The Foundation had amazing power reserves and deep extension. It also reproduced musical pieces equally as well as cranking out the big bass effects of my favorite movies.
Legacy Audio Foundation Subwoofer
- Impressive low bass extension
- Capable of very high sound pressure levels
- Equally adept at both movies and music
- Easy to integrate within system
Legacy Audio is famous for many things, one of which is producing speakers and subwoofers that have incredible bass response. Many of their quite large, powerful speakers and subs are paradoxically capable of nuanced performance at low to mid volume levels. This counter-intuitive aspect of their products allows them to deliver high quality, sustained performance over many years of ownership. They truly are Legacy type of products.
My review today focuses on the Legacy Foundation subwoofer. This sub has an interesting design with a tower-esque cabinet that packs a lot of power and technology into a small footprint. This sub has dual 12” drivers coupled to a pair of 12” passive radiators. These are powered by a 1,000 watt Class D amp. The results are clean, powerful, and engaging.
Dynamic Dual Subwoofer with Passive Radiator Loading
2 ~ 12″ Spun Aluminum Diaphragm, 30 lb Motor Structure, Cast Frame, 3″ Dual 4-Layer Voice Coil, 2″ Peak to Peak Travel
2 ~ 12″ Patented Symmetrically Loaded Passive Radiators, 4″ Peak to Peak Travel
Electrically Assisted 6th Order
Sub (LFE), L/R RCA, Balanced XLR
1,000 Watt Class D ICEpower®
16-120 Hz (+/- 2dB)
+/- 12 dB @45Hz
120 dB @ 1m
Low Pass Filter Slope:
18 dB per octave
Continuous 40-120 Hz
Cabinet Dimensions (inches):
29 H x 14.5 W x 15 D
9 Stock Finishes (See Legacy Audio Website Linked Below)
Legacy Audio, Subwoofer, Passive Radiator, Bass, Low Distortion, Subwoofer Review 2018
The Legacy Audio Foundation Subwoofer is a powered subwoofer with dual 12” active drivers that are coupled to a pair of 12” passive radiators.
The active drivers are quite impressive. Each woofer has a 30 pound magnet structure and a 3” 4-layer dual voice coil. They are manufactured in a unique process that eliminates the dust cap. In assembly the voice-coil and former is precisely mounted to the back side of the diaphragm and the double spider is carefully centered onto the frame. This process requires a much greater degree of precision in manufacturing as they don’t just drop an alignment sleeve into the gap between the voice-coil and pole piece to center it up. Legacy claims this is more than worth the effort because eliminating the dust cap reduces modulation. This has the additional benefit of looking clean and bad ass.
The dual 12” passive radiators are equally impressive. They are quite substantial and have a claimed peak-to-peak excursion of 4”!
The active drivers are front-mounted with one passive radiator in a down-firing configuration and the other radiator is rear-firing. The arrangement makes for a large and powerful subwoofer that takes up a minimal amount of floor space (about 15” a side).
Legacy selected an IcePower module for the plate amp. This amp is rated at 1,000 watts RMS and is claimed to make 30 amperes of current delivery. This is indicative of an amp that will exert maximum control over the active drivers with plenty of reserve capacity for those intermittent high-level signals.
There are three possible connections you can use to hook up the Legacy Foundation subwoofer to your system. From top to bottom, you have stereo unbalanced RCA’s, a mono unbalanced RCA, and a balanced mono XLR connector. The unbalanced mono input bypasses the internal crossover while the others do not. I tried both mono and stereo hook ups depending on the configuration I was testing. More on that in the following sections of this review. I do want to point out that the input connecters are all top quality and quite substantial.
The back panel also has a level control, a variable crossover frequency control (40 – 120 Hz), and a variable phase angle adjustment (0° – 180°). All controls are of the continuously-variable type. The knobs for these controls are a nice, rubbery material but they are not graduated. You could use measuring equipment to assist in dialing it in or just do it by ear the way I did.
Another thing I like about Legacy is that they are mavericks in so far as they have their own unique approaches to solving various problems. In this case, one of the controls on the plate amp is a little unique. This would be the “Blend” control.
This is a manual EQ that can boost or attenuate the sub’s output over the range of 35 – 50 Hz. According to Legacy, the center frequency of this control was selected to match the first cancellation mode of most rooms. This is a well considered decision.
Not only do the passive radiators exhibit high excursion capability, but the active drivers themselves have a peak-to-peak excursion of 2”! This fact, along with the high power/high current amplifier equates to the manufacturer’s claim that the sub has a maximum SPL of 120 dB at 1m.
The power toggle on back is claimed to be either “Off” or “Auto On” but I think that is a typo in the manual because when I turned it to “1”, it seemed to be on all the time. Maybe the auto-on is very sensitive or the sub was going into standby but the LED remained glowing blue? Thankfully, the amp is a Class D design so, even if it were idling all the time, I suspect that the power drain would be very minimal.
Speaking of the LED, it was really, really bright. I put two red Post-It brand “Sign Here” tabs over it which toned it down a lot. I had to do this because the sub is in the front of the room and the blue glow was very distracting when watching content over my front projector.
The cabinet construction was very solid for such a large subwoofer. It was very inert. This quality goes hand in hand with the super high quality finish. My review unit was black ash. I normally do not care for black ash but this one is different. To begin with, it’s real wood. Then it is hand-rubbed. The final result is quite handsome and I have no problem keeping it on display in my home theater. I love the look of it as a matter of fact.
This sub can be ordered in any of about nine different real wood finishes. So you can readily dial in the look that best matches your decor. And knowing Legacy the way I do, I am sure that each and every finish available for the Foundation is of the highest quality as well.
The Legacy Foundation subwoofer does not come with a grille. I was surprised by this at first but now I don’t see it as a major issue. Not even a minor one. The drivers themselves are totally cool looking with no dust caps. They are clean and tidy. Add the very high quality real wood finish and you will probably agree that it would actually be a shame to cover up any of this.
After all the cabinet work, the massive magnets structures, etc. the finished product is one hefty speaker. Just a single one was shipped on a pallet and strapped in place with a couple of nylon come alongs. The Foundation weighs about 113 pounds when unboxed. I used a small hand truck to move it around the room and get it in position.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent owner’s manual. Legacy provides a detailed explanation of how to position, set-up, and dial in the sub. They also included a lot of additional information regarding room acoustics. Though it doesn’t go into much detail, it is more than most other manufacturers provide and opens the door for the more inquisitive among us to do a little additional research on the topic.
The Legacy Foundation subwoofer is backed by a 7-year warranty (3 years on the amp).
As I mentioned above, the Foundation was delivered via freight and arrived strapped down on a pallet. I didn’t take notes on the unboxing experience but recall that it was as simple as could be. Once I had the sub out of the box, I placed it in the front left corner of my home theater space. It was about 3’ from the front wall and 2’ from the side wall.
My initial set-up used the unbalanced mono input since I was primarily using it in a surround configuration and driven by my Arcam surround processor. So the initial set up was calibrated using the Arcam’s included Dirac Live algorithm. This was the typical process and I observed no undue peakiness in the response, indicating that the Legacy Foundation subwoofer was a well designed and executed product.
I do want to make note that the sub’s volume control setting that worked best with my set-up and SSP was on about 3 or 4 out of 10. I can honestly say that I probably never used more than 50% of the sub’s capacity even though I like bass-heavy action movies in a fairly large room. This sub could fill an even larger room with THX reference sound pressure levels and still not break a sweat. The great advantage here is that the sub therefore has a lot of reserve capacity and most people would never come anywhere close to maxing it out.
I did cover the power-on LED with the Post It notes as mentioned above. I do wish the sub had a dimmer switch for the LED.
So I did most of my listening in a multi-channel environment. The main speakers were GoldenEar Triton 5’s and I crossed them over to the Legacy Foundation at 60 Hz. I did later set up the sub in a 2.1 system. The satellites in this case were a pair of Technics SB-C700’s. When connected this way, I used the unbalanced stereo outs from a Mark Levinson No 585.5 integrated amp to drive the sub. Due to the excellent controls in the Foundation, I was able to get an excellent blend in a matter of minutes which I then fine-tuned over a couple of evenings. I used the “Blend” control to get that last little bit of musicality. It was easy for me to get it dialed in and delivering excellent results with this set up.
So naturally I started my evaluation by watching lots of modern day action movies. Pictured below are covers of four new movies that I watched with the Legacy Foundation in the system. Each movie has its strengths and weaknesses. Some are more entertaining than others. They have varying degrees of bass weight and overall sonic dynamic range. But one thing they had in common was that they were all presented in their best light courtesy of the Foundation sub.
My reference sub is an SVS SB 16 Ultra. This sub is considered by many to be the king of the hill, myself included. I have been enjoying it for some time now. I really didn’t think I would find a sub that I would like more than the SVS. I was wrong. Not only was the Legacy Foundation able to go toe-to-toe with the SVS in terms of bass slam, it actually bettered it in the area of having more apparent response in the very low bass. This lent the Foundation a better sense of energizing the room.
Even more surprisingly, the Foundation provided better musicality than the SVS. So here I had a new sub in the system that was all around a better performer than my reference sub. I wasn’t expecting that.
There is one movie in my collage that brought all of this together better than the others (including from a pure entertainment standpoint). That would be “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”. I just love this movie. It is fun and irreverent. The characters are engaging and the special effects are largely believable. I wish more of the modern fare represented here put increased effort into the story and acting and less into fabricating more and more fantastical effects. At some point movies like “Infinity Wars” will just run out of road; if not already.
Getting back the “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”, this movie has the added benefit of being mastered and distributed with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The reason I say it pulled everything together is because it has raucous action accompanied by incredible music. Though the soundtrack is a little bit overly compressed (i.e., it was mostly too loud and lacking dynamic contrasts). Nevertheless, this movie really rocked the house over the Legacy Foundation sub.
It showcased the gratuitous special effects but also with excellent musical prowess. Some of this film’s best music was playing during the action sequences. Lesser subs would have struggled to sufficiently separate all the disparate bass signals. This was not a problem for the Legacy Foundation. This subwoofer was able to parse out all the individual bass signals. I heard it all.
I was particularly impressed that the very loud gunfire and explosions never sounded as if they were smearing or interfering with the musical bass during the action scenes. I also never worried that the sub would hit the top of a limiter circuit or was I concerned that it might blow up. In practical terms, the Foundation sub had apparently unlimited output potential. So I could kick back and enjoy the action without any concern that I might trigger an actual explosion!
Now on to some straight musical material. I have been playing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band album “So It Is” in heavy rotation over the last several months. I picked up the vinyl version at a local record shop last year and it has become an instant classic among my favorite jazz records.
Bass-wise it is essentially acoustic upright bass along with a drum kit that includes a kick drum and tom toms. Every song on this album grabs my attention and I love them all.
There are two that have an overall faster tempo than the others. These would be “Santiago” and “La Malanga”. The Legacy Foundation impressed on these songs by keeping up with the pace. Subs that are heavy sounding or distorted tend to drag the pace and throw a pall over the proceedings. The Foundation proved to be nimble enough to keep the whole thing on pace. It was equally capable of maintaining the pitch integrity of the bass at the same time. Taken together, these two traits served the music in the most respectful way possible.
So being that this is a subwoofer review, I wanted to find some music with even more bass. Thankfully, I have kids who were kind enough to introduce me to the new Nicki Minaj album “Queen”. This album definitely brings the bass.
My favorite song on this album is “Majesty” which is a collaboration with Minaj, Eminem, and Labrinth. It is like a modern classic. Bass-wise the Legacy Foundation did not demure on any song from this record. Even when Ms. Minaj sings about CENSORED or that time she mentions her CENSORED. Then later she goes on and on about CENSORED.
In all seriousness, this is modern day music and the bass is so much a part of the entire experience of enjoying this music that you owe it to yourself to get a Legacy Foundation subwoofer so you can enjoy it the way it was meant to be heard. My system has never produced more bass slam and gut-shaking output than what I was getting from the Foundation. The Legacy sub ties it all together.
The LEGACY FOUNDATION SUBWOOFER proved itself every day. It output infrasonic bass as well as bass that was in time and in tune with the music. It’s an all-around winner which even includes its fetching good looks!
- Low end growl
- Musically conversant
- Massive output capability
- Easy to blend with satellites
- Excellent finish
- Dimmable LED
- Graduated controls would be nice
If you were to ask me to try and summarize my impression of the Legacy Foundation subwoofer in a single word, then that word would be “righteous”. This word encompasses my most prominent feelings about this amazing subwoofer.
As described above, this woofer has power to spare. My room is over 5,000 cubic feet and I probably never used more than 50% of the sub’s output capacity. I think a single Foundation sub could easily fill a room twice the size of mine. This provides many obvious advantages. To me, the most significant advantage is that the sub will remain well within its comfort zone output-wise. This means that the Foundation sub will produce much less distortion than a lesser sub that would be routinely maxing out.
But that’s not all. There are a lot more facets than just output potential that make a great subwoofer great. There are a lot of subs that can put out high quantities of bass but then go ahead and ask yourself after hearing them, “How is the ‘quality’ of that bass?” With the Legacy Foundation, the answer is “most excellent, indeed”.
This sub melded beautifully with the satellites. This meant that I was able to get seamless and musical bass in proportion with the rest of the frequency ranges.
Though I wrote about some specific movies and music in my review above, the real proof came during day-to-day use of the sub. This sub even enhanced “TV” watching including documentaries and sporting events. It proved itself each and every day and once dialed-in, it was easy to forget about it and just enjoy all that I heard.