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Legacy Wavelet Attempted Review (Speaker Processor)

Rate this audio processor

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 158 94.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 6 3.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 3 1.8%

  • Total voters
    168

JD_Spoon

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Oct 20, 2021
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I feel bad for the person that laid out 5k for this thing. I sometimes wonder about the people who spend a lot of money only to find out whatever they sent in to be tested is not very good. I think Legacy is trying to reach a specific market today, not necessarily dyed in the wool audiophiles, but more nouveau riche clients. The high end speakers are really eclectic and very overwrought in design, cabinetry and price. I have no idea if they are any good, but their design differs a lot from accepted good speaker layout and design. My last house had a very large living room but that large V System speaker would look like a sci-fi prop in there. Especially the glowing blue badge.

Usually, I think they just end up reselling it to people who don't know about or don't care about objective testing results. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything like that. ;)
 

srkbear

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Okay, so I've mostly been hanging my head in shame and not waiting to actually contribute to the conversation or admit ownership of it for how bad this thing tested, but seriously, my room's not *that* bad. :cool:

For a little context, I bought this particular Wavelet unit used because it theoretically filled all the functions (stereo preamp/DAC/active crossover) I was missing in my 2-channel build-out, and I was entertaining the idea of matching it with Legacy's iV series of Class D amps to ensure that my power-hungry KEFs got all the wattage they could handle. I had noted to Amir when I sent it that I had observed some channel weirdness in the brief time I had it in my setup, and levied my own complaint about the archaic and bizarre network configuration process for it. I wasn't surprised to see the same complaints crop up in the write-up. All that said, I'm a little heartbroken to see the results it produced, but the results are what they are, and it's pretty clear that even if the unit wasn't operationally wonky, the results are grossly underwhelming. I would also note the manual to be notably lacking some information about operating it for people who are buying it standalone rather than as part of one of their active speaker integrated packages. I would, however, caution readers that this unit was bought used, so I can't attest to the relative level of care and/or abuse it received before I owned it, or that might have been incurred in the shipping to me or to Amir.

It may or may not be of interest, but this particular unit did not leave the factory with a pre-load for any Legacy Audio speakers, but rather for a pair of Emerald Physics open baffle speakers (the precise model eludes me, but it's written on the bottom of the unit.) After I received it, I talked with Legacy's support staff, who suggested that while they could recalibrate it with a profile for my KEF Reference speakers, but it would probably not be necessary once I ran the room correction. IIRC, if I had opted to send it in for factory reconfig, there was no charge other than shipping for this work, even for my situation where it was bought secondhand. So, credit to Legacy Audio for customer service, at least in that regard.

Regardless, I don't see the Wavelet going back into my 2-channel stack, given the issues with it. Further, even if that weren't the case, any subjective opinions I might have about the adequacy of its audio quality have been poisoned with the objective knowledge of its inability to measure up to the other gear it's paired with. It does leave me with an extended process of figuring out what pieces I do need to bring in to replace that functionality, and how much more of a hit I'm going to take in my wallet to get there.
No fair! I edited my post and took out the Cher reference! Is it too late for me to say I like Cher? And Aliens? James Horner’s soundtrack’s a classic…
 

LuvTheMusic

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Jun 7, 2020
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One other clarification is that the Raspberry Pi board is *not* the audio processor as implied earlier, but merely functions as a controller and interface. The processing is done by a much more robust device. This from the Legacy Audio website: DSP: Analog Devices, internal processing sample rate 96kHz, bit depth 56 bits
 

Hart

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Jan 18, 2021
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Usually, I think they just end up reselling it to people who don't know about or don't care about objective testing results. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything like that. ;)
I bought a Carver 1.0t I was going to upgrade until I saw the test on the other Carver amp. Off it went. Saw the review on the NAD 2200 and bought a like new Proton D1200 which is kind of a 2200 on steroids, going to have the same chap upgrade my Proton that did such a great job on the NAD.
 

LH3po

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May 9, 2022
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I tried that as well. It timed out because it was using 192.x.x.x IP address instead of 10.x.x.x that I use. I could not find a way to override that. Your home address must be 192.x.x.x based.

Edit: I think you are confusing the USB to Wifi adapter with Ethernet. That is what I used to finally get the unit talking to my home network. Ethernet is the hardwire connection in the back which should have avoided all this hassle:

index.php


Note the port in the middle next to USB.

No, I am not confusing it. Wavelet has an ethernet to USB adaptor that comes with it, it looks like this. As I said before, this let me connect immediately, and the included piece does exactly what you are complaining about... I understand you received this used Wavelet from a board member, who got it second hand from yet another user, but it should be pointed out that it does come with one, and it does exactly what you're trying to do. I received excellent support from my Legacy dealer and it was very easy. Unfortunately, someone along the line of multiple reselling of the unit didn't include it...
 

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amirm

amirm

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No, I am not confusing it. Wavelet has an ethernet to USB adaptor that comes with it, it looks like this.
Ok, then you are saying it wrong. :) It is a USB to ethernet. In other words, the master interface is USB. Your wording sounds like it is able to present USB from Ethernet which I have never seen.

Regardless, the unit as built has an Ethernet interface. I see no reason why it needs yet another dongle to do that. As a minimum documentation should state to not use the built-in Ethernet interface. It did not. I must have spent half hour or more trying to connect to it this way.
 

Aperiodic

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I have never liked Legacy speakers. To me, they are the embodiment of what some refer to as 'hi-fi sound'. Having heard several, I have never found it possible to forget, even for a moment, that I am listening to an audio system with them.Their overly complicated designs do a number of things "well"- detail, range, dynamics... everything, that is, except present a convincing simulation of a live musical event. The more complicated a design, the harder it is to create the illusion that the sound is coming from a single source- and the smaller the area over which that presentation will be maintained.

As for this processor, the better a speaker sounds to begin with, the less it needs this kind of $$$ remedy.
 

JD_Spoon

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Oct 20, 2021
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Location
DFW, TX area
So I did want to post a quick update on this particular unit. I reached out to Legacy Audio regarding the review and testing results here. Their customer service rep had me confirm a few details about the unit, including the serial number, long-past warranty expiration build date, and the fact that it was purchased second-hand, which I was upfront about. The response I got from them can be summarized as "Oh yes, I remember helping the original owner with their initial setup back when. Regardless, it seems like your unit got damaged at some point, there's no reason the USB connection should be loose or that it should display that clipping behavior. If you'll ship it to us, we'll be happy to take a look at it."

So, regardless of the unit's performance challenges, I think it needs to be made clear that I'm very pleased with the support Legacy Audio is providing thus far in getting this particular unit back to working spec, they're long past any contractual obligation to do so. To be clear, I don't expect this to make it perform any better than the other objective tests that have been previously done on the NIB samples of the Wavelet. I do think for the purposes of retaining objectivity it may well eventually be necessary to flag this with a note that the particular unit volunteered for this was damaged and performing out of spec due to age, handling, and the like.
 

steve f

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Thank you JD. Please keep us updated. Customer service is always an important part of our hobby.
 

tvih

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Nov 9, 2020
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Oh boy! So basically this thing measures worse than a miniDSP 2x4 HD with a bunch of funky "functionality" (or lack thereof) on top? Oof. And for stereo use would be completely destroyed by a Flex, number of inputs aside. Funny that the manufacturer's "reviews" page for the device has the big headline of "An Absolute No-Brainer". Maybe the design team were no-brainers... Good thing that apparently at least the after-sales support is more commendable.
 

MatthewB

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I guess I will add some comments here, as a Legacy Audio Valor owner, given that someone asked for Legacy Audio owner input. The version I have is the Wavelet 2, which uses a 64 bit audio processing engine. The version here looks to be pretty old. The Wavelet 2 manual does not seem to be available on the company web site.

Something I noticed was that the test was done at volume 97. I have heard from another guy, who also has Valors, that unity gain is at 85. While I simply use a Lumen U1 directly connected via USB (as well as turntable front-end), he has Esoteric SACD, DAC, and pre-amp as front-end and leaves the Wavelet volume set to about 84. There are different modes for different volume level ranges, and he set the mode to remain in a good mode (where noise levels are kept very low). What he did for the selection was start with the volume at 85, where he could hear noise out of the high frequency speaker drivers, then reduce the volume to when it goes silent, and step it up but remains silent. A noise level test would probably be more representative at a volume level of 84, rather than 97. With this setting, his digital front-end (probably over $90,000) is getting what he wants. He was originally skeptical that the Wavelet would support the sound quality (given that it also uses the input ADC), but his concerns were alleviated once he heard the results.

It is my sense that the Wavelet is most logical in a Legacy Audio speaker system. In my case, the speakers are active with over 2,000 watts per speaker to drive the various drivers. 3 channels are used for tweeter/upper-mid-range, lower-midrange/bass, and subwoofers, and the forth channel drives ambient drivers (which fire out the back/top and sides of the speaker). I did originally have the Legacy Audio Aeris in full 3-way active custom configuration, but upgraded back in January. I use a 20 watt per channel integrated tube-amp (as power amp) with 60 year old NOS tubes to drive the tweeter/upper-midrange section. The tube flavor comes from the pre-amp section of the integrated amp, which is why I am not using a tube power amp. The tube amp is pretty noisy, so I changed the Wavelet driver gain settings to have the gain for the tube-amp be 10dB above the other channels. This way, I could reduce the gain of the tube amp by 10dB and so reduce the relative noise level. Tube amp THD can be as high as 1%. However, I will say this tube-amp has orders of magnitude greater resolution than the Proceed AMP 2, which I used to own, which was THX certified. The room correction/speaker adaptation calibration is pretty much automatic. ie. Set microphones at 4 feet in front of the speaker, do the frequency sweep, and upload results to the server, which updates the processing settings. Given that it is so automated, I would think that it would not be easy to use as a general processor. It was originally focused on Legacy Audio speakers, but they extended it be more generic.

Someone on this forum asked what this product was about. It is a digital pre-amp, with (EQ and time-based) room correction, 4 way digital active crossover, with output DACs. I believe someone mentioned 8 DACs. This would likely be up to 4 for each speaker, specifically targeting the Valor speakers. It also includes input ADCs to take in analog inputs. It allows one to enable/disable processing, and does support a 6-channel equalizer (ie. tone controls). Tone controls are performed in the digital domain so that no phase issues come into play.

I will say that the Wavelet takes a long time to boot up (before it gets the IP address). As such, I don't bother switching it off. I only switch off the tube amp when I am not using it. The ethernet connection is used for both getting to the server for room-correction model generation as well as provide a web-interface that can be accessed by a web browser on a PC, iPhone, etc. I use Safari on my mini-iPad to connect to this interface to control the Wavelet. I connect directly to the IP address that is displayed on boot up (rather than having the public server route me to my device). While a Raspberry PI might be used to support the web server interface and provide the control, the processing is done on a 64-bit DSP.

While one can use a microscope to focus on specific components, sound quality comes from the synergy of all the components. The component which has the greatest distortion are the speakers. The interaction of the speakers with the room has a large impart on sound quality. I did see some comments about people feeling "sorry" for people getting the Wavelet. I found this comment funny, given that it is being used in the $86,000 Legacy Audio Valor system. One really does need to experience the system to understand why some people are willing to spend this kind of money for 2-channel audio (due to how realistic the music sounds). Audio shows tend to be less than ideal. I do use this as part of my home theater system. However, for home theater, I would say that I probably would not notice the difference between the Legacy Audio Aeris (at 1/3 the price), and the Valors.

I will say that I am planning to demo the Linn Klimax DSM streaming pre-amplifier in my system. If I find that the sound quality improvement is significant, I may go this route, and simply set the Wavelet volume level to 84.
 
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