I had the chance to audition this monitor for over a month while house-sitting for a friend. I haven't seen any online reviews for the monitor in its "Statement" version with ribbon tweeter, but there have been some blurbs about this version being one of the best two monitors under $3000 (along with the widely reviewed and highly regarded Usher Tiny Dancer). Given that, my expectations were high and so was my disappointment.
I was able to listen to a lot of familiar material over the time I was house-sitting, and on the plus side the monitors did produce very good imaging and reasonable soundstage depth. Any monitor in this price range should do that: it's one of the primary advantages to getting a small monitor. With that said, they did not provide the sense of hall space that I have heard from other speakers in this price range. For instance, on the Cowboy Junkies album The Trinity Session (which was recorded in a church with a great sense of space) the LSA1 Statements brought the singer's voice forward and the instruments were clear and detailed but the sense of venue didn't come through. I've heard much better from other speakers (for example from the Taylo Reference Monitors or B+W 805 monitors).
They also provided good low-level detail, but again nothing that seemed to lift them above other monitors in this price range. On Paul Simon's song "Slip Slidin' Away" there are some backing vocals that tend to blend with his singing on poorer monitors. The LSA1 Statements did start to separate out those vocals, but it was not fully accomplished. Again, they are par for the course and not up to the standards of the best in the price range (and the over achieving Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1s do a better job at half the price).
So far, the LSA1 Statements were quite listenable, but not distinguishing themselves especially. Where my real disappointment started to kick in, however, was in listening to female vocals. I first noticed the problem listening to the classic duets of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. When Ella would come in on certain songs (such as "Can't We Be Friends") I would hear a veneer of distortion over vocals that I am accustomed to hearing as clean and pure (for recordings of that era). I replayed the track, and with my hand on the top of the speaker I could feel cabinet resonance getting particularly strong during her singing. The cabinets are reasonably solid, and the speakers are about 24 lbs. each, so this is not a general issue but particular to certain frequency ranges as far as I could tell. On other female vocal recordings I would periodically hear the same issue--a muddiness or discoloration that increased with the singer's own volume (e.g. exactly what happens when cabinet resonance or bad crossover design is distorting at a certain frequency). This was repeatable and persistent. A speaker that pretends to be best in its price class (and that retails for $2500) cannot do this. It's a fatal flaw, on top of the middle-of-the-pack performance in other regards.
Although my opinion of the LSA1 Statement was essentially cemented when I discovered its design flaw in reproducing female vocals, the issue of bass response is something that always comes up in discussions of small monitors. There are basically two approaches here: let the bass roll off as physics dictates (doing the best possible with drivers and porting to extend it as well as can be done) or add in a bass bump that gives the impression of more bass than is there. The LSA1 Statements seem to err on the side of the latter. They do an excellent job of bass reproduction, as many modern drivers and cabinet designs are able to achieve, but they also seem to give a bump to bass at certain frequencies to augment this fundamentally competitive performance. On this point, however, the observation has to be taken with a grain of salt. My friend usually does a careful job of placing his speakers in his listening room, but room interactions with bass are as much a part of the story as the speaker design itself.
The final observation that I had regarding a single aspect of the sound was that the ribbon tweeter can provide a clean and not harsh treble that is nevertheless very detailed and extended flat beyond the realm of human hearing. The LSA1 Statements have turned me on to modern ribbon tweeters, even if the implementation is critically flawed by the vocal distortions noted.
Regarding overall sound, there are two additional things that I look for in a top quality speaker: 1) are they fatiguing (a combination of subtle factors affects this) and 2) do they choke at high volume (e.g. playing a full orchestral piece without getting congested)? I found the LSA1 Statements to be more fatiguing than I would have expected. I think this has to do with their propensity to move things forward, more in-your-face, on recordings where this is not meant to be the case. I often got the impression that these speakers were pushing the music at me in a way that was jarring. I am used to highly detailed speakers that do not hide flaws or harshness in the original recording, but the LSA1 Statements go beyond "revealing." I guess I would say that they are "aggressive" for lack of a better word. Regarding their ability to play at concert volumes, I found that they didn't respond as well as other monitors I've heard in this regard. The Taylo Reference Monitors that I mentioned earlier (and that I owned for a good while) behaved like a top-notch monitor should: as the volume went up the soundstage expanded and opened but the sound did not become strained. The LSA1 Statements don't have anything near the aplomb to stay coherent at higher volumes. Again, they don't do badly but just average for a small, relatively pricey monitor. As the volume goes up, congestion creeps in and their artificially forward presentation makes you want to turn the volume down again. It was sad to me.
I found myself turning the volume down a lot when auditioning the LSA1 Statements, and this is usually a sign to me that a number of things are wrong.
The final observation that I would make is that in looking for information about these online I found the same speaker being offered under another branding label. The speakers are completely made in China, and it seems that the same speaker is sold under a couple of brand names. The LSA Group website claims that they modify the crossover and add lamb’s wool as a dampening material to make this a "statement" loudspeaker. I didn't open my buddy's speakers up to look for the Auricaps in the crossover circuit, but I did look into the rear port and it does seem that the stuffing is wool (or at least not the poly-fiber that I'm used to seeing). So, LSA may be tweaking the generic Chinese product, but the overall fit and finish definitely has the feel of something coming out of China rather than many other speakers in this price range that are made to a higher degree of polish.
In conclusion, given all of the deficiencies and no aspects of superiority above the best in this price range, I would strongly recommend against buying these (again, in the very competitive market segment that they are in).
It's always interesting to read a 'review' or post from someone who just joined the same month as thier post or review--someone who has sold nothing on the site, and or has no history with Audiogon the site. Generally the reviews or post are raves of new 'philes' who've found something they love--generally not a complete trashing of a product which everyone, universally raves about. Also, there is the total lack of information on what equipment was used in making the evaluation. It would be really interesting to know more about our poster here--other products which they like, speakers, amps, sources, music. This, for want of another explanation looks to be a hatchet job--maybe agenda laden? Even TVAD's question about the most basic question one could ask regarding bi-wiring, wasn't answered.
I would personally like more information on the poster. Surely Audiogon would like to make sure that this is a sincere look at a serious product, by an unbiased reviewer.
This is not ego speaking--Had Jonathan Valin, Harry Pearson, et al not liked the speakers, I could simply agree to disagree--we'd know the source and they'd have credibility and or a reputation of objectivity.
The speakers were bi-wired, although in my experience this makes little difference in most speakers. It was done in this case, however.
The associated equipment was a Logitech Transporter (music server/DAC) feeding a DK Designs amplifier (I forget the model number). The previous speakers on this system were the Ascend Sierra-1s referenced in my review, and they seemed to work well without any issues stemming from the source and amp.
In my own system I have extensive experience with the B+W 805 monitors (which another friend now owns, so I get to hear them still from time to time), and the Taylo Reference Monitors that I had for years. Before that (over a decade ago now) I owned a pair of floorstanders by a place out of Canada, Coincident Loudspeakers.
I'm not sure what specifically to say about your other comments and the general negative tone of your reply. I don't know you either, sir, or the others that you mention.
However regarding other rave reviews for the LSA1 Statements--it was the lack of any detailed reviews that led me to signup after being a passive consumer of Audiogon for a while now. After living with the speakers, which I hadn't heard of before, I was looking for some other critical analysis to contrast with my own. I thought I would be adding something of value where little information existed. I guess I had noticed the same thing as you, that a lot of people just write brief gushing comments.
Yes, they were bi-wired. I don't think it makes a big difference (or hasn't with other speakers I've heard). But they were hooked up that way.
I agree with the comment from "Tbg" that you quote. The bass was deep and it was detailed. Like I said, the "bump" that I heard could be due to the room rather than the speaker--hence the grain of salt comment.
I don't know what other speakers the commentor "Tbg" has heard. In my experience the LSA1 Statements weren't outperforming others in the price range. My biggest concern was the issue with female voices that I was hearing.
It reminds me of going to hear a pair of Spendors. He had the big ones (100 something model; in a big living room with tube monoblocks and an Ayre CD player). He loved them, but to me they were just not resolving enough. Big, lush, and euphonic sound, but I was missing the detail that really brings the music to life for me. So, yes, it's an intersting hobby! Or confounding, as you say.
1. Acoustics: How large was the room, and how damped? Sorry but I find these are critical issues, often confounding me.
2. Break-in: How much break-in did the speakers have? This alone could account for the problems. Seriously.
I was on a speaker merry go round for over a decade until I developed a break-in process which I will summarize below. The difference is shocking. For example, floor standing Spendors that were shrill became mellow with deep rich bass after this process.
I own LSA 1 standard editions and they are my favorite speakers that I've ever owned save for Silverlines and perhap a pair of Proac. I heard the Signature once at a show and was very impressed as well. I have never heard the Statement speakers that you describe.
Break in process: Place speakers face to face and CLOSE, almost touching. Reverse phase on ONE speaker (black to red; red to black). You will need a mono signal which you can achieve various ways such as finding a mono recording, or hitting "mono" button on source or amp, or tapping just one output and splitting it into both left and right inputs of amp. PRIOR to any of this, find a volume setting that is LOUD but will not damage the speakers. When you play that mono recording this way, you will find that the midrange and bass completely cancel out! All you hear is upper upper treble. I use blankets to drown out the upper treble. Give it 48 hours, set up the speakers again, voila, break-in equivalent to years of most people's normal home volume playback.
CAUTION: since you don't hear the signal, it is unfortunately easy to over drive the speakers and damage them. Therefore it is essential to test the recording playing back in normal mode to find the best volume setting.
This break-in process tends to alleviate precisely the issues you complain about. The difference is shocking.
I am surprised that speaker manufacturers don't do this prior to selling the speakers.
It PAINS me to think about how many speakers I've purchased and later sold, without EVER having heard them broken in.
BTW most speakers that I bought used turned out to be scarcely broken in!
It takes approximately 2 to 3 months for the caps to form and the parts to break in to the point that the speakers sound the way they can. One of the confounding issues in chosing the parts for not jut these but the LSA Amplifiers was, that after hearing them for the first time, my first comment was...."What the hell have we done? If this is it, its a gigantic mistake." The only thing I can imagine with these comments is, they are in the 'break in stage'. Let them play all day long for 30 days, while at work, at moderate volumes. This is NOT the speaker that is sold by LSA. I'm not saying this is not what you're hearing--I'm only saying that the finished product when broken in is pretty magical, even when compared in blindfold listening tests to the Sound Lab A-1's. As to why mfg's don't break them in...I suppose they're in too much of a hurry to get they're money back. Of course, being an audiophile for 30 years, I could also ask, why didn't I ever wait to evaluate???I have more time to do it than the factory. Best, Larry
Carl, Thank you for the additional information. My only guess is that, seconding Artmaltman, the speakers are in the 'break in' stage. One reason I mention this, is that during my development of them, I compared the standard version of the LSA1 to the B&W 805, which you mention that you're familiar with. The comparison was very favorable to the LSA1 which retailed for about 40% of the price of the B&W. I suppose everyone asks the question, 'Can I do it better', so after these mutiple comparisons (not only the B&W but obviously several other competitors. Then came the LSA Signature, and the Statement which offer much higher level crossovers which, for whatever reasons require serious break in time. Only playing them, putting a signal through them will level them out. Now, are they perfect, no. If the average person who thinks he or she understands a frequency response saw the raw data, without the industry 1/3 ocatave averaging, they'd be appalled. But the number of flaws and the severity and significance of each makes me realize that 'break in' is the only issue--other than potential catastrophic internal damage to components which may have occurred during shipping. Can you tell me where you purchased these LSA1 Statements? If you'll post the information on line, I'll see to it that they send you a replacement pair which are sufficiently broken in--since the flaws in evidence here are not part of the original expectation of this product. Best,
"Can you tell me where you purchased these LSA1 Statements? If you'll post the information on line, I'll see to it that they send you a replacement pair which are sufficiently broken in--since the flaws in evidence here are not part of the original expectation of this product."
I am offering again today, to check the speakers and or replace them. Just, tell me your dealer's name and we'll move forward with this, so that you have the product you deserve--and the product I know that it really is.
Thanks, guys. I appreciate your kind suggestions. And I deeply appreciate Mr. Staples's offer to replace the speakers. As I said in my original post, however, I don't own them. The friend for whom I was house sitting seems to like them, but I will pass on the info in case he would like to look into it. He mainly listens to heavy metal and hip hop--he likes the dynamic presentation and bass response in his room. He got them about a month and a half before I heard them the first time, so break-in could have been going on still. They didn't seem to change their sound much during the time I was there, however.
To address one final point of this 'review, submitted by someone who joined this site the day the review was written, always a red flag. The speakers LSA1 are indeed made in China, that should not be a shock--after all many products because of inexpensive labor prices are. However, the statement that this 'same speaker is sold under other names is an absolute 'fabrication'. This speaker shape crossover points were selected by me solely. After several 'attempts' I ended with this design. Now, someone can always plagiarize the design, (the Hales and THIEL shape), which came first, THIEL, as everyone knows. But to be fair, good ideas are always copied, as that is the most sincere form of flattery. As to the crossovers--when the units arrive in the US., John Tucker and his staff gut the speakers crossover and wiring, replace the crossovers components (caps, resistors, air coil inductor as well as internal wiring), they then replace them with comparativley ridiculously priced substitutes. The cabinets internal damping, an inexpensive synthetic is replaced with real wool. Finally, the new ribbon tweeter is installed. I welcome anyone to listen to this speaker and compare it to others costing anywhere 'near' the price--heck, double the price in many instances. It stands alone in value for dollar. In the final analysis, what matters is, 'Does it sound something like real music?' You decide. Thanks for reading.
Larry, Could you explain to the readers how it makes sense to produce a complete speaker in China in order to save on production costs only to ship it to the US and have American laborers gut the insides and basically rebuild it? Why don't you just send those parts to China and let them do the work? It seems so expensive and wasteful.
That's a really great question Roxy54. While everything in audio is fair game in terms of design and copying of designs unless one spends a fortune to patent their work we tried to make it more difficult to do so. If we were to give Carte Blanche by sending the parts list and such to the manufacturers, there could/would possibly be a 'knock off' almost instantly. True enough anyone can disassemble then reverse engineer--we just didn't want our precise voicing and parts choices out there for the whole world to copy. Eventually, everything worthwhile 'is' copied. This just seems like a better way to protect the product until market share makes us the generic for our particular sound. The same is true of the Statement amps. John Tucker's 'active tube loads' and work in the pre section of the integrated, would be 'instantly' copied with others again reverse engineering. That's the nature of competition.
This is a great question. I hope this clarifies my position on the 'why'.
"To address one final point of this 'review, submitted by someone who joined this site the day the review was written, always a red flag.
I would submit that another red flag is when the reviewer is attacked and dismissed because his or her review bothers the mfg. Dont have these speakers, no prob with stuff made in china, never heard of any of the listed reviewers. The idea that one review is invalid because it is at odds with reviews the manufacturer likes is disturbing at best.
In my world a contrary review is additional information to verify or deny on my own should I consider speakers.
TVAD very well put and I agree. I would counter though that the prudent consumer files away information, in this case reviews, and considers them unconfirmed/plausible/unconfirmed and decides for themselves as to their veracity or relavance to their own choices. If I decide that I want a $2500 monitor and I like the look of the above mentioned units I will look at everything, including comments from Peristalsis and decide for myself. I may agree or disagree but it gives me an additional item to consider. In this case the response (not yours) was that the reviewer is suspect and other more well known?? reviewers said something different ergo this review is invalid. Personally I'd have comeback with something like:
"wow, thats odd and completely different from our other reviews and feedback, lets see if we can figure this out and maybe replace these units".
As you mentioned the circumstances of this test, by the way I agree in general, keep in mind that reviews or impressions in audio shops or the "I heard this in a dealers listening room" would fall into that equally suspect bin. I think we could also ponder the veracity of reviews that owners write on their own stuff. Takes honesty to admit it if you decide you made a mistake. One reason I prefer this forum is that there are fewer fanboys here than in many other online communities.
Thanks for your well thought out comments on my response to the 'review' submitted on the LSA1 Statements. When I answer a normal review, I'm always careful to remember that everyone hears differently, and more important, many people like different aspects of a speakers offering which is why there are literally hundreds of variations of virtually all products in the marketplace today. The only reason that I took such exception to the review was, that it seemed to have a deeply negative tone to virtually all aspects of the product--and while its possible that someone might dislike a given product overall, its unlikely that most people would literally dislike ALL aspects of a product. For example--while I like Krell products don't like the upper midrange and higher frequencies, which, to me, sound a bit hashy. Having said that, I could make that point without completely trashing the Krell. How? Because that is one part of the overall sound, and while it's not my favorite, that one aspect of its sound is not the 'whole of the products' presentation. Krells are remarkably well built, beautifully designed, very stable, powerful, with good bass and great controlof virtually any load presented to them. Put another way, MOST products offer good sound these days, but very few offer precisely what I personally may be looking for in MOST or VIRTUALLY all aspects of their offering. So, for someone to review a product, who just joined that day, and to completely dismiss the product in every way, just did not seem likely to me. If the reviewer had said, "I don't like the bass, because the 'XYZ speaker' for the same price has better bass, or the 'ABC speaker' for the same approximate price has better treble resolution.
It's just hard to imagine a speaker being completely disliked in every aspect of its performance--unless, and this was my main point, if they're that bad, something must have happened to damage them in shipping--they must have been damaged to sound that bad in virtually every regard. Refuting or disagreeing with 'opinions' is tricky under the best of circumstances, as a reviewer is offering'opinions', we all have vastly different perspectives as well as differing tastes. If any of the complaints were universally made, I'd simply say, 'Gee I designed a really bad speaker.' However, since most people have (not all) fallen in love with the Statements I could only assume that they were damaged. I hope this clarifies my rebuttal to the review. If you'd like to chat, or have any questions write me, I'd love to have the opportunity to discuss this if you wish. My personal email is, email@example.com.
My last communication regarding this review was 4-23-10. At the time of the review some folks thought I overreacted to the reviewer. The points I made were that, he joined the same day, (maybe week) that the review was posted and that he disliked everything about the LSA 1 Statement, an unlikely event in that, while we all have preferences/likes/dislikes, it would be rare to dislike literally everything about a given speaker/amp and so on.
It's important to note that Peristalsis, the reviewer posted a total of 6 comments after reviewing, was on the site for a total of 16 days. It's now, sadly apparent to any thinking person that what I suspected to be the case, turns out to be so...this was a put up job, intended to trash the LSA1 Statement, which has gotten universally rave comments other than this one abberant review.
I say this, knowing that some will again claim that 'he has a right to his opinion', etc. However when we look at this in a more global sense, this wasn't an opinion, but an attempt to smear--evidenced by his having joined for two weeks, writing a lengthy review, then disappearing so IMHO, one would have to be foolish to conclude otherwise.
I ask myself, who, what, when, where, why and how, the questions for all good mysteries--and suggest that Audiogon should be wary of brand new members offering up reviews which are incredibly negative in their tenor.
This is funny that I dig up a 4 year old post. I don't post here much but have been a member here for years. Bought and sold a few thousand dollars worth of audio gear here.
I just purchased the LSA Model 2's that were just up for sale here. Now, I haven't really owned any high end gear, maybe my odyssey khartago monoblocks. I still have my 30 something year old Boston acoustic A100's and they still sound great to me. I had some Axiom M80's and I had a pair Zu Omen Def's that I purchased here. Sold them and regretted it since...I'm kinda of addicted to high efficiency speakers lately....
I've been in a band for years and had my own home recording studio, so I kinda think I know, after 35 years of music addiction, what sounds good. At least what sounds good to me.
So when I first got a chance to fire up the model 2's. I put in my go to test song, Molly hatchets "Dreams I'll never see". I know this song like the back of my hand and I always use this song to "test" my gear. I have to tell you I am completely blown away by the model 2's. When that song kicked in and all the drums, bass, guitar, cymbals filled my room, I got chills. So crystal clear, it kinda freaked me out. The soundstage was huge, the crack of the snare drum cut right the room like it should. And I think what I was most impressed with, was the low end. The bass guitar sounded perfect, this is by far the best I've ever heard this song. I was taken back by amount of bass. And keep in mind I have two 18" sealed subwoofers in my room. No way did I need the subs...
Anyway, not that anyone cares that I dug up a four year old thread, I just wanted to put my 2 cents in about the model 2's. I'm really, really happy with them and I can't really see myself wanting more...every song I have, (thousands) I have been listening to all over again...simply amazing speakers, for this old rocker anyway. It's all subjective I guess, but there you go...my frickin opinion of the LSA Model 2's!