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21st Century LS3/5A

Discussion in 'classic' started by sktn77a, Sep 16, 2020 at 1:37 AM.

  1. sktn77a

    sktn77a pfm Member

    With all the "officially licensed" LS3/5As floating around, I felt compelled to post this challenge on the LS3/5A Fanboy (sorry, Facebook) page:

    "I'm not aware that the BBC has used LS3/5a class 2 monitors for many years, or has issued licenses/certificates to anyone in the current millenium. Who at the BBC issues these "licenses" in the 21st century? Can we see evidence (ie post a copy) that such "licenses" even exist???"

    Can anybody outline the process by which a manufacturer acquires a BBC license to manufacture its LS3/5A loudspeaker (which department handles them, what the requirements are, who at the BBC handles these requests, an image of a legally obtained "license", etc, etc)? Most of the currently available versions don't use the "approved" Kef-manufactured and spec'd B110 woofer (SP1003, SP1228), Kef T27 tweeter, or original spec 15/11 ohm crossover. Is a frequency response (Bruel & Kjaer tracing) submitted along with the requisite testing criteria in order to get approval?

    Or is this whole "BBC Licenced" thing a giant con?

    stuwils likes this.
  2. chartz

    chartz pfm Member

    The real issue here is the ludicrous price tag for a speaker with zero R&D and very ordinary drive units – € 3000 in France for the Falcon version.
    They can’t be serious.
  3. Conan

    Conan Loop digger

    I wonder if the same is going to happen with the Dynaudio actives currently used at the BBC studios?

    For me, its all a con and many are falling for it...
  4. Marchbanks

    Marchbanks Hat and Beard member

    The BBC R&D department could probably answer your queries - email address here, under the LS3/5A section...
  5. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    ‘canonman’ of this parish can furnish you with the information you require.
  6. ampedup

    ampedup Lost in audio

    I don't quite understand this. The original ls3/5a is arguably the most R&D'ed speaker in audio history.
    Panderos, sideshowbob and Nagraboy like this.
  7. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    You are very possibly correct.
    Panderos likes this.
  8. JemHayward

    JemHayward pfm Member

    I bought LS3/5a (Rogers) in 1978/9 and the main selling point wasn't absolute quality - but consistency - selected drive units and crossovers that could be adjusted, so you could, in theory, use a Chartwell as your R and a Audiomaster as your L and they would match exactly. They were designed for outside broadcast vans, and would perform to spec built into the structure of those vans. I was recommended them by my contacts at the BBC as ideal speakers for a student flat, and in many ways they were. After I left university I used them in a much bigger room, and no matter what I did with them, they never really did it for me... I used various amplifiers, notably Pioneer 6500 and leak ST20. I sold them and bought some Videoton D100 which had a cone tweeter, and a tiny bass - mid, but sounded 'alive', and used the money to upgrade my turntable and cartridge.

    I suspect I never got the best from my LS3/5as but I still feel that there are many, many better speakers of that genre now, and in the intervening 40 yrs - Tangent SPL1, Royds, Rega, ProAc etc...
    paulfromcamden likes this.
  9. ampedup

    ampedup Lost in audio

    Better, perhaps. But the ears are the voters. We all have preferences, not necessarily based on 'better'. There are many elements of psycho-acoustics at play: personal history, nostalgia, aesthetics of sound, looks, frequency sensitivities, resolution preferences, timbral perceptions, preferred size of sound field, expectation of bass (more or less)'s endless.
    Panderos likes this.
  10. Hoopsontoast

    Hoopsontoast pfm Member

    Well, yes when the spec was created and they were new. Not 50+ years later!

    The only reason LS3/5As are expensive is because they are collectible.
    stuwils and mr sneff like this.
  11. chartz

    chartz pfm Member

    Perhaps, but this was long ago. Today, it’s just profit.
    stuwils, narabdela and mr sneff like this.
  12. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    When it comes to cost, Falcon Acoustics have invested heavily in production of their LS3/5a.
    Their premises have expanded enormously since I was last there.
    Panderos likes this.
  13. sktn77a

    sktn77a pfm Member


    In all fairness to Falcon Acoustics, they have gone to some lengths to reproduce the Kef B110 and T27. But those costs were manufacturing, not research and development (that was all done by the BBC in 1970's dollars/pounds). As for the rest ("Rogers", whoever they might be today, Mistral, Audiospace, MasterAudio, etc, etc) they don't even attempt to adhere to the BBC components or specifications so the concept of their BBC "license" is rubbish.

    Now if people are "buying" the use of the BBC's name (versus "licensing" a product/concept/specification), then I guess that reflects the state of the world in 2020.

    Sad but true.
  14. ampedup

    ampedup Lost in audio

    This begs the larger question: Why are various speakers priced the way that they are? How are they priced? That's a huge subject. R&D, manufacturing and distribution costs are not necessarily the main drivers for establishing a final retail price. I can only guess, but certainly marketing departments do have sophisticated analyses of market potential, based on all kinds of data.
  15. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    canonman sent the below to me.

    He told me had posted it on August the 16th in reply to some question or other.

    ‘BBC licences over the last 20 years are commercial agreements to use the name, not technical.
    There’s no staff anymore to check them as they used to do in original manufacturing days,
    and BBC are not interested now. Just told not to bring the name of the BBC into disrepute.
    It used to cost £2K, but may be more nowadays.’

    Let’s hope that lays the question to rest...
    Nagraboy likes this.
  16. sktn77a

    sktn77a pfm Member

    That's very useful information. So, it's pretty much paying (possibly) to use the term "Licensed by the BBC" and in effect, is almost meaningless. Unfortunately, this means one or two honest manufacturers (eg Falcon Acoustics) put in the R&D time and effort to produce a product that resembles the original LS3/5A while others are just boldfaced liars!

    So, you have the choice of buying a used pair of LS3/5As (accepting the fact that they are now probably way out of spec), buying a Falcon Acoustics LS3/5A and probably getting the closest thing to the original (acknowledging that no confirmatory testing has been done to satisfy the original BBC licensing requirements), buying a Stirling Broadcast LS3/5A (and acknowledging the totally different drives), or buying one of the many "unknowns" (Rogers, AudioSpace, Master Audio, Mistral, Gini, etc, etc).

    If I had to recommend an LS3/5A to anyone, it would probably be a late model 11 ohm version, being original and least likely to have gone out of spec. I'd leave the 15 ohm versions to their undoubted fate (lining far east collectors' closets, "white bellies" and all)!
  17. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    Re. AudioSpace, Mistral, etc., I have noticed some of them have ‘Licenced by the BBC’ on the rear label.

    One make, Best Vox, have ‘BBC Designed LS3/5a Professional Monitor Loudspeaker’ on their label.

    I would tend to agree with ‘sktn77a’, in buying a late model 11 ohm version.
    As for new, then Falcon Acoustics or Stirling Broadcast.

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