This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below
Listening Impressions - Active
One of my reference recordings is the superbly produced Duet by guitar virtuosos Sylvain Luc and Bireli Lagrene. Legend's Kumbar Wirris conveyed an enormous amount of detail and power from the aggressively strummed guitar chords. Indeed, in those areas -- as well as in transient speed -- the Kumbar Wirris were on par with my far more expensive Wilson WATT/Puppy System 6 reference. Every finger pluck and string vibration was reproduced clearly and cleanly with superb harmonic content confirming the quality of the ceramic tweeter and the seamless crossover to the midrange driver.

Voices, whether male or female, were crisp and extremely present (if slightly forward), giving the impression of vocalists being with me in the room. The micro detail was outstanding, with low-level vocal intonations and subtleties clearly discernible. Complex music such as the Flamenco/Indian-flavored beats of Curandero's Aras is intricately separated, making all instruments within the mix easily discernable and yet the Kumbar Wirris maintained the musical whole coherently. They are extremely accurate and transparent transducers and with good recordings, they present the music with an uncanny sense of realism. Having said that, they can also be ruthlessly revealing in that they will transmit all the hardness, compression and frequency mudding that unfortunately are the product of mediocre audio engineering and poor studio techniques.

On Patricia Barber's superb Modern Cool disc, the Legends present her image locked center stage, the speakers never compromising their tight focus on all images. Soundstage width is almost wall to all and depth is adequate. This recording features realistically captured upright bass and here the Kumbar Wirris also excelled. Overall bass quality is outstanding, with power, depth and punch being as good as it gets. Rarely have I heard such detail and pitch accuracy when combined with 20-cycle depth. Bass notes stop and start on a dime such is the speed of these 10-inchers, and there's a chest-numbing wallop in the kick drum that propels the music along and makes Rock recordings very enjoyable indeed.

But how did this impressive all-in-one active performer compare with the passive version when hooked up to my reference amplification, equipment and cabling?

Listening Impressions - Passive
Hooked up to my reference gear in passive mode, feeding the Kurre from my power amps and the Kurlo from the second preamp output and using the supplied outboard crossovers, the Kumbar Wirris sounded a whole lot different. The presentation became more laid back and the soundstage grew deeper while still maintaining its impressive width. Having said that, the expansion of the presentation in the depth perspective made the music less present and in turn less hyper real than it was in active mode. Whereas in active mode the Luc/Lagrene disc sounded exceptionally realistic to me, in passive mode the guitars were placed further back and away from the listener, and therefore less 'in the room' and more as 'in the concert hall'. In other words, the listening experience recreated by the Kumbar Wirris in passive mode was like sitting in a performance hall in the middle row and the active interpretation was more intimate - like being in the front row at a small club or pub. Both are legitimate presentations yet quite different in practice and boil down to listener preference.

Bass quality, however, took a turn for the bloomier and slightly boomier when I auditioned in passive mode. It's here that the DEQX really proves its mettle. When passively configured and depending on the recording, I found I often had to, err, actively 'futz around' with the Kurlo's volume level to control the room's interaction and prevent the mid-bass issues from becoming problematic. Mind you, I was compensating for issues with my room's acoustics, not any inherent issue with the passive Kurlo. In fact, barring room issues, the bass quality in terms of detail, speed and pitch accuracy was still excellent if not as superlatively controlled as in the active version. I thought the other difference worthy of note was in the midrange. Via my valve preamplifier, there is a sense of body and harmonic richness which is the tradeoff for the active's more accurate and precise presentation.

Listening to Patricia Barber, the passive Kumbar Wirris romanticized her voice, my valved preamp sweetening Patricia's tone whereas the actively-configured Kumbar Wirris (via the built-in transistor preamplification stage) cut her image with uncanny accuracy and dynamics. What's more, if you prefer a sweeter, more valve-like sound, you can always experiment with the DEQX to achieve an added level of warmth throughout the mid frequencies.

Passively configured, Legend Acoustics' Kumbar Wirri loudspeakers are superb performers. The presentation perspective is more laid-back and not quite as razor-sharp accurate as in their active mode, allowing the listener a more relaxed, distant and slightly less dynamic musical experience that is however still very enjoyable and equals or exceeds other high-quality passive designs in its price range.

Invoking the active route transforms the Kumbar Wirris into more extrovert performers that pull no punches when it comes to revealing mediocre production values. In this mode, quality recordings present the listener with a dynamic and highly detailed reality-approaching facsimile of live music that can startle at times. The fact that the asking price includes all the amplification, digital-to-analogue conversion, digital crossover plus room correction software inherent in the state-of-the-art DEQX unit is, for this high-spirited writer, the cream on a very flavorsome cake.

Quality of packing: Demonstration model was delivered bubble-wrapped
Reusability of packing: N/A
Ease of unpacking/repacking: N/A
Condition of component received: Demonstration model
Completeness of delivery: All cables for the external crossovers provided
Quality of owner's manual: No manual supplied
Ease of assembly: Straightforward hookup of cables to crossover
Website comments: Comprehensive website
Warranty: 10 years
Human or web interactions: Dr. Crawford is thorough and prompt in answering questions and supplying requested information.
Final comments & suggestions: A professional product at a fair price based on high quality components, finish and sonic prowess

Legend Acoustics responds
Many thanks to Edgar Kramer & 6moons for their favourable review of our Kumbar Wirri (Big Red) loudspeaker. As Edgar hinted, Legend is a continuation and development of my experiences at Linn. There I tried to combine their philosophy of foot-tapping speed which is important for emotional impact with the more neutral frequency balance of the BBC tradition which is important for tonal colours in classical music.

The Kumbar Wirri (Big Red) is also a continuation of some work I commenced at Linn almost 20 years ago in collaboration with Prof Malcolm (Omar) Hawkesford and his PhD students at Essex University where they were looking at improving the frequency/tonal balance still further by correction in the digital domain. Unfortunately this collaboration became lost when I left Linn - so when in Canberra I came across Kim Ryrie's DEQX technology just up the road (Australian distances!) in Sydney' I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

I believe digital correction such as the DEQX PDC represents a quantum leap in loudspeaker design - indeed in hifi generally because loudspeakers have always been a, if not the, weak link in the hifi chain (despite Linn's contrary claims of hifi hierarchy). Not only does the PDC allow for correcting frequency anomalies due to driver and room behavior but, by producing much better frequency and phase correct crossovers in the digital domain, it means drivers can be used more effectively in their linear range, dramatically reducing loudspeaker distortion.

However, as Edgar found, digital correction also represents a paradigm shift in hifi systems. Because distortions, in time, phase and frequency, are so dramatically reduced in the loudspeakers, they do not hide/mask other distortions in the hifi chain, especially poor recordings. Much of the art of hifi to date has been masking one form of distortion with another more acceptable form of distortion (at least to some listeners). A classic case was the original Linn Kan that used frequency distortion (a large hole in the frequency response between 1 and 3kHz) to mask nasty cone breakup distortion of the Kef B110 mid/bass driver in this region. It meant the sales guys at Linn were happy that voices, especially if badly recorded, did not have any sibilance - but to me all pianos sounded like honky tonks. A better solution was to change the mid/bass driver as we did with the Linn Tukan etc. A further more major solution is to use digital correction.

I accept that some people will always look backward towards a supposed golden age of analog hifi - but to me one that is just compromised by poorer microphones, vinyl disc cutting-lathe distortions, multiple passes through LM741 op amps in mixing desks, tone arm vibrations etc etc. DEQX reduces the need (fun?) of hifi tweaking - messing around with cables, vinyl play-back etc to mask other distortions. However, once you have heard a good recent recording at high digital resolution (eg 96/24 as in DVD Audio which the DEQX PDC will process), then there is no going back. One of my great regrets is that the hifi community generally, by continually looking backwards, did not get behind the high resolution formats such as SACD and DVD Audio. Hopefully this may be rectified through Blu-Ray and/or the new hi-rez downloadable file formats.

Dr. Rod Crawford
for Legend Acoustics
Legend Acoustics website