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Legend Acoustics Kurre 9 - Review

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Intro

 

As a lover of good bookshelf speakers, I wanted my final speaker purchase to be rather special.  My bias for Legend Acoustics’ speakers is well known, so it was obvious and inevitable that a bookshelf from Dr Crawford’s stable would be chosen.  The dream was to go for the speaker I had always coveted, the Isobaric Small Red, however, the financial part of the brain said no!  Hmmm, I really knew all along it would be the new version of the Kurre, number 8.  So, remembering an excellent review of the Kurre in Australian HiFi last year, I thought I’d give them a listen at the HiFi show in Sydney.  At the show, I met with the good Dr and I was a little surprised to learn that version 9 was being displayed and demonstrated.  Surprised, because it wasn’t long ago that version 8 was released.  The difference is the inclusion of a wave-guide for the tweeter but I won’t even attempt to explain what it does.  That information is provided on the Legend website. 

 

Amplification:

 

It’s a given that if your HiFi system has well designed loudspeakers then they should be partnered with amplification and source equipment that can extract the best performance they are capable of delivering.  This explains why I chose my ME25 and ME550 Mk II high cap power amplifier for this review.  Normally, the Luxman L-507uX drives the Kurre’s, however, this amplifier doesn’t have enough current to do the speakers justice.  It would be unfair on the Kurre’s to write a review based on amplification that can’t extract what they are capable of.  Of course, this is based on my own opinion and experience and I welcome differences in opinions and would encourage anyone to voice them.

 

Source:

 

Only one source was used, a Luxman D-05u SACD player, connected with Nordost Blue Heaven interconnects.

 

Build:

 

My Italian cabinetmaker Dad, who worked for Parker furniture for about 30 years, had a close look at the cabinetry and was suitably impressed by the quality of the veneer and how the edges were beautifully joined.  High praise from a cabinetmaker who learnt his craft in Italy! Watching him, when I was a child, construct all of our household furniture from material he obtained from Parker, I never asked how he got a hold of it, I marveled at how he fashioned pieces of wood into tables, chairs and cupboards with such meticulous skill.  I particularly remember Dad using an old household clothes iron to press veneer onto sheets of MDF using Bostik glue and trimming the edges with a sharp chisel so perfectly.  Unfortunately, his skills didn’t transfer to the first generation because all I ever did was watch in amazement as piece after piece became part of our house.  Much of it still remains today.

 

Legend cabinets are no doubt fashioned in a far more elaborate and sophisticated manner and the precision is just as fine as my dad’s furniture.  Finished in glorious Jarrah veneer, my favourite, with a lovely lush coating of lacquer that still enables the grain to be felt when gliding your hand over it.  Weighing in at a hefty fourteen kilograms, they require a good stable, rigid speaker stand so I chose the Dynaudio Stand 6 which is beautifully constructed and provides precisely what it is needed. Believe it or not, I have mine stuffed with old towels which deadens the sound quite nicely.  The speaker terminals allow for bi-wiring, which Dr Crawford advocates, and mine are coupled with Nordost Red Dawn bi-wire cables.  They will soon be upgraded to the latest LS version of Red Dawn single wire coupled with Norse 2 speaker jumper cables.  For the purpose of this review, the older version will be used.

 

Listening Impressions:

 

For the first few hours of listening to the Kurre 9’s I thought perhaps the bass was too prominent and could need a bit of attenuating as it overwhelmed my listening room. However, I recently purchased another largish canvas print and rearranged all three prints in the room and this has made a positive difference to the acoustics of the room.  This change in the room’s acoustics altered my perception of the bass produced by the speaker, it would appear it was only the room that required ‘attenuating’.  Now, the volume can be increased without the concomitant smattering of notes bouncing and reflecting all over the place. Much better J

 

I’m drawn to music with strong bass lines so I’ve chosen songs from Beth Orton’s album ‘Kidsticks’ along with Suzanne Vega’s ‘Nine Objects of Desire’ and ’99.9Fo’ to test bass.  Am I wrong, or do female artists just write killer bass lines?  For any speaker to become part of my system, it has to pass a stringent bass test.  In my estimate, correctly or incorrectly, bass must be taught, punchy, fast and most importantly, be put in its place when needed, not let run wild and uncontrolled. 

 

‘Snow’, the opening track to Beth Orton’s ‘Kidsticks’ smacks you in the face with bass and will test any speaker that claims to deliver that unrelenting beat.  I can count the beats from the Kurre as they are clearly delineated, they don’t run on and on into one another.  The bass/mid driver is fast enough to keep up with the stop/start timing of the bass notes.

 

‘Petals’, the third track has a delicious decaying bass line that runs for about three seconds each time and sucks you into the song at the very beginning.  Beth’s slightly falsetto voice, quite different to her earlier records, augments the bass line beautifully.  So here, we have the falsetto voice and bass notes integrated in a lovely symbiosis with the latter that runs like butter.

 

Suzanne Vega’s ‘Nine Objects of Desire’ is a cornucopia of delicious, mouth watering bass lines.  Track three, ‘Caramel’, swamps the listener with a rhythmic line and transports your mind to a dimly lit, intimate venue with your loved one drinking a mellow pinot noir.  Then ‘Stockings’ kicks in and the pinot noir has filled your veins and the bass emanating from the Kurre’s bass/mid driver takes over the pumping of blood from your heart – such is the sustaining rhythm of the speaker.

 

99.9F0 is the next silver disc in the tray and it was this 1992 album that made me fall for Vega’s music.  The accompanying tour was magnificent, sitting near the front of the State Theatre I was mesmerized by Vega’s beautiful and delicate acoustic guitar work.  She truly is a master of that instrument.  ‘Blood Makes Noise’ is brilliantly conceived as the pulsing of the bass represents the blood pulsing through the body and it also reflects the lyrics.  The driver has the pulse well timed, controlled, and importantly, doesn’t let the notes run away.  In this song, the bass has a very specific purpose and that is to reflect the constant pulse of blood so it requires control and timing.

 

Not a one trick pony

 

If you are as obsessed with the female voice as I am, you will love how this speaker renders voice. 

 

A case in point would be Katie Noonan’s divine singing on her latest release, ‘Songs of the Latin Skies’.  If a purer voice exists in this universe, please tell me to whom it belongs.  Karin Schaup’s acoustic guitar beautifully compliments Noonan’s voice, and here, the Kurre’s mid/bass and tweeter combine to meld voice and instrument so perfectly.

 

This is especially evident on track eight, ‘Canta Mais’, where the Kurre’s have the voice front and centre delivering delicacy and depth while the guitar provides the emotional backing.  On track ten, ‘Manha De Carnaval’, the voice and guitar are enmeshed and couldn’t survive without each other but they would fail to unite on a lesser speaker that couldn’t handle delicacy, poise or imaging.  

 

One other ingredient is required to make this recording sound its best – accuracy. This recording would, I dare say, sound like crap on any speaker that couldn’t portray realism or accuracy.  This is the Kurre 9’s trump card and this recording, song after song, proves just how accurate these speakers are.  The Kurre’s portray Noonan’s extraordinary vocal range in its entirety with no limitations placed upon it, exposed accurately as it should be heard. 

 

As a final speaker purchase, I couldn’t be more satisfied.  Now, what to do with that Luxman?  Oh, I know, another ME pre and power combination.

 

Keen to read other user’s experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sensational review, M!  :thumb:

 

But - given you like Katie Noonan's voice - can I suggest you take the (not too long) trip up to Gosford and listen to her CD played through some Maggies at Bill McLean's shop. :)

 

Andy

 

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Thanks andyr, glad you liked it. 

 

I may may just do that one day as I’ve never heard Maggies before.  

 

 

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4 minutes ago, muzzagruzz said:

Thanks andyr, glad you liked it. 

 

I may may just do that one day as I’ve never heard Maggies before. 

 

I am sure you will like it!  :thumb:

 

Damn, I wish ‘Songs of the Latin Skies’ was released on vinyl.  :(

 

Andy

 

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Katie Noonan on ribbons....

Get your arse over to someone who has Ambience 1800R's...

Mated to quality amplification...then you will hear her voice...

Yep ribbons have their shortcomings...but female voice ain't one of them...

Great review by the way...loved it...

Harass ZB for a listen...

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1 minute ago, andyr said:

 

I am sure you will like it!  :thumb:

 

Damn, I wish ‘Songs of the Latin Skies’ was released on vinyl.  :(

 

Andy

 

Damn, it really isn’t available on vinyl? I would love that recording played through my Benz Micro Ace. 

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Just now, muzzagruzz said:

Damn, it really isn’t available on vinyl? I would love that recording played through my Benz Micro Ace. 

It's an ABC release, I think?  They are not up with the "vinyl revival"!  :lol:

 

Andy

 

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9 minutes ago, Rob181 said:

Katie Noonan on ribbons....

Get your arse over to someone who has Ambience 1800R's...

Mated to quality amplification...then you will hear her voice...

Yep ribbons have their shortcomings...but female voice ain't one of them...

Great review by the way...loved it...

Harass ZB for a listen...

Thanks Rob181, much appreciated. 

 

Ok, that’s two speakers I need to hear now.  Ah, Zaph has a pair of Ambience? I will ask him next time.  He recently worked on the ME 550 and bloody hell is it good. So close in performance to the glorious 850 I owned last year. 

Edited by muzzagruzz

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3 minutes ago, andyr said:

It's an ABC release, I think?  They are not up with the "vinyl revival"!  :lol:

 

Andy

 

Bloody ABC. I work just across the road from them, I may drop by and harass them to pull their fingers out. 

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20 minutes ago, The Spider said:

@muzzagruzz are they some floorstanders next to them? How do they compare? 

 

Thank you

Hey Spider, 

 

Yep, they are the bigger brother to the Kurre in the reference passive range - the  Kantu 8i. While they have a similar sound signature to the Kurre’s, it’s difficult to compare a two way with a three way design. 

 

Commonalities would be an astonishing ability to image, fast and controlled bass and accuracy. I don’t know if I’ve ever  heard a floor standing speaker that images like this.  

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Hi there,

 

Thank you for the review and for sharing. I am quite new to all this but I did go to Nowra recently to visit Rod Crawford and listen to some of his goodies (at his home, mind) and immediately ordered a pair of Kurre 9. I do have one question: how far from a back wall should I position them?  My ceiling is really high but the footprint is modest.  Thank you in advance.

 

And a broader question: I listened to other speakers while there.  That stuff is simply amazing and modestly priced for the performance.  Why is not selling by the thousands? Any opinions?

 

cheers,

guillaume

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3 hours ago, guillaume said:

Hi there,

 

Thank you for the review and for sharing. I am quite new to all this but I did go to Nowra recently to visit Rod Crawford and listen to some of his goodies (at his home, mind) and immediately ordered a pair of Kurre 9. I do have one question: how far from a back wall should I position them?  My ceiling is really high but the footprint is modest.  Thank you in advance.

 

And a broader question: I listened to other speakers while there.  That stuff is simply amazing and modestly priced for the performance.  Why is not selling by the thousands? Any opinions?

 

cheers,

guillaume

Hi Guillaume, 

 

Others can jump in here to correct me but, as a sealed box, the Kurre 9 can be placed right next to a wall if you so desire. Previous iterations were rear ported so you had to be a bit more careful about placement, unless the rear port was sealed with a foam plug. 

 

As to the the second question, well I really can’t answer it. Dr Crawford is a well respected speaker designer in Australia and from what I can gather, a successful manufacturer too. Legend has been around for quite some time and, hopefully, will be around for quite some time to come. 

 

Cheers

 

Muzz

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I've owned several pairs of Kurres, including the 8s, and all benefited from a bit of depth in the soundstage - at least 1m from the wall.

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4 hours ago, guillaume said:

Hi there,

 

Thank you for the review and for sharing. I am quite new to all this but I did go to Nowra recently to visit Rod Crawford and listen to some of his goodies (at his home, mind) and immediately ordered a pair of Kurre 9. I do have one question: how far from a back wall should I position them?  My ceiling is really high but the footprint is modest.  Thank you in advance.

 

And a broader question: I listened to other speakers while there.  That stuff is simply amazing and modestly priced for the performance.  Why is not selling by the thousands? Any opinions?

 

cheers,

guillaume

Hi Guillaume,

 

Well done with buying the Kurre's, you have good taste and will be be happy for a very long time.

 

A mate who is putting a system together was going to listen to some speakers in Sydney over Christmas, visited the local Legend dealer saying the Kurre's price is all he was willing to pay if he bought anything at all. After listening to the Kantu's he bought them on the spot. His wife who is fussy with what she lets into her house rang to tell me they sound incredible.

I agree.

 

As to why they don't sell by the thousands could be they are priced too cheap and people believe they need to spend more to get that remarkable quality of sound.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

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18 minutes ago, was_a said:

I've owned several pairs of Kurres, including the 8s, and all benefited from a bit of depth in the soundstage - at least 1m from the wall.

I would agree with that. Mine are about 70 cm’s from the wall and I would suggest placing them on very sturdy stands such as Dynaudio Stand 6. 

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11 minutes ago, deblur said:

Hi Guillaume,

 

Well done with buying the Kurre's, you have good taste and will be be happy for a very long time.

 

A mate who is putting a system together was going to listen to some speakers in Sydney over Christmas, visited the local Legend dealer saying the Kurre's price is all he was willing to pay if he bought anything at all. After listening to the Kantu's he bought them on the spot. His wife who is fussy with what she lets into her house rang to tell me they sound incredible.

I agree.

 

As to why they don't sell by the thousands could be they are priced too cheap and people believe they need to spend more to get that remarkable quality of sound.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

It doesn’t surprise me that your friend went with the Kantu’s. Listening to my Kantu 8i’s last night and adore them. Just bought some IsoAcoustics Gaia III footers for the plinths of the Kantu’s and it makes them look even better. Don’t know if they make any difference to sound though. 

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Thank you all for your helpful comments.  I am yet to receive my new toys, so I guess I'll experimenting this weekend.

On the Kantus, I loved them too  but I am gunning for the Small Red for a larger space; I liked them even better than the Kantus. Thankfully there is one more than one room to equip, however only with one budget...

 

cheers

guillaume

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I’d love a pair of Small Reds but I’ve got more than enough speakers to keep me happy. 

 

Congrats on your purchase, I’m absolutely certain you’ll enjoy them immensely. 

Edited by muzzagruzz

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I've said this many times before, but Legend speakers are extraordinary value. Like Harbeth, I've never heard a Legend speaker I didn't like. The latest models are supremely transparent with a lovely balance and lack of distortion that results in a musical presentation that's second to none.

 

I believe that many hifi consumers are under the illusion that the 'big 10 or dozen' overseas speaker brands are the only way to go. An expensive, misguided illusion propelled by UK magazines and reinforced by purchases. Have a look at how quickly the big brands sell on SNA classifieds. Crazy when we have brands like Legend right here at home.

Edited by was_a

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Couldn’t agree more.  Some years ago I was in a major HiFi dealer’s store in Sydney and asked why they didn’t sell Australian speakers and the paraphrased reply, ‘Australia doesn’t make anything that’s good’.  I was so pissed off I could’ve smacked him.  

 

The prevailing myth surrounding imported product is that it’s superior to ours. It’s just too hard to overturn those misguided, ignorant views.  However, I’ve been trying my best on here over the last few years. 

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Thanks MrRogers, I know I can count on you. :thumb:

 

I’ve heard a couple of models of Harbeth’s and while I really liked the SQ, the Legend’s were far superior and so much more affordable.  The build quality of the latter was more than equal to the imported product.  The SQ of the English Harbeth’s  did not justify their outrageous prices, in my opinion. 

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Thank you all for the many comments. I've not heard enough different speakers that I can comment much.  But I did meet Rod. He is a great guy and an engineer, maybe not much of a marketer.

 

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