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Falcon LS3/5a

Discussion in 'classic' started by Robby, Apr 26, 2020.

  1. Robby

    Robby pfm Member

    A nearly new, secondhand pair of Falcon LS3/5a's arrived at home a couple of days ago and I have been trying to wrap my head (ears) around them since.

    They are never going to compete overall with what my Boenickes can do and so comparisons there are pointless. They are pretty good though.

    I was expecting a presentation akin to the Harbeth P3ESR's I had a few years ago and there are many similarities, however, to my ears, these have the edge slightly.

    More thoughts to come.
  2. Robby

    Robby pfm Member

    I have now put a few more hours on these speakers and getting to grips with their sound signature.

    First things I have noted:
    • These are definitely a monitor speaker - not the speaker I was expecting (naively) to be honest. They are more detailed and transparent than I was anticipating. Poor recordings are more exposed than I am used to.
    • The midrange is glorious - getting on the for the best I have heard (and I have heard a lot)
    • Treble is excellent with a great deal of detail (I guess it’s their monitor heritage on display)
    • Bass response is strange - you listen to some tracks and you think they sound anaemic with nothing in the lower registers. Then you listen to another track and there is it is. It will never pin you in your chair but what is there is communicative and drives the music forward. So far they seem to like Pink Floyd.
    So far, so good but I do miss what the Boenicke’s can do.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2020
    Graham H, TheDecameron and Panderos like this.
  3. Graham H

    Graham H pfm Member

    I’ve been using a pair for nearly a year now and would agree with your comments - except that I find poorer recordings still very listenable and satisfying, allowing me to engage with the music; and I haven’t yet found them to be anaemic, at least not in the Linn Kan or Naim IBL sense (both of which I have owned in the past). I’ve heard and owned too many speakers which are great at sonic fireworks, good at presenting the high points, but ultimately had me avoiding some of my favourite artists.
    Robby likes this.
  4. Robby

    Robby pfm Member

    "Anaemic" is probably a little harsh. They are just very different to the Boenicke W5 in the way bass is presented.

    Can I ask what amplifier you use with your Falcons?
  5. Graham H

    Graham H pfm Member

    Currently a five year old Bryston B60R. I’ve just had a Naim 32.5/Hi Cap/160 fully restored and that sounds excellent with them too.
    Robby likes this.
  6. Panderos

    Panderos pfm Member

    Robby, your observations about the Falcons (which I have not heard) capture my feelings about the Graham/Chartwell LS3/5; especially in your first bullet point. That’s essentially why I preferred my old Harbeth P3ES-2s and stuck with them. It really isn’t a knock against the Grahams or the Falcons; presumably they perform very well according to their design brief. They might be just the ticket for anyone with a nostalgia for the original LS3/5a’s from their golden age. But some of us find, after much expense, that we’re not really after a studio monitor after all. Or for that matter, a mobile van monitor...
  7. Robby

    Robby pfm Member

    I wasn't trying to make out that I thought the speakers sounded poor - I guess it was more to emphasise the fact that they sounded more revealing (especially for a 40+ year old design) than I anticipated. I have had the same Harbeth's as you in my system (albeit a long, long time ago) along with a couple of pairs of P3ESR's and enjoyed them all immensely. When I was looking for something to replace the Boenicke's I was, for a moment, tempted to pick up another pair of P3ESR's but didn't firstly because I will not go back to the brand and I was very curious about the LS3/5a's as I had never heard/owned a pair before.

    I think I will work with the Falcon's for the time being to get the best out of them.
    Panderos likes this.
  8. Panderos

    Panderos pfm Member

    Nor did I mean to suggest the Grahams sounded poor, nor did I take your comments on the Falcons that way. Rather, I meant to acknowledge the somewhat different design emphasis of studio monitors, meant to see deep into the recording mix to identify any flaws so the sound engineer can make adjustments. Some are quite happy with that level truthfulness for home consumption - it is at least part of the charm of the whole LS3/5a genre.
    Robby likes this.
  9. Robby

    Robby pfm Member

    So, I have been listening to the Falcons for the best part of a week and few speakers have been able to delight and, in some ways, slightly frustrate at times. They give a wonderful insight into music and with the right music they are almost unparalleled.

    One area that I feel needs addressing, though, is that they seem at times to lack a little body to the sound (I know this is a mini monitor) and was thinking of trying out another amplifier to see if this could be where I need to change things. I have thought about the Leben CS300 as there is supposed to be some synergy but finding one in the right condition/age and the right price is not going to be quick.

    Anyone have any thoughts on an amp that I should be looking for?
  10. JensenHealey

    JensenHealey pfm Member

    Here is an idea: currently trendy -- get another pair of LS3/5A and stack them upside down on top of your current pair.

    Wired in parallel they will be easy to drive with any reasonable amplifier.
    Robby likes this.
  11. RichShortland

    RichShortland pfm Member

    At the NW show I heard the Falcons on the end of a Primare system which sounded superb, and certainly not short of body, albeit in a a small room.
    I did wonder how much of this was down to the stands though - they were on the same ones that CerealKiller uses under his own speakers (can't recall what they were called...). So, I'd maybe look at stands as well as the amp (or even before looking at the amp) :)
    Robby likes this.
  12. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Is this really feasible? I know that stands get the height right, and that they can help the bass a bit by being stable and not vibrating. Cereal Killer has Solid Steel stands costing over £400 new, and very rare second hand. Can stands make such a difference to the bass? Wouldn’t it be more practical to get an amp with a nice bass, like a Krell or a Radford?
  13. Robby

    Robby pfm Member

    It is not the “bass” per se. More a richness and body to the overall sound.
  14. Fatmarley

    Fatmarley Agnostic

    This is why your "bad recordings" sound worse - Stereophile. No amount components swaps is going to eq the frequency response flat.

    Placing them tight against the wall may help fill in the dip, but it says in Stereophile they need to be in free space (worth a try though).
  15. ampedup

    ampedup Lost in audio

    I ran ls3/5a with a Quad 909 and there was a synergy, in that tonal density was good and full, not lean.....I think that's what you mean?
    I never found a good result, tonally, by moving them close to the back wall. The beauty of the mid-range became compromised.
    Panderos likes this.
  16. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    A very substantial percentage of LS3/5A owners drive them with valves, and for good reason IMHO. A good well chosen valve amp can add a little stereotypical valve warmth and heft and lose the tendency to slightly exaggerate the top-end. I certainly can’t imagine not wanting either a valve pre or power upstream of my closely related JR149s. Both speakers are an ideal match too as they are 8-16 Ohm and a very easy load if inefficient.

    It is also important to recognise they are a tiny near-field monitor and not to expect them to fill a large room. They give their best up close, and where the walls are in relation to the speakers and listening chair certainly play a part. They don’t want to be real close to a wall, but they do need some reinforcement. The real magic is within a fairly small listening triangle IME. It is here they do the things big speakers can not.
    Electrostat, MikeMA, Panderos and 2 others like this.
  17. Robby

    Robby pfm Member

    Thank for this. I think you are right about valves. The little Leben CS300 seems to be a good match from reports and although only 15 watts per channel has enough to drive the speakers. I know I am not going to be able to get to ear splitting levels or fill the room with sound - the laws of physics are against me here.

    The other amp option is the Unison Research Simply Italy. I have used that amp in a number of systems and have always felt it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. My main concern would be at only 12w would it damage the speakers?

    They can certainly be had for bargain prices at the moment.
  18. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    You may not know whether these amps will produce enough volume from your speakers without trying them first, unfortunately.
    Robby likes this.
  19. GML

    GML pfm Member

    I use my Falcons with a PMC Cor integrated amplifier and couldn't be more happy with the results. I haven't listened to other makes/versions of the BBC LS3/5a, but from what I've read they do not come in at 15 ohm as in the original BBC model.


    The Falcon Acoustics Classic 15 ohm LS3/5a, fully Licenced by the BBC, and hand-assembled by Falcon in Oxford England. It is the only LS3/5a in production that faithfully replicates the original BBC design published in October 1976.
    Robby likes this.
  20. Cato

    Cato pfm Member

    The Simply Italy can sound amazing with the right speakers - would love to know if it would work with the Falcons. The numbers only tell part of the story and plenty of people in Asia who run their LS3/5As with 7-8 watt 300Bs etc

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