This is the first of a new, quick “blast” of an article format I will use when updating a product I have reviewed. Prepare to be “blasted”!
Bottom line: Hey! Why not get to the bottom line first? That’s what everyone really wants anyway. The Legacy Audio Focus SE version, which stands for Silver Anniversary Edition, is THE dynamic floor standing speaker to beat under $10k.
Here’s why: I liked the HD version a lot. It’s got prodigious bottom-end with its 12” aluminum drivers; if you think speakers with 8” or 10” aluminum bass drivers have some cojones, you haven’t heard bass with a 12” aluminum driver! It has a nearly perfect melding of planar midrange, ribbon tweeter and dynamic mid/bass drivers. It’s got gorgeous cabinetry. At its performance level it’s miraculously affordable!
When the Legacy Helix speakers needed to be returned I decided to sooth the pain by upgrading to the Focus SE. This turned out to be an extremely wise thing to do.
The SE has a more streamlined, ritzy cabinet, which yields an extra 2 dB, down to a sub-woofing 16 Hz! The finish is a decadent “Black Pearl” that shimmers glamorously. Solen caps are used as bypasses in the high frequency network. The wiring to the upper ribbon is braided silver Kimber Kable, and the drivers are matched to +/- .25 dB! The design of the feet is clever, with a built-in “elastomeric isolation pads” (fancy rubber puck) between the cabinet and cone to diminish mechanical vibration. It is packaged in a velvet bag and encased in 3” thick foam for transport.
I bought the SE unheard, which is a personal choice, and simply an indication of how much I trust the abilities of Bill Dudleston. I have heard enough models of his current line of speakers to know he wouldn’t mess up on this upgrade. My faith was rewarded, well rewarded. The additional $1,600, pushing the speaker up to the $8,800 price point, is worth it.
I have heard plenty of speakers under $20K I would not trade for the SE. I have heard plenty of speakers under $20k which can’t even do full-range. Do you really want to have as your personal reference a speaker which wimps out at 35 Hz? I don’t. I want one that can actually do full range, like the SE.
As good as the integration of the midrange planar and neo-ribbon was on the HD, the silver internal cabling polishes their performance brilliantly. I was secretly fearful that the silver wiring might turn the tweeter a bit harsher. I shouldn’t have worried. I feel like I’m experiencing the speed of a planar with the power of a dynamic speaker. Huh, that is precisely what I’m hearing!
What was this system which has been so beguiling? It will surprise many, as it surprised me:
Ayon Audio CD-2
Wire World Platinum Eclipse IC’s and Silver Eclipse speaker cabling
Cambridge Audio Azur 840E Preamp
Cambridge Audio Azur 840W amps (two in mono config)
Legacy Audio Focus SE
The Ayon CD-2 and the Cambridge separates will both receive due treatment in their own upcoming reviews.
I have written this update on the SE version within one month of receiving it. You say, “That’s not enough time for a proper evaluation.” Baloney. When a product is a mix of positives and negatives I need time to work them out. When I find it challenging to set up a component to optimize performance, I may have to seek additional gear. When I’m confronted with a component which is not sounding as expected in my room, I need to discuss with the manufacturer possible solutions. None of those apply here.
Besides, this is a follow-up on a proven design, and it’s a BLAST! Blasts are fast.
You don’t need to see the Pieta ten times to see it’s a wonder. You only need to experience Petra or the Grand Canyon a few minutes to know they are marvels. I don’t need to hear this speaker longer to proclaim it a treasure*. One day with this speaker and you’ll know it’s no ordinary effort; one month with it and you’ll conclude it is a masterpiece at its price point. Recommended without reservation!
* I can’t comment on the SE’s long term reliability after one month. However, having used the Focus HD and the Legacy Helix both extensively without any hint of problems, and given that the SE is an upgrade of the HD, I’ll assume the SE has the same reliability. I wrote this in small type to see if you’d read it. Are you one of those people who actually read “the fine print”? Good for you! I think people who read the fine print have less rude surprises in life.
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