this tweeter-midrange array is flanked by a pair of seven-inch Graphene Nano-Tec woofers. Like the rest of the Magico A Series speakers, the ACC features a sealed cabinet made out of 3/8-inch thick 6061 T6 aircraft grade aluminum with a brushed black finish.
Despite being one of the least expensive speakers in the Magico lineup, the attention to detail and build quality is impressive, to say the least. A couple examples of build quality are the spikes and binding posts. While I used the short, domed feet, I also tried threading in a spike and the quality of threading reminded me of what I would find on a custom built rifle. There was no wobble, no binding. I note that Magico also offers ramped feet that provide five degrees of upward tilt. The ACC's reported frequency response is 22 Hz-50kHz. While no -3 dB or -6 dB point is specified, this is still a lot more low-frequency extension than many good-sized towers.
For the purposes of evaluating the ACC in a multi-channel system, I used my Oppo UHD player for the primary source, with a Marantz AV8805 handling all the processing and a Krell Theater Amplifier Standard providing the power. A pair of Magico A3s flanked the ACC with a pair of Paradigm fifteen-inch subwoofers handling the LFE channel and Canton Ergo 302s on the rear channels. I ran the Audyssey MultEQ Editor app on my iPhone as part of the setup process. Audyssey set all three front speakers as large, running them full range.
The first movie we watched with the ACC in place was Ford v Ferrari. In addition to the dynamic race noises and explosions, which the ACC handled with ease, the speaker excelled with the detailed sounds that draw you into a film. The voices were natural, realistic, and solidly positioned.
The next movie we watched was 1917. Set in the trenches of World War I, the film follows two main characters as they travel across various trenches and battlefields which provides plenty of opportunities for sound effects that pan across the front three speakers. As with Ford v. Ferrari, the sound on 1917 smoothly panned across the speakers without any change in timbre or dynamics as it moved from speaker to speaker. The ACC's frequency extension helped keep lower frequency sound effects well anchored.
Multi-channel may mean movies for most, but I also love multi-channel, especially Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely" from Black & White Night (Blu-ray, Universal, DTS-HD). Orbison's voice and guitar were reproduced with nuance and detail that brought out the richness of his voice and guitar without any artificial harshness or brightness. I played the track a few times, listening from the different seats in my room, and the image stayed stable and the off-axis response remained well balanced. I suspect the driver configuration helped maintain the even off-axis response.
Competition and Comparison
There are not many center channels as impressive as the Magico ACC in its general price range, but there are two that come to mind. First is the Martin Logan ESL C34A ($6,995). This speaker provides excellent detail and articulation. The built in Anthem Room Correction for its powered bass section works well to help provide an even, well-balanced response, which is particularly helpful given its low frequency extension. The downside is its size. This is a huge speaker that makes the ACC look petite and must be placed on the floor.
The new Revel C426Be ($4,500) is a similarly beefy center speaker with a Beryllium dome tweeter. Based upon my experience with other Revel speakers, including some from the Performa Be lineup, I have no reason to suspect that the C426Be provides anything less than impeccable performance. The C426Be should be shipping shortly and I will do my best to get one in for review.
The ACC is one of the best-sounding center channels I have had the pleasure of reviewing in my twenty-something years of opining on the AV industry. I have no criticisms of the ACC's sonic performance. If you are purchasing Magico A series speakers, purchasing the ACC is a no brainer. Even if you were not planning on a multi-channel movie system, the ACC's performance makes it worth exploring multi-channel music. Of course, this could mean buying a second pair of A Series speakers for the rear channels.
One item I did not notice until after I had watched a movie was the direction of the grain of the top panel's brushed finish. While the grain on the end caps run front to back, from the listener's position, the top panel grain goes left to right. What difference does this make? It reduces the amount of light reflection from the screen. While it is possible that this was a fortuitous circumstance, having toured the Magico headquarters and speak at length with Alon Wolf, I suspect this is no accident. The attention to detail is phenomenal.
• Visit the Magico website for more product information.
• Read Magico Expands A-Series Lineup with New Center, Bookshelf, and Subwoofer at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Read Magico A3 Floorstanding Speaker Reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com.
9/12/20 update on the ACC grille. I received the ACC speaker grille today and the 3 star rating is solely for the grille, not the actual ACC center speaker which I reviewed in my previous post. The ACC grille is better designed than my S1 grilles which have weak magnets in them and come off far too easily. The ACC grille magnets are a lot more powerful and the grille feels more secure. Mr. Kahn's photo of the ACC grille in the review may have been taken in a brighter room setting room because the ACC grille is not as transparent in my room as it is in this review photo. In my room (see photo), I cannot really see the drivers clearly behind the grille like the photo in the article. It's still just a flimsy piece of perforated sheet metal with 4 magnets - it's not complicated, exotic or breathtaking - hence the "average" 3 star review. The grille definitely improves the appearance of the ACC and it is sonically neutral (so far) but I still don't think the grille is worth $350 + tax but I didn't know that until the grille arrived today. As I alluded to in my original review, a prospective buyer can't exactly run down to Best Buy to check out the ACC, listen to it for a few hours to verify the audio pleasantries and then check the ACC grille quality before you plunk down $7150 + tax on the pair. It's a matter of faith in Magico. Ironically, even my dealer where I got the ACC grille today had zero Magico products on his showroom floor today. Apparently his faith in Magico is a bit low this week. Simply stated, the grille should be included with the ACC and it should not be a $350 ala carte addition but that's how Magico rolls. Maybe that's why my dealer didn't have any Magico speakers on the showroom floor today. BTW, I forgot to "rate" the actual ACC in my initial review using the "star method" and after 7 days Disqus closes editing so I could not amend my original post. My rating for the ACC is 4.25 stars because it's very good but it's not spectacular with common sources. The ACC requires very high end sourcing to reveal it's subtleties but lots of center channels that are half the price of the ACC perform well with flawless input signal. Cheers! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b965879bec02af35e9e4d35d25ba82c11d9961037536c6a1431148ea2975b6ec.jpg
Based on the fact that the Magico ACC serial number on the unit I purchased in July of 2020 was south of SN #000020, these center speakers are not exactly flying off the shelves at Magico even one year after launch. That reality makes me one of the very rare folks who can actually review this speaker in a natural, non-dealer, non-audio show setting. I have a biamped system and the ACC is powered via the McIntosh MC8207 200 watt per channel amp. Sources are a Sony 1100ES bluray and a just tuned up legacy McIntosh MVP 861 DVD/CD player along with Apple TV, Verizon FiOS and Apple AirPlay to name a few. I purposely avoided a single high end source so I didn't make it easy for the ACC to nonchalantly perform well. Instead, I jammed it with a wide variety of hard wired and streaming audio sources to see how it held up to the real world. For me, the ACC made itself known with it's balance and output, even with audio sources that leave a lot to be desired and a number of the ones I cited above are in that realm. I had been using a legacy McIntosh XLS 320 center channel that was tired after 16 years of use. I found the ACC to be crisp, smooth and defined. It deals very well with voicing from Atmos sources, makes Apple TV sound slick but never overplays it's hand. It makes bad signals sound better than they actually are in the real world. Is that the dreaded "coloration"? Maybe, but it's the movies, not Mozart, there is no "sound reference point" and I prefer to think that the ACC is doing it's job with what I feed to it. Certainly it does better with a pure input signal from a 4K Atmos bluray player even my beat XLS 320 didn't sound bad with those signals but it sounded like Bill Clinton with bad sources. The ACC is a physically LARGE center channel and as Mr. Kahn points out, it's a load at 96 pounds. It's not exactly sleek looking either, appearing like a giant black brick in my listening room - it looks like the rectangular cousin to the "flying silo" from SpaceX. I have the overpriced grille on order so I can't yet comment on how the grille alters the "brick" appearance. I temporarily disagree with Mr. Kahn's take that the Magico attention to detail is "phenomenal". Case in point is that I am wholly unimpressed with the grilles on my Magico S1 speakers because a good sneeze will knock them loose. I hope the ACC grille is a better experience and the only reason I ordered it was for tweeter protection in the post-COVID world when I actually have people in my listening room. I'll find out when the grille arrives in a few months (that pesky, politically weaponized post office!) The real issue with the ACC or any Magico speaker for that matter is that unless you live in a giant metropolis where you have multiple Magico dealers who stock the ACC, this is a purchase made mostly on "audio faith" made a little easier if you already own Magico. Even if you do have a Magico dealer in your area who stocks the ACC, how well can you truly audition a center channel placed in a room filled with 30 other speakers when it's hooked up to power different from your own power? Is either path really a sensible method for the purchase of a $6,800 center channel? It's a rhetorical question because you NEVER know exactly how any audio system will really sound until you wire it up and fire it up in your listening room. My point is that every audio purchase is ultimately a leap of faith. Who figured the audio world could be so faith based? So get on your knees, open your wallet and pray that the ACC meets YOUR expectations.
I own the Magico ACC. True enough it does need a capable power amplifier to make it sing. I'd also add it is well timbre matched with my Magico M3 main speakers and provides a seamless sound field across the front for multi-channel movies.