Legacy Audio Classic HD Speaker System Page 2

The Legacy Audio Metro is the company’s smallest subwoofer; and, comparatively, it’s not all that big, being a 16-inch cube. However, in that unassuming 68-pound cabinet, Legacy fits a Class D amp rated at 500 watts, along with a 12-inch spunaluminum-coned, forward-firing active driver and a down-firing 15-inch passive radiator. The whole thing rests on four rubber isolating/decoupling feet. Legacy says the Metro is intended for modest size rooms.

Movies with bombastic bomb blasts are always my favorite to task a speaker system with because they can show the extremes the system is capable of whilst also letting me enjoy mindless entertainment and call it work. What really distinguishes a phenomenal set of speakers from a merely excellent package, though, is how well they’re able to run the emotion-inducing audio gamut from over-the-top, batter-your-rib-cage pounding to the barely audible flutter of a butterfly’s wings. In Australia, when Fletcher and his partners set fire to the surrounding dry brush to cause a massive herd of cattle to stampede wildly toward a nearby cliff, Nullah and Flynn bravely race on their horses along the cliff’s edge attempting to steer the cattle away from becoming what would have been the largest mound of ground beef in cinematic history. The Classic HDs, with the Metro sub providing a substantial underpinning, were dynamic and powerful in re-creating the sound of 6,000 cattle hooves, a dozen or so horses’ hooves, and the heavy pounding of drums in the accompanying score. The power of it all easily threatened to carry me out of the room; yet, in the midst of the bovine frenzy, the coordinating calls of Nullah and Flynn (which, in real life, would never have been heard over the bulls’ bellows) were carefully layered on top of the din by the Classic HDs and the Silverscreen HD center—thanks to the easygoing, opensounding nature of Legacy Audio’s tweeter and the dynamic characteristics of the cone drivers.


Shortly after the cattle perform their version of Stomp on a helpless and horseless Flynn (in a truly gut-wrenching scene), Nullah uses aboriginal magic in the form of a quiet song to halt the herd at the cliff’s edge. Here, again, the Legacy system was excellent at re-creating the scene’s smallest (and largest) audible elements, including the nervous trembling in the young boy’s voice and the gradual winding down of the audible anxiety in the cattle. Later that night, Nullah plays Flynn’s amazingly unscathed harmonica in memory of him. Meanwhile, a subtle orchestral score plays under the scene. The interplay of the wheezy harmonica, the woodwinds, and the string section creates an airy, melancholic mix in which every detail, including the breeze, forms a wide and seamless wall of sound.

While oftentimes the center channel in a system comes across as being a bit wimpy compared with the full-throatedness of the front left and right speakers, there was certainly no instance in Australia in which I found this to be the case with the Silverscreen HD. As the stampede raged across the front soundstage, for example, the thundering herd never sounded squeezed (lean beef?) across the middle. And the tonal differences between Hugh Jackman’s Aussie accent and the Brit-speak of Nicole Kidman’s character were clear and distinct.

I hate to admit that I enjoyed the movie Rock of Ages, so I’ll blame it on the Legacy Audio system’s ability to absolutely mesmerize. As it did during Australia, the Silverscreen HD stood out by not standing out anytime that vocals were the center of attention in this rock operatic ode to early-’80s music (in other words, nearly every minute of the movie). Yes, the Silverscreen HD is a big, honking black box (beautiful as that black box may be) that isn’t going to meekly hang on the wall below your flat-panel TV. And, yes, you’re going to pay at least $1,725 for the privilege of finding room for it in your theater. But those cost and size issues become inconsequential when you hear how smooth and effortless the Silverscreen HD is—and how incredibly it blends with the Classic HDs.


Much the same can be said for the Deco speakers, as they became an amazing extension of the speakers in the front of the room. I was impressed that the dispersion pattern of the Decos sounded surprisingly wide. As a result, in a movie like Rock of Ages, in which the rear sound-field is dominated by musical ambience rather than special effects, the Decos pulled the same sonic disappearing act that the Silverscreen HD did in terms of blending in and creating one large acoustic space around me. Speaking of blending, I also found it amazing how well the Metro sub performed in conjunction with the Classic HDs. It was a perfect extension for the towers, adding depth to the Classic HDs’ already significant bass output; and, whether it was with music or a sound effect, the speaker/sub combination always came across as one complete whole.


It’s not surprising that on their own, sans surround and subwoofer accoutrements, the Classic HDs are a spectacular set of speakers for two-channel music. The very same qualities that made the entire system so captivating serve to bring an intimacy to straightforward acoustic musical performances, such as Buddy Guy’s and Junior Wells’ “Give Me My Coat and Shoes” (from Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection). Very few speakers can reveal the emotional underpinning of a song—especially one built around the simplicity of guitar, harmonica, and voice—without revealing their presence in some subtle way.

Essentially, I found each listening session with the Legacy Classic HD system to be nothing short of getting a hit of sonic crystal meth administered directly onto my tympanic membranes—just as addictively energizing as the real thing only without the weight loss, dental decay, and risk of jail time. Of course, for $10,000, you’d expect the system to perform. But the Classic HDs—along with the Metro sub, the Silverscreen HD center, and the attractive Deco on-wall surrounds—deliver an experience that’s beyond the price in dollars—and well worth the cost in floor space in your living room or dedicated theater. The Classic HD system is a true work of art, one that is beautiful in both looks and sound. The only trouble is that once you start listening, you may not be able to stop.

Legacy Audio

jdaddabbo's picture

Any ideas as to why such a large discrepancy between your measured speaker Sensitivity, and Legacy Audio's published speaker Sensitivity?

zardok47's picture

Another excellent review from Mr. Wilkinson. I laughed out loud three different times reading this. But that's what happens whenever I read his writing. Fortunately, he also does an excellent job of evaluating the products. A writer this talented has been published in many places. Daryl, where else can we find your writing? As a humorist and writer who strangely finds reading speaker reviews really interesting, I stand in awe of Daryl's work. What an asset to any publication!