It has been tried many times in
past, with varying degrees of success, yet no one has achieved
the ultimate goal. The carrot is magnetic levitation, floating
a component in mid air; itís the holy grail of component
There are a
number of hurdles to overcome if one is to reach the hallowed
ground. The path is beset with myriad pitfalls, one sure to
catch even the wiliest among those who set out on the journey.
For example, how to control the obviously strong magnetic
field surrounding the very powerful permanent magnets required
to suspend any significant weight. Clearly, the presence of
such a strong field would make the device virtually unusable
in the world of high-end audio, where many products are
sensitive to EMI.
to keep the magnets from sliding away from another. You
probably remember playing with magnets in elementary school
science class experiments; finding that while indeed magnets
with opposite poles indeed repel, itís hard to keep them
centered, one over the other. Another tough hurdle.
As I said,
there have been a number of attempts at making the concept
work. I recall the first effort I set eyes on; it was about
ten years ago at CES. An industrious fellow had fashioned a
platform using opposing magnets on the top and bottom. It
worked, fairly well, but was very costly and looked as though
it would spew a magnetic field strong enough to rip the buckle
off your belt if you came within spitting distance. It never
went into production.
recently, the Relaxa platform (from the Italian firm, SAP)
came to my attention. This device works well, but does employ
a guide pin, which rolls on a bearing, to stabilize the top
and bottom parts of the platform. While it does indeed float
the top of the platform on a magnetic field, the presence of
the guide pin results in at least some mechanical coupling to
the bottom of the unit. The Relaxa comes close to, but does
fully suspend the component in air. Itís an alluring device
nonetheless, teasing us with the potential of the concept.
By now I bet
youíre guessing that a design is upon us which has managed to
fulfill the promise; and youíd be right.
A few months back I learned of
an isolation device produced by the German firm, Clearaudio.
Youíve likely seen or heard of their superb turntables and
phono cartridges. The Company is well known for quality,
performance and innovative design, but their engineering
abilities must certainly have been tested on this one!
The Magix is
a unique design that appears to have accomplished what so many
others have attempted; suspending a component on nothing but a
cushion of air. Two significant breakthroughs here: first is
the ability of the Magix to completely isolate the
component; there is simply no connection between the top and
bottom portion of the device! The second
accomplishment is elimination of the magnetic field. The
self-shielding design of the Magix eradicates the magnetic
field so problematic in other attempts. This was a critical
design criterion for Clearaudio, as their primary goal for
Magix was turntable isolation. What could be more
sensitive to magnetic fields than a phono cartridge?
theyíve succeeded in quashing the magnetic field. At the 2003
CES a total of twelve Magix isolators were used to
float the massive Clearaudio Anniversary turntable tracking a
sensitive Insider cartridge. That number was required to
support the significant weight of the Ďtable and base, but you
can imagine what would have been the outcome if even a small
amount of magnetic flux was leaked by each Magix.
the electromagnetic field issue answered, we come to another
important point; weight-bearing capacity. Each Magix
isolator supports approximately 12 pounds. Divide the weight
of the component to be isolated by twelve to determine the
number of Magix required.
Clearly, it may be cost prohibitive to float some components,
such as large amplifiers or speakers. However, in a very
accurate system of higher value, the cost may still be a
bargain considering the incredible performance improvement
possible with the Magix. Certainly most front-end gear
occupies a weight range consistent with practical
Measuring 3.5Ē (loaded) high and 4.25Ē in diameter, the
Magix may be too high for use on some interior rack
shelves where space above the component is limited.
Now that weíve covered all the technical bits, Iíll bet you
want to know how these things sound. Would I be too impetuous
to say; damn good, go buy some? Though Iím tempted to do just
that, Iíll be a bit more tactful and offer some details.
are lots of isolation devices out there, and all of them have
benefit. Iíve said for a long time that anything you place
under (or on top of) a component will change its resonance
characteristics, and therefore its sound. So, with that in
mind, there really is no wrong, assuming you like what you
Over a period of time weíve come know each of the various
devices for their individual characteristics. Listening to
what a person is trying to achieve helps us make a
recommendation on which device may best help them achieve
their goals. But then comes the Magix. I have found
them exceptionally difficult to categorize as they do not seem
to add any character of their own, but rather simply let the
music flow in a natural unimpeded manner. What would a
component sound like that was floating on air? If you can
imagine what the absence of vibration might sound like, youíre
improved, but not falsely so by a hyped sense of tonal or
dynamic exaggeration. Some devices increase apparent detail by
accentuating the leading edge of the transient envelope, and
that may be ok in some systems, but the Magix are an
altogether different kettle of fish.
What sets the
Magix apart from other devices of their kind is what
they donít do. I think we can all agree that any isolation
device imparts some sort of character of its own. That may be
increased detail, more speed, a slight softening, added
brightness, etc., etc. The Magix strips away those
artifacts, leaving behind a sense of purity and air.
Background silence is increased, subtle details are allowed to
unfold (rather than being forced out) and the music ebbs and
flows with a naturalness that is alluring.
As you might
aver by now, I am strongly attracted to these magnetic feet. I
have found them to be something of a revelation among
isolation devices and suggest highly that you give them a
whirl. Call me and order a few; I bet you too will experience
their Magix in your system.