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SoundArtist ("BBC") LS3/5A Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 182 93.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 5 2.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 1 0.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 6 3.1%

  • Total voters
    194

Mart68

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These SoundArtist LS3/5a have had quite a number of reviews (mostly/nearly all positive), and in all the reviews they've been positioned as a budget LS3/5a. And in many of the reviews they have been compared to the other, more expensive, modern replicas.

Please don't read this as me defending the speakers - they are junk. I sent them to Amir because I was so disappointed with them, and wanted some objective measures to either validate my hunch, and hopefully steer other people away from these speakers.

That said, I'm not sure if they should be called fake. Because most subjective reviewers find them relatively similar to other LS3/5a models.
Fake maybe too strong a word - but this is a good example of why you cannot rely on these subjective reviewers. Most of them have absolutely no knowledge, very little worthwhile experience, and some of them are corrupt too.

Found this Soundartist review https://futureaudiophile.com/soundartist-ls3-5a-loudspeaker-review/ which is full of factual inaccuracies, should be a red light right away.

He prefers the knock-off to the licensed Falcon version because 'midrange'. Might as well just stop someone on the street and ask them.
 

ROOSKIE

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Thanks but I understand what directivity is and have read Toole. I was just wondering how they could get that so right whilst getting everything else so wrong.
Alright. You were prolly speaking figuratively. Still I suppose many readers don't know what directivity is in this context and how it plays into examining the speaker's use case scenarios.

Well, then if I take you literally I guess then don't understand why you feel they couldn't. And to be clear the directivity is pretty good but not near SOTA.
In a certain sense depending on a few factors good directivity would be easier to get if you don't care about neutral frequency response. Often designers compromise directivity in a passive design order to get a flatter measuring speaker on axis and to use a less capable tweeter with a larger woofer or a woofer that doesn't play well above 2k with strong breakup but otherwise is desirable. Final sensitivity is an issue in design also. And of course to SAVE $$ on crossover parts

I would think that the edges of the inset cabinet would create uneven turbulence but I guess it isn't too bad here.
What I say below is an educated guess for an obvious hobbyist, no pro.

Below 800-1000hrz you pretty much get a free pass as the wave is so wide and played by one driver, EQ can easily correct anechoic(in room obviously another story).
  • The system has an impedance resonance around 300hrz but that works fine here. It might create audible ringing at SPL.
  • The bump @120hrz is likely due to much too small of a cabinet for the driver. In fact I suspect this driver should be in a ported enclosure as well. The 1st big dip is 4pi energy loss and then rise to 1k is a lack of compensation for the shift to 2pi.
  • Really this speaker would have sub 78ish db sensitivity(I think 75) if the passive design was properly constructed. You can't add energy in a passive design like you could with an active.
  • They likely wanted higher sensitivity at the expense of response. --- thus the bass peak, dip and rise are 'engineered'
From 1k-5k we often see directivity issues in a speaker with the diver dispersion varying and the crossover implementation creating phase issues. Plus other things like cabinet edges, driver surrounds, driver basket resonances, cone breakup that is left partially uncorrected +++
  • It looks to track phase fine and that is important for directivity in this context
  • the dispersion of the drivers is matching despite the dip, the frequency response of the woofer is rolling off but the driver is small so it's off axis response is still relatively good. The tweeter is crossed to low for it's ability and is losing output fast so even though the beam is still wider than the woofer overall directivity matches alright.
  • we end up with a dip duet to low energy from both drivers but since directivty is tracking fine PEQ does it's job
  • around 5k we are seeing cabinet edge issues and maybe inherent tweeter peaking but I think that foam is more than thick enough to have some affect at keeping the turbulence down. I think if the foam was placed NON-symetrically it would work even better.
  • 6k-12k is good and then the driver breaks up.
  • again I think they are trying to keep sensitivity 'high' so they accept the dips.

This is exactly what a good hybrid design(powered but not active) would look like. 1st passive componets to get what we have here, no need to go further knowing you control the amp/EQ and have the ability to add energy along with subtracting it. Then do the built in powered amps with engineered final EQ to flush this all out for the final product.

So as a side, as a powered or active speaker this could have a sensitivity of say 82db and use a smaller amp but as a full passive evened out with a more 'correct' neutral responce the sensitivity would be around 75db and require a big amp even for medium high levels.
 
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totti1965

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the SoundArtist clone of BBC LS3/5A 2-way speaker/monitor. It is on kind loan from a member. Sample is in Walnut and he paid $630 for it:
View attachment 328963
Fit and finish is quite good with no blemishes that I could see. Nice modern terminals are provided in the back:
View attachment 328964
I got a kick out of that "CE" mark. What exactly did they test?

For those of you who are not familiar with the "LS3/5A" these were monitor speakers designed by BBC in 1960s. Their reputation has spun multiple companies to keep producing them. Some are licensed. This Chinese version is not.

SoundArist LS3/5A Speaker Measurement
As usual we start with our anechoic frequency response measurements:
View attachment 328965
Wow! I don't think I have ever seen such a messy frequency response in 260 speakers I have tested! Not only is it bad, it barely resemble any published response for LS3/5A. Here is the measurements of my review of Rogers LS 3/5A:

index.php


I guess response up to 1 kHz is kind of close but then goes off the rails after that. The bit that is close is the wrong anyway. Let's motor through early window and predicted in-room response as they are not remotely pretty:
View attachment 328966
View attachment 328967

Near-field response shows what is wrong:
View attachment 328968

That is no way to cross a woofer with a tweeter. They are sticking to the 3 kHz crossover frequency but woofer's response is all wrong by that point.

Impedance and phase response show that this is not at all copying the original design:
View attachment 328969
Minimum impedance of just 1.7 ohm??? Roger's response was some 9 ohm at the same spot. Not only is that wrong, it will be very tough load for amplifiers.

Distortion is much higher than Rogers LS3/5A although in the same region that that speaker was weak (woofer playing too high):
View attachment 328975

Here is the Rogers version:
index.php


Here are the absolute distortion measurements but please, as noted, don't rely on them as frequency response is so variable:
View attachment 328977

Paradoxically, horizontal directivity is better than Rogers LS3/5A (which was pretty bad):
View attachment 328970

View attachment 328971

Vertical response is twisted in knots so best to stay at tweeter axis:
View attachment 328972

Finally, here are the waterfall and step response:
View attachment 328973

View attachment 328974

I didn't see much point in listening to it but if there is interest and I can find the time, will do so.

Conclusions
Boy, this whole LS3/5A game is messy. Without measurements as a target, companies seemingly produce any and all responses. Original BBC document shows a flat response but it is not clear if actual speakers were such. Certainly the Rogers LS3/5A was not. Lack of publicized measurements results in people buying stories instead of a proper design in the form of SoundArtist LS3/5A. In addition to poor frequency response, distortion is also quite bad. The only thing "good" here is the packaging/look of the enclosure.

I can't recommend the SoundArtist LS3/5A. Please spend your money on a proper speaker.
------------
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/
O.k., now let’s check the Ascend Acoustics Sierra LX - just to see what is possible in 2023 with passive Mini-Monitors.
 

Hart

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I had a friend that bought the "white van" speakers in a parking lot. They had no crossover, and they were some of the worst speakers I have ever heard. This speaker seems similar.
 

Penelinfi

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I had a friend that bought the "white van" speakers in a parking lot. They had no crossover, and they were some of the worst speakers I have ever heard. This speaker seems similar.
There are some with an aluminium cone with no crossover on it or the yellow fibreglass woofer. All in the same cabinet space, with a passive aluminium cone AND a port . Cabinet is as thin as possible.
The tweeter seemed to only play peaky lower treble to add to the yellow woofer and the aluminium breakup. One cap
Binding posts look like they are made out of recycled drink cans and will break if you think about torque. The biwire links are almost as thin as foil.
Half the budget probably went into the fibreglass paper cone and the aluminium cones (they still looked cheap)
 
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amirm

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O.k., now let’s check the Ascend Acoustics Sierra LX - just to see what is possible in 2023 with passive Mini-Monitors.
They are already measuring their speakers with Klippel NFS so I don't see a lot of use in me doing the same. Best to use my gear to quantify equipment that doesn't have proper measurements.
 
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amirm

amirm

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These SoundArtist LS3/5a have had quite a number of reviews (mostly/nearly all positive), and in all the reviews they've been positioned as a budget LS3/5a. And in many of the reviews they have been compared to the other, more expensive, modern replicas.
I meant to point this out in the review. Company's website has three popular youtubers praising the product with very minor objections. It is the best example of how these people have no business doing speaker reviews. They are operating blind without measurements. And without a proper protocol for subjective testing.
 

tw 2022

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They are already measuring their speakers with Klippel NFS so I don't see a lot of use in me doing the same. Best to use my gear to quantify equipment that doesn't have proper measurements.
It's very nice to see that there has been very little controversy as to whether Dave's measurements are accurate, I'm glad he shipped a pair off to verify by Erin ....you are correct , no use spending time recreating prior information....
 

Penelinfi

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It's very nice to see that there has been very little controversy as to whether Dave's measurements are accurate, I'm glad he shipped a pair off to verify by Erin ....you are correct , no use spending time recreating prior information....
Yeah sometimes it can be good if it hasn't been independently tested, but other times I find it odd when you get another klippel measurement of a speaker that's already been measured. That said there are occasional small variations
 

tw 2022

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Yeah sometimes it can be good if it hasn't been independently tested, but other times I find it odd when you get another klippel measurement of a speaker that's already been measured. That said there are occasional small variations
It's always nice to retest if a strange anomaly pops up , but klippel measurements seem pretty bullet proof....
 

moonlight rainbow dream

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Now I have a dilemma, what to do with the speakers since I have them, and don't feel comfortable selling them with the terrible impedance dip.

The only redeeming quality is the cabinet.

If you have the tools + ability, the absolute best option would be to get rid of the crossover + drivers and cut a new baffle to glue or screw in. Then, there's basically no limitations and you can use whatever drivers will work best with the air space. If you want to give the original drivers a chance, you'd have to do some re-wiring and measure the raw, unfiltered response from them first and see what you're dealing with.
 

Galliardist

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These SoundArtist LS3/5a have had quite a number of reviews (mostly/nearly all positive), and in all the reviews they've been positioned as a budget LS3/5a. And in many of the reviews they have been compared to the other, more expensive, modern replicas.

Please don't read this as me defending the speakers - they are junk. I sent them to Amir because I was so disappointed with them, and wanted some objective measures to either validate my hunch, and hopefully steer other people away from these speakers.

That said, I'm not sure if they should be called fake. Because most subjective reviewers find them relatively similar to other LS3/5a models.
Even if they were actually perfectly to specification, they are still fakes, in the sense that they are not licensed.

I don’t know the status of the name these days but I presume it is still subject to copyright in most parts of the world.
 

Sokel

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That's from the sales description in the link I posted earlier:

We also hope that SoundArtist LS3/5A can continue to bring infinite touch to the audiophile.

SoundArtist LS3/5A is meticulously produced from the original version from the inside to the outside. Engineers understand the original and strive to be close to the sound of the original, more like a god. It allows audiophiles to experience the wonderful music, restore the true three-dimensional sense of the sound, and create vivid images.

All I can think is that these people are out in the street long enough to know how to bs people selling a fake,either that or they are great trolls!
The whole description is a good laugh but the "god" point takes the cake.
 

Robbo99999

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Nasty speaker, but they're so so old what do you expect, I mean at least the design is so so old I don't know when this particular speaker was manufactured or if it's been refurbished along the way.
 

audio_tony

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Nasty speaker, but they're so so old what do you expect, I mean at least the design is so so old
Just because it's an old design doesn't make it inferior. There are some speakers from the 70's and 80's that do sound (and measure) ok.

Some designers really knew their stuff, and didn't need CAD to design a good speaker.
 

Robbo99999

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Just because it's an old design doesn't make it inferior. There are some speakers from the 70's and 80's that do sound (and measure) ok.

Some designers really knew their stuff, and didn't need CAD to design a good speaker.
Fair enough, if that's indeed the case, would be good if Amir measured some. It just wouldn't surprise me if most speakers from the 70's were rubbish though.
 

DanielT

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These SoundArtist LS3/5a have had quite a number of reviews (mostly/nearly all positive), and in all the reviews they've been positioned as a budget LS3/5a. And in many of the reviews they have been compared to the other, more expensive, modern replicas.

Please don't read this as me defending the speakers - they are junk. I sent them to Amir because I was so disappointed with them, and wanted some objective measures to either validate my hunch, and hopefully steer other people away from these speakers.

That said, I'm not sure if they should be called fake. Because most subjective reviewers find them relatively similar to other LS3/5a models.
They hear what they want to hear. Here an example.

8:00 into the video, A British Audiophile says this about how he experiences the sound:
There is something special about the sound of the LS3/5A, it has everything to do with the tonality in the midrange. Many would describe it as perfectly neutral , but I've always described it as a little on the romantic side of neutral...

His subjective experiences, probably strongly colored by his expectations and belief in how they should sound.He can of course believe and think what he wants, it's his experiences, BUT what the hell does that tell me, if I would be interested in these speakers? It's just waffle.:oops:

 
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Mart68

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They hear what they want to hear. Here an example.

8:00 into the video, A British Audiophile says this about how he experiences the sound:
There is something special about the sound of the LS3/5A, it has everything to do with the tonality in the midrange. Many would describe it as perfectly neutral , but I've always described it as a little on the romantic side of neutral...

His subjective experiences, probably strongly colored by Jan's expectations and belief in how they should sound.He can of course believe and think what he wants, it's his experiences, BUT what the hell does that tell me, if I would be interested in these speakers? It's just waffle.:oops:

Actually I sort of get where he's coming from with that 'Romantic side of neutral' - I mean if we throw caution to the wind and go all-out subjectivist, just for a minute or two.

But I've listened to LS3/5a many, many times. You can't move in the UK without falling over a pair.

I would not bother to own some. I would not pay thousands for them even after a hard blow to the head. But I do sort of understand why some people think they have some merit.
 
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