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A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As

188.183.58.134

Posted on May 12, 2012 at 08:58:49
Frihed89
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Location: Copenhagen
Joined: March 21, 2005
How has your use of newer SS and tube amplification technology affected the performance of your LS3/5As?
Observe, before you think. Think before you open your yap. Act on the basis of experience.

 

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RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 14, 2012 at 13:42:57
FredericB
Reviewer

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Location: East Coast USA
Joined: September 22, 2008
The LS 3/5a's Achilles's heel is its upper midrange presentation. It is designed to reveal any compression in broadcasting so it is as unforgiving as anything I know.
I find newer amplifiers, especially SS, to do less and less "editorializing" of that band, coupled with the chronic glassiness of poorly mastered digital in that range and the result is that I truly struggle with the presentation I get from most SS amps with those speakers.

I still find them to work best with mid power tube amps (30 to 50 watts) based on EL34, 5881 or KT66 tubes.

SS can work but it has to be a lower power amp, more focused on finesse of timbre than on massive damping factors or huge dynamic prowess.

That's just my 2 cents but what do I know, I listen to a 2 watt SET for pleasure :-)

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 14, 2012 at 20:37:31
Bill the K
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Have you had a chance to try Electrocompaniet SS amps with the Rogers? Just curious.

Cheers
Bill

 

I was hoping John Atkinson would reply nt, posted on May 15, 2012 at 05:11:18
Frihed89
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Location: Copenhagen
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nt
Observe, before you think. Think before you open your yap. Act on the basis of experience.

 

A cryptic summons or am I missing something? -nt, posted on May 15, 2012 at 06:54:23
soulfood
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Posts: 3527
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Contributor
  Since:
July 18, 2011
nt

 

No, it's not that at all., posted on May 15, 2012 at 10:07:30
Frihed89
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Posts: 13863
Location: Copenhagen
Joined: March 21, 2005
JA reviewed a new amp in the most recent Stereophile and spoke highly of the combination. He has probably owned these for a long time; hence the question.

I suppose there are probably a few people who can not understand why someone who likes high power/current amps would want to use these amps LS3/5As. I don't think JA is one of these people, though.
Observe, before you think. Think before you open your yap. Act on the basis of experience.

 

RE: No, it's not that at all., posted on May 15, 2012 at 11:24:02
John Atkinson
Reviewer

Posts: 3110
Location: New York
Joined: November 24, 2003
>JA reviewed a new amp in the most recent Stereophile and spoke highly of
>the combination. He has probably owned these for a long time; hence the
>question.

Yes, the Lamm monoblocks driving the LS3/5As made musical magic, despite
the disproportionality in price. The LS3/5A still sounded like it always
has: a touch nasal in the upper midrange and bright in the mid-treble, but
the better the source components and amplifications, the less these aspects
intrude on the music.

Essential to use the LS3/5As on good stands: I use spiked 24" Celestion
SL stands with the central pillar filled with a mixture of dry sand and
lead shot, and the speaker coupled to the top plate with Blu-tack.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

 

Stand filling, posted on May 15, 2012 at 13:53:07
Peter Breuninger
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Posts: 472
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I hear the rage today is organic kitty litter. I too did the sand-lead shot mix... what a mess.

Peter Breuninger

 

RE: No, it's not that at all., posted on May 17, 2012 at 06:20:15
FredericB
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Could not agree more

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 18, 2012 at 00:28:28
RGA
Reviewer

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Joined: August 8, 2001
Not sure I quite get the appeal of the speaker. There isn't much bass and it seems a bit bright to me. Please note I heard these here in Hong Kong at a dealer selling Rogers and was running it on an impressive looking Rogers tube amplifier (Cadet V) - see link.

The problem was price - the speakers and the sub were going for over $2,000. I was listening in the nearfield (that may be the problem) but the upper mids and lack of bass (the sub is needed though frankly even with the sub it didn't seem to have any dynamics or a helluva lot of depth).

I tried it a few times to be sure. For half the price of the LS3/5a I picked up Audio Note's AX Two standmount which in corners seems to have more bass than the LS 3/5a even with the subwoofer. It's less bright and just as extended sounding in the treble too.

Granted the dealer was demoing the the AX Two with a CD 4.1 some sort of ridiculous dual volume control preamp and a power amp version of the Jinro with SOOTO or Sogon cables and their top Ref 3 turntable. Game over for female vocals Loreena McKennitt and piano on Jackson Browne's Pretender.

Is it possible that we annoint things classic status and then not turn over the rocks of newer products? Perhaps the new Rogers isn't the same as the old Rogers. Someone did mention this to me so maybe I'm not hearing the real deal. I liked Grant Fidelity's version of the LS3/5a at CES better - still doesn't have much bass. Not sure I would pay 4-5 times the price for this speaker over my old B&W DM 302 (which was a terrific bargain basement loudspeaker I still regret having sold - mainly cause the replacement model sounds worse - stupid metal tweeters and kevlar - black guards).

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 18, 2012 at 06:22:08
FredericB
Reviewer

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Location: East Coast USA
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You are indeed correct, each generation of the LS 3/5a sounds quite a bit different. A vintage 15ohm version does sound significantly better in the midrange than the newest generation.
A couple other factors make a huge difference. If the speakers were sitting directly on the AB1 subs, that's the kiss of death - they need rigid stands to sit on and the subs standing next to them - very impractical but makes a big difference. The other critical factor is to by-pass the subwoofer's high-pass filter which decimates resolution - I actually run the LS 3/5a and AB1 in parallel, not in series to get an upper bass overlap (big no-no I know but it sounds richer to me that way).

Finally the Cadet is not my favorite amp by Rogers - I find the KT88s too glassy - I wish you had heard them with the E40a, much better suited.

So to your point, they are finicky divas - when it clicks I still find their ability to reproduce human voice quite hard to exceed - but you can find far more balanced and easier to implement speakers at lower prices in the modern production. When it doesn't click (and there are many reasons for that to happen), they can be hard and harsh.

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 18, 2012 at 06:23:13
FredericB
Reviewer

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Can't say that I have. Sorry.

 

RE: Stand filling, posted on May 19, 2012 at 08:24:38
roscoeiii
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Not sure if it applies to steel stands, but yes the maker of Skylan stands suggests unscented clay kitty litter. I use this in my stands and it works great. Only downside is that some brands of this have a lot of fine clay dust in the backs in addition to the lil chunks of clay.

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 21, 2012 at 19:16:07
RGA
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Joined: August 8, 2001
Points well taken - I didn't look closely at the amp - I generally agree with you on KT 88s and that very well could have been the issue. I think the KT 88 is better suited to tougher to drive speakers.

Further they had the LS3/5a on top of the subwoofer. I read anbother link that said the same thing you are saying about the AB1 sub. I am likely going to be getting some sort of SET amplifier and likely from Line Magnetic or Melody or Audio Note (if one becomes available cheap - chortle chortle). SET is still king when done right and speakers like the LS3/5a are no problem for SE amps. Seems like a lot of companies make the LS3/5a speaker design parameters under their own brand name.

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 23, 2012 at 21:36:51
the old school
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I have NEVER understood the appeal of these speakers: horrible mid-bass peak! I VASTLY preferred my Spicas to these over-rated British speakers.

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 24, 2012 at 21:38:51
RGA
Reviewer

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Joined: August 8, 2001
It may be that they are just super sensitive to positioning.

I have had to revisit a bunch of speakers that I have disliked because in most cases they were connected to high feedback SS amplifiers (which basically writes off any and all hope of it producing sound that I would pay for). The horrible sound may indeed merely have been the speakers tell me how horrible HNF amps are. While the speakers I liked better may have been softening those amps up a but.

I discovered that on the AN K/Spe - Listening to Audyssey, Bryston, Rotel -- eesh - had I heard the speakers with those amps first I would think the speaker a pile of poo. Fortunately, I heard the speaker with amplifiers that don't ruin music.

My harsher stance on panel speakers have been changed over the years with tube amplifiers and it seems the better makers King Sound and Sound Labs and Martin Logan all brought tube amps to demonstrate.

Still I'd like to compare the LS3/5a and AB1 against Audio Note's AX Two. The latter is $700 is 90db sensitive and around 50hz in room. It's been my budget champ for about 6 years - and when I heard them again in Hong Kong - I bought them. No of course they're not full range and you can't play big music at big levels - but for their size and weight class and kept at sane levels - I think they'll give most a run for their money.

Gotta compare apples to apples. The LS3/5a is made for small rooms with limited low frequency response. Can't compare them to full range beasties.

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 31, 2012 at 21:45:42
the old school
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The LS 3/5's are not high end IMO: no deep bass, a mid bass hump, and inefficient to boot!!! The Spicas beat the 3/5 in JA's measurements: flatter frequency response, no mid-bass hump, and more efficient. Yes, and time-coeherent. And yet, JA continues to use these severely flawed, over-priced British speakers as his reference!

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on May 31, 2012 at 22:12:55
the old school
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Even JA's measurements of the AR 303 (an updated AR 3a) are superior to the 3/5: +- 3 dB from 22 Hz to 11,000Hz. I lived with an AR 3 with a RTR electrostatic tweeter for a decade. A very happy decade!

 

John Atkinson..., posted on May 31, 2012 at 23:23:27
RGA
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Well if true that JA is using a lesser measuring speaker over a better measuring speaker then there is hope for JA yet :-)

Measurements only mean something as the sound goes into yourear canal - doesn't matter what it is doing at the other end of a room at 1 meter if you are 3-4 meters away.

I just finished one raging debate about measurements on another forum - and all themeasurements that are taken are woefully lacking. Even if speakermeasurements today could account for 97% of everything that last 3% "magic" or "voodoo" factor remains pivotal.

It is the difference between sopmething sounding like music in a way that draws you to want to listen and a system that istechnically superb that makes you want to shut the thing off andwatch TV.

I brought a whole bunch of music to listen to the famed $20k ATC SCM 150 loudspeakers - accurate as all get out - I could hear a pin drop with them. They didn't sound bright or etchy - they sounded nearly flawless.

Yet I brought my same albums over to listen to the AN AX Two ($700) on Jinro(power amp) wit maybe the M9 preamp and CD 4.1 and it brought meto choke back tears.

In every technical way the ATC destroys the AX Two - it is more accurate it has far deeper bass, more treble extension - can dissect discs like any good pro monitor should. It's a great loudspeaker no question about that.

But the fact remains that the SET amps with inexpensive undamped (AN E mini-me speakers) gave the goosebumps.

The LS3/5a has been around too long and loved by too many to be pile of junk. There has to be some merit to them even if they don't have much bass. Perhaps it gives up accuracy for the emotion - or perhaps it has a boost in the upper mids to give a sense of presence.

Also, from my reading up on them there are numerous versions of the speakers - some good some great and some pretty terrible. They don't even use the same drivers or cabinet materials. Also, from my readings some of the newer versions apparently sound a lot better than the original Rogers versions.

The speakers I tend not to love are the ones where at the end of a review JA makes a comment along the lines of "these have impressive measured results" - Usually the oens I have heard where he says that are the ones I want to shut off after 15 minutes.

Even the ATC 150 ad good as I think it is - the dealer in Hong Kong who demos Melody, Rogua Audio,Almarro, Line Magnetic on them - hooked up some Zu Audio Essence speakers for 1/4 the money. The Essence does a lot of things that sound more right in the midrange. (for that matter so did the $3500 model).

The Essence is a really nice sounding speaker for $5k. I would want them further back - and something at the frequency extremes were not quite right - but the amp was a KT88 which can sometimes sound unrelenting.

Anyway - I have decided to review a newer LS3/5a and AB1 and should get them in fairly soon. They seemvery popular in Hong Kong - I suspect due to the very small apartments here. So I will be able to test them in room sizes that they were meant for (similar to the BBC recording studios no doubt).

The low sensitivity is somewhat of a concern but their high impedence should make them very easy to drive in terms of load. We shall hear.

 

RE: John Atkinson..., posted on June 1, 2012 at 06:55:08
the old school
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Location: marin county
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I have heard several SET based systems, and they all sounded very musical (i.e., pleasant). The 3/5 will make many CDs sound "pleasant" or at least tolerable. It all depends on what audio camp you belong to: the "sounds good" camp or the "absolute sound" camp. I belong to the absolute sound camp, but I do have a "sounds good" set of equipment (using Fulton J speakers instead of the Dunlavy SCIVs, and using the Mystere CA21 preamp instead of the Audio Research SP8).

 

RE: John Atkinson..., posted on June 5, 2012 at 18:36:05
RGA
Reviewer

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The term absolute sound is meaningless drivel. Which was probably coined by a magazine...

Sounds good is the only thing that actually matters. The alternative to sounding good is sounding like shite. And Shite may be the "absolute sound" but it's not what I want to spend money on.

Bright, hard, fatiguing treble and bass SLAM somewhere along the way became the "absolute sound" and "accurate."

No speaker is accurate - being bright or having bass slam may seem like it is giving more of the recording - if it is brighter it must be presenting more information - which is is - whether it's from the recording is another matter.

 

RE: John Atkinson..., posted on June 6, 2012 at 07:02:35
the old school
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Don't be so defensive about being in the "sounds good" camp. Many reviewers agree (AD being the main one). I, and several others, HP and JV and JGH being the chief ones, think truth to live acoustic music should be the goal of the high end. First, progress in ever higher audio quality demands that we keep our ears on the goal. Look at the progress in digital sound. Early digital
was pure crap, and fell far short of analogue sound. Those who favored analogue (anyone with ears, IMO) refused to be seduced by the convenience of digital. The "measurements above all" camp finally were forced to admit that digital was inaccurate in ways that analogue was not (jitter and sampling rate limitations being two). Digital sound improved slowly, and recent breakthroughs have made high res digital much more accurate (true to live sound). Measurements have played a role in that improvement of digital. Second, with poor recordings (unfortunately many analogue records fall into this group; all but recent digital also belong in the poor recording group), audio equipment that makes these poor recordings pleasant sounding fail to sound as good with great recordings. When I am comparing audio systems, I use several of my best sounding vinyl records. Speakers with tipped up bass and rolled off treble may make crap CDs tolerable, but they DON"T sound best (OR most realistic) with the best recordings. I suspect that JA uses the 3/5 precisely because they make his digital sound pleasant. Accurate speakers reveal 99% of digital to be audio dreck. Most tube units perform a similar function. The best tube manufactures (Audio Research being the leader here) have tried to narrow the gape between the accuracy of ss in the very low and the very high end. I DO admit that SET amps sound more pleasant AND more realistic to my ears. However, more scientific research will reveal why SETs sound more true to live music. I suspect the absence of feedback and a simpler approach are two of the chief reasons why SETs sound more accurate.

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on June 11, 2012 at 05:35:33
RGA
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I had a two hour audition with the Audio Space LS3/5a today trying a few of their KT 88 and EL34 based amps. The LS3/5a was sitting on top of their sub. No integration issues. Interestingly across the street I heard two other LS3/5a and a Gini version and neither were remotely as good. So I think it really comes down to who is making it and the parts quality because the Audio Space version was really nice - very high quality wood - you could tell the things were made a cut above the others.

The KT 88s still had a touch glassy sound though still better than many I've heard. One EL 84 was darker and brooding but it also drew me into the music more - the other EL34 they demoed was a tweener - retained the solid foundation of the first EL34 while having a little more air and openness of the KT 88 and was the best of the four (and not the most expensive). I say best when I mean to say best of the four with that LS3-5A - all of them were good so it will come down to taste to a large degree. I found them very musical and engaging so I look forward to getting some for review. It will be interesting to see how they fair in a smaller space. They did well in a large room probably too large for them so I am actually excited to hear what they can offer in a more appropriate demo. And it will be interesting to pit them head to head with the AX Two.

As for John Atkinson using them as a reference I can "hear" why. There may be better techy speakers but this ranks high on the musical factor and that counts for something - err well everything really. It says much that they're still selling and companies are willing to go head to head with other companies in making a set.

 

RE: A Question for Reviewers who Own LS3/5As, posted on June 15, 2012 at 06:46:25
the old school
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I don't like the tipped up bass and recessed treble , or the low efficiency. I want a jump factor in my audio system, and the 3/5s cannot produce it. BTW, the Audio Note Js are, BY FAR, more realistic than the 3/5s, and I would love to compare the AN Js to the 3/5s blind.

 

RE: John Atkinson..., posted on June 30, 2012 at 10:33:16
FredericB
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"The 3/5 will make many CDs sound "pleasant" or at least tolerable."

Although I agree with this comment isn't it paradoxal that the speaker was born as a recording monitor designed to flag any distortion while broadcasting?
That's where the sharp treble came from... As a warning sign that the broadcasting was coming in too hot.

Yet the somewhat plush midrange now makes it a "comfort" speaker. I think it says a lot about the evolution of recordings and where we have gained or lost. The BBC from the 70s worried about distorted treble, with CD we have to fluff up the midrange...

 

RE: John Atkinson..., posted on July 1, 2012 at 22:05:01
the old school
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The 3/5 are anything but flat in the treble. Why anyone loves these highly colored, inefficient speakers is a big puzzle. Some just love evereything English (and detest everything from the US).

 

RE: John Atkinson..., posted on July 3, 2012 at 07:03:57
lord addleford
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the puzzle may exist only in your mind. are you not, perhaps, being a tad limited in your look at who might enjoy this speaker? a little bit of self reflection goes a long way.

 

RE: John Atkinson..., posted on July 3, 2012 at 10:20:46
the old school
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Location: marin county
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I've compared 3/5 speakers in blind listening tests, and consistently rate them at the bottom. NO ONE has put the 3/5s at the top of our blind tests. The combination of low efficiency and over-emphasized mid bass with NO deep bass doesn't impress me in the slightest.

 

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