Publisher Profile

Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra multi-channel amplifier Review

By: |

 

When my sister and I were children, we had a self-propelled spinning ride in the backyard that I recall as the “Whirlybird,” and it still exists in the form of the Twirl-go-round. It was nearly as much fun as the barrel furniture chair in our family room that my sister and I would give each other rides on until we were dizzy. I think the spinning barrel ride at Six Flags amusement park, with the floor that dropped out, leaving the riders pinned to the wall, did me in for spinning rides. I still like going fast, but in a mostly straight line!

You want to get off the equipment merry-go-round? I want it to move faster! Major changes to the system at a frequency of approximately every three weeks is a comfortable pace for me. I keep things moving and always interesting! I cover much more ground in a typical review period than the average reviewer. I usually build no fewer than 12, and often as many as 15, discrete systems during a review. I do not conduct rushed reviews of only several weeks. In association with the amplifier under review I used seven different speakers: Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition (hybrid, quasi-line source), King’s Audio Kingsound King III (electrostatic), Ohm Walsh Model F (omnidirectional), Vapor Audio Joule White (dynamic), Salk Sound SS 9.5 (dynamic), PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn 1 (hybrid, horn), Aspen Acoustics Lagrange L5 MkII (hybrid dynamic, under review). For each of these speakers I made several discrete systems in order to optimize performance. I know how this amp sounds with a wide range of speakers.

I do not waste my life tweaking systems, I build systems. I have concluded that tweaks are for those who wish to have change but do not wish to spend money and/or are nearing the end of their system building phase and wish to collect media or enjoy the music on a static system. If you elect to use proper room treatment (panels, baffles, and bass traps, not baubles and trinkets), then the real changes come with components  like the Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra Amplifier. It is a waste to divert money toward tweaks when components such as this exist.

Anchoring

Let’s say you do not wish to ride the equipment merry-go-round; you are smarter than that! You made your decisions a while back, and you have anchored your system in good quality gear that will always sound good, products that will hold their value. The operative word here is anchored, as in unchanging, unless you have tubes in your components, in which case your sound is assured to change for the worse over time as tubes degrade. As state-of-the-art sound, which due to technological advancement improves, the anchored system does not progress, but slides backward in relative sound quality.

There is a tendency for audiophiles ignorant of the radically huge performance spectrum of systems — and the powerful improvements conferred by new technology — to anchor to their rig’s current performance. They are proud: “I got off the equipment merry-go-round,” not realizing they have stalled while the standard for good sound continues to improve. Sometimes, there is no other option, but if one does not have clear impediments, I do not suggest intentionally fossilizing the rig.

Google “anchoring effect in psychology”: The anchoring effect is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered. Once an anchor is set, other judgments are made by adjusting away from that anchor, and there is a bias toward interpreting other information around the anchor.

Anchoring can be a problem for audiophiles. Case in point: despite class D amplifiers being invented in the 1950s and having undergone extensive improvement by audiophile interests, such as ICEpower, for more than 20 years, it is still seen by many as a studio technology, designed to cut corners and save space and weight, a cheaper alternative, harsh and “digital” sounding, and not ready for prime time. It’s time you weighed anchor, because you are dragging. The term “anchors aweigh” means the anchors are cleared and the ship is ready for sailing. As of January 2021, these caveats are no longer applicable, at least to certain class D amps.

I attempt to actively resist anchoring to old perceptions about audio systems, as I do not find it to be advantageous, at least not in terms of pursuing the best sound. There are influencers, such as industry members with vested interests, who do not want the paradigm to change, as it could be damaging to their business. There are audiophiles who do not want the paradigm to change because it would adversely affect the resale value of their amplifier. There are some who anchored to an experience of hearing a class D amp from five or more years ago. The only way I have found to re-anchor is through new experiences; technical and anecdotal evidence often is not enough. Without a new experience, how does one find the impetus to shift their perception fundamentally?

In order to investigate for myself and avoid anchoring to an old paradigm, I revisit genres of gear to see what has been happening. It’s pretty easy to tell whether a genre has advanced or is in stasis. I do comparisons between genres of amps to determine whether there has been progress. class D amplification has seen major progress, and the i.V4 Ultra is a great example.

9 Responses to Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra multi-channel amplifier Review


  1. Fernando Gallardo says:

    Legacy does not design or build their amplifiers. As such, replacement parts are a wish, as they don’t stock parts.

    • MadMex says:

      Good point, FG. There’s a lot to admire about designing and building your own high or lowbrow hi-fi. I’m with them. On the other hand, who’s lookin for replacement parts, and how often? Nobody. That’s who.

  2. Fernando,
    God’s Peace,

    You seem to not know that Legacy Audio has serviced and provided parts for their amps for the entire 38 years of their business. Even Legacy’s early designs are still serviced by Doug Dale of Coda.

    I suspect that there will be much unhappiness in the audiophile community and the industry over what I have written about the state of the other genres of amps relative to these new designs in class D that simply are outperforming them. However, the community will properly be informed about the high quality products and service from manufacturers such as Legacy Audio.

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

  3. Jyrki says:

    Have you heard Lyngdorf integrated amplifier?

  4. Jyrki,
    God’s Peace,

    I do not believe I have heard it. Perhaps if it is at AXPONA someday I may hear it.

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

  5. Zephyr24069 says:

    As a long-term Legacy customer, well over 15 years I stand with Doug on this one in that the earlier post is not correct with regards to Legacy not standing behind their products whether jointly designed as is the case with their prior amps as well as their current amps, the Wavelet, or their fully in-house designed speakers. I’ve been to Legacy many times to visit, listen to new and older speakers alike and I can tell you first hand that a large portion of space is current and prior generation parts and a good number trade-in speakers in excellent condition going back many years waiting for their next owner . Legacy’s long-term support of their customers is a well-established fact IMHO.

  6. TOM HICKEY says:

    Douglas,

    Did you happen to try the V4 Ultra with the Pass active crossover on the PureAudioProject speakers?

    Tom

  7. Tom,
    God’s Peace,

    That is a good and pertinent question. I have not yet tried that combo. One of the reasons why is that I moved on to do work on the PAP Quintet 15 Horn1, and a review of it will appear soon. It uses a different crossover, so my time with the i.V4 Ultra and the Trio15 Horn1 was somewhat limited.

    I will not say definitively, but I would presume that if used with the i.V4 Ultra amp the active crossover for the speakers would benefit similarly to the passive version. I do not envision a scenario where the i.V4 Ultra was not a boon to the active crossover and Trio15 performance. I would anticipate benefits in line with the changes for the speaker in passive mode, but with the advantages of the active x-over.

    Blessings,
    Douglas Schroeder

  8. wisper says:

    As a Legacy owner for many years, I have found them quite responsive to emails and even phone calls surrounding various questions about their product, system suggestions and also support of their product.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Popups Powered By : XYZScripts.com