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Downsizing to P3ESR, LS3/5A or similar?

Discussion in 'audio' started by novak, Jul 26, 2021.

  1. novak

    novak pfm Member

    Hi all, I’m wondering if you can advise?

    We’re going to be downsizing for a while during a move and a renovation. My Harbeth SHL5+ will be too big for the room so I’m looking into getting something smaller in the region the P3ESR or LS3/5A.

    I have owned P3ESR several times before and they’re always good, but after running both in parallel for a while, I preferred the detailed, open, and dynamic sound of the SHL5+.

    I was wondering whether to try something new this time around. Maybe some LS3/5A from the likes of Graham or Falcon, or something like the Spendor 4/5? Something that gives the openness of the SHL5+ whilst keeping the natural sound.

    Do you have any experience with the various options above? How did they compare? Which was your favourite?

    Any thoughts most welcome.
  2. ArtK

    ArtK I bite you!

    Spendor Classic 3/1. Not quite as small but much smaller than the SHL5. I have both the 3/1’s and the P3’s and they do exactly what you say you are looking for…IMO.
    PhilofCas likes this.
  3. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    A lot depends on your listening position, priorities etc as they are a very different speaker. I’ve owned the original SHL5 (not +) and currently own Falcon LS3/5As. To be honest I never got on with the SHL5, and I love the LS3/5A, but we all have different priorities, rooms, listening positions etc. I am in no doubt I could be happy with LS3/5As as my main speaker. I’m not saying I wouldn’t miss the huge slam and ease of the Tannoys, but everything you need to enjoy music with astonishing clarity and realism exists in those tiny boxes. They do things they have absolutely no right to do and their reputation is deserved IMHO. Just don’t ask for techno at club levels!
  4. Robby

    Robby pfm Member

    Are you restricted to literally the dimensions of the P3 or LS3/5a? If so I definitely felt the Falcon LS3/5a were a more natural sounding speaker to my ears but there are far from "dynamic" to be honest but were wonderfully detailed and open sounding.

    If you can go slightly bigger I would recommend something like Proac DB1's or DB3's or Amphion Argon 1's maybe? Very open and detailed but with more bass weight from not significantly larger cabinets.
  5. novak

    novak pfm Member

    Thanks, I like the look of the slightly larger Spendor 3/1 but I think they’ll have too much bass (I’ll be in a flat with people below and above, so they need to be bass light).
    ArtK likes this.
  6. novak

    novak pfm Member

    Ideally I’d stick with the small box format as per the LS3/5 variants and evolutions. They’ll fit my stands too!
  7. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I’ve been genuinely shocked by their dynamic capabilities on good material! I’d been led to believe by some internet folklore etc that they were in the lazy ‘pipe ‘n’ slippers’ class, but on the end of a really good valve amp and with something like a good ECM CD upstream they can do a remarkably punchy drum kit etc. The limit is ultimate volume, but as long as you keep to a sensible level they are really lively IMO. I obviously listen near-field, which helps, but in conjunction with the freshly rebuilt TL12 Plus monos they are right up there with the best systems I’ve ever heard for my taste. Even full orchestral stuff sounds good and has a scale to it, plus they can do techno, reggae etc with some surprising kick as long as you don’t try to defy physics with volume. The tonality, clarity and life is there with everything.
    Blue Belle, GML and Robby like this.
  8. Robby

    Robby pfm Member

    I guess the fact I was listening to them in a 20ft by 13ft lounge didn't help. They are clearly suited to smaller spaces. I miss a lot about them.
  9. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Definitely. I’m a very much a mini-monitor fan, but they are a near-field/small-room thing.
    Robby likes this.
  10. Yank

    Yank Bulbous Also Tapered

    ProAc Tablette 10s might be another option to consider?
  11. Nagraboy

    Nagraboy How’d all these people get in my room?

    As my room is a bit bigger than in the past, I’ve got my Falcons about 4 feet from the wall which I think sounds good. Having said that, I would quite like a smaller room for them so that I can sit nearer as I’m a bit over 2 metres from each speaker as it is.

    To the OP, if I had to choose P3ESR or LS3/5a, I would choose the latter although the P3 would be just as good too.
  12. Panderos

    Panderos pfm Member

    I’ve gone down a similar, but not identical path. After much back and forth between LS5/9 size speakers and the smaller format you discuss, I felt the smaller monitors were more versatile for my room and use. The little Harbeths are a great option; I’ve kept my older P3ES-2s. I can heartily recommend the Stirling Broadcast V3 or V2. I found them a tad more robust in their sound.

    Perhaps the Stirlings have more of a studio monitor quality; hearing into the mix, even to slight flaws or imperfections in the recording. To some, that may lend immediacy or a sense of truth to live recording, compared to an arguably more refined or smoother presentation of the Harbeth. Having sold on my V3s, only because it made sense to move them together with their matched AB-2 extenders, I ended up with an experienced hobbyists one-off project. That is basically Stirling V2 internals, in a recent vintage Rogers Russian birch-ply cabinet.

    I still go back and forth between these Stirlings-in-Rogers clothing, the Harb P3ES-2s, and my Graham LS5/9s.

    Haven’t had the pleasure of the Falcons; hope to this Autumn. Curious to me that so many find the magic with those retro driver materials, but some good ears have declared it so….Equally curious about the Spendor 4/5.

    My point, echoing Tony L, is that it is possible for many to find happiness with the smaller boxes, in the right room, at the right volume, with the right partners….

    Happy hunting!
    Martyn Miles likes this.
  13. novak

    novak pfm Member

    Thanks for the input, great to read. The descriptions of the Falcons and Stirling sound spot on for what I'm looking for.

    Based on feedback, and recent reviews, I think my shortlist is:

    Falcon LS3/5A (Gold badge or standard?)
    Sterling LS3/5A (V2 or V3?)
    Graham LS3/5A
    Graham LS3/5

    And possibly...
    Spendor 4/5
    Harbeth P3ESR again (perhaps try XD?)

    Probably not the Proac Tablette 10 sig, they were very good but preferred the Harbeth at the time.

    Amp is a Jadis Orchestra Ref SE.

    I'm sure I can't go wrong with any of them. Ideally, I would demo all of them (but it's going to be tricky in the middle of moving)... which would you go for?
  14. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I’m certain part of the LS3/5A magic is that they are just so valve-friendly. We obviously never listen to a speaker in isolation, and these allow combinations that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. There is an amazing synergy between an LS3/5A and good valve power that just enhances their perceived scale, depth, naturalness and coherence for me. I view things very much as a system; the LS3/5As allow the Leaks to shine, and vice versa. Change one part and the other may no longer be appropriate.
  15. RossB

    RossB Member

    I can certainly recommend the Graham LS3/5. I have had the Harbeth P3ESR, 30.1 and 30.2, and the Graham LS5/9 and LS6, as well as the Spendor 3/5. The only one of those I keep is the Graham LS3/5. It is a magical sounding speaker. Fast, tight, tonally rich and dynamic, just lacking bass and scale (no surprise). In nearfield, it is absolutely ideal.

    Here they are, shown with the matching Graham subwoofers. I actually prefer them without the subs, which I no longer use.

  16. Panderos

    Panderos pfm Member

    A very handsome set-up. I auditioned the Graham LS3/5, and they were indeed excellent, top contenders for sure.

    Your comment about the matching subs is interesting. I felt the same way about the Stirling V3s; preferred them without the AB-2 bass extenders. I couldn’t pin down anything particularly wrong with the AB-2s. Certainly they added some bass in good proportion. Somehow, the overall sound wasn’t as seamless, found the V3s on their own perfectly sufficient.
  17. RossB

    RossB Member

    I had a similar experience with the subs. They do add bass while retaining the character of the speakers, and the integration is seamless (unlike the many other active subs I have tried). But they do lose something along the way. The subs give them additional bass but not additional scale, and they sound a bit slower. It transforms them into similar but not quite as good speakers.
  18. MikeMA

    MikeMA pfm Member

    I've had Rogers LS3/5As, Sterling V2s and Habeth HLP3-ESRs on the end of my Jadis Orchestra. I'm currently enjoying the Harbeths but I could live happily with any of them. I doubt you're going to be disappointed whichever you go for from those on your list. I've had success too, at least to my ears, with a powered sub with dsp room correction.
  19. slavedata

    slavedata pfm Member

    One of the major design criteria for the LS3/5A by the BBC was always take any 2 off the shelf they will work and match. So any that conform to the BBC spec should work. I am very happy with my Spendor 15ohm pair and will never part with them. So any properly made LS3/5A modern or vintage should suit.
  20. EPear

    EPear pfm Member

    may be to mention for consideration the type and genre/style of music that you most listen to. If it’s predominantly vocal you can go back to any P3 generation (they are probably the sweetest or richest for vocals/speech in my experience), or a Spendor especially if you can get hold of a SA1 (one should hear a strumming guitar on one of these!). For instrumental music the Harbeths reveal their modulation and are less natural (some like this, some not), so for this the Falcons and Stirlings would be much more suited. As for me, my journey with several of the above (and others not mentioned) ended with a pair of Stirling V3.

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