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What is a speaker? Is it an amalgamation of drivers, crossovers, and cabinetry that a manufacturer hopes will result in a product greater than the sum of its parts? Is it artistic woodcraft that...
Advanced tweeter technology; incredible depth and breadth of soundstage;perfect imaging, silky highs, transparent midrange, subterranean bass.
Expensive (despite the value); may require an amplifier upgrade to maximize performance.
What is a speaker? Is it an amalgamation of drivers, crossovers, and cabinetry that a manufacturer hopes will result in a product greater than the sum of its parts? Is it artistic woodcraft that happens to produce sound? Obelisk-esque furniture perhaps? To me, a speaker is the bridge between music and my ears. That’s it. Like all bridges, there are varying designs and engineering techniques used in creating a solid speaker; however, there are certain basic functions that must be implemented properly in order for a transducer to be granted the title of "speaker." Every once in a while, there comes a speaker that goes beyond the basics and performs at a level that exceeds expectation in every category.
Enter the Legacy Focus SE and Marquis HD.
On the Receiving End
I received the Legacy Focus SE and Marquis HD in a black pearl finish that is the finest that I’ve ever seen. It is a black piano gloss, with silver flecks within the finish itself, akin to thousands of mosquitos frozen in a 58” tall slab of dark amber). It will take two people to get speakers from the freight (yes, freight) truck to your doorstep, although I am happy to share that the unboxing and setup process are a one-person job. Just make sure this “one person” of whom I speak is a healthy adult male. These are physically imposing speakers, regardless of the angle of perception and that, combined with their beautiful craftmanship, make them worth more than what Legacy Audio charges for them.
Legacy Audio recommends 500w of power per speaker and--although the more power you feed them, the better they will sound--they will still work well with low wattage amps as well. When I first setup my Focus SE & Marquis HD, they were powered with a Denon AVR-4310 receiver with less than 200wpc, all channels driven. With this receiver, the Legacies sounded great--all the basics were covered and I could have easily lived with this setup, were I unable to afford an amp with more power. Shortly thereafter, I installed two Emotiva XPR-1 amplifiers at 1750wpc for the Focus SE towers, along with a single Emotiva XPA-1 monoblock amplifier at 1000wpc for the Marquis HD. What a difference in sound. When using the receiver as the power source, the speakers sounded remarkable; however, providing them with all the power they could ever need truly opened up the sound and let them flex their muscles in a way that kept me up until 3:00am (with work the next day.) This review is based on the performance of the Legacy Audio Focus SE and Marquis HD with the high-powered amplification.
I have three words for you: Air Motion Tweeter (AMT). The Legacy Focus SE has two of them per speaker and the sound that emanates from these tweeters in tandem can only be described as pouring a glass of liquid silk into a bowl made of marble. Smooth. The dimensionality and layering that the dual AMT provides is accurate to the point that even with your ear directly next to the tweeter, you hear sounds that seem to come from behind the main image. (Claps during a jazz performance, for instance) It is really something special. The two rohacell midrange drivers work wonders for male and female vocals and squeeze a very rich presence from any recording that is fortunate enough to be played through the speakers. Fans of vocal recordings will find nothing to dislike about the midrange drivers and will, in fact, fall in love with the way they convey the audio characteristics of anything thrown in their direction. Visually, the midrange drivers spark in my imagination an overhead view of two diamond-encrusted martini glasses. Each Focus SE speaker enjoys [and employs] dual 12” woofers which not only produce deep, loud bass, but accurate, succinct bass as well. As long as placement and room characteristics have been addressed, there will be no boom or bloat from these woofers. They perform, together, better than most stand-alone subwoofers I have heard in the past. You are guaranteed not to need a subwoofer, although I do suggest a subwoofer for no other reason than the fact than the fact that, due to placement flexibility, subwoofers allow for maximum fine-tuning of frequency response.
Grand Marquis (No, not Mercury)
The Marquis HD shares the dual 12” bass drivers and a single rohacell midrange driver with the Focus SE so I will not echo my comments on those components. The tweeter uses a different, single ribbon tweeter design that still sounds absolutely amazing. Make no mistake—the Marquis HD center channel is a full range channel in and of itself. Be sure to have enough space for it—it is a whopping 38” wide and measures 14” in both height and depth. Keep in mind that cabinet volume plays a role in bass reproduction, so large cabinets coupled with stellar drivers are part of why the bass performance is so crisp in this center speaker.
A Night at the Movies
I watch movies almost as much as I listen to music critically. Actually, I tend to listen critically to movie soundtracks. Audio in a movie is far more important to me than video quality (although video is still extremely important to me). The Focus SE speakers combined with the Marquis HD make an absolutely world class front soundstage for movies. I threw demo scene after demo scene at these speakers and never came away disappointed. They reproduced tracks from top notch scenes from demanding movies like War of the Worlds, Terminator Salvation, How to Train Your Dragon, and many more films with aplomb. If you're worried that "audiophile grade" speakers can't handle the demands of blockbuster movies, I can promise you that is not the case.
I cannot imagine sound reproduction getting any better than this. I spent most of 2012 auditioning speakers in this price range and above, and these speakers outperformed all of them. These speakers provide the most convincing soundstange I’ve ever heard. Even outside of soundstage considerations, the singular image output by a single Focus or Marquis speaker contains a level of depth that must be heard to be believed. I absolutely recommend the Legacy Focus SE and Marquis HD speakers to anyone looking for a serious soundstage and pin-point imaging with both breadth and depth, and this is not just because I own them. On the contrary: with their nuanced conveyance and gut-grinding bass, these speakers own me.