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Rogers LS3/5a (BBC) Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 147 55.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 86 32.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 21 7.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 12 4.5%

  • Total voters
    266
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amirm

amirm

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amirm

amirm

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nearfield for voice in a van, isn't that their original purpose ?
Apparently they were used for more than that but currently application is home hi-fi music.
 

617

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Whats the deal with British hifi culture? We all know what I mean. @Purité Audio whats with all retro outfits recreating the early 70s.

At least retro American hifi encompasses big horns and altec coaxes, why would you want to relive the bexetrine woofer transcriptor skeleton era.
 

restorer-john

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why would you want to relive the bexetrine woofer transcriptor skeleton era.

 

milosz

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These speakers were designed by the BBC to give them something to use as monitors to listen to production of live broadcasts in small sound booths or even remote production vans. They are intended for near-field listening and are designed to give producers some reasonable idea of the sound going out over the air, with an emphasis on intelligibility. Radio production is different from home hi-fi listening. I have a pair and I rather like them, for polite listening in my dining room. I paid $1,500 and they tend to sell for more. Listening to vocals and string quartets is quite nice. They are not rock speakers
 

restorer-john

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I have a pair and I rather like them, for polite listening in my dining room.

Do you print the evening's available music selection on your menus?

"I'll have the wild duck-liver pate, with just a hint of Albinoni's adagio in G minor."
 

suttondesign

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When I was getting into hi-fi in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, a salesperson tried to get me into mission speakers. they sounded odd to me. I didn’t bite. It would not surprise me, since they were similar in size and config. to these rogers, if they were modeled on the bbc sound.

i bought a/d/s speakers instead.
 

192kbps

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Screenshot_20231122-101805.png
Screenshot_20231122-101946.png

Screenshot_20231122-140754.png

Screenshot_20231122-135508.png
Screenshot_20231122-135520.png
From: KEF Engineer
(Here's the source, and he's a Hong Konger, which means you'll probably need to use Google Translate.)
 
Last edited:

restorer-john

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There's definitely a bunch of loudspeakers from the past with undeserved reputations, both good and bad. I've heard these speakers many times, various iterations, and didn't enjoy them. I sold on a few pairs bought really cheap back in the day as people pay silly money for them.

If you find even a battered pair at an estate sale, just grab them and audiophiles will fall over backwards to give you their money- even non-working ones.
 

phoenixdogfan

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I owned a pair between 1978-1993. At the time they came out they were selling for $480/pr. Personally, I loved them. They were the speaker that gave me the high end audio bug. I heard them in a place called Hi Fi Gallery in Milford Ohio and I thought they could not possibly be any good but then the needle hit the groove and my jaw dropped to the floor. All my previous experience was with things like KLH 17's, AR 2a's and the like, and the Rogers absolutely smoked them.

I think their reputation started with Peter Aczel's review of them in the Audio Critic, and these are unquestionbly one of the seminal products that launched the High End Audio industry boom in the late 1970's.

Of course they don't hold up against today's designs, but that should hardly be surprising. After all, it's been nearly half a century since they were introduced, and it would be terribly disappointing if the science of speaker making had not advanced far past this initial attempt. And, yes, they were never meant to be a high end monitor. They were fabricated to the BBC spec to be a small monitor used in remote vans, but, fact is, they did sound better back then than most everything else out there.

I'm led to believe the Falcon LS 3/5a is the best contemporary iteration of this classic. It lists for around $3800, and Stereophile list it in "Class A Limited" category. Definitely not worth it. If you want to own a piece of history, find a mint condition Rogers original. I'm kicking myself for letting mine go.
 

JDS

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I'm not sure if I have ever heard "genuine" LS3/5As. But I have had a pair of their slightly more advanced relatives, the Rogers JR149s, for decades, and they were (coupled with subs) my primary speakers for many years. I wouldn't be surprised if they measure more or less like these. If you don't feed them deep bass, they will handle quite a bit of power, and I always thought their imaging was very impressive. I still use them as nearfields in my home office. Nostalgia has its place.

All that said, there is no way in hell I would pay thousands of dollars for this level of performance.
 

Maiky76

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For DYIers the reports/monographs pertaining to the design of the BBC monitors are a must read IMO.
These are some of the earlier objective lead designs in terms of THD, cabinet vibration etc.
The material have evolved but the physics did not...

Here is an excellent post by @tuga


Example in 1956:
looks familiar?
Screenshot 2023-11-22 at 11.59.09 AM.png



and some Stereophile history:


Here is my take on the EQ.

Please report your findings, positive or negative!
The following EQs are “anechoic” EQs to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 1.7
With Sub: 4.8

Spinorama with no EQ:

Rogers LS3a No EQ Spinorama.png

some distant relatives?
index.php



Directivity:

Better stay at tweeter height
Horizontally, better toe-in the speakers by 10/20deg and have the axis crossing in front of the listening location, might help dosing the upper range.

Rogers LS3a 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png

EQ design:

I have generated two EQs. The APO config files are attached.
  • The first one, labelled, LW is targeted at making the LW flat
  • The second, labelled Score, starts with the first one and adds the score as an optimization variable.
  • The EQs are designed in the context of regular stereo use i.e. domestic environment, no warranty is provided for a near field use in a studio environment although the LW might be better suited for this purpose.

Score EQ LW: 5.3
with sub: 7.7

Score EQ Score: 6.0
with sub: 8.3

Code:
Rogers LS3a APO EQ LW 96000Hz
November222023-114209

Preamp: -2.1 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 49.99,    0.00,    1.24
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 142.59,    -4.67,    1.35
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 494.40,    1.01,    0.67
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1120.58,    -5.03,    3.19
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 1883.15,    -0.89,    3.95
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 4757.04,    3.11,    1.65
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 4889.97,    -2.77,    4.97
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 9052.04,    -6.42,    0.22
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 12508.92,    2.76,    1.45

Rogers LS3a APO EQ Score 96000Hz
November222023-114209

Preamp: -2 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 49.83,    0.00,    1.25
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 144.09,    -4.67,    1.13
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 569.29,    1.33,    0.59
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1133.37,    -5.18,    2.72
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 1874.15,    -1.50,    3.53
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 4545.00,    2.20,    1.18
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 4827.10,    -2.12,    4.40
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 9059.04,    -7.94,    0.23
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 12025.61,    2.59,    1.42
Rogers LS3a EQ Design.png

Spinorama EQ LW
Rogers LS3a LW EQ Spinorama.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Rogers LS3a Score EQ Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Rogers LS3a Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal
Rogers LS3a Regression.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Nice improvements
Rogers LS3a Radar.png



The rest of the plots is attached.

EDIT:

reasonably good match with historic data
Rogers LS3a vs Stereophile.png
 

Attachments

  • Rogers LS3a 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
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  • Rogers LS3a 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
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  • Rogers LS3a 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
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  • Rogers LS3a Normalized Directivity data.png
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  • Rogers LS3a Raw Directivity data.png
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  • Rogers LS3a Reflexion data.png
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  • Rogers LS3a LW data.png
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  • Rogers LS3a APO EQ LW 96000Hz.txt
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  • Rogers LS3a APO EQ Score 96000Hz.txt
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Last edited:

Hollywood_Bob

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I've had a used pair of the LS3/5A's since the mid 1980's.

Yes, I am old.

Paid $300 Canadian, which seemed like way too much back then.

On the back, nominal impedance 15 ohms, serial number 5064, and inside date stamped Juy 17, 1978.

I found out in the late 1990's that they really aren't for rock, and blew one of the drivers. Couldn't get a replacement driver back then and shelved them.

Replaced them with a pair of Thiel CS .5's.

But recently, with the help of Jerry at Falcon Acoustics, I replaced both drivers in the Rogers with a matched pair, just for fun.

As noted in an earlier post, they are really good for chamber music and vocals. For performers like Sade, Frank Sinatra and Irma Thomas, you can really feel like you are right there, in a smoke filled club. You can feel the timbre of the vocals, and the performers fingers sliding on the strings of the stand up base. Wind instruments are great too.

Thanks Amir for the recommended EQ settings. I'm using Steelseries GG for EQ and it's really easy to implement your recommendations.

Very much appreciated.
 

Attachments

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Talisman

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An Italian YouTuber, a gentleman of a certain age who is a professional in the audio sector, said in a video that the fortune of speakers like these in the 70s was due to the transition from large speakers with the ability to go low and excite the room to these little ones that simply had much less bass and therefore sounded "cleaner" and hifi. It seems that these measurements prove him right
 

Joramun

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That's a lot of mullah for nothing.

But of course a lot of modern speakers are in that same category.
 

tjf

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There's definitely a bunch of loudspeakers from the past with undeserved reputations, both good and bad. I've heard these speakers many times, various iterations, and didn't enjoy them. I sold on a few pairs bought really cheap back in the day as people pay silly money for them.

If you find even a battered pair at an estate sale, just grab them and audiophiles will fall over backwards to give you their money- even non-working ones.

These are remembered from the late 70s/80s...along with the BBC hype (and the "UK government always has at least 3 vendors produce certain products for Gov (BBC) use) -- but considering the general level of speaker design competence from that era, the LS3/5A series and all it's decendents -- Spendor, Chartwell, Rogers, Audiomaster -- that's all of them, right? Or did KEF have a version too, as it was their drivers?

I even remember the purpose designed "Satterberg" add on woofer system, that also acted as stands for the LS3/5a.

Looking back at my decisions for speaker choices from that era, I'd have been Muuuuccch better off with a pair of these, instead of being fully taken in the the "DCM Time Window" narritive, with all the "phase coherent" and "transient perfect xover and driver alignment" stuff -- man, what regretful (HiFi) decisions I made in the 80s -- regarding speaker choices, that is!

Man, not just the original Time Windows, but I also bought a pair of their "QEDs" which were a bit better that the TWs...But still, embarassing to say the least!

By today's high competency standards (KEF, ELAC, Revel, et al) man, the DCMs were awful (especially the Phillips woofers and tweeters) -- can't wait to see the backlash on this opinion about DCM...


I guess all I have to say about the LS3/5a thing, is they weren't bad for their day, comparatively speaking...but spending thousands on a set today, I know there's better to be had...
 

sam_adams

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Looking back at my decisions for speaker choices from that era, I'd have been Muuuuccch better off with a pair of these, instead of being fully taken in the the "DCM Time Window" narritive, with all the "phase coherent" and "transient perfect xover and driver alignment" stuff—man, what regretful (HiFi) decisions I made in the 80s

86v2vd.jpg
 

GXAlan

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These are mine. Thankfully I got these on a trade, based upon a street price of a Falcon Silver Badge being ~$1800.

Here is what I wrote before seeing the measurements:

They're not that great. I liked them more than the Focal Vestia (treble too low) and JBL L52 Classic (treble too hot) but it's not transparent by today's metrics and that's a very jarring first impression to overcome.

You know you're listening to a recording. It doesn't sound like hyperreal with all the details of the recording nor fully transparent where it sounds live.

It's impressive to hear how good this knowing its size and era, but it would never win a blind test or even a sighted test against a number of lower-priced speakers like the JBL XPL 90. No goosebumps or big smiles -- it sounds good but maybe the bias of "polite British sound" plays a role. It's not fatiguing and I was able to enjoy the music itself.”


There is a neat effect in stereo where the phantom center was higher than expected for these speakers, maybe a HRTF effect.

What isn’t shown here is that my in room measurements show the two speakers are very tightly matched, so I wonder if this explains why they had such a reputation. I do strongly believe this is the true performance of the LS3/5a and not that I got a dud. It measures somewhat similarly to the Falcon Silvers at Stereophile which is considered to be the most precise modern reproduction.
 
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