Recently I was on a quest to upgrade my speakers. I had the Gemme Audio Tantos, which while having great bass and dynamics, and sounding good with all types of music, left me wanting higher levels of resolution. And I also owned them for a number of years and it was time for an upgrade. But I didn’t just wanna upgrade for the sake of it, I wanted to significantly go up the ladder.
I had a short list of speakers I wanted to hear, and Legacy was one of the recommended brands, plus I really wanted to check out the new Personas, and happened to be the case, a nearby dealer, Audio Doctor in Jersey City had both.
For some reason Legacy doesn’t seem to be that well known, there’s a thread on AVS and some random reviews on hometheaterhifi, so I get the feeling people tend to think of them as a home theater speaker company rather than a hi fi brand.
Well, most people couldn’t be more wrong.
I purchased the Legacy Signature SEs. They are very large (for typical NYC apartments), they stand monolithic, but incredible to look at with the stunning Rosewood finish. At about 110 lbs unboxed, I had a hell of a time setting them up in a somewhat ideal location in my living room. I let them run straight for 3 days.
Did you know there are sounds of bubbles in "Octopus’s Garden"? Have you noticed? I never did, and I’ve been listening to this song for about 25 years (albeit when I was 12, it was on a shitty boombox). And I didn’t have to put any effort to hear those bubbles. There they just were, coming through the speakers as they were recorded 50 years ago, and I never knew. And this was without really setting the speakers up properly, with my modest DAC.
On my great analog front end, with Van Morrison’s "Crazy Love", his vocals just hung in the air. I had to listen to the whole album (Moondance) from start to finish because I couldn’t get up. I listened to the Classic Records’ Stereo version of "Blue Train" and it was as if this was new music, the upright bass was center right, beyond the speaker, through the whole session! I have an original Blue Note of Dexter Gordon’s "A Swingin’ Affair"...and they were in my room! Every stroke or brushing of the hi-hat, notes from the bass! This is like being in Smalls! Still without the speakers placed properly! They were 8 feet apart, 3 feet from the front wall and 4 feet from the sides, but only slightly towed in.
After toeing them in properly, I was listening to these last night, after coming home from work and completing household stuff, right before going to sleep. There were incredible moments of you are there vocal and instrumental palpability...Fleetwood Mac’s "Dreams", with the vocal harmonizing during the chorus, Eagles’ "I can’t tell you why", the dual guitars just sounding incredibly separated, yet effortless. Santana, Buena Vista Social Club, Ry Cooder, typical audiophile vocal music. Even with my modest dac, they all sounded incredible.
And not just with select "audiophile" music, Junior Boys "Last Exit" is one of my most favorite electronic albums ever. It has a frigid, cold yet soulful ambiance. The best way to describe their esoteric, glitchy sound is as one reviewer once put it: "Imagine incredibly soulful electronic RnB produced by Timbaland...if he never wanted to make any actual money." On "High Come Down" the electronic high hats just enveloped me, they had this incredible stereo imaging and switched channels constantly. I had no idea.
The speakers have this incredibly controlled low end and this sweet, engaging midrange sound...and the top is just airy. It all equates to an extremely engaging experience.
I had a very good experience at Audio Doctor. Dave is a passionate dude, he loves gear and we listened to a lot of music both times I was there. I initially listened to the Legacy Audio Signature SEs, Paradigm Persona 3Fs and Dali Rubicon 8s. For me the former two stood out. But I had other speakers to audition as well. So I went around to other shops and I listened to the new Dynaudio Contours (which I’d definitely also recommend people check out, specifically the monitors for a smaller listening space). And I also listened to the Endeavor E3 MK2s. For my tastes, the clear frontrunners were the Legacies and the Endeavors. After all the auditioning I went back to Audio Doctor for a second listening session and clearly the Lagacies were for me. There was no pressure or anything, just a relaxing, long listening session. I’d recommend Dave’s shop without hesitation, there is a lot of high end gear there one could check out.
If I was in the market for speakers in the 7k - 10k range, I’d definitely check out the Legacies, Dynaudios and Endeavors.