Precision Sound Reproducers
new aproach, based on study of human hearing. After a decade of
development, they now address all known detection mechanisms in
the human ear and take
into account the way our brain deals with aperiodic sounds
environments. This results in an ability to communicate both
and aperiodic sounds in a stunningly
realistic way to the human hearing system, and additionally to reduce
Precision Sound Reproducers are not just excellent or of better
quality. While of course they are, they more importantly present new
that you can hear immediately. Like
a black and white television set does not address the color-sensitive
in your eyes, traditional loudspeakers generally do not address two of
three detection systems in your ears, and don't take into account the
way the brain deals with sound in reverberant environments. When you
reproducers the experience can be compared to seeing a
color TV when
were used to black and white units only, and thought that
these were the best that ever
could be achieved. The discovery can be surprising, it can
sometimes even be slightly disturbing for a short
while. But once you become
used to it, which usually happens all by itself, and in a short time,
it is going back
eventually be dissapointing, as the results are rich, pleasing and
exciting, while at the same time they require less effort to listen to.
The human ear has three known detection mechanisms, two of which work in the time domain. Traditional loudspeaker systems usually do not address these and talk to the detection that recognises pitch and volume only. We then can recognise the reproduced sound but we also note the sound is not ‘real’, it is not happening in the room and misses information. Our brain will then fill in the gaps from memory, which in turn creates ‘listening fatigue’. The LEGEND systems correctly address all three detection mechanisms allowing for sounds to appear ‘real’, detailed and complete, and for the listening experience to feel natural and relaxed.
room compensation system in existence is the one built into our heads:
our brain. But for this natural system to work well, sound must be
radiated in a way the brain is used to. Most natural
sound events, like
when an object hits the floor, are pulse shaped,
omnidirectional and have their origin in a small area. LEGEND systems
are pulse correct virtual point sources. All
sounds emitted originate from the same small spot, that
radiates the same way in all directions. Now the brain can deal with
the reflections in the same way it does in daily life and relax,
while with traditional speakers it must transform, correct and
radiation pattern of a LEGEND Sound Reproducer is not intended to
imitate that of a musical instrument. It's intention is to transmit
information to the
human ear and brain in such a way that our hearing system can
deal with the reverberations
in the listening room in the most natural way, so that it can recover
and appreciate the recorded
signal. This will then subsequently allow our brain to reconstruct the
sonic space of the recorded environment. Except for bass (room modes)
no room compensation or special
acoustic treatment of the room is needed as
the brain will now deal with the reflections naturally.
LEGEND Precision Sound Reproducers not only reproduce tones and notes (periodic sounds) beautifully and with high precision, they also reproduce noises and events (aperiodic sounds) with high fidelity, so these also sound real. This is something that is lacking in many traditional speakers. With event sounds and noises we mean sounds like clicks and clacks, a closing door, putting a teacup on the table or the sound of an object falling on a hard floor. With traditional speakers we can recognise these sounds but we also note that they are not real, not like if they were really happening in the room. When you hear the sound of something falling on the floor you never doubt if the sound came from a loudspeaker or if something actually fell in your room. With Legends this is different: events do sound real. In fact, human ears have specific detection mechanisms for the detection of aperiodic sound events or for hearing tones and timbres (periodic sounds), and the brain has specific ways to deal with these sounds in reverberant environments. Traditional loudspeakers usually do not take this into account and often only concentrate on the reproduction of tones and timbre. Music, however, is also full of non-periodic events. This is much true for percussion but also the onsets of many tones are perceived by the 'aperiodic detection systems' of our ears. Not addressing these could be compared to showing black and white pictures in stead of color. Earlier attempts to address the aperiodic detections in the ear often generated comprimises in tonal reproduction. Not so with Legends. The ability to reproduce tones, timbres and dynamics have been taken care of uncompromised as well, at the highest levels possible today.
Ultimate transparency and realism
concert experience, all instruments sound 'real'
sonic space, you can hear the room
and detailed sound stage
reproduction of onsets and percussion
Easily adapts to your listening environment
High information transduction capacity
Relaxed listening for long hours without fatigue
‘hot-spot’ for the sound image
Sound in all areas of your room
Transient distortion free
Phase linear over the entire frequency range
360 degree fully omnidirectional
A single and small virtual point source
Includes a secondary, acoustical cross-over
Complete well balanced frequency spectrum
power and dynamics, noise free
phase linear subwoofer
high quality power amplfication
LEGEND Precision Sound Reproducers are sometimes called ”The Loudspeakers you don't hear” because they add so little to the signal that you only hear the recorded sound, and not the loudspeaker. They do not add a 'footprint' to the signal. Additionally, the virtual point sources create a floating sound image so convincing that it seems as if no sound is actually coming from the speaker units themselves. A 3D cloud of sound is appearing in the room, between the units and the units themselves actually seem to be silent. Both these characteristics resulted in the use of the phrase ”The Loudspeakers you don't hear”.
LEGEND 4000 Precision Sound Reproducer by John Watkinson
|Description||Floor-standing phase-linear virtual point source active speaker system|
|Frequency response||20 Hz
– 35 kHz, on-axis and off-axis
|Power response||Same as Frequency response|
degree horizontal, 120 degree vertical frequency independent polar
|Max SPL @ 1m||99
dBA @ 1m (105
dBA for a stereo pair)
|Noise SPL @ 14cm||Under
hearing treshold, ear at the cloth, powered on, no input
micro seconds (0,000015 s)
amplification is built-in. The units connect to a pre-amplifier output.
voltage phase linear proprietary analog crossover circuits
total, Instantanous peak power 800W total
|Power amplification type||Separate amplifiers for each frequency channel, convection cooled. Class A-B.|
|Power supply type||Toroidal
transformer, high grade capacitors and regulators. Dual, Symmetrical.
|Drive units||2 x
20 cm long throw woofers with 3 inch coils and neodymium magnets
1 x 10 cm midrange with 2 inch voice coil and neodymium magnet system
1 x 20 cm bending wave driver with 3 inch coil and neodymium magnets
|Acoustical processing||Proprietary sound mirror and wave guide system, which re-assembles frequency channels and creates an omnidirectional virtual point source|
sealed enclosures for each
frequency channel. Folded
plate steel, braced
200-240V AC (switchable), 50 or 60 Hz
|Input connectors||1 x
XLR balanced signal input connector, 1 x IEC earthed power input
|Dimensions||75 x 26.5 x 26.5 cm (29.5 x 10.4 x 10.4 inch)|
kg (55 lbs)
painted wood and anodised aluminium
Custom colours and wood finishes are possible
build in the United Kingdom
Q: If a system is tested to reproduce all frequencies then all sounds will be reproduced correctly, no?
Not necessarily. Testing a sound reproduction system with just sine
waves is a bit like
testing a car on a straight track without ever using the wheel or the
brakes. Most natural sounds and also music include lots of impulse
waveforms. They are not sinusoidal per se. To reproduce impulse shaped
sound events correctly, all frequency channels must work in
sync with equal delays, in phase, and do so in all directions. They
to originate all from the same
spot or else the reflected sounds will still have their shapes changed.
And also transient distortion needs to be absent for impulse shaped
to be reproduced undamaged. Sine wave tests do not test or measure
any of these.
Q: It has been demonstrated that the ear is phase deaf. Why do you bother about phase-linearity?
These demonstrations used continuous (steady state) sounds. On steady
state tones only one of three detection mechanisms in the ear is
active, and indeed, that one, the frequency analysis,, does not detect
Two other detections are active on the onset of a sound. Phase
errors are detected quite well then, when the ear is working in the
time domain. This is because phase
inaccuracies damage pulse shaped waveforms. The result of damaged
onsets is lack of realism, a poor
sound stage, a narrow sweet spot, sounds not staying sparate, and
listening fatigue. Only timbre, volume and pitch are not influenced by
phase erorrs. But that is not all there is in sound or music.
Q: Can you tell a bit more about these sound detection mechanisms in human hearing?
have three sound detection mechanisms. When a new sound is perceived
these work sequentially. The first detection is used for direction
is measured and only the very first pressure change is considered.
pitch are not considered yet. Time difference between the two ears
information about where the sound is coming from. The second analysis
measures the time between the beginning of the sound and the moment
the air pressure passes the zero point again. This also is a time
measurement only. It provides information about the size of the object
that produced the sound. When both these time measurements are
completed, only then the evaluation of pitch, timbre and
volume will start.
Q: Is this new? How come I never knew about this?
Altough the human ear did not change recently the knowledge about it
did. But it also is not so very new as this knowledge is now about 30
years old, and the suspecion of the existence of such mechanisms is
We know for much longer that we can hear direction of sound precisely
the pitch analysis mechanism only, this could not be explained.
The legacy loudspeaker concept, however, does not take this
'new' knowledge into account and is therefore in fact obsolete. The
basic principles of most of todays loudspeakers are those from 70
years ago. Tradition can be hard to beat
could wonder why some consider a 70 year old loudspeaker concept to be
still apropriate today, while the concepts of radios, TV's, telephones,
and cars from that period are now charished for by
collectors and museums.
Q: You have presented LEGENDS at High End audio shows. How do they compare to High End HiFi systems in general?
beats many of them. Quite some visitors tell us they experience
it as a revelation to hear such a detailed, complete, smooth and
reproduction. Imagine a show where people
are enjoying noting subtle differences and great qualities of B&W
screens, in grey
rendering, deep blacks and pure whites.
And then there is this room with a full color TV .... and which also
can do glasses free 3D .... The main difficulty at audio shows is that
the experience is so different from listening to legacy speakers that
your brain may at first be slightly offended about that fact, as it may
expect to do a lot of compensation work, expecting to hear legacy
speakers. It may take a few moments for the brain the realize it can
relax and process sound the same way it does in dayly life. Once it
gets this, you will get the full experience.
Q: I learned that sound reflections should be eliminated as much as possible. Why are your speakers radiating all around instead?
A: For the human hearing system to deal with reflected sounds in a room, it needs to be able to link together the direct and the reflected sounds it receives. It can do so easily when both are the same to begin with. Most traditional loudspeakers however, radiate differently from the front as from the side or back. This will challenge our hearing system in linking the direct with the reflected sound. As a result, the reflected sound becomes 'unpleasant'. So the problem actually is with the loudspeaker, and not with the room. Note that only transient onsets and pulses allow direct sound and reflected sound to be separated. So for loudspeakers that do not reproduce transients correctly, omnidirectional difiisusion then creates a disadvantage, hence the desire to concentrate in a beam those speakers incapable of reproducing transient information correctly, and the desire to absorb reflections in the room, But for speakers that do reproduce pulses and transients correctly, omnidirectionality becomes a straight advantage. Even more so: It is actually a necessity to convai pulse shaped sound and transients optimally to the human hearing. It will eventually allow our brain to elimenate the room, like we do when listening to real sounds or music. It will allow our brain to work naturally as a room compensator and reconstruct the original source signal. Heavy room treatement will not be needed with LEGEND's.
Q: What is ‘transient distortion’ and why is it so important to avoid it?
is distortion caused by uncontrolled break-up (flexing) and resonance
in driver membranes, driver assemblies or cabinet.
When a loudspeaker reproduces a sine wave, the mass of occilating
is not a problem as they often oscillate like a string does, unisono
with the reproduced wave. Now imagine you
create a sudden change like pulling the signal plug suddenly. Often the
oscillating membrane will not be
able to stop immediately and will continue to produce some movement
(and sound) for a short while before
it comes to rest. This is caused
by stored energy in self oscillating parts of drivers or the cabinet,
much like energy is stored in a guitar string after you exited it, and
then extinguishes with time. As a result, sound is produced
by the speaker
that was not
present in the signal. In actual musical signals sudden changes happen
often. We call them transients. Traditional loudspeakers often produce
significant amounts of this spurious sound, (resonances) masking real
and causing listening fatigue. This is then felt as ‘aggressive’. It
damages pulse shaped waveform information, impairs realism
and sound stage. It is a prominent problem in traditional
loudspeakers, and the absence of it is already well known as a specific
quality of electrostatic loudspeakers. Vynil disks by design contain
transients and therefore often are considered less agressive than
aggressiveness, however, is not
coming from the CD format itself but
due to the inability of the legacy loudspeaker to deal with the
information present on the CD. Legend speakers can reproduce transient
information faithfully and without distortion, allowing for both analog
sources to sound smooth, rich, detailed and without aggression.
Q: Phase linear, pulse correct, transient distortion free, omnidirectional, virtual point source, full frequency range, high power and dynamics, build-in phase linear subwoofer,…. It all has been done before. What is so special about your system?
The real special thing is to have these all together at the same time
single 'roof'. This is
needed because our human hearing system is very good at detecting any
in sound reproduction and easily classifies sound as ‘not real’ if
anything is missing or wrong.
For the magic to happen, ALL these features must be present
simultaneously in the same device and at the same time.
What use is a speedy car if the breaks are no good? But a car with good
breaks and a lousy engine isn’t much fun either. It needs to work all
at the same time for it to be really good. We are not aware of other
products that achieve such a total, complete, holistic approach.
Legends perform exceptionally well in all these fields,
and also, each performance is true for the entire frequence range, not
for part of it.
Q: What has been done technically to achieve this?
The LEGENDs have many extraordinary technical features, but the
principal change is that they are build to a different specification: A
new definition of how a loudspeaker should behave, based on modern
human hearing, leaving the 70 year old legacy concept behind. As
such, Legends are
presenting just enhancements in relation to traditional systems, it
an entirely new concept. As such they present a
of actual changes. These include
new mechanical, new acoustical, and new electronic solutions, and often
a solution is a combination of these.
It's quite a list,
which can not fit here completely. But here are a few points:
Q: An new specification? What do you mean? Isn't a LEGEND just another loudspeakerbox then?
Not really. Compare with an electrical car, which also follows a new specification, but also still looks like a car, even though it has a radically different principle of operation. The LEGEND Precision Sound Reproducers may look familiar, but like the car, they have a radically different principle of operation. With a new specification is meant a new list of things that the system must be capable of doing. Features or performances that must be met. This new list was made taking in to account the 'new' knowledge on human hearing. That's why it is so different.
It is now known that human hearing can deduct valuable information from the shape of a single pulse, also one that does not repeat, so before there actually is a 'frequency'. This happens with sonic events, like when an object falls or hits. This capability of the ear has been important for survival during evolution as it allows us to detect danger: it gives us information about the location and size of the threat. It therefore connects to primary systems in our brain. These mechanisms are also active on the onsets of musical sounds, also know as transients, and it plays an important role in linking direct sound with its reflections. This is all rich information in sound signals that many legacy loudspeakers ignore. To optimally convay this information, a number of conditions need to be met. This led to the specification on which LEGENDs are based. A number of features are required in addition to what the legacy loudspeaker already performs. The new features are:
1 - The ability to reproduce pulses precisely, with respect to their shape. The loudspeaker should be capable of reproducing any random shape of wave form faithfully. Also if it is unique and does not repeat (aperiodic). Practically this requires the system to be (a) free of resonance, and to be (b) phase coherent. There can not be any significant group delay or transient distortion for this to work.
2 - The phase coherence should then be valid in any direction the system emits sound in Towards the front, sides, back, but also towards the ceiling and the floor. For the brain to be able to link direct and refected sound, it needs to recognise the shape of the waveforms.
3 - For the brain to understand the acoustics of the listening room, all sounds, for the entire spectrum, should start from a single and same point, like is the case with natural sound events.
4 - For the brain to understand the acoustics of the listening room, all aperiodic sound should radiate in the exact same way in all directions. Like is the case with natural sound events.
A note concerning omnidirectional radiation:
- Wtihout the presence of correct aperiodic sound information the brain can not properly recognise or link the direct and the reflected sound and in that case, reflected sound mixes with the direct sound and becomes disturbing for the listening experience.
- With the presence of correct aperiodic sound information, the brain will be able to distinguish and properly link direct and reflected sound. Now the reflected sound will add to the listening experience as it wil allow the brain to understand the acoustics of the listening room, and deal with it naturally.
Q: Scientifically / technically very interesting. But what are the listening advantages for me as a music lover?
The LEGEND Precision Sound Reproducers not only reproduce tones and
notes precisely, they also precisely reproduce sound events and noises,
known as aperiodic sounds. As a result,
percussion sounds real and detailed and so do the onsets of notes, in
particaular those of pianos and guitars. This
unusual to most listeners. The second main feature is that you wll be
able to elimenate the listening room at will (or listen to it). This
may sound unbevlievable but it is a feature your brain already has on
natural sounds. Traditional speakers challenge this neural system, but
Legends are build to allow it to do its job normally, also on
reproduced sound from a (this) loudspeaker. This is also quite unusual.
are also a number of other listening
not common to loudspeakers
in general: * The listening experience is closer to the concert
experience, sounds are more ‘real’. * Transparency and minimal
You do not hear the
loudspeakers, you just hear the music. * The sound floats in the
room instead of sticking to the speakers. * More information from
the recording (from the musicians) is
conveyed to you as a listener. * Sonic space may be reproduced: You
not only hear the music, you can also perceive the room the music was
recorded in. * A
precise and detailed soundstage image. * Your natural selection filter
will allow you to
highlight musicians among others in a sound stage image, at your
choice. * Due to this you can choose to have a
experience while listening to the same recording. * A wide sweet spot:
can enjoy the sound stage simultaneously, more freedom of
movement. * A high
‘Spouse Acceptance Factor’ (SAF) as the units are of reasonable size
shape and placement is less critical and no need to 'toe-in'. *
Generally no acoustic
room treatments are needed. *
Excellent sound in all areas
of the room. *
Reduced listning fatigue - you can
for many hours.
What does it sound like? Can you try to compare it to anything I might
The most unusual aspect is that it sounds much more like how real
sounds sound. It does not sound like 'sound coming from a loudspeaker'.
This is quite unusual so you may be
surprised and you may need a short while to get used to that, after
which you can enjoy music as if you were at the concert hall, or like
if you were in a Jazz club. Closing
your eyes makes the illusion more complete as the brain privileges
visual information. Some have compared the clarity of the
sound to that of electrostatic or panel loudspeakers (as these can also
reproduce pulses and phase) but then without the
usual drawbacks of size, limited power or dynamics, critical placement,
problems with bass.
Legends do not present any of these drawbacks that panel speakers often
have. The reproduction of sonic
space is unique however, as this requires both the ability to reproduce
pulse shapes and phase as well as the omnidirectional point source. We
are not aware of any other loudspeaker concept capable of combining
features. The gain in realism is not sublte. It can be noted
immediately, often within the first seconds.
Q: Will this work with the music collection I own? Or does it require special recordings?
A: The system will work with any recording. Given the precision of the LEGEND Sound Reproducers you may be able to better differentiate between recording qualities then before. You will be able to note when recordings contain reduced or damaged transient information. To enjoy the best performance of the system, recordings that were less manipulated or less 'tweaked', seem to work best, as these often have better preserved information in the time domain. This includes both recent as well as older recordings and there are huge quantities of them round. We have collected quite some and we are happy to demonstrate them to you and to share our lists of titles with you. But any recording will sound well or better on a LEGEND system, as LEGENDs simply reproduce the input signal very accurately. But when a recording contains less significant transient information, then the difference with 'normal' speakers may be less obvious, a bit like when you play a B/W movie on a color TV, the color feature will not show, the the movie will still play necely in B/W. Luckily, however, many existing recordings contain lots of (possibly previously hidden) transient information.
Q: Will it work with my existing player / amp / room?
Yes. Most HiFi players and
electronics we have tested performed quite well, also for phase and
amplification is included so you will not have to worry about that and
connect the LEGEND's to the
output of a pre-amp or to the pre-outs of your integrated amp. Your
HiFi specialist shop can advice you on how to best connect them.
the room: We recommend to keep one meter
free space around the units if, for maximum enjoyment. If room
acoustics are good enough to have a
relaxed conversation, than it will probably be good enough to listen to
LEGENDs as well. Special acoustic room treatment is generally not
I own a top class DAC. Will it's performance be
annihilated by your system digitising the signal again? And also: does
it work with vinyl discs?
You will be able to enjoy the
full performance of your DAC. Our system is entirely analogue and does
not digitise the signal in any way. LEGENDs also work very well with
discs - you can
enjoy an entirely analogue signal path without
digitasion or chopping anywhere in the chain. The units do not generate
any carrier or switching frequencies whatsoever.
Q: Why do you use neodymium
Neodymium magnets have stronger fields, empowering the
driver motors to better control, higher efficiency and lower transient
Furthermore, ferrite magnets have other
drawbacks for precise sound reproduction: ferrite is an electrical
insulator which is not optimal for damping and lastly, ferrite allows
the magnetic field to
move more easily inside the magnet, providing for a less sturdy base
the motor to push and pull from.
Q: Your speakers produce
powerfull and deep bass in relation to their size. How is this possible?
A: For bass reproduction we use air
compression in a sealed enclosure, complemented by proprietary
equalization. You may have noticed some bookshelf sized active
speakers on the market today, which also produce more
bass than expected from their size. Here, a similar method is
applied, but now in a
medium sized floorstanding system. It results in bass
performance comparable to systems 4 to 8
times the size. It makes the LEGENDs bass sound huge, while the units
are reasonably sized.
Using a steel enclosure further reduces physical size. And then
the fast transient response and absence of lag or resonance convays
more information to the
listener, which can also be perceived as 'more bass'. Last but not
LEGEND speakers are among the very few capable of addressing the size
estimation detection in our ears with recorded content. As this
allows to reproduce sounds 'bigger' than the size of the units,
it can also be interpreted by listeners as 'incredible' or 'super
Why do you make an active
system? Is there anything wrong with a good external amplifier and
A: The proprietary processing we
do to pair the
electronic separation crossover with the secondary acoustic re-assembly
crossover, to obtain the equivalent performance of a single driver
system, can not be
done with only passive components. Neither can the method of bass
reproduction described above be realized that way. So we do not
actually have the choice. Furthermore, we do feel that passive
filters do indeed present challenges to precise
Q: I am interested. Where can I listen to them?
is all quite new. The LEGENDs were launched only recently and it takes
time to build a decent mass production and distributor network. At this
time we have a dealer in
Brussels, Belgium, where you can listen to them on request.
Negotioations are under way for France, Germany, The
Netherlands and Luxemburg. More will follow soon after. We are also
keen to do
demonstrations during events. If you are a member of a professional
association or HiFi club,
please feel free to contact us and we are happy to come to your place
with a pair of Legends to demo them and explain about the concept.
Also have a look at this site from time to time to see where and when
LEGENDs are presented at HiFi shows.
Q: I know this may not be relevant to sound, but since I am curious, can I please see a picture of the system without the cloth?A: Curiosity killed the cat! But sure here you go for a picture taken during manufacturing :-).
You made the enclosures from steel? I have never seen that
before. Why didn't you use wood or aluminium like most others do?
A: Steel is very sturdy and therefore can be thin in comparison to other materials, for the same rigidity. For a given exterior size we now can have more air inside, which in part explains the relatively small size of our units compared to the size of the sounds they can reproduce.
Q: I am convinced! Where can I buy them?
work with a dealer
Brussels Belgium who will install them at your place
anywhere in that country. Negotiations are under way for
France, Germany, The Netherlands and Luxemburg. More will follow soon
after. For countries where LEGENDs are not distributed yet w
will deliver and install LEGENDs ourselves anywhere in the European
Other (Non-EU) countries and continents are possible too, but we will
then have to ship the
units to you with installation instructions.
Who is John Watkinson, the inventor of the LEGEND ? Where is the LEGEND
A: A part from being a researcher on audiovisual perception, an engineer and a loudspeaker designer, John Watkinson is a renowned English author and teacher. He has written numerous books on sound reproduction, digital audio, compression, helicopters and planes, several of which are considered by many as 'Industry bibles'. He also writes columns and articles in professional magazines. His 'Slaying Dragons' series in Resolution Magazine is well known for it's fresh views on technical traditions. LEGEND loudspeakers sure adhere to all statements made there, and to the principles developed in John's books and articles. The LEGEND speakers are designed and build in the United Kingdom. We also welcome partners wishing to manufacture and/or market loudspeakers based on our concepts and developments. If you are interested, then please contact us.