Key to the success of the V is the new Wavelet Processor. Wisely, Legacy left behind the generic Xilica processor for a new component dedicated for use with its speakers. The Wavelet now performs a suite of functions, including control preamp, premium DAC, digital crossover with time alignment for each driver section, and acoustic correction system that the manual states “… will literally ‘learn’ your room.” A source, either analog or digital, can be input directly to the Wavelet and sent on from it to the amplification of one’s choice. Owners of the old Xilica are urged to upgrade for a sure performance boost.
The Legacy Wavelet Processor sports a pleasant flat black aluminum chassis with a large powdered aluminum silver volume wheel on the right and a line of diminutive push buttons to the left of the oversized blue LED display. The functions are selected by push buttons with corresponding blue LEDs. Input, Mode, DAC Preset, Mute, Contour, and Channel Level are also found (among others) in the Legacy remote control app. These functions as well as the Bohmer correction features are discussed below. It is sensible that these functions are redundant on the unit itself should the Legacy online app remote functionality not be accessible (i.e. your tablet hosting the Legacy remote app is out of commission). The large blue LED display is gloriously grand sized and dimmable. A word to the wise: the action of the volume control on the Wavelet is compounded the longer it is depressed. Care should be exercised that one does not depress the button too long when bringing up the volume or else enormous leaps in level are possible.
Setup of the Wavelet requires online access, which in my case necessitated using Internet over power line devices I had installed in my home previously. When I built my listening room I encased it with resilient channel to decouple the ceiling and walls from the studs. The result was that I built a vault; I cannot push a wireless signal through the walls even with signal boosters just outside and inside the door! I wired the room for online connectivity, but over time a breach in the connection occurred and I have not been motivated to tear into the massively overbuilt room to find it. Consequently I tried what seemed a desperate measure, a power line internet signal carrier, a set of converters that pony the main computer’s internet signal from the desktop to wherever in the home remotely one wishes to receive the signal. It works, and works beautifully, without carrier noise! I use the receiving unit’s hard connection inside the listening room, connecting to the Salk Audio StreamPlayer III, discussed below, as it has no Wi-Fi operability. I now daily employ Tidal as a source and Roon music interface with results bettering any CD player regardless of cost that I have used.
VOLTAGE: The Power and the Glory of the Wavelet
During my time with the V, I had the pleasure to review the Salk Audio StreamPlayer file server/streamer. Set up with both Roon and Tidal, I have found it to far surpass my previous Mac Mini setup with HQPlayer software. Normally I consider alternative power options for components, and the StreamPlayer and Wavelet were no exceptions.
I do, however, make one sizable exception to the treatment of a system’s power. I don’t typically like “all in one” power regeneration or conditioning solutions. I find them, as a lot, to hinder as much as help the system’s sound. I am content with many of the smaller, component-specific solutions in terms of power upgrades. The Exogal Comet DAC (reviewed) benefits nicely from its own upgrade power supply, the PLUS. The StreamPlayer’s performance was lifted by the addition of the HD-PLEX 100 Watt Linear Power Supply ($395), and the Wavelet, too, showed improvement through use of this affordable power supply. The HD-PLEX can be ordered with one or two supplies in a single chassis. Seeing the potential to influence both the Salk and Legacy products, I elected to treat both with the HD-PLEX. It can be configured to provide the proper voltage for the components at hand, in this case 19V for the particular StreamPlayer III on review (I believe that Salk Audio may have made a change to the current StreamPlayer III to a 12V input; check with Salk Audio before ordering an HD-PLEX unit) and 12V for the Wavelet.
In my experience, adding on a component-specific complementary power supply is all but assured to improve the system’s sound. However, once in a while the particular configuration of the system prevents success. There are occasionally incompatibilities between components not at all due to inferior design or performance but due to differing parameters of operation. The HD-PLEX turned out to be propitious when set up with the Wavelet alone but problematic when used with both the Wavelet and the Exogal Comet as an outboard DAC feeding the Wavelet.
I worked with five alternative setups and it will be easiest to present them here before I discuss the outcomes:
StreamPlayer III and Wavelet with stock power supplies
HD-PLEX power supply upgrade to StreamPlayer III only
HD-PLEX power supply upgrade to both StreamPlayer III and Wavelet (Exogal Comet not used)
HD-PLEX supplying power to StreamPlayer III and Wavelet (Exogal comet used)
HD-PLEX supplying power to StreamPlayer III and PS Audio Power Cord added to stock Wavelet power supply (Exogal Comet not used)
It should be noted that I took the time to try five different power configurations for this speaker system. Were the power configuration for an audio system of marginal importance I would not spend my time on it. However, it is so important, being especially noticeable in upper end systems, I am willing to run down several alternatives to find the best one. If you have paid scant attention to power cabling and component-specific power supply upgrades then you have not finished your job as a builder of an ultimate system. You are completely off base if you dedicate time to ancillary tweaks, such as cones, bowls and weights or similar, and neglect the power. I would be falling short of the goal of the most thorough and appropriate review of the V if I did not pursue this element of setting up its Wavelet processor.
Only one of the configurations, the fourth, was not beneficial. The system improved in all other instances when this outboard power supply was used with the StreamPlayer III or the Wavelet. However, when the HD-PLEX was connected to both the Wavelet and StreamPlayer III and the Exogal Comet was in use, I could not get sound from the system. Punctiliously checking and re-checking the connections, making sure Tidal and Roon were operational, the rig simply would not produce sound when all three were joined. At no time did any component default and no noise was emitted – it just didn’t play music. If I took out any one piece, the system would operate at a sound quality superior to the stock configuration.
Regardless, have I used the HD-PLEX ongoing? Absolutely! It is an efficacious part of the best systems I can build with the V. As aforesaid, its use with both the StreamPlayer III and Wavelet can be recommended. The external DAC seems to have been the wildcard. Bill Dudleston is not too excited about placement of an external DAC into the system with the Wavelet. I am receiving mixed messages on this; at least one V owner I know recommended the addition of an external DAC as a necessity and urged me to try it. Would it enhance or limit the performance of the Wavelet?
My goal in much of the remainder of this review is to produce stimulating thought to fire your imagination as I explain what I discovered about making the V an unstoppable force. I will discuss not a “meaningful” or “significant” improvement to the V’s performance, but an explosive – yes, volcanic – performance improvement. If the V is set up optimally it becomes competitive with the largest models of the brands mentioned in Part 1 that are multiples more costly than the V. I entitled this section of the review “Vigorous” because, as far as speaker systems go, the Wavelet processor is much more flexible in setup and the V far more vigorous in performance potential than most top-flight speakers.
With some upper echelon passive speakers you can tweak their drivers by means of attenuation. So what? The V can do that all day long using the Bohmer software within the Wavelet. It allows the owner, through use of the supplied microphone and XLR cable (you will need to buy or borrow a microphone stand), to take measurements via the Legacy remote control software that is used to calibrate the speaker’s response. Bill explained that Brent Bohmer devised a system where, rather than sampling at several points and averaging the responses, samples are taken of the radiation path of the loudspeaker over a large time window of 500ms. This shows the reflected waves building up sequentially. Bill stated, “Bernt Bohmer had been working on a calculation intensive optimization to find the best solution within the time domain where these problems originate. He understood that the frequency response errors we see are merely a symptom of the real problem, information combining out of sequence. The solution works so well that you can stand in a corner and it will not exhibit the droning boom that seemed previously inevitable.”
The Bohmer system works remarkably well. The procedure Setup is controlled from the Legacy (Bohmer) online remote. First, all channels are “pinged” with white noise to ensure the connections are correct, then the room correction begins in earnest. One speaker at a time, the Wavelet sends frequency sweeps to be picked up by the microphone. The Wavelet forwards them to a supercomputer in Sweden for heavy number crunching (how exotic is that?) and when finished the individual speakers are calibrated and the room correction turned on. Note that correction can be defeated via the remote control. The calibration operates no matter what adjustments are made by the user via the Contour controls for Bass, Treble or Punch.
Toggling between the on and off positions of the Bohmer Correction was not much less dramatic than flipping a light switch on or off. The lower foundation of the music collapsed and the bass went M.I.A. without the Bohmer correction. With the correction I heard startling impact and precision that reminded me of how of some manufacturers use smaller bass drivers in an attempt to keep the bass under tight reins. When that is done with smallish bass drivers I can’t get past the “popping” effect as they attempt to generate serious LF. In this instance, however, as the V utilizes several 12” and 10” bass drivers, the popping characteristic contained muscularity, a significant tactile strength, and thus did not seem foreign to the overall experience.
Some of the other speakers in the listing in Part 1 allow you to adjust the tilt of individual modules. What they don’t tell you is that you are screwing around with the time alignment of the drivers when you pull them in and out and/or rearrange their baffle slope. This not only influences the action of the one driver but the interaction of all of them. The odds are that the owner will not hit upon optimum performance through such adjustments. Conversely, the V does not allow you to adjust such things, but it is time aligned in the digital domain. Would you really want to mess that up? It is certainly not a negative that the V has the drivers fixed in their locations.
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