The BBC LS3/5
The LS3/5A is perhaps the best-known of all the BBC's monitor designs. The BBC needed a small monitor that was suitable for critical assessment of programme quality in cramped OB vehicles and control rooms, and nothing suitable was available commercially. At the same time, a separate research project - an investigation into acoustic scaling of studios - had developed a miniature loudspeaker, and it was realised that it could be adapted for monitoring use. After much developement, the original LS3/5 was born.
Initially, 20 units were built in-house for field trials, but upon deciding to build another batch, it became apparent that KEF had altered both of the drive units, and the new units were sufficiently different to the originals to affect the way the loudspeaker measured and sounded. As a result, significant re-engineering work had to be completed by the BBC's Designs Department, and this was such a significant deviation from the original model that the A suffix was added.
The new B110 needed to be decoupled from the baffle in order to prevent an interacton with the cabinet. Next, when fed from the existing crossover, the new HF unit exhibited significant colouration which required modifications to the crossover and the addition of the familiar protective grille and felt pads. The small number of loudspeakers from the original batch were now considered obsolete, and the true LS3/5 was never manufactured commercially.
While the revised LS3/5A sounded very similar to the original, many felt at the time that the original loudspeaker was better. Could this version be re-created today?
Graham Audio presents the ultimate version of the most famous of all the BBC loudspeakers, and is doing so under one of the most cherished names connected with the LS3/5A: Chartwell. The bespoke drive units and crossover networks are developed by Derek Hughes working in conjunction with Volt and Seas loudspeakers to produce a fully licensed loudspeaker using the very finest materials available.
System - 2 Way, sealed enclosure
Enclosure - Thin wall construction, 9mm birch plywood, removable rear panel
Finish - Real wood veneer
Dimensions - (w/h/d)19cm by 30cm by 17cm
Weight - 5.3kg
Frequency response - 70Hz to 20kHz, ±3dB
Nominal impedance - 9Ω
Sensitivity - 83dB SPL (2.83V, 1m)
Maximum output - 95dB for a pair at 2m
Bass/midrange - 110mm Bextrene
Tweeter - 19mm Dome tweeter
Recommended amplifier power - 25 to 50 watts unclipped program
BBC monitor user guide - contains recommendations for setting up, using, and caring for your loudspeakers.
Tone Audio - February 2017
“While the legion of LS3/5 owners, with numerous variations on the theme, might grouse at the thought of this, I prefer the new Chartwell LS3/5 to any of the originals I’ve yet experienced. And for what it’s worth, I’ve held the first LS3/5 in my hand, at the now defunct Kingwood Warren branch of the BBC, so you know I adore these little speakers. ...I suggest buying a pair. Right now.”
Hi-Fi Pig - July 2016
“I didn’t want to stop listening. As a child hearing my father playing Glenn Miller I was carted off back 40 years, and didn’t want to end my dream. The fun in “In the Mood” just made me smile. Each soloist, especially the saxophones that made Glen Miller sound so unique and the piano, too, was detailed and very authentic, and I never once felt that the lack of bass below 60Hz a problem. Indeed the pounding bass at 2’35” of “The Hunt of Baba-Yaga”, Pictures at an Exhibition, Mussorsky, would put to shame many speakers at double the size.”
Sound On Sound - June 2016
“...Music is fundamentally about communication, and the LS3/5 is one of the great communicators among speakers. The LS3/5's ability to communicate the guts of music so effectively has its roots, I think, not only in the fundamental quality of its component parts and construction, but also in the care and attention to detail that was invested in the original desgin.”
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