Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Loudspeaker Review

Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Loudspeaker Review

Musical Fidelity

LS3/5a Standmount Loudspeakers

AUD $5,000 RRP

Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Review

Who within the hi-fi world is having all of the enjoyable proper now? My cash’s on the founding father of Pro-Ject, Heinz Lichtenegger, who isn’t far-off from a wry smile. It’s actually true that he is been on manoeuvres lately – his acquisition of Musical Fidelity was a particular eyebrow-raiser. This was not totally sudden as a result of each Heinz and the British firm’s founder, Antony Michaelson, are very market-savvy folks with nice imaginations. Yet, not even Antony had the intense thought to make his personal model of a BBC LS3/5a mini monitor

“We have structured Musical Fidelity to deliver true high-end merchandise to a extra reasonably priced value level,” Heinz tells me, “and we see no motive why audio system ought to be excluded from that intention. In the historical past of hi-fi, many actually good manufacturers have been capable of construct complete system options in-house, and with the brand new LS3/5a and A1 built-in amplifier, we’re displaying we might be a type of manufacturers…”

He says that he has all the time been taken by the sound high quality that is potential from well-made 2-way loudspeakers, so the enduring BBC small speaker design was all the time on his radar. “As we had been engaged on the rebirth of the A1, we bought caught up by the thought of creating a traditional loudspeaker that may work completely with it.” He provides, “I additionally really feel that though there are some fantastic manufacturers nonetheless making this speaker, I don’t see it broadly all over the world. I really feel that in partnership with our new A1 (reviewed right here)– and even with our M2 amplifier in case you require extra energy for larger areas – we are able to get this traditional speaker design to a wider viewers than ever earlier than.”

Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Review

He might be proper. Heinz has achieved nice success together with his Pro-Ject model, which he based in 1992. He began making fundamental, reasonably priced turntables simply when the mass market started shifting away from the breed – and stepped in to fill a spot that was created by extra distinguished turntable manufacturers vacating this market house. His speciality is doing high-value designs that sound significantly better than they need to on the value, and in a manner, the unique Musical Fidelity was very comparable – albeit beginning off at a barely increased value level. And he is right to state that he is superb at getting his merchandise into outlets and, by extension, into folks’s houses.

All properly and good then, so what does Heinz suppose he can deliver to the BBC LS3/5a loudspeaker? Lest we overlook, that is an early nineteen seventies design with an uncompromising checklist of specs set out for producers to observe. If they do not or cannot produce a speaker to the right specs, then the BBC will merely refuse to licence it…

“As I see it, audio merchandise just like the LS3/5A are musical devices. The specs are given with this speaker, however the materials decisions, the manufacturing self-discipline of the producer, and the design inferences you make are the way you attain the ultimate sound. Everything that goes into the product has an affect on the sound, and that is the place you get variations. I’m okay with nonetheless anyone interprets our speaker, as that is what hi-fi is about – discovering the proper technique to take pleasure in your music. In our model, we have finished our greatest to make it sound how we expect it ought to.”

It’s truthful to say that the majority audiophiles do not routinely affiliate Musical Fidelity with loudspeaker manufacturing, so Heinz must problem this. He factors out, accurately, in fact, that again within the mists of time within the early nineteen eighties, the model did really promote a number of well-regarded audio system. It’s simply that founder Antony Michaelson’s focus was all the time on electronics, so that they quite took a again seat…

Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Review

“Musical Fidelity is probably not greatest recognized for audio system, however we have now a protracted historical past with the product class. Some could bear in mind our partnership with Kelly Transducers, and we nonetheless hear from clients recurrently with questions on their MC-2 and MC-4 audio system. It’s true these fashions didn’t dangle round for too lengthy, as Antony was all the time trying to transfer on to his subsequent nice thought, however they had been superb merchandise… With us, it’s all the time about making the choice of whether or not we are able to do the product the right manner. As lengthy as we have now the flexibility to do this, we work to make it occur.”

In different phrases, what would have held Heinz again was if he could not make sure he may make the LS3/5a accurately quite than mere branding concerns. As it turned out, he has been capable of get the undertaking up and working with manufacturing within the Pro-Ject manufacturing facility in Litovel, Czech Republic. He tells me that he has been supported on this by Joseph Szall, who’s an skilled on LS3/5as. “He has helped us lots together with his expertise to get it proper”, he confides. The elements for this speaker are apparently sourced from all all over the world.


The design story of this little loudspeaker is a protracted and sophisticated one, as befitting its iconic standing. I went into appreciable element about this in my evaluate of the Falcon Acoustics LS3/5a a few years again, so I will not repeat it right here – however suffice to say that each producer that chooses to construct its personal LS3/5a wants a licence from the BBC, whose analysis division designed it again within the early nineteen seventies. That signifies that Musical Fidelity must bear a stringent process to guarantee the BBC that it may construct the speaker to the precise specification. Thanks to this, then, theoretically all LS5/3as ought to sound the identical, or not less than extremely shut.

Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Review

The speaker was designed as an ultra-compact, near-field monitor for small areas. Anecdotally, after I was a pupil within the nineteen eighties, I used to be interviewed by BBC Bristol on some trivial matter, and so they ushered me into an out of doors broadcast van the place – lo and behold – was a microphone and a single LS3/5a. That was the primary time I heard this speaker, and I bear in mind the BBC producer’s voice being exceptionally clear and clear. The child monitor was additionally seen in TV studios, management rooms and anyplace else the place a small speaker with a flat frequency response was wanted, proper all the way down to 100Hz.

The LS3/5a was adopted by audiophiles quickly after it was launched within the mid-seventies. In that world of unusual audio system with all types of quirks and foibles, its easy and even efficiency was a revelation. Its infinite baffle design additionally made – and makes – it very room-friendly, as you possibly can ram it again in opposition to a boundary wall with little or no increase. Indeed, some would say {that a} diploma of bass reinforcement is fascinating with this speaker. It makes use of simply two small drive items: a 110mm KEF B110 Bextrene mid/bass driver and a 19mm KEF T27 mylar dome tweeter. These are divided up via a comparatively advanced, multi-element crossover; because of this, the infinite baffle cupboard and the comparatively insensitive drive items, the result’s a sensitivity determine of 82.5dB.

Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Review

As audiophiles will know, that is very low – certainly it is likely one of the least delicate loudspeakers on sale. In the mid-seventies – when typical amplifiers hardly ever put out greater than 40W RMS per channel – such poor sensitivity was an actual situation. Now, although, many boast 100W RMS or extra per aspect and will not discover this speaker a problem to drive to fairly excessive listening ranges. Its 15 ohm nominal impedance additional eases issues, as it is not asking questions of the amplifier’s load-driving potential. So, in follow, the LS3/5a ought to work superb with most fashionable amplifiers within the small to medium-sized rooms the place it’s going to doubtless be used.

Musical Fidelity says that the beneficial amplifier energy is 20 to 150W, however I’d say that you’re going to want greater than 20W in case you play beat-driven music loud in a medium-sized room – the extra, the merrier! Claimed frequency response is 80Hz to 20kHz (+/-3dB), which hints on the high quality of the unique design; even by the requirements of small bookshelf audio system, the LS3/5a is diminutive at 305x190x165mm [HxWxD]. To get 80Hz bass at -3dB is basically pushing the legal guidelines of physics, I’d say. The cupboard is 12mm birch plywood – no MDF used right here – and this model comes with a extremely engaging Palisander actual wooden veneer. Each speaker weighs 4.9kg.


If you have by no means heard an LS3/5a, then the Musical Fidelity model is about pretty much as good a spot to begin as any. It is extraordinarily devoted to the unique BBC-prescribed sound, which is, in fact, clear, easy, even and detailed, with pleasing subtlety, tight bass and superb imaging. All of those traits are what you’d anticipate from a particularly completely researched and designed loudspeaker – even when that work came about almost half a century in the past. As the Quad ESL-57 reveals us, when one thing is completed proper, then it stays proper!

Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Review

That’s to not say that it is the most correct, open, revealing and detailed small loudspeaker in existence. It could properly have been within the seventies and even the eighties, however there are compact designs that higher it in a variety of methods now – however they’re all much more costly. The LS3/5a has aged like a superb wine; it not claims to be probably the most translucent small speaker in existence, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a rattling good pay attention and very spectacular at what it does properly. Listened to from a contemporary perspective, it is only a wee bit heat and romantic sounding.

Driven by Musical Fidelity’s personal M5si – which is a equally priced Class AB powerhouse of an built-in amplifier – and a Chord Hugo TT2 DAC, this new speaker sounds fairly very good. It is quick, grippy, tight and propulsive within the time area, and tonally similar to an LS3/5a ought to be – which is to say easy, even and ever-so-slightly heat. It lacks the glare of many fashionable loudspeakers, with their trick drive items constituted of fancy new supplies. The traditional jazz funk of Alphonse Mouzon‘s By All Means proves to be a delight through this speaker. There’s a satisfying lustre to the saxophones, a stunning earthiness to the electrical guitar sound, and a gnarly solidity to the bass guitar. True, this speaker does not pump out giant tranches of earth-shattering bass, however what little there’s, is super-taut and tight.

Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Review

The LS3/5a’s midband has all the time been a bit particular, and that is by no means extra obvious than with feminine vocals. Kate Bush‘s Cloudbusting sounds pretty. It’s not the best recording from this artist and may sound a bit of opaque and ponderous, but the little Musical Fidelity speaker ekes out the perfect from it. The singer’s hovering, icy vocals push far out into the room and have a haunting high quality; the grain of her voice is obvious to listen to but by no means sounds harsh. The backing electronics are highly effective and expansive in my listening room, conjuring up a suitably dramatic backdrop. True, this mini monitor runs out of puff at excessive volumes, and you may hear some compression – but it goes louder than you may suppose, to the purpose that you simply’re left questioning why you’ve got bigger audio system. Also, up to some extent, this speaker is surprisingly dynamic. It does not sit on transients as a lot as most compact bookshelf designs. The Linn Kan II  frame-type stands appear to assist right here, giving the BBC design a agency basis on which to do its stuff.

You most likely would not purchase an LS5/3a in case you’re a fan of church organ music or drum’n’bass – it merely does not go low sufficient. Yet many individuals have used subwoofers and had pleasing outcomes. On its personal, this speaker nonetheless makes an important fist of traditional rock music, nonetheless. On REM‘s Maps and Legends, I can hear the higher bass push the track together with gusto and deal with the brilliantly syncopated lead guitar work and vocal line. It’s a really rewarding pay attention, however in a delicate and complicated manner – it is not the form of speaker that pushes you again in your chair like a giant JBL or Klipsch, clearly.

Musical Fidelity LS3/5a Review

Yet the LS3/5a is surprisingly music-agnostic. Because it instances so properly and has an honest go at dynamics, too, you possibly can take pleasure in a surprisingly big selection of programme materials. Playing a Deutsche Grammophon recording of the lilting Summer from Antonio Vivaldi‘s Four Seasons is a pleasure; you possibly can see why classical music followers charge this speaker so extremely. It does a lot so properly – from the scrumptious instrumental timbre on the violins to the pacy and propulsive rhythm move and the wonderful soundstaging that places you within the corridor. Okay, so the cellos aren’t fairly as gutsy as you might be used to, and the sound lacks affect on the massed string sections, but nonetheless, this speaker makes music thrilling.


To my ears, the brand new Musical Fidelity is likely one of the best-sounding LS3/5a variants that I’ve heard – and I’ve heard many. I really feel it’s up there with the aforementioned Falcon Acoustics model, which is excessive reward certainly. Incidentally, it is also head and shoulders above older, traditional examples of the breed that I’ve heard – a high-quality, box-fresh model is all the time going to be higher. And therein lies the energy of this incarnation – it’s a very good iteration you could purchase new, and comparatively inexpensively, from a variety of sellers on this nation and past. Oh, and as for Heinz Lichtenegger, he isn’t completed but with loudspeakers, so he tells me. So possibly watch this house for extra Musical Fidelity designs?

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November 22, 2023 at 02:25AM

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