The Four Seasons with Larry Staples of LSA Group/DK Designs

Sometime near the close of Sunday, when vinyl was being slipped into sleeves and room treatments were coming down, I wandered my way to the end of a hall at the St. Tropez, where I heard such sweet music emanating from the LSA Group/DK Design suite.

Though tired — exhausted, in fact — I walked in, only wanting to stand against a wall and listen. A group of friendly faces sat happily around a pair of LSA1 loudspeakers ($1000/pr), enjoying a bit of jazz. What I noticed, immediately, was that, though I was standing against a wall, in the back of the room, my listening position obscured by tables and chairs and people, I wasn't missing any of the music.

Larry Staples walked over. "Have we taken care of you yet?"
"Oh, I'm just listening," I replied.
"Well, we've got the LSA2s in here," he said, motioning to a second room. "Would you like to check them out?"

I'll admit: at the time, I honestly wasn't interested. Like I said, I only wanted to rest against a wall for a bit before going back to our hotel and calling it quits. But, sometimes, pushing yourself a little more, or doing something you wouldn't ordinarily do, leads to new and pleasing experiences. So, instead of declining:

"Sure," I nodded.

I followed Larry in, where he graciously offered me a seat and some time. I sat down and faced the impressive LSA2 ($2500/pr), a three-way floorstander — bigger than what I'm normally interested in, but at a price comparable to that of my reference DeVore gibbon 3.

Larry popped in a performance of The Four Seasons (Vivaldi, I believe?). I know the piece, sure, but I can't say I'm familiar with it, and it's not at all something I would normally listen to. Nevertheless, I soon found myself thoroughly enjoying the rises and falls, the dynamic sweeps.

Larry sat slightly behind me, where I could, every now and then, discern the motions of his head, swaying with the music.

The LSA2's finely crafted cabinet curves from front to back, going from 8" to 9.25" in the center to 6" at the rear.

Larry explained: "I'll tell you where the design came from," he began.

"It was my wife and I, sitting down to listen to some music. We'd be sitting there together, you know, and I'd always be hogging up the sweet-spot. She'd be off to one side or the other, and she'd always end up complaining that all the sound from the nearest speaker was beaming right at her."

I laughed.

"So, I had to figure out a design which would allow for the music to be enjoyed from any area in the room."

At this point, Larry stands me up and leads me to a far corner of the room.

"You hear that?" he asks. "All the images are still centered solidly in the middle of the space. You don't get all that beaminess from one speaker. You can stand anywhere."

I move around the room, casually. Indeed: near, far, standing, sitting, to the left or to the right, everything sounds smooth and natural. I detect very little alteration in the size or placement of images, and the sound is never at all fatiguing. If anything at all, I find the music to be a tad polite. I'm just not getting that certain sense of excitement or intensity that I am attracted to.

Larry asks if there's anything in particular I'd like to listen to. I hand him my demo disc, and ask for track six.

Earth, Wind & Fire comes on, and it's all:

I'm longing to love you
Just for a night
Kissing and hugging and holding you tight

Not knowing what track six was before I requested it, I'm now blushing, completely embarrassed, only to be comforted by Larry's foot tapping to the music. He's obviously enjoying it, and I'm relieved. It's been far too often that I've felt embarrassed by my music selection at one of these shows, and it's refreshing to walk into a room where there are no biases.

It becomes clear to me that Larry is a music-lover first, and the science he puts into his designs is geared towards making music that can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter where they sit or stand in the room.

Steve's picture

Was Larry using the DK/LSA Signature MK III integrated amp to drive the speakers.I hear that John Tucker from Exemplar has done dome serious modifications to the unit.

Larry R. Staples LSA Group President/Designer's picture

Steve and Ash, thanks for the gracious comments.Yes we were indeed using the new LSASE (SIGNATURE EDITION).John Tucker," a brilliant engineer (actually a former NASA Engineer) has performed an audio coup with his proprietary circuit for our preamp stage. The new LSASE has upgraded parts as well as John's ""active loads"" in the tube circuit--taking the tubes to their theoretic 'full potential' as compared to a typical tube circuitry which usually limits tubes to about half their theoretic potential! Needless to say the new LSASE is a great sounding amplifier. We were enormously pleased with the sound of the room", and think that the amp and speakers gave a very good account of themselves at the show. Thanks John, you've really created a wonderful preamp stage for our integrated!

Donald N.'s picture

Very impressive! Thanks for all the great reviews Stephen (your music selection is right up my alley).

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thanks very much, Larry, for the info on the associated equipment, and for a great demo.And thank you, Donald, for your support and encouragement. I appreciate it, and am happy to share my favorite music with you.

Steve's picture

Hello Larry -Thanks for answering my question.I was unable to attend the show however,I've heard some good things about this new Amp.Maybe the guys at Stereophile will show some tenacity and review this baby and put the skeptics to rest(for a while)Steve

Larry R. Staples's picture

Steve,The new LSASE is quite impressive, (It's no shock that I would say this! HA!). Seriously, we worked very hard to make it a good amplifier from a musical standpoint, giving it a dynamic and sweet, spacious, tube-like presentation--while still offering very respectable bench results.I really believe that it can perform with separates/even other integrates which retail for much much more. Plus our onboard phono stage is a real advantage for vinyl lovers.Our European distribution is very strong, in part for this reason, as well as 'value perception' because of our pricing structure.Look for more new and exciting products in the near future.Thanks for the kind remarks Steven.Best,Larry R. StaplesLSA GroupPresident/Designer

Steve's picture

Hey Stereophile-Let's see a review on this DK/LSASE amp!!!!!!

Bob's picture

I have not heard a DK yet,however,I hear the new owner has taken the product to another level.I would love to see a Stereophile review on this unit.Bob(15 year subscriber)

Scott's picture

Stereophile, please review! I heard the Sig Amp, LSA2s and Exemplar digital at the show. Great value, but good sound at any price.I heard textures, very effortless and relaxed, and lots of detail. I was most impressed by the clarity of the speakers. No grunge, but tons of information retrieved...

Jim's picture

Review!! Review!!Please?Jim

Stephen Mejias's picture

>Review!! Review!! Please?A DK Reference amp has been sent to Bob Reina for review in an upcoming issue of Stereophile. Stay tuned.

Scott's picture

I hope you will also review the speakers. I was most impressed with the LSA2s at $2500. At the show they said something about a Signature as well but I didn't hear them. As I said in earlier post, great value. Scott

JD's picture

I'm happy to see that Stereophile is willing to review an affordable peace of gear that may just(probably will)out-perform the big name/big ad dollar guys.Way to Go! Is the real Stereophile back????

Larry R. Staples LSA Group President/Designer's picture

Bob Reina has requested a DK MARK III for review.We have sent one to him--with it, we sent a pair of Seimens Tubes so he can do a 'before and after' in terms of tube changing.We would like him to listen to our new LSASE also, in order to make the comparison, just so he can report the remarkable differences that exist in the two amps. Since one is $3200. and the other $6000. that would give a great comparison for interested parties. Finally, I have to take this opportunity to comment on the 'room review' that Stephen did for Stereophile.Its a given that everyone remembers things differently--but in this instance, Steven could not have tape recorded what transpired and reported on it more accurately than he did. For any people out there who 'wonder' about reporting accuracy--in this instance, his memory and mine are identical!Generally, if the highlights are 'close' it usually doesn't matter, but in this report, he got it exactly right.Thanks Stephen.Larry R. StaplesLSA GroupPresident

craig Fitzhugh's picture

Is there a website, dealer list, or source for LSA speakers?Thanks

Tom Robertson's picture

Today, after many years of a lost and treasured friendship, I dropped by the house of Larry Staples. In our early years, our mutual love of music was in many ways the center of our friendship," and I was not surprised to find him continuing his pursuit in this arena... so let me tell you what I heard this afternoon.""Music",sweet music," there was music everywhere""We listened to a variety of musical genre withhighs that sparkled without coloration or harshness; Mid ranges that rivaled live performances", clarity unsurpassed in systems at ten times the price; and extremely tight bass with unbelievable musicality on passages that were pushing the lower limits of human distinction.With the volume cranked to a level that bordered permanent hearing loss, I listen to a big band recoding of remarkable complexity, having numerous rests which revealed the absolute carity of the system. If you have the opportunity to hear this system...have your check book handy; You'll want it!to Larry...Bravo-OUTSTANDING!