Listening #199: Falcon & Graham LS3/5A Contacts

Sidebar: Contacts

Graham Audio, Ringslade House, Ringslade Road, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 6PT, UK. Tel: (44) 1626 361168. Web: US Distributor: On a Higher Note. Tel: 949 544-1990 Web:

Falcon Acoustics, Mallories, Pond Lane, Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire OX33 1HF, UK. Tel: (44) 1865 358001. Web: US Distributor: MoFi Distribution, West Bryn Mawr Avenue, Chicago, IL 60660. Tel: (312) 738 5025. Web:

AV Options LLC, 25 NW 23rd Place, Suite 6, No. 411, Portland, OR 97210. Tel: (847) 329-9549. Web:


wellington12's picture

Great review of the 3 newest examples of the old
BBC monitors. I would like to know if you have any experience
with the Harbeth 3pers and how they compare to these three.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Oddly enough, my thought as I opened up the Stereophile website---"they're gonna review the LS3/5a again, I'll bet."

Had a pair for a moment in the late 1980's. One of the nicest systems I've heard had vintage 3/5a's driven by the Dynaco Pas 3/Dyna 70 combo with an AR XA as a source. Owned by a lute player. They know how to tune things.

doug beechwood's picture

Is there a problem with captioning (and crediting) photos in these articles?
This article was a slog with the slight variations in models numbers and the different manufacturers.
Take the opening photo...please. What are we looking at?

Ortofan's picture

... listening to music in a typical small college dorm room today as they were a few decades ago. Back then, an Advent receiver was an excellent match.

It seems unlikely that most college students shopping for an audio system would end up using these speakers partnered by an obsolete amplifier and a half-century old turntable equipped with a tonearm of obscure origin fitted with a $2K moving-coil cartridge.

AD's review might have had a bit more relevance if he had evaluated the speakers with more contemporary and readily available equipment - for example, an NAD C316BEE V2 integrated amp and (to maintain a vintage aesthetic) a Pro-Ject Classic turntable.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

AD has Hegel CD player ......... May be AD could review the Hegel Reference H590 integrated amp/DAC? :-) ........

AD mentioned about it in one of his show reports :-) ..........

Indydan's picture

I believe you mean Hegel.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Thanks ........ I made the correction :-) ........

RH's picture

I enjoyed Art's review of another LS3/5 variant. And it's a very timely read for me, as I've recently been enjoying my Spendor S-3/5s.

I bought the Spendors in 2002 to flank our TV screen as TV speakers (Plasmas in those days were just monitors). I had other big speakers in my main 2 channel system. The Spendors always amazed me in how natural they sounded with voices, how smooth, and they imaged so well that no matter where we sat the phantom image seemed centered right on the TV screen - no need for a center channel!

Occasionally over the years I've taken them out and put them in the "big rig" to check out and they amazed me every time. It had been many years since I did this and got around to it again a couple weeks ago. I have them well out in the room on stands, about 6-7 feet from the listening sofa. Once again...holy cow! It's just unbelievable how these little speakers weave together so many attributes in one pair of speakers: so warm, so rich, organic, incredibly spacious yet precise in imaging with dense, weighty (though smallish) instrument/voice images. And the tone just seems so "right" for voices, acoustic guitars, snare drums, woodwinds...hell just about everything.

But of all things...voices! The way they recreate the softness and richness of a human being singing, and the sense of projection. Beyond obvious single-singer vocal tracks, even in tons of tracks with backing vocals I've heard a million times I keep getting surprised by the sense of "people" suddenly showing up in the mix, singing to me. How these things dig the human element out of even some artificial mixes is a happy mystery.

I'm completely beguiled by these things and they haven't left my big system since I set them up!

(Powered by CJ Premier 12s/CJ Premier 16LS2 preamp, running vinyl and streaming digital FWIW...)

I totally get why this speaker design is a mythical as it is.

I've never heard any of the other variants of the LS3/5 save, very briefly, the Harbeth version (which was excellent). I hope to encounter others! Art did a really nice job getting across the sonic differences in his comparison.

SpinMark3313's picture

SE's in my living room set up driven by a restored Mac 240. Lovely.
Bought them years ago, lost them to a runaway Adcom 555, then a very gracious dealer sold me a pair at cost when he saw how crestfallen I was at having totaled pair 1.
Lovely speaker though my curiosity for a purebred LS3/5a pair is hard to fight off - especially with all the recent press from Herb, Art, and others.

heath_robert's picture

I can't believe the reviewer forgot the JR-149. One of the LS3/5a's
BBC developers named Jim Rogers went on to create a new version with the original drivers, but housed in an aluminum cylinder. This speaker's heyday was in the late 70s, imported into the U.S by Paul Heath Audio (Dad) in Rochester, N.Y. Many listeners thought the JR had better bass and imaging among other qualities on direct A-B comparison with the original. Just thought I'd throw this into the mix.

saxman73's picture

The JR-149 are my main speakers. I think they are pretty great for something this size. I use them for critical assessment when recording. I use a Townshend Allegri passive preamp and a Citation II.

Jerome Sabbagh

PAR's picture

..yes the JR-149 was a nice speaker. I have a friend with a pair but I would imagine that the elapse of time has wrought the same decline to all pieces where the reticulated foam grilles have fallen apart due to their sensitivity to UV light. So any 149 found now is likely just to have the metal grille that was originally the support for the foam.

Jim Rogers was not a BBC employee and not, AFAIK, involved in the development of the LS3/5. At the time of its development by the BBC Research Department JR had been running his independent audio company, Rogers, for years. He (or, rather, his company) was, however, one of the earliest manufacturers of the model in quantity for implementation at the BBC and was, therefore, one of the first licensees of the design.

By the time of the JR-149 Jim Rogers was no longer associated with the company bearing his name.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Almost all of the BBC type of monitors have nicely engineered 'BBC dip' in the presence region ....... So, less irritation :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Search for 'BBC dip' ........ PS Audio has a video posted online explaining 'BBC dip' :-) ..........

tnargs's picture

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I posted my comments in response to tnargs' comments couple of days ago ..... Somehow, my comments disappeared ........ So, I will try to post them again :-) ...........

If the midrange driver cone diameter is 5" or less, a smaller diameter voice coil can be used ....... In that case, the driver cone break-up doesn't start to happen till about 4 to 6 KHz ....... Most of the modern cones are designed that way ........ In that case, the tweeters can be crossed over at around 2 to 3 KHz ........
There may not be a need for the 'BBC dip' :-) .........

Vandersteen Audio has a video posted on their website about cone break-up :-) ..........

BBC monitors of the 70's probably had larger diameter voice coils for the mid/woofers ......... So, they were advocating for the 'BBC dip' in the presence region :-) ..........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Some speakers use a 'filler driver' between the midrange and the tweeter to avoid the cone break-up problems ..... Some examples are Revel Ultima Salon2, Vandersteen models and Vivid Audio models ........ Vivid Audio uses a larger diameter dome between the midrange and the tweeter as a 'filler driver' ......... Stereophile has reviewed and measured several of the above models :-) ..........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Some speakers still use the 'BBC dip' ......... For example ....... Look at the frequency response measurements of DeVore GibbonX, in Stereophile ........ Also, look at the frequency response measurements of the recently reviewed Wilson Audio Sasha DAW and Dali Callisto 6-C. in Hi-Fi News :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Some speakers like the KEF, Elac, TAD etc. use co-axial drivers ....... The midrange cones in these co-axial drivers are 4 or 5 inches, or less in diameter ........ So, theoretically these cones should not have problems with cone break-up when crossed over with the tweeters :-) ..........

Doctor Fine's picture

Art they only sound small when used the wrong way.
In a seriously small room two to three feet from your ears they sound HUGE.
That is actually what they were designed for.
Not carrying a big room at midfield distances!

Anton's picture

Kudos for the joy you created reading the review.

The only thing missing is price per pound!

I forget who used to talk about amps that way. It made its point about construction and transformers in a charming way.

The Graham Chartwell LS3/5a weighs 11 2/3 pounds. I don't know how I'd work that into the discussion.

Thanks again for a totally fun read.

musicisthecure's picture

I lent Art my Nait 2 for the review. I don't know Art personally but I can tell you behind the scenes he was first class. A real gentleman. That amp is quite special to me - it was hard to find a chrome bumper version in such good condition and I put a bunch of money into it with the AV Options Ultimate Nait 2 treatment - so thank you Art for taking such good care of it! Coincidentally, it was partly because of Art's review of the olive Ultimate Nait 2 a while back that I decided to have the treatment done.

While the amp was away I started to wonder if it was really as good as I remembered it to be. When it came back I put on Horowitz at Home (through Rega Apollo/Chord Qutest/Naim Allaes) as background music while I worked. Well, I couldn't work. It's simply stunning. I have found the Nait 2 also has great synergy with ProAc Tablette 10s, which I use in my office.

From reading Art's review of the Falcon and Graham LS35/As it seems there is great synergy with those speakers as well. Even though I have been using vintage Naim gear for a while I have never gotten around to trying BBC monitors. It's probably time to change that. It's refreshing to see that some companies are still making the classic designs.

Apparently some of these old designs, whether amps or speakers, are considered "obsolete" for some reason. Maybe it's simply because they have been around a long time. I don't know. In any event there is nothing obsolete about reaching the Omega Point. That's why Nait2s have been appreciating in value and I presume that's also why LS35/As are still being made.

Thank you Art for doing something different and highlighting these speakers.

Jack L's picture


Some 40 years back when I first owned my KEF Celeste II, a 2-way bookshelver with KEF then famous unique B139 flat cone woofer & T27 dome tweeter. I never like its T27 dome tweeter which kept ringing like crazy in mid-hi frequencies.

So I replaced the T27 tweeter with SEAS 87H 1.5" soft-fabric dome tweeter, which incidentally got similar LF roll-off curve of T27.
Yet this Danish tweeter sounds so so much smoother & more balanced without ringing than the KEF T27. I love its sound since day one.

To make my vintage KEF sound even much better, I rebuilt it on a large fiber-glass PCB, replacing the cheapie tiny electrolytic capacitors with large non-polar polypropylene metal film capacitors. I also converted its origin single-wiring design into bi-wiring !!!

Wow, I virtually resurrected my vintage KEF from earth to its music Nirvana !

Listening is believing

Jack L

spkrz's picture

I think that the trademark owner is not necessarily the same as the brand using it.