You might want to talk with Bill Dudleston at Legacy before you do that. You may want to ensure that what you do to it is reversible. I reviewed the Focus HD on Dagogo.com, and have not as much experience with the Whisper, but I can tell you two things, I believe, with certainty:
1. Bill D. thinks things through; it's unlikely that you've discovered a "weakness" or big potential payoff with the speaker that he was unaware of. It's much more likely you will screw up the speaker. (No offense to you)
2. Not having conducted tests on the cabinet in question, I have no way of knowing with certainty (Bill could verify), but it strikes me as a major mistake to think that the cabinet you see on the midsection of the Whisper is suitable for use as a "subwoofer". I have my doubts to whether its walls are dense/thick enough for that purpose. I believe the original purpose of this driver is a partial low frequ. wave cancellation device to ameliorate reflected waves off the headwall from the open baffle 15" foreward firing woofers. To turn it into a subwoofer would likely compound the issue that the driver is addressing!
It seems fairly obvious to me that with a depth of what, one foot or so, and an extremely limited volume to the cabinet, that the driver is not meant to be a subwoofer. When a speaker has four 15" drivers would it not suggest that one rear firing driver is not going to greatly contribute to the proper sonic presentation? In addition, if I recall this driver from memory, it is not as suitable for subwoofer use as you may think. The front firing drivers I believe have been designed to reach those frequencies stress-free, but I'm not sure this driver was intended for that use (I am thinking also of the cone material here, which may be far too flexible in that particular driver). I feel you would simply be adding distortion to the sound. So, make your changes reversible. :)
I think you might be very disappointed with the resultant sound if you simply try to crank on that driver with low frequencies. But, hey, it's your speaker! ;) Either way, it would be interesting to see what you do with it. It seems you are trying to get the performance of the $40k+ speaker from the $12k speaker. Not gonna happen for very good physical reasons.
I'll hand you this; it's the kind of thinking I would have if I were into DIY or modding. I'd be right there with you asking the same questions. But, I see realistic physical drawbacks. I think the result would be deleterious to the sound, as simply adding more "presence" to low end does not much to assure quality low end. You're likely to be quite taken by the extra emphasis in the lower region but in reality the sound would likely be more distorted in an absolute sense.
I'd second Douglass response. Why not contact Dudleston directly because I bet he's tried it already and he'd share his experience with you. It would save you time, money and potential damage. I've spoken with him before and he was very helpful, even with my lame-brained ideas.
I currently have a pair of Whispers and asked these same questions. Here is what I was told. The woofer has a resistor so it can better function as a rear absorber of rear unwanted bass energy outside of the speaker. The resistor puts a load on the woofer when it absorbs rear waves around the outside of the speaker, allowing it to dynamically "brake" better than if it was otherwise not connected to a resistor. (If you recall, one of the unique attributes of the Legacy Whisper is that it is much less sensitive to room boundary placement than most other speaker designs). As far as the shield on the woofer, this allows the woofer's magnetics to have less electrical interactivity with the inside of speaker's crossover guts (which are in close proximity to this particular woofer's rear side). IMHO these are all great design concepts that were well thought out. Way to go Bill D. !!
I am constantly amazed by what I hear with my Whispers...very pleasantly so. I've had them for several years now and I never get tired of them.
Whispers and the focus 20/20s are the best out there in musical enjoyment!
Except if you own other speakers.
I switch out a pair of speaker about every month. I love trying new speakers. However to this day, the focus have remained in my system since there purchase 2.5 years ago. That means they have beat out aprox. 22-26 other speakers in the $1000-$4000 used range.
The only speakers that I felt were as enjoyable to listen to, were the magnepan 3.6 and maybe the Martin Logan Ascent i set up right, with a nice clean sub. That being said, the bass in the focus is absolutely perfect! Its not to much, its not to little, and it extends deep when you want it to, and doesnt thin out at loud volumes unless powered by a very weak amp.
I have read some of your past posts on the quatro having better bass then the focus. I found this to be interesting as stereophile stated the vandersteen not even to be a full range speaker. The focus goes to the low 20's. I have a svs ultra/2 with a sms-1 and I have always felt I needed to use it somewhat with every other speaker but the Focus. With the Focus I leave the sub off.
I also read your positives on the focus, which is one of the reasons I purchased them 2.5 years ago when looking through the forums for another speaker to try in my home. The Focus blew me away then, and they blow me away today.
Obviously, everyone hears differently. I would highly recommend the Focus 20/20's to anyone, and suggest putting it on there top of the list in the $3000-$4000 used range.
My father owned them for a few years but they were replaced and never thought of again......there are much better speakers and designs out there but we all have our own opinions.
Sthomas, very impressive to have conducted so many direct comparisons between speakers. What is your system like, specifically amplification, but also source, cables, etc. if you don't mind sharing. I'd be curious to know what amps you use with the Focus, and which you feel were among the best.
The Monarchy Audio SM-70 Pro is a very affordable mono block design which is quite nice with the Focus HD. It's incredible how far along toward very high end sound one can move today with the affordable equipment options available from many manufacturers.
You might want to hear the Focus HD version, as Bill Dudleston has done a complete redesign; I enjoy the planar mid and neo-ribbon tweeter which gives the speaker elements of a planar presentation, yet with the authority of a dynamic speaker in the low end. I would think that many more companies would be trying to move in this direction than are currently. I can imagine it to be difficult to integrate these drivers, but when it's done well it's quite nice.
Regarding specs, the HD version is listed as 16Hz - 25kHz. I am not sure if this is +/- 3dB or not. Bill ususally lists response as +/- 2dB on his other speakers. I am assuming that is an indication of usable bass, and that the tight measurement is closer to 20Hz on the low side. I also unhooked the Vandersteen subs; in fact I sold them, because the Focus has such good low end response; adding them just muddied things.
Though I have not reviewed the Whisper, I have heard it and it has the same "house sound" as the other Legacy products. Interestingly, it's bass response is listed as being higher than the Focus HD (not radically, but significantly), however the nature of the bass from the whisper is more controlled/tight, which should be expected from the radically different bass driver configuration.
The best 2 channel amp I have used on them was a Ayre V-5xe. I was worried about power rating after reading other opinions at the time, but this turned out not to be a non issue at all. I tried using a bryston 8bst(400watts x2 bridged), 4bst(250x2), rotel 1095,and a Anthem p2, I found the Ayre to be superior and also to be the best amp Ive heard for my tastes(much more expensive of course).The best Amp Ive used on them for 5.1 sound, is my current Bryston 9bsst. I am amazed at this amp. For its power rating it sure can pound the Legacys at high levels with Dolby Digital/DTS soundtrack levels. Not to mention its around 95% of what I felt the Ayre was doing all around, and Ive gained 3 channels without needing other amps in the system. I wanted to try the Bel Canto ref 1000, but never got the chance, maybe some day.
The best cd player, was my Ayre cx-7e. My best prepro for movies, is a Anthem avm 30. I never put out the money for the Statment D series Anthems because I was so happy with the avm 30. I would like hdmi option, but other then that I am 100% happy. The Ayre k-5xe was a great preamp, superior to the Bryston BP-25 I tried. Less Harsh, more relaxed(for those who like this) and smoother.
A All Ayre balanced system leaves little to be desired in my opinion. They just have a great enjoyable sound.
Ive heard pro's and cons with the Focus HD being better then the 20/20's. But I have no doubt when the day comes I have to replace the 20/20's, Ill give the HD a shot.
Im not huge into power cables, Ive always used the PS Audio power punch at $49.00 each. If you look at these, they do alot and at a price that you couldnt build them for on your own.
I dont like power conditioners, and both Anthem and Ayre recommend not to use one.
I use balanced connections and used a variety of cables. To me, and I know I am in the minority on this, I like the Canare cable/Nuetrik xx setups. I feel they have a very flat response and dont add brightness, or muddy bass. For me, they just sound right. I also see spending thousands of dollars on cables to be a waste of money for me. I found a change in tone doesnt make a cable better, usually it makes it worse as it is changing the source. A cables job is to get out of the way, or no cable at all. Canare has a great line up, with even a complete 75 ohm cable,connector option available for a digital cable that most hi end manufactures cant even produce. Plus a killer crimp on style that eliminates solder use and problems there. For the record, these are what the studio's use, and in many cases these are cost no object studios. This shows I am not alone in my findings with cables. I know plenty of people disagree with this as well, and I can respect that,but just disagree.
..just to underscore the post above by sthomas.. Ayre equipment is quite wonderful but they really have to be run in balanced mode. Single ended Ayre equipment sounds quite below what the units run balanced sounds like.
Some of my statments used in my above posts agree with Stringreen's current comments.
"I use balanced connections and used a variety of cables"
"A All Ayre balanced system leaves little to be desired in my opinion. They just have a great enjoyable sound"
Im not sure I would say just using the V-5xe with other equipment needs a balanced connection to sound great, its amazing in anyway I have heard. That being said, at this price point, why not use balanced, it only makes since, and most of your equipment in these price ranges come standard.
I have noticed a all balanced Ayre system, just seams to run with no background noise, even when my ear is pressed to the high 96db rated Focus 20/20 speakers. Pretty amazing. You will also hear no pops, snaps, or anything in the Ayre system at any time of switching inputs/off or on/ etc.