Legacy Whisper XD and Audio Research Amps

Any users of Legacy Whispers with Audio Research amplifiers? I am considering the VS115 with the Whisper XD... the amp needs to drive the mid/top only (above 300Hz) since the bass drivers are self powered. Will this be a good match for a 14*23*10 room?
I do not recall ever seeing a pairing of Audio Research amplification with Legacy Audio speakers. So, you may not get any response from users having such a rig.

Regarding the Whisper, you can read my recent article on the Whisper DSW on Dagogo.com. I have used Pathos, Jeff Rowland's Class D amps, Cambridge Audio, Moscode (and a couple brands under review) with them. If you have an interest in any of these amps feel free to email me.

Your room will not be a problem; my room is similar dimensions. The Audio Research VS115 is a bit underpowered for my tastes. I have used as little as 70wpc of the Pathos Classic One MkIII and as much as 1,000wpc of the Jeff Rowland 606 Multi-channel. The AR amp will work with the Whisper. You can make nearly any stereo amp work since it has an active crossover you can adjust the gain to match amps, and the speaker has higher sensitivity of 95dB into 4 Ohms.

There is, however, a pronounced difference in dynamics and soundstage which is attainable with a more powerful amp regardless of brand. The benefit of a more powerful amp, all other things equal, is heard throughout the frequency spectrum, not just on the low end. Your best results would be to have an amp on the mid/top with at least 200-300wpc.

A more powerful Audio Research might be fantastic sounding, and though I have not tried it I likely could get very good sound with that manufacturer's products. The good thing about this situation is that if you must stay with a more modestly powered amp, the internal 500wpc bass amp in the speaker will give you very clean low end. So, it's not a matter of poor vs. good performance, but of good vs. superb performance. :)

One last thought; I normally encourage systems to be built using one brand of cables until tweaking the sound at the end. I normally try to stay with one brand and not mix cables. Once in a while I will add a power cord or two, or one set of interconnects, or a different digital cable. But I do not slap together a bunch of different brands.

In the case of the Whisper having a different amp (possibly with different technology as well) inside you will want to find your best brand of cable, then try different models of interconnect or speaker cables from that line to find the perfect balance between the bass and mid/treble. If necessary, try mixing brands slightly to find a better result. I only recommend this as an aid to helping in case your selected amp for Mid/High does not match perfectly to your ear with the bass.

When you find the perfect match for an amp to use with the Whisper I believe you will have an easier time using only one brand of cables on the entire system. I would still try some experimenting on cables, however, because of the hybrid nature of the speakers. With diligence you should be able to attain even better sound than a traditional dynamic speaker.

It seems you are in Bangladesh and perhaps the closest AR dealer is in India. You will want to check into reliability of any amp you consider as any repairs/shipping could be costly. It looks like a lot of water near you, so perhaps you could consider a solid state amp if you do not have air conditioning or if you are near the Bay of Bengal. I'm not an authority on this point, but I'm thinking the climate there might be harsh on tubed gear, shorten tube life, etc. You will want to communicate with the amp manufacturer to seek answers about it.
Hello Douglas.

MANY thanks for you valuable advise and elaborate reply. I have read and enjoyed your reviews on the Ayon CD5, Focus, Whisper DSW and Helix. My purchase has also been influenced by you! I have the Ayon Skylla (same DAC/Pre as your CD5) as a source with a MacMini/Wavelength Wavelink HS as transport.

I intend to continue using the Skylla as a pre with the Whispers as I really want to preserve the Tube sound in the system.

I understand your advice on amp power and fully agree. I also use an Ayon Triton and Krell S-300i (with HT bypass for pure power amp application) and find much more punch/dynamics in the system with the SS amp, but the vocal are thinner and less dimensional.

What I'd really like to do is have the best possible of both tubes and ss in amps for the Whispers.

While the more powerful AR amps may do the job well, they are beyond my budget. So I am considering the Mac MC501 or the Parasound JC1 or Bryston 7BSST2 as options.

I have spoken to Doug Brown at Legacy who recommends Coda and McIntosh. But between them I prefer the Mac for resale value. Your valuable input on this will be greatly appreciated.

Also, how much of its own sonic signature does the Xilica processor put on the sound. Will it preserve the tubey signal coming into it?


Sajid, Thanks for the complement. I'm glad I have been of assistance to you in finding some good gear. :)

The Skylla DAC is probably going to treat you very well. I believe it has the Gain switch that is used also on the CD-5. This is a very powerful feature and you should seek to test it out at different settings with the Whisper speakers. You will likely have a strong preference toward one or the other setting.

Pay careful attention to your CD transport, if you use one. It, and the S/PDIF cable, will have a big impact on the sound of the Skylla.

Are you planning on having more than one amp to use at any given time? i.e. solid state driving the Mid/treble at times and tube amp doing the same when you feel like switching them. If so, you're setting yourself up for a LOT of fun!

I do not want to give too much way, but I am reviewing a Coda amp currently. This particular amp is rich and full bodied, and matches up extremely well with the Whisper; it also sounded great with the Focus SE. I have not had the opportunity to try McIntosh with the Whisper.

Using the external crossover will enhance the performance, not diminish it. Your overall sound quality will be much higher than if the speaker was completely run with passive crossovers. I have found the processor to help preserve the sound of upstream components better than using a passive crossover.

Make sure you upgrade/change the cable on the processor! This can be easily forgotten. It makes as much difference to the sound as changing a power cord on the source or amp!
If you have two different brands of power cords, switch them around to see what difference it makes. You will likely hear a distinct difference and prefer one way over the other.

Also, upgrade the power cord to the internal speaker amp! Again, this will influence the bass positively. Your components and speakers will be refined enough to hear these changes, and together they will move your system to a much higher level.
Hi Douglas,

Yes the Skylla has the gain switch which makes a big difference in some difficult situations, esp with lower power amps. The transport i plan to use is the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport. Though ideally I am still looking for a suitable transport with I2S output into the Skylla. Do you have any preferences when in comes to CD transports?

I plan to switch between the Triton and an SS amp, so I guess that will be a nice option to have. The guys at Legacy also tell me the Triton is a nice match for the XD.

Which Coda model are you reviewing now? Are you using it with the DSW?

Its great to know about the transparency of the processor. I am really looking forward to my Whisper as its my first high end speaker (i caught the audiophile bug just six months ago).

I will be placing an order for all AudioArt interconnects and power cords and will now be including the processor power cord as well. I am using the PurePower 2000 AC regenerator, so hopefully may not need much conditioning.

Would love to have a sneak preview of your review of the Coda amps if possible!!

Look forward to your advise and help on building my system.

Thanks again...
Oh, didn't realize you had posted again. I don't usually say too much about specifics of reviews until they are published. Suffice to say the Coda sound is very good, well worth considering. You could talk to Doug Dale at Coda and he would be able to suggest a preferable Coda amp for you. I have used the Coda amp extensively with the Whisper DSW and the Kingsound King.

For source I would suggest you check into 32 bit DACs, as the new technology is superb. See my review of the Eastern Electric Minimax DAC. The AES/EBU or S/PDIF cable used with it is critical to obtain the best result.

So, you are new to the High End as a hobby. Wow, the Whisper is your first speaker - you've done extremely well in your selection. You're moving up, way up, the ladder in terms of sound quality on your first attempt.

You will likely be overwhelmed and impressed at first by the sound; the system will be extremely good. As you get to know the system better you can tweak the processor and experiment with different cables. It is very unlikely that the first choice of cables will be the ultimate for your ears. You may have to compare a few sets of cables before selecting the 'best' for you. But if you are after ultimate performance it will be most worthwhile.

You have a LOT of fun ahead of you!
Thanks Doug. I hope to continue getting your advice and help along my journey to have a great system. Your review of the DSW where you mention that the speaker can be adapted with the external crossover in difficult situations to sound good was particularly helpful in me choosing the Whisper. I am restricted in my ability to try out many different combination of upstream equipment due to a lack of availability in my country.

Have a Merry Christmas and a great new year and hope to be in touch again soon.


Glad to help; a joyous Christmas and new year to you as well.
www.avahifi.com get a few double die 550 units, save money better sound, bi amp with the van alstine phase inverters. Audio by VanAlstine will get you better sound for less. I use 4 1200W Hafler P500 rebuilds into VanAlstine Insight double die about 1200W each for a toatl of around 5200W or more, it's a sonic experience, that is incredible, more watts more control, lifelike slam and impact with complete bass control, I use teh Xilica DSP processor from Legacy on my older Whispers, incredible lifelike sound. Get teh Van Alstines, not the over hyped heavily advertised over hyped stuff.
Thanks Dup.
I've read comments about your system on forums. Sounds like you almost have a live concert going on in your room! This is what I want as well. Since I have bought the Whisper XD, which has internal 500W ICE amps for the bass drivers, there is no option to biamp. I can only use my own amplification for the mid and top. What are your thoughts on the Ayon Triton or Coda amps. I hear Legacy uses them at shows with their speakers. If you have been to the shows, can you let me know your thoughts.
I would like to hear from Doug or some one who has used McIntosh 501 mono blocks to power the Whisper XD.

One other thought, if one buys the DSW Whisper, which has no internal power for all of those woofers, it seems that it would take a lot of watts to power these enclosures externally. Would McIntosh 1.2KW mono blocks be enough?

Kent, I think you may not hear much regarding your specific question about the Whisper and McIntosh 501 amps; there would be precious few people who have that specific arrangement. But one never knows unless asking...

I have found that it is not necessary to have tremendously powerful amps to drive the DSW. I have used one stereo Cambridge Audio Azur 840W on the bass and two Pathos Classic One MkIII tube hybrid integrateds in Stereo mode on the M/T with excellent results. Neither of these amps are "monsters" in terms of power; in fact the Pathos amps are 70wpc powering the M/T! I think the correct word for my reaction to the depth and power of the bass was "stunned". I expected nowhere near the amount of subwoofer-like power and depth from the single Azur amp driving the bass. I'm eager to at some point use the other 840W I have and run them Mono on the bass. THAT would be quite interesting.

Because one can adjust the gain through the processor and the speaker is about 95 dB sensitivity, one can use moderately powered amps and get great results. McIntosh 1.2KW Monos would be serious overkill (But, I like overkill!), much more than enough. Typically a company's amps improve sonically with additional cost and power, so I certainly wouldn't discourage a better offering. It is not necessary, however, to drive the speaker well. If a person has the means to secure the higher end amp they should because the sound quality will be improved. It's not just a question of power; with the Whisper the power issue is less critical than with many other speakers, but the quality of the amp will be clearly revealed.

My experience is that the brand of the amp - its particular voicing - will play into the equation of seeking one's ultimate sound as much as the power of the amp. So, do not assume that mega-power will solve all. Seek an amp which sounds lovely to your ears and as long as it has moderate power the Whisper can make it work (remember, you've got gain adjustment with the processor). Is it conceivable that you may like the sonic attributes of a less powerful amp to drive the Whisper versus a more powerful amp of a different brand? Yes; there is some experimentation involved unless one simply wants to pick a favorite and use the processor (if so desired) to optimize it.

Before you buy the McIntosh, do also consider the Codas. I spoke to Bill D and he was quite clear that, to his ears, the Coda amps are a great match to the Whispers. Coda is also used to voice the speakers at the factory.

They seem to represent great value for money as well.

I am now using the Ayon Triton with my XD, and don't feel its short on power.

But I will get a Coda CSX soon. The improvements will be "more attack and clarity" according to Bill D.

I believe Doug also has had a good experience with the Coda amps.