RMAF 2016: Legacy Pulls Trigger on New Calibre monitor

Legacy Audio is taking aim at the monitor market with its new Calibre stand-mounted speaker.

There have been many impressive, small-box speakers over the years, but often they traded bass response and heft for pinpoint imaging, deep sound-staging and mid/upper-frequency clarity. With the Calibre, however, Legacy sought to retain the best attributes of monitors without losing dynamics and the low end.

If a half-hour demo of the Calibre ($5,500 a pair) at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was any indication, Legacy has hit its target. A bullseye, in fact.

To pull off this shot, Legacy outfitted the Calibre with an 8-inch woofer that boasts a full inch of displacement capability, a titanium-encrusted 7.5-inch mid-bass/midrange driver and two eight-inch passive radiators.

For the crucial highs, Legacy installed a 4-inch EMT ribbon tweeter. And to control resonances and avoid smearing, engineers crafted a 1.75-inch-thick front baffle.

All of that creates a lot of air-moving potential for a speaker measuring just 16.25x10x15.25 inches and weighing 50 pounds. It also allows the Calibre to sport a frequency range of 38-30,000 Hz.

To make sure the Calibre could handle the demands of professional studio applications or a wide range of home installations, Legacy gave the Calibre a 500-watt power-handing capability, and created a handsome wood-veneer cabinet.

The Calibres I heard were finished in cabernet/black pearl and were driven by room partner Raven Audio’s 320-watt-per channel Shaman MK2 monoblock amplifier ($49,995 a pair), working with Legacy’s Wavelet DAC/ preamp/processor/room correction unit ($4,950).

My first test track was Beck’s “Golden Age,” from the Nigel Godrich-produced Sea Change. This atmospheric track contains so many layers of guitar, keyboards and percussion that it puts demands on any speaker to project a coherent image that creates the right amount of air around each part.

With the Calibres, Beck’s slurred vocals hung dead-center in space, while synths suggested swirling desert winds and the steady rhythm section moved the song forward at a mournful, mid-tempo clip. The bass not only was surprisingly full for a compact speaker, it sounded deep and tuneful while avoiding the “cheating” lower-midrange bump some monitors employ as an aural illusion. Upper frequencies also sparkled, with Beck’s own glockenspiel practically jumping out of the speakers.

My next test track, a special radio single remix of the Cowboy Junkies’ “Rock and Bird” (a favorite of mine during the show, so prepare for many more mentions), revealed the Calibres to be equally adept at female vocals, with Margo Timmins’ ethereal sighs nicely rendered. The Calibres also proved to be admirable in the pace department, with the song’s driving rhythm having plenty of snap.

Also undoubtedly contributing to the excellent reproduction was Raven’s impressive-looking Shaman amp. The unit, as I heard it, contained 6550 tubes, but can also handle KT 150s. The price, while not cheap, includes personal delivery from Raven’s Groveton, Texas, plant and setup by owner Dave Thomson, and includes an extra set of tubes. There’s also a 30-day, full-refund (no restocking fee) guarantee.

All in all, the sonic marksmanship demonstrated by the Calibre could make an audiophile seriously wonder if he or she needed anything bigger, especially for those shopping in this price range.

Legacy, however, does make a number of large floor-standers, many of which were on display in the company’s huge room at RMAF. Like the Calibre, they all share Legacy’s “house sound” of which the key components are balance and ease. As good as the Calibres are, as you go up the Legacy line, there are worthwhile improvements to be gained in frequency response, image height, weight and dynamics.

Legacy was showing some of these speakers at RMAF, including “System A,” which featured the tall, floor-standing Legacy V in rosewood/black-pearl finish ($49,500 with Wavelet processor), powered by the Raven Spirit 300B MK2 monoblocks (two pair, 26 watts per channel; $26,995.00 per pair).

“System B” was the Calibre setup, which at times subbed in Legacy’s Focus SE in black pearl ($10,615). “System C” had the Aeris in cabernet/black-pearl finish ($19,525) with Raven’s Silhouette MK2.1 mono-block amp ($25,995.00 each) and the Wavelet.

“System D” alternated Legacy’s Signature SE in black-pearl finish ($6,995) with its Studio HD in rosewood ($1,795). Those were driven by Raven’s Osprey integrated (30 wpc, class AB, auto bias, $4,495). Finally, “System E” highlighted Legacy’s Silhouette on-wall speakers in black oak ($1,900 each), powered by Raven’s Audio Reflection MK2 (50 wpc, $9,995).

Big or small, Legacy seems to be hitting its mark.

RMAF 2016 coverage courtesy of Noble Audio