A series of distorted, amp-on-11 power cords crashed behind me, rattling the glass on the door as I prepared to enter Legacy Audio’s lobby room Sunday afternoon at AXPONA 2016.
“I’m working double time on the seduction line,” screeched the lead singer of the live band directly across the hall as she delivered a rave-up version of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Sounding like a young Joan Jett fronting the Stooges, the howling vocalist was one of five women making up the aptly named band Catfight. In an unusually broad-minded move for a high-end show, AXPONA’s organizers had booked the local bar-stage darlings to shake things up a bit along with the usual mix of jazz, blues and classical performers.
And shake things up they did — literally and metaphorically. The original version of AC/DC’s radio hit now seemed like a whispered lullaby in comparison to its treatment in the hands of these women. Intrigued, I stepped back from Legacy’s doorway and popped into the hotel’s small concert hall. Standing in the back, I watched in awe as Catfight made the fur fly. When the song was over, I found myself cheering at the top of my lungs along with several hundred other new Catfight fans. (For an idea of what I heard, check out the band’s YouTube clip of this song).
With the Cats starting to go feral on another hard-rock chestnut, I dashed back and took refuge in the Legacy room. I shut the door behind me, and was greeted by knowing grins from several of the manufacturer’s representatives.
I went to System 4, which was a good 100 feet away from the door. It was built around Legacy’s floorstanding Signature SE speakers ($7,785 a pair in black pearl finish), which featured two 10-inch subwoofers, a 7-inch midwoofer, a 4-inch air-motion midrange/tweeter and a 1-inch air motion supertweeter. Filling out the compact equipment list was Raven’s Reflection Mk.2 integrated amplifier ($9,995) and Metronome CD8S DAC with transport ($9,200).
The sound of a Joni Mitchell track was balanced from top to bottom, with no frequency range emphasized over the others. Mitchell’s vocals were well-rendered and her acoustic guitar, using her trademark open tuning, had an appropriately crisp tone.
Moving on to System 2, I sat down to compare the larger Legacy Aeris ($21,450 a pair in Cabernet/black pearl finish). Its driver array consisted of dual 12-inch subwoofers, a 10-inch midwoofer, an 8-inch midrange, a 4-inch air-motion midrange/tweeter and a 1-inch air motion supertweeter.
Driving the speakers was Raven’s Spirit 300B Mk. 2 monoblocks ($25,000 a pair), fed by a Raven Silhouette Mk.2 reference preamp ($15,995). Source equipment was the Metronome T4 signature transport ($8,800) and Metronome C6+ tube DAC ($12,000).
My CD of Yo La Tengo’s cover of The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” showed the more expensive model would go deeper and provide a slightly larger soundstage than the Signature, which was no slouch in either department. The Aeris also displayed good pace and resolution. Georgia Hubley’s shy vocals can get buried on other speakers, but were clear and textured here. Also, the guitar lines of her husband, Ira Kaplan, and band friend Dave Schramm could be followed individually.
The song, from the band’s excellent recent album, “Stuff Like That There,” was an acoustic cover that couldn’t have been more different that the cacophony going on across the hall. But coming from Legacy’s Aeris, it rocked, too.