"Let me introduce you to a remarkably “real world” but still very high-end product, the Legacy Signature SE."

"My approach is to tell you about my experience with the Signatures... the goal of my music reproduction system is to recreate, insofar as possible and practical, the sonic experience of live music, maximizing those elements that contribute to the illusion and minimizing those that detract."

"Specifically, I want sound that is clear (live music always is); that creates the illusion of the concert space (live music never is an amorphous blob but comes from somewhere); that covers the full frequency range cleanly at any reasonable volume (consider an orchestra going full blast); and that avoids the colorations that scream “we’re not in the hall”.

"My approach is to reproduce as accurately as possible what’s on the recording with clarity and extended dynamic range, up to concert hall levels, across the entire frequency range."

"In case you are not familiar with Legacy Audio, they manufacture superb speakers in Springfield, IL, marketing to both audiophiles and audio professionals. (They also manufacture and sell a line of electronics, such as amplifiers.)"

"Legacy offers a full lineup, ranging from the Studio (just over $2,000 per pair) to the Valor (about $86,000). I lusted after the Aeris (around $23,000), perhaps the most visually attractive speaker that I’ve ever encountered, and one reviewed quite positively elsewhere, and could conceivably have stretched my budget that far."

"Legacy has been shipping large speakers since the company began, so they really do have it down to a science. The packaging is extremely sturdy but designed with great thought for eventual unpacking. Unpacking turned out to be quite simple and required no feats of strength."

"Legacy may not have the “top of mind” audiophile presence of some other brands. However, when Legacy products are reviewed, they receive nearly universal praise, and a few moments’ conversation with Bill Dudleston demonstrates that Legacy designs are solidly based in science and engineering. How to explain this seeming contradiction? One possibility is that Legacy carefully designs great products from the start; they improve these products over time in small ways; they don’t trumpet new models annually; and they don’t have a huge marketing budget- how reassuring for customers who can rest assured that the products they bought last year are not rendered obsolete by the alleged revolutions this year."

"Considering their driver complement and capabilities, the Signatures are fairly compact: largish but subjectively not dominating. The cabinet design, which eschews parallel surfaces and features beveled front edges, adds graceful and functional touches; the simple, geometric lines of these cabinets work nicely in the soft contemporary space of my home and, I would think, should work with a variety of decors. The Signatures have a fairly small footprint and do not look outlandishly large in real life."

"Legacy is well-known for their construction and lovely woodwork; my units lived up to that reputation. The Satin Black finish, the equivalent of the “little black dress” that my wife assures me goes with everything, is quite attractive in an understated way and fits into our decor in a room that has plenty of wood already. However, please do look further at the available finishes: they range from merely beautiful to stunning."

"Another important but often ignored consideration here in the real world is that of efficiency. This is particularly important for classical music, which, contrary to most intuitions, has wide dynamic range (think ppp to fff). The Signatures are on the high side at 92 db, meaning that even a modest amp can handle large peaks at moderate listening volumes; the current generation of high-powered amps available at reasonable cost should eliminate any remaining concerns about dynamic capabilities."

"The Signatures include other nice touches for real world environments. One of the most important is that they are truly bi-amp capable (not just bi-wire), a bonus at this price level."

"There was a strong sense of weight and foundation, whether from the lower registers of a piano or from the double basses and cellos of an orchestra. The Signatures simply have the drivers to deliver effortless bass; that they do so is hardly a surprise. Ascending into the midrange, that same sense of weight or power remained. But I also noticed that the Signatures did soft quite well: very quiet passages still conveyed the sounds of instruments clearly and distinctly."

"As I continued up the scale, I was impressed by the seamlessness of the sound. I had no sense that the bass was disconnected from the midrange, nor the midrange from the treble, nor did I hear differences in timbral quality across the different types and sizes of drivers. Meanwhile, the treble was smooth."

"With all those drivers, one might suppose that it would be necessary to sit back a good way for coherent sound, possibly a challenge in a smaller room. Not so: by 5’ away from the speaker fronts, I had no sense of hearing individual drivers or that sounds were moving vertically with frequency."

"Speaking of imaging, I should note that the Signatures do just fine, producing a clear, stable sonic picture. They meet my standards for transparency without sounding tipped up or aggressive."

"Finally, I’m now listening to music at more lifelike (higher) volume levels than before, levels that more closely approach those in a concert hall. It’s not just that I got excited and cranked it up, although that did happen. The system now invites me to bring the sound up to a realistic level rather than warning me to be careful. And this, in turn, makes listening even more inviting, more engaging."

"The Signatures retain clarity and tonal accuracy while adding dynamic range, extending the spectrum, and generally bringing music closer, making it even more realistic."

In Summary: The Signature SEs

"I’ve been making the case that the Signatures are a real world product. Now let me advance one other idea: If there is such a thing as a sleeper in the Legacy lineup, the Signature is it. The Focus has a reputation as a high-performance, high-value speaker; the Aeris has been praised as a reference-level speaker at a “bargain” (by high-end audio standards) price; and the Valor is a no-holds-barred superspeaker. Meanwhile, that sneaky Signature offers performance that, in its intended situation, is close to that of the Focus, but in a more compact package at an even more reasonable price."

"But back to my real world talk. Yes, if I had a larger room, or one allowing more placement options, I would have gone for the Focus; the price differential is not that large. (All right, I would have thought very hard about the Aeris, even though that price differential is large.) But here in the real world, mine is not the only listening room with space or placement limitations. In the real world, the Signatures are compact enough to fit in smaller rooms and work well in difficult placements. In the real world, where audio monstrosities won’t cut it, the Signatures are nicely sculpted and finished so as to be an aesthetic asset rather than an eyesore. In short, the Signatures allow music lovers to work around the limitations of their environments while still realizing superb sound. Moreover, the Signatures can grow with their associated components, so to speak: you certainly can add amplifier power, and you can move up to bi-amping without needing to start over."

"As you surely have deduced by now, I am mightily pleased by the sounds that I hear from the Signatures. When making a major upgrade of this sort, there’s always that little worry in the back of your mind: yes, you expect great things, but what if they aren’t really that great? What if you look back and think that you spent a lot of money for not all that much difference? Naturally that concern was in the back of my head (real world, right?) but I needn’t have worried. The system now is functioning at a level that makes it difficult to imagine what major improvement would sound like. But in my very real world room with very real world recordings, the results have thoroughly exceeded my expectations. I suspect that the Signatures will exceed yours as well. I hear more music than ever; I look for opportunities to spend a little more time listening; and I shamefully neglect other duties to find more time to just soak it in. What could be better?"

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