Rogers LS7t loudspeaker
The LS7t ($949/pair) is the second most expensive model in Rogers' "domestic" range, and is an elegant box speaker, finished in walnut veneer. Unusually, the grille, which consists of black cloth over a profiled fiberboard frame, is set into the front of the speaker and should not be removed. Under the grille, the familiar sight of the German MB Electronics titanium-dome tweeter greets the eye, this featuring a plastic "phase plate" and mounted vertically above a 6" diameter, polypropylene-cone woofer. This is constructed on a diecast chassis and is fitted with a generous-sized magnet. A 6"-deep, 2.5"-diameter reflex port completes the baffle array.
The crossover is constructed on a printed-circuit board fitted to the input terminals. (Two sets are provided, for bi-wiring and bi-amplification.) Ferrite-cored inductors are used, while the capacitors appear all to be plastic-film types. The enclosure is lined with "eggcrate" plastic foam, and apart from the rear panel being inset slightly to add a degree of stiffness, there appears to be no other internal bracing.
Positioned well away from room boundaries, the LS7ts proved capable of throwing a deep, well-defined soundstage. Instrumental placement within that soundstage was unambiguously palpable, and the effect was consistently musical. On the Stereophile flute-and-piano Poem recording, the flute was set back a little behind the plane of the speakers, with a slight "chiff" noticeable to its tonal quality (this not to as great a degree as with the Paradigm Control Monitor), with the piano set further back still. Both instruments could be heard to be surrounded by a dome of ambience, and the retrieval of detail was impressivein fact, I used the LS7ts to decide which of the test pressings of this recording best represented the original sound.
A test of mine for detail retrieval is to try to hear whether a speaker allows you to hear what I remarked on as the entry of "chime accompanying the regal" in the Hildegard of Bingen track "Columba Aspexit" on the original HFN/RR Test CD in Vol.12 No.5 (footnote 1). I was taken to task on this by reader Bernard Engholm in the August issue, where he pointed out that there is no such instrument listed on the original album's sleevenotes. Well, it occurs at exactly 2:56 into the track, and can be heard as a gentle low-frequency transient, much as a metal bar would sound when struck by a soft felt mallet. As it seems to continue from there on till the end of the piece, however, it can't be a percussion instrument. I hypothesize that what I am actually hearing is an edit at that point. (You might point out that it is perhaps due to a data dropout specific to my copy of this disc. However, it occurs at exactly the same point on my copy of the original Hyperion album A Feather on the Breath of God, CDA66039.) Whatever it is, it is a useful test for transparency as I can only hear it on a limited number of loudspeakers.
This Rogers is one of them.
As neutral as the Paradigm speaker in the midband, the Rogers LS7t featured a slightly cleaner mid- and high-treble balance. Its low frequencies, while still too rich-sounding when compared with the Canadian speaker, didn't suffer from any added congestion at high playback levels. Such overcooked rockOK, countryrecordings as the CD release of the 1984 Dwight Yoakam album Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. (Reprise 9 25372-2, footnote 2) had suitable "slam" in the bass, the weight still having sufficiently well-defined leading edges.
As with the Paradigm, however, I was ultimately left dissatisfied by the Rogers in one specific area, the low treble. While the speakers hardly qualify as "bright," there was a slight hardness apparent in this region which lends the speakers a somewhat unsympathetic nature. Already bright recordings like the Yoakam just mentioned, which features some fiery close-miked violins, become fatiguing too soon. Care should be taken when choosing matching electronics with this speaker if what is occasionally noticeable is not to become a dominant system characteristic.
Well-engineered and capable of offering a consistently musical presentation with superbly precise soundstaging and palpable imaging, the Rogers LS7t departs from neutrality only in the rather bright nature of its low-treble balance and in its over-warm upper bass. While I can recommend it to those whose tastes tend toward a traditional "English" sound, at $230/pair more expensive than the Paradigm Control Monitors and at $1100/pair when good stands are included, it comes under severe competition in the US from the floorstanding Thiel CS1.2 and Spica Angelus and the slightly more expensive Vandersteen 2Ci. However, I did enjoy my time with the LS7t; I suggest that you listen for yourself.
Footnote 1: I say "original" because HFN/RR has now released a successor to that bestselling CD, which includes as equally an idiosyncratic choice of well-recorded music.
Footnote 2: Check out his great versions of "Ring of Fire" and "Heartaches by the Number."