Leon Horizon LCR-515-A On-wall LCR Speaker 
Home Theater Loudspeakers On-wall Loudspeakers
Written by Ken Taraszka, MD   
Thursday, 01 March 2007

Introduction
Flat panel TVs are all the rage these days. Their large displays, affordable prices and ability to hang on the wall allow you to free up precious floor space without compromising on video. Adding equally impressive audio to a flat panel has its problems. Leon Speaker Corporation has a solution. Founded in 1995, Leon designed the first LCR speaker in 2000; they make speakers designed to match any flat panel TV in size, shape and color. They use quality drivers and offer multiple options to suit your taste and situation. The Horizon line-up of LCR (left, center, right) speakers designed to mount above or below your display is available for displays 32 to 65 inches in size. The speakers come with three- to six-inch bass drivers, depending on your wants and needs, and in a standard or audiophile “A” designation, which utilizes higher-quality bass drivers. I received Leon’s Horizon LCR 515-A, with adjustable wall-mount bracket, for review. This retails for $2,295, which is somewhat pricy, considering the current offering in the on-wall speaker market at this time.

This speaker uses Morel tweeters and Peerless HDS woofers modified by Leon to work in the narrow cabinet. Leon has electronically angled the sound plane 15 degrees out from center to aid with separation. The speaker is made of solid MDF and internally separated into three cabinets, each individually sealed off. Sturdy gold-plated binding posts are present on the rear for all three channels and bi-wiring is available as an option. The speaker I received measured 40-and-one-eighth inches wide by four inches deep by seven-and-one-eighth inches tall. A variety of mounting hardware is available directly through Leon.

Set-up
The speaker and wall-mounting bracket came packed in a single box, secured in plastic covered foam. Due to the custom sizing of the Leon speakers, my review sample was packed with extra paper to fit the box snugly. I quickly unpacked the speaker and wall bracket supplied with it. The LCR 515-A came finished in the same color as my Panasonic plasma. Close inspection revealed a slightly different texture than the plastic of my plasma’s case, but once mounted, it looked to be a perfect match. The grille cloth is also matched to the TV and is housed on a frame held to the front of the speaker with rare Earth neodymium magnets that securely hold it in place and don’t require Leon to damage the cabinet structure. My speaker’s grille cloth was slightly crooked on the frame, especially at the corners, and this irregularity was visible from my viewing position, especially when the Florida sun shone across it.

The Leon LCR 515-A has two rubber-headed bolts sticking out of the top rear of the speaker. These have locking nuts on them to secure the distance from the wall settings once finalized. Two similar bolts with wider rubber pads on them are on the lower rear to balance the speaker. The top bolts drop into a horizontal groove in two adjustable plates on the wall-mount bracket that allow an inch or so of lateral movement to assist with vertical alignment. The plates can also be adjusted vertically from below via long Philips head screws to set the height and level of the speaker once it is in the mount. If you are planning to mount the bracket on the wall above your TV, these adjustment screws will be inaccessible once the TV is mounted.

The speaker mount comes with minimal but adequate directions. I measured off the center point of my plasma, then down four inches, and marked off where I was going to set the mount. The wall mount has wide tracks for attachment, making it easy to secure it to at least one stud. I mounted this speaker on the outside wall of a concrete block house, so I was only able to find one board suitable for securing it. Rather than using Tapcons into the cement, I used four 50-pound drywall anchors. I marked off four sites near the edges of the bracket and one over the lone board I found. I then pre-drilled for the drywall anchors and loosely secured the mount. I tightened down all the screws with the included rubber padded washers after one final leveling, connected my left, center and right channel wires that previously ran through my wall from my Denon AVR4306 receiver to the corresponding gold binding posts, and the speaker was ready to hook onto the mounting bracket.

Once my speaker was in the mount and raised to what turned out to be the maximum allowable height adjustment, which gave the best look for my eyes, the depth of the speaker and TV no longer lined up. Two more adjustments of the bolts on the rear of the speaker and it lined up perfectly. I would have been more efficient had I used this system before, but I suspect most people with any mechanical ability will be able to handle this installation, and installers should have no problems at all. All in all, I was done with the install in about an hour. I ran the Leon LCR for a hundred hours, then, after a discussion with Jeff Gordon, Leon’s CEO, raised the volume to somewhat high levels to fully loosen up the rather stiff bass drivers. It was time for some critical listening with my Philips DV-963SA for CDs and SACDs and Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player for movies.

Music and Movies

I first turned to some audio with the Allman Brothers Band’s Eat a Peach (Mercury/Universal). The opening song “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” is a classic track full of slide guitar and piano, with loads of dynamics to reproduce. The Leon LCR-515-A reproduced the slide guitar with a chesty sound, and the lower midrange and upper bass had a boxy and hollow nature to them. The highs were clear and smooth, but the lower end of Gregg Allman’s voice exhibited the same shortcomings as the slide guitar. Moving onto “One Way Out,” I found a similar quality to the sound.

I integrated a subwoofer in an attempt to ameliorate this issue, but even crossing over the sub at 250 Hz failed to offload the problematic frequencies from the LCR speaker. When I turned up the volume, the sound compressed and the boxy nature of the sound increased. There was little spatial separation, no matter where I positioned myself or how I altered the angle of the speaker on the wall. I rechecked the connections to the speaker, which were correct, and carefully tested each individual speaker (L/C/R) to insure each was working properly; all drivers in all speakers were functioning correctly. “Melissa” was less demonstrative of this issue than the other tracks on this CD, but still sounded hollow. The highs were clear and had only the slightest of edge to them, but the lower end again had the boxy characteristic I found earlier.

Not to let a single album sway me, I turned to Keb' Mo’s Just Like You (OKEH/Epic) on SACD to see if the LCR-515-A just didn’t agree with Southern rock. When I cued up the first track, “That’s Not Love,” I found a similar though less pronounced sound to the guitar. Keb' Mo’s voice sounded much better than I had heard from other pieces, though it was still somewhat hollow, especially at higher volumes. With “Perpetual Blues Machine,” I found a song that had a timbre that fit this speaker system. This song sounded better than anything else I listened to with this speaker. The guitar was lively and the speaker handled the range well. Keb’s voice had the least bit of the boxy sound I had grown accustomed to, but was subtle and pleasant to hear.

Moving onto movies, I employed the godawful film (but fantastic demo) xXx (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment), one of my favorites for testing systems, on Blu-Ray. The opening scene has amazing dynamics and shifts from front to back, right to left, that are hard to find in a video and equally hard to duplicate. While I expected no sensation of front to back from an LCR, I was unimpressed by the lack of left to right transitions afforded me by the Leon LCR. The end of the scene with Yorgi blowing out his flaming absinthe was unfortunately flat and uninvolving. Further scenes continued to demonstrate the lack of separation I noted above.

I tried Underworld: Evolution (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment) to further test the Leon LCR 515-A. The opening scene’s dialogue was clear and easily discernable, but Kate Beckinsale’s voice still exhibited the hollow timbre I found in most of my listening tests, sounding as though she was in a cave. However, the timbre I fault so in the vocals worked well with the bullets, crashes and grunts of the werewolves, making them seem larger than life.

The Downside
LCR speakers, to my ears, make some compromises in sonic quality. Loss of separation is one of their biggest problems. While the Leon Speaker Corporation has attempted to improve on this by electronically angling the sound plane 15 degrees out from center, the speaker sorely lacked separation. I found this system to have a hollow and boxy nature to its sound that was not to my taste, and found only a few passages where these sonic characteristics weren’t overtly present. Other publications disagree, but I don’t write for other publications and, after hundreds of hours of break-in and listening tests, these were unfortunately my findings.

The fit and finish of the grille cloth was unacceptable for a speaker at this price point, and the added height it gave to my HDTV detracted from the trendy look of a 16:9 display, making it appear more like a 4:3. If you mount this speaker above your TV, you will be unable to access the mount’s height adjustments with the TV on the wall, though other mounting options are available directly from Leon Speaker Co. which could circumvent this issue.

Conclusion
The concept of having all of your speakers neatly mounted in one cabinet is about as relevant as any issue pertaining to any speakers we have reviewed at AVRev.com in a long time. Breaking into the ultra-competitive world of specialty loudspeakers isn’t for the faint of heart and Leon has found an interesting niche. Unfortunately, compared to comparably priced on-wall offerings from the likes of Gallo, MartinLogan and Morel, the Leon LCR 515-A simply falls short. The fit and finish is sub-par and the sound simply didn’t get me there. Others have raved about the LCR 515-A, so by all means, if you are inclined, take a listen at a dealer. However, for my money, I would look for something different at this price point.
Manufacturer Leon Speaker Corporation
Model Horizon LCR-515-A On-wall LCR Speaker
Reviewer Ken Taraszka, M.D





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