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Rogers LS3/5a (BBC) Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 149 55.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 87 32.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 21 7.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 14 5.2%

  • Total voters
    271

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of a vintage Rogers L3/5a monitor implementation licensed from BBC with the same name. It is on kind load from a member. New, it costs US $4895 a pair.
Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker Review.jpg

From the outside, there is nothing to distinguish this speaker from cheap bookshelves sold when it was manufactured. Back panel reveals no secrets either:
Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker back panel Review.jpg


Owner kindly gave permission to leave the serial number on the picture for those of you who want to trace its lineage. Owner says it was manufactured between 1980 and 1987.

Searching for measurements, there are a few but are either old and crude, or have issues (e.g. stereophile measurements with incorrect bass response). So this test may be the first true measurement of this speaker.

Rogers LS3/5a Speaker Measurement
The grill can be removed but it wasn't easy to pull off so I tested with it on. From some reading I have done, speaker was designed with it being on to get rid of edge diffraction and such. Let's see the anechoic measurement:
Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker anechoic frequency response measurement.png

Well, that is no good. Bass response is clearly wrong. It is uneven and low in level. We also have a pronounced resonance which one manufacturers of these clones claimed was due to age. I have seen the same in just about every measurement of this speaker so that doesn't sound right. It seems like "bog standard" woofer resonance due to it being used outside of its linear range:

Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker near-field frequency response measurement.png


Early window and predicted in-room response predictably don't look nice:

Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker early window frequency response measurement.png


Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker predicted in-room frequency response measurement.png


Owner didn't want me to stress the speaker and asked for distortion at 76 and 86 instead of my normal 86/96 dBSPL @ 1 meter:
Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker THD Distortion measurement.png

Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker relative THD Distortion measurement.png


The peak in distortion around 1.5 KHz is another reason to have crossed over the woofer earlier although it is unknown if the tweeter could handle that better.

Directivity is quite rough in horizontal axis:
Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker horizontal beamwidth measurement.png


Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker horizontal directivity measurement.png


Vertically you better point the tweeter at your ear:
Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker vertical directivity measurement.png


Waterfall shows clear resonance:
Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker CSD Waterfall measurement.png


Step response shows an odd discontinuity in the woofer response which may be due to that resonance:
Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker step response measurement.png


Edit: forgot the impedance plot:

Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker impedance and phase response measurement.png

Rogers LS3/5a Speaker Listening Test and EQ
Due to low bass output, overall sensitivity is quite low requiring cranking up the amplifier volume. Once there, my first female track didn't sound awful but was rather bright and somewhat rough. Filling in the bass hole completed the tonal range for vocals proving efficacy of our measurement. I then corrected a few other issues and fine tuned to get this:
Rogers LS3 5A BBC Monitor Speaker equalization eq parametric.png

Not only was the speaker much more balanced sounding, it also had more clarity. Those resonances were sure hiding detail and ambiance in the music. That last notch filter at 5 kHz was barely audible but the rest were much needed.

Once there, I was impressed with the volume this little speaker could produce and the large halo of sound it created in may admittedly very large space. I could imagine listening to two of them would have been more satisfying.

Conclusions
Much of what I read from companies who have cloned the BBC LS3/5a is around replicating components. Measurements seem to be an afterthought. That is the wrong way to do this as I could care less what components are used. If you want to replicate the old speaker, replicate its audible frequency response. That, is what we listen to, not what the parts do.

Now, it is possible the old BBC had the problems we see here in which case, why reproduce a faulty product and charge so much for it? It makes no sense to me. Get a proper speaker if your goal is enjoyment of music. The history is not going to pay the bills there.

I can't recommend the Rogers LS3/5a speaker/monitor. If you have it, a bit of filtering does it a lot of good, bringing the sound into hi-fi category.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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amirm

amirm

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Rogers LS3/5A Classic Specifications

· System type: Two way infinite baffle
· Frequency response: 80Hz-20KHz +/-3dB
· Nominal Impedance: 15 Ohms
· Bass/midrange: 110mm Bextrene cone
· Tweeter: 19mm Mylar dome
· Crossover frequency: 3KHz
· Sensitivity: 82.5dB/W/M
· Finish: Walnut, Rosewood and Olive
· Grille: Black Tygan
· Dimensions: 305 x 190 x 165mm (HxWxD)
· Weight: 4.9Kg (each speaker)
· Recommended amplifier range 30-80 Watts
· BBC-licensed LS3/5A
 
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kemmler3D

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it is possible the old BBC had the problems we see here in which case,
From what I've read, that seems likely.
why reproduce a faulty product and charge so much for it?
People demand the authentic BBC LS3/5A experience because of all the hype in the 70s and afterward. It's simply a name brand of its own. Why charge so much? Well, why not if people will pay it?

It's strange to think of a popular speaker being built to a government spec, but I think that really is part of the appeal.

It makes no sense to me. Get a proper speaker if your goal is enjoyment of music. The history is not going to pay the bills there.
Obviously their goal is nostalgic enjoyment of vintage broadcast monitoring equipment, not MUSIC! ;)

Having seen these measurements now, though, I sort of understand the appeal. This must be the infamous "BBC dip"? (Per post #104 this is not the BBC dip, I stand educated!) I have found that cutting those frequencies can make something sound like the bass has solidified, honkiness and boxiness go away, and the midrange is clear and clean. That is, when there is too much energy between about 200 and 500hz, it can be unpleasant. This speaker makes sure to never encounter that issue. So I am not surprised that some people fall in love with this (technically very wrong) tonality.

Past 1Khz it's not amazing but it's not a disaster. So the speaker overall sort of creates a very specific kind of tonality that at least makes some sense to me.

Of course I'd never buy one, but at least it's not totally baffling IMO.
 
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Robin L

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Wow. That speaker must have a strong reputation and lineage to command such a price.
Yeah, a lot of audiophile rags used it as some sort of reference. I had access to a pair back in the late 1980s, found them kind of "meh".
 

AdamG

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That’s a whole lot of “Oh snap” for $5k large. Vintage value for a collector aside. The cheap looking connectors on the back scream White Van Special.
 

MattHooper

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Very interesting, thanks Amir!

I don't know how they measure, but I'll never part with my Spendor S3/5s, which I've had for 23 years or so. I absolutely love how they sound in my system.
I bought the S3/5s to use as L/R speakers in my original, modest, plasma-screen based home theater. Dialogue always sounded superbly natural and human, and they did such a great job of spreading the sound such that no center channel was needed. Even from off axis the sound didn't seem stuck in the speakers, but seemed to come from the TV image.

Now I just have them in the bedroom and sometimes put them in my main audio system for a while. I find them utterly addictive.
 

Steve Dallas

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Very interesting, thanks Amir!

I don't know how they measure, but I'll never part with my Spendor S3/5s, which I've had for 23 years or so. I absolutely love how they sound in my system.
I bought the S3/5s to use as L/R speakers in my original, modest, plasma-screen based home theater. Dialogue always sounded superbly natural and human, and they did such a great job of spreading the sound such that no center channel was needed. Even from off axis the sound didn't seem stuck in the speakers, but seemed to come from the TV image.

Now I just have them in the bedroom and sometimes put them in my main audio system for a while. I find them utterly addictive.

You know that now that we know that you have a pair, we will hound you into sending one to Amir for testing. It is your duty for science.
 

dtaylo1066

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The old LS3 "BBC dip" What we see here is far more dramatic than I would have ever thought.

The late Jeff Bagby had designed an excellent modern day DIY LS3/5A that was offered as a kit by Meniscus Audio, but they have gone out of business. I think their kit designs will be posted by someone as some point soon.

Salk Sound made a production model based on Jeff's design: https://salksound.com/model.php?model=Bagby Continuum

But alas, Jim Salk has closed up shop and retired.
 
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AdamG

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617

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I have the crossover schematic for the original continuum, but it uses the dayton original rs28a tweeter which is NLA.

Shame about Salk, I had no idea.

The old LS3 "BBC dip" I have heard of is far more dramatic than I would have ever thought.

The late Jeff Bagby had designed an excellent modern day DIY LS3/5A that was offered as a kit by Meniscus Audio, but they have gone out of business. I think their kit designs will be posted by someone as some point soon.

Salk Sound made a production model based on Jeff's design: https://salksound.com/model.php?model=Bagby Continuum

But alas, Jim Salk has closed up shop and retired.
 
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