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Legacy Audio Xtreme XD Subwoofer Review

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Overkill or nothing

If you’re going to do bass, do bass! Knowing what the Legacy Audio Helix with its 15” powered sub and accompanying 15” downward firing radiator could do, I was quite certain similar LF performance would be attained by the XTREME XD. I was not disappointed; consider that the bass extension of the two are nearly identical:

Helix: 16Hz +/-2dB
XTREME XD: 16-100Hz

While Legacy often shows tight specs, it uses general specifications in the Owner’s Manual for the XTREME XD. Yet, Legacy usually measures a speaker’s frequency response to +/-2dB. My presumption was that one would get Helix-like bass from the XTREME XD, and my listening sessions left me with the impression of it being so.

There are times when I become the “Overkill Guy”, demanding over-the-top performance, as when the roof on the garage at our first home was in danger of collapsing due to being built with a flimsy 1”x8” ridge beam. It had split over the years and was sagging desperately. When the contractor came to replace it, he suggested a 2”x6” beam. I said, “Put a 2” x 10” beam in there!” He said, “That would be enough strength to hold a compact car,” to which I smiled broadly and told him to go ahead. I drove past the old house the other day and made sure to glance at the garage roof line; still straight as an arrow!

Likewise, when I built my listening room I didn’t let anyone else do the work on the wall construction or the ceiling. They simply would not have been as maniacal as I was; the proof is in the 7.5” thick walls and double ceiling with an absolutely seamless hidden ceiling beneath the drop ceiling. Overkill, just the way I like it. The room is acoustically isolated from the rest of the home to a degree that when the utilities are running full tilt on the other side of the wall, they cannot be heard.

When looking for a sub, I had no interest in the myriad of little pumpers with a single 8” or 10” driver in a box about two inches wider and ten pounds heavier than the driver. No, it was going to be overkill or nothing. The XTREME XD’s 15” driver with a 15” passive radiator tipping the scale at 115 pounds would do just fine thank you. Better yet, two of them would make for perfect overkill. If I’m putting together a statement speaker system I do not want merely high performance, I want overkill because that is the only way it will have a chance at impressing me.

I am not referring here to listening levels, as the quality of the subwoofer’s composition is independent of the listening level. I do not care to overkill the output of a subwoofer; it holds little attraction for me to try to shake the cement of my basement listening room, although I do for testing and the rare return to a concert of my youth. I far prefer an erudite sound to a bombastic sound. LF is hugely important for a state of the art system, but that has less to do with how loudly it is played. Big, boomy bass impresses neophytes, but not the well cultured audiophile. I sought a sub which could bang with the best, but I didn’t intend on using it to abuse my ears. (A remarkable statement.- Pub.)

Legacy Audio Xtreme XD Subwoofer

Big mistake, big omission

With the insertion of the XTREME XD subs into my rig, I realized that I have been making a big mistake for several years by cutting out subwoofers from my system. The insidious creep of frequency extension compromise happens so subtly! One hands back a few Hz at a time until it becomes acceptable to hear a rig with depth of only 30, or maybe even 40Hz. In adding a variety of technologies to my speaker harem, I had forgiven the scant few Hertz missed by the Kingsound King ESL. It wasn’t until I started thinking the King Tower omnidirectional’s 35Hz was acceptable low end due to the uniqueness of the technology that I finally woke up and saw my folly. After all, isn’t killer imaging worth more than a few Hertz? Once I recovered my wits, the answer was obvious – no, absolutely not! I used to hold firmly to the philosophy that I will not compromise on any aspect of performance, and I vowed to return to it.

The moment I listened to the XTREME XDs supporting the King Tower, I knew I had escaped one of the most persistent mistakes in audiophilia, the “Quantity vs. Quality” false dichotomy. Historically in audio I have been an “I want it all,” kind of guy. I want both frequency extension and quality. I want radical resolution and zero listening fatigue. I want massive soundstage and pinpoint imaging. I want a sub which is profoundly powerful and as delicate as a midrange driver. The last year or two I had slipped on my demand for frequency extension, but no longer. Hard core is back! 20Hz-and-up no longer cuts it, not for a top flight audio system. I vowed it was time to make up for past audio offenses! The best way to do that would be to pair the subs with whatever I could lay hands on. So, besides the King Tower, I laid hands on the new King III ESL and the Daedalus Audio Ulysses full range dynamic speaker system. I had a grand time getting my priorities straightened out again!

One Response to Legacy Audio Xtreme XD Subwoofer Review

  1. timothy cann says:

    Hello Mr.Schroeder, i appreciate the time you put into reviewing ,as well as your descriptions. I am about to purchase a legacy system (whisper xd with clarity cable upgrade/a.m.t tweeters,marquis center,(8)Phantom hd’s and (2) ???subs). Yamaha cx-a5000 11ch processor and (2) sunfire tga-7401 amps.While i have thoroughly enjoyed your Whisper Clarity edition update;i was really looking forward to your description of the legacy xtreme xd sub paired with them;as stated in both reviews of xtreme xd and whisper D.S.W. I am interested in using the legacy sub but may go another direction.Any insight/advise would be appreciated.

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