Rogers LS3/5a 65th Anniversary Edition Loudspeakers
The rebirth of a legendary loudspeaker. When I agreed to review the Rogers LS3/5a loudspeakers, I had no idea I would be in for a history lesson, and just how signficant these are.
In the early 1970's, BBC UK decided to develop their own studio and outside broadcasting (OB) monitor speakers. A small format monitor speaker was needed to give consistent sound reproduction quality across their many studios and field-based recording and broadcasting facilities. This gave rise to a design using KEF drivers and custom designed crossovers using no less than 30 components, to ensure a smooth and linear response across the usable frequency range. The design became very popular, and was licensed in 1975 to several companies to produce the units in quantity. According to Wikipedia, the LS3/5a model code designates this as "Outside Broadcasting model 5, revision A" miniature monitor loudspeaker.
The Rogers LS3/5a 65th Anniversary Edition bookshelf monitors are quite sturdy, with solid plywood and real veneer, bolted-through rear connections (bi-wirable) for the amplifier connection, and 10 screws holding the baffle into the enclosure from the front. The stiff but light cloth grille is attached around the edge by Velcro into the recessed front of the box. A square ring of acoustically absorbent material fits over the tweeter’s face plate, and surrounds the tweeter diaphragm. The woofer is mounted from behind the baffle.
With the grille removed, the speaker has the appearance of function over form. They are designed to be used with the grille in place, making a very neat unit. The model I review here is the Black colour version, however they are also available in Red Cherry and Red Oak veneers. The speakers weigh in at around 5kg each.
The Rogers LS3/5a instruction booklet supplied suggests that the speakers should be placed on "rigid mass-loaded stands" at least 8" (200mm) from the rear wall, and toe-in to cross just in front of the listening position; more on this later.
At first, the speakers showed plenty of detail but seemed somewhat restricted.
With no apparent large dips or peaks across the entire low-mid to high range frequencies implied that the phase response was immaculate. These speakers are computer matched at the factory, so I expected they should be quite good. A centre image was portrayed very solidly between the speakers, and there was only a hint of sound from the individual drivers in the outer extremities of the stereo image.
Still something missing, the low bass and airy highs were just not quite there. I decided to leave them running for a few days to give them some break-in time. I also changed the trusty Marantz MA6100 mono amplifiers for a Triode TRV-88SER integrated amplifier, and this seemed to be just the ticket. Full and silky smooth, the more extended bass response and control from the Triode’s KT88 output stage allows a much wider range of music to be fully appreciated.
After again experimenting with speaker positioning, further improvements were also found. Against the supplied instruction manual’s suggestion, I re-aligned the speakers to point straight out (no toe-in). Instantly the sound stage widened and the Rogers vanished back into the wall, leaving only the sound to be projected into the room.
What followed was a week-long journey through some old and some new musical favourites. Living with the Rogers LS3/5a saw me promoting many new tracks to “Playlist: good recording”.
Technically and musically, these speakers sound great. There is no discernible lack of anything in the sound other than those couple of octaves below 40Hz, which for a 5” driver in a sealed box is no mean feat. The Rogers LS3/5a sparkle and crash on Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road when the cymbal hits. They boom and thump along with Tyler the Creator’s Goblin. Jennifer Warnes’ Panther has been a favourite of mine for a long time, and certainly she is not betrayed by the Rogers honesty in the mid-range.
Internal Crossover Components
The Rogers LS3/5a 65th Anniversary Edition are a well made pair of bookshelf speakers, with real wood and real drivers. Although not the original KEF drivers as detailed on the LS3/5a fan site www.ls35a.com, they do look similar, and the sound quality is by all reports just as good, if not better than the original. Unfortunately, I don’t have an original pair of LS3’s to compare. For their size and priced at RRP $2250, I would not hesitate to recommend them for someone with a medium sized room and not much shelf space. Sure, larger speakers exhibit more bass, however what's on offer here from these small 2-way monitors is simply luxurious, sweet and moreover, accurate. By far the best Bookshelf speakers I have reviewed to date.
Build Quality: 8/10
Sound Quality: 10/10
Price / Performance: 10/10
- Type: Two-way infinite baffle (closed box)
- Frequency Response : 70Hz - 20kHz +/- 3dB
- Sensitivity : 83dB for 2.83V @1m
- Bass / Midrange Driver : 138mm
- Tweeter : 19mm
- Crossover : Frequency 3kHz. Bi-wireable
- Sensitivity : 83dB for 2.83V @1m
- Nominal Impedance : 11 ohm
- Recommended Amplifier Range : 30-80 watt
- Grille : Black Tygan
- Finish : Red Cherry. Red Oak, Black Veneers
- Dimensions: 188w x 304h x 164d (mm)
- Weight: 5.12kg ea
- Two Year Limited Warranty
The Rogers LS3/5a 65th Anniversary Edition Loudspeakers are distributed in Australia by Dared Audio, and are available now for RRP $2250.
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