If you do your homework, as any conscientious writer
should, you will sit yourself down and launch a cloud search. If you punch in
the word legend, the results are
in no way a help. That is if you don't give a hoot about the floor mats for the
Acura Legend. What you could find is a speaker company in Australia with a
similar brand name called Legend Acoustics. In addition, you might find the
Klipsch Company's old line of Legend speakers. Continuing the list is the
Eminence Companies Legend line of coned speaker drivers. So might this be a clue
as to why Von Gaylord Audio has split off from Legend Audio Design? The Von
Gaylord Company has packed up and relocated from Berkeley CA, to Sacramento CA.
The original Legend entity once marketed a Legend branded speaker with a roughly
similar shape to the new Legend IV. The original Legend Audio Design speaker was
launched back in 1993. Both old and new speakers while markedly different share
a truncated tapered pyramidal wooden enclosure. That's a fancy way of saying
they have a pyramid shape with the top cut off. According to my research, there
are show reports of complete systems made up of Von Gaylord components. However
it seems that there is no product review extant specifically written about the new
Legend IV speakers. Von Gaylord Audio tells us they have, "The Return of the
Legend IV". Indeed, aside from an
approximation of the pyramid shape, this new speaker is an entirely different
Up With That?
First up is The Beach Boys album, That's Why God Made The Radio Capital EMI CD (509996-02824 22). This is not strictly an audiophile disc but it contains my primary reference. And that is the sound of a human voice, this I know intimately. The first track is "Think About The Days". The introduction begins with music containing a soft piano passage. My very first scribbled note was how natural the piano sounded and how it seemed to separate and float free from the rest of the mix. The title song of this CD is on track 2, "That's Why God Made The Radio". This refrain reminds me of another Brian Wilson song, "God Only knows" a song similarly hallmarked by Wilson's signature vocalese styling of intertwining chords and modulating keys. What I try to ascertain when listening to speakers is the organic human overtones that identifies the singer/source. Clear to hear is Brian Wilson's slightly monotone affect delineating the passage of his years and substance abuse. The Legend IV speakers have the ability to delineate voices in the Beach Boys harmony so that I can follow along (grinning).
The melodic thread that runs through this album inspirers in me a wistful nostalgia full of fond memories. It takes me back to a time when I gathered together with friends to "Hit Notes". We would harmonize Do-Wop songs, most of the time we sheltered in a hallway. I can remember nights and although cold and shivering, we would endure the night air. There were times when our acappella voices would echo off the walls and like a church bell ringing deep in an alpine valley. The sound would reverberate and live carried on the cold night air. The Return of the Legend IV speakers resurrect that far away memory.
Now with a critical mind set I refer to my ultimate resolution test recording, Love [Capitol EMI 9463-79808-2] CD. In June 2006, a Cirque du Soleil show called Love opened at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. The shows Beatles soundtrack was the culmination of a two year effort and collaboration between George Harrison and Guy Laliberte' the founder of Cirque du Soleil. It was a compilation of Beatles music tracks reengineered by George Martin and his son Giles Martin. I use the Beatles Cirque du Soleil soundtrack Love to test speaker imaging and resolution. The very first track is called "Because". This is an acappella vocal track with very heavy studio reverberation. Almost totally buried under the tracks vocals at a very much lower volume are the sounds of birds and a dove cooing. There are breaks in the vocal tracks and only in the quite segments can you hear some faint sounds. At about 52 seconds into this cut, you hear the sound of bird wings coming from the right speaker. This same segment when played through the new Legend IV, for the first time I clearly hear not just a flapping noise but for a brief second the sound of wings hitting the bird's sides. At about 1.09 into this cut an even lower sound level, you can hear a buzzing from the right speaker moving across the sound stage and fading behind the left speaker. At first I thought the sound was coming from a common housefly but the speakers tell me it is a larger insect. The whole first track on this disc contains a menagerie of sounds recorded at whisper quite levels. All of these elements are layered over a very quite background made audible only by a crystal clear resolution of faint details. I use another cut from this same album titled, "Get Back", this song as you probably remember has a very dynamic driving bass. This Beatles track is more of a test of how deep the bass driver reaches. The plucked sound of the electric bass guitar is exactly what's on this recording, a blurry rhythmic boom riding along in the background.
Let's move on to listen to another recording and the string bass backing of Peggy Lee as she sings her signature song, "Fever". This track is part of a demo CD sampler picked up at one of the shows I attended and I know not the origin. This is a far better test of the resolving power of the legend IV speaker's bass articulation. You should hear the resonant sound of the wood in the wooden body of the Bass Fiddle. Also audible the sound of plucked strings and the transfer of the initial transient energy to the wooden body followed by a very natural resonant fade. All of these subtly resonant overtones are surgically separated and cleaved from the sound scape. This is a bass voicing test that the Legend IV seems able to sail through with ease.
Using the Rives Audio test CD I did get some usable bass in my room around 45 Hz. What was evident at 20 Hz was undamped cone flutter. The Legend IV is a typical bass reflex design and the 7.25" mid-woofer drivers are not frequency limited. The low frequency response is a calculation of VAS the (equivalent cabinet volume) driver size and the enclosures port. Understand when assessing speakers I am not really into deep bass. In fact, most of the time excess bass just overrides and swamps out a broad spectrum of the small details I listen for. As always, the bottom line will be price and inevitably, everything comes down to Dollars. At nearly $13,000, we rise into somewhat rarified atmosphere.
To put this in prospective I did a bit more research and turned up the following information. This is the MSRP for a few high-end stand mounted speakers. The Sonus Faber Guaneri Memento $15,000, Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution $20,000 and last but not least the Magico Q1 $24,950. The Legend IV are great speakers, that I can attest to, but at this level it is absolutely necessary that you find a dealer and audition them in person.
From the Magazine, Enjoy The Music.
From me, Semper Hi-Fi
Voice: (415) 328-9572