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Graham Chartwell LS3/5a

Discussion in 'audio' started by ArtK, Mar 5, 2022.

  1. Old Shatterhand

    Old Shatterhand pfm Member

    I'm trying out a pair of Grahams Chartwell LS3/5A. They now have been played roughly about 20hours and I changed the setup (see picture thread) a bit because I didn't like the look with the high rack and I switched back to our matching (rest of the furniture) TV-board. I placed each of my Tsakiridis 300b Monos on a board, not optimal but the system is going to move over in my 14sqm room. So far I didn't perceived a disadvantage compared to the rack solution.


    I'm still a bit unsure about the sound. The Graham Chartwell LS 3/5As sound less warm in tone than any Harbeth speaker I have heard and also the voices aren't as clean and a bit less colorful as with the Harbeth speakers I have listened to. Harbeth has really some kind of magic midrange but the Graham are easier to drive because of their higher impedance and they also sound more dynamic and the bass is tighter.They play very engaging and have more drive compared to older Harbeth (pre XD era).

    I'm looking forward what is going to happen when the speakers are finally burned in and in the small room for which I bought them.

    So far I can say that they are more than worth the money and fun to listen to.

    What is your impression @ArtK ?
    cb01 and Ianp like this.
  2. Jodet

    Jodet pfm Member

    Fifty years ago, yeah, pretty much. Times have changed and this is more of an audiophile product than a broadcast monitor.
    Darren and Ianp like this.
  3. ArtK

    ArtK I bite you!

    I really love these speakers. I was a bit unsure at first, especially coming from the Harbeth sound. There is something very truthful about these speakers. Absolute keepers!
    cb01, KevinCorr, TimF and 2 others like this.
  4. Jhenry

    Jhenry Active Member

    Congrats Art! Enjoy!
    ArtK likes this.
  5. yunie_

    yunie_ pfm Member

    I personally cannot stand the original p3esr. It's just too warm and lack dynamics. It's really only suitable for voice.

    All other ls3/5a variants are more balanced. P3esr xd, Graham ls3/5a, Falcon, they all sacrifice a little of that warmth and magic mid range of the original p3esr, but making it more balanced with better bass, clarity and dynamics.

    The grahams are still warmer than p3esr xd and Falcon, but less so than the original p3esr.
    Jhenry likes this.
  6. Pkay

    Pkay pfm Member

    Having had both the P3esr and the Grahams I preferred the Grahams. I thought the midrange on the Ls3/5a was pretty magical. One of the best small speakers I have auditioned.
    cb01 and Old Shatterhand like this.
  7. Old Shatterhand

    Old Shatterhand pfm Member

    So after some time and moving them in the smaller room and right positioning I recognized, that a bit more power than my 8 Watt 300b monos can deliver would be good. I guess here aren't many owners of the Graham Chartwell LS 3/5A but if so which amp do you use?
    I know @ArtK is using a Naim Nait XS3. I love to keep this wonderful midrange of the 300b but I guess that would be impossible.
    I really would appreciate when people are not writing random amp advices without any direct experience with an LS 3/5A.:)
    Ginger likes this.
  8. TonyScarlett

    TonyScarlett pfm Member

    I'm currently enjoying lovely sounds coming from my Spendor LS3/5As on the end of a Quad 99pre/306.
    Have used lots of different amps with Stirling V2 & V3s, my favourite was a Dada modded 33/303.
    Old Shatterhand likes this.
  9. Cato

    Cato pfm Member

    i’m using a Leben cs300x el84 with my falcon ls3/5as - 12-15 watt on a good day but who knows how much into the 15ohms

    I would say it works ok I my long and narrow room - but not as good as I know both the amp and speakers can sound with different matching

    Works fine on simpler music but dynamics are ultimately lacking. So, like you, I expect that my amp is a bit underpowered and 30-50w would work much better with the beeb shoeboxes
    Old Shatterhand likes this.
  10. BigBlue2020

    BigBlue2020 pfm Member

    Hey Tony how does an original Spendor LS3/5A compare with the Stirling V2 and V3 ?

    I have the V2, with a V3 on order, but haven't tried a 'genuine' KEF based Ls3/5a in my set up
  11. TonyScarlett

    TonyScarlett pfm Member

    I'm rubbish at describing how different components sound but here goes. First off, the Spendors & Stirlings are far more alike than they are different. What the V3s (&V2s to a lesser extent) do is take the LS3/5As already superb resolution & soundstaging to another level. I also think they have a slightly smoother top end.
    The Spendors are a little warmer sounding, I presume they have a slightly more pronounced BBC hump than the Stirlings, & to these ears have an even more magical midrange which makes well recorded vocals in particular sound uncannily realistic.
    All in my opinion of course.
  12. Ianp

    Ianp pfm Member

    Croft 25R and recently acquired Primaluna Prologue 5 here with my Harbs and Falcon Q7. The PL addition is a bit hobby ending for me. Also love the Quad 303. The Q7 love the 6L6GC valve (don't buy a power amp that takes different valve types, you will be poor !)

    As for which I prefer of the two, the Harbs by a shave, that warmth appeals just that bit more. I'm guessing there's not an LS3/5a derivative out there that I wouldn't like. Love the Falcon LS3/5a as heard in my system a couple of times.

    Back to the Grahams, I'm currently selling my Q7, if I get a sale I may well be tempted ;-). Perhaps a px/cash adjustment thread might be worthwhile ?
    Last edited: May 14, 2022
    Old Shatterhand likes this.
  13. Donivey

    Donivey pfm Member

    I'm currently enjoying my Rogers LS3/5a's (15ohm) with a Moonriver 404 Ref. and it is the best combination thus far. Previously, I have used a Sugden A21se Sig. and a Nord class D, and both were very good, but the Moonriver has taken the Rogers to a new level. This is a nearfield configuration, BTW.
    Cato and Old Shatterhand like this.
  14. Old Shatterhand

    Old Shatterhand pfm Member

    Hi @ all,
    the Graham Chartwell LS 3/5A is starting to grow on me. They are more sensitive or make bigger differences between records, yes even songs. You can hear deeper into the recording than with every Harbeth I have owned in the past. The Harbeth speakers, even the C7 XD which was very clean and open, all add some warmth to the record. That has a slightly covering effect in the way that with every record and song you have a kind of sameness. The Graham Chartwell LS 3/5A differentiate much more. They do it so much that songs from the same record still can sound very different. You are also hearing more of the recording process. I find this interesting because you perceive more details and bad recordings are easier to detect but it doesn't annoy me in a way some active studio monitors did in the past or speakers with a raised HF which try to give you the impression of more details. This is hard to describe for me, because I'm no native speaker but I hope you could understand what I was trying to say.
    Fretbuzz, Cato, Durmbo and 5 others like this.
  15. TonyScarlett

    TonyScarlett pfm Member

    Being a Stirling V3 owner I understand exactly what you are trying to communicate, they let you see deep into a recording but in a completely musical non analytical & unfatiguing manner.
    Durmbo, ArtK and Martyn Miles like this.
  16. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    To go off a tangent, has anyone here compared the Graham LS3/5 with any of the LS3/5as available ?
    Graham appear to be pursuing their own particular path ( very successfully ) to ‘capture’ LS3/5a fans.
    Their particular set of compromises to achieve the famous ‘3/5a sound’ appears to work very well...
  17. ArtK

    ArtK I bite you!

    Well said!
    Old Shatterhand likes this.
  18. Old Shatterhand

    Old Shatterhand pfm Member

    These Graham LS3/5A are really something special. I haven't heard such an incredible, high resolution, nimble midrange that still doesn't fatigue. The bass works very good in my small room and the HF blends seamless into the midrange and is neither to emphasized nor to recessed.
    ArtK, TonyScarlett and ToTo Man like this.
  19. PerF

    PerF Scandinavian Member

    As an alternative to many low watt valve amps, I'd suggest looking at a Quad 303 poweramp, pair with matching preamp.
    For these LS3/5a editions midrange, a 303 is no slouch.
    They are cheap as chips, available and serviceable, all at very reasonable cost.
    TonyScarlett likes this.
  20. TonyScarlett

    TonyScarlett pfm Member

    Currently using a 306 with 99pre with my Stirling V3s & Spendor LS3/5As sounds great but I have just picked up a nice unmolested 303, want to get it serviced before I press it into service but can't wait to see how it sounds.

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