- Written by Jim Clements
- Published on 22 October 2012
Introduction to the Legacy Classic HD Speakers
The e-mail came in one afternoon – "Mr. Clements, would you be interested in reviewing Legacy's newest towers." Are you kidding? Of course I would be interested in reviewing a pair of Legacy's speakers. I mean, Legacy is one of the modern era's great speaker companies. Everything I've heard that has come from Legacy was nothing short of impressive on so many levels.
LEGACY CLASSIC HD SPECIFICATIONS
Classic HD Towers
- Design: 4 Driver, 3-Way, Bass Reflex
- >MFR: 32–30,000 Hz ±2dB
- Tweeter: 1" Dual Pole Neo Ribbon, Folded Kapton Diaphragm
- Midrange: 7" Rohacell Reinforced-Silver Graphite, Cast Frame
- Woofer: 2 ~ 8" Rohacell Reinforced-Silver Graphite, Cast Frame
- Woofer Loading: B-6
- Crossover Frequencies: 450Hz, 4kHz
- Sensitivity: 94 dB/2.83 volts (In-Room)
- Impedance: 4 Ohm
- Recommended Amplifier Power: 25 ‒ 300 Watts
- Inputs: 2 Pair Custom 5-way Binding Posts
- Weight: 110 lbs. each
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 44" × 10.75" × 13"
- MSRP: $4,150/pair (Standard Finishes)
- Design: Passive radiator
- Loading: 6th Order
- Active Driver: Aura 12" Spun Aluminum with Encapsulated Neo Motor
- Subsonic Radiator: Down-Firing 15"
- Internal Amplifier: 500 W, Class D
- MFR: 20 – 150 Hz
- Inputs: 2 RCA, 1 pair high level
- Shipping Weight: 68 lbs
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 16" × 16" × 16"
- MSRP: $1,495/ea (Standard Finishes)
- Legacy Audio
- SECRETS TAGS: Floorstanding Speakers, Speakers, Subwoofers, Legacy, Audio
The speakers in question are the Classic HD's. These 3-way, 4-driver speakers are the next to smallest tower in Legacy's lineup and they are competitively priced; starting at only $4,150/pair. As if that wouldn't make me entirely satisfied, Legacy decided to include the new Metro HD sub. This is 16" cube powers its 12" active driver and 15" passive radiator with a 500 watt Class A/B amp. You can pick up this little powerhouse at a base price of just $1,495 each.
Take a look at my review and test results to find out why I found this 2.1 system was easy to live with.
Legacy Classic HD Speaker Design
The Legacy Classic HD towers are a 3-way 4-driver design based on Legacy's Neo Ribbon tweeter along with a trio of Rohacell® reinforced carbon fiber cone drivers.
Rohacell® is a high strength closed cell foam that is used to make light weight structural components predominantly in the aerospace, automotive and medical technology industries. In my estimation, it is a true high tech material even though it has been around for more than 30 years! It is light weight, stiff and easy to fabricate. Legacy uses it to reinforce the cones in the Classic HD's. In this particular instance, a diaphragm of silver carbon weave is fused to a Rohacell backer. Meanwhile, the tweeter's diaphragm is also formed from a material common to the aerospace industry – Kapton.
So what you have in the Classic HD's is a high end folded ribbon tweeter mated to a 7" lightweight cone midrange with a cast basket. The tweeter and midrange are mounted very close together near the top of the enclosure. These two drivers are underpinned by a pair of similarly light and responsive 8" cones in a bass reflex enclosure that is ported on the back.
The finish on the pair I got in for review was what Legacy calls a black finish. It's not black. Instead, this extremely glossy finish has imbedded silver sparkles. It reminds me of the finish they used to put on the Corvette Stingrays of the '70's. Remember that?
The cabinet is MDF with interlocking joinery that is covered in one of three absolutely stunning finishes – two real wood choices and the groovy black and silver speckle finish on my review samples. In Legacy's words, "The exquisite finish is hand-rubbed several times to assure a patina at home with the most elegant decor." This cabinet is tuned with two alarmingly small (B6) rear-firing ports.
The input cup also exudes class with two pairs of custom binding posts with pure copper straps for single cable installations or bi wire/biamping when removed. Also included is a pair of heavy duty toggle switches on the terminal plate. These offer the choice between flat response or the option to attenuate the bass and/or treble by 2 db by flipping the switches.
Legacy also sent along their new, compact subwoofer - the Metro. I call it compact because it is the smallest sub Legacy offers. But don't be fooled into thinking this is among the super compact category of subs. To be sure, Legacy's idea of a compact sub is much different than those produced by a mass market company.
The Metro sub is a 16" cube that has a front-firing 12" active driver and a down-firing 15" passive radiator. It is driven by a 500 watt amp that Legacy says puts out 500 "real" watts. The amp has unbalanced stereo line ins and outs, a balanced LFE input and speaker level inputs. The crossover is continuously variable from 40 – 200 Hz. There is no crossover defeat switch. It also has a continuously variable phase control from 0° to -180° and a nice power cord.
All three of these speakers are especially well made and they come with a 7-year warranty but I bet they will last a lifetime. In addition to the 7-year warranty, Legacy also offers a satisfaction guarantee. Here it is described in their own words, "A great deal of forethought, love and satisfaction is instilled in each piece of Legacy workmanship. We take pride in getting to know many of our customers on a first name basis. Your purchase of this product is backed by the renowned Legacy Satisfaction Guarantee". It's hard to sniff at that kind of commitment.
Legacy Classic HD Speaker Setup
The Classic HD's were well packaged and even though they tip the scales at over 100 pounds each, I was able to unbox them and wrangle them into position without too much assistance. They are sold in fully assembled matched pairs. The installed feet are large rubber feet that can be fitted with included cones for carpeted floors.
I placed the mains about 10' apart and 10' from the primary listening position. Legacy has optimized these speakers to sound their best at 5° to 15 ° off-axis so I toed them in (angled them towards the listening position) just enough so I they were firing a little off-axis at the seating position.
I started out driving the Classic HD's with a 200 wpc stereo amp and liked what I heard, but I knew the speakers could handle a lot more juice. So I went ahead and vertically bi-amped them with a pair of 200 wpc stereo amps. The payoff was more headroom, a more relaxed presentation and gobs of output capacity. I played with the contour toggles, but decided that I preferred to keep them in the "flat" position.
The Legacy manual discusses the importance of keeping speaker cable resistance to a minimum. I used 8' long 12-gauge cables while evaluating the Classic HD's. Here is another key excerpt from the manual, "extensive measures have been taken to ensure that each Legacy speaker system represents a smooth, non-reactive load to virtually any amplifier. The amplifier should be able to CONTROL the loudspeakers across the entire music spectrum. This means that parameters such as damping factor . . . and dynamic headroom should not be overlooked when comparing amplifiers."
I placed the Metro HD sub in the left front corner of my room. I connected it with a pair of LR line level inputs that were split off from the pre amp. The main channels were being run full-range and I wanted the Metro sub to just fill in the lowest registers. After some experimentation with the controls, I wound up with the crossover set to 40 Hz, the gain was set to 11 o'clock and the phase control stayed on 0°.
These speakers sounded nice right out of the box. I still broke them in for more than 50 hours before starting my serious evaluation sessions.
Legacy Classic HD Speakers In Use
The British pop duo Katie White and Jules de Martino are the group known as the Ting Tings. They released their second album in February 2012. I started my evaluation of the Legacy speaker system by listening to the album on vinyl. This album, which is supposed to represent the Ting Tings' departure from a pop career arc, was generally panned by critics. And, sure it is sophomoric (pun) for sure, but I get it. It is a fun record that I enjoy a bunch. What's really wrong with having a little fun?
The Legacy system has excellent top to bottom balance with one of the sweetest sounding tweeters you will ever hear. Meanwhile, the speakers produced shapely bass pulses and a tight bass drum kick. Take the track "Hang it Up" for example. The sound had a wholeness to it with well integrated sounds and an appropriate image size. The speaker system sorted out all the instruments. The treble shone and there was a tuneful pace on bass lines. I loved the way the Legacy system preserved the timbre of the percussion instruments. It is hard to beat high quality full range towers for music playback.
One of the hallmarks of these and other Legacy speakers is that they can be enjoyed for long sessions without listening fatigue. It was so true in this situation that I cranked up the volume a little more than I might with other speakers. Then the track "Help" came up and the steel strings here floated in space until the synthesizer kicked in and levitated my listening seat.
This RCA Living Stereo SACD contains the most popular compositions by George Gershwin. The performances were recorded in 1959 and 1960 and were performed by the Boston Pops, conducted by Arthur Fiedler. The headline works are Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris.
As mentioned above, the Legacy Classic HD's get the scale right on just about everything. With these recordings, there was a very broad soundstage and no hole in the middle. Add to that how the Metro sub revealed the extent of the performance hall. I also felt that the Legacy Classic HD's did an amazing job differentiating direct versus reflected sounds on Earl Wild's piano. This effect further advanced the keen perception of space that I got: I say you simply don't need a surround system.
These speakers are smooooth but still dynamic. This is difficult for me to describe – the Classic HD's are sweet but they aren't sugary-sounding, just clean and extended.
On Concerto in F Allegro, the music simply breathed with lifelike tonal textures. Then on Adagio, Andante Con Moto, I heard nearly zero dynamic compression during crescendos. These speakers never flinched, never faltered and could easily fill a much larger room than mine. I don't think I ever really taxed the Classic HD's at any point during the extended review period.
On American in Paris, I decided that these speakers really come into their own on orchestral works because of the wholeness of their sound and the ability to reproduce the scale of a performance.
I would like to write about my impressions of the Legacy system when watching a nice Blu-ray. John Carter is a movie that I didn't catch in theaters and I'm not sure why not. A lot of people are probably like me on this count because this movie bombed at the box office. The critical reviews were mixed so I thought I might enjoy it. Might.
Like I've said before, a good 2-channel system built around speakers with quality imaging properties along with the phasing inherent in the source material means that you don't really need a surround system to feel like you are part of the action. That certainly held true with John Carter over the Legacy Classic HD/Metro system.
The Legacy system produced tight, meaty bass on the majestic score and had fine bass slam on the action sequences. The voices were pure with clean sibilants and no chestiness. Again, I had no listening fatigue, despite the extended treble response.
Although I wasn't particularly fond of the movie, I must admit that starting from the arena scene all the way through to the end, this disc has excellent demo-worthy material. The high action sequences had superior sound quality and I enjoyed their full impact through the Legacy system. Once again, these speakers never flinched.
I had the Legacy Classic HD speakers in my system when watching the initial "Rock Concert" of the 2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremonies. This was lossy Dolby Digital that was down mixed to stereo in my TiVo box. What I was trying to evaluate here was the suitability of the Legacy system to be a multipurpose speaker system for day to day use. The result? Of course they are. In fact, it might be akin to fishing with dynamite.
All I can say is that the sound was stupendous over the Legacy system. This was big arena sound that was properly supported by the Metro sub. Thanks to this performance, I am now a fan of Jessie J. Man, she can really belt it out. If you don't believe me, listen to her cover of "We Will Rock You" and see for yourself. Her voice was as pristine as could be over the Classic HD's.
The orchestra during the flame/flag ceremony was also very majestic through the Legacy system. There was so much quality music in this concert like the Pink Floyd and Beatles medleys. It all sounded so good over the Classic HD's, I even fell for the Spice Girls. Oops, did I say that out loud?
Legacy Classic HD Speakers On The Bench
All the below measurements shown are in-room response. The frequency response tests were performed at 1-meter, the distortion measurements were on-axis near field measurements.
The on-axis response of the Legacy Classic HD's shows an exceptionally flat spectrum from 35 Hz to 20 kHz. There are some room-induced fluctuations in the bass below 200 Hz.
At 30 degrees off-axis, the Classic HD's had a response curve that was expectedly not as smooth as the on-axis test, but it still has flat treble past 16 kHz. The bass showed a little more unevenness on this test as well.
The THD at 1 kHz and 95 db was 0.33%, with the first harmonic more than 50 db below the test signal.
At 500 Hz and 95 db, the THD measurement is an inaudible 0.14%. This is a very clean test plot.
The Classic HD's had just 0.12% THD at 5kHz and 95 db.
At 10 kHz and 90 db, the distortion was amazingly low at just 0.16%. These tweeters are sweet and extended and the low distortion is probably one reason the Classic HD's could be enjoyed for hours without fatigue setting in.
I tested the Classic HD's at 95 db and 40Hz to verify their output near the cabinet's tuning frequency. This is another clean test plot with just 2.70% THD; very good response characteristics for a pair of passive 8" drivers.
The Metro sub has a 6th order alignment and so the response drops off quickly below its tuning frequency - probably a big part of the subjectively tight bass response. The upper useable limit is over 150 Hz.
At 100 Hz and 95 db, the distortion was amazingly low for a sub – 0.15%.
The sub stayed clean at 80 Hz with just 0.15% THD at 95 db at 80 Hz.
Here you see that the sub hit 8.7% THD at 90 db when tested at 24 Hz. This is a good test result for a compact sub.
Conclusions about the Legacy Classic HD Speakers
I'm sure you can tell from reading through this review that I completely fell in love with the intoxicating sound of Legacy's Classic HD speakers. I loved the smooth treble and the transparent midrange supported by tight, clean and full bass. The Classic HD's had an uncanny ability of getting the scale right with everything I put through them both large and small – from a solo a capella singer to a massive orchestra in a large hall, I just about always felt in the moment.
The only quibble I might have would be that the bass didn't quite extend down to the netherest regions of the infrasonic band as you would get with one of Legacy's larger subs. But if you love music and want speakers that offer excellent performance with a wide array of material without editorializing the sound, then you should really give these Legacy speakers a listen. They are very reasonably priced, and made in America with love.