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Audio Space LS-3/5A Bookshelf Speakers Review

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Listening

This brings us to the two big questions of this review: First, has Audio Space produced the real thing or merely a mediocre shoebox size speaker? As it’s been over 20 years since I owned or spent any time listening to the original, the first question is very hard for me to answer. The other part of this first question is easy; there is nothing mediocre about the sound of these tiny boxes.

The second question is more problematic: Is there any reason today to make a reproduction of a 36-year-old mini-monitor? I mean there has been some huge progress made in the sound of small speakers in that period of time. So let me see if I can answer these questions by describing the sound of the Audio Space-3/5A speakers.

For a short while I owned a pair of the early Rogers. I remember them to have had a very musical midrange that was great with voices, sounding very realistic, though sometimes male voices had a little extra chest tone. The original LS3/5As sounded their best playing simple pieces with instruments like violins, clarinets, saxophones, and female voices. Pianos and standup basses suffer the most lacking in detail and scale. Still I remember the balance of the old Rogers seemed to make up for most of their shortcomings. There was never any doubt that the originals had added bloom in the upper bass to give a feeling of more power and fullness in the bass. Again, somehow they pulled this off in a way that made the old Rodgers that I owned very easy to listen to.

Midrange

The midrange is what this speaker is all about. The Audio Space LS3/5A had a nice degree of resolution but were very different from my Teresonic Magus in regard to the amount of detail you could obtain here. The Audio Space speaker was less revealing of air and ambience, but still better than most speakers at this price point. They were very good though at the interplay between instruments, allowing the music to decay into a very rich acoustic foundation. If utter transparency is your goal you may find these speakers a little warm and romantic, but I have to admit that the Audio Space speakers give more credibility to the body of instruments than I would have thought possible in a speaker smaller than a shoebox.

When the BBC designed the original LS3/5As it was to be monitors, and nothing was more important to the design than the reproduction of the human voice, especially male voices. The good news for the BBC designers was that nearly all acoustic instruments falls into that same range. This probably explains why this speaker was such a huge hit with the same people who wanted to own Quad 57s.

So, any attempt to build a new LS3/5A has to get voices and acoustical instruments dead on. The Audio Space LS3/5A sounds great on vocals as expected. It does this while adding almost no huskiness to male vocals, on top of a continuity through the upper midrange that allowed female vocals to sound equally nice. Voices sound very smooth, and with good articulation. Just like the original, the Audio Space draws you into the beauty of its midrange; it lets the music bloom almost like in the company of an SET.

Treble

The top end extension of this little speaker is amazing. Somehow Audio Space has come up with a tweeter that is as extended and as smooth as the old KEF T27 tweeter. It passes my top end test with flying colors. I never thought about how detailed it was, how lacking in air it was, how silvery it sounded, or anything else. Like all good speakers it simply sounded pretty in the top end without bringing attention to itself.

Bass

Well, right off the bat let’s admit it: for a speaker smaller than a shoe box, the bass and most of the mid-bass is going to be missing in action. The specs say they only go down to 70Hz, but listening to music I seldom notice this, unless I played them very loud. When you play the speakers too loud they compress the sound and the bass will get a bit thick. Still, like the original LS3/5As there’s something almost magical about how these speakers trick you into thinking they have bass 90% of the time.

Dynamics and Scale

In regard to dynamics the Audio Space LS3/5As are very much like the British speakers of the seventies and eighties, being a little polite and lacking in the last word in micro-dynamics. At the same time the speakers can sound unexpectedly powerful, especially with electric guitars and even more so with vocals. One other thing that the Audio Space version of the LS3/5As does much better than I remember my Rogers doing, is playing loud in larger rooms.

My upstairs listening room is also our family room. It is an open room that is 12 feet by 30 feet with a 12’ by 14’ dining room off to the side and a 10’ by 10’ entry way behind the living room. A couple of days after I dropped the LS3/5As into my video/digital system with the Peacthree Audio Decco amp for break-in. I was shocked to discover how well they filled the room with sound. No, they don’t match the scale and dynamics of my 100 dB efficient Teresonics, but they matched the B&W 805S speakers until they ran out of bass. Still, there is that almost magical way that the LS3/5As original or these can trick you into thinking they have bass.

Soundstage and Imaging

This is what nearly all small monitors do well, but we have learned a lot about diffraction and making speakers that throw a three dimensional soundstage. They disappear as you would expect a small monitor to do. They also do a very good job at producing what I like to call a coherent soundstage instead of one that has images floating all around the speakers and way back behind the speakers. They have realistic depth and width, but they do not have the best vertical soundstage I have heard.

AudioSpace-LS-3-5A-2

Conclusion, The Big Question

The question that keeps coming to my mind is if there is any reason to make an $1,800 reproduction of a classic speaker that cost around $450 when introduced around 36 years ago?Well, I listen to speakers that use drivers from Lowther which has has been making paper drivers with huge magnets since the 1930s. I also listen to a turntable that basically came on the market the same year I was born, 1954. Then there is my power amp that uses NOS Western Electric 300Bs. Who am I to question why anyone would make a reproduction of a 36-year-old design? But I do, and that is because on the whole, small speakers have greatly improved in the last thirty years. The BBC LS3/5As may have been the first of the really great tiny speakers, but there have been a lot of great tiny speaker since then.

I have to admit that these little jewels grow on you the longer you listen to them. They simply are easy to listen to, very musical, very forgiving, and at the same time not the least bit boring. Still, after listening to them for two or three weeks the question kept creeping into my mind: did we really need another version of the LS3/5/A? I know that in Asia the BBC LS3/5As are held in high regard and there is a renewed interest in them, so maybe the answer is yes. If you value warmth, tonal consistency, and a very musical presentation, and don’t mind sacrificing a little air and liveliness then the Audio Space LS 3/5A is a speaker you will probably like. Likewise if you loved the original and if you want a speaker that is great on voices, and somewhat forgiving overall, these are speakers you will like. Without a doubt, these are speakers that are true to the original.

Distributor’s Comments:

I have listened to the original Rogers and many other LS-3/5A-inspired monitor speakers that came after over the years, and I still own a pair of the original Chartwell. I must say the Audio Space LS-3/5A is as close to the real thing as there has been! Audio Space has done an incredible job not only in resurrecting BBC’s LS-3/5A type loudspeakers, the drivers look and sound exactly like the original KEF T27 and B110.

Thomas Poon
GINI Systems

One Response to Audio Space LS-3/5A Bookshelf Speakers Review


  1. Michael Hanes says:

    Thank you for the review and article. I have a pair of the original 15Ohm LS3/5A and would like to buy a new amplifier. What do you recommend in terms of power so they are driven for moderate power without fear of damage (2x100w 8ohm or less?)

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