The lower midrange descended into the midbass fairly smoothly, with good clarity providing cello, bassoon, and bass violins the requisite resonance body they deserve. As I listened to Harry Connick, Jr.’s cover of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” I was impressed by the amount of air the Duo managed to move to capture the throaty bell sound and brassy resonance of Branford Marsalis’ tenor sax solo. It didn’t quite have the full weight that my reference ATC SCM50 ASLT offers, but it was very good for the segment where the Legato Duo competes.
The bottom-octave range (20-40Hz) was a bit beyond the reach of this 43"-tall, mid-sized two-and-a-half-way; still, there was perceivable response in my room below forty cycles, which conveyed some of the seismic flavor of the deepest octave. Though the Legato Duo’s low-frequency response rolled off fairly steeply, the drivers still moved a notable amount of air, giving the speaker a heavier footprint than might be expected at first glance.
Vocals were another strong suit for the Legato Duo. Nicely balanced, firmly weighted in space, male and female singers were reproduced with liveliness, good attack, and a non-aggressive sibilance range. The Diana Krall track “I’ll See You in My Dreams” was perhaps most instructive. Krall’s voice—a torchy, playful alto—was nicely centered and realistically scaled on the stage. Even when challenged to reproduce Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain singing “Come as You Are,” the Legato Duo demonstrated good control and composure with little obvious midband compression. Cobain’s vocal was reproduced with a good balance of its characteristic grit and melodic intensity.
I then cued up my “go-to” piano recordings and found a very pleasing, even romanticized sound with good resolving power, solid midband dynamics, and a fairly wide macro-dynamic envelope. During Evgeny Kissin’s performance of Glinka’s “The Lark,” I could hear the resonant body of the soundboard of his concert grand piano very clearly. During some arpeggiated crescendos a hint of upper-octave glassiness crept in, but the articulation of these difficult passages was very good. Similarly, on Clark Terry’s recording of trumpet/piano duets One on One, I felt that the piano tended to sound a bit dry and harmonically thinned down slightly during heavily punctuated treble notes.
Image stability was an area where the Legato really hit its stride. As I listened to MoFi’s latest One-Step LP of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Water, I was taken aback by the amount of detail and layered depth that was being revealed on classic tracks like “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” and “Cecilia.” The Legato reproduced sound in the way a topographical relief map indicates elevation and coordinates—it was as if the sonic longitude and latitude of images were carefully charted beforehand. This was a wonderfully silent cabinet that seemingly betrayed little in the way of resonances.
Ultimately, a little low-end dynamic compression came to the fore—a limitation perhaps best explained by the two-and-a-half-way configuration. As I listened to the Manhattan Jazz Quintet’s “Autumn Leaves,” the macro-dynamic gradients during Soloff’s crackling trumpet solo could have been more explosive. The sustain and complexities of deep bass could have been better explored and extended. For example, during the “Vivo” section of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite the trombone/acoustic bass duet indicated a hint of smearing, as these two heavyweights tangled like a pair of cape buffalo. Nonetheless, the Legato Duo still retained a marvelous sense of the dimensional world of soundspace, and a strong if not fully realized impression of venue.
The Legato Duo is not without hard-charging competition. An obvious challenger would be the Vandersteen Audio Treo CT ($8400) I reviewed in Issue 262. Like the Legato Duo the Vandy lays the baffle back to phase-align the drivers, but unlike the Legato it has the added lower mid/upper-bass thrust and extension of a four-way. The Vandersteen requires more power, however, to show its best. In smaller rooms the slightly narrower spectral balance of the Legato makes it easier to optimize than the Treo CT.
Getting to know an unfamiliar brand of loudspeaker is always a bit like stepping into thin air without a parachute. And sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you’re pulling for a product to be good; it’s not always meant to be. So, in the case of the Sonner Audio, it’s truly gratifying for me to find myself in agreement with the positive impressions of a fellow reviewer whose work and ear I respect. I consider this a fine effort and an even finer debut. It’s a welcome addition to the high-end neighborhood.
Specs & Pricing
Type: 2.5-way, ported enclosure
Driver complement: 1" tweeter, 5.5" coated-paper-cone mid/woofer, 6" custom aluminum-cone woofer
Frequency response: 37Hz–23kHz
Nominal impedance: 4 ohms (minimum, 3.8 ohms)
Dimensions: 15" x 43.4" x 26.7"
Net weight: 65 lbs.
68 Daniel Webster Highway
Merrimack, NH 03054