Publisher Profile

Legacy Audio Whisper Clarity Edition Loudspeaker Review

By: |

Legacy Audio Whisper Clarity Edition Loudspeaker

Occasionally, newsworthy articles appear devoted to exposing insider secrets of industries such as retail banking, online stores, insurance companies or car dealerships. A common revelation is that the public is overpaying for underperformance. Some of the practices are not consumer-friendly, so typically a call is made for reform. Consider this an “insider’s secrets” article for the high-end speaker manufacturing industry.

I do not intend to suggest collusion among speaker manufacturers, nor intent to rip off people. I assert that there is a practice among audiophile speaker manufacturers, not all, of course, which arises from practicality but is not audiophile-friendly in terms of performance, the practice of using “good enough” wiring internally. The problem is that far too many speaker manufacturers are not just hinting, but outright boasting of optimum performance when they have clearly not optimized their products. Internal wiring is perhaps the most direct element in taking a speaker to its pinnacle of performance, yet far too many speaker makers fail to do so, and so fail to produce a product which is truly optimized.

Despite fancy finishes, hefty spikes and gnarly binding posts the odds are quite good that the speaker now residing in your listening room has some fairly basic, perhaps “professional audio” grade wiring inside. It may be good enough to get the job done in the same way that some amp manufacturers use good enough transformers, ones which spec out adequately, but that’s about it. I have seen enough insides of audiophile speakers to know that something akin to upper-end Radio Shack or Monster Cable might be used to string together the crossover and drivers. Unless your speaker manufacturer specifically identifies the cabling inside, the odds are that you also have a good enough wire inside your speakers.

That may not be the worst news you have received personally as an audiophile, but it should be concerning enough that audiophiles as a group of consumers demand better.  Here is the harsh reality: With standard wiring inside your speakers they don’t sound anywhere near as good as they could; unless the wiring is changed they never will, regardless of claims to the contrary. The industry secret is that a number of high-end speaker makers think that the wiring inside the speakers doesn’t matter all that much! Imagine the expertise, care and build quality heaped upon a speaker system only to have it connected with good enough wires! I consider it a travesty of the audiophile industry. Anyone who has moved to aftermarket power cables and found significant improvement will likely chafe at the idea that the equivalent of a Radio Shack cable has been used permanently inside their speakers!

Excellent, but not ultimate

My grievance is that when speakers are so lovingly, so extremely designed and executed it seems a rather straightforward thing in the overall manufacturing process to obtain higher quality internal wiring. Yet, either due to a designer’s perspective on the efficacy of internal wiring or the extra time in the design process to select a complementary brand of internal cable, often it doesn’t get done.

Upon learning this you may feel shafted because your speakers which cost a bundle were perhaps made with serviceable wiring, not haute cables. What if the product is supposed to be “the best,” yet has obvious signs of cutting corners? Is it purely a case of greed and misrepresentation by the manufacturer? I’m not sure it is always possible to nail down the manufacturer’s intent. But it is a case of the customer not getting what was promised, the ultimate, when they should.

I ran into similar conundrum when I reviewed the Kingsound King III ESL speaker, an outstanding design in terms of performance, yet a cobbling-together of truly economical materials in construction. This speaker with plywood baffles and plastic driver housings, easily bests, sonically, more popular models with metal framing, aluminum trim and big budget advertising. I struggle that the King III is made so economically, but I continue to use it following the review because it’s the best panel under $20K which I have heard, and I have heard a lot of them. I am tantalized to think what could be done in terms of absolute sound quality if the speaker were made with premium parts! Yet, doing so would likely raise the price another 50% over its current $16K.

5 Responses to Legacy Audio Whisper Clarity Edition Loudspeaker Review

  1. Jack Roberts says:

    I just read how much Jeff Day spent(over $10,000 if my memory is correct) to upgrade Durland capacitors in the crossover on his Tannoys. Now as I read how much it cost to upgrade the wire here and you haven’t even approached adding Durland capacitors that would surely push the price pass $30,000; I’m so thankful to own single driver speakers. There is no wire or caps to upgrade. Just use the best speaker wire you can get straight to the driver. Oh, for simple pleasures. Well, I’ll have to admit that my speaker cables do cost nearly $10,000

  2. Jack,
    The Joy of God to you,
    It’s a good thing there is so much variety available nowadays to the audiophile. I think I would struggle mightily if the only technology available to me was a single driver speaker with considerable limitations on dynamics and frequency extension. I am quick to point out there are things they do incredibly well such as coherency, but I need my big floor standing speakers (at least until I get old enough that I can’t move them around).

    Looks like the Tannoy upgrade was in line cost-wise with my project, at about 25% of speaker MSRP. For the performance boost on a beloved design I consider that a pretty good deal. Whether the Dueland would be worth it; well, a listening comparison would be in order. I am elated that Legacy and Clarity Cable joined forces so the finished product is aesthetically identical to the standard speaker, as opposed to having external crossovers, etc.

    To me the total package price of cables is at $25K for your setup, but considering a tri-wired truly full range speaker, the three sets of cables and the internally upgraded Whisper Clarity Edition is all told $34K, not radically more for what I would suggest is a radically different performance set. Remember, too, that it includes the new set of AMT drivers, which is a game changer, imo, on the high end versus the previous version.

    I don’t think I’m sold on the idea that the complex pleasures are less value than the simple ones! 🙂

    Blessings, and happy listening!
    Douglas Schroeder

  3. Mark says:

    I love the Whisper speakers but I take issue with the claim you can hear the difference in speaker cables. Quite simply, it’s marketing bullshit from high-end audio manufacturers. Unless you’re doing 100′ cable runs I challenge anyone to a blind test. In fact, it’s already been done …..

    • Annonymous says:

      What’s funny is you are citing one of the biggest BS comparison tests imagineable. Monster Cables that they are using aren’t high end cables. They might be high end for a Best Buy (Not Magnolias), but they aren’t high end cables. Nor are these little ABX tests. The problem with most ABX tests is that you have to have enough time with the cables in your own environment with familiar listening material (that’s not processed recordings) and you have to listen to these with consideration of volume levels. What happens in short term listening tests, humans automatically gravitate to what’s the loudest, but the differences in cables is a lot more subtle than that and it takes time getting used to listening to a wide variety of music to hear what, if any, differences there are. But from a scientific standpoint, cables act like a filter and depending on the cable design, materials, construction, etc. etc., the filter curve can change. But comparing a Monster Cable to a coat hanger and just categorically making a sweeping generalization that ALL cables sound equal is VERY naive and ignorant in the art of listening.

  4. Scott says:

    Could you please correct the frequencies in your review on page 5? I doubt that ANY tweeter is capable (or would even claim) frequency responses of “5kHz – 1,250kHz”. Just in case I’m not making my point, the high end there is 1.25 MHz!!! Even 125 kHz (125,000 Hz) would be a real stretch. It really made it difficult to understand exactly what performance the speakers actually have.

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 :