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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

LSPhil

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Translated by Moderator. Please use English going forward. Thank you.

“Many people appreciate the historic character of the LS3/5a. This harkens back to the days when BBC studios and high-end audio systems around the world used this loudspeaker. Studios often use reference monitors such as the Rogers LS3/5a or other models with known non-linearity and precision. Audio engineers adjust their mixes on these monitors to ensure good sound reproduction in as many different systems as possible. Audio engineers make subjective decisions during the mixing process. These decisions may be based on specific monitor characteristics. The Rogers LS3/5a has gained a reputation over the years for its use in professional studios and suitability for specific applications. The historical context may contribute to people judging its sonic properties as positive. When these mixes are played on a good loudspeaker with a linear response, unexpected results may occur. Here is my idea to perform targeted equalization (equalizer adjustment) and integrate it with the preamplifier. The result is an acoustic copy of the LS3/5a that makes old recordings sound the way the sound engineer intended. here is my result:”
 

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TurnerGuy

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"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). "

That's not right - I think Swisstone were the company that owned the Rogers and Chartwell brand names in the 70s.

Anyway, when Rogers went bust it was Stirling Broadcast that bought the ex-Rogers LS3/5a stock, then kept selling it as branded Rogers, then started producing their own LS3/5as.
 

Willem

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I was very clear in the review that the price is for new: "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."

When something is in production, I don't give second hand prices. Such is the case here.
There is no "new". So called new ones are just fakes built with different components and by a different company. The original manufacturers have nearly all gone belly up, and the original drivers are no longer produced.
 

TurnerGuy

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Err, not so with Falcon Acoustics, they have a BBC licence and also manufacture original spec drive units, designed by the same designer who designed the units when Kef made them.

They also provided crossovers for Goodmans and RAM back when they produced LS3/5as, so you don't get a much better LS3/5a pedigree than that.
 

skyfly

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I am not sure whether the speakers reviewed represent the model. They could be damaged, repaired to non-factory standard, etc.
 

skyfly

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LS3/5A was designed for use in a broadcast vehicle, which is smaller than many people's rooms.

In the past, I owned a pair of Rogers LS3/5A for use in the living room. I was disappointed by their sound and sold them.
 

GXAlan

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I am not sure whether the speakers reviewed represent the model. They could be damaged, repaired to non-factory standard, etc.

You do run the risk of aging, but the two speakers closely match (though only one was measured on the NFS).

If you look at Stereophile, the LS3/5a all measure differently. The 1 kHz spike is lower on the Rogers compared to the Falcon at Stereophile and this has the same overall “low” 1 kHz.

Like you, I have sold these. They are a cool historical item but for enjoyment, there has been progress.
 

Murray A

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After 20 years of service the white belly effect crept up on me. The peaking in the ~1kHz region became distracting during comparison with modern speakers.... The perceived influence of subjective air and detail became obvious compaired to modern speakers that have overall flatter response, especially in this region!
 

DSJR

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The 1.5khz peak got worse after 1984 or so and became extremely objectionable to my then late twenty year old ears, hence the redesign in the late 80's (they still didn't have quite the 'tone' of original mid 70's examples I felt. the original basic falcon samples as tested in Stereophile just restored the mod 80's horrors and a few experiences with these conforms the squeaky upper mids and also the general 'HiFi-ness' of the deliberately spiced up highs as originally intended for OB monitoring for distortion and hiss. The Gold Badge (or whatever) Falcon model, at a higher price of course... does smooth the 'squeak' out of the sound it seems, but I've not heard these.

Thing is, I really wonder how a set of say, Wharfedale Diamond 12.1's at a fraction of the price would sound in comparison, let alone KH80's or smaller Genelecs now used where the 3/5A used to be, this latter not available to UK domestic audio dealers I think. The Beeb have used Dynaudio BM5A's I think as general 'continuity' small speakers instead
 

AudioSceptic

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The 1.5khz peak got worse after 1984 or so and became extremely objectionable to my then late twenty year old ears, hence the redesign in the late 80's (they still didn't have quite the 'tone' of original mid 70's examples I felt. the original basic falcon samples as tested in Stereophile just restored the mod 80's horrors and a few experiences with these conforms the squeaky upper mids and also the general 'HiFi-ness' of the deliberately spiced up highs as originally intended for OB monitoring for distortion and hiss. The Gold Badge (or whatever) Falcon model, at a higher price of course... does smooth the 'squeak' out of the sound it seems, but I've not heard these.

Thing is, I really wonder how a set of say, Wharfedale Diamond 12.1's at a fraction of the price would sound in comparison, let alone KH80's or smaller Genelecs now used where the 3/5A used to be, this latter not available to UK domestic audio dealers I think. The Beeb have used Dynaudio BM5A's I think as general 'continuity' small speakers instead
It's been several decades since I heard any of these but I remember being impressed at the time, mainly because of the performance/size rather than performance/price, which was never good IMO. There are now many options, but limiting the choice to passive, I'd be surprised if, e.g., the Ascend Sierra-1 didn't destroy any variant of the LS3/5a. A *bit* larger, admittedly, but still in the same size class, I think. Here's Erin's review <https://www.erinsaudiocorner.com/loudspeakers/ascend_sierra_1_v2/>
 
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I had a pair of Rogers 15 ohm LS3/5A's purchased new in 1986. I never experienced the harshness that you've mentioned.
I ran the speakers with Naim Audio electronics and it was a good match. I sold the Rogers in the early 1990's and after a few speaker changes purchased a pair of KEF Reference Series Model 101's which were designed by KEF to compete with the LS3/5A. I actually prefer these to the LS3/5A. They're also inefficient, but reproduce bass better than the LS3/5A, and have an excellent midrange. Perhaps the nicest aspect of these speakers is that unlike the LS3/5A, the KEF's price is still affordable.
 

DSJR

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It's been several decades since I heard any of these but I remember being impressed at the time, mainly because of the performance/size rather than performance/price, which was never good IMO. There are now many options, but limiting the choice to passive, I'd be surprised if, e.g., the Ascend Sierra-1 didn't destroy any variant of the LS3/5a. A *bit* larger, admittedly, but still in the same size class, I think. Here's Erin's review <https://www.erinsaudiocorner.com/loudspeakers/ascend_sierra_1_v2/>
Do you have a Richer Sounds or Sevenoaks in the Northampton area these days (not been back since 2004 so no idea)? None near us here, but my vibe regarding the Diamond 12.1 still stands as to how close (or not) it is to the LS3/5A or one of its well known descendants. At higher price, the Denton 85 might offer something at a third of the price or so? My Diamond 7.2SE's were never properly reviewed, but they do have a very attractive tone to them and hf isn't spiky at all.

Another comparison probably never to be done is to also compare with the JBL 305, which I gather has a similar 'explicit/wide ' kind of high frequency reproduction..

I have no way of listening to these kinds of comparisons now which is a shame, but it'd be interesting to see if one isn't impressed by price tags or the 'BeeBeeCee' logo on the back :D
 

sergeauckland

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I had a pair of Rogers 15 ohm LS3/5A's purchased new in 1986. I never experienced the harshness that you've mentioned.
I ran the speakers with Naim Audio electronics and it was a good match. I sold the Rogers in the early 1990's and after a few speaker changes purchased a pair of KEF Reference Series Model 101's which were designed by KEF to compete with the LS3/5A. I actually prefer these to the LS3/5A. They're also inefficient, but reproduce bass better than the LS3/5A, and have an excellent midrange. Perhaps the nicest aspect of these speakers is that unlike the LS3/5A, the KEF's price is still affordable.
The KEF 101 was a superb little 'speaker, much better than the LS3/5a for mid & HF smoothness in frequency response. Neither 'speaker has much bass, but I agree that the KEF bass was more satisfying. The Jim Rogers JR149 is another 'speaker with the same drivers as the LS3/5a, yet manages a flatter response.

It's always been a bit of a mystery to me why the frequency response of the LS3/5a was designed as it was. Reading the BBC Designs Department white paper didn't provide any answers. If KEF and Jim Rogers could do it, I wonder why BBC Designs Dept didn't.

S.
 

AudioSceptic

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Do you have a Richer Sounds or Sevenoaks in the Northampton area these days (not been back since 2004 so no idea)? None near us here, but my vibe regarding the Diamond 12.1 still stands as to how close (or not) it is to the LS3/5A or one of its well known descendants. At higher price, the Denton 85 might offer something at a third of the price or so? My Diamond 7.2SE's were never properly reviewed, but they do have a very attractive tone to them and hf isn't spiky at all.

Another comparison probably never to be done is to also compare with the JBL 305, which I gather has a similar 'explicit/wide ' kind of high frequency reproduction..

I have no way of listening to these kinds of comparisons now which is a shame, but it'd be interesting to see if one isn't impressed by price tags or the 'BeeBeeCee' logo on the back :D
The nearest is Richer in MK, but we already have more speakers than we need. I can't go into any shop and waste their time unless I sell something first. All the same, I'm still interested in what's available these days (or I wouldn't be here, I suppose!). I somehow wish I had no audio gear at all and was just starting out. What a choice we now have!
 

AudioSceptic

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The KEF 101 was a superb little 'speaker, much better than the LS3/5a for mid & HF smoothness in frequency response. Neither 'speaker has much bass, but I agree that the KEF bass was more satisfying. The Jim Rogers JR149 is another 'speaker with the same drivers as the LS3/5a, yet manages a flatter response.

It's always been a bit of a mystery to me why the frequency response of the LS3/5a was designed as it was. Reading the BBC Designs Department white paper didn't provide any answers. If KEF and Jim Rogers could do it, I wonder why BBC Designs Dept didn't.

S.
I'd be interested in your opinion of the Harbeth P3 variants. A worthwhile improvement on the LS3/5a or an overrated more of the same? It certainly costs enough.
 

sergeauckland

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I'd be interested in your opinion of the Harbeth P3 variants. A worthwhile improvement on the LS3/5a or an overrated more of the same? It certainly costs enough.
Don't know the P3, so really can't comment. I did read the P3ESR review in Stereophile, and the response looked OK, except for the oddity around 4-5kHz.

I really can't get enthused over small passive 'speakers, especially expensive ones, when there are plenty of active 'speakers, from Kali to Genelec, for no more or rather less money.

S.
 
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I'd be interested in your opinion of the Harbeth P3 variants. A worthwhile improvement on the LS3/5a or an overrated more of the same? It certainly costs enough.
Back in the mid 1990's I did own a pair of rosewood Harbeth HLP3ES monitors that were very nice sounding. I used them with the matching passive subwoofers. IMHO, it was a more refined sounding speaker than the LS3/5A. More like the KEF Reference Series Model 101 that I still own.
 

DSJR

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I'd be interested in your opinion of the Harbeth P3 variants. A worthwhile improvement on the LS3/5a or an overrated more of the same? It certainly costs enough.
@sergeauckland - we had the R101 :)D) and a more bland and boring speaker for our music tastes would be hard to find* (well, maybe the 103/2 with decoupled bass driver). I should add that I was NEVER a fan of the similar size Linn Kan which squeaked, quacked and shouted it's way through most music dems - the very much larger Rogers LS7 was the meeting point here (we weren't Spendor dealers but I very much appreciated the SP1's as I felt they built on the legendary BC1 nicely for most music reproduction. Following a similar conversation elsewhere at this time @AudioSceptic - interesting how the SP1 driver changed as until the 1/2, I thought they were all the same)

* I have a feeling in my memories that the positec protection some of these models had, was intrusive to the speaker performance and I recall it being abandoned by KEF and B&W at least in the next generation of speakers - I'm going back forty years though....

I did a side by side comparison of the Harbeth LS3/5A (basically a KEF KIT with Harbeth specified (apparently) extra tweeter tappings so tweeter levels could be even more set than usual - Dudley Harwood told the then new owner the latter was making a rod for his back) with the then new P3 model. Marantz basic CD player and basic Quad amps with supplied interconnects and QED speaker wires I remember. The P3 offered a more holographic image between and behind the speakers on suitable material, where the revamped BBC offering was more smeared and not as natural sounding either (got to say I didn't think the Quad was capable of this 'holographic' presentation, but it stayed with me and made me take more notice of the brand thereafter). The P3ESR and no doubt the tweaked (internally as well as price?) XD version offering perceived gains in max level and overall sense of clarity despite the hideously complex passive crossover (Danny wouldn't know where to start if designing such a thing I reckon so he dissed it out of hand I remember :D).

I repeat, just how 'inferior' is a Diamond 12.1 or the Denton 85 to these far more expensive miniatures I wonder?
 

AudioSceptic

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@sergeauckland - we had the R101 :)D) and a more bland and boring speaker for our music tastes would be hard to find* (well, maybe the 103/2 with decoupled bass driver). I should add that I was NEVER a fan of the similar size Linn Kan which squeaked, quacked and shouted it's way through most music dems - the very much larger Rogers LS7 was the meeting point here (we weren't Spendor dealers but I very much appreciated the SP1's as I felt they built on the legendary BC1 nicely for most music reproduction. Following a similar conversation elsewhere at this time @AudioSceptic - interesting how the SP1 driver changed as until the 1/2, I thought they were all the same)

* I have a feeling in my memories that the positec protection some of these models had, was intrusive to the speaker performance and I recall it being abandoned by KEF and B&W at least in the next generation of speakers - I'm going back forty years though....

I did a side by side comparison of the Harbeth LS3/5A (basically a KEF KIT with Harbeth specified (apparently) extra tweeter tappings so tweeter levels could be even more set than usual - Dudley Harwood told the then new owner the latter was making a rod for his back) with the then new P3 model. Marantz basic CD player and basic Quad amps with supplied interconnects and QED speaker wires I remember. The P3 offered a more holographic image between and behind the speakers on suitable material, where the revamped BBC offering was more smeared and not as natural sounding either (got to say I didn't think the Quad was capable of this 'holographic' presentation, but it stayed with me and made me take more notice of the brand thereafter). The P3ESR and no doubt the tweaked (internally as well as price?) XD version offering perceived gains in max level and overall sense of clarity despite the hideously complex passive crossover (Danny wouldn't know where to start if designing such a thing I reckon so he dissed it out of hand I remember :D).

I repeat, just how 'inferior' is a Diamond 12.1 or the Denton 85 to these far more expensive miniatures I wonder?
As for your last para, I suspect very little. For all I know, it might even be reversed, and that might apply to many, many others now available for < ½ the current price of the LS3/5a and descendants. Who Danny?

Edit: I somehow missed or ignored Amir's Diamond review before. Bearing in mind we can buy it here for only £250/pair, that makes it quite a bargain I reckon.
 
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sergeauckland

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@sergeauckland - we had the R101 :)D) and a more bland and boring speaker for our music tastes would be hard to find* (well, maybe the 103/2 with decoupled bass driver). I should add that I was NEVER a fan of the similar size Linn Kan which squeaked, quacked and shouted it's way through most music dems - the very much larger Rogers LS7 was the meeting point here (we weren't Spendor dealers but I very much appreciated the SP1's as I felt they built on the legendary BC1 nicely for most music reproduction. Following a similar conversation elsewhere at this time @AudioSceptic - interesting how the SP1 driver changed as until the 1/2, I thought they were all the same)
You know, every time I read that a loudspeaker is 'bland' or 'boring', I find I like them. To me, bland and boring is neutral and uncoloured.

As our transatlantic friends say, YMMV!
S
 
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