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LS3/5A
Old 15th October 2015
  #1
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LS3/5A

Recently someone offered me a pair of BBC LS3/5As to use on a longterm basis as they don't use them. I realise they are quite old and probably modern speakers have better specs - but does anyone still use these for anything whether it be post production etc ? Are they still in use in studios at all ?
Old 15th October 2015
  #2
They are still a very good (lowish sound pressure) monitor speaker as long as the crossovers are recapped and all drivers are in good order.:-)
Just not powerful enough for most people these days though.
Old 15th October 2015
  #3
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I'll have them if they're too old for you!
Old 15th October 2015
  #4
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I can only borrow not sell - I am intrigued by them. What is involved in "recapping the crossover" - does that mean replacing the capacitors ?
Also what sort of amp for these - a quad 405 ?

Last edited by Gusss; 15th October 2015 at 09:23 PM..
Old 15th October 2015
  #5
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The LS3/5A design is from an era when a neutral frequency response was the most important consideration for making production judgements about sound. The specification was for a small monitor for use in outside broadcast. As a result of these two things, the crossover comprises a very large number of components to perform the necessary equalization. The net effect of that is severe loss of low-level information.

A pertinent anecdote. At one time I reviewed audio equipment. I got an offer to try a pair at home, so I carried them back from the office, plugged them into the hi-fi straightaway, and put some music on as we sat down to the more important domestic business of dinner. That finished, and settling back with a cup of coffee, I turned my attention to the sound. "Damn", I thought, "there's a big wodge of fluff on the needle". (Yes, this is BCD vinyl era). But when I checked the stylus... there was none.

Last edited by hyper.real; 15th October 2015 at 09:39 PM.. Reason: gra'ma
Old 15th October 2015
  #6
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Agree with Hyper.Real

Some years ago I had a pair of LS3/5A and enjoyed them, but compared them to a pair of Kef RDM2 monitors and they were warm and diffuse by comparison. Both driven with a Quad 306 amp. Sold them for good profit because of the audiophile craze over this speaker. The only older speakers that hold their own against modern designs are Quad electrostatics and they also have bass and volume limitations. I think newer self powered speakers are the way to go.
Old 16th October 2015
  #7
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Hi
Do the crossovers actually have electrolytic caps in them (if so they would be bipolar types)?
Whatever these speakers may have lacked in 'accuracy' I suspect they were pretty good at 'consistency' between speakers so allowing good translation from one situation to another.
I assume they were designed for the 'small control cubicle' where you could not wedge a LS5/8 into the space.
Since they are such an old design it is a bit unfair to compare them with 'modern' decent monitors. You may not be a 'spritely' as you were 35 years ago.
Matt S
Old 16th October 2015
  #8
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Yeah I mean obviously I'd sell them for a more modern pair as the prices in ebay are anything from 1500 up to 5 grand. However this is not an option. So who's buying them someone obviously still values them is it just audiophiles or they an old design that still has a place in some studios like the ns10 ? They were more for tv and radio than mixing music right ?
Old 16th October 2015
  #9
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I had a pair of Rogers LS3/5a's for a while, and still have a pair of KEF 101's, which were their slightly altered consumer-y version. They sound gorgeous. Maybe too gorgeous for critical music mixing. But for as pretty as they are, they're still studio monitors -- play vinyl through them and you'll hear every snap, crackle and pop perfectly. For me, they're a bit too small to use as a primary nearfield. And they're waaay inefficient -- they need a whopper of an amp. I had a Bryston 3B on mine, but a 4B wouldn't have been overkill.

End of the day, the Rogers and the KEF's were basically the same, only the Rogers were worth ten times the money. So out they went.
Old 16th October 2015
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I had a pair of Rogers LS3/5a's for a while, and still have a pair of KEF 101's, which were their slightly altered consumer-y version. They sound gorgeous. Maybe too gorgeous for critical music mixing. But for as pretty as they are, they're still studio monitors -- play vinyl through them and you'll hear every snap, crackle and pop perfectly. For me, they're a bit too small to use as a primary nearfield. And they're waaay inefficient -- they need a whopper of an amp. I had a Bryston 3B on mine, but a 4B wouldn't have been overkill.

End of the day, the Rogers and the KEF's were basically the same, only the Rogers were worth ten times the money. So out they went.
That's weird because I'm reading a whopper of an amp is a very bad idea with these. This pair is audiomaster so quite early I don't think they would have been pumping too many watts into them. Any idea what amp did they use back then in the bbc for them ?
Old 16th October 2015
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gusss View Post
That's weird because I'm reading a whopper of an amp is a very bad idea with these.
Well, you just read otherwise. And read further: a high-quality whopper of an amp will make any speakers sound better than a dinky amp, regardless of the size of the speakers. It's not about loudness.
Old 16th October 2015
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Well, you just read otherwise. And read further: a high-quality whopper of an amp will make any speakers sound better than a dinky amp, regardless of the size of the speakers. It's not about loudness.
Yes I'm aware of that and the issues around clipping etc. But I am reading advice from the manufacturers of the speakers and on harbeth web forum also reports of irreplaceable matched drivers.....

http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...the-BBC-LS3-5a

Last edited by Gusss; 16th October 2015 at 06:51 PM..
Old 16th October 2015
  #13
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I believe the bbc used two monoblocks

HH AM8/12

a 30 w amplifier.
Old 16th October 2015
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gusss View Post
Yes I'm aware of that. But I am reading advice from the manufacturers of the speakers and on harbeth web forum.

What is it with the BBC LS3/5a?
If you're talking about this post from "hifi dave..."

I never was a fan of the LS3/5A, back in the day. They were inefficient and didn't take a lot of power, so there was a narrow window of opportunity where you could get them working to a reasonable level without cracking up. <> They sounded quite anaemic up against the P3ESR and the power handling meant they were on the edge where the P3ESR was coasting along. Maybe not a problem if playing small scale music at moderate levels but give them a bit of full orchestra or rock and grit your teeth.

... what he's saying is that you can't play them very loud. Which is true. It's also not what I was talking about at all when i said they needed a lot of power.
Old 16th October 2015
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
If you're talking about this post from "hifi dave..."

I never was a fan of the LS3/5A, back in the day. They were inefficient and didn't take a lot of power, so there was a narrow window of opportunity where you could get them working to a reasonable level without cracking up. <> They sounded quite anaemic up against the P3ESR and the power handling meant they were on the edge where the P3ESR was coasting along. Maybe not a problem if playing small scale music at moderate levels but give them a bit of full orchestra or rock and grit your teeth.

... what he's saying is that you can't play them very loud. Which is true. It's also not what I was talking about at all when i said they needed a lot of power.
Actually a different one - there was a post about overpowered amps blowing tweeters - several posts on several forums in fact. Like I say I am aware of the problems with clipping, distortion and enough headroom etc I was suprised myself but then if the bbc designed them to be run by 30 w I wouldn't want to be putting more than 100 w amp on them....might be nice to fin some of the original amps and recreate a 70 retro studio fitted out with contemporary gear

Last edited by Gusss; 16th October 2015 at 08:15 PM..
Old 16th October 2015
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gusss View Post
Actually a different one - there was a post about overpowered amps blowing tweeters - several posts on several forums in fact.
Tweeters usually get blown one of three ways. Overall loudness, distortion and DC (popping) when the amp powers up. Since we know we're not supposed to play these speakers very loud, overall loudness isn't an issue. A good, high-powered amp driving LS3/5a's at moderate volume won't come anywhere near tweeter-blowing distortion. And high-quality, modern amps don't pop. Most of the older high end ones don't either. And if you have one that does, fuse your speakers and/or leave the amp on all at the time. Fuses are a good idea anyway, since the speakers aren't yours.
Old 16th October 2015
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sd270 View Post
Some years ago I had a pair of LS3/5A and enjoyed them, but compared them to a pair of Kef RDM2 monitors and they were warm and diffuse by comparison.
I never did get to extract the crossover to examine the grounding, but with the number of components in there it would not surprise me to find floating earths - a major cause of "warm and diffuse". These days of course many more designers are aware of the benefits of star earthing. IIRC it is possible to buy replacement crossovers for this design, but one also needs to remember that driver design too has advanced quite a long way since then.
Old 16th October 2015
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gusss View Post
... if the bbc designed them to be run by 30 w I wouldn't want to be putting more than 100 w amp on them...
Look... running small speakers with a big amp isn't "dangerous" like putting a nitro-fueled funny car engine in your Mini might be. Sure, the BBC designed a speaker that will be acceptable at low to moderate loudness with 30 watts a side, but that doesn't mean it won't sound better with 100. Fact is, it will. As will any small speaker. I suggest you try it for yourself, rather than insisting I'm wrong because of things you might have read.
Old 16th October 2015
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Look... running small speakers with a big amp isn't "dangerous" like putting a nitro-fueled funny car engine in your Mini might be. Sure, the BBC designed a speaker that will be acceptable at low to moderate loudness with 30 watts a side, but that doesn't mean it won't sound better with 100. Fact is, it will. As will any small speaker. I suggest you try it for yourself, rather than insisting I'm wrong because of things you might have read.
like I said - I am aware of that. In fact they always say it's easier to blow speakers with an underpowered amp others say that's a myth. ... usually though there have to be limits - Im just relaying what I am reading about these speakers don't want to get into a long discussion about square waves ! I think " high volumes" is the key phrase . Also it begs the question - if they would sound better with more powerful amps why didn't the bbc use them ? You'd think with all the money spent on r & d .....

Last edited by Gusss; 16th October 2015 at 08:54 PM..
Old 16th October 2015
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Our studio uses a number of different monitors. All are dual-concentric units, and powered by external amps. The only powered monitors we use are a pair of Equator D5s in an editing room.

We do, however, use a pair of Spendor LS3/5A monitors - driven by a 100 watt per channel amp - in a listening area of the building housing the studio. I am no audiophile. (Understatement of the Year Award, on that one...) However, these monitors sound superb when a mix is spot on, and just awful, when it is not. I know of no monitor that better reproduces the timbre of vocals, better.

We often do penultimate vocal checks on the Spendors. If it sounds like the singer is with us in the room, we have nailed it. If not, back to the 'professional' monitors for adjustment.

For us, the Spendor LS3/5A monitors are simply another tool - one we would not like to be without.

Best to all.
Byll
Old 16th October 2015
  #21
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deng's Avatar
Had a pair of the Rogers back in the early '80s driven by a Phase Linear 2000/200 pre/power amp (100/100w RMS). Coupled it with one of the very first passive sub-woofer made also by Rogers. Great speakers for acoustic/classical stuff, even with the sub, system lacked tight/defined low I was after.

I sold them soon after finding a worthy replacement an IMF Electronics (PMC today) CM2, also a bookshelf 2 way with an 8" woofer. To this day I run it as my home stereo system coupled with a B&W sub, after failing to find a worthy replacement costing up to $3K.......lol

The LS 3/5A are a great classic for a small room, a speaker that don't sound loud (db's) but smooth and neutral. Being inefficient by its design (infinite baffle,closed box) its needs quite bit of RMS to get the best out of them.

Last edited by deng; 16th October 2015 at 10:27 PM..
Old 17th October 2015
  #22
There are some firms still supplying parts, upgrade bits, and new monitors based on the old BBC designs.
Wilmslow audio and LS5/9 production
I have a pair of the big old KEF B139 bass transmission line types I use every day with aftermarket Wilmslow Audio crossovers.
They don't go loud but they tell no lies.:-)
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