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from Which? Loudspeakers 1998-9. AVL Magazine

By way of an introduction, Legend Acoustics raison desire has something of a pedigree attached to it. Dr. Rod Crawford is the man behind the Legend label and gained the majority of his design experience with Linn Products, one of the UK's most fastidious and respected hi-fi companies. Linn gained international recognition with the now-legendary LP12 turntable and from its factory in Glasgow, Scotland, produces a range of hi-fi electronics and loudspeakers that have attracted an almost cult-like following amongst global audio enthusiasts.

After four years, and several loudspeaker designs to his name, Rod left Linn, returned to his native Australia and over the past couple of years has been working on the designs that now represent the fruits of his labours; the Kangaroo Series of loudspeakers.

Legend's fist model, the Kantu, gets it's name from one of several Aboriginal words for Kangaroo, and the trait seems to have stuck, with the whole Legend range employing different Aboriginal dialect for Kangaroo. The Kamas occupy the middle of Legend's Kangaroo Series and definitely combine the better qualities of both Australian and British loudspeaker design.

The Australian influence is immediately apparent. The speakers' sumptuous real wood veneers, while the designer's UK background is obvious when you hook the loudspeakers up and have a listen.

Out of all the indigenous loudspeakers I've encountered in my three and half reviewing years here in Australia, the Kamas are by far the most familiar-sounding loudspeaker I've yet encountered. They truly are a taste of 'the old country' (if you're a Pommie hi-fi nut), and show that it's not just the Brits who can produce a loudspeaker that delivers that magic formula; the so-called UK-sound. A seemingly elusive natural sonic quality that only a true UK hi-fi product can achieve.

Several Japanese hi-fi manufacturers have been chasing this magic UK sound formula for a number of years, striving to make its products appeal to the more sonically-minded as well as the average consumer.

But I digress. Kama is a. reasonably compact floorstanding loudspeaker, which takes up no more room than a pair of bookshelf speakers on a pair of stands. The main goal with the Kamas (and all Legend designs) is to recreate the live music experience in the home. This fundamental philosophy is tantamount to the function of the loudspeaker in a domestic hi-fi system. However, some do a better job than others, and in the Kama's case, it's a role the loudspeaker comfortably slips into.

They take a bit of running-in, so allow a few days use to loosen up the drivers and warm up the crossover components.

The Kama's overseas influence continues with the type of driver units often found in European-sourced loudspeaker designs. The bass driver is French in origin. A 170mm Audax unit, it employs the latest Aerogel cone technology combining carbon fibre stiffness and gel damping to produce a fast and responsive bass/midrange driver. You'll find Audax drivers in many of the best European loudspeaker manufacturers. To top it off with the higher frequencies Legend Acoustics chose the latest Scanspeak tweeter from the Danish-based driver manufacturer. This too is a high quality unit and combines well with its more substantial driver partner.

Internal wiring is top-notch quality too, with the inclusion of van den Hul silver-plated cable and gold-plated bi-wireable speaker terminals, Legend Acoustics hasn't cut any corners or skimped at all in the design of the Kamas. Professor van den Hul, of obvious Dutch extraction, is well noted in the UK and Europe for the rather excellent loudspeaker cables and interconnects that his company produces. To find them included in a loudspeaker's design is simply an added bonus to the sonic architecture. Internal wool damping and carpet-piercing spikes are also included to round-off the Kama's long list of sound quality improving features.

The most noticeable sonic quality of the Kamas is their ability to sound wholly clean, natural and accurate. These speakers pull no punches, and are incredibly true to life in their handling of recorded musical material. The Kamas are the sort of loudspeaker that would suit someone who is into music, but hates hi-fi. The bass is by no means thunderous, but ample enough and is delivered with sufficient authority and control to lend heavier rock credence.

The speakers' pace and ability at handling the fast transients of bands such as Rage Against the Machine certainly makes the music sound suitably agile, though there's definitely something missing, and it's raw power. With this sort of music, it needs to sound a little more out of control.

Where the Kamas excel is in their handling of somewhat quieter material. Chuck on some acid jazz or lighter pop and the sheer openness and clarity of the Kamas will amaze. The level of detail with which the speakers unfold a piece of music can be breathtaking, revealing layer upon layer of a decently recorded CD while immersing you in a sumptuous and deep soundstage.

The sweetness and naturalness of the higher frequencies is a delight on the ear, unforced, never bright and extremely transparent. This is no more evident with the likes of Bjork, and listening to The Modern Things from Post shows off the Kamas at their best. From the restrained bass lines to the many high frequency percussive details, the Kamas tell the story faithfully, and with extraordinary clarity too.

Their midrange performance exhibits a similar style, sounding ever so sweet and unrestrained. Vocals sound crisp and fresh, with never a hint of sibilance from even the shrillest sounding operatic soprano soloist. Close-miked and heavily vocal-based material such as George Michael's Jesus To A Child are delivered with the sort of effortless seductiveness that is just the approach you want. His voice sits beautifully at the heart of a dense, rich soundstage, making the most of the track's heavily produced breathy feel. Take on Handel's divine Messiah and these virtues are emphasised still further, with genuinely impressive sonic scale that makes for a truly emotive listen.

Rear-firing bass reflex ports demand the speakers have some room between them and the rear wall, although the Kamas' bass weight benefits from reasonably close wall proximity. At least 10cm is Legend's guideline in its comprehensive owner's manual, and the design works better than most, closer to the room boundaries. And, with their offset tweeter placement, there is a left and right speaker with every pair.

To hear the Kamas at their best, some care has to be made with partnering equipment. The better it gets, the more the Kamas will reveal your source and amplification sonic qualities, or downfalls.

They may not be the answer to every audio enthusiast and/or music-lovers loudspeaker requirement, although they are one of the most accurate and convincing designs I've heard recently. Added to which, Legend Acoustics' confidence in the performance and longevity of its products is confirmed with a five year warranty on the Kamas.

There's no mistaking their designer's UK loudspeaker heritage, the Kamas could quite easily be wearing a British speaker manufacturer's badge. That's not the case, and at a touch under $1,800 dollars, the Kamas don't sport the hefty imported prices of European speakers either.

Nic Tatham