Legacy SE versus Vandersteen Quatros

Looking for input regarding the above---seeking advice based upon first hand knowledge of the pros or cons of the two speakers above mentioned----thanks for your time---

Legacy Focus are the best speakers Ive heard, period. Specially with Ayre gear. Brystons newer gear sounds stellar with them also. For theater Anthem.
Why those two? I've auditioned both, and found them to be pretty different: I think of the Focus SE as a big thumping rocknroll speaker, and the Quattro more polite.

I think the Legacy Whisper considerably better than the Focus SE, and I'd prefer it to the Quattro as well. It is more expensive, of course, but at the price point of the Quattro and SE, there might be other options for you.

Details about room, musical taste, and other gear?

Have heard the Quattros, and they are indeed refined. Have not auditioned the Legacy products but are in the process---am not wedded to either

If there are addl suggestions, I am only to glad to receive the input---power is ample from my Tube Amplification, but room has some limitations---older house---rm is approx 12 feet across, but long (using old dining room for this gear and other--from couch to speakers is approx 10 ft or better, so Whispers (while being far to large for room anyway) might be overkill as well--besides price, since I am seeking to stay in approx 10,000 dollar range up/down----
Weirdly, Whispers are said to work in small rooms, and close to boundaries (though the later will not be your problem). Where are you located? Bill D. does auditions at the Legacy factory in Springfield IL, and is a very helpful guy. Wherever you are, I'd contact Legacy directly.

10k give you lots of options (used Sohia II, or even III, to name one), and I do lots of listening.

I have years of experience with both models (well Legacy Focus 20/20) that is 90-95% of what the HD now is.
The Legacy was a speaker lived with happily for over 5 yrs till we heard the Quatro, the bass was so much more, more slam, impact, better pace. The Mids had a smoother for pleasing and defined image and impact aswell. The treble while often on Legacy was found to fatigue was all but gone given the recording was not piss poor.
There was an extended period of disbelief that the smaller woofers were actually so much better at bass production and the fact you can tune them to most any room is a super bonus.
The Legacy is a good speaker with a good track record and longevity. The Quatro is a GREAT speaker with even as good or better longevity aswell as an outstanding track record of its own.
IMO (and I have said this often) the Legacy is a college kids speaker.....it will jump up and jam at a moments notice, the Quatro however is the grown ups speaker,,the one you go to after you have experience, made mistakes and now know what you want.
10k give you lots of options (used Sohia II, or even III, to name one), and I do lots of listening.

Yikes, many typos. Shd be:

10k gives you lots of options (used Sophia II, or even III, to name one), and I'd do lots of listening.

What Chadnliz said.
Heard both, owned neither; Vandersteens.
Yes, the Legacys sound great with rock. After all, they will absolutely scream at loud volume levels that the vandersteens could only dream of. They also have 2 12" woofers. The vandersteens may be powered, and you may be able to "boost bass" on the back of them....but the Legacys bass is one of the best Iv'e heard with a nice amp. If positioned correctly, they are just incredible

Legacy speakers are rolled off, warm and relaxed. If you don't like that sound, I wouldn't get the Legacys. However, Ive never heard speakers sound so good with so many different types of music, as well as so many different recordings. They play everything extremely well.

I have owned Martin Logan Ascent i's, Martin Logan Aeon i's, Magnepan 1.6's, Paradigm signature s8, and more...nothing has come close to the Legacys. IMO the older Focus 20/20's are the best value out there for under 3k used.

Personally, I have a thing for old school big driver speakers. Unless I'm sitting at a desk, many speakers just don't do it for me. I need that large sound that feels like you are there. I need a speaker that can do it all. For me, thats what a good speaker does. I don't like speakers that sound good with only 10-20 albums.

My day job is a music director at a church. I also lead the sound team. I sing, play sax, drums,and other instruments for a living. I also run a local studio. IMO NOTHING sounds more real and beautiful as the Legacys, Magnepans, and Logans. Out of these, overall I'd go with the Legacys...as they do more, and sound consistantly the best.

As far as imagining, there are speakers slightly better. As far as detail, speakers that are slightly better. The bottom line is the Legacys are for people who just flat out love good sounding music. I mean these things just sound incredible.

Sorry to talk the Legacy Focus up so much on these forums...but I really just love them. I sold mine about 2 years ago, and I have regretted it everyday since. Eventually, I will buy another pair.

I have heard the quatro'sand for me they are over priced, and not worth the money. Everyones different and therefore hears differently, so only you can decide which you prefer.
When you grow up Sthomas you will learn :)
Most everything you say flies in the face of my and others experience but you said you like big drivers so its likely your bias wont let you see past that.
If your happy then thats great, one can be happy with Legacy........but you can be much more happy with a Quatro.
That is a subjective review:) But I agree with you.
Legacy Focus SE 18Hz +/- 2db
Vandersteen Quatro 24 Hz +/- 2 dB

I reviewed the Focus SE for Dagogo.com
Its not how low you go its how well you go low and that what Vandersteen owners have discovered. Can you tune the Legacy to your room? Oh I know..............NO.
The Quatro is side-firing and would make a mess of the low end if it were not tuned. I'm not particularly impressed with the bass of speakers which side-fire their low end drivers. A significant amount of nuance in the lower frequencies is lost.

For those who say it doesn't matter which direction the woofer points, I'm not buying it. I have used side, down, rear and forward firing woofers in speakers and all alternative directions to front firing are not as pleasing to my ear. The bass simply sounds flabbier, less distinct and uncecessarily involves the room more. So, yes, it's a good idea for Vandersteen to work to control the drivers blasting the bass toward a side wall.

So the Whisper has bass that comes from front and rear, that must "involve" the room............right? How is it you note you dont like a speaker that fires from side or rear and yet you own one? Yes its Dipole bass but its still "involving" the room no doubt.
What experience do you have with the Quatro? Have you spent years listening to it? Because I have spent years with both speakers.
I know your a fan of Legacy, have reviewed and I assume recieved some tasty discounts on the models you bought after glowing reviews, thats cool and nothing wrong with that. But I dont owe anyone anything, I didnt get a discount of any sort on either speaker and I am not in it for anything more than honest experienced opinion.
Maybe you can get the boss at your review site to actually review this or any Vandersteen speaker. Surely such a well respected and otherwise well reviewed speaker is something you could learn more about to honestly discuss.
So there the OP has it, several opinions to mull over.............good luck on whatever you decide, like I said Legacy is a good speaker, Vandersteen is just beyond it IMO.
Doug, was your posting the -2db frequencies for both speakers suppose to be saying something about quality? I found that odd (especially for a subjective reviewer), unless you were replying to someone's question, but I did not see it. That sort of stuff seems meaningless in evaluating the qualitative differences between the two speakers, especially when one of them is -2db at 24hz. They do seem to be very different types of speakers in terms of sound, I would think what would gravitate to one or the other rather easily if you could hear both.
Chad, I have owned the Vandy 1B, 2CE and 2W subs, prior to reviewing. I have heard the Quatro at dealers and shows. I have also heard the 5 at dealer and shows, and the 7 at shows. I have more than a glancing familiarity with Vandersteen sound. When it first came out I was interested in the Quatro and reviewing it. However, hearing it a few times I've not been motivated to pursue it. There likely would be a couple of reviewers at Dagogo.com who would love to do so.

A primary reason I pursued multiple reviews with the Legacy line is that I love panel sound - have for decades. I also am loathe to give up one technology for another; I have hated the idea that I should pursue "the One" reference speaker, dynamic or panel as an example. Legacy is one of the very few speaker makers who design hybrid full range dynamic/panel speakers. I really enjoy that sound, as is evidenced by my other reference speaker, the Kingsound King ESL. I heard something very good in the Legacy HD, and felt that it would be worthwhile to pursue a reference speaker with those qualities only refined further. I found a technology/sound I like and pursued it as far as I can afford. Reviewers are supposed to have a reference, and over the years I've worked to establish mine.

Bill Dudleston has built into the Whisper's bass driver complement an electronic "brake" system implemented via the crossover, to limit backward excursion of the rear driver, thus limiting the amount of rear-directed energy toward the headwall. The paired bass drivers also create a null at 90 degrees - toward the wall, so there is little interaction with the room there as well.

One thing's for sure, we can all get passionate about our speakers! :)
Pubul57, yes, I should have indicated it was in response to Chad's comment regarding the bass. He and I have gone round and round about the Vandy's and Legacy's before. I think he over-dramatizes and he thinks I'm out to lunch, so it's a perfect sparring match! All in good fun - I think! ;)

We all know that the quality in terms of clarity/detail of the low end is important. I included the specs to show that there is a sizable difference in low end output between the Quatro and the Focus SE. For me this is one critical component of the quality of the bass. While it may seem on paper not so critical, in listening for things like impact, slam, etc. those additional -6 dB are extremely important. The extra 6 dB down were what convinced me to let go of the Vandy subs when I bought the Legacy Focus HD. Despite the V2W having 3 of the powered 8" drivers, the adjustable sensitivity and phase, I preferred the low end of the HD.

Obviously, opinions will vary. :)
I guess the "brake" in the Whisper was an electronic patch to overcome a flawed way of making a speaker, thats what you insinuate was behind the 11 band EQ system in the Quatro.
How do you in one breath claim a dislike for a way of how a speaker fires, the next breath say a Quatro needs a EQ to overcome a problem and then embrace a speaker that in a roundabout way is exactly what you have a problem with?
Surely one could find a speaker that wasnt as flawed as both the Legacy and Vandersteen are, one that didnt need a EQ, brake, processor or any fix for an alleged inherent flaw.
It doesnt pass them smell test, its inconsistent and hypocritical IMO.
I dont get the Whisper, did a few demos of it and its big and can play loud but I dont see why it takes 10 drivers and IMO a flawed driver array in midrange to do what many speakers can do just as well with a fraction of the drivers. But now we are in the weeds, this is not about the Whisper.
I said I had a problem with the direction some bass drivers fire. The Whisper's bass drivers fire in parallel in a forward direction. If they fired in a different direction I likely would not own Legacy speakers as a refrence; that's how important I think the issue of driver directionality is. I would suggest that stacking two drivers in tandem facing forward is a far cry from turning one 90 degrees and firing it toward a side wall. Feel free to disagree! ;)

The bottom line is that it seems to me you do not trust what I'm saying is motivated by a debate of technical aspects of speaker design/construction. So be it; the community can decide for themselves.

You said, "...in a roundabout way is exactly..." It's that kind of logic which precludes a straightforward discussion. As always, enjoyable arguing with you, Chad! I'm leaving the debate here. :)
No fun to argue with somebody who runs for the hills, cheers
Doug, thank you for your very thoughtful and well crafted responses in this forum and thread.
It is good to see some discussion of the Legacy brand as they don't seem to get that much press and their products do seem to offer alot for the money.
{{{The Quatro is side-firing and would make a mess of the low end if it were not tuned. I'm not particularly impressed with the bass of speakers which side-fire their low end drivers}}}

Hey Douglas- Schroder
You got it wrong with the Vandersteen Quatros
None of them are side firing although you said (would}
Its a sealed Downward firing Slot loaded system.
placed close to the floor so not to compete with ones attension for the the quality mids Imaging Etc
I have installed hundreds of these types in many different rooms and some rooms need very little tuning.

There was a question raised about Downward firing woofers a few weeks ago hear it is for you.
Best Johnnyr

What is the purpose of a down-firing woofer??
All of the woofers and subwoofers that I've ever own were front-firing. What is the reason for having the woofer firing downward rather than forward?

The new $40k Zu Dominance speakers contain a 15 inch woofer/subwoofer in each cabinet that is down-firing. Why down-firing instead of forward-firing?
Mitch4t (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)



02-08-11: Audioconnection
All woofers have spurious energy (Breakup modes)
above the X-over Frequency especially Sub Woofers doing a lot of heavy lifting. This is the reason they have a bad reputation in High End because they negitively affect imaging. Down firing woofers keep this mess from affecting the sound in the mids and are not affected at all in the bass frequincies. Check out the market and see for yourself how most subs for music that blend well with High performance main speakers are downward firing.
Some say front firing woofers have greater impact.
This is evidence that the woofers are radiating spurious energies because impact from a woofer is normally in the mid-range.
Cheers Johnnyr
Audioconnection (Answers | This Thread)

Maineiac, much appreciated.


your ears sure seam to agree with mine. What you say is exactly what I found myself.

The poor Legacys just dont get the respect they deserve IMO. I will buy another pair of Focus one day. They are the best Ive heard.

Everyones different. All speakers sound different to different people. To me, the Focus just make fantastic music. Thats what its all about to me. I love music, not the hobby.
Johnny, thank you for the correction, and shows why one can't trust memory 100%! The Quatro would operate in terms of the bass similar to the Vandersteen subs, then, correct? The phrase, "downward firing slot loaded system," sounds familiar. So, it has sealed top, slotted sub.

Could you clarify your comment in the above conversation with Mitch4t, where you said, "Some say front firing woofers have greater impact.
This is evidence that the woofers are radiating spurious energies because impact from a woofer is normally in the mid-range."


I have never heard the Quattro but I've heard other Vandersteen speakers in the past and have much respect for the designer and sound of his speakers.

But, I choose to own Legacy speakers because while one does have to give them the juice to get going, Legacy's approach to sound comes closer to the sound I've heard from live music than any other speaker I've lived with or auditioned.

If you can, take a trip to Springfield, IL and check them out yourselves. You'll be amazed at the knowledge Bill Duddleston has amassed over the years. Bill Duddleston, VP Doug Brown and company just make it so easy to become part of the Legacy family. They are ready to help build your system and answer questions whenever you give them a call.
(((Could you clarify your comment in the above conversation with Mitch4t, where you said, "Some say front firing woofers have greater impact.))
Ok try this
Go to the wall mart nearest your home that has a Car stereo display..
Listen to the pair of 6x9 pioneer speakers and adjust to a nice volume and music you like.
Next you have a choice to push the red button add the Upper positioned Add on woofer or the Lower positioned woofer.
switch between them both
now choose the one that blends together better.
my money if you can hear goes on the one closer to the floor.
Cheers Johnnyr
Ironic; I used the design of the coaxial driver to explain the superiority of the positioning of the drivers on the front baffle of the Legacy DSW.

Preferences like forward vs. downward firing woofers show that people hear things very differently. It's great that everyone can find a type of speaker to suit them. :)
mMy friend owns Legacy/Ksa250 and I had PMC and he sums it up perfectly.....
"I can play any of my bad recorded CD's and they sound great on my Legacy's"
Doug, is right, we all do hear things differently, and it explains why there are so many brands, and so many folks that love their particular speakers. There are two schools of thought on the issue raised by McInsound. As stupid as it might sound, I want speakers that allow bad recordings to sound bad, that to me is the sign of a good speaker. I tend to prefer equipment that editorializes the recording as little as possibile - even when editing is pleasant.
Pubul57, I know what you mean; however, we should clarify for semantic purposes.

I think we'd agree that a superior rig/speakers should allow the perception of the most natural/accurate/non-editorialized playback of the recording, whether good or poor.

I believe that superior systems/speakers will always make poor recordings sound better than on average systems. The better the system/speakers, the better the recording will sound. Now, perhaps we may not like the improved sound, due to being used to hearing it played back more poorly! We can have nostalgia, preconcieved notions about how it should sound, etc. That can color our perspective about the higher end playback. There have been many times I have had to adjust my expectations as I have heard an older/poorer recording played back far better, but it has sounded so dramatically different than I expected. That it was being played back at a higher fidelity level was incontrovertible; I had to get used to the fact that the music was different than I had imagined. One hears more of the flaws, but also more of the nature of the instruments, voices, venue, etc. If that is not the case, then I suggest there is a serious problem with the establishment of the rig. A poor recording is a poor recording, but an outstanding rig will make all music sound better, including poor recordings. A superior system is the tide which lifts all boats (recordings).

In that sense, then, I seek a speaker system/speaker which allows poor recordings to sound holisitically better. So, I think perhaps we are in agreement.

Disagreement over speakers is partly a function of the editorializing we all conduct when we establish our rigs, setting them up to suit our preferences.
"In that sense, then, I seek a speaker system/speaker which allows poor recordings to sound holisitically better. So, I think perhaps we are in agreement."

I understand how you mean it, and I agree.
My experience is bright tingy speakers sound aweful with poor and older recordings.....good speakers just sound great with anything IMO. Take the good old Focus 20/20's. Nothing they cant do well IMO. Everything I have thrown at them sounded superb. Never got fatigue listening long periods, and always took me to that magical place that usually only planars can do. A VERY relaxed, warm speaker.
It's a tricky topic in one respect since no speaker operates without attending components. Those components may be complimentary or difficult. To further complicate issues, one may guess the sound of a certain rig as it appears to the eye, but unless there is familiarity with the components and speakers the actual sound may be quite different than anticipated. When a person has familiarity with a speaker or component which has been used by them with a larger number of other pieces then perhaps a good baseline can be built regarding that speaker/component's global performance. But even then there can still be surprises!

Case in point, I think I described the Cambridge Audio Azur 840W and the Pathos Classic One MkIII accurately in my reviews, however when they were put into a situation in which they were feeding an actively crossed speaker their character changed (for the positive) profoundly. The use of a different technology leveraged their performance capabilities. Truthfully, I would not have recognized their sonic signature, the difference was so vast between the former (passive x-over) and latter (active x-over) implementation. The bottom line is that it becomes impossible to say definitively the component will sound ONLY thus. The best we can hope for is a fairly narrow set of descriptors to learn its basic parameters.

Knowing a component or speaker well is not simply a matter of, "I built this system and the speaker sounds thus..." - at least not to gain a holistic understanding of what the speaker is capable of. One needs to see how it reacts to 4, 5, 6, 7 or even more different components. Good speakers can definitely be made to sound poorer when used with a non-complimentary assemblage of gear. This is one reason I typically set up three or four systems when reviewing speakers, to gain a more thorough understanding of its character. Naturally, ultimately that determination is left to the owner.

There is an authentic excitement to the discovery of how a new system will sound; the electronic equivalent of having a first listen to a new piece of music. What's great is that when you have finally settled on your "house" sound, your ear's favorite combo of gear every new piece of music is savory, intoxicating, simply breathtaking. As my system has reached a point where it speaks to my ears the way I hoped it could it plays back all music more beautifully than when there was a deficiency that needed to be addressed over time. Hopefully many in our hobby share that experience.

The key to settling down and accepting our rigs as devices for enjoyment while not giving up a search for improvement is to accept that we will never arrive. There will always be improvements possible; there are levels of sound quality that await - this is assured by the ongoing improvements in technological change. I have gone from having to get my "ultimate" rig to being more content to establish excellent rigs, knowing that there are literally hundreds of variants to them. I have had the bar raised in terms of what I will accept as an excellent rig, but also see there is more latitude in which components and speakers are used to achieve that level of sound. For sure, not all components/speakers can do so, but with patience and experimentation an awful lot of gear can reach that point in a system where the gear plays to each others' strengths.

Doug/Sthomas: I always enjoy seeing your posts as they are objective and just try to help people out to enjoy music more.

Let's face it, there are alot of good speakers on the planet; the Vandy line being among them. I've only had limited listening experience with some of them and the Quatros however they are all very good in so many ways and well suited to various types of music. There are other great speakers as well costing the same as the Legacy line members, the Vandys and on up the scale. Everyone will find speakers that they like and that they are passionate about.

To talk about 'growing up' and then throwing in experiential backing info based upon only the Focus 20/20 model (which you used to be extremely passionate about Chad!) leaves a big gap. The things that are stated as being done well by only the Quatro are areas in which the Focus HD made huge strides and the Focus SEs went further towards perfection (IMHO). The latter Focus models are a whole new ballgame; the SEs are alot more than 5-10% better than the 20/20s(again IMHO). I've owned the 20s, the HDs and now the SEs. They defy description at their price point with good gear driving them. They, like the Quatros (and I've heard Zu and some others) give fantastic ROI in this over-priced audiophile speaker market.

I have grown up,...I run the Legacy Focus SEs at a fraction of the price of all the higher-end speakers I auditioned and am very glad to hear of everyone who loves their speakers, whatever they are! Personally, I love to listen to great music with total immersion in the experience. The Focus SEs give me that and more!
I hear very little about how the Legacy’s image. Could anyone comment? I like the Quatros because of their imaging, but not enough to write a check due to other issues
A friend of mine owns the Focus 20/20. In his room, even with relatively inexpensive Onkyo electronics, some cds sound almost holographic in a good "stereo" kind of way. These speakers also work well with large choral and symphonic music as well as folk and jazz, not just rock. If you aren't a neurotic detail freak, these speakers are very forgiving and will make a lot of your music sound good, as mentioned above. I haven't heard the more recent versions.
The imaging on the 20/20s was good however they did not totally disapper nor was the imaging super precise in any way. The new drivers, crossover and cabinet designs of the HD and more so, the SEs have taken the Focus imaging to where it needs to be (IMHO) in so many ways. When you couple the way the SE simply disappears together with its imaging accuracy, dynamic and total range and musicality, you get one hell of a speaker.
Awesome imaging-pin point holographic "center" of sound, especially with vocals.
You definitely have that right! Huge soundstage in all 3 dimensions with complimentary equipment, cables and room too!