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Legacy Audio V Speaker System Review, Part 2

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The V is more vigorous than most speakers since it is designed to be amenable to outboard sources in the analog domain. Legacy could have designed the Wavelet fixed in terms of the analog input settings, but that would have greatly limited the options in terms of components used with it. By incorporating what are called “Resistive Switches,” discussed in detail in the owner’s manual, the Wavelet invites exploration of outboard DACs and preamps.

I suspect there are very few people who actually know the capability of this speaker. From press show comments and reviews on the V it is apparent the audiophile community is not aware of this speaker’s latent capabilities. My guess is that Bill knows, but shows the speaker in a “neutral,” stock form at shows. The V in its native form will operate to satisfy high expectations by simply using the Wavelet for all the speaker’s needs. But there are other options, which elevate the performance. The Resistive Switches are one of the methods that confer an advantage when setting up the V System. 

I am curbing my comments slightly by discussing only the influence of an outboard DAC.. To capture the extensiveness and flexibility of the V’s functionality takes dozens of hours and several system setups. I must make decisions on which aspects are most critical to develop for the article. I made a judgment that the DAC would be the most profoundly influential component to be paired with the V’s analog inputs as opposed to duplication of attenuation with an external preamp. I chose to use three external DACs, one without volume control and two with volume control. Specific discussion of their performance with the Wavelet follows introductory comments on the Resistive Switches.

Those clever tiny switches hidden on the Wavelet’s backside near their respective analog inputs – oh, how I love those little beauties! They are the Resistive Switches; with a name that sounds so dull, who would want to spend time learning about switches that resist something? Now, if they would be named Analog Performance Optimization Controls and called the “APOC System” you can bet that everyone would be fawning over them. But Resistive Switches? Phhhhht, fugetaboutit. That would be the attitude of a lazy or technologically phobic audiophile. But if you want to learn a bundle in real world system building regarding the effects of the input level on a component and what adjusting it means in terms of sound quality you can go to school with the Wavelet.

Some sources have high output levels and others not so high output. How does one ensure that the output of the source they love will work with the Wavelet? If the input of the Wavelet was fixed and your source was not complementary, you would be busted; you would either have to accept compromised performance or search for another source. That’s a pretty harsh outcome in the world of fine electronics, and one that does not have to happen. Many manufacturers do not care, and they design their gear so that it is an all or nothing compatibility question. A thoughtful solution lies in the adjustability of the receiving component to accept a wider range of sources with their variant output levels. The V contains valuable tools so that nearly any source’s output level can be accepted. Those tools take the form of the Resistive Switches, but also include a hidden (as in internal) feature: jumpers on the circuit board that allow for +6dB of gain. I had no need of this feature and suggest that if you are interested in it you should consult Legacy. It means the V can be optimized when being paired with very low output sources. Using these features the odds of a poor result are greatly diminished and the odds of an extremely good result are greatly increased. Perhaps those little switches are sounding more interesting to you!

The compatibility of components in terms of output and input levels is a critical factor when setting up an ultimate system. Most audiophiles do not pay attention to it, as the range of compatibility is quite wide between components. However, performance of a system is on a continuum and optimized performance occupies a small area of the continuum. When it comes to matching the output level and input level of components usually it is a crapshoot whether matching any given source with preamp or DAC will be optimal. The odds are higher that it will not be optima, but instead will fall somewhere else along the performance continuum.

The V’s owner’s manual states that the Wavelet is “Analog Friendly,” but that is a gross understatement. The Wavelet is analog catalytic by not just accommodating such sources but leveraging them to produce a precipitating sonic event due to the Resistive Switches. In layman’s terms, these switches get you the potential to realize much better performance from the V.

The switches allow for three user-selected settings reducing the input sensitivity (attenuating the inputs) for two sets of RCA inputs and two sets of XLR inputs, each set of inputs with its own petite bank of Resistive Switches. The tiny white plastic switches in a red plastic holder inset into the cabinet look negligible. Don’t let their appearance fool you, as they are the keys to a secret super-performance mode of the Wavelet and the V! The mirror image configuration appears thus:

1        2         3                    4              5        6

The interpretation of the numbers regarding their attenuation is:

(Left) -3dB    -6dB   -12dB   (right)  -12dB       -6dB   -3dB


Clear instructions are found online in the owner’s manual, and the recommended initial setting for adding an outboard analog component is -12dB. To lower an analog input’s attenuation, a pair of switches at the desired attenuation value is placed in the bottom position. Note the mirror image arrangement of the switches. See the owner’s manual for explicit instructions and illustrations.

Initially I had read the manual but spent so much time working with the Bohmer room correction and user adjustable preferences in the Legacy online remote that I forgot about the Resistive Switches. A few weeks after setup I tried using the Exogal Comet and LampizatOr Big 7 DAC without adjustment of the switches and was disappointed that the results were not nearly as bold as I expected. I presumed the lackluster performance was due to the presence of an additional DAC preamp in the chain and an additional set of interconnects. Then I tried the Eastern Electric DSD Minimax DAC Supreme, which has no volume control, and it sounded distorted to the point of being unlistenable. This was a new wrinkle, as the dedicated Minimax DAC had never, in a dozen systems, sounded distorted.

Then I remembered the Wavelet’s input level was saturated by the high output levels of the DACs and could not handle it. The Minimax DAC outputs an unattenuated signal while the other DACs had volume controls. The other DACs had been picky and I found it challenging to find the Goldilocks settings whereby one component would be set at a fixed point on its attenuation and the listening volume controlled by the other component. The ideal is to have one component operate at 100% output with no attenuation, but no matter how I worked it I could not set either the Wavelet or the Comet and the Big 7 at anywhere near full output. I had to feather both the Wavelet and the DAC downward significantly to find an acceptable range of operation relative to each other, and even then the operative range was far narrower than typical.

Putting all this together I realized that I had been forcing far too high output signals into the Wavelet and should have used the Resistive Switches initially. No wonder that I was bothered by the diminished dynamics. I kept thinking the V’s subwoofers were not operating properly, as they sounded too timid for such a competent speaker. The Wavelet alone provided full, powerful bass, but when the outboard DACs were added the bass went bye-bye! This was a telltale sign that something was amiss.

What happened when the Resistive Switches were set to -12dB and the tests rerun? The performance of all three DACs was pulled into alignment such that their native characters were infused into the Wavelet and out to the V. As a more emotional response, I thought, “Holy crap! This system is way better than people know!” If possible, it was as though Legacy had developed a V+ version, an upgraded form of the same speaker.

Now the Eastern Electric Minimax DSD DAC Supreme, the one without a volume control and with the capacity to roll Opamps (see my extensive discussion of this in several articles associated with the Minimax DAC series), was crystalline, bright and shiny like a new penny. An elegant shimmer of freshness permeated the sound top to bottom. Digital information junkies and detail freaks would adore that sound. It tightened up the speaker without inducing too much warmth.

The Exogal Comet was the next dance partner, also used with the Resistive Switches set to -12dB. Here the V took on a fundamentally more mature character, with fleshed out and filled in color and muscularity. Think of it as a progression from a youthful body builder to the same contestant ten years later in his prime. There was more control, roundness and firmness as well as precision of the bass. The music cascaded into the room versus being shot out of a cannon. The Comet’s holistic addition to the experience was as if the Wavelet had a “Lush” button wherein the sound became entirely more elegant.

The LampizatOr Big 7 was graceful and added openness with approximately the same amount of information retrieval as the Comet. LampizatOr DACs typically have very high output and the Big 7 would be completely incompatible with the Wavelet and V Speakers if not for the Resistive Switches. Big bloom on the instruments and vocals was the calling card of the Big 7.


However, the exploration of inputs to the V was not over The USB input on the Wavelet is the preferred method of playing back digital sources. The only significant quibble I have with the layout of the Wavelet is that its USB connection accepts only USB Micro input. There is a standard USB B port, but it is used solely for software updates. The Micro USB connection protects against confusion by the user who might inadvertently use the update port as an input for a USB source. However, the Micro USB input severely limited options for aftermarket USB cabling to enhance the digital signal. The generic USB 2.0 to USB Micro cable supplied is functional, but it is not a high-end link. I was able to improve on the sound quality by using a short camera recharging cable. The problem is, there are precious few makers of quality USB to Micro USB cables. Thankfully, Audioquest has three models and Nordost one. I procured two of the three Audioquest offerings, the Pearl and Cinnamon, as well as the Nordost Purple Flare. They conferred instant, efficacious improvements to the V’s performance, and the Cinnamon was holistically more information-rich, plump and tonally warmer. I was disappointed in the Nordost Purple Flare. For as vaunted as the brand is, the link did not yield a supple, tonally rich sound, yet was a slight improvement over the stock cable.

But there is an even better solution. How does one get really gorgeous sound (Va-Va-Voom!) from the V speaker system if you do not wish to engage in component pairing? Simply ignore all of the previous discussion in regard to an outboard DAC and get an Audioquest USB B to Micro USB adapter to allow use of a high-grade standard USB cable with the Wavelet’s internal DAC. Bill described the heart of the Wavelet, its 56-bit processing DAC with chips sourced from Analog Devices and analog stages with no capacitors in the very short signal path. There are not two but eight channels of DAC conversion and the clocking units are those found normally in state of the art RF measurement equipment. Cutting edge RF-design rules are employed, keeping noise and interference vanishingly low and avoiding pollution of the clock circuit and eight channels of output.

All that digital design glory will remain obscured if the USB to Micro adapter with superior USB cable option is not pursued. If you do not follow up on my recommendation you will have paid for a component (internal DAC) that will never be optimized. The outboard DAC solution is good, but it also introduces potential drawbacks associated with adding unnecessary components and cabling. Do not think, “There’s no way the sound could get any better,” as the thought is simply wrong. Audiophiles are fooled upon hearing what their ears like into thinking it represents the apex of performance. Note well, there is not a product on the planet that, when casually introduced into your audio system, is likely to be optimized, and that covers all genres of HiFi devices and all systems. I built no less than ten discrete systems with the V and through doing so was able to greatly improve its performance over the initial setup. Cabling, specifically the Micro USB adapter with a variety of fine aftermarket USB cables, was key to achieving the best performance. It is the most cost effective and potent tweak one can do for the V.

The internal DAC of the Wavelet is supremely good, in fact as impressive as any of the other DACs, including the Exogal Comet and LampizatOr Big 7. You would never know that if not for releasing its inner potential via proper cabling, and the aforementioned inexpensive Audioquest and Nordost USB B to Micro USB cables were not up to the task. No matter how fine a speaker system it will underperform its potential when not supplied superior aftermarket cables. Bill may strongly disagree, but this is not up for debate in this review; it is my declaration to be accepted by the prospective owner of the V. Legacy Audio may not make a statement about the importance of this link, but I assert it is crucial.

With the Audioquest adapter I was able to use the best USB cables in my possession, the Silnote Epirus, Silnote Poseidon and Clarity Cable Organic, all 1m length. When I used any of these cables, the Wavelet’s DAC performance moved to the front of the pack (I had used these same USB cables with the outboard DACs when receiving the signal from the Salk StreamPlayer III).

It became obvious that severe limitations were placed on the performance of the Wavelet by the inexpensive USB to Micro USB cable that came with the unit. I cannot stress enough how important USB cable quality is to the final result. When the playing field was leveled as much as possible, the 56-bit processing of the Wavelet more than held its own with outboard DACs. If at all possible, the distance between the USB source and the Wavelet must be kept to a minimum and an excellent USB cable used. If you ignore this recommendation you will be hindering the performance of the Wavelet greatly.

Perhaps you are the owner of a fine DAC, even a megabuck one. It would be a mistake to not hear the full potential of the 56-bit processing of the Wavelet. The slight deleterious effect of the adapter – thankfully, a quality one made by Audioquest, whose adapters I find worthy of use when necessary – is more than offset by the higher quality link between source and Wavelet. If it were my pair of speakers, I would stick with the Wavelet, Audioquest adapter and high grade USB connection.

6 Responses to Legacy Audio V Speaker System Review, Part 2

  1. Zephyr24069 says:

    Doug,…this an outstanding review of the V and Wavelet; this system needs to be experienced with the depth and the care you have given it to be fully appreciated. It stands with the absolute finest speakers regardless of cost in the high-end audio world, and like the AERIS + Wavelet, has IMHO, the best ROI in the audio world!!!

  2. Zephyr24069,
    God’s Joy to you,


    Douglas Schroeder

  3. Wolf Tiling says:

    Doug,…I have to say that I only heard the V once in a showroom. As you said in your review, I also thought from left to right how I could afford to get a pair for my home. But financial restrictions allowed “only” for an Aeris.
    Reading your review let me think that if I wasn´t already fallen in love with my Legacy Aeris, I surely would with your marvelous review of the V. And I can only underline your description of the capability of the V (even though I sometimes doubt that any speaker can outperform my Aeris…)
    To get to know the Aeris I flew from Germany to Chicago (AXPONA 2015)! I met there Victoria, Bill and Doug ( who retired lately). That contact did not only convince me to buy an Aeris for my home, but it let me become the distributor for Legacy Hifi-speakers in Germany. So you might call me “biased”; but that is only true due to the performance of the speakers.
    I can fully underline your thoughts about the Wavelet. Initially I got my Aeris with the Xilica processor, which was hard to set up for someone who has not the knowledge of Bill. The switch to the Wavelet was a relief both in set up routine and listening experience. I loved my PS Audio DS DAC, but after trying the Auralic Aries directly into the Wavelet I let the DS go. I use the well build jCat USB cable with the Audioquest adapter as recommended by you. To ease the mechanical force on the tiny USB socket I laid a small wooden block under the adapter.
    I will today check your suggestion concerning the upsampling via Roon; but even without that tweak I´m a happy camper with my Aeris.
    One note on your amp-experience: Yes, the powerbloc gives a lot SQ for a small amount of money. But even Bill suggests to use different amps if money allows. I followed Bill´s advice to buy me a a pair of Coda Tm for my Aeris. These amps are a “match in heaven”, at least with the Aeris.
    The only concern I´m still struggling with is how to get more HiFi-hobbyists in Germany in contact with the Legacy speakers. If sound quality was more important than marketing budgets, Legacy would be a leading brand in Germany!

  4. Wolf,
    God’s Joy to you,

    It seems you have done quite well with your speakers, congratulations! I’m glad the Audioquest adapter idea was helpful.

    Regarding other amps, see my review of the AVM Ovation SA-6.2 Amplifiers, which were marvelous with the V.

    Douglas Schroeder

  5. Don Mallet says:

    I must say this is one of my favorite reviews due to the diligence and investigative fervor displayed. I have a pair of Focus SE speakers, using the Powerbloc2 as amplification. It is a marvelous pairing, and I think there is something special, though not intuitive or logical, in applying a powerful amp to efficient speakers. There is an effortlessness and ease which is addictive. I am intrigued by the Wavelet, and have no doubt the DSP is fabulous. Are the DAC and preamp sections up to that quality? Is MQA incompatible with DSP? Thanks again for your insights.

  6. Don,
    God’s Peace,

    Thank you for the complement. I consider the DAC and preamp sections to be of very high quality and quite suitable for obtaining a high end result. Regarding MQA, though the Wavelet is not at this time MQA capable, my understanding is that MQA songs could be played, though not “unfolded” entirely.

    Douglas Schroeder

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