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Legacy Audio Whisper Clarity Edition Loudspeaker Review

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Legacy Audio Whisper Clarity Edition Loudspeaker

My premise in regards to internal speaker wiring

Here is my premise not only for the speaker you will read about, the Clarity Edition Whisper, but for all speakers: The necessity for quality which applies to superior cabling between components of an audio system also applies to wiring within  the speakers themselves. Consider that you have in all multi-way passively crossed speakers a minimum of driver complement, crossover(s) and binding post(s), yielding no less than two critical avenues for signal transmission. Even in a single driver design all the potentiality of that driver is conditioned by the cabling used to feed it. Listening to dozens of sets of cables over the years has taught me critical qualities regarding cables, and these qualities can be imported into a speaker’s design:

-A cable brand’s house sound due to materials and construction technique will either inhibit or enhance performance in terms of dynamics, tonality, definition, soundstage, etc. – in nearly any system.

-The more, the better; typically massive total gauge is to be desired over lower total gauge.

-Copper is often unbeatable in terms of tonality and dynamics, especially when cost is considered.

Over the eight years of reviewing, having used many cables with a generous number of systems, when it comes to cabling between components the three above principles have almost never been violated. Am I asserting there cannot be an exception? No, but I am saying you are not likely to encounter it, and certainly not on a repeated basis. The principle which is commonly in play in even expensive speakers is the third, the use of copper. The outside limits of a speaker’s performance lies not just with the cabinet, crossover or driver set, but also with the internal cabling. I emphasize, poor internal cabling can actually restrict a good speaker’s sound.

With this in mind, what would be the ultimate expression of a Legacy speaker system? As would be anticipated it would have upgraded internal wiring according to the above principles. As we shall see it ended up being much more!

The comparison

I proposed the concept of the rewiring of my pair of Whisper DSW speakers to Bill Dudleston of Legacy Audio, and Chris and Melissa Owen of Clarity Cables. Knowing that these both were high quality brands which I had reviewed and used extensively, I selected them for this project.

As I conceived it, the comparison between the speaker’s internal wiring would be simple, the pre-Clarity Cable wired Whisper to the post-Clarity wired version. Though the DSW version of the Whisper is capable of operating in an active crossover mode, for this article the speaker would be used only in passive crossover mode, similar to the Whisper HD, in order to simplify the systems involved and to represent the bulk of audiophiles concerned as most do not have actively crossed speaker systems. Though I did not conduct a comparison of the speaker in XD mode, I believe that the findings of this article would transfer seamlessly to that version of the Whisper as well.

This would not be a “direct” comparison, as the speaker was returned to Legacy Audio for retrofitting. The potential problem in comparison would be the gap of time between the initial listening sessions and the final listening sessions. The advantage would be the extended familiarity from ownership and use with multiple systems prior to the change being made. I admit that this is not as strong evidence as a direct A/B comparison, so those who wish to discount my findings may feel justified in doing so. However, it should be noted that ownership and daily use builds extreme familiarity, such that when changes are made the owner is quite sensitive to them. This is true in bicycles, firearms, vehicles and other intensively used devices. I myself would be jaded against a comparison which would be made on the basis of a few days or weeks with a product undergoing updates, but less so when the period of ownership has been a year or more. Against the expected skepticism I offer the weight of listening to the speaker far longer than the typical review period. Whereas the typical review might be of a few months’ duration, the time frame for this article has been one year.

In addition, I was not the only one conducting the comparison, for Bill Dudleston himself was able to conduct the immediate comparison once the wiring was swapped! I have included some of his discussion as to the perceived and measured changes he found when my speakers became the Clarity Edition.

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.

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