The modest dimensions of the Legato Signature speakers will easily mislead about their capabilities, because usually “big” sound is associated with large enclosures and speakers. I have heard the opinion more than once that the speakers begin to play correctly (classical, jazz, rock, etc. – underline the necessary) with the diameter of the woofer cone starting from a certain number of inches. However, nothing conveys the high-end alchemy and craftsmanship of the manufacturer more than the ability to create a relatively compact speaker that makes the listener forget about its size. And do not say, they say “physics can not be fooled.” You just have to be friends with physics.
In my opinion, there is something special about Penaudio loudspeakers, which is not so often seen in other companies. Their appearance is recognizable and instantly readable, even without looking at the logo. That being said, luxury is limited to austere Scandinavian aesthetics. To me, their appearance seemed to be focused primarily on the European consumer who avoids loud attributes of status (as opposed to the Russian one, especially with regard to items of a high price rank).
The design of Legato paradoxically combines a classic case and unusual decoration materials, such as Karelian birch veneer and variegated stripes of an LVL array (see what it is below). Since there is no finishing decoration, at first there is a feeling of incompleteness, I would say “nakedness” of the columns, but then this impression is transformed into the contemplation of their naturalness. Drawing of a tree, not caulked with colored varnish and decorative finishing techniques, comes to the fore and bewitches. In general, as you understand, I was delighted with their design.
I note that the manufacturer offers other finishes: ordinary birch, zebrano, rosewood, oak, as well as the usual matte black or piano lacquer in white or black.
What is LVL that gives Penaudio speakers such a recognizable look? This material was invented in the 60s of the last century by the American company Wayerhauser. In fact, it is an array of plywood, but unlike ordinary wood, this composite material does not absorb moisture, does not crack, does not rot and does not lose shape throughout the entire service life. By the way, I personally think that the LVL array looks especially impressive on small bookshelf speakers, simply because we usually sit closer to them than maintain a distance from the floor speakers. It’s like murals that look different up close than at a distance.
Two volumes and four speakers
But back to systems. The workmanship of the Penaudio Legato can easily serve as a reference example. There are no traces of machine processing, let alone “manual labor”. The body is made of 16 mm MDF reinforced with 5 mm thick LVL plates. It sits on a base plate with adjustable spikes that rest on the supplied metal protectors. There is a gap between them and the body, so there is an effect of apparent levitation of the speakers at some distance from the floor.
On the front panel of the acoustics there is a battery of loudspeakers covered with a black dust-proof mesh, attached to hidden magnets. On the rear panel there is an acoustic terminal with a pair of nice, universal Nextgen 0705 AG terminals from WBT and two bass reflex port outputs. Their pipes, traditionally for Penaudio, are made of aluminum.
Each column consists of two volumes, isolated by an internal partition. In acoustics, there is one SEAS Crescendo tweeter with a cooled neodymium magnet system and a soft dome with a diameter of 29 mm, and three identical 120 mm SEAS Excel speakers with magnesium cones, reinforced surround and a phase-equalizing bullet. One of these speakers is responsible for the midrange, and the other two for the bass. The crossover, assembled on a high-quality, according to the manufacturer, element base, connects emitters at frequencies of 180Hz and 4kHz.
The relatively low sensitivity of the Penaudio Legato Signature (only 85 decibels) presupposes the use of a powerful amplifier and other elements of the circuit, capable of adequately revealing the potential inherent in them. I listened to the acoustics on the following system: T + A CD1260R CD player, Plinius Kaitaki preamp and Plinius Kiokio power amplifier (310 watts per channel at 8 ohms). From the source to the pre there was an unbalanced Nord Ost Red Dawn cable, from the pre to the power – the balanced Abbey Road Studio Connection, the speakers themselves were connected with two meter Abbey Road Moving Air cables.
The speakers were located at a considerable distance from the wall (at a distance of about two meters from each other) and about three meters from the listener. The speaker axes crossed at the listening point.
This time, in addition to the existing test set, I decided to use the CD “Favorite Things” by the brilliant Connie Fisher as musical material. Well, what can I do, I like her.
The acoustics do an excellent job of reproducing different musical genres: both rock and orchestral classics sound very convincing on it. She plays naturally, cleanly and openly. In some incomprehensible way, the speakers manage to reproduce the subtlest microdynamic nuances of the recording, while not overloading the listener’s consciousness so that he perceives the music, and does not try to analyze what he has heard.
On the one hand, the speakers do not embellish the sound, and on the other hand, they cannot be called monitor speakers. The speakers do not impose anything from themselves, play surprisingly accurately and comfortably, demonstrate clarity and transparency. As with the design, there is no grotesque in their sound.
Despite their relatively modest dimensions, the Penaudio Legato reproduces the bodily and fundamental sound that you would expect to hear from much larger speakers. Even when the volume is increased, they do not lose their composure. Only once, when playing a recording of a symphony orchestra at a high level, did I feel some concern about them. They tried very hard and, as it seemed to me, were approaching the limit of their capabilities. In any case, I would not dare to reproduce the famous cannon shot from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture. However, even here I did not hear signs of overload – a phenomenon that occurs quite often in the case of small speakers claiming to be an adult sound.
The textile dome plays out the high-frequency register in detail, without introducing excessive brightness and shrillness into the sound. Of course, this property will be appreciated by people who are familiar with the feeling of fatigue arising from an excessively bright and contrasting sound.
Low frequencies have fast, deep, well-structured bass and sound so effective that you have to convince yourself that there is no powerful, wireless subwoofer. The bass register is replete with detail even at low volume, which allows you to listen to acoustics with a slight turn of the potentiometer knob in the evening and at night.
The mids are equally impressive, but in the sound of some recordings I found an undisclosed reserve. They literally lack a little bit of volume and timbre richness in order to finally transfer the listener’s imagination into a live musical performance. I can’t say for sure whether this is a feature of specific speaker systems or the entire path.
The speakers form a fairly wide stage: it extends far beyond their installation. Instruments and voices are clearly separated from each other and do not merge with each other.
The speakers accurately reconstructed the scene, but at first I did not hear any special depth and separation of images – the sound was a little tied to high-frequency radiators, as a result of which the speakers could not completely “dissolve” in the listening room. However, when I put them parallel to each other in such a way that their acoustic axes intersect far behind me, the effect of “dissolving” the source in space was fully manifested. In other words, parallel installation is desirable for these systems to reduce the emphasis on high frequencies.
If you take a close look at the rear panel of the Penaudio Legato Signature, you will find a small inscription with the company’s slogan – “auditional wellbeing”, which can be translated as “pleasant listening experience”.
I must say, in general, expectations were met and the impressions were really pleasant. Moreover, at times it seemed that acoustics has an absolute set of all those qualities that we are looking for in sound, but it also has its own character, which must still be understood and accepted.
Therefore, it seems to me that people who have the amount necessary to buy Legato at first will find it psychologically difficult to step over their ego and convince themselves to buy these compact and outwardly rather modest speakers. However, that is why there is wisdom to choose not only with the eyes. Penaudio Legato Signature is quite difficult to fall in love with at first sight, but getting to know them better will make it difficult to escape their spell. I would recommend these speakers primarily to mature music lovers with a good sense of taste. In any case, you should definitely listen to them at the first opportunity.