Rogers LS35A - Stradivarius? Or Sentimental Hype?

I remember these from my audiophile youth and thought that they sounded quite good, if a bit thin.

In any case, I always thought they would make a nice monitor for a smaller room or bedroom, but then I am always shocked at the resale prices, especially for very good ones.

As I write, there is a pair on ebay which is already bid up to GBP 1,000 which I am pretty sure is a lot more than they cost new?!

So my question - what is so special about this monitor in its original configuration?

Do the best mini monitors today give these a good run for their money -- especially in the area of midrange magic?

If they really are so wonderful, why doesnt someone knock them off in China for a fraction of the price?

Are these really a big deal, or are collectors just being irrational?
They are very, very good even by today's standards. There is a pair on Audiogon for $1200 with Satterburg woofers from a very reliable seller (ap175).

I'm surprised you describe them as "thin". They have a designed midbass hump that is there to compensate for the lack of bass due to their small size. I never thought of them as thin.


Still a decent mini-monitor but I bought a pair new in the early 1980's for $400.00, so used should be less .You will need a good stand so there is another couple of hundred bucks. Better to find a pair of used Vandersteen,Maggies,Meadowlark,floor standing speakers in the under $1000.00 range.
get the stirling ls3/5 from an updated clone that sounds just as incredible. or there's harbeth, chartwell, spendor, kef and other used ls3/5's that tend to go for less(there is a sentimental value to the rogers brand that always keeps the price a bit higher(particularly the 15 ohm model......but they all sound incredible
I used LS3/5a speakers off and on from 1976 until 2002. It is, like a Quad ESL57, its own thing, not precisely duplicated by anything else. It is amp sensitive and definitely won't sound thin if driven properly. They need some oomph yet have limited power handling. The original 15 ohm design happens to make many solid state amps sound much better than they have any right to, and an unbloaty tube amp can be nearly heaven, within the limits of the speaker. Also, what you put them on can have a dramatic effect on their performance, especially in bass definition. The best sound by far I ever got out of the LS3/5a was when placing them on Osiris 24" stands, loaded with sand and shot. They're not made anymore but you can find them on Audiogon and eBay occasionally.

The LS3/5a is a speaker that benefits fully from amplification considerably more expensive than the speakers themselves. The VAC Avatar and Super Avatar do a spectacular job with them. But for much less, the Prima Luna integrateds do well. The EL34 gives you finesse and a softer sound, the KT88 version tightens and speeds up bass attack, and projects more energy.

No question there is a certain euphonic datedness to the sound. The crossover is complex, and clearly contributes to the speaker's relative inefficiency, 82.5db/w/m if I recall. The KEF B110 mid/bass driver has a bextrene cone, materially advanced for the early 1970s. Compared to well-made paper or modern composits, however, it's a little slow and warm sounding. The speaker's colorations are all euphonic and carefully chosen.

The current Quad Classic II and KT88 monoblocks are terrific with LS3/5a too. Also, if the spend doesn't frighten you, an 845 SET at 25w or so is perfect and can make magic. But there are many perfectly affordable push-pull tube amps and moderate SS units on the used market.

The Spendor S3/5 and S3/5se speakers are spiritual successors to the LS3/5a, designed in the late 1990s after KEF stopped production of the B110 and T27 drivers on which LS3/5a production depended. The newer Spendors have a decidedly more neutral, accurate sound with appreciably better bass and treble extension and better dynamics. Less amp sensitive too, and you get a small 1.5db bump in efficiency. I recommend them and they can cost less than a mint pair of used LS3/5a. By comparision the S3/5 and the se version are objectively better speakers than the LS3/5a, but in the very core midrange where many of one's perceptions of musical magic are formed, the LS3/5a has an indescribable edge that makes you wonder whether it's better to live with the flaws. Every former Quad ESL57 owner understands this perfectly. I've been down both roads for extended periods of time.

Most of the Rogers LS35A were pick-up by Asian audiophiles/collectors who have ears......

You are confirming all my suspicions. If you bought a new pair for $400.00, then the ebay bid at GBP 1000 is nearly $1800.00 ?!?!?!?!

What speaker ever in the world has traded for > 4 x the new price?

I still dont quite get it.
The LS3/5A at $1000. for a used pair is a rip-off when you know how much they sold for when new.That is like charging $800.00 for a used NAD 3020 of the same vintage and it too is considered a classic by many. The Japanese perhaps have cornered the market to make them rare on the used market and then sell them back to us for a huge profit aka Mac tube gear.The Rogers only performed well in small rooms and reproduced a detailed but smaller than life sized replica of instruments and sounded best with tube gear.I would check out the new Spendors first.

I have a pair of Rogers LS/5As that I purchased around 1984, which are in essence in storage not being used. I have just started researching speakers, and trying to understand the technology about which I know little. While I used to have a rather powerful amp and a subwooger, I am currently thinking about purchasing a smaller inexpensive system (DVD/CD) and considering how I might be able utilize these speakers. Unfortunately I do not have the resources I once did.

My understanding from my reading is that apparently the crossovers of the Rogers have been modified to allow less power to drive them.


What can be done with these to upgrade/refurbish these?
Is there anyone in the U.S. that you could reccomend that may be able to accomplish this ?
Can you reccomend a budget level smaller subwoofer that may go well with these, if I refurbish these?
Thank you so much for your time in answering this email.

All the best,

Stradivarius (with the proper electronics).

What electronics in your view give the full Stradivarius experience?

And do we know why a Stradivarius is a Stradivarius? The body of the instrument?

In the case of the Rogers, why cant we knock them off in China? Is the magic in the boxes? The drivers? The crossovers?

I am intrigued by your answer, but I still dont get it.
LS3/5a utilizes a very complex crossover designed to BBC spec (LS3/5a is the name of technical spec) for studio monitor - the x-over looks like a small amp. Also, the Rogers' cabinetry and drivers are all very high quality. Electronics should be tube type, around 15-50 watts. If I were to get some LS35a's (and I think about it from time to time, trust me; I had two pairs of Rogers previously, before Quads and Fultons) I would get the ones with special outboard x-overs and special cabinets currently made in UK (I think).

Cwlondon: It is both.:) Great speaker but current prices include the hype factor.

As others have said, Spendor S3/5 or an offering from Harbeth would be just as good but fairly priced.

I listened to LS3/5a many years ago and chose Spendor BC-1 instead. That's another great speaker from yesteryear, often available quite cheaply.

If you are not into nostalgia, then decide the speaker size and budget, and just get the best match you can find.
I bought mine in 79, and I had them rebuildt in 03 by a friend of mine, It has been used with a Cord amp 150 w and Tandberg 3000 series for som yars. Today i am using a Roxan 150 w Amp. together with Pro Ace B2/50 subwoofer and they still sounds great. Frank in Oslo
I used LS3/5a speakers from 1976 - 2001 continuously, in either primary or secondary systems. They certainly stand as one of the landmark speakers of post-war audio history with longevity and relevance matched by few others. How do they stand up against current monitors? It depends on your frame of reference.

Like Quad ESL-57s and Apogees, the LS3/5a won its reputation on vocal fidelity and in this respect it was and remains exceptional with respect to human tone, its communication of expression and its general sweetness. Also, the original 15ohm impedance was beneficial to the sound of most solid state amplifiers. So while a tube amp really was needed to make them sing, the LS3/5a was a speaker that could make most solid state amps sound much more expressive than their performance and design otherwise led you to expect. They were one of the first speakers to demonstrate the imaging that could be achieved by a near-point-source speaker, and they made the case for very stiff cabinets.

The tonal excellence of the LS3/5a is compromised by its dynamic compression and some people found the euphonic bass bump that was engineered into the speaker to improve the listener's perception of full-range performance to be annoying. The LS3/5a was a fully engineered system with every aspect of its manufacture considered in the intended outcome. Drivers were KEF B110 with bextrene cones, advanced for 1971, and KEF T27 soft dome tweeters. There is a 15 element crossover playing traffic cop on the routing of signal to the drivers. The cabinets were specific density birch ply, if I recall correctly, and even the grill and the felt strips isolating the tweeter were critical to the sound. One thing often neglected in the equation were stands. For most of this speaker's life, stands were not very well conceived or made. I got a nice surprise around 1998 when I got a pair of Osiris stands for them, filled with shot and sand. I found a distinctly elevated level of performance compared to any stand I'd been able to find in the prior 22 years of using this speaker.

There are modern speakers that will outperform the LS3/5a in nearly every respect, and yet matching its midrange vocal expression is elusive even for those contenders. The Spendor S3/5 and S3/5se are both generally superior but not equally magical. Certainly their bass has more definition and discipline, and their dynamic performance is better. The larger Silverline SR16 sounds more like the LS3/5a midrange, and goes deeper, is more efficient and dynamic, but in its larger size gives up some of the uncanny imagining of the tiny Brit.

The big difference between what is possible now vs. when the LS3/5a was designed is primarily realized when you compare it with a newer breakthrough, which is the Zu full range driver. This allows you to hear a tonally rich and accurate speaker with excellent vocal expression, without the amp forcing the signal through a crossover, let alone a 15 element passive circuit. Prior full range drivers could not deliver any semblance of the BBC's midrange accuracy without annoying shout. The Zu driver can. So, at adimittedly more cost and larger size, a pair of $1700 Zu Tones will make the LS3/5a sound dated, and the presence of its dynamic constriction will suddenly seem unacceptably annoying and distracting.

However, if all you ever compare an LS3/5a to is other midget two-ways with complex crossovers, then it will remain competitive, though clearly more colored than, say, the Spendor update or, tellingly, the MUCH more expensive and excellent Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor. While the Spendor is the closest modern equivalent, I consider the "voiced" Cremona Auditor the 21st century spiritual equivalent to the LS3/5a in terms of emotional projection in domestic circumstances. However, at 4ohms, the Cremona Auditor demands a much more capable amp to sound good. The LS3/5a, in later 11ohm or preferred older 15 ohm form, makes alot of mediocre amps perfectly usable again.

Why doesn't someone in China just knock off the LS3/5a? Well, it could be done, but two critical elements are missing -- the KEF drivers are no longer made. Certainly many equivalent modern alternatives exist that are better in every objective sense. An alternate speaker can be engineered to attain the same BBC objectives and many companies can and do such a thing through designs that are outwardly similar but duplicating of nothing from the BBC spec. Without the KEF drivers, along with everything that can be duplicated, you're just not going to get the same speaker. You might however get a speaker you like better. An LS3/5a aficionado might not agree, and hence the climbing prices.

It is always my reference for sound especially for vocal part. Sound reproduction is always tricky. The more revealing the speaker system is, the worst is for one to get the right palette of sound. It is like lenses (eg.Nikon vs Leica) and negative films (eg.Fuji vs Kodak) for pictures, you are talking about colour balance, colour tone, colour separation, contrast, resolution and curvature of field, just to name a few. These ideas apply equally well to sound reproduction based on a different combination of components and equipment you set up in your system.
Over the years, I have had different made model of LS3/5a. I currently still keep not less than 6 pairs of LS3/5a of which it includes 3 pairs of KEF piano black paint limited edition. For all these years, I have tried these speakers with different components. Tube amp ranging from 25 watt to 100 watts per channel. Preamp of different brands. One outstanding point which I always noted from these speakers is that it captured the quintessence of midrange reproduction. Its extensions on both frequencies extreme (of course within its own limited freqency range so to speak) and dynamism highly affected and depend on the quality of the preamp (says with AudioResearch Ref Preamp). With good quality components and properly setup within not too large a room, you can get a big sound. More important aspects of these speakers besides the midrange reproduction is the way it defines intensity level of energy within the whole sound spectrum with respect to individual sound frequency distribution. It is so well balanced and with this fine balance it helps to define a non-analytical sound approach which many of us will not be fatigue for hours listening to these speakers.
Without LS3/5a, I can never be so successful in ways to set up my current downstair reference system which centred around a pair of Avalon Eidilon speakers (so difficult to get it right as they are so revealing). I do really understand why Mr.HP regarded it as one of the audio classic components ever made in the history.
They were designed by and made for the BBC.
The BBC uses three types of monitor loudspeakers:
#1 large full range for music production: 12 inch woofer 2 way or 3 way design, big ported boxes on stands. These cover the full musical range including the lowest octaves.

#2 medium size two way for speech and light music production, medium size ported boxes on stands. These do not cover the bottom octave or two but are otherwise the same as #1.

#3 small size two way design for speech and occasional light music, small boxes on stands. These have weak bass but for speech that is not a problem. The major quality is natural reproduction of speech.

The LS3/5 design was #3 twenty five years ago. The current BBC requirements are being met by HARBETH among others. I own Harbeth Monitor 30s which are category #2. They are first class.