Penon Legend

ian91

1000+ Head-Fier
Penon Legend - Where Musicality and Technicality Meet
Pros: Competes above its price point
Warm and musical mid-centric tuning that’s not often executed well
Standout 3D imaging
Excellent soundstage (with burn-in)
Conveys tonal detail brilliantly
Included cable is very good quality and pairs well
Tuning switches do offer a degree of versatility
Cons: Bass impact may be too soft for some
Driver configuration:
4 Sonion open-hole BA – bass
4 Sonion intermediate frequency BA – midrange
4 Sonion high frequency BA – treble
1 Knowles ultra-high frequency BA – treble

20-20kHz range, 112dB sensitivity, 19ohm impedance

Three tuning switches:
1: high frequency control
2: atmosphere control
3: low frequency control

Source: Shanling M8 (4.4mm, low gain)

Burn-in: 100 hours

Cable: stock (high-purity silver, 4 share high) / Tips: stock gray-green silicone tips

Genres tested: world music, jazz, OST, electronic, ambient, folk, metal

The Legend was purchased at a discounted price in exchange for my honest opinion. Penon Audio have not had sight or say on the content of this review. All opinions are my own.

The Penon Legend can be purchased here.

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Preamble

There’s no denying in the recent months I’ve become a Penon Audio convert and their 1DD 2BA Globe has stolen my heart. Penons tunings are refinement of a similar theme across various driver configurations. They value expression and romanticism but seem quite good at achieving balance along the way. Although my tastes are, to a degree, flexible, I know my preferences lie in those IEMs that open up the midrange in detail, bring it forward in presence and lean towards the warmer side of the spectrum with a solid tactile bass to support it and good definition in the lower treble. I’m not an ‘air-head’ but I do however, like enough atmosphere and room for instruments to breathe. This was well exemplified in the Globe.

If I had to choose between ‘musicality’ or ‘technicality’ – which is often the choice presented to buyers these days - I would choose ‘musicality’ every time. I want something that plays to the strengths of the musicians I’m listening to and expresses the dynamism and emotion in their performance. I very rarely seek neutral, flat or dry and coherence and accurate timbre are a must.

When I found out that Penon had a new flagship coming I was immediately interested. When I saw that it was 13BAs I was immediately concerned. When I saw that 12 of these BAs were TOTL Sonion drivers I was slightly reassured. It was a bit of a whirlwind! My past experiences with all-BA IEMs have not been especially successful. In the distant past I had a prolonged demo of the QDC Anole VX. It was my first real exposure to ‘TOTL’. I could not get on with it. At the time I didn’t know what my preferred signature looked like or why I didn’t like it but it just didn’t seem to have a heart that I could fall in love with. It was technically proficient but it wasn’t connecting me to the music. I didn’t end up purchasing it and ever since then I’ve leant towards hybrids or single DD transducers, avoiding all-BAs due to a naïve subconscious fear that they all carry the same inspiration.

Fast forward to over a year later and reassured by my trust in the tuners at Penon, I had the Legend in front of me. Full of nerves when putting them in for the first time, I pressed the play button…read on to find out how it went!

Accessories & Packaging

Accessories and packaging are great with this one. A nice zipper case and an assortment of tips – silicone, foam, Comply-like etc, wide bore, narrow bore etc – you’ve got them all! The blue foams are actually quite good and I wouldn’t mind purchasing some more. There’s also a cable shirt clip, a leatherette cable tie, a cleaning tool and a small tool to manipulate the tuning switches.

The standout part is the included cable. A beautifully made ultra-purity 4 share silver cable with great accessories/connectors. It is tied in a loose braid that keeps the cable relaxed and supple. It’s not especially heavy either which is nice. It feels expensive and very premium. Penon are primarily known for their excellent cables and it’s no different here. Aesthetically its great. Sonically it’s even better. As a ‘cable believer’ I played with various other materials paired with the Legend and the included cable (called Penon Flow) has the best detail retrieval and digs deep for as much of the technical information as possible (e.g. soundstage/layering etc). It’s a great pairing and I don’t find any reason to cable roll. The only negative is that the chin slider finds it difficult to travel and needs a lot of encouragement. Having said all of this, I have also heard great things about the Legend and Penon Storm pairing (Penons new TOTL cable) that may be worth looking into, as this IEM was built with consideration for the properties of that cable too.

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Design, Build, Fit and Comfort

The typography of the Legend is very Penon i.e. bold! A gold/orange font on an all-black background with carbon fibre detailing beneath. It’s quite a sleek look overall. The IEMs themselves have a reasonable weight to them, alluding to the amount of tech inside. They feel very solid. The shell is well contoured and comfortable. It has a small rear vent for the BA woofers and despite this vent, the isolation is above average from my experience. The shell has some depth to it, a necessity to fit all the drivers in, and a long nozzle. It sits well in my small-average ears, any bigger at it would be an issue. I size down on tips to get a deeper fit. Please see picture for relative comparisons of size with the other IEMs I have.

Left to right: UM 3DT, Penon LEGEND, Penon Globe, Oriolus Isabellae. The LEGEND is quite deep to the shoulder as you can see and has a longer nozzle, but not especially wide when compared to the 3DT (i.e. from antitragus to helix crus/cymba).

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Sound

The Legend comes with several tuning settings as below.

Switch PositionManufacturer Description
100High Hz enhanced
023Low Hz enhanced
123Full Frequency enhanced
000Vocal
003Balance
020Atmosphere enhanced
120Transparent atmosphere
103Transparent balance

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000 above
123.png

123 above

The frequency graphs are sourced from Penon and represent 000 and 123 settings. The most impactful change is heard with the low frequency switch (3) and the atmosphere switch (2). The low frequency switch giving the Legend a hefty bass lift across the board and the atmosphere switch seeming to place midrange further back through a frequency change I’ve yet to pin down.

The listening impressions below are on the 020 switch setting that I have veered towards since purchase. With this setting the majority of my music library is covered.

Bass – speedy, dynamic, pleasant impact, on 020 quantity and quality is well balanced, extends well into sub bass frequencies on 003

I should preface that apart from Traillii (now sold), and the historic VX demo, all my daily drivers are DD for bass frequencies. So the transition to BA bass here was quite an abrupt change.

My impressions within the first 10 minutes were that the bass was decidedly average in its quality but did have a very good balance with the rest of the FR. I was struggling to perceive fine texture in bass notes and I could appreciate some smearing of detail. Thankfully this disappeared over the course of a dozen or so hours after which I was treated to a very capable low end.

You can tell there are two dual BA woofers in these, they move a serious amount of air when needed, especially with switch 3 activated. It can produce more than enough rumble and impact for my tastes. Attack isn’t as abrupt or controlled as DD bass and this softens the leading edge of notes and provides a softer impact (more appreciable if switch 3 is off) but sustain and decay are very natural and does justice to world/classical/folk/acoustic music that I listen to. The bass has a lighter body compared to DD but not doesn’t feel weightless or detract from my enjoyment.

The advantage of having this BA bass is shorter potential sustain and quicker decay. It keeps up with the multi-layered bass of busy electronic tracks and it does this with ease. It handles all my library on switch setting 020 with this being my preferred setting for all genres, including electronic/ambient/DnB. With the bass switch engaged things become especially fun and engaging for short, sweet bursts. However, in my opinion this setting is less balanced and some texture is lost as quantity is increased.

Midrange – forward, highly resolving, warm and buttery smooth, no shout or sibilance

If you know and love other Penon IEMs then the chances are this is what you’re here for and to skip straight to the point – this is crème de la crème of midranges that I have heard in IEMs. Smooth but not veiled, forward but not aggressive, transparent but at the same time embodied. The midrange is more forward than all of my other IEMs, both past and present, and that took some adjusting to but following that brief adjustment you start to understand why they are tuned the way they are.

The Legend wants to give you the midrange on a platter, well supported by the bass (020) and treble but unapologetically serving it up with as much space, imaging and detail that 4 Sonion BA can muster. It makes vocals a joy to listen to and the vast majority of instrumental music feels well ‘explored’ with fundamental and harmonic detail, no stone is left unturned and it manages it without feeling clinical. Male and female vocals sit happily at either end of the spectrum, well defined and unobstructed. Vocals and instruments have a warm hue and feel organic thanks to a healthy midbass bump. This IEM is definitely midcentric and it nails what it sets out to do.

The midrange alone is a selling point for this set but not the only thing the Legend has going for it. As I’ll mention later the tuning of the midrange is supported by incredible technicalities. Given that the tuning is very forward the psychoacoustic effect on presentation is that it feels intimate (but still extending beyond ear). Despite the intimacy the space occupied by the sound is very large and is incredibly dimensional, being far from flat and overwhelming. The midrange is presented with great height and depth in space and this produces a realistic and palpable image. These qualities further improve with burn-in that became noticeable beyond 50 hours of use, or thereabouts.

Treble – excellent definition, no vocal sibilance, some might want more air

The treble here is well tuned and not dull with plenty of definition and detail throughout the whole range. It is far from bright or edgy but gives you all the clarity you could want. There is no sibilance in sight. Some listeners (especially those not familiar with Penon house sound) might want more air but I found it suited my tastes as, once again, the underlying tuning is supported by technicalities that act to enhance the sense of space anyway. The treble takes a backseat to the midrange but does its job really well, allowing the midrange to shine and decorating the sound with definition and elements of detail while continuing the overarching theme of warm musicality that Penon do so well.

Technicalities

Soundstage – the sound stage was initially quite deceiving (and slightly disappointing). With the forward midrange it was harder to appreciate the totality of the space. Over time (about 50 hours) the midrange fell further back, whether by brain or driver burn-in, and soundstage truly opened up. Listening to Yosi Horikawa ‘Crossing’ there is no denying how large the stage is. There is great lateral extension and I was particularly impressed by the height. Forward projection is less impressive (as with most IEMs I’ve heard) but still good. Soundscapes and ambient are truly enveloping. Llyr’ Biome release is a good example of soundscapes, in this case captured from jungle field recordings. On the Legend you can hear birds/bats etc in the trees/caves above your head. From slightly disappointing OOTB to exceptional, it was quite a whirlwind ride with a definite ‘bedding in’ period.

Imaging, Instrument Separation & Layering – imaging was excellent out of the box and as close to ‘holographic’ as I have experienced on my IEM journey so far. There is true dimension to sound on all axes. Instrument separation isn’t the strongest at this price point, owed to the large size of its centre image, the more intimate forward projection and underlying midrange emphasis. However, all elements can be identified as distinct and it doesn’t become congested or incoherent with great layering and sense of space. I don’t consider the Legends instrument separation to be a weakness as it copes with all of my music library with no loss of enjoyment. As example, in my experience with the MEST MKII it had excellent instrument separation on the soundstage but this felt overemphasised creating space that most music could not fill – and this did detract from my enjoyment.

Timbre – Instrument timbre was a big concern for me going into this purchase. What would an all BA set up sound like? Would it be ‘natural’ enough for me or would it have the dreaded metallic or plastic timbre of some BA IEMs? Thankfully, my worries were unfounded. The midrange and treble has excellent instrument timbre thanks to an astute tuning and choice of drivers. There is a light touch to note weight that I attribute to BA drivers but attack, sustain, resonance/decay are all great here. I am usually more sensitive to the timbre of BA bass that can rob instruments of life. The Legend does have the character of BA bass in its softer attack but it’s far from egregious in this respect and has a very natural tail end decay. With the third switch on (003 – low frequency enhanced) BA bass characteristics are more noticeable hence why I’ve stuck with 020 in most instances.

Conclusion

I went into this with a fear of multi-BA IEMs, after a long streak of DD/hybrid purchases, and largely driven by the allure of better technicalities often seen in multi-BA sets…did I find what I was after? Yes. Undoubtedly. The Legend is where technicality and musicality meet. None of my other sets have achieved this balancing act as well as the Legend does. It is not a perfect IEM (is there such a thing?) - I still miss the DD bass – but the fact I’m willing to sacrifice that at every turn is proof enough for me that the Legend does so much right and so very little wrong.

Penon have made an very strong value statement to the kilobuck market. The Legend is a contender that exceeds, at least in sheer personal enjoyment, others at this price point. Penon know what they do best and they have executed well. If you’re looking a versatile IEM that can handle your library with equal measures of technical proficiency and musical romanticism, the Legend should be on your radar.

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KickAssChewGum
KickAssChewGum
Great review!
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Dsnuts

Headphoneus Supremus
Penon Legend + Storm
Pros: 12 higher end Sonion BAs + 1 Knowles BA per housing in a solid semi custom all resin design. Comes with a premium custom made $300 pure silver cable. Good selection of tips and a case that is usable. Highly refined dimensional Penon house sound. Legends comes sold separately from their counterpart the flagship Storm cables giving the enthusiast a choice. 3 tuning switches that slightly enhances 3 parts of the sound on the Legends. Atmospheric center switch enhances stage. Switch one for trebles. Switch 3 for bass.
Cons: Expensive but arguably better value than flagship counterparts from other brands.
Penon Legend + Storm
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I am sure you all know Penon audio by now. If not, you will start to see more and more chatter about their goods on headfi. Penon makes some of the best true value audio goods for the sound hobbyist. If you visit their site not only do they have audio goods from leading manufacturers and the big players in all of audio but they carry their own brands. ISN and Penon on their web site.

A bit of an insight into Penon the company. If you have ever bought anything from their site they will have you on their mailing list and unlike that annoying insurance company that keeps sending you reminders to sign up for their services. Penon come Holiday season, you might see a nice card from Hong Kong from Penon. You remember your best friend from High school that promised they will forever be your friend that never send you a Christmas card. You have family members that don’t send you Christmas cards. But Penon does. This little gesture is from the very person that makes some of the best value audio goods in all of audio land. The Christmas card is an extension of how much these folks pay attention to their patrons. One year I got a scarf from them. “Well that's because you review for them?” No I don’t think so Poindexter. This was way before I was doing any reviews of Penon goods. Honest abe. Back to the intro, how many scarfs does your favorite earphone company send you? Ya that's what I thought.
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This is a company that is in tune with what drives enthusiasts to be in the hobby. It comes down to making some of the best you can get for personal audio. Case in point their new Legend flagship IEM. If you haven’t tried a Penon made IEM I highly suggest you give them a go. It doesn't matter if you're getting their intro model, the single BA Spheres to the 13 BA flagship in the Legend. These guys are master tuners of earphones. Sound soothsayers folks that are seasoned vets at the earphone game way longer than you think. Even before Penon was an entity. Something like the Legend is not made overnight and they certainly are not something you can pick out of a catalogue. There is a history of workmanship and know-how involved in using 13 high precision BAs in a housing to come up with a sound that continually gets better and better with each new earphone these folks make.
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Last year they introduced their Tribrid flagship the Volts and even today they arguably hold their own against some of the very best in the industry. So how to top the Volts? The all BA design is not really exotic, but something that has been established through the years. I am sure you have seen plenty of BA earphone designs in the industry but it comes down to how all them BAs are manipulated, configured and tuned to come up with a sound Penon would call a new flagship. The one aspect I appreciated about their earphones is that they have a tuning philosophy, a house sound they stick to which shows direction and a dedication to a certain type and level of sound design to meet their goals.

Standardly disclaimers: I agreed to a reviewers discount for the Legend and the Storm. 12 higher end Sonion BAs and a Knowles BA cost money and likewise the gold, copper, palladium and silver material of their Storm cable cost money. As they say you gotta pay to play. I did get an early version however to give you the news about them. You can purchase a Legend for you here and the Storm cables here.
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This review will have two parts, the initial review here is all about the Legend and what to expect. Then the last part of the review here will be about what the Legend sounds like with Penons new flagship cables, the Storms. Since these two items were created with each other in mind I feel it is important to relay to you what to expect here.

So there is the trend among higher end audio that whether you like it or not forces you to buy a very expensive cable to go along with their flagship earphones and of course you figure you're gonna get some type of discount or a cheaper pack in deal. But not really. We are looking at $4K-$6K plus kilobuck earphones and will these folks part ways with the cable to give you the decision to spend on that particular cable? The answer is not really. You don’t get to make that choice. It is an all or nothing type of deal.
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How about giving the end user a choice? Penon is releasing these two items separately and it was like that when they released their Totem cable and the Volts. They never force you to spend the cost of that earphone on an equally expensive cable and then force you to get both at the same time. This does two things. For one it lets you get the Legend by itself. Or it lets you buy the cable unto itself. If you can afford one and not the other. Get the one with the most impact here. Obviously it will be the Legend. I can argue the cable might be worth getting for your other earphones but the cable does not make any sounds. At least it shouldn't.
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If you feel you want the absolute top end version of the Legend and would like to support master craftsmen at what they do and feel $1200 for a flagship cable is pocket change in the higher end audio world scheme of things. The Legend and the Storm together is what the intended sound Penon was going for. Will have more to say about this pairing toward the bottom of the review. And likewise I will have a separate review just for the Storm cable. If Penon is gonna give you a choice, so will I. You can always skip the Storm pairing portion. That my friends will be up to you.

So how is the Legend without the Storm cable? Excellent actually. You're not getting a half baked earphone that absolutely requires a $1200 cable to sound optimal. In fact most of my review here will be all about what the Legend and how it sounds with the included cable which has a name unto its own. The Flow.
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What you get with the Legend is mostly standard fare; 2 sets of silicone tips,a set of blue colored foams and a pair of what looks like a set of comply foams in medium size. You get their familiar Penon zip up case, a cleaning tool and a switch tool complete the accessories. What separates the Legend from Penon’s previous offerings is a new custom one off handmade higher end pure silver cable to go along with the Legend.
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The cable itself utilizes thicker silver cores covered with a dark blue nylon sleeving. The looser twisted weave makes them look rope-like this in turn makes them look and feel premium. Very pliable, no noodling or stiffness to the cables, the cable does a great job synergizing with the Legends. It is most definitely not your garden variety throw in cable Penon has included with the Legend. As of writing the Legend cable, the Flow can be purchased separately on their website here.

Onto the sound. Sound decriptions with all 3 swtiches on.
Legends has been scrutinized by yours truly using my new Ibasso DX300Max, Fiio M15, Shanling M6pro, M5s, M3s, Ibasso DX160, Sony ZX300 custom firmware, Pioneer XDP-30r, IBasso PB3 and IFI Black Label for amping. A weeks worth of burn in was done before evaluating.
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Legends have a wider, deeper and taller dimensional stage for earphones. It is the first thing to hit your hearing senses when you hear them. They throw out a larger, well rounded holographic canvas of sound your hearing. Its sound stage dimensions are ideal for a flagship product and it has a stage presentation that is difficult for most IEMs to achieve. I noticed when looking at the nozzle mesh there are 4 distinct holes in the front end of the nozzle.Which means it is using 4 sound tubes connected to their respective drivers that emanate the part of the sound it was taxed with. This design gives a nice clean separation of the 3 zones of the sound tuning. This comes into play especially when you're taxing a lot of drivers.

To be more precise it is using a 4 crossovers, 4 sound tube design, utilizing;. 4 BA or 2X Dual Sonion acupass vented woofers, 4 intermediate Sonion BAs. 4 Sonion high frequency BAs, and 1 Knowles for ultra highs. Then they added 3 tuning switches that give you 8 different slight tweaks for sound enhancements. All housed in high grade resin with a dark carbon fiber look to the plates with PENON LEGEND scribed in gold lettering on both shells. It has a venting out back for the bass element of the tuning. Isolation is a bit above average for all resin designs. Which means these will isolate better than most types of IEMs. Since it throws out a lot of sound elements to your ears I recommend your widest bored tips to bring out the full sound the Legends can do.
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Balancing of the Legend is a variation of the W shaped frequency design. This design has an enhanced tuning for dynamic shifts and a bit of an extra for bass, upper mids and treble. Which is accentuated a bit using the included switches or a combination thereof. This tuning is clearly made for music listening. It isn’t an analytical type of design, an overly bassy or a treble first design. In fact I have yet to see Penon make a neutral earphone. It isn’t in the Penon tuning philosophy.

But if you actually listen to music with your earphones. You will love how Penon tunes to enhance your music listening experience. Penon house sound has 3 distinct elements that show on all their monitors. Their tunings are all musical sounding with a richer organic tone, all their earphones have a larger wider stage with dimensional elements to the sound and lastly all of their monitors are balanced. The Legend represents the top Penon made earphone with all these elements and more.
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Its balancing has emphasis in all 3 parts of the sound regions but done tastefully to give you everything at once including some added atmosphere with the center switch. I have heard lesser earphones with a lot of BAs that throw out a wall of sound to try to make up for lack of imaging and detail. The Legend has way more in the way of sound sophistication for that. It has a high level of finesse and a dichotomy of contrasts, a tactile resolving ability and recreates an ideal listening environment for your favorite tracks with a huge variety of genres as it is awesomely versatile due to its fundamental balancing. You can tell Penon has laid the groundwork to clearly outdo their previous flagship the Volts with the Legends all BA design.

When you listen to your favorite vocalists. You don’t want to just hear them perform, you want to feel their emotions that come out during that performance, you want to hear all the little details, reverb from instruments that are weighty, when you hear bass infused music you want to hear that rumble and impact with speed and tightness. When you hear extended treble notes you want to get a good sense of air, proper shimmer, clarity and adaptable tonality associated with a well rounded treble end. When you get all three aspects together with a big large dimensional stage, you get the Legend.
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Legends 4 Sonion BAs working in unison for the mid bands gives the all important mids a sense of layering and imaging you're not going to get for too many earphones. Its technical ability is the best I have heard from a Penon made earphone. Sound separation, stage, detail, imaging, layering and timbre for using all BAs are top notch. Even better, its sound projection is all consuming to the point where you are immersed in a high quality sound production with a vast stage to pick apart all them fine details from your music. It is more than just the frontal mid and back part of the recording it gives a height and depth on top of it a dimensional sphere of sound with precision of exactly where the track was recorded within that space. It does this element much better than any other earphone I own.

A well rounded treble tuning. Means it has to be one part ability, another part proper tonality, extensive, rangy, shows superior transients, airy, a proper emphasis with balance in the region. These aspects can be great but too much too little or overly imbalanced and no matter how good the mids and bass are, can break an earphone sound tuning. On the Legend, treble enhances and plays an equal footing on the tuning. Treble is easy and clean to listen to due to a healthy dip in the 7Khz range.
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The Legend uses the most drivers for the treble tuning. 5 BAs in total. What this gets you is a full on complete treble end that has layers and dimensions to it just like the mids and bass. I noticed on certain tracks with clean recorded trebles in the track.

You can hear the treble reverb or decay that not only sound proper but actually trail off into a background or foreground you will not hear on much lesser earphones. Don’t know if you have ever heard dimensional treble but the Legend has it. Their treble detail is what separates the Legend treble with so many of my other earphones even my more expensive earphones don’t quite do. Micro details for trebles here are phenomenal. At the same time the actual emphasis relative to the sound balancing is not forced even with the treble enhancement switch.

I have heard so many earphones tune to over emphasize the trebles to make up for a lack of resolve or proper extension. The Legends don’t have this problem. You will hear every bit of that detail for the trebles regardless. Its tonality is another aspect I appreciate about the trebles of the Legend. You can make out exactly how much force a high hat note cymbal or something like a triangle that was used for percussive accents gets a proper tone and reverb effect based on what part of the triangle was hit and just how much force the musician applied in great detail. Any type of extra effect the sound engineer lays down for treble be it that little bit of extra sizzle or quicker dryer treble nuanced notes comes through as was intended. This range of ability and sound for the treble area is something I can appreciate as not too many earphones can do precision with that rangy tone and detail quite like the treble end of the Legend. For me the treble emphasis for the Legend hits a sweet spot of not too much and not too little in presence. Again balancing here was key to the Legend sound.
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Where the Legend truly shines is their mids presentation. It is tuned to be slightly upper mid forward but it is more how the mids are presented in layers that makes the Legend mids stand out. The mids tuning has what's called an atmosphere switch. When on it is like how the word is described. The sound has a certain airy flow, not to be confused with the cable it comes with, to the sound when combined with its top flight imaging. Don’t know too many mids presentations for earphones that do imaging much better. It isn’t that you just hear what's supposed to be in your recordings. You can hear it on different planes of sound and all around what you're hearing. Something a bit like them chesky directional recordings but no need for special recorded versions of your tunes.

With imaging this good you feel like you're sitting right there with the recording artist and his band, right there. You know you're hearing something special when you take out the Legend and then throw on what you thought was a good sounding earphone and it sounds flat and uninspired. It is unfortunate but since I do reviews for other brands and other earphones. This was the case almost every time after using the Legends. I have to reset and retrain my hearing after using the Legend. You get used to how immersive the sound is and then everything else just falls short.
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Dual accupass Sonion BAs are nothing new to the market but when utilized correctly they can do bass with an accurate tone and ability. The Legend uses two of them. This particular set of BAs need venting for its bass ability much like a true woofer does so the need for a vent out back of the Legend. The bass switch or number 3 it is called adds about 3 dbs of added bass from mid bass to sub bass.I am a bass fan so I do prefer the bass switch to be on but some will prefer the bass switch in the off position. Which gives a cleaner mids presentation. The switch aspects will be a matter of preference. The bass ability of the Sonion acupass vented woofer is intriguing on several fronts.
It recreates a solid bass performance with a proper tone and ability but does not have that physicality and texture of a well implemented dynamic. However this does not diminish how good the bass end is on the Legend. Bass tonality is very nicely represented and its definition much like the rest of the sounds are superb. It is bass genres that are the hardest to pull off correctly for an All BA set and I have to say the Legend did just fine in recreating a tactile full bass range from my bass tracks with no issues. Unless you're an absolute basshead and require at least 15dbs of the boomstick.
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The bass that is created with these Sonion drivers sounds complete and has very nice ability with a surprising natural sounding sub bass decay. Add the pure speed and tightness of the BA bass and you get a tight well represented bass end that completes the Legend sound. Just know that the bass emphasis here is on the moderate even with the bass switch on. If I was to nitpick about the Legends sound performance It could use a bit more sub bass presence but for what is there. It represents your bass tunes like a champ. Bass end seems to be more complimentary to the Legend sound signature more so than being featured.
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In the end.
The sound of the Legend is what happens when years of design and sound balancing come together to create the ideal sound signature for listening to music with. It has quickly become my most listened to earphone in my collection as it has an addictive quality to the sound that I don’t get with sets that cost way more. Penon house sound is full on with the Legend and I feel in using an all BA design Penon has really thrown out a masterwork of sound tuning that utilizes each BA to max potential in unison to get this sound quality.

I know the price tag is steep for such an earphone but I can argue the Legends are easily a better value than other brands so called flagships that include questionable tactics to raise the price tag on their flagships. As a consumer of earphones way before I was ever a reviewer. Having a choice here matters and if you're in the market to get the one earphone that will forever stay with you and give you years of enjoyment. I can’t think of a better earphone than the Legend.

Bonus Storm cable combination.
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What you read up to this point is all about the Legend, what to expect with their highly technical yet musical presentation is a higher end Penon sound, but what they really had in mind was with these cables. The Penon storm.

The cable itself is made of 4 different elements in cable land that all help enhance a base sound. Copper, silver, palladium and lastly a gold coating. There is a reason why this particular cable is Penons most expensive. It adds a tuning element that the base Legends does not have until it gets the Storm attached to it.

The cable itself comes in Penons wood box, The thicker weaved Penon Storm comes naturally twisted, fusing higher end materials. Gold copper palladium and silver. 4 Thicker cores. Each core contains 199 strands of the stuff. Gold plating over copper means it will be more copper in tuning vs a brighter silver or palladium mixed type cable.
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I will make one thing very clear though. I am a huge fan of the Penon Flow. I would say with the Flow some might actually prefer the Flow vs the Storms. They are that good. They enhance technicalities including stage, details and imaging on the Legend. It has a very nice higher end sound enhancing ability unto its own. For folks that got themselves a Storm cable you're essentially getting two different versions of the Legends. A bit more dryer sounding in comparison. It is not a dry sound per se but in comparison to the Storm it is.
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What the Storm does is adds that Penon richness to it. Penon IEM owners all know your earphones be it the Globe, Orbs, even the lucky folks that own a Sphere and how can I forget the rich mids on the Volts. Their most musical earphones to date.

You can’t be called the Flagship if there is no rich flavoring on that Penon sound. Going back to the Flow which is actually a cleaner presentation but sounds a touch on the plain and dry after using the Storm and legend. Hey we are talking about a $1200 cable to a $300 one. If you don't compare, that statement won't count. The good news there though is that once you get used to the Flow pairing. It is exactly like how I described the sound earlier. Which is not a bad thing at all.
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The gold plating element adds a richer darker tone from treble to bass. Copper helps to thicken and adds body to the sonics of the base Legend sound tuning. Silver to add a pure clean sound path for the rest of the cables while adding to the technical elements of the Legend tuning. Palladium to help clean up imaging which adds to a more defined image and added texture with better precision especially for mids and bass.The heavy metals being used gold and copper adds a treble smoothening effect that some who like a more technical leaning sounding Legend would do better using the Flows

The benefit of owning both cables is it really gives you two different sounds. A much more musically rich, bolder, more frontal, image enhanced technically clean yet more analogue flavored sound using the Storm. Or back to the Flows which adds sound stage and technical enhancements treble emphasis and sparkle. A tighter faster sound signature adding superior sound separation a fuller sound vs much lesser silvers cables. Flows enhances details and imaging with a clean sound, a fuller expansive sound element due to its ideal thickness and strand count. You really can’t go wrong with either cables on the Legend.
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So why the price difference?
Where these make up for their price point is what it does for the mids and the bass. Due to a more robust body of sound for the Legend tuning using the Storm, music sounds more intimate, more textured vs the Flow. It adds to vocal presence with a greater fuller deeper reach vs the Flows. It adds just that one last bit of lower end definition for bass. Mids sound decidedly richer in tone using this cable. Note definition takes on a whole new meaning using the Storm as it seems to give even a greater sense of note contrast vs the Flow. A neutral tuned source brings out the best of Legend when using the Storm. As all it needs is a clean sound and the Storms will add plenty of flavoring.

The cable itself is surprisingly flexible for using all these metals. It's simple twist braiding is elegant and clean looking. Gold accents let you know you're using a premium hand crafted cable with the best accessories Penon has, gold plated copper for the plugs and carbon fiber accents. Its coloring is very indicative of what the cables do. Richify your sound.
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Imaging takes on a different level. With the Flow, the Legend images great actually but Storm adds a higher sense of immersion due to how bold and textured the overall sound is. Sound becomes more meaty, richer, a thick rib eye steak like even more juicy and nuanced. A touch analogue tube ampish in effect. Supremely musical. Its imaging capabilities enhances depth and height of sound more than the Flows pairing and its ability to throw out the width of sound vs the height and depth due to it being much leaner in sound flavoring. Storm doesn’t give the widests of stages for earphones as its main purpose is to add a richer tonal character on the host earphones with greater note weight and increase textures to the sound presentation on the Legend.

This is what makes the Storms unique in that it not only adds a richer more musical tone but also projects a greater definition and a fuller, slightly darkening of the bass tone. Bass gets a touch smoother sounding but fuller at the same time. Smoother in tonality overall the added musical take on the Legends is what Penon had in mind when creating them. This in fact turns them into the clear flagship status. Now the Volts will play second in their line up. If you're curious of what the sound tuners of Penon has been up to.
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The Legend and Storm combo is just down right music alchemy at its finest. The synergy between these two are undeniable. By the way I could argue the Volts are right up there with the Legends in performance afterall it has a 10mm bass dynamic providing that physical bass but with the Storm on the Legend it becomes a clear upgrade and this is with the Volt and Totem.
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I know this one was a longer read. What I am doing is testing just how much you're into a Dsnut review. If you get this far I would like to officially give you a button that says I read all of Dsnuts Legend review. But you're here. You're the best. I will give you a compliment instead. How is that?

Thanks for reading.
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KickAssChewGum
KickAssChewGum
Excellent review as always. I agree with most of your findings. The key thing you mention is that the Flow is absolutely not your average stock cable but actually an excellent cable in its own right. Just a very different sound to the Storm. Along with the switches (which I would argue are more meaningful in their usage than most I’ve experienced on other switchable IEMs) , the Storm and Flow allow for 12 different variations on the Legends’ signature between them. Listening to the Legends as I type this and totally wrapped up in their sound. (Flow with all switches on at the moment, if you’re wondering). 😀
Philimon
Philimon
These nuts.
R
raylu
looking good !
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