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Legacy Audio Helix Floorstanding Speaker Review


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“This is not listening to a system; this is listening to music!” –

Although building a high-end system to perfection is an art, I feel I have accomplished the task of putting together a rig which would impress even the most discriminating audiophile. There are many rigs which I assemble that have aspects of performance that are commendable. Would I recommend anyone searching for near ultimate performance purchase those entire systems? No. However, I do feel that the Super-review system is so good that I would recommend it in its entirety to those with the means. It has the attributes of the finest sounding systems available, and offers surprising flexibility in set up. In terms of overall performance, it is elite, and only the preamp would need to be chosen to match up with one’s preferences.

Audiophile friend’s comment upon hearing the Super-review system.

Expand and Shape, or Shape and Expand?

Increasingly, mankind is becoming aware that the slightest nuances of sound at various levels drastically affect life. As in critical facets of physical life, so it happens also in the realm of audio; the lowest, inaudible elements of complexity in the signal largely determine the resultant audio experience. For this reason, Bill has chosen to shape the “lowest levels” of sound through use of an active crossover prior to expansion of the signal. I will endeavor to show that an active crossover, when used before amplification, exerts a profound influence in attaining a sense of life in reproduced music.

I open the door to the listening room, turn on the light, fire up the rig

As audiophiles grow in maturity, they continue to place emphasis on the quality of the system’s front-end. Those without the means, or inclination to believe, that the pristine nature of the source is fundamental to the highest sound quality are incredulous at the amount of money that can be spent on a CD player or turntable. Those with the highest-end rigs are not surprised at all, for they have heard the impact of a quality source upstream. However, the speaker crossover presents a repositionable variable, one which is not often considered. As the enthusiast can move up the audio “food chain” from receivers to integrateds, and on to separates, so also one can move up the speaker chain from traditional dynamic speakers to passive speakers with active crossover solutions. The results can be much more gratifying than switching sources. But, what motivation would a listener have to do so? That is what I aimed to discover and will share with you.

and begin another listening event. Even experienced audiophiles would

The Non-Component Component


To a sizable number of audiophiles, the crossover is a “non-component”, a device which is part of a speaker, sitting inside benignly doing its job as the drivers are observed (often obsessively) flexing.

The use of an active crossover moves it from the status as a part of a speaker to an independent component. In the mind of an engineer, the crossover already is an independent component (a passive one, not requiring a power source of its own) of the speaker system, nestled mostly inside cabinets. An audiophile may have a general awareness about the importance of crossovers, that their assemblage and tuning by the manufacturer dictate quite a bit of the performance of the speaker. What’s less known is that, in Legacy’s view, the performance of a crossover can be dramatically improved by making it an external active component and placing it before the amplification.

struggle to understand how thrilling this sounds.

For the uninitiated, the idea of jockeying around the crossover to place it prior (as an active device with its own power source) to amplification versus after (as a passive device within the speaker cabinet) might seem nit picking. It is not.

Just as Chaos Theorists have discovered that exquisitely tiny variations in Nature can have global consequences, so also can rearrangement of the crossover transform performance of the entire speaker. By manipulating (and I do mean manipulating – as the Helix crossover is actually an eight-channel, 24-bit digital processor) the signal in the most miniscule fashion pre-amplification, there is a mind-boggling array of possibilities opened for precision tuning. The ability to tailor each driver set’s frequency curve in real time is the sonic equivalent of moving from a Model T to the Mars Lander. Control over the initial conditions, and hence the ending conditions, is so superb that one experiences auditory effect not unlike the improvement of a plasma TV over a conventional television.

This is a supercar – extreme skydiving – free solo climbing. With my

The active crossover-passive speaker format is so technically different, and can produce such dramatically different results in certain aspects of audio reproduction, that it is rightly categorized as a different genre of speaker.

Speaker manufacturers have known for some time that in certain applications, this technology can outperform comparable traditional speakers. Manufacturers, like Legacy, are now vying to prove that such performance will win over high-minded, high-end domestic listeners as well. One of the greatest barriers to selling an actively crossed speaker system has been the perception on the part of the public that an exceedingly high-level of technical prowess is required. Speaker designers, Legacy included, have been working overtime to eliminate that barrier and smooth the way for wider ownership.

finger on the volume button I feel I’m pushing the limits. And I LIKE it!

Extreme High-End

We audiophiles tend to desire supreme results with minimum effort. However, technology doesn’t always work that way. The audiophile can achieve a modicum of success with minimal effort and expense. With diligence, and usually more expense, a person can overachieve by buying extremely high quality traditional components. Despite bearing a name such as “Legacy”, the Helix is not a traditional speaker – nor does it perform like one.

Those looking for extreme performance should not be put off by the fear of complexity, as this type of speaker system has become much more manageable.

Is there anywhere upward left to go in terms of speakers? It’s like I’ve

In the world of fashion, “Haute Couture” denotes the most personal and exquisite clothing. In one sense, the Helix is one-of-a-kind and approaches “Haute Technure” status by tailoring the best in speakers to one’s personal preferences. The Helix is not designed to be everyman’s speaker; rather they are an extreme speaker, the enthusiast’s speaker, incorporating some of the best technology and design available. In some ways it is the model speaker.

climbed Everest, I’m past the last camp, and the summit is in sight.

From ample time spent with the Helix I confirm there definitely is something to the distribution and shaping of the frequency, prior to amplification, which serves the resultant sound well. I assess technological “improvements” on a real world basis using my Law of Efficacy. The law states that for any proffered improvement to be worthwhile it must be immediate and radically different. Especially in the case of a speaker system using alternative technological approach and costing in excess of $40K, it had better sound radically better than average or else I would consider it a waste of money.

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