Bassheads fall in! The Legato will shake you to your bones!
In a sea of weekly Harman sidegrade IEMs and their copycats, bonafide basshead tunings are as rare as a blue moon. The 7Hz Legato we will evaluate today flaunt a specialist bassy tonality that is a throwback to the massive tub-thumping floor speakers of bygone days.
- Solid build, exemplary ergonomics
- Natural timbre in the midrange and treble
- Specialist unique basshead tuning
- Smooth and non-fatiguing
- Quite coherent despite big bass on tap
- Not the most technical set
- Niche tuning may not be compatible with some genres, like classical
- May be too colored for purists
The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes the term “Legato” (li-ˈgä-(ˌ)tō) as: “in a manner that is smooth and connected (as between successive tones).”
Let’s check if the Legato IEMs are truly as smooth as silk. Given their bassy predilection, should the Legato have been christened “basso profondo” instead?
7Hz was formed in 2018. The 7Hz moniker is eponymous with the Theta Wave, a frequency linked to meditation and harmony. This ideal is always at the forefront of their tuning, with their projects aiming to propel the listener to audio nirvana.
7Hz ushered in the planar craze of 2022 with the original Timeless. Subsequent luminaries in their planar stable were released, namely the Dioko – a collaboration with famed reviewer Crinacle – and the Timeless AE.
Most ChiFI aficionados should also be familiar with the 7Hz Salnotes Zero, one of the hobby’s most recommended introductory sets, which boast a mind-boggling price-to-performance ratio!
- Form: IEMs
- Drivers: dual 12mm and 6mm diamond-like carbon (DLC) composite diaphragm dynamic drivers
- Impedance (Ohm): 26Ω
- Sensitivity (dB): 108dB/V
- Frequency Response (Hz): 10Hz – 20kHz
- Removable Cable: Y
- Cable: silver-plated Ohno continuous casting (OCC) + OCC cable
- Source Plug: 3.5 mm
- Cup/Shell Plug: 0.78 mm 2-pin
In the box
- 7Hz Legato IEMs
- 5 pairs of wide-bore silicone ear tips
- 3 pairs of narrow-bore silicone ear tips
- Spare filters/nozzles
Besides a lack of foam tips, the accessory spread is quite premium for something retailing near the USD$100 price point. I’ve definitely seen similarly priced competitors with way fewer goodies.
The stock narrow-bore tips increase bass and compress the soundstage a tinge, whereas the wide-bore ones boost the higher-end and expand the soundstage.
It would behoove the reader to explore the various tips on offer (or even to use one’s aftermarket tips) to see what suits you in terms of sonics, comfort, fit, and isolation.
The stock cable is a silver-plated OCC and OCC wire that is well-braided and tangle-free. A cable cinch provides stability during usage. There’s, unfortunately, a smattering of microphonics.
7Hz has provided a rigid and cavernous PVC zipper case. It looks tough enough to withstand compressive forces, with the innards lined with a soft material to protect its contents.
The company has also included some spare nozzles and filters – a very nice touch. This is especially useful if one needs to replace these components, especially if moisture or debris accumulates, or even for DIY curiosity projects.
The Legato are fashioned from aviation-grade aluminum through computer numerical control (CNC) machining. Headlining a futuristic silver hue, the Legato housings are very solid.
I’m pleased that the shells have 2-pin connectors, as MMCX ones may weaken with frequent cable swaps.
The housings are teardrop shaped and are on the larger side, both in nozzle length and shell size. Surprisingly, ergonomics are top-notch, and I had no comfort issues despite using them for longer listening sessions.
I did not find driver flex on my pair, but this may depend on the ear tips used and your ear anatomy.
In keeping with 2023’s trend of dual dynamic drivers, the Legato contain 12mm and 6mm DLC composite diaphragm dynamic drivers.
The 12mm woofer (utilizing an N52 magnet) gives a well-extended sub-bass. The smaller rigid 6mm dual-cavity tweeter covers the midrange and treble. These two drivers employ a crossover fashioned from eight Japanese tantalum capacitors to ensure accurate division of the frequencies, thus contributing to robust sonic performance.
7Hz Legato Sound
The Legato are moderately easy to drive. They scale with power – amplification adds dynamics and soundstage, and tightens bass.
The Legato may come across as murky and veiled if underpowered, so they are optimally paired with something with more juice than an average smartphone.
The Legato are unashamedly V-shaped, and are a pair for our basshead brethren.
As such, the Legato have a better symbiosis with brighter, or at least neutral, sources. Pairing the Legato with bassy or overly warm sources can muddy this frequency band. However, as with all subjective things, diehard bassheads may want even moaaaaaaaaar bass, so YMMV!
With a massive 14dB bass shelf, the Legato’s sub-bass extends extremely deep and delivers a mammoth rumble that can rattle the jaw.
Sub-bass frequencies (< 60Hz) are generally better felt than heard, and the Legato is highly impactful in this region, with vibrations filtering down to the chest! This is especially evident when bassy tracks come out to play.
Listening to bass-forward music genres like EDM or hip-hop is a real joy, with the Legato mimicking subwoofers in providing a huge growl, adding lots of fun and color to the music.
Surprisingly, bass speed is moderately fast for such copious bass, with average texturing. Inevitably, there’s some degree of mid-bass bleed, though I’ve encountered more nebulous IEMs with lesser bass than the Legato.
Bass is definitely the star of the show. Bassheads rejoice!
In keeping with the V-shaped profile, the lower midrange is depressed relative to the gigantic bass. The mid-bass bleed warms this area and adds heft to the note weight, though admittedly, the Legato’s midrange isn’t the most crystal-clear.
Having said that, the Legato are quite well-behaved when required to be, as the midrange still has some room to breathe, in contrast to the graphs suggesting that the bass will overwhelm all other frequencies.
The upper mids have a slight boost, but this region is not shouty and is very non-fatiguing.
The Legato have a 6 – 7kHz spike which adds some clarity to the lower treble, and thankfully, this area is quite sibilant-free and not too strident (if not used at overly loud volumes). Granted, the Legato are not the airiest or most sparkly set, but our treble-sensitive friends should be quite at home with the tuning.
All things considered, the Legato agnomen is validly applied – being “smooth and connected” in between notes – as there isn’t much incoherence of a slower bass being incompatible with a lightning-quick treble.
Timbral accuracy is organic for vocals and acoustic instruments in the upper registers, though the bass frequencies are unquestionably colored.
The Legato are not a technical tour de force and are just middling in this department. The soundstage width is decent, though height and depth are average. Imaging is fuzzy, with micro-details and clarity not class-leading. Instrument separation is acceptable, though music can get congested with complex or competing riffs.
The Legato are more analog-sounding than analytical.
We will compare the Legato against other DD types that retail around USD$100. Planars, hybrids, and pure BA IEMs are omitted, as the different transducer types have their own pros and cons.
Vs. TFZ No. 3
The TFZ No. 3 are another basshead’s delight, sporting a V-shaped profile with immense bass reverberations.
In this battle for bass supremacy, the No. 3 have less bass quantity. Bass quality is also inferior on the TFZ No. 3, as these are less textured and have a more obvious mid-bass bleed. Sadly, the No. 3 are very shouty in the upper midrange, unlike the smoother Legato.
In technicalities, the No. 3 are a step behind, with deficient soundstage, micro-details, and instrument separation. Timbre is also more artificial on the No. 3.
The TFZ No. 3 are hissy with sources with poorly-implemented noise floor design due to a high sensitivity, which isn’t the case with the Legato.
Vs. Tripowin Olina SE
Not to be mixed up with the original Olina, which users found shouty, the Olina SE sequel have a tamer upper midrange/lower treble, though with a compromise of lesser resolution and a smaller soundstage compared to the first iteration.
The Olina SE have markedly less bass, though the upper midrange is more forwards, with a more extended treble. The Olina SE are tuned Harman-like and sound more “reference” than the effervescent Legato.
The Olina SE are definitely ahead when it comes to technical proficiency, with a more expansive soundstage, better micro-details, imaging, and instrument separation heard. Bass is also tighter and cleaner on the Olina SE, though they are less enjoyable with bass-forward music.
The Olina siblings may suffer from moisture buildup on their nozzle filters, leading to intermittent sound cut-out; this is a common bugbear on audio forums and social media. Thankfully, I did not encounter this issue with the Legato.
Vs. DUNU KIMA
The KIMA are a Harman-esque single DD; they have less bass but a more pronounced upper midrange.
Timbre is slightly less natural on the KIMA. The KIMA fall short in technical chops, with poorer soundstage, imaging, and instrument separation. However, the KIMA have more clarity, albeit this is a function of the boosted upper midrange.
Where to Buy
The Legato are a basshead’s dream, bringing flamboyant chest-rumbling lower frequencies to the table.
Despite the bounteous bass quantity, the Legato are not inordinately muddy, and the augmented bass is an absolute guilty pleasure for head-banging fun. Undeniably, the tuning is reminiscent of old-school speakers, which pack a walloping punch, letting party-goers dance the night away!
Meghan Trainor might profess that it’s “All About That Bass,” and indeed, one may conclude that the Legato are a one-trick pony. Thankfully, this set is unusually courteous, and the bass does not overly intrude into the midrange and treble, so there’s still adequate clarity coupled with competent coherence.
Timbre is a stand-out in the higher frequencies, and the Legato are relatively sedate in these regions, areas where many competitors overzealously boost to the point of fatigue.
When it comes to technical prowess, the Legato are not the sharpest tool in the shed, but they eschew a sterile and analytical soundscape for something more visceral and musically gratifying.
At the end of the day, basshead transducers are somewhat of a niche proposition. For purists yearning for an unobtrusive neutral bass, or those listening to genres such as classical, you may find the Legato not your cup of tea.
There’s no question that bassheads should get this pair. But how about other recalcitrant IEM connoisseurs with a drawer full of IEMs?
Pure basshead pairs are few and far between, so the Legato are a breath of fresh air amongst the usual Harman suspects. Instead of collecting more side grades, consider whipping these puppies out when the time calls for bassy ebullience!