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November 2012
Superior Audio Equipment Review

World Premiere!
Von Gaylord Audio Legend Speakers IV
Deep and wide soundscape coupled with rock solid imaging make for an inspiring listen.
Review By Ron Nagle

 

Von Gaylord Audio Legend Speaker IV  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 audio animal.

 

What's Up With That?
Well the Legend IV we be talking about is a rear "Ported" two-way stand mounted speaker. On the back panel, they are tagged, Made In the United States. The speaker's serial numbers are 201206-A and B to indicate that they are a matched pair. The front face is slanted backward to time align the two drivers. The Von Gaylord CEO, Mister Ray Leung tells me the review samples have a Hi-Gloss Mahogany Veneered MDF enclosure. However, they actually look to me more like a black banded type of dark Rosewood. The physical dimensions given are only approximations so I will post the exact measurements. The tapered cabinets are 14.5" High. In addition, they are 11.5" wide at the base of the front panel by 8.465" wide from side to side across the top. Since the driver face slants backward, the depth of the enclosure is 13.465" deep at the base and 11.5" at the top from the driver face to the back panel. Most speakers come with some type of front grill. However, the latest Legend IV does not provide any type of speaker covering. In addition, they have a not so common inverted dome tweeter that measures 1.5" in diameter, the Mid-woofer diameter measures 7.25". Both of these drivers' diaphragms where made from hi-tech Kevlar fabric. There are two sets of Gold plated speaker binding posts at the back panel. The top pair are labeled Hi-Frequency and the bottom pair are labeled Low-Frequency. Obviously, you have the option to power the speakers using two separate amplifiers. Not so incidentally, the speakers arrived with no jumpers to connect the top binding posts to the bottom binding posts. A bit farther into the review process a set of four Von Gaylord jumper cables arrived. Swapping the original jumpers and using the VG, black braided cables made a noticeable improvement. Speaker sensitivity is listed as a high 91dB/W/m so this should allow smaller 35 wpc amplifiers (manufacturer's specification) to drive these speakers. Although not specified, each speaker weighed in at 31.3 Pounds. The Manufacturers list price for the Legend IV is $12,995. As an option, there is a $5995 dollar separate sub-woofer, designated as the VG-1 Plus. The shape of the sub matches the Legend IV tapered enclosure so it can serve as the base of a three way stereo speaker. However, my contention is that if you have a well designed two-way speaker, it can and should cover nearly 90 percent of the audio spectrum.

 

Listening
To my mind, the most important attribution of a smaller speaker is that it has an enhanced ability to disappear as a music source.  The Legend speakers are set up 5 feet apart on 24-inch high stands with a slight toe in. The distributor tells me the review speakers are broken in. At this point, I am powering these speakers with 360 watts per channel Roger Sanders ESL transistor amplifier and an Audio Research SP-9 MK 3 preamplifier.

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.

Von Gaylord Audio Legend Speakers IVNow 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.

 

Lets Try Tubes!
My PrimaLuna Prologue Two is a 35 watt per Channel Integrated tube amplifier that has never received a bad review: (there was nobody who didn't like it). The amplifiers power rating is 35 wpc, which is the minimum power rating given by Von Gaylord for these speakers. However, in practice, I could not turn up the Prologue Amplifiers gain past the nine O'clock position. Moving along to the new 2012 Diana Krall (acoustic) album, "Glad Rag Doll", CD [Verve 602537 126934]. Rather than using one popular magazines signature prose or tech spec speak to describe the subjective response of this test, let's cut to the human element. The Legend IV speaker delineates the resonant signature sound of Ms. Krall's upright piano. Diana uses it to create a thick bluesy barroom atmosphere. Diana Krall's voice projects an intimate smoky warm sexuality that makes it seem as if she is talking directly to you. The whole album is saturated in acoustic nuance, so much, so it is hard to pick a single moment in time. The Legend speakers fed by tubes and Diana Krall's breathy voice are a natural path to daydreams.

 

That's A Wrap!
I can find no obvious faults with the Legend IV speakers. The sound stage is detailed wide and deep and image placement rock solid. However if you listen to very loud dynamic music then you should look elsewhere. The comparison would be something like using a Guarnerius violin to play Turkey In The Straw. Everything I did, every change I made to my reference system was clearly audible. I recommend that you drive the Legend IV speakers with a really good tube amplifier. The classic sound of tubes seems to compliment the personality and voicing of this speaker. At the very deepest frequency range, the speakers lose some transient impact. However, that's exactly what I would expect from any two driver speaker.

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.

 

Foot Note
At the very last moment just before I sent this article off to the publisher, I received a set of four speaker cables from Ray Leung at Von Gaylord. The 7000S-HF speaker cables are constructed with Varistrand (various gauge) silver and copper wires. There are two cables for each speaker; the eight-foot long quad cable set are listed at $4995. They replaced my Kimber 12TC cables. Without making any critical comparisons I can say that these expensive cables made a wonderful improvement to the sound. There was greater extension at the frequency extremes, both Treble and bass. The midrange expanded and seemed to contain many more fine details.

From the Magazine, Enjoy The Music.

From me, Semper Hi-Fi

 

Sources
SOTA turntable with Grado Signature tone arm and Haniwa HCTR01 MC Cartridge, Marantz 8400 Universal CD, Player, ART  DI/O Up sampling D/A and A/D processor,
Amplification:  Sanders ESL Power Amplifier, Prima Luna Prologue 2
, Audio Research SP-9 Preamplifier
Speakers: Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SE two-way monitors, Mark and Daniel Omni Harmonizers, Legend IV Monitors all on 24-inch stands
Speaker Cables: Kimber 12 TC, Von Gaylord Legend 7000s speaker cables. Interconnect Cables
, Monster Reference, 1 meter and 1.5 meters , Nordost Red Dawn, 1 meter , Audio Research Litzlink 2 pairs, 1.5 meter , Chord Silver Siren, 1 meter , Audiobhan 0.5-meter digital

AC Power

 

 

Specifications
Type: Two-way monitor speaker
Drivers: 7.25" mid-woofer and 1.5" inverted dome Kevlar tweeter
Frequency Response: 28 Hz to 25 kHz (+/-3dB)
Sensitivity: 91dB/W/m
Impedance: 4 Ohms
Cabinet: Ported design
Time aligned driver orientation
Bi-wire ready with gold plated binding posts
Rosewood with a durable high gloss finish
Dimensions: 11.25 x 14.50 x 13 (WxDxH in inches)
Weight: 31.3 lbs.
Price : $12,995, optional 23" Von Gaylord stand are $795

 

Company Information
Von Gaylord Audio
1050 Riverside Parkway
Suite 100
West Sacramento, CA 95605

Voice: (415) 328-9572
E-mail: info@vongaylordaudio.com
Website: www.VonGaylordAudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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