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Graham Audio LS5/9

Discussion in 'audio' started by vln, May 14, 2019.

  1. vln

    vln Shuns mooks. And MQA.

    I am going through a bit of transitional phase right now, coming from active ATC 100s and currently listening to Harbeth P3ES at the end of an Accuphase class A amp. I like both for different reasons. The Accuphase however stays.

    I hear a lot of good things about the Graham Audio LS5/9, seems like a speaker to get off the merry-go-round, instead of chasing the latest carbon fiber/diamond/ceramic/CNC-milled-from-solid-aluminium flavour-of-the-month tech trend in speaker design. They have been around for decades, and will likely be around for a couple more.

    Unfortunately there are no distributers and consequently no shops in CH that have them, so I would probably have to buy them without trying them first. I could sell them on if they turn out to be incompatible with my ears, room (23m2) and/or electronics, but at a loss (which wouldn't kill me financially, but still).

    Any opinions, experiences & comments?
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  2. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

  3. i.j.russell

    i.j.russell pfm Member

    I moved from the Harbeth P3ESR to the Graham Audio LS5/9 both on open frame Something Solid stands. I'd heard the LS5/9s at a few shows and had always gone back in later to have a second or third listen. If your main love is mid-range, especially vocals, there isn't much to touch the BBC design speakers. I used mine with a pair of Class A DIY Pass Aleph 60 clones. Part of me still regrets selling them and it wouldn't surprise me if I get another pair at some point in the future.

    Other people I know would much prefer the cleaner sounds your ATCs produced.
  4. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    I sell them. I have a 30 day returns policy, which is to say that you have 30 days from the date you receive them to decide whether or not you would like to keep them. The only condition is that you take good care of them while you are making up your mind.
    Alex S, Pkay and Rockmeister like this.
  5. Ayya Khema

    Ayya Khema pfm Member

    I had P3esr, Harbeth shl5+ and graham ls59 for about a year in my room.

    both are shl5+ and ls59 are great. i thought however the graham slightly rougher-brighter in the treble vs shl5.

    both are much better then the p3esr.
  6. sunbeamgls

    sunbeamgls pfm Member

    There's a dealer in Amsterdam, but that might still be too far away.
  7. vln

    vln Shuns mooks. And MQA.

    I am surprised about this - the LS5/9 has a pronounced roll off after 10kHz (!), which is one thing that worries me a bit, see here from an earlier discussion on those speakers:

    I would expect them to sound warm & "nice" (if you want to give it a positive spin), or dark and muffled (if you want to be harsh). Of course I am aware of many popular high end speakers with an elevated treble/tweeter to make them stand out in quick A/B dems because "they have more detail".
    tuga likes this.
  8. gryphongryph

    gryphongryph pfm Member

    I have had the Graham’s for nearly 2 years now, fantastic speakers, unbelievable midrange and a good bass foundation, the treble is nice, maybe not extended but I am 50 years this year and what I hear sure sounds fine, I can listen to them for hours with no fatigue, but more importantly without tiring too their sound, just a great design.
    Pkay likes this.
  9. vln

    vln Shuns mooks. And MQA.

    I might get back to you on that, thanks.

    What is your opinion/characterisation of them when you compare them to other passive speakers you sell? Why did you include them in your portfolio in the first place? What are your customers saying when they compare them to other speakers you sell?
  10. RossB

    RossB Member

    I have had the Graham LS5/9s, Harbeth P3ESRs, M30.1s and M30.2s, as well as the Graham LS6 and LS3/5. All are great speakers, but I have kept the LS3/5 and the LS6, with the LS6 remaining as my main speakers.

    I really enjoyed the LS5/9s and for many people they will be perfect. I sold mine to a friend who loves them, and they do sound great in his room. I preferred the Harbeth M30.2s - marginally, and it was a tough choice. The Harbeths are a tad warmer, and the tweeter is a bit smoother, but the Grahams are more extended at both ends, with deeper, tighter bass, more three dimensional imaging, and are a bit more dynamic, as well as easier to drive (they sound better on a lower powered amp than the Harbeths). The LS5/9s have a slightly cooler tonal balance and I found the tweeter just a bit too prominent for my tastes, but it could just have been my room/system. As I said, for many people and rooms they will be perfect.

    I ultimately preferred the Graham LS6 in my smallish room. The tonal balance is warmer and closer to the LS3/5, but fuller, and deeper. The treble is less pronounced than the LS5/9 and (for me) better balanced, and there is a richness to the sound that I don't hear from either the LS5/9s or the Harbeths, and they are also very dynamic speakers. The bass can be a bit woolly and growly (it is a small speaker with a big port) but they do go surprisingly deep.

    So if you can, listen to the LS5/9s and the LS6s, since both are great speakers and you may prefer one or the other. But either are terrific and you could really buy the LS5/9s with a high degree of confidence.
    bhazen likes this.
  11. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    The Graham Audio BBC-licensed designs are the only "classic" loudspeakers I sell. The other brands I sell (Amphion, Neat, Dutch & Dutch) are by and large aimed at a different audience, so it is much more common to have a customer comparing one Graham Audio speaker with another than it is to have them compare Graham Audio with another brand. The LS5/9 is probably the most versatile option and definitely my favourite option for mid-field listening. The LS5/8 offers impressive scale but doesn't work so well at lower levels. The LS3/5 and 5a are hugely enjoyable in a near-field setup, but they simply don't move enough air for convincing mid-field listening (although the Graham Audio subs help). The modern but retro-looking LS6 is rather good too.

    The star of the show with all of these designs is the midrange, which is delightful. The LS5/9 puts out convincing amounts of nicely controlled bass. I think the treble is well judged. It is less distracting than on some other designs. The comment from @RossB about the treble on the LS6 and LS5/9 is at odds with my measurements of the LS6 and the measurements of the LS5/9 you linked earlier. I will make some measurements of my LS5/9s this week in the same room I used to measure the LS6, just to see how they compare.
    Pkay and Tarzan like this.
  12. Ayya Khema

    Ayya Khema pfm Member

    same for me, the ls59 had better imaging then shl5+, but shl5+ better bass (more extension), but ls59 is no slouch in the bass, its very decent..

    i found the shl5 slightly smoother while being just as detailed. the graham I think was a bit more neutral in the midrange, more raw, less rounded attack. the ls59 treble was also to my ears to prominent, and the shl5+ was just more engaging and "musical" for whatever thats worth, id take shl5+ over ls59. I also find the shl5+ slightly too bright though. maybe im very treble sensitive, but i found my peace with my Seas A26 with adjustable treble: i prefer the tweeter being not flat but definitely 3-4 db less then the mids-bass.
  13. Dave***t

    Dave***t Revolutionary relativist

    Could it be worth also considering Spendor Classic 2/3s?

    Similar ballpark, and there’s a distributor in CH according to the Spendor website.
  14. Ayya Khema

    Ayya Khema pfm Member

    oh yeah, that reminds me. please post the ls59 measurements.
    My ls59 measurements showed a very pronounced BBC dip, my measurements showed a peak exactly at 5-6 khz.
    to my ears, that made the graham bit tiresome to listen to and eventually bothersome

    my measurements of the ls59 also showed a BBC 4db dip between 1.7khz to 3khz. imo, thats too much.

    I still liked the graham ls5/9, but the shl5plus are more align with my preference. but I could have been very happy with the graham as well

    in comparison, the shl5+ measurements was ruler flat like the stereophile measurements demonstrate
  15. stackowax

    stackowax pfm Member

  16. Fatmarley

    Fatmarley "It appears my intelligence circuits have melted"

    At such high frequencies the most you are going to lose is a bit of "air". Most of us old buggers can't hear much above 15khz anyway.
    Nytechy and tuga like this.
  17. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    Let's be absolutely clear. I will be making in-room measurements, complete with all of the room-derived colouration that entails. I won't be making pseudo-anechoic measurements like the Stereophile ones. This type of measurement is unlikely to provide a reliable insight into any "BBC dips". What they ought to show is the difference in treble roll off between the LS6 and the LS5/9, when the two speakers are measured in the same spot in the same room.
  18. tuga

    tuga Legal Alien

    I agree, there's a trend towards brighter-sounding speakers. Some people even like what breakup resonances do to the sound...

    They use an updated version of the original Audax 34mm soft-dome tweeter which may not be as "quiet" as modern designs.

    But the CSD plots from both the specs-sheet and those of the Hi-Fi World review show a very clean decay in its operating range (see how quickliy sound decays above 1kHz):

    Graham Audio LS5/9

    And for comparison:

    Tannoy DC8 T
  19. tuga

    tuga Legal Alien

    Were you aiming the speakers towards the listening spot as intended?
    The LS5/9s are flat on-axis up to 19kHz.



    But they probably relax a bit more in the presence region off-axis than the SHL5+s, as do the M30s.

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