When I was in high school in the late 1980s, I read Stereophile a lot and I frequented my local high-end audio dealers after school. At the time, Legacy was a relatively new brand, but its take-no-prisoners approach to speaker design had me dreaming of the day I could own a pair.

As fate would have it, decades went by before I heard Legacy speakers for the first time. It was spring 2013 and I was at an AVS Forum meetup where a variety of speakers were being auditioned. The pair of Legacy Focus SE I heard there stood out for two reasons: the sweet-spot was considerably narrower than many other speakers, but the sounds it produced were notably smooth and euphonic.

After that one encounter, Legacy faded into the background again. At AXPONA 2016, I finally had a chance to hear a demo of Legacy’s current flagship speakers: the  V high-performance speaker system ($50,000/pair). The company describes it as a "Frequency and time domain optimized four-way directivity controlled array." I call it awesome.
The Legacy V speaker system.
The V is a 4-way design that incorporates DSP processing, actively-powered bass drivers, and dual AMT tweeters to bring recorded music to life. Effortlessly. There’s a feeling in the air at a live concert that is perfectly mimicked by the V system. However, not unlike my time spent with the Focus SE, I found that the full V experience required sitting in a very narrow sweet-spot—that’s where all the soundstage and imaging magic occurs.

The key to the V system is the Legacy Wavelet Processor, which acts as the brains behind the speakers’ brawn and is included if you buy a pair. It’s a dedicated preamp that includes a 4-way crossover with time-alignment functionality as well as a built-in DAC. The preamp and DAC function can be bypassed, but the crossover functionality—which uses room measurements for calibration and takes care of driver time-alignment—is mandatory.

The amps sure looked pretty, as is usually the case with pricey tube models. Two pairs of Raven Audio Silhouette MK2 monoblock amps ($26,000/pair) handled amplification without compressing, distorting, coloring, or clipping the sound, which is all I ever ask of such a device. The fairly high sensitivity of the Vs (98 dB/W/m in-room)—and the fact the amps don’t have to deal with deep bass—kept the system sounding light on its feet.

Demo tracks included "Mink Coats" from Patty Larkin’s Regrooving the Dream, which sounded utterly natural and featured percussion that lent a vibrant air to the recording. The bass line in Oscar Peterson’s "On the Trail" had the whole room throbbing to the jazz beat and the piano sounded like a piano (shocker!).

The track that left the deepest impression was the audio show staple "Keith Don’t Go" from the album Nils Lofgren - Acoustic Live. The guitar work on that track demands an agile speaker that can get the micro-details right without crossing over into harshness. The twin AMT tweeters plus twin 6" midranges found on the Vs were up to the task, and (even) listeners outside of the sweet-spot enjoyed the illusion of being at a live concert. My cohort from Home Theater Shack, Wayne Myers, summed it up perfectly when he wrote "The Legacy V System, driven by Raven Audio Elite Series tube amps, gave the impression that moving air efficiently and accurately is super-easy."

The price point as well as the physical size of the Legacy V are imposing factors that lead me to conclude I will never own a pair, nor will I ever review a pair in my home. But, I’m glad I stopped by the Legacy room because the sound I heard there had a lot going for it. Nobody buys $50,000 speakers for casual listening, so the narrow sweet spot is (perhaps) a plus.

At less than half the price of the Wilson Alexx and under one quarter the price of the MBL Radialstrahler 101 X-treme speaker systems I heard at AXPONA, the Legacy V offered at least as much aural excitement. Were I wealthy and cost was not an object, I’d take ‘em over the purely passive Wilsons in a heartbeat, even if the two speaker systems cost the same.

Click here to check out more reports from AXPONA 2016.