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|
|Max SPL @ 1m||105 dBA|
|Noise SPL @ 14cm||<
0 dBA (Under
hearing treshold at the cloth, powered on without input)
micro seconds (0,000015 s)
amplification is built-in. The units connect to a pre-amplifier output.
electronic active phase linear proprietary cross-over circuits
total, Instantanous peak power 800W total
|Power aplification type||Class
A-B, a separate amplifier for each frequency channel, convection cooled
|Power supply type||Toroidal
transformer, high grade capacitors and regulators. Dual, Symmetrical.
|Drive units||2 x
20 cm long throw woofers with 7.5 cm coils and neodymium magnets
1 x 10 cm midrange with 5 cm voice coil and neodymium magnet system
1 x 20 cm bending wave driver with 7 cm coil and neodymium magnets
|Acoustical processing||Proprietary sound reflector and wave guide system, which re-assembles frequency channels and creates an omnidirectional virtual point source|
|Enclosure||Separate sealed enclosures for each frequency channel, braced plate steel|
Analogue +4 dBU
220V AC (switchable)
+- 10%, 50 or 60 Hz
|Input connectors||1 x
XLR blanced 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
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 basilar membrane, does not detect
Two other detections are active on the onset of a sound. Phase
errors are detected quite well at that time. 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
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 here. 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, the evaluation of pitch, timbre and
volume will start, using the basilar
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 almost 30
years old, and the expectation of the existence of such mechanisms is
We know for much longer that we can estimate direction precisely and
the basilar membrane mechanism only, this could not be fully explained.
The legacy loudspeaker concept does not take this
'new' knowledge into account. Indeed,
the basic principles of many of todays loudspeakers are still
similar to those designed 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 in grey
rendering, deep blacks and pure whites.
And then there is this room with a color TV .... and which additionally
can do glasses free 3D ....
Q: I learned that sound reflections should be eliminated as much as possible. Why are your speakers radiating all around instead?
A: Most traditional loudspeakers radiate unbalanced sound from the sides and from the back of the unit. The reflections of these you will want to try to eliminate indeed. But reflections from time-correct, and well balanced sound are actually an advantage to the listening experience: Human hearing is perfectly at ease with reflected sound during daily life and also when listening to live music. Traditional loudspeakers, however, create challenges to the way human hearing deals with reflected sound, as the compromised sound coming from the sides or from the back creates a challenge for the brain in linking the reflections with the corresponding direct sounds. Reflections resulting from a coherent source to begin with, as those coming from an original sound event, from a musical instrument or from a LEGEND omni point source speaker, will be easy to link for the brain, and will therefore not disturb. It will actually enhance the listening experience as 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 the inertia (mass) of driver membranes and
When a loudspeaker reproduces a sine wave, the mass of the moving parts
is not a problem as they oscillate like a string does. Now imagine you
pull the signal plug suddenly. 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. Energy can be stored
in the speed of moving mass
and in springloads of the membrane suspension. As a result, sound is
that was not
present in the signal. In musical signals sudden changes happen very
often. We call them transients. Traditional loudspeakers often produce
significant amounts of this spurious sound, masking real information
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 often not due to the CD format itself but
to the inability of the loudspeaker to deal with the transient
information present on that CD. Legends can reproduce the transient
information faithfully and without distortion, as stored energy and
inertia are controlled,
allowing for both analog and digital
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 special thing is to have these all together at the same time under
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.
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 each special performance is true for the entire frequence range,
and not just part of it.
Q: What has been done technically to achieve this?
The LEGENDs have many extraordinary technical features. Legends do not
present just a
single enhancement in relation to other systems, they present quite a
of them. These include
new mechanical, new acoustical, and new electronic solutions, often a
problem is solved by combining these.
It's quite a list,
which can not fit here completely. But here are a few main points:
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, they also precisely reproduce sound events and noises, also
known as aperiodic sounds. As a result,
percussion sounds real and detailed and so do the onsets of notes. This
unusual to most listeners. There 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. * 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 hear 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'. *
Excellent sound in all areas
of the room. * Generally no acoustic
room treatments are needed. * 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. This is quite unusual for loudspeakers 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.
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 time 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 and old recordings and there are huge quantities of them. 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 time information, then the difference with 'normal' speakers may be smaller, a bit like when you play a B/W movie on a color TV. It will be fine but the new features of the LEGENDs will not show much then. Luckily, however, many existing recordings contain lots of (previously hidden) time information.
Q: Will it work with my existing player / amp / room?
Yes. Most HiFi players and
electronics we tested performed quite well, also for phase and
amplification is included so you would 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 an excellent 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.
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 a few 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 also results in bass
performance comparable to systems 4 or 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. Further
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 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 be interpreted by listeners as 'incredible' or 'super powered'
Why did you make an active
system? Is there
something wrong with a good external amplifier and passive cross-over
A: The specific processing we
do to pair the
electronic separation crossover with the secondary acoustic re-assembly
crossover, 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
really have the choice. Furthermore, we 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 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 HiFi club,
please feel free to contact us and we are happy to come to your club
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 and what do they cost?
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. The MRSP for a pair of
LEGENDs is 37.800,- Eur. This includes taxes, delivery
transport, and remember, it also includes power amplification.
Q: Who is John Watkinson, where does he come from?
A: A part from being a researcher on human audiovisual perception, an engineer and a loudspeaker designer, John Watkinson is a renowned English author and teacher. He has written numerous books on digital audio, sound reproduction, digital signal compression, planes and helicopters, 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 some technical traditions. LEGEND loudspeakers sure adhere to all statements made there, and to the principles developed in John's books and articles.
Q: What? Have you gone crazy? 37.800 Euro for a pair of loudspeakers?
Agreed we are crazy, but for designing a device that for the first time
solves all major problems in HiFi loudspeakers. This
unfortunately created a small new problem: the building price. This
however is a consequence of just that: To solve decades long
problems this can not be achieved using commonly available parts.
We use parts that are build on order for us and - for some time
to come - in small quantities. For example, only the mid-range driver
we use is an off-the-shelf item, and even then not a particular common
one. The other drivers are build on order
for us, and all the other parts of the unit as well (casing, wooden
decorations, anodised cooling plate, electronic circuit boards,
etc). When these sophisticated precision parts are made on order,
but only by a few dozens at a time, the costs are 10 to 100 fold
compared to parts made by thousands.
Q: So then I'd better wait with buying them until they are build in higher quantities, so the pricing will be better?
A: Well you could, however we do not know how long this may take, and it might take quite a while. In the mean time you will not hear all the gorgeous time information that is present in your valuable music collection, and last but not least: if all would think this way, then the making of higher quantities may actually not happen.... (remember that chicken and egg story)
Q: But if I buy them now and later they would become cheaper, then I am disadvantaged, no?
Not neccessarily. For one, during all that time you will have enjoyed
listening to music in a new, richer and compelling way, while others
looking at black-and-white. And life is short. Secondly you
will be the owner of a pair of
John Watkinson Signature Edition Legend Loudspeakers, hand build by the
inventor himself, which will obviously become a much sought after
collectors item once Legend Speakers will have become a cheaper mass
Q: Is there anything else I can do (other than buying them) to help getting the price down more quickly?
A: Oh yes, sure. Apart from telling everyone else about LEGENDs and how great they are, if you know potential industrial partners who would be interested in investing time and/or money in a compelling, disruptive, new and potentionally very lucrative industrial experience, then please put them in contact whith us (see the email adress below). If we build very small quantities today, this is also because we do not have the recources at this time for making bigger batches, neither do we have resources at this time for heavier marketing efforts. Someone who has either of these recources, or both, might be in for a compelling succes story, with our full support of course. We are also looking for sales agents everywhere on the planet. If you are interested, please contact us.