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BBC designed LS3/5A loudspeakers
made by Rogers , Spendor and Goodmans

Whenever we say that
small speakers are NOT proper serious HIGH FIDELITY speakers,
many people reply with
"What about the LS3/5A ?"

BBC NEVER designed to LS3/5A as a FULL RANGE monitor !

The LS3/5A was NEVER designed as a PROPER HIGH FIDELITY speaker !
So people should STOP trying to use the LS3/5A

The BBC designed the LS3/5A for VERY SPECIALIZED LIMITED applications,
when it was NOT practical to use PROPER FULL SIZED MONITORS.

If you live in a MOBILE home / trailer park,
then the LS3/5A is suitable for you !

How does LS3/5A loudspeakers sound like ?

Even back in the Eighties, the weakness of LS3/5A were well known.

In the Eighties, Hi-Fi Choice consistently criticised the LS3/5A for
         1. lack of deep bass
         2. boomy UPPER bass
         3. hard nasal mid range
         4. grainy 'zitty' treble
         5. tubby wooden and boxy colourations

The final blow was
Hi-Fi Choice telling the BBC that the LS3/5A was due for a revision
( and that was 20 years ago ! )

I believe the OLD Hi-Fi Choice reviews from the Eighties,
because they were using a panel of experienced listeners
to reduce the personal preference of 1 reviewer.

The LS3/5A is good for a TINY speaker,
but it is no match for a GOOD QUALITY FULL SIZED loudspeaker,
when reproducing female voices AND bass drums AT THE SAME TIME,

ALL tiny speakers will produce 5% to 20% distortion,
in this severe conditions,
and the huge amount of distortion makes the female voices VERY blur !

LS3/5A uses the tiny Kef B110 woofer / midrange,
which is 110 mm or 5 inches in size.

 Please remember that

       6.5 inch driver is 70% bigger (in area) than a 5 inch driver
             (when you ignore the "useless" metal frame and most of the cone surround)

       8 inch driver is 70% bigger (in area) than a 6.5 inch driver
             (when you ignore the "useless" metal frame and most of the cone surround)

       10 inch driver is 70% bigger (in area) than a 8 inch driver
             (when you ignore the "useless" metal frame and most of the cone surround)

       So a 10 inch driver is as big as 3 pieces of 5 inch drivers !
                       ( 170% x 170% = 289% )

       Our 10 inch woofer can move 67% MORE than the + - 3 millimetre
       of the TINY 5 inch B110 drivers used in the LS3/5A.

                SO  OUR  10  INCH  WOOFER  IS  AS  POWERFUL  AS
                     5  PIECES  OF  THE  TINY  DRIVER
                        USED  IN  THE  LS3/5A  !

Please send your comments (rude or otherwise) to
We will publish your comments on our FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) section,
so please avoid the use of swear words !

 Dear Andrew,

 I think that
 many people will be interested in our correspondence,
 so I have posted this reply on our website.


> I am not saying the ls3/5a is the epitomy of hifi -
> it is only a grade 2 broadcast monitor with a falsy pronounced bass
> suitable for balancing vocal content from outside broadcast van, and siimilar tasks.

 This was exactly my point !

 My problem is
 I have to deal with
 FANATICAL owners of LS3/5a
 who are 100% convinced that the LS3/5a is 100% perfect,
 and it is a God !

When I try to say that
and ALL small speakers like LS3/5a have limitation,
these FANATICAL owners go off the deep end !


> However, it mid-range is uncannily realistic,
> in a way that is rare amongst speakers.
> I  think that there is a distinction here between hifi  accuracy,
> which you appear to regard most highly,
> and realism, which fans of the ls3/5a, ESL 57, etc regard most highly.

I disagree entirely !

My idea of HIgh FIdelity is for my ears and brains to be tricked
into believing that the singer and musicians are standing around my speakers.
        ( using "Live" recording , realistic life size volume , eyes closed)

 Realism and Hi Fi Accuracy go hand in hand !

 Our Yamaha NS-1000M FULL RANGE studio monitor
              ( not the cheap £350 Yamaha NS-10M near field monitors )
              ( with a distinctive white cone in a black box,                       )
              ( seen perching on many studio consoles.                           )
 or our own £1,200 speakers
 driven by ANY of our valve amplifiers
 will ACCURATELY reproduce voices and ALL instruments
              (except 16 foot pipes of Church Organs)
 that you will believe that the singer and musicians
 are standing around your speakers !
        ("live" recording, at realistic life size volume, with eyes closed )

 We also own ESL 57.
 and they will NEVER fool my ears and brain
 into believing that the singer AND musicians is in the same room as me.

 Maybe my ears and brain are more "fussy"
 than the average fan of the ESL 57.


 > I have heard several, very expensive systems that I
 > could not live with because, although you could not
 > critise their accuracy,
 > the could not produce the same realism as the ls3/5a.

 Many expensive systems are grossly overpriced.

 Even the speakers that cost thousand of pounds,
 use "high end" drivers,
 that will cost a TOTAL of a few hundred pounds.

 Cabinets are important,
 but it is NOT cost effective
 to use cabinets
 that are 10 times more expensive than
 the ALL IMPORTANT drivers !

 many of these EXPENSIVE systems are NOT accurate.
 Just look at the frequency response curve
 and "waterfall" curves,
 and you will see resonance lingering and lingering and lingering !

That is why I keep recommending measurements done by Mr Martin Colloms (Hi Fi News)
and Mr Noel Keywood (Hi Fi World) and other reviewers.

VERY BAD measurements means that the speakers are NOT HIgh FIdelity.

GOOD measurements does NOT prove that the equipment will SOUND good,
but it does prove that the Audio Engineer has done his "homework",
and you will have to LISTEN to the equipment YOURSELF,
with your OWN PERSONAL taste,
               OWN PERSONAL choice of music,
               OWN PERSONAL living room,
even your OWN PERSONAL moods  !
             ( My listening taste/mood changes between early morning, mid day and late at night ! )


 > The Kef Concerto is not directly comparable as it
 > does not have the same,
 > complex, crossover network of the ls3/5a which is
 > what produces the midrange coherence.

Ha Ha , you got to be joking.

The "complex, crossover network" produces (?allows?)  a midband "presence" peak !

 This gives improved "presence".

 Trained ears will notice this artificial "presence" peak.

FANATICAL owners of LS3/5a call this exaggerated midrange "presence" peak
coherence, realism, etc !


 > I am also not critising your speakers,
 > but, unless they sound very similar
 > to the ls3/5a in tonal
 > character, I can guarantee that I would not be
 > interested in a pair.

 You are joking !

 Why in the name of Sam Hill
 would anybody design an EXPENSIVE "High End" speaker
 with a midrange "presence" peak                                (a known weakness of LS3/5a)
 and a artificial upper bass hump around 100 hertz       (a known weakness of LS3/5a)
 and no bass below 80 Hertz                                       (a known weakness of LS3/5a)
 to that it will have
 the same tonal quality as the £565 LS3/5a ?

We have have gone though great trouble to design an
 accurate EVEN frequency response
 ( to challenge the EVEN frequency response )
 (      of the £6,500 B&W 802 Nautilus.         )

As I said before,
FANATICAL owners of LS3/5a are irrational !

As I said before,
I am NOT going to "dumb down" my products
to suit FANATICAL owners of tiny speakers, like LS3/5a !
We are only interested in producing "High End" quality, but at a sane price !


 > I take your point about volume but,
 > in my opinion, it is the older, 15 ohm versions
 > that have trouble keeping things separate. I also use
 >> > AB-1 subs which band pass the ls3/5as so they are
 >> > even less confused. BUT, there are precious few
 >> > speaker that can produce the midrange presence that
 >> > the ls3/5a can, unless you go electrostatic.
 >> This is my point precisely !
 > The point I was making was about the midrange, not
 > the bass. A lot of people
 > live with the inaccurate bass just to get their
 > midrange. I am not a fan of
 > that bass hump and require the AB-1s, unless in a
 > small room.
 >> The small Kef B110 is TOO SMALL
 >> to cope with LOUD DEEP BASS !
 >> LS3/5a on its own is NOT HIgh FIdelity,
 >> because
 >> it cannot reproduce a realistic LIFE SIZE bass drum !
 > However, it produces enough to inform you of the
 > presence of the drum, which
 > is all a lot of people need.

I disagree.

Yamaha NS-1000M and our own £1,200 speakers enables you to
CLEARLY HEAR the difference between

1. CLASSICAL -  Tympani versus Double Bass
    You can even hear the difference, VERY CLEARLY,
    between "plucked" Double Bass and "bowed" Double Bass !

    Lose the Double Bass "solo" and counterpoints in Beethoven's 9th
    and you lose 20% of the melodies !

2. POPULAR MUSIC - Kick Bass Drum versus Electric Bass Guitar

3. LISA STANFIELD - False bass instruments from cheaper synthesizers
                                             versus REAL bass instruments !

3. JAZZ - Kick Bass Drum versus Acoustic Bass

4. JAZZ - You can hear Acoustic Bass player going up & down the scale
                        ( and not a vague "one note" bass )

    Lose this effect,
    and the traditional Jazz Quartet becomes a Jazz Trio !

5. JAZZ - You can hear Acoustic Bass player "bending" his note !
                Man !  That is Jazz !

 >> > I accept 1. lack of deep bass and maybe 2. boomy
 >> > UPPER bass, but you must be joking/deaf to suggest
 >> > 3. hard nasal mid range and 4. grainy 'zitty'
 >> > treble. One of the strengths of the ls3/5a and why
 >> > I have 4 pairs is the lack of 5. tubby wooden and
 >> > boxy colourations.
 >> I was quoting from a Hi-Fi Choice PANEL review of
 >> MANY different versions of LS3/5a
 >> AND about 50 other speaker
 >> including "High End" speakers that cost about 10 times more than the LS3/5a
 >> Maybe you consider yourself better qualified than
 >>  the abovementioned PANEL of reviewers ?
> None of the ls3/5as I have heard have grainy treble
> unless driven by underpowered solid state, and none have nasel
> midrange unless driven by anemic amps such as the AudioLab ones, a favorite of HiFi Choice.
> There are very few hifi commentators that I would trust, and
> certainly none from the more popular press,
> which are driven by the constant need to proclaim that
> some new speaker beats all the rest, so you had better buy their mag to find out about it.
> There also seemed to have been a anti-ls3/5a stance from a lot
> of mags in the past, some of which change their tune of r awhile, and then go back again.
> I have heard speakers designed by .... name censored to prevent law suites ! ......
> that sounded like junk, especialy compared to some ls3/5a and Spendor SP-2s I was auditioning.
> I would think that anyone with reasonable hearing is just as qualified as
> those journalists to indicate which speakers sound more realistic.
 >> We have updated our brochure to and we have
 >> Signed testimonials from customers who prefer our amp to
 >> Audiolab 8000a
 >> Audiolab 8000S/SX pre/power
 >> Quad 34/405
 >> £2,600 Naim pre/power/Hicap power supply
 >> Linn pre/power
 > I can well believe it. I canned my Quad 34 for a
 > passive preamp because it
 > was so mediocre.
 >> Our amp uses MASSIVE transformers for 20% to 30%
 > MORE BASS SLAM than most
 > transistor amp and most Single Ended amplifiers.
 >> This will OVERLOAD the 5 inch Kef B110 drivers of the LS3/5a,
 >> and cause it to distort.
 >> We are NOT prepared to "dumb down" our BASS SLAM
 >> to suit TINY speakers.
 >> (This will annoy customers with BIG speakers !)
 >> ------------------
 >> So we do NOT want to sell to LS3/5a owners WITHOUT AB-1 subs
 >> (We have a money back guarantee of 100% satisfaction,)
 >> (and we want to keep to our 10% return rate ! )
 >> We will be pleased to sell to LS3/5a owners
 >> with "PURPOSE DESIGNED" AB-1 subs
 > I shall pass that on. Sounds like your amps are of
 > the Exposure school of thought, which I know are crap with ls3/5as.
> On a more serious note, and something I thought of
> after the Tonbridge
> Jumble, is that I think you should redesign the
> logo that you put on the
> front of your amps. Maybe have something like AVC,
> but having the word
> Affordable on the front would, I guess, lose you
> many customers.
> It is a marketing thing, but people are label conscious and
> would not like a curious
> visiting neighbour to know that they bought their
> amp on the cheap. In the
> same way, Millets market Peter Storm kit, which is
> quite good, but not many
> people use it because Burghers. Karrimor, North
> Face, etc look better. Maybe
> have Affordable on the back only.
>A quote from the ls3/5a group backs this up:
> "And i hate 'Affordable valve company' as the name for what needs
> to be perceived as a quality niche product in a
> tiny, specialist market. All round, worst and most amateurish marketing I've
> seen for a long time, which is a shame as his EL34 amp looks like honest value for the price."

Interesting !

Snobbery from someone who owns £250 second hand LS3/5a !

We sell amplifiers from £600 to £1,350
Our cheapest speaker cost £1,200.

Let us be honest about this,
£600 to £1,350 for a valve amplifier
is a lot of money
for owners of £250 second hand speakers !

                                            Yours sincerely

Question in March 2008 = Just as always there are people who just want to shout the opposite of
what is commonly regarded as 'good'.
You're just like one to me.
I'm a happy owner of the LS3/5a... indeed not a full range speaker but the
sound stage and midrange is one of the things I rarely heard in a better quality.

Answer = Many dealer selling used BBC LS3/5a have written nonsensical claims about BBC LS3/5a
to sell BBC LS3/5a to trusting Hi Fi enthusiasts.
BBC LS3/5a is good speaker FOR THE SMALL SIZE.
If you want a TINY 5 inch speaker.  BBC LS3/5a is very good.

But if you want a SERIOUS HIgh FIdelity speaker with good loud bass
and can go loud
and has good midrange EVEN WHEN THERE IS A LOUD BASS DRUM,
then the tiny BBC LS3/5a is not suitable.

I am not the only person saying that the legendary BBC LS3/5a is o.k. but not fantastic.

Please read page 64 and page 65 of Hi Fi Choice number 31 magazine that tested many dozens of speakers.

1983 Hi Fi Choice say ......
the bass lacked extension and sounded boomy in the upper bass register,
while the mid had a noticeably hard , nasal quality and
the treble seemed forward with a grainy. 'zitty' effect at the extreme top end.
Some tubby, wooden and boxy coloration were also evident, 
while its only moderate rendition of stereo depth was apparent.

1983 Hi Fi choice also say ....
At the risk of offending the BBC, I feel that the LS3/5a is due for a revision........

MONEY BACK GUARANTEE (less shipping cost. equipment returned during 1 month home trial) that
our GBP £950 to GBP £2500 speaker with Cheery wood veneer + expensive piano finish
+ 2 pieces of 8 inch bass speaker with HUGE MAGNETS
+ 4 inch or 5 inch superb coated paper cone (seldom overload, because bass is diverted to 8 inch woofer)
+ 1 inch dome tweeter + sophisticated crossover
looks and sound 3 times to 100 better (depending on how fussy you are)
for bass + more realistic human voice + much much more realistic clearer human voice even when there is loud bass drum.

HUGE 22 inch bass drum will easily overload the SMALL 5 inch speaker of BBC LS3/5a
and once the SMALL 5 inch speaker is overloaded,
human voice became blur and congested as though the singer has a bad cold and a blocked up nose.
Turn up the volume louder, and the 'blocked up nose' effect gets so bad that you cannot understand the words of the song.

How can you say that the BBC LS3/5a has got good midrange
when you cannot even understand the words of the song, 
when HUGE 22 inch kick bass drum has overloaded the SMALL 5 inch speaker.

How can you say that that 
sound stage and midrange is one of the things I rarely heard in a better quality
when 1983 Hi Fi choice say
'while its only moderate rendition of stereo depth was apparent.'

Why is your word so different to 1983 Hi Fi Choice words ?
Are you a dealer trying to sell a few pairs of LS3/5a
that you bought from an old studio ?


Even MODERN speaker designer do not like Bextrene cone of BBC LS3/5a
Please read
for the section on 'Bextrene Mid bass'
which say 
Bextrene Mid bass
........ is typically damped by a layer of doping material on the front of the cone
to control the strong first resonance it displays around 1.5 kHz.
(Affordable Valve company say that this is true, )
(because there is a huge about 6 decibels peak in the frequency response curve at about 1.2 kHz in 1983 Hi Fi Choice.
(This is about the most sensitive part of your hearing range !)

The BBC derived designs always employed notch filter equalization to flatten the Bextrene driver in the mid band;
the most famous (or infamous, depending on whether you were the listener or the designer) driver was the KEF B110
used in the BBC LS 3/5a mini monitor. 
Not everyone knows that this speaker, which is legendary for its sweet midrange,
employs a deep notch filter with 6 dB of attenuation at 1.5 kHz to correct the B110.
(Affordable Valve company say that there is still a huge about 6 decibels peak)
(in the frequency response curve at about 1.2 kHz in 1983 Hi Fi Choice.)
(This is about the most sensitive part of your hearing range !)

Over time, Bextrene has been replaced by BBC developed polypropylene, which gives much flatter response,
does not require a layer of doping material, and provides a 3-4 dB increase in efficiency due to the decrease in cone mass. 
Bextrene is now considered an obsolete material by nearly all speaker designers.

Strengths are: Consistent batch to batch, excellent potential imaging (by mid Seventies standards).
Inner resolution higher than many paper cones.

Weaknesses are: Very low efficiency (82-84 dB at 1 meter), requires a strong notch filter in the mid band,
a "quacky" coloration by modern standards, sudden, unpleasant onset of breakup at not so high levels
, and numerous resonances at the top of the working band.

Best Examples are: None. Modern designers are not willing to tolerate the low efficiency
and the complex notching and shelving equalization required to make these drivers acceptable.
Although some traditionalists revere the KEF B110 used in the Rogers LS 3/5a,
the uneven response of this driver requires the LS 3/5a crossover to be very complex.
Having worked with the B110 for many years, I feel the modern Vifa P13WH-00-08 is superior in every way.



Please send your comments (rude or otherwise) to
We will publish your comments on our FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) section,
so please avoid the use of swear words !

Click here to go back to the  MAIN  PAGE  at