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Rogers LS3/5a (BBC) Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 149 55.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 86 32.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 21 7.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 12 4.5%

  • Total voters
    268

MaxwellsEq

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his speakers and he ‘should’ be more or less placed in an equilateral triangle ( his speakers were too close to each other) when he asked who suggested such a thing the poster pointed to the ATC manual.
I just share a link to the international standard for listening rooms
 

dfuller

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Pro manufacturers do , close to front wall within 60cm or more than a metre and a half away but do many domestic manufacturers?
Keith
Yep this is to avoid the worst of SBIR. As close to the wall as is reasonable. Also improves bass headroom because you can shelve down LF to get back to ideal and gain headroom.
 

Murray A

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A 2006 photo of a Rogers 15 ohm LS3/5A internals. Manufactured March 1984.

LS3-5A_6.jpg


Both units sported the white belly and a pronounced peak in the 1K region when this pic was taken 22 years later, that wasn't noticeable when they were new.

LS3-5A_2.jpg
 
Last edited:

Willem

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Precisely: the 15 Ohm version was difficult to produce to spec, and deteriorated from that spec quite quickly. It is really absurd that it is precisely this 15 Ohm version that is coveted by audiophools, rather than the better 11 ohm version.
 

TurnerGuy

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Hi,

new member here but long time user of LS3/5as.

Basing any judgement of performance on an old pair of 15ohm LS3/5s is of little value because they will have drifted so far in performance, mainly in the 1Khz area.

For some reason this emphasis makes them very popular in the far east, and it is likely to be even more emphasised if used with a tube amplifier.

I personally have never heard a pair of 15ohms that I have thought good - I have never heard the Kingswood Warren prototypes but I have heard the pair labelled 001/002 that were the production version prototypes, now owned by Paul Whatton. Admittedly they imaged fantastically but they had the same 'slow' and ponderous bass of all 15 ohm versions I have tried.

Consequently I personally have owned several sets of 11ohm models and now have a pair of Stirling Broadcast (V3) ls3/5as as my main pair, in conjunction with their AB-2 bass extenders. I use them with Quad QMP power amps, a Music First Audio Classic V2 pre-amp and an Oppo 207 front end, with balanced connections.

The LS3/5a was a near field monitor for use in limited spaces, and therefore at low volumes, the sort of volumes where a lot of speakers haven't 'got going' yet. This is one reason why they are popular in the UK and the far east, with their smaller rooms.

I remember the Thomas Heinitz shop in London, where he sold classical music CDs mostly but also had an audio setup on demo in the main shop consisting of two systems 1) Quad amplification with Quad ESL63 loudspeakers and a CD player, and 2) a Denon mini system with LS3/5as and an AudioPro subwoofer.

He would first demo music (classic and some drum solos) on the Quads, and then he would demo the same on the much cheaper Denon/LS3/5a/AudioPro system. Then the customer would get his checkbook out and Thomas would accept a cheque for a system comprising a Denon mini system, LS3/5a speakers and an AudioPro subwoofer !!!

Note that the LS3/5as are a 'grade 2' monitor, according to the BBC designation (the 3), so they are not meant to be ultimate performers...

However the original design is inherently capable of better performance than this, and I believe the original KW prototypes demonstrated this, and the Falcon Gold version attempt to replicate this.

First off the prototypes had 'thin-wall' cabinets, which was a common design trait in BBC monitors and which was suppossed to lead to a 'lossy' cabinet. These cabinets had 9mm thick birch panels (with glued back panels?), whereas the productions versions had 12mm cabinets (for robustness reasons probably).

Personally I think this 12mm cabinet leads to 'compression' and a lot of problems in the performance of the bass driver - compare the performance of the B110 SP1003 in an LS3/5a compared to in a JR149 cabinet where it works much better.

Second off, the prototype crossover used much better components and careful matching of components.

Cicable produced an external crossover for the LS3/5a which used much higher quality, and bigger, components, whilst keeping the original LS3/5a response, and these yielded a huge (around 50db average in the charts present by Cicable) reduction in harmonic distortion.

My personal favourite pair are some Rogers 11ohm LS3/5as that have been transplanted to thin walled cabinets (from Stirling Broadcast) and use Cicable premium external crossovers.

I compared these to a grade 1 class monitor speaker I had at the time (Harbeth M30.1 - which are very LS3/5a like in sound - hence Alan Shaw produced an M30.2 as he doesn't really like the LS3/5a 'presence' sound). Obviously they couldn't match the bass performance but everywhere else my LS3/5as were slightly preferable, albeit very similar.

I say that they were transplanted Rogers, but I actually bought them from Stirling Broadcast as Stirling Broadcast bought the last of Rogers LS3/5a stock, and jigs, when Rogers went bust.

They then sold these, still badged as Rogers, and when that stock was depleted, entered into a sales agreement where they bought more B110 SP1228 and T27 stock from Kef (actually Celestion). At about this time Richard Allan also entered the scene and started buying drivers, and produced their own LS3/5a.

Then something happened with an agreement Kef had with Harbeth, maybe they transferred production of the drivers to them, I can't quite remember. Anyway, it ended up with the supply of drivers ending, which therefore left Stirling Broadcast in trouble.

(Just before this I had met Doug as I had bought two pairs of these final Rogers LS3/5as, and AB-1s, and then travelled down to his premises to audition an Rogers E40a tube amplifier, which he had also bought stock of but then got Audionote UK to 'fix/upgrade' to their originally suggestion design. I also bought one of his Corian plinthed Technics SP10mkII turntables...).

Stirling Broadcast then contracted Derek Hughes (son of Spencer and former runner of Spendor) to come up with a new LS3/5a version that used drivers that were actually available.

(Derek Hughes was also the designer of the Cicable crossovers I previously mentioned, and probably knows as much about passive crossover design as anyone, if not more. Derek now works a lot with Graham Audio and designed a passive speaker system at the Royal Opera House (https://hifiplus.com/articles/a-night-at-the-opera/), where normally an active system would be used in such an environment. He also designed a similar PA system, using Crown amps, for Doug Stirling, but it was never for sale).

This was the V2 of the Stirling Broadcast LS3/5a, using Seas and Scanspeak drivers - the bass might have some extra doping on to mimic characteristic of the B110 Sp1003. I have a pair, and they are very respectable performers with a surprising amount of bass extension. Whereas the original LS3/5a drivers needed careful matching and varied in performance, the newer drivers are vitually perfectly matched out of the box.

Stirling then produced the AB-2 bass extender for the LS3/5a, which was another design by Derek Hughes - based on the AB-1s but with a larger cabinet and better crossover (Derek originally looked at my AB-1s in order to make a Cicable grade crossover but detemined that they had too small a cabinet for decent performance).

Recently Stirling produced the V3 LS3/5as, which have a different tweeter and also a crossover that rivals my Cicbles in size and performance, it's not quite as big as otherwise it wouldn't fit in the cabinet but it still has to be mounted on the back panel now in order to accomodate its larger size, which also means that the crossover is not as saturated by the magnetic field from the tweeter if it were mounted in the usual LS3/5a manner.

These V3s are about as good as my Cicabled pair for transparency, etc, but obviously have a far superior bass performance compared to my 11ohm pair that use the B110 SP1228s. I still suspect that the T27s are slightly better though.

Derek has since designed the LS3/6 for Stirling, and has produced many designs for Graham Audio, including their LS3/5a, LS5/9, and floor standing versions of them. I personally have not heard any of the Graham Audio speakers though.

So imho the best implementions of LS3/5as are the ones that have had Derek Hughes involved.

The current Rogers ones I believe have Andy Whittle involved (who ran the original Rogers at one point, designed the AB-1, and also runs Exposure) but I think they are a copy of the original and don't offer much more - apart from maybe a correct response as oppossed to the vintage ones around.

The Falcon ones are an authentic reproduction of the original drivers and cabinets, I would only consider that the Gold version are probably the only ones worth considering for ultimate performance as they are replicating the thin-walled (I think) cabinets and the better crossover.

If you after nostalgia then buy the originals and accept the poorer performace (the original 11ohm versions do not suffer this performance drift), but if you like the LS3/5a sound then audition the Stirling or Graham Audio (Chartwell) models, preferably with the Stirling bass extender or the floor standing models if you have to room.

I like the LS3/5a sound and cannot envisage ever changing from my V3/AB-2 setup, unless it is too swap in the Cicabled 11 ohm pair.

(It's a small world - my first hifi demo (at KJ in London) included Spendor SP2/2s, which were gorgeous but too big for me at the time, which were Derek Hughes first design. Later my Rogers E40a developed a fault, which Derek fixed but it turned out it is likely that his daughter or son-in-law probably built it in the first place as they were working at AudioNote).
 

asibbald

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Perhaps my commentary on this may be of interest...

I am a convinced "Objectivist" - I did an M.Sc. in audio engineering 40+ years ago and although I have made my living in the IT world ever since, I've always kept "Hi-Fi" as a hobby.

One of my closest friends - we shared a flat at University all those years ago - got infected with my hifi "bug" back then. He spent many years as a DJ - mainly Soul, and has a listening room with three walls covered from floor to ceiling with Vinyl LPs. He is a very discerning music lover and listener - but knows nothing whatsoever about the technology (Sociology graduate).

I mention all this because over the years I have had to moderate my Objectivist fervour when it comes to him - he now has a system comprising Rogers LS3/5As and a rather expensive Japanese valve (tube) integrated amplifier. He absolutely loves it. This is after a long set of upgrades through big Tannoy floor standers, Jamos and lots of "muscle" solid state amplifiers.

He listens to my system frequently - "objectively" much superior to his - and is unmoved by it. Similarly, I spend much time with him, listening to his system. I can hear frequency doubling, a very restricted bass response and numerous other flaws. But I recognise it does something very special with vocals - especially female.

His system is not for me. Neither is my system for him - and it is not through ignorance of the "objective" superiority of my system - which he acknowledges.

Ultimately, my long friendship with him has taught me a lot about the limitations of any single characterisation of "good" - in a very visceral manner.

So I will leave him happily enjoying his system (probably more than I enjoy mine TBH) - until the next time he phones me with "Al, I'm thinking of changing....." and I go off with him to his favourite audio store - as "Technical advisor"...
 

MaxwellsEq

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Perhaps my commentary on this may be of interest...

I am a convinced "Objectivist" - I did an M.Sc. in audio engineering 40+ years ago and although I have made my living in the IT world ever since, I've always kept "Hi-Fi" as a hobby.

One of my closest friends - we shared a flat at University all those years ago - got infected with my hifi "bug" back then. He spent many years as a DJ - mainly Soul, and has a listening room with three walls covered from floor to ceiling with Vinyl LPs. He is a very discerning music lover and listener - but knows nothing whatsoever about the technology (Sociology graduate).

I mention all this because over the years I have had to moderate my Objectivist fervour when it comes to him - he now has a system comprising Rogers LS3/5As and a rather expensive Japanese valve (tube) integrated amplifier. He absolutely loves it. This is after a long set of upgrades through big Tannoy floor standers, Jamos and lots of "muscle" solid state amplifiers.

He listens to my system frequently - "objectively" much superior to his - and is unmoved by it. Similarly, I spend much time with him, listening to his system. I can hear frequency doubling, a very restricted bass response and numerous other flaws. But I recognise it does something very special with vocals - especially female.

His system is not for me. Neither is my system for him - and it is not through ignorance of the "objective" superiority of my system - which he acknowledges.

Ultimately, my long friendship with him has taught me a lot about the limitations of any single characterisation of "good" - in a very visceral manner.

So I will leave him happily enjoying his system (probably more than I enjoy mine TBH) - until the next time he phones me with "Al, I'm thinking of changing....." and I go off with him to his favourite audio store - as "Technical advisor"...
Welcome to ASR and thanks for this. It pretty much captures the spirit of this debate. I've heard hundreds of LS3/5As and I know their limitations, but in a small recording cubicle one of these speakers made me jump when a female announcer was switched through unexpectedly. Very few bits of HiFi have ever accidentally convinced me someone else was on the room with me.
 

TurnerGuy

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I was one of the bunch of reprobates that ran the LS3/5a room at the HiFi News shows at Heathrow in 2001 and 2002, courtesy of Ken Kessler allocating us a room after his review of different LS3/5a models that included the 001/002 labelled pair owned by Paul Whatton.

The first year pretty consisted of my Micromega Leader CD player, my Rogers E40a integrated amplifier and various LS3/5as, and an AB-1 sometimes. The 001/002 pair were played often, and some 11ohm Rogers of mine with the AB-1s. We were suppossed to be getting some higher end gear lent to us, but it didn't happen - hence me fetching my modest gear.

The room was jammed all weekend with visitors and the log book was full of 'best sound of the show' type comments, even though all the other rooms were professional companies and there was some very expensive gear on display. We were perhaps helped by the size of the rooms.

The following year we were more prepared - we were loaned an expensive CD player, Paul had some old Quad IIs and a Croft micro pre-amp and I had my trusty E40a, we had two sets of LS3/5as with external Cicable crossovers, better speaker stands sitting on Mana soundbases (esoteric but they did provide a much more stable base verses the underlying carpet), and the 001/002 pair again.

System.JPG


Significantly the room was a bit better 'sounding' and we positioned the speakers with more care, with someone in the front row of the listening chairs and two of use moving the speakers backwards and forwards until the 'image focus' snapped into place.

The room was also rammed all weekend with lots more "best sound in the show" comments (although it sounded a lot better than the previous year).

But at the end of Saturday night, when all the punters had gone, we turned the lights down, installed the 001/002 pair, put on some blues, and sat down to listen.

The imagery was fantastic and this really was a "I can hear where all the musicians are and it's like they are right in front of us" moment.

I had a similarly astonishing experience with some Spender SP-1s I briefly had - I took them round to a friends and he hooked them up to some Pye HF25 tube amplifiers from the mid 1950s that he had just retored.

Playing Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald on them, you could pretty much smell the perfume she was wearing !

Maybe i tis just not the LS3/5as but the vintage tube amplifiers - reading the Pye user manual those guys really seemed to know what they were doing.
 

Willem

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Mine certainly don't sound like the treble is elevated. I should measure them again in their current position. I use them as desktop speakers in my study, and that requires a bit of equalization because of the proximity to the desk. I am now using a new computer, so I have to reinstall equalizer Apo.
 

SED

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"bass response is clearly wrong" There is NO right or wrong in audio. Measurements ARE NOT to be used in choosing equipment.
 

tw99

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True Audiophiles DO NOT rely on measurements to determine equipment of choice!

True enough, they mostly rely on witchcraft, received folklore, Youtube charlatans and excessive gullibility towards manufacturers' marketing messages.

Did I miss anything ?
 
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I think Amir's final thoughts are fair/correct - "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."

I have a pair from a neighbor. I have measured to them and listened extensively. They are a particular version. The quote below is from a person who seems to know a lot about their history:

"From the label, the cabinets were the Swisstone assembled models (a shelf-trading company bought to allow ex-Rogers employees to buy Rogers' assets from the official receiver after it went under). The speakers, given the B110 driver number (SP1228) are presumably an ista-bitsa with the later 11ohm drivers & Falcon FL6/38 crossover added -possibly somebody refreshed the damping at the same time, if the boxes didn't come with any, or they simply felt so-inclined. A lot of LS3/5a speakers have been put together in that way, recycling cabinets, drivers etc. if something went pear-shaped with the originals."

Below, I have outdoor FR with up to 50 deg off axis. Next is indoor at 3 feet with grilles on(blue) and off(red). Then label and crossover photo.

The rising response is their biggest fault, but are well integrated.. It's easy to design and build a speaker of a similar size at a fraction of the price and improve overall FR.
IME, with a speaker box and woofer of this small size, a high box q is required in lieu of the absence of lower frequency bass.
 

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AC1

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"bass response is clearly wrong" There is NO right or wrong in audio. Measurements ARE NOT to be used in choosing equipment.

eq_smile.jpg


Hey guys, look! I spotted a true audiophile! Man, that must sound awesome!
 

GXAlan

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There seems to be a reason why the LS3/5a is owned by people who have owned better measuring speakers too. A broken clock is right twice a day. In this case, I hear an interesting phenomenon where the phantom vocal is elevated in height. This is a HRTF phenomenon that may not be true for every individual’s ears, but is true for me. We have measurements showing that the speakers measure differently from others, so this difference isn’t just sighted bias. The in room effects may also change the listening experience.

Last, even ardent fans of the LS3/5a recognize that it only plays certain things well. Female vocals for one. This also is consistent with the science. Whatever non linearity it has also seems to enhance the experience.

I am putting my LS3/5a’s up for sale through TMRAudio which gives people a chance to try it with a return policy (minus shipping) in their own home…

They are different and pleasant enough that I would keep them if I had the budget and physical space for them.
 

milosz

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I bought a pair of 1980~81 Rogers LS 3/5a's ( 15 ohm ) in the spring of 2023 to find out what all the interest in these things was about. I used them on a couple of tube amps, and on a good solid state amp. They have "their own sound" I'll say that much for them. Certain classical and small-combo jazz could sound quite good, I especially liked listening to various works for cello on the things.

I really had no use for them - I have much better gear - but did find them enjoyable. I bought them for $1,500 and sold them for $1,800. Since I actually MADE money owning hifi gear for once, in that sense they were some of the best speakers I ever owned ;)
 
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