Looking for the ultimate in powered towers? Legacy has been making exceptional speakers for a long time, but the new Legacy Focus XD is simply awesome.
The tough part in writing this review is deciding where to start with a speaker that leaves you speechless. The Legacy Focus XD an active version of the Focus SE that is familiar to audiophiles who know the brand. But have you heard this super-speaker before?
The sheer size of the Focus XD commands attention, demands you take note of its presence. So does its price, at just over $10,000. In this review, I try to put into words what this speaker is, what it does, and how the build quality is like nothing I’ve seen. So, here we go into a review of what I can only describe as being a work of art.
Build Quality and Specifications
When I picked these speakers up from a local dealer, the first thing I thought when I saw the box was “HOLY HELL they are MASSIVE!”. I knew from the specs they were big and heavy, but still… I was definitely shocked (and I am not easily shocked, I’m a pro bodybuilder and can move a lot of weight).
This system was a welcome challenge. The pair came packed in massive boxes that took up my entire SUV. The actual boxes were thick and heavy, clearly designed to protect the precious cargo. Once I got my wife to help carry them inside, it was unbox time.
I was not prepared for the site I saw: The Focus XD towers came wrapped in thick black velvet cloth, covering the entire speaker. I took them out and realized, “OMG these are actually beautiful to look at.” Heavy but just gorgeous! The dimensions unboxed are 55” x 14” x 15.375” and they weigh 130 lbs each!
Just in terms of looks, once I got them set up and in place, my jaw hit the floor. Legacy went out of its way to get me a pair in black, but it’s no ordinary piano black gloss finish. Rather, it was one of the richest, deepest blacks but with metal flake in it— just like you might see on an exotic sports car. Legacy has a dozen different luxurious finishes available including various wood veneers, but this paint job looked astonishing.
The grills hugged the contours of the speaker and weigh about 20 pounds each! In other words, not the “cheap” cover you see on lower-end products, but something that matches the build quality of the speaker itself.
I like exposed drivers, so off came the grills for a visual treat. The dual 7-inch “silver/graphite” midrange drivers are seriously beautiful, clearly made with care. In the middle of the driver array you’ll see the Dual AMT air-motion transfer tweeter system. This consists of a 4" AMT tweeter and a 1" AMT “supertweeter” that takes care of the highest notes and adds “air” to the presentation.
In this picture y0u can see the dual AMTs, the midrange driver, and the paint job!
So I thought to myself “Man, if these tweeters perform as good as they look this system will be hard to beat.” For woofer, Legacy used dual 12-inch, spun-aluminum diaphragm drivers. These have a rubber surround, a completely enclosed neodymium motor, long-throw suspension, and all that’s mounted in a cast frame. Long story short, you really don't need a subwoofer because these active speakers have subwoofer capability built-in. These speakers feature dual rear ports, so ample space is welcome for them to work properly (to avoid bass peaks and dips caused by room effects). Oh and one more thing... in smaller rooms, these speakers actually produce too much bass due to room gain, so you'll want to EQ or run room correction if that's the case.
Here, you can see room correction helps smooth the response and tame the extra bass caused by room gain.
Legacy provides speaker binding posts for the upper range and a XLR balanced you can choose to use for full-range active operation, or to power just the bass section. However you choose to configure it, the speaker is driven by a 750 Watt ICEpower amplifierؙ—more than capable!
If you decide to amplify the upper range, you need an amplifier with at least 10 W of power to do so. The rated frequency response of the system is 18 Hz to 30 kHz and it has a 4 ohm impedance. Seven’s activity is rated at 95.4 dB ( [email protected] 1m) with crossovers set at 120 Hz, 2800 Hz, and 8000 Hz.
So, the rated sensitivity, if you add an amp, is 95.4 dB for these. For some reason I was thinking 88 or 89 dB, but then realized that since the bass section is powered, sensitivity is only based on the midrange and tweeters—no efficiency sucking bass to worry about. So, compared to many audiophile high-end speakers, these babies are quite efficient.
OK, when I say “clarity,” I don't want you to think "Oh, they sound like they would be clear" because when it comes to transparency, these are the real deal. My hat is off to Bill Dudleston (President and founder of Legacy) for making speakers that truly sound as good as they look.
At first, I took it easy, but I kept saying to myself “man-o-man I gotta rip my house apart with these.” Now, sometimes I'm not a fan of all-aluminum cone drivers, but for bass their strength and rigidity is a big plus. Besides, this is not your average driver, they handle a lot of power and they belong here.
I started to listen to “basic” audiophile music to see what was in store for me but I didn't want to get too excited with what I was hearing. As usual I started with Nora Jones, to see how the Legacy Focus XD speakers handle women's vocals. Let’s just say at any volume level I tried, Nora never sounded so good to my ears. It’s an cliché, but you could hear the breath in between notes! The clarity… blew me away.
Truth: I’m not a patient guy, so I moved to what I normally listen to, Hard Core and Death Metal. The way I figure it, if these speakers can handle this kind of music, it means they can handle anything and so everyone will love them. I began with a band called Black Tongue and the song “Fauxhammer” from Born Hanged/Falsifier (Redux). Now, this is where I just about died! If your speakers can play Jazz or classical, great. But, if they can play this, you know you’re doing something right—the mix is thick and needs to be heard loud enough to feel, then you’ll appreciate the power of the performance.
Next up was a band Acid Witch. Super Heavy, and a slow-burn type of music. I went with the first three tracks off the album Witchtanic Hallucinations. Now, if you've never heard them, this group is a lot like Black Sabbath meets church organ and a cauldron. Do yourselves a favor go check them out if you are into Metal music. With all the organ in the mix, and the super-heavy style of the music, while I was optimistic that it wouldn't get muddy, I wasn’t sure. Well… BOOM. NAILED IT!
There’s no way these speakers won’t do whatever music you like to listen to justice.
Music is fun and very personal. Plus the music I listen to is not for kids. But movies are also fun, and the whole family can be involved, so it was time to see how these Legacy towers perform in my home theater.
I built my room for sound, and now have a Denon AVR-X6500H AV receiver with an Emotiva UPA 500 solid state amp adding its power to the system. And, I also had the Monoprice Pure Tube Stereo Amplifier (50 W per channel) to drive it (to hear what tube sound for the mids and highs was like).
In my system, I have 6 surround speaker, 4 heights, and 4 in-ceiling speakers. Plus, in this rig, I used tow SVS SB4000 speakers I am reviewing. The overall room size is 14; x 17’ and I have RealTraps bass traps strategically placed by the front and rear walls.
I started the evaluation using one of my favorite movies, Captain Underpants . The thing is, it’s helpful to use the same material to judge different systems, so you can really understand how they compare. The trick is to find a movie that has all the visual and sound effects you need to do a review, that your kids want to watch again and again.
So, Captain Underpants… it has great sound effects, dialogue, and is just a generally good movie. With the room calibrated using Audyssey XT32 in the Denon, and the SVS subs adding to the massive bass impact, I thought I was going to knock down my walls and break something. The pure sound pressure the full system put out is not for the meek, it is no joke!
To really get a feel for what the speakers are doing, I watched scenes from the movie twice, one with no treatments and once with while taking notes. I can say with the RealTraps, it smoothed out the sound and calmed the room down a bit, just enough to hear things I wasn't picking up before. But even without treatment the sound was obviously great—I’m impressed.
Next up was this year’s biggest blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War. Needless to say, I ran the system with everything, including the subwoofers, which is also smooth the in-room response for the bass and work in conjunction with the speakers to create what essentially adds up to a four-subwoofer system.
Anyone sees it knows that this movie is a true spectacle, with an audio mix plus visuals that are off the charts. I went to the same process, listening with the traps on, traps off, and also tried subwoofers on, and subwoofers off. In the end, I preferred movies with everything turned on, the clarity and immersion in the depth… You can’t help but allow it to command your attention.
While I got to spend a few weeks with this system, I knew that saying goodbye would not be easy. So, as a grand finale, I tried out Oz the Great and Powerful, which amusingly was directed by horror master Sam Raimi. This movie has what I considered to be an absolutely incredible 7.1 nearfield audio mix. Well, the amount of audio detail presented by the legacy focus XD towers when the movie opens up from black and white to color was astounding and really made the scene. Thanks to the surround upmixing of the Denon, birds were flying around my room and everything sounded incredibly clear. I used a phantom sent mode, and even the vocals were perfect, floating right in front of the screen where they should be. I also think that the stereo imaging of the towers helped with the overall surround effect, allowing sounds to really zoom around the room and over your head. Well done, Bill Dudleston.
Wrapping It Up
Are the Legacy Focus XD speakers for everyone? Based on price and size alone, clearly not. What I can tell you from with my time with them is the sound makes me want to hear more speakers from the Legacy lineup. Surrounds, subwoofers, bookshelf speakers, electronics… yep they all look tempting!
So, is there anything I would change? Not in terms of the sound. But, the inclusion of front wide outrigger-style feet would be cool, in order to make them more stable; I have 2 little kids and am conscious of the hazards posed by furniture falling. But that’s literally the only thing that I would change about these.
I will say, if your room is 25 ft deep, and you can put these 5 or 6 feet off the wall, you can get great response with little effort. If your room is smaller, like mine, the lows are still beautiful but they can produce peaks and nulls in the room below the Schroeder frequency (around 350 or 400 Hz in my room) This is where using a subwoofer really helps smooth everything out.
By themselves, the Focus XD are insanely good, perhaps bordering on “perfect” sound. The only catch is bass, where as AV enthusiasts know, the best location for subwoofers is not necessarily where the speaker is situated. With the inclusion of the two SVS SB4000 subs and the RealTraps sound treatments, the overall system quality was so good that I know it will be a LONG road until I hear sound this close to perfect in my home theater again! Long road indeed.
Now, can I give you graphs and charts of how things perform in my room? I do have the graphs from the Audyssey app, sure. But, this is my room, and my impressions are from my ears, and Audyssey can tailor the sound to most rooms and preferences. So, the point may be moot! My review philosophy is it’s all about what your ear hears, and whether or not if it suits you. Everyone's hearing is different!
What I like, you may not. But given the chance to hear the Focus XD's, you may never want to go back to what you had before. Here’s a fact These speakers have the best mids and highs I have heard in a long time. Yes, they are that good. Indeed, among high-end active speakers, these are a definite Top Choice.
By: Steve Potenziano (@Pitbull0669 in the forums)