Double Open Doors 22.9.2018

By Keijo Tanskanen


Both Hifi Guru and TL Audio arranged their open doors a week after Hifi 2018 in Helsinki. Again, Guru has decided to limit the event to one day only and so did TL Audio as well. The arrangements were much like in the past, but this time, the theme of the Hifi Guru open doors was limited to the vinyl music only. So, only great vinyl samples were listened to! TL Audio has been years without any specific open doors events, but actually the doors have been “open” almost always when Tapani has been at home! However, this time those doors were officially open. I had two of my enthusiast friends with me, Ari and Olavi, who naturally will have my thanks for their support.

Setups and the sound

Hifi Guru’s set up was very similar to the Magico based setups which I have experienced in the past few years. During our visit, only vinyls were played, of course, by a tremendous Clearaudio Master Reference vinyl player which had Master TT2 tonearm and Clearaudio Stradivari V2 cartridge. Amplification was cared for by Burmester electronics. Different was that this time Magico S1 mkII speakers were partnered with a Velodyne DD-12 plus subwoofer. The cabling was naturally done by Transparent Audio products.

Guru played plenty of classical music samples, which illustrates the Guru’s favorite genre. However, the other genres were demoed as well. For example, Dire Straits’ first record was very nice to listen to, especially because it has 40th anniversary this year. For sure, the vinyl source and vinyl records have their own audible strengths, although all fans of digital sources do not admit it. The certain technical specifications do not tell the whole truth of the competition, and once again Hifi Guru’s demonstration was a good proof of this.

Again, the music interpretations were reproduced dynamically, revealingly and authentically, even slightly outside of the sweet spot. This was verified by the other members of the group as well. Also, the openness of the sound made it easy to concentrate on the details of the music and also on the instrument locations inside the sonic view. As a whole, the sonic picture seemed to be slightly more on the controlled than extensive side.

Although Magico S1 mk IIs are not lacking bass, specifically, Guru had decided to integrate a subwoofer into the main speakers. How did it work? Well, if not perfectly, then very near it. It was almost impossible to find any discontinuity in the bass region. The job had been done very carefully, taking good care of naturality. The bottom end was extensive and bass lines were very easy to follow. If a subwoofer has to be integrated, this is the right way how it should be done!

Because Guru played only vinyl records, the quite typical harshness of CDs, especially badly mastered ones, did not exist and was not underlined by the speakers. Instead, one could enjoy the whole music repertoire! The over-all performance was smooth, enjoyable, but also very well known, at least for me and my friends.

In TL Audio, we also met a setup and sound against which we had very little to blame. The demoed speakers were new Magico A3s which were fed by Devialet integrated amplifier, Bluesound Vault 2 and Tidal streamer. Therefore, the setup was very simple and the physical signal path short. TL played digital samples which were carefully selected, the sound quality of which will fulfill even the most critical requirements, and even more importantly, which we knew very well already.

The contents of the music seemed to have very correct timbres of the instruments. There were no hints of extra brightness or exaggerations in the audio bandwidth. Instead, the performance seemed to be exceptionally well in balance! This is a crucial thing as regards long term listening and possible listening fatigue. With this setup and these speakers, there will not be any problems in this manner!

The sonic picture was big and well organized. One could easily imagine being listening to much bigger speakers than A3s actually were. Also, the bottom end was surprisingly extensive and punchy, probably partially because of the quite good match of the speakers and the room, but not quite being able to deliver such slams than bigger setups do. However, it was nice to recognize that one could quite easily listen to the music without thinking about these issues.

As for Magico speakers, audiophiles are commonly talking about their resolution and transparency. In this case, the sound did not have such an underlined clarity or those tiny micro details which were delivered by the S or Q models. A3s are clearly different ones, but not necessarily inferior taking into account their whole sonic performance.

Although TL Audio's setup could not deliver as much revelation, resolution and top end shimmering than some of the much more expensive setups do, it could nevertheless pull out music in such a way of smoothness and relaxation which we have not experienced often, for example, when Magico S and Q models have been on the stage. And you must believe, this is honestly said! Actually, what was missed, which actually concerns all the reported lacks, was quite marginal. Demoed was a simple and impressive audiophile setup, which delivered plenty of pleasures, at least for us.


Both setups and their performances blow out the typical mass event demonstrations easily. Also, once again, the strengths for arranging separate open doors instead of participation in mass events were strengthened. If one already has listened to Magico S3 and S1 mk II at Hifi Guru, there was not much new to experience. The sound was simply hand touchingly open without any significant flaws.

What surprised us this time was the performance of Magico A3 at TL Audio. Finally, Magico has done a high end speaker which truly is very competitive, also in its price class. Now, for 14.5 k€, one will have damn much of a good speaker! The performance was simply lovely and will surely have acceptance of larger scale audio enthusiasts than the Magico’s "resolution monsters" do. Very well done Magico and excellently demoed by TL Audio.

Thank you Hifi Guru and TL Audio!