Stirling LS3/5a In Domestic Setup

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robbie010

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Current circumstances mean I have had to sell my main speakers (Tannoy Kensingtons) and am now looking for a “good value” stop-gap.

I have been offered a pair of Stirling LS3/5a V2 Limited Edition at what seems a good price. These speakers have always been on my hifi radar, however, given their limited lower register I’m wondering how well they would work for general 2 channel listening in my domestic setup. 

The room is a fairly standard living room space, 15ft x 10ft with 8ft ceilings, carpet floor and quite heavily furnished. Does anyone have experience of using LS3/5a (or similar) in this kind of domestic setup?

I’m not against the idea of supplementing the LS3/5a with a sub to fill out the lower end but obviously can’t throw wads of cash at anything fancy.

Alternatively, the buyer of my current speakers has kindly offered a set of Living Voice Avatar II’s. I know that these speakers have many fans on the forum but my research suggests that they need quite a bit of space between them and room to breath, which I don't have in my domestic living room setup. 

Any comments gratefully received. 

 

pmcuk

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My room is just slightly bigger than yours and I use early Wharfedale Diamond 2-way speakers. I really like them. I drive them with a single ended 2a3 tube amp. They are bass reflex, and I find the bass quite adequate. The midrange is wonderful and that's what you get with a 2-way and a really good tube amp. I have no desire to go to a bigger speaker, and in any case I don't have the room, so I'm more than happy. 

My question with an LS3/5a would be the bass extension, since it's a sealed box. The midrange will probably be very good, and again if it were me I would use a tube amp like a 2a3 or 300b to really get that magical midrange. But I think I would be looking for.a more modern design with better units and a reflex port. Plenty of information on LS3/5a and shootouts on YouTube etc etc. and that's the conclusion several reviewers come to. I haven't heard a LS3/5a in my system so I don't know what bass you would get - I'm sure others would advise. I wouldn't use a sub myself, I'd be happy with the right kind of 2-way. Keep it pure and simple.  

 
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greybeard

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I use my DIY LS35a's in a room similar in size to yours, and enjoy the sound they give me, they are wonderful with vocals, and the mid range is superb, yes the bass is obviously not deep, but once I  start listening, I do not seem to notice.

 
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newlash09

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I've recently heard the falcon LS 3/5A gold badge edition in my room with a sugden A21. Room size is 11.5 x 15 ft. The mid range was great. Especially vocals were spooky real. And they could go loud without distortion, which was really a surprise for me.

Reduced lower bass was what I was expecting. But it was shockingly lower than what I was expecting. They really sounded chopped off below the knees. My friend listens to classical, so they were adequate for him. But iam more into electronic beats etc, so would definitely need a sub for my tastes. 

My friends speakers costed GBP 2500, which I felt was way too much for how they sounded. If buying new at that price, I would definitely check out the competition from other brands and designs, as I felt they were too restricted in the bass for such a lofty price. Secondly, they are not too sensitive at 83 or 85 db if my memory serves me right. And when running with the 845 tube amps, I had to increase the volume on my preamp to 2 o'clock position. My 90db floor standers, deliver the same volume, with the volume Dail at 10 o'clock position. So this inefficiency would also restrict choice of amplification in the long run.

My previous experience with book shelves was the PMC db1i gold and the ATC SCM 19, both these speakers delivered great bass in a bookshelf design. With a gentle roll off as they went lower. But I felt the falcons just stopped in the bass like they hit a wall. Just my 2 cents.

 
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IGGI

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   I had a pair of the Stirlings' that you are considering and sold them after a few years, regretting it so much I bought another pair Chartwell flavoured. No technical descriptions of the sound from me, they are simply a wonderful sweet and accurate sound. The little lift in the upper bass didn't bother me but I did use a B&K inexpensive sub to re-inforce the bottom end. They do get lost a bit over 15 feet listening distance so a little closer is preferable. Thoroughly recommended, just my opinion of course. 

 
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Birdbrain

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Downsizing is not easy.

It depends on the kind of music you listen to.

Everybody should live with a pair of LS3/5a at least for a while.

If you don't take to them they will easily re-sell.

They are a nearfield speaker, don't sit too far away.

Why not downsize seriously with some small active studio monitors, and get rid of your amps. They would have a bigger sound than you expect.

 

Lurch

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If this is only a temporary compromise situation for you then why go to this level. I personally would look at speakers that punch well above their price point and are reletavely cheap to source, something like Warfedale Diamond 9/9.1 or the Q Acoustics 30xx series. This would mean you could either move them on later with minimal loss, or stick them in the loft and bring them back out should you encounter a similar situation in the future. 

 

pmcuk

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If this is only a temporary compromise situation for you then why go to this level. I personally would look at speakers that punch well above their price point and are reletavely cheap to source, something like Warfedale Diamond 9/9.1 or the Q Acoustics 30xx series. This would mean you could either move them on later with minimal loss, or stick them in the loft and bring them back out should you encounter a similar situation in the future. 
That's exactly what I did - got a pair of early Wharfedale Diamonds. They sound remarkably good for the cheap price I paid - usually around £50. They were ex BBC - the BBC used them in their offices. I may upgrade them at some point but I'm in no rush. For me it's all about the amplifier and getting that right. For me a 2a3 or 300b SE tube amp and a pair of small 2-way speakers is a magical combination. As others have said - it's all about that "you are there" midrange, and vocals are special as we know. 

 

HouseElf

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I had a pair of Falcon Acoustic LS3/4 in my 19ft by 13ft lounge and the bass was superb. Obviously, they are never going to rattle the windows but I never felt short changed for the music I listen to. As others have mentioned it does depend on the genre of music you mainly listen to.

The midrange was really where it was at and in this area I have not heard better. I recall listening to a track that started with some acoustic guitar in the left speaker and it really took me by surprise how natural and present it sounded. I was on the other side of the room and it was one of those rare double take moments in hifi. 

 
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Fantasque

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The lounge in our new house is very small 12’ x10’  and sadly our Tannoy Eaton’s were just too dominant in the space so we bought a pair of second-hand Graham Audio LS3/5’s (not the a version). We were immediately amazed how full the sound was especially in the midrange, I am still constantly surprised how good these speakers are even after a year of ownership. They are fired down the length of the lounge so are about 10 feet away from my listening space. Might be worth seeing if you can try and audition the Stirling’s before you buy, you might be surprised. Link to Graham Audio’s site

https://www.grahamaudio.co.uk/products/ls35/

 

HectorHughMunro

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I have had a pair of Stirling LS3/5a V2 for years.  They’re excellent and easy to transport and sell when you don’t need them anymore.  They sound a bit better than the originals and you can still buy the drivers. V2 don’t use B110/T27, they use modern drivers.

In their favour, they sound excellent but you do have to be prepared to work with them a bit to get the best out of them.  They’re fussy about stands and positioning so cheap stands aren’t a good idea.  They’re best with a bit of space from the front wall. Using a sub isn’t easy with them because they aren’t linear so the integration is a nightmare unless you’re using some sort of DSP.  You could use AB1 V2 with them.

For most listeners, I suspect the Living Voice is the better choice.  LS3/5a do a very specific thing very well.  Some people strongly don’t like LS3/5a but often, they have never heard them set up properly.
 

 

Motortown review

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I use the Falcon LS3/5a, can honestly say they are one of few speakers I can get along with. Mine are about a foot from the front wall, toed in towards the listening seat in a equal triangle. I don't like ported speakers as they are the work of the devil and I have yet to be able to listen to any of them for very long. I'm not missing in any way in the bass dept, they are very good at playing bass if it's on the record. Integration from treble/mid/bass is superb. Imaging is to die for and do a great disappearing act. 

I know they have their detractors, but in a small or medium room they are great IMO. I play everything from AC/DC to jazz , classical, pop etc. 

Don't be put off by it being a old design, it can show many a young speaker how it should be done.

They are quite insensitive so need a decent amp, good with valves apparently.

Hope this helps.

 
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pmcuk

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I use the Falcon LS3/5a, can honestly say they are one of few speakers I can get along with. Mine are about a foot from the front wall, toed in towards the listening seat in a equal triangle. I don't like ported speakers as they are the work of the devil and I have yet to be able to listen to any of them for very long.
Ported speaker versus sealed boxes is a pretty fundamental argument. I agree that sealed boxes have a generally better sound, though that's not always the case. The question is how do you keep the midrange pure and still get "enough" bass. It's partly about making a choice between a 5", 5.5", 6" or 6.5" midbass. The bigger you go the more you may compromise the midrange. The smaller you go the more you may compromise the bass response. Et voila!

 

topoxforddoc

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I ran my original Stirling V1 LS3/5as with AB1s in my old house for quite a while as the main speaker in a room measuring about 20 x 12 ft. They sounded fine.

I have also listened to these against a pair of LS3/5a clones (KEFKit CS1a) in my study system (14 x 12) and they both sounded fine. OK the augmented LS3/5as had more in the lower registers, but for vocals and jazz, the LS3/5a clones sounded just fine.