LSA 20 Signature Speaker System Review

By: Frank Iacone
May 18th, 2020

Have you ever wondered what it takes to match the correct components to get the best system for Hifi? What amplifier will make the speakers work properly? What cables should I use in the system? What source do I use? Do I really need a power conditioner and do the power cords really make a difference?

Walter Liederman owner of Underwood Hifi (https://www.underwoodhifi.com/ ) has been selling and designing Hi-End products for close to 50 years. The companies he owns for manufacturing include Living Sounds Audio, Core Power Technologies, and other companies that manufacture high quality products at affordable prices.

Walter has a reputation for working with customers predominately online with consulting and selection of the best high-end components customized for your individual needs. He maintains the highest standards for delivering the best in terrific sounding products at real-world prices.

Known too many as Underwood Wally, his products are groundbreaking designs that offer consumers the chance to experience what is the best available for their existing budget.

Wally took the guessing out of the system matching for consumers with this system we are currently reviewing and paired the LSA 20 Signature Tower speakers with the 100 Watt Outlaw RR2160 receiver, Core Power Technologies Deep=Core 1800 Power Conditioner, 2M Core Power Cables Defiant Diamond Speaker Cables and Core Power Cables Valiant Power Cords. You need to add your own source for a complete system and the Bluesound NODE 2i is the source I used for this review which adds an additional $549 to the package price of $4999 from Underwood Hifi for the LSA Speakers, Outlaw Receiver, Deep=Core 1800, 2M Defiant Diamond speaker cable and 2 Valiant Diamond power cords.

Underwood Wally believes in total customer satisfaction and has composed a system for an unbelievable price, especially since the LSA 20 Signature Tower Speakers retail for $4000 for a pair if purchased separately. The system price Wally is offering makes it affordable and an incredible high-end bargain. The components are all first-rate and made for a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

Components


The Outlaw RR2160 Retro Receiver $999 

The Outlaw RR2160 has 110 Watts of class AB power into 8 Ohms and is rated at 165 Watts per channel into 4 Ohms. The receiver is loaded with features and comes in one color, silver. The included FM tuner is an excellent feature for people who listen to FM music and desire a high-quality tuner. 

The bass management built into the Outlaw RR2160  has outputs to handle two subwoofers allowing you to bypass the sub’s internal crossovers and integrates easily with a wide variety of different brand subwoofers to make speaker matching a breeze.  The control set integrates the crossover seamlessly and the RR2160 has full control of the subwoofers being used for volume control as well as bass management.

A USB B input allows for high-resolution music from computers and a USB A port is included to connect thumb drives directly to the receiver. The built-in 24-bit/96kHz DAC gives the listener a choice of using the internal DAC or bypassing it and using a separate source component. Furthermore, the RR2160 is equipped with 2 coaxial digital inputs and 2 optical digital inputs allowing for easy connectivity.

A bass boost feature, designed for use with bookshelf speakers, allows for selectable frequency setting (55Hz, 65Hz, and 80z) to boost 6 dB of bass to provide satisfactory bass performance from smaller speakers. 

The Outlaw RR2160 also has a built-in phono stage that can handle both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges for people who may want to add a turntable to this system. For Personal Audio fans, a headphone amplifier is built-in and has separate volume control for easy listening. 

Outlaw’s RR2160 has a tone control defeat switch and A/B speaker outputs allowing for multiple speaker connections. The volume control is precision and includes a remote control that can select and control all of the receiver’s features. The design is built with a heavy retro aluminum chassis and is well thought out and is future proof. 

The Bluesound NODE 2i $549 

The Bluesound NODE 2i is a wireless music server that can stream music to multiple rooms. Connectable to any AV receiver or powered device it makes music listening easy to control with any computer, phone, or tablet.  

At its heart, Bluesound’s NODE 2i has a 24-bit/192kHz DAC built-in with an MQA decoder and makes listening easy using the well thought out BluOS app that can be downloaded from the internet. The Bluesound NODE 2i also works with apple play and other Bluetooth devices. The streaming is easy while using Roon as a library and offers other options including radio, Spotify, and the high-resolution formats of Tidal and Qobuz. 

Bluesound Node 2i Black

A high-quality headphone amplifier is included in Bluesound NODE 2i and also allows for using other speakers throughout your home or office with selectable zones and works seamlessly with WiFi to stream music to different room zones all at once.  The high-quality sound of the NODE 2i is excellent and works seamlessly once installed into the system.  

LSA 20 Signature Tower Speakers 3,995/pr

The LSA 20 Signature Speakers are a 3 way 7 driver floor-standing tower design that uses an innovative 1” silk dome tweeter with a neodymium XBL2 magnet structure and a shallow waveguide to better integrate with the midrange.

The midrange is a 4-inch carbon fiber XBL2 with twin 6.5-inch XBL2 black anodized woofers and the three rear-mounted long-throw 5-inch x 7-inch  sub-bass radiators for a deeper textured bass response.  The crossover is a computer designed 4th order Linkwitz Riley acoustic crossover wired with hand-selected high-end cable.

The 8-0hm load is easy to drive with amplification recommended at a minimum of 40 watts per channel and the frequency response is rated at 25Hz to 20kHz +/-3dB.  Finished in satin Chocolate Rosewood veneer the LSA 20 Signature loudspeakers include magnetic grilles.

Core Power Technologies Deep=Core 1800 Power Conditioner $1295

From the manufacturer’s website specs:

The Deep=Core 1800 has the following major attributes;

  • An Input circuit that features a unique DC snubber which stops any DC, constant or transient, imposed upon the power lines from passing through the Deep=Core and into the system. DC can saturate the transformers or source components and cause voltage fluctuations.
  • After the DC snubber, the Deep=Core has a complex common mode filter designed to suppress any RF signals that may be riding on the power lines. This RF energy can raise the noise floor and affect the total dynamic range of the system. The EMI filter is implemented with high-quality magnetics that will not saturate under high current conditions.
Core Power Technologies DEEP=CORE 1800
  • After the common mode filter, a second EMI/RFI filter is implemented that further cleanses the power of unwanted out of band products. This additional filter includes integrated surge suppression to ensure that no high voltage transients, such as the voltage from a lightning strike, will pass through the system.
  • The last stage of the Deep=Core contains the adjustable power delivery interface. This interface changes the relationship between neutral and ground and allows the user to optimize the power delivery to your system. This unique capability allows the power to be optimized for each individual system
Core Power Technologies | Audiogon

The Deep=Core 1800 should be connected in front of your power conditioner as it is the “final” word in preparing your AC for a good power conditioner. Its unique ability to not only fully cleanse AC power sources of both DC, EMI, and RFI noise, as well as to match your AC to your individual components, is unique among competing products. It can also be the foundation of a full A/C cleaning system solution.
 

Core Power Cables Defiant Diamond Speaker Cables $999 and Valiant Power Cords $999/ea

The 2m Core Power Cables Defiant Diamond speaker cables included in this package are made up of multiple 8N ULTRA PURE OFC copper conductor stranding component with multiple minimum “tolerable” 16AWG finalized ”cores” that are covered in 85 microns of compressed silver with 8 of these finalized cores per side (16 overall for the pair). Each conductor is wound with a helical “Dual Mono-Filament” of Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) jacket as part of this esoteric manufacturing process. Precise double-layer micro-space insulation is employed as well as TSC Shielding to guarantee isolation. These 8 cores hand-knitted cores are sheathed in an outer jacket and available in both CMC solid Silver banana and spade connections.

The Core Power Cables Valient Diamond power cords use 9 separate cores of 16 gauge 8N OFC copper plated with 70 microns of extruded pure silver insulated with FEP Teflon. The custom weave is optimized for maximum performance in terms of inductance and capacitance and state of the art black carbon fiber IEC power plugs are used.

Listening Experience

Connecting all components was a breeze. Usually, components have a signature sound when the system components are all connected. The entire system Underwood sent me was new in the box, the LSA 20 Signature Speakers were new and had never been played except to check them during quality control. The Diamond speaker cables were also all-new without break-in, as were the Deep=Core 1800 and power cords.

Walter told me the system needed a minimum of 100 hours to break-in and would change significantly with hours on the system. I decided, to burn-in the components for 200 hours before critically listening was my best choice for the entire system. The Outlaw RR2160 and Bluesound Node 2i were already fully burned-in as they were components I use daily for reviewing other components.

Once the system reached the 200-hour mark I started to listen critically. Noticeable were differences in the sound immediately with the biggest improvements being in the soundstage becoming more three dimensional. The midrange was more defined and the brightness I experienced with the silk tweeter was more refined and had all but disappeared.

Bass was also improved with more texture and the imaging and space between performers were more noticeable with the greater extension, in both the high and low regions, becoming better controlled.

Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young” from “The Capitol Years” is a great track and showcases the magic of Sinatra. Sinatra loved to sing in the middle in the studio with the orchestra all around him forming a circle and the sound was outstanding with excellent vocal clarity and the soundstage filled my listening room with the orchestra define in its own space with the Chairman of Board doing only what he could do with his vocal.

Sinatra – the Capitol Years – The Annotated Gilmore Girls

Articulated and filled with clarity and I could hear every lyric in the song and the sound was a magical experience and the system completely disappeared. I was in the room with my eyes closed I could feel the magic of this performance. Having seen Sinatra live, this reminded me of the first time I had seen him sing this song live and I felt that performance and he was alive and the system took me back to that performance and made it new and refreshing and exciting.

Lucinda Williams on her 24/96 recording of her new album “Good Souls Better Angels” is alive with her exceptional band which can rock and roll with the best of them. Having seen Lucinda live, I can tell you she is amazing, especially in smaller venues and close up. Listening to “You Can’t Rule Me” she sounded as good as I have heard her. Her grunty and unique vocal is amazing, but the lead guitar work on this album is magical and the soundstage was three dimensional with excellent spacing between musicians. The LSA 20s had exceptional air space and the 7 drivers all came together and sounded like one, synergistic in sound.

Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels Album Review | Pitchfork

The vocal was exceptional as well, as all tracks on this new album showcased the power of the LSA 20s, that had the band playing in unison with Lucinda. Never did I feel cheated in this performance. They were fast, hard-hitting and her vocal was exceptional and this tune came to life and the system made for an exceptional listening experience.

Caribou’s new album “Suddenly” is a revelation in instrumentation. Electronic music with vocals is always exciting and Caribou is one of my favorite groups. Instrumentation in the high region with hard-hitting exceptional bass and vocals showcased the LSA 20s extension and clarity in the treble region.  Never splashy, the treble was clear and articulate with exceptional detail and the hits soared and seemed endless with the excellent extension. Bass was textured, deep, and could hit the lower regions easily and at times I checked to make sure my subs were turned off which showed how good the bass performance is on the LSA 20.

Caribou: Suddenly Album Review | Pitchfork

Drums were deep and extend exhibiting excellent cymbal definition with outstanding transparency that was always musical. The tonality of the instruments was exciting. The album played in its entirety is a showcase for this system with its excellent vocal mixed with fabulous treble extension and deep grunting bass line. Caribou captured on this system created another magical listening experience for me that was musically engaging.

The Deep=Core 1800 removed and digital noise and regenerated a silent soundstage that was exceptional and took all the grunge away. The Diamond cables never called attention to themselves and made each recording more enjoyable.  Instrumentation was all clear and articulated in the system and exciting and enjoyable.

Silje Nergrand a Pop/Jazz Norwegian singer has an exceptional vocal instrument and on “Be Still My Heart”, with a piano accompaniment, her vocal was in the room. The speakers once again disappeared and presented a beautiful clear acoustic performance.

Silje’s vocal was magical and defined in her own space. The piano was to her left and you could visualize the space between her and the instrument but her vocal and decay of the lyrics were clearly present in the beautiful recording on Qobuz. Angelic sound coming from a Norwegian beauty, the system was able to make her come to life and recreated her performance mystically.

OKeh Records - Silje Nergaard - New double album out now! | Facebook

Kenny Chesney’s latest album “Here and Now” is another great testament of the No Shoes Nation. The Chesney tune “Everyone She Knows” is country-rock at its finest and the system captures the magic of Chesney with rare musicality. I found myself stomping my feet on this 40-minute album and enjoyed the performance as if I was at a Kenney Chesney Concert. Once again the speakers completely disappeared but I was in awe of the musicality the system produced, rare for a system in this price range and it outperformed much more expensive speakers I have heard and outperformed systems costing much more than Underwoods price for this beautifully constructed system.

Kenny Chesney - Here And Now

Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra on  “Dmitry Shostakovich Symphony number 4” is a showcase performance by one of the great conductors of our lifetime.

PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA; MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH - Ormandy Conducts ...

Layered sections of the orchestra were in the room and each section was reproduced with exceptional detail and terrific speed. The fast speed of the orchestra was evident. The LSA 20s had a fully layered orchestra depicted with space an air between the musicians.

The excellent extension of the orchestra with exceptional clarity and conviction was evident in this performance. The Outlaw 2160 sailed through this performance and was able to extract everything in musicality from the LSA 20 Signature Towers to make this performance believable and special. never feeling cheated, the system delivered Ormandy’s performance in its entirety and the Philadelphia Orchestra was up to the task.

Final Thoughts

Picking components for a system takes a lot of time to get it right. Underwood Hifi has eliminated all the guessing and offers exceptional value with this top tier system, at the incredible price of only $4999.

Walter Liederman has been doing high-end audio his entire life and knows how to select components that will sound great.

The Outlaw RR2160 is a receiver that is an exceptional bargain and one that includes everything you could want in amplification. Users can also use the built-in DAC if they choose but for the additional $549 the Bluesound Node 2i is an amazing product and for many an end-all for a system.

The Core Power Cables Diamond silver-over-copper cables are a terrific buy. Shielded power cables and speaker cables are important to get the most out of the system. The Diamond cables represent the finest in extracting inner detail and getting the most in retrieval.

The Core Power Deep=Core 1800 makes sure all digital noise is removed from the system and creates a quiet and noise-free listening experience that reproduces everything the artist intended you to hear without any digital noise or dirty power.

If you really want a black background, the Deep=Core 1800 provides it by filtering out all noise. The Deep=Core 1800 represents a product that is a must-own addition that will remove any noise from either your digital streaming or phono stage if you decide to use a turntable. Deep=Core has an adjustable feature that allows the user to tune out hum and other noise from your system.

Streaming from my iPad using the Bluesound Node 2i (not included in the system) with WiFi presented the music with exceptional inner detail and amazing instrument tonality. Compared to CD listening, streaming is the new way of choice and eliminates storage and makes music listening less expensive and more enjoyable.

LSA 20 Signature with its 7 drivers makes listening to music enjoyable. The bass is exemplary and removes the need for a subwoofer in large rooms. The beautifully designed cabinets make them easy to look at and not overly imposing. The midrange is exceptional and in the treble region, instruments were always enjoyable without any noticeable nastiness in the upper regions.  Horns and instrumentation were all first-rate and instruments had exceptional tonality.

The soundstage on the system was exceptional with excellent imaging and the air and space between performers were exceptional. Vocal performances were beautifully reproduced and always enjoyable.

Inner detail retrieval on this system is amazing, especially with the addition of a good source, in this case, I used the $549 Bluesound Nodi 2i which goes up to 24-192 kHz, offers MQA decoding and has a terrific and easy to use APP that integrates with all major music services and the Roon library system making it an exceptional bargain component that performs way above its price point.

Underwood Hifi has done a wonderful job of composing a system that offered a unique exceptional musical experience. Rarely do you find a speaker in this price range that completely disappears? LSA 20 Signature Towers never called attention to themselves and always produced excellent music whether it was large scale Classical recordings, or a small female vocal that was seductive and enticing, I was always impressed with the performance. Bass was explosive at times while listening to heavy bass recordings. The Kevlar midrange was amazing y clear and offered transparency that was exceptional.

Impressively, large scale recordings were enjoyable with the exceptional three-dimensional imaging and layered soundstage. Impressive indeed at this price or even much more so. The LSA 20 Signature System from Underwood is an exceptional high-end value and will provide you most of what you want in a high-end system without compromise.

Designed to provide the listener with a musical journey and create a magical listening experience Rarely do you find a system in this price range that does what the LSA 20 Signature System does, it makes beautiful music and is a terrific value. A great how-to from the folks at Underwood Hifi and it gets our highest recommendation without hesitation. Magical and exciting!!!!!

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