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Legacy Audio V Speaker System Review, Part 2

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CTRL+V

That little key combination, “ctrl+V,” gives a writer nearly superhuman powers. It allows hundreds of keystrokes, wending paragraphs of thought, to be located precisely where one wishes. I use it regularly in writing reviews. I also displace a lot of audio gear when reviewing systems. Once I have a grip on the sound, I pull out one component and insert another; it’s the fastest and most sure way to learn precisely what a speaker system does. The V is all about giving you control. The selection of amplifier(s) is a determining factor in how much control the V exerts.

What if you did take the extra step of procuring fancier amps, would the V deliver a noticeable improvement? To find out, I swapped out the Powerbloc4 for the elegant AVM Ovation SA-6.2 Amplifiers (under review). These German bad boys have impeccable build quality and uber-slick features, such as on-the-fly switching between 2 ohm, 4 ohm and 8 ohm output. I made sure to configure the amps for the V not only in the 4ohm but also the 8 ohm output modes. That meant going through the Bohmer room correction setup steps twice, but the results were more than worth the time commitment.

The 8 ohm output was far and away the winner in terms of producing the most glamorous sound with the V. How did it compare to the Powerbloc4? Frankly, the Powerbloc4 was left behind and could not be compared as close in nature to the SA-6.2, but the price difference is a multiple of six. Just when I think that Class D is closing the gap between it and Class A/AB designs, an amp like the SA-6.2 reminds me that all genres of amps have been reaching new performance thresholds in recent years. The SA-6.2 promises superior performance with triple power supplies, high current MOSFET technology with a maximum of 180 amperes per channel, and analog stages that are DC coupled..

How much benefit can changing out amp channels for only the upper half of a speaker with an activesection yield? I once changed out a single driver, an upgraded ribbon element of the Eminent Technology LFT Speaker as I was converting it from the A version to the B version. That one seemingly simple change was enough to fool the ears into thinking they were hearing a redesigned speaker! Replacing amps with the V has the potential to cause a sea change in the V’s performance.

What I would term the “sparkle” factor, the vividness and lingering presence in decay of notes and those notes being captured in the acoustic space of the venue, was exceptional with the AVM amps. A friend who owns the Volti Alura hybrid horn speakers and Border Patrol amplification uses vinyl extensively. His rig is characterized by shocking vividness, an “alertness” if you will, that escapes frumpier tower speakers with much less efficiency. With the Ovation amps, I heard that snap, the alertness of the V as if it had woken up. I certainly did not consider the previous performance to be sleepy until I heard this result. It goes to show that you simply have to hear several systems with a speaker or you have no clue as to its outside limitations.

Clarinetist David Krakauer’s “Tribe Number Thirteen” is an acquired taste. Some may consider this piece of music about as successful as the 1996 assault on Everest chronicled by Jon Krakauer (no relation) in his book “Into Thin Air”, a disaster that claimed the lives of mountaineering legends Rob Hall and Scott Fischer. One might say David’s vibe on this piece is akin to a tumbling avalanche. That avalanche of notes didn’t seem flat until I heard a comparatively more deep and turbulent result with the Ovation SA-2.6. I heard in the latter amp’s contribution not only the notes exiting the mouth of the clarinet but the entire flow of the note from the reed through the body of the instrument. If one can appreciate the difficulty of David’s playing, particularly beneficial for assessment is a comparison of the studio versus live recording.

The Ovation SA-6.2 so invigorates the V it makes me reflexively look around to see if there is anything I can sell, which is a sign of equipment induced insanity considering the V itself is beyond my means. The combination was so enthralling that it arrested my note taking and I sat spellbound for half an hour absorbing the experience. Who would not be mesmerized by Candace Springs’ “Talk To Me?” I am a sucker for altos, and the SA-6.2 worked with the V in such a gratifying fashion that I searched for all her albums and made sure I had two or three of her tracks among the 242 pieces of music I used for the review of the V. Simply put, if money were no object, the AVM amps would be used in a heartbeat.

 

VETTING

In this review I have conducted the equivalent of a deep background check on a person; I know – and now you do as well – a tremendous amount about the V. In terms of performance specifications and malleability of setup the V easily passes inspection. But the real test of a speaker is whether it connects with the intellect and the emotions, moving the listener to sheer delight.

Does the V Meld with My Intellect? I’m merciless on systems. If it doesn’t move me it doesn’t survive. No “break in” period read my Audiophile Law in regard to Break In and you will see why it is a fairly useless concept for system development), no long shots, only the strongest performers survive year to year.

If a speaker system can cause me to enjoy a genre of music I normally ignore, that’s a sign the speakers are exceptional. Matt Bianco’s “La Luna” is a saucy Bossa Nova number with throbbing bass and maracas clacking – not really what I search for, yet I find myself compulsively moving when hearing it, as though the band is incarnate in my room and I have no choice but to sway.

Next I turn my attention to Zoe Keating’s raspy, gutty “Escape Artist” and with the V’s solidity of images and intensity of wave launch I become focused on her cello. It’s making jagged, angular notes, jarringly different from the party atmosphere of a few moments ago. Yet, I am immersed as every resonance in respective frequency is accounted for. I can’t get comfortable with it, which is precisely what this piece is about. I can’t turn away from it until the piece is executed, until it gives up its spirit. The V successfully captured the tension of the escape artist. Thus it goes from artist to artist, genre to genre, the V holding me in rapt attention.

If I want a slice of purist jazz I play “Jive Samba” by Duduka Da Fonseca Trio. The cymbal work is relaxing as it ebbs and flows with delicate tapping and soft brushwork. It nearly has the effect of waves of the ocean, lulling me. It’s a wonder to hear how exquisitely gentle such a hard-surfaced, potentially disruptive percussion instrument can be. The keyboard and guitar wind their way throughout the cymbal work more leisurely than with urgency. At moments the three instruments meld into a coherent unity and there is something nearly spiritual about it.

For decades I had to endure pathetically compromised playback of The Alan Parson’s Project’s “Some Other Time,” and other favorites. Growing up, if there was one artist who connected deeply with my quirky but thoughtful teenage mind it was Alan Parsons. The vastness of the Project’s themes, the ingenuity of the engineering and the freshness of guest artists’ performances enthralled me. It was magical except for the wretched sound quality. No longer! Hearing these favorites now, I’m in the studio with the Project, living a high definition dream, precisely the result I envisioned when I built my room. Parsons with real bass! Parsons with no veils obscuring the music! Parsons with every vocal and guitar riff cleanly rendered – nostalgia perfected in 21st century sound quality!

Does the V Connect with My Emotions?

I have “up” DNA, and it is manifested in desiring to hear upbeat music. While some might enjoy musical genres such as Death Metal, Dark Ambient or Acid Techno, I often settle on Smooth Jazz because it is usually happy music. I might also turn to Motown classics or early Soul. The O’Jays could nearly make “Back Stabbers” sound positive. Well, maybe not their version, but certainly the instrumental remake by Larry Carlton brims with positivity. Through the V system guitar and horns slide past each other with such close proximity that they seem to be of one essence. Carlton’s guitar is not stiff or edgy but full-bodied and delicate in the hands of a quintessential studio musician turned star performer.

I never know what kind of music will be playing when I come home at day’s end. My wife uses Sonos and streams Pandora with an eye toward creating a variety of “radio stations.” She might be playing Folk, 80’s Alternative, Christian Contemporary, Rock guitar legends, Spirituals or the Chris and Cosey station. How does a Smooth Jazz lover come to grips with that? What do we choose to do for a live music event? On our horizon is a live encounter with Pink Martini.

In the listening room preparing for the concert, for the life of me I don’t know why the trashy “Hey Eugene” has caught my ears, but the campy lyrics are worth suffering through to hear China Forbes’ silky voice. Listening to the song on the V System, the Powerbloc4 illuminated her performance, but with a lower power spotlight that kept the rest of the band largely in the dark. Hearing the same song with the AVM Ovation SA-6.2 amps was like seeing the house lights turned up and the band coming out of the shadows. I crank it up to an elevated but not quite live level. There is no hint of stress, no perceived distortion, only full on experience. I half expect the concert will not sound as good. The V is tactile, precipitating glorious sound quality such that there is a good chance I will be disappointed in the live performance. I’m concerned at times that I am listening too loudly. But when a speaker is volcanic, with finesse at 90 decibels to effortlessly wrap me in an immersive and palpable sound field, how can I not listen loud when inspired? The problem is, the V always inspires and my ears give out long before the speaker. So, I dial it back, but it’s still completely gratifying.

 

VICTORIOUS

A speaker wins when it gets sold in large numbers by the manufacturer and is loved by the owners. The V deserves to be sold briskly around the world and cherished by audiophile fanatics. Its performance cuts like a blowtorch through my steely reviewer defenses and has my mind in machinations of how I could possibly own it. It is so far beyond the range of speakers I have ever owned that I see no clear path to ownership. But I’m going to try because it is Vesuvius, a sonic strato-volcano!

 

 

Associated Components:

Source: Salk Audio StreamPlayer Generation III with ROON interface
Streaming Music Service: Tidal
Playback Software: ROON
DAC: Eastern Electric Minimax DSD DAC Supreme with Burson, Dexa NewClassD and Sparkos Labs Discrete Opamp Upgrade; Exogal Comet DAC and upgrade power supply, LampizatOr Big 7
Preamp: TEO Audio Liquid Preamplifier; VAC Renaissance Signature Preamplifier MkIICambridge Audio 840E
Amps: Red Dragon S500; VAC Phi 200; First Watt J2 (two)
SpeakersKings Audio Kingsound King III; Legacy Audio DSW Clarity Edition; Kings Audio King Tower omnidirectional; Vapor Audio Joule White 3; PureAudioProject Trio15 TB (Tang Band) and Trio15 Voxativiv
Subwoofers: Legacy Audio XTREME HD (2)
IC’s: TEO Liquid Splash-Rs and Splash-Rc; TEO Liquid Standard MkII; Clarity Cable Organic RCA/XLR; Snake River Audio Signature Series Interconnects; Silent Source “The Music Reference”
Speaker Cables: TEO  Cable Standard Speaker; Clarity Cable Organic Speaker; Snake River Audio Signature Series Speaker Cables; Silent Source “The Music Reference”
Digital Cables: Clarity Cable Organic Digital; Snake River Audio Boomslang; Silent Source “The Music Reference”
USB: Verastarr Nemesis; Clarity Organic
Power Cables: Verastarr Grand Illusion; Clarity Cable Vortex; MIT Oracle ZIII; Xindak PF-Gold; Snake River Audio Signature Series; Silent Source “The Music Reference”
Power Conditioning: Wireworld Matrix Power Cord Extender; Tice Audio Solo

 

Copy editor: Dan Rubin

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,

    Yup.

    Blessings,
    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.

    Blessings,
    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.

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

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