Review: Sonner Audio Legato Duo Floorstanding Loudspeakers

Reviewing a piece of hifi gear, especially a loudspeaker, is more complicated than deciding whether or not we like it. But at the end of the day, it sure makes the reviewing more enjoyable when we do—like it. Such was the case with the Sonner Legato Duo.

I’ve been enjoying the music made by Sonner Audio speakers for years at hifi shows where I also look forward to time spent with Gunawan “Gunny” Surya of Sonner because we inevitably talk about music. OK, I mostly listen which is fine by me since Gunny has real knowledge and passion for the music he shares at shows which more times than not is of a classical bent. Most recently, at CAF 2022, I was treated to a mini treatise on Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Gunny’s years long search for his favorite rendition. [footnote 1]

The Sonner Legato Duo are a two and half way design that uses a 1 inch Ring radiator tweeter, a 5.5” paper mid-woofer, and a 6” aluminum mid-woofer. The removable (magnets) leather front baffle is there to assist in sound dispersion, not just look lovely, and the Duo’s rounded V-shape also has sound reasons beyond looks as is the speaker’s obvious rear-leaning rake. Think time alignment of the drivers as we’ve seen with other speakers from Audio Physic and Vandersteen to name just two. The curvy pinched trapezoidal black bases remind me of something Myron Stout would draw (a good thing) and keep the tilted speakers very stable.

I think the Duo cut a very attractive figure covered in the semigloss Red Rosewood finish that appears to love sunlight as much as I do. They also come in a satin/matte black finish and include a protective grill cloth for the leather baffle which I did not use. Dual ports and a single pair of binding posts sitting on a recessed black name plate complete the back side. As you might imagine, every aspect of the Legato Duo’s design was chosen to create speakers that engage and draw us much closer to the sensation of live music in the company’s own words.

While its tempting to boil down the sound of loudspeakers into a few simple words, listening says it ain’t so simple. One of the first things that announced itself after I set the Legato Duo in place in Barn was their gentle yet highly focused sound. Gentle meaning the Legato Duo’s reproduced upper frequencies in a natural way, at least to my ears, without the unnatural shout or overly etched precision of other speakers I’ve heard. As if we need to somehow enhance the sound of music played through a hifi to make it that much more exciting. Boom & tizz. You know the type.

We often hear the term ‘voicing’ when talking about hifi design for good reason—most people who make hifi gear listen to it to fine tune the final design. They listen, which helps account for the fact that different speakers, for example, sound different. Some like to think every hifi designer is working toward some Platonic ideal, the perfect loudspeaker, which makes as much sense as thinking there’s a perfect nose.

I paired the Duo with three integrated amplifiers—the recently reviewed, and stunning, Audia Flight FLS 10, the review sample Fezz Audio Alfa Lupi, and my Leben CS600. 200, 10, and about 32 Watts of output power into 8 Ohm respectively. Sources included the review totaldac d1-untiy DAC paired with the Auralic ARIES G1.1 Streamer, now a permanent Barn resident, and the Michell Gyro SE/TecnoArm 2/Ortofoon 2M Black combo mated to the Schiit Mani Phono Stage. All cable was from AudioQuest and all gear was plugged into the AQ Niagara 3000 power conditioner.

Knowing what I know about Gunny’s taste in music and Sonner Audio’s stated goals from their website, the Legato Duo make perfect sense because they sound at once completely unhyped, natural, and as rich, deep, and delicate as the music they reproduce. Any kind of music. This translates into a listening experience that is wonderfully relaxed yet as deeply rewarding as our time and attention can muster. Once the music was flowing through the Legato Duo, they transformed into a giant doorway onto an endless sound world with music as architect.

One of the most delightful pieces of music I know, Marie-Luise Hinrichs playing Soler: Sonatas has been a go-to cherished treasure ever since it was released by EMI Classics in 1999 (I could not find that version on any streaming service—for shame!). When I want to disappear from this world and float in beauty for over an hour, Hinrichs’ Soler always holds the ticket. The CD’s liner notes tell us that Soler’s sonatas have their roots in Spanish folk music, which to my mind accounts for their magical quality (I tend to equate folk art with magic. See Bill Traylor). With the Legato Duo powered by the Leben CS600, my favorite amplification partner among the three amps I paired them with, this presentation sounded as if I was seated performance-close to Hinrichs, a product of the recording for sure but also a product of the Duo’s transparency onto the recorded event. I’ve certainly heard speakers with more upper register bite but my preference is for the Duo’s more burnished glow that still captures the glint sparking off Hinrichs’ right hand along with the increasing weight and reverberant power found further down the keyboard. Rich, delicate, and nimble, I felt as if a human performance was taking place in Barn as opposed to a dramatic interpretation of one, heightened for effect. Bravo!

The Legato Duo also create a very tangible sense of the space of the recording by completely stepping aside, sound-source wise, and they love presenting singers in dimensional form out front. From Cat Stevens (as he was then called) on “How Can I Tell You” from Tea For The Tillerman, to Lana Del Ray’s “Dealer” from Blue Banisters, to Aldous Harding’s movie in a song “Party” from the album of the same name, the Duo caressed each singer’s voice, rendering them with dimensional force and form along with the accompanying musicians.

I had the pleasure of seeing Harding perform a few years ago in Chicago on the last night of Axpona in a very small bar/club. It was snowing, hard, and a Sunday night which I imagine kept many people at home, so I was able to stand as close to the stage as was my wont. So I got real close. All to say, I’ve heard Harding sing and while “The Party” was completely captivating through the Duos, it wasn’t the same kind of experience as standing in a bar/club in Chicago a few feet from the performance. But this should come as no surprise seeing as we’re talking about very different kinds of experiences and Harding’s live version of “The Party” was not an exact replica of what was captured in the recording studio. How could it be? Which is why I appreciate Sonner’s stated goal of bringing us closer to the sensation of live music.

I took this Polaroid of Harding after the show

I’m always puzzled over the notion of being faithful to the recording, as if everyone has access to some original recorded event in its most pristine form (whatever that is). One sordid stepchild of this belief being the idea that “bad recordings should sound bad!” as if fidelity necessarily brings some amount of pain. We need to suffer for the sins of poor recording engineers. The way I hear, it makes much more happy sense to be faithful to the emotive powers of music, the sensation, which gets us off the road to the Best well before the final exit and tends to offer the surer path to enjoyment. As David Foster Wallace warned, Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. Worship the Best, and you end up never being in or enjoying the moment, always chasing that Best carrot dangling just out of reach.

Of all the Einstürzende Neubauten albums, 1992’s Tabula Rasa is among their most generous, mixing the band’s usual sonic onslaught with moments of real beauty. There’s also gobs of atmosphere, the telltale Neubauten klang and sturm courtesy of F.M. Einheit and N.U. Unruh’s percussion and the Legato Duo feel right at home representing the entire spectacle with Blixa’s manic vocals and Anita Lane’s seductive crooning on “Blume” feeling manifest in Barn. Space is really the place here, with sounds of all shapes, sizes, and sources echoing off into the distance and the Legato Duo unraveled every last beautiful nuance from blast to silence with exacting precision yet never sounding artificially enhanced. This is the kind of sound I can easily fall into and forget that its source is anything but the music at hand.

Perhaps contrary to assumed rules of partnering, the Legato Duo loved, loved, the super powerful Audia Flight FLS 10 and its 200/380/700 (8/4/2 Ohm) Watts of drive. As I mentioned in the FLS 10 review, this Italian integrated produced some prodigious bass from every partner and the Duo’s were no exception. That being said, my guess is the Audia Flight FLS 9 would do the same kinda trick for a bit less money and with a bit less power.

Speaking of power, the Fezz Audio Alfa Lupi Integrated Amplifier offers a whopping 10 Watts from its quad of PCL86 tubes and it also made a convincing case as a legitimate Duo partner using its 4 Ohm taps. While the little amp from Poland could not match the Audia Flights brutish control, it lit up the Duo with the combo sounding nimble, quick, and a bit juicier with tone colors sounding a bit more saturated. As I mentioned, the Leben CS600 proved to offer the perfect middle ground for my tastes, part brute part dancer, but this is certainly a matter of personal preference. The more interesting takeaway is the Legato Duo offer their owner a very open field of potential amplification partners. Choice, is good.

The Legato Duo also have very good off-axis appeal. During a typical work day, I move around in the Barn photographing gear, performing shipping and receiving duties, and ideally making art. The latter sometimes calls for a step back away from the bar I use as art-making workspace and it’s during these times that I can tune back in to whatever music is playing. And one thing I’ve found is some speakers/systems sound better off-off-axis than others, the worst case scenario being a hollowed out sound that’s bereft of full scale weight. The Legato Duo simply sounded farther away, retaining all of their positive sonic qualities. I mention this for those people who also move around their listening/living room while playing music.

The Legato Duo are also full range for my musical tastes which rarely live below the bottom end of a keyboard. Sure, some music I enjoy is produced by electronics that reach further down than a piano’s lowest “C”, church organ music aside (I do love Kali Malone), but the Duo’s claimed 37Hz extension gave me enough of Raime’s deepest growls from “Coax” to keep me happy and engaged and acoustic bass from piano and strings were rendered with convincing weight and heft, especially when the Audi Flight FLS 10 was doing the driving.

The Sonner Audio Legato Duo delivered everything I want from a loudspeaker with three very different amplifiers, offering reproduced music that was capable of seduction, wonder, grace, and ease. Getting to know the Legato Duo turned out to feel like getting reacquainted with an old friend, as their way with any kind of music allows the music itself to become the sole concern.

1. I needed a reminder and here’s part of Gunny’s response:

This is my favorite Tchaikovsky Violin concerto (top left) among my other 16 different albums of Tchaikovsky Violin concerto. Vadim Repin, the violinist, recorded 3 times with 3 different conductors. I like his performance paired with conductor Valery Gergiev although the recording is little bit bright. From my point of view, Valery did a great job in setting up the pace, build the momentum leading it to explosive passage. I feel the orchestra represents the boldness/authority of Russia and Vadim playing the violin to convey the lyrical and graceful human side of Tchaikovsky.

Sonner Audio Legato Duo Floorstanding Loudspeaker
Price: $9500/pair
Company Website: Sonner Audio


System: 2.5 way bass ported enclosure

Tweeter: 1 inch Ring radiator tweeter
Mid Woofer: 5.5 inch coated Paper cone
Mid Woofer: 6 inch custom design Aluminum cone

Sensitivity: 90dB
Frequency Response: 37 Hz – 23 K Hz
Nominal Impedance: 4 Ohm
Minimum impedance: 3.8 Ohm
Crossover Frequency: 200 and 2.5 K Hz
Recommended Power Amplifier: 10 W to 300 W
Speaker Dimensions for Individual Speaker: 15″ Width x 26.7″ Depth x 43.4″ Height | 38cm W x 68cm D x 110cm H
Package Dimensions for Individual Speaker: 18 1/8″ Width x 31 1/8″ Depth x 46″ Height  | 46.04cm W x 79.06cm D x 116.8cm H
Net Weight: 65 lbs | 26.5 kg
Shipping Weight: 80 lbs | 36 kg