LEGACY AUDIO Aeris

MJ18.11.2013

Floorstanding loudspeakers

All of us know the defining moments when we think that we have precised the sound of our systems to a perfection when, without a warning, we experience such a sonic progress through a new component or a cable that we cannot sleep at night and we start thinking about a significant upgrade or a change. The Legacy Aeris appears to be such a life-changing pair of speakers. Not only that the Aeris sounds pretty much high-end, but it also sounds pretty much alive and scary real. A rock stadium at home, that’s what the two towers of the Aeris can recreate. At any home.

100% reference

Function and form

70%
Ease of use
89%
Sound
76%
Appearance

The Aeris employs the Air Motion Transformer (AMT) for its tweeter which has several benefits to it. The AMT driver is lower in distortion and reacts faster to a signal, similarly to electrostatic units. Another asset is that the AMT driver can extend its operating range way down to the midrange so it supports different speaker designs. The Aeris uses a new Dual Air Motion Tweeter system (an advanced AMT design) with a range of 7 octaves and high sensitivity (98dB) that is supported by 20cm titanium midrange driver with accordion like edges. The tweeter shares its metal faceplate with a 2,5cm supertweeter. The Legacy Aeris speaker is specified 18Hz-30kHz (+/-2dB) while keeping low impedance (4 ohms) and high sensitivity (95dB). The trick is that your amplifier does not need to drive the speaker’s bass units – these are active and powered by their own 500W ICE power amps. One 25cm midwoofer and two 30cm woofers with aluminum cones share the bottom chamber of the cabinet (the units are outsourced from B&C, Italy). The bass compartment is further supported by a big passive radiator that fires to floor (invisible to eyes) and two oversized reflex ports in the rear (hidden behind a grille). By such the alignment the bass actually plays in three directions which may help to improve the resonance behaviour of the cabinet, support even in-room response and improve spatial performance. Later on, during auditioning, the results confirm that the lows of the Aeris have great definition, fullness, and tremendous attack – an indication that the engineering logic and unusual solutions work in synergy here.

The Legacy uses an MDF baffle that, for the review sample, was covered in hammered copper foil imitation (in Legacy they call it „faux leather“) to complement the sapele pomele wood veneer of the cabinet. Unlike the bass compartment the midrange and tweeter sections are mounted in a semi-open enclosure which also hosts a crossover assembly, thus behaving like open air dipole The frame of the upper section is covered by grilles, should you want to look into the Aeris just activate a switch at the back that illuminates the interior of the Aeris with green LED lights.

Bass management

Weight
96
Slam
94
Articulation
93

With the Legacy Aeris the listening to Rakim (Dead Can Dance) is like having a premium seat in a front row. The soundstage is deep and wide, the air is pressurized and the transients of initial licks of strings are lightning fast and cut through the silence like a knife. Few seconds later you find yourself totally absorbed in the pulsating music ambience, right there, and you savor instruments like tambourine that is scary alive in the perfectly laid out spatial picture. The Legacy excels in separation and dynamics – the response is quick like with the best horn speakers and the sound in highs and mids is absolutely weightless in its palpability, that is there is no momentum, no honey-like viscosity, no smear, which lends great rhythmic drive to the music. With eyes closed the projection is a sort of holographic and extremely involving, like transcending from your usual high end universe into a real universe that is free from electronics and populated with real people with real music instruments. The trick that happened with AC/DC happens again and again with any music you throw into a CD player – you are instantaneously moved to a studio, concert hall or a stadium.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
95
Air
98
Transparency
95

In Legacy they managed to phase-align the whole complexity of diverse transducers and deliver extremely focused sound that is free of discontinuities at crossover frequencies. When you synchronize your ears with the Aeris they you will become an inhabitant of its transparent and dynamic landscape that is far away from what I am used to hear from high end systems – there is certain robustness and physical presence that is normally reserved only for live amplification at concerts. It also induces a feeling of being a sound engineer monitoring a band behind a glass partition through master tape loop. No wonder that the Aeris brutally sorts out the synthesized and natural acoustic sounds in Spiritchaser (Dead Can Dance) and delivers very taut and deep bass that is full of juice and energy only comparable to champions like the Wilson Audio Sasha W/P’s that we reviewed recently. I loved that the bass never obscured a piano or synthesizers though the percussive whirlwind took my listening room by storm. I could not detect any overhang, boominess or unwanted energy in the bottom octaves.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
78
Dynamics
90
Temporal resolution
94

The Legacy Aeris is a very directional loudspeaker. The sweet spot is very very narrow. Off axis the sonic picture changes quite rapidly. One can see the pair of Aeris like two spot reflectors throwing their light through night – in case their beams reach you and cross behind your ears you will be rewarded. If you are moving out of the light the sound retreats to one or the other baffle and if you get in the dark you’ll be, well, in the dark. The dark means loss of focus, loss of soundstage and drop in overall loudness level. The Aeris behaves very egoistically and favors only one listener at time, perhaps two if they are seated one behind the other. The vertical dispersion is similar to what I could hear with any other speakers, yet I do not recommend sitting with your ears at the plane of supertweeters as the spectral balance starts to change. With standard furniture you should be ok, however.

The Legacy Aeris excels in recreating the atmosphere and magic of music pieces like Tony Overwater’s homage to Oscar Pettiford in Laverne Walk. Pettiford is said to be the man who made a jazz double bass equal to other instruments – before Pettiford the bass was seen as a kind of basso continuo in background. Laverne Walk (Tony Overwater, OP) stunned me with palpable images of players that were playing their instruments with visceral impact and physical urgency in intimate acoustics and it was delight to follow movements of the head of a saxophone. Should I take the three-dimensional modeling of events as etalon of high fidelity reproduction then the Legacy Aeris would score the highest from what I have heard.

Spatial resolution

Holography
97
Soundstage width
90
Soundstage depth
98

The active bass compartment of the Aeris can only be active when fed through an external processor. This unit is sourced from Canadian Xilica (XP4080) and needs to be connected to the Aeris´s crossover network through a pair of XLR cables from a control center or an preamplifier.

The Xilica unit provides all what you would expect from a professional 40-bit parametric EQ. Apart from ironing flat the frequency response the parametric amplitude correction helps assuring that the left and right loudspeakers appear nearly identical to the listener which helps building soundstaging realism and removes time domain and phase issues.

The unit is programmed for linear operation as default and that is how I used it during the review as I wanted to hear how the Legacy Aeris performed without any further tweaking. The good thing was that I had never felt necessity to activate any soundfield or frequency compensation – the sound was superb in its ´raw´version.

The Xilica processor lends such versatility to the Aeris speaker system that I cannot imagine a situation or set up where the speakers should not perform optimally. The size of the Legacy Aeris automatically makes one thinking about big listening rooms. I auditioned the Aeris in three different line ups and three very different rooms, ranging from 25sqm to 80sqm and, to be honest, the best sound I got was in what I would call a nearfield set up in a relatively small room.

Price as reviewed:560 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

SK: Platan Audio, Hlohovec / Bratislava, tel. +421 905 409 802

Associated components

  • Sources: Wadia 781i, Simaudio Moon 750D D/A converter and CD transport
  • Amplifiers: Simaudio Moon Evolution
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Cardas Audio Clear Beyond, Clear and Synergistic Research
  • Power cables: Shunyata Research
  • Power conditioning: Shunyata Research Hydra 6

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