Falcon Acoustics LS3/5a loudspeaker Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog Sources: Acoustic Signature WOW XL turntable & TA-1000 tonearm, Thorens TD-124 turntable; Abis SA 1.2 tonearm; Ortofon CG 25 DI II, Shure SC35C, Soundsmith Carmen, Zu Audio DL-103 cartridges.
Digital Sources: Onkyo Integra DPS-7.2 DVD-A player; Line Magnetics LM502 CA, Halide HD DACs; Mac mini computer.
Preamplification: Intact Audio step-up transformer; April Sound GB-1, LFD LE, Sentec EQ-11 phono stages.
Integrated Amplifiers: Hegel Music Systems H160, Line Magnetics LM518 IA, Simaudio Moon Neo 340i, Vinnie Rossi LIO.
Loudspeakers: Rogers LS3/5a, Magnepan .7, Totem Acoustic Model One Signature.
Headphone Amplifier: Schiit Asgard.
Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, Bowers & Wilkins P5, Music Hall de-be.
Cables: Interconnect: Auditorium 23; AudioQuest Big Sur, Cinnamon, Golden Gate. Speaker: AudioQuest Type 4, Auditorium 23, Kimber Kable 8TC. AC: manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Sound Anchor stands.—Herb Reichert

Falcon Acoustics
US distributor: Big Ear Consulting
Ormond Beach, FL
(800) 752-4018

dalethorn's picture

I bought the ca. 1975 version after reading Holt's review. I particularly remember the phrase "minimum recommended power 25 watts". He noted that maximum power was also specified as 25 watts. I eventually traded them off, fearing I would blow the little drivers at some point. Not an irrational fear given that the pair the seller loaned me (until a new set came in) had a blown driver.

Edit: If I had the original pair today, I'd put them closer to the wall (maybe 12-15 inches) and EQ down the bass hump, which would lessen my anxiety about over-driving them. Once you hit that sweet spot with these little speakers, they'd be almost like the theoretical point-source, having a terrific soundstage.

LS35A's picture

than any other speaker, by far. Even today it's still a favorite.

If you'd told me in 1975 that in 40 years they'd still be being made I'd have said you were crazy.

But in a small room they are still a really nice speaker.

Venere 2's picture

The staples are a nice touch… Really ugly speaker! As good as they supposedly sound, they look like a 99$ DIY project.

RBrooks's picture

No boxes,No horns,No ribbons,No electrostatics,No distortion.
The author of this article thought rather highly of Siegfried Linkwitz Speakers.
As do Steve Guttenberg and Nelson Pass.

audiocaptain's picture

Just wanted to say a big thank you for doing this review. It is a classic and important piece of Audio History that every music lovers deserves to know about. Great writing - Thanks Again! BEC

dce22's picture

Quote : "They played enjoyably well with all—with one exception. Class-D made these hyper-responsive, 15-ohm speakers sound dry, slightly hard, and more generalized than I like. Class-D amps awoke that napping bass bump and turned the slightly rising treble into a distraction. The LS3/5a has always been an exceptionally amp-friendly speaker, not because it makes mediocre amps sound good, but for quite the opposite reason: The LS3/5a excels at letting you hear exactly what your amp really sounds like."

Translation : "I did not try class d amp on this speaker but this is what i think it will sound"

No class d amps were noted in the associated equipment section, message to Herb you need to tell people what kind of class d amp you were using if you were using one in the first place so people need to stay clear of it.

LS35A's picture

Yes, I also was taken with the implication of 'all class d amplifiers are the same' here. Obviously not true.

supamark's picture

Literally the first component listed under the integrated amps, the Hegel H160, is a class D amp. [flame deleted by John Atkinson]

John Atkinson's picture
supamark wrote:
the first component listed under the integrated amps, the Hegel H160, is a class D amp.

The Hegel doesn't use a class-D output stage. But Herb has been recently using the Rogue Sphinx, which does use Hypex class-D modules.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

jporter's picture

The Magnepan 1.7 is $200 less than this speaker. The Paradigm 15B is $600 less. The PSB Imagine B is $1200 less. Monitor audio has their silver series. All of these sound great and just look so much nicer than the Falcon. I have not heard the Falcon speaker, but those staples are just awful.

audiocaptain's picture

This speaker is made to be played with the grills on. The staples are there to hold the velcro firmly in place and work a great deal better than little plastic nipples or other securing methods. You never see these, ever, in normal use. The image is just to show the original T27 and the B110 drivers.
Although there are other lesser priced speakers they are not authentic classic LS3/5a's.

Venere 2's picture

Authentic, a word that is so elastic that it can be stretched to encapsulate everything that is good and worthy of owning. Even when it is not true.

I did not need to be told the speakers were meant to be played with their grills on, and that the grills would hide the staples. I believe most people picked up on that as well.

And yes, there are lesser priced imitators that claim the lineage of the LS3, and are not truly "classic" and oh so authentic LS3s. But remember, there are also numerous other designs from a myriad number of speaker builders in this price range. Maybe they can't claim the authenticity of nostalgia and the good ole days, but they offer much better build quality, aesthetics, and most importantly great sound.

supamark's picture

[flame deleted by John Atkinson]

This speaker is aimed at a specific, small, market segment (not you obviously, but nothing in Stereophile is). As to build quality, from the photos at least, it looks both exceptional and faithful to the original speaker.

WM's picture

Falcon should be commended for their effort; its one of those rare designs which isn't expensive but has huge 'cred' appeal.. it could easily be in the pages of Wallpaper magazine, if it isn't already

jimsusky's picture

This review arouses no small bit of nostalgia in me. Shimeks Audio (in Anchorage) claimed to have sold more Rogers LS3/5a loudspeakers than anyone else in the world for several years running (so advised, they said, by Rogers). This was undoubtedly a function of the Trans-Alaska-Pipeline construction boom that had started about 1973 (startup was ca. summer 1977). But it was also a function of first-class setup and salesmanship. Terry Shimek could sell the legendary “freezers to Eskimos” (which was not a slur in those much thicker-skinned days).

Shimeks extracted $650 from me as a college student in the Summer of 1978,
which I later discovered was $50-$100 more than stateside retail. Invoking CPI-U we get a 2015/1978 ratio of 3.7 and a current value of $2400 I also dropped $200 (actual retail this time) for the kit version of the Hafler DH100 preamp.

(the SSA informs me I made $1900 that summer – thanks be to Mom who amply subsidized my education, room, board, beer, and audio that year).

By 1978 Shimeks was actively pushing moving coil phono replay with direct-drive turntables, both with stock tonearms and retrofitted with Grace tonearms along with decent solid state electronics (Audio Research and Mark Levinson came a bit later) – their demos with the Rogers monitor were ridiculously compelling – with 3D soundstages that extended well beyond the loudspeakers.

They had a trick which became de rigueur for me – stands with back-tilt. The LS3/5a always imaged well sitting straight up-and-down – but with a 25-degree tilt a good soundstage became cavernous with unparalleled instrumental focus. I was so intoxicated by that effect that I suspect I ignored the tonal-balance tradeoff.

(still I suggest that Herb Reichert give this a try and report back in a Follow Up)

That midrange! Lady singers never sounded so sweet in your living room. That definition! Acoustic guitars were transparently rendered – one could readily hear fingers, picks, nylon, and wound steel. We readily learned microphone techniques – and soon had disdain for mediocre and indifferent production.

Several years later I was lent a fellow student’s uncle’s Bryston 3B and Audio Research SP-3 for only a few hours of alchemical magic with my BBC’s. Rickie Lee Jones was playing when my roommate walked in. He was stunned, stopped dead in his tracks and listened. With astonishment he said “it sounds like she’s in the room!” (thus independent, unsolicited confirmation of electronic wizardry).

Reichert is right – big speakers mostly get in their own way – few of them make that kind of holographic magic.

jimsusky's picture

I always liked the look of the speakers undressed - and dogmatically believed that the grills could not improve the sound.

MGM's picture

I built a pair of these Falcon LS3/5as and would broadly agree with the findings.
They are definitely brighter than my own, but one quickly adjusts to this
The friend I built them for for is extremely happy with them.

Casmar's picture

I have had mine for the past twenty eight years. With all their idiosyncrasies, they were the only constant units in my Hifi for all these years. The most fascinating aspect is how they sing in one room and pale by comparison in another.

Doctor Fine's picture

I guess there are too many riches available nowadays.
I bought the Spendors which can now be found for around $600 mint on Ebay.
And THESE were Herb's favorite 3/5 a few years ago.
At $600 the value is off the charts...
I will keep mine forever and I could easily afford to "upgrade."