I spent some time listening to Legacy speakers at DUP's and at a dealer's. I was quite impressed with what I heard, alas, like anything else, nothing is perfect. I was quite impressed with the Legacy Focus, but I wanted to hear the Magnepans one more time to get a better feel of the differences between the Focus and the Magnepans 3.6R speakers.
I want to Lyric yesterday to listen to the Magnepans and since they advertised a 25-80% sale, I figured I might actually get them if they rock my boat as much as I remembered.
When I walked in, the store was empty (no customers), which surprised me since I figured it would be packed with people trying to take advantage of the sale. I introduced myself and I told the sales guy that I called the day before inquiring about hearing the Magnepans 3.6's and the 20.1's. The guy looked bored and uninterested. He told me to sit and wait. I sat and waited... He came back, put me in a room where the 20's were situated, put in my CD and left. The room wasn't a good room for the 20's. it was cramped, there was so much equipment there, that I couldn't even sit in the sweet spot without bumping into speakers. The Magnepans were set up almost in the middle of the room, and my listening position was about 6 feet from the speakers with the speakers being about 3 feet from one another. The 20's were powered by Levinson equipment throughout the playback chain.
The 20's sounded a bit dull. The highs and the mids sounded refined, but they didn't grab you. They sounded ok, but nothing really to write home about. I figured it must have been the horrible setup. The bass was something else though... It was there, but it sounded like an acknowledgment that there is bass, rather than the kind of visceral bass that one hears at a concert. It's a bit hard to describe since I never heard anything like it before... I heard bass, it wasn't the deepest bass, but it was deep enough, but it didn't sound realistic. It didn't sound muffled, it just didn't have the pop. The drums didn't sound like drums, they sounded as a check mark next to "drums" on a list of things to have. Yes, we have drums, but look at our horns! The bass was the the thing that I couldn't merely attribute to the setup. It just didn't sound right. I figured let's hear the 3.6 Maggies. Perhaps a different setup would make it better.
The sales guy took me to another room, and in his disinterested, bored demeanor told me to listen to these as he left. The room contained the 3.6 Magnepans powered by a Mac integrated and a Rega Saturn CD player. I put on my reference Pink Floyd CD... The 3.6's were good. The highs sparkled without being bright, the midrange while wasn't as good as the highs was still top notch especially considering the price of the speakers, but then the drums hit... and my heart sank. No slam, no impact, no realism. The sales guy came back and asked me what I thought. I told him that I felt it was a mixed bag. The Magnepans do the highs really well, they do the mids pretty well and there's no bass. He suggested Velodyne subs with the 3.6's. One Velodyne sub is half the price of the Magnepans, so the whole set up would put me in the 7-8k range. I told him that I never heard a setup that integrated the subs well with the satellites. He told me that it wouldn't be perfect, but if I wanted bass, that's what he recommends. I asked if he could set it up, to audition. He said no. He said that he's got a customer who called him with a 150k order and just told him to put together a system for him, so he suggested that I trust him when he tells me that a sub, and THIS particular sub is the way to go. I understood why he had that bored, disinterested demeanor: I wasn't spending 150k and he would actually have to do an audition to make a commission of my lousy 5 or 7k. I told him that I would have to think about it and figure out what I want to do.
And so, here I am. I have a number of routes that I can go:
1. The Legacy Focus is a good speaker. It's a VERY good speaker. It's the only speaker for under 10k that actually does bass and it does bass really well. Its midrange and its highs are very good, but they're not magical like the Magnepans.
2. The Magnepan's tweeter is by far the best I've heard. It rivals any tweeter our there at any price. Its midrange is very good. The combination of the tweeter and the midrange produces absolute magic. Alas, bass is missing in action. It's missing in action not because it's not there, but because whatever is there doesn't make bass instruments sound like they should. It's a MAJOR shortcoming. I could go the sub route, but that would mean doing so blindly and it would put me in the 7k range.
3. If we're talking about spending over 7k, I could get the Avantgarde Duo's on Audiogon for that kind of money. They don't have the same bass impact as the Focus, but it's good enough. The tweeter is delicate and rivals Magnepan's and the midrange is a bit better than Magnepan's. However, the Avantgardes being horns come with their own set of issues. I think that my electronics would have to be changed, which would mean further experimentation, search and expense down the road.
So, at this point, there are 3 candidates:
Legacy Focus - around 5k
Magnepans - around 7k+ with sub
Avantgarde Duo's - around 8k plus whatever upgrades.
What to do? What to do? What to do?
Any thoughts are appreciated.