Rogers LS5/9 Classic SE Loudspeaker Page 2

As these are inherently 'professional monitors', I concentrated on open-reel tape as well as vinyl and CD. The initial reaction? These are as revealing as one would demand and require of a 'tool' speaker at the Beeb.

Verve recordings have always stood for excellence, and Sound Tour: Spain [Verve VSTC 272; 7½ips tape] proved the perfect opener. This series, with an unnamed orchestra had listed the musicians, including Doc Severinsen on trumpet and Hank Jones on piano. Oddly enough – but not unusual when you consider what might have been played through speakers at the BBC – the 'tour' element of the recording includes traffic sounds, with the box even identifying an Alfa Romeo, a familiar enough sound if you're a car nut. The recording afforded a fabulous sensation of space, the car sound so real that I first thought it was an actual vehicle passing by outside.

With trumpet, piano, castanets, massed girls' voices and a host of others to create the sonic picture, the LS5/9 Classic SE swiftly revealed a number of qualities beyond excelling as described above. Of course, the bass was smooth, realistic, non-aggressive and substantial. Yes, the voices were clear, sibilance-free and utterly convincing. What I certainly did not expect, given that this is still a ported two-way box, was the way the speaker disappeared.

This isn't so much of a surprise with its smaller sibling, the LS3/5A, so tiny that it's almost a point source. But the LS5/9 is a substantial box, for goodness' sake, and it's just not supposed to escape its wooden crate constraints unless fashioned from some space-age material that relegates vibration to another dimension or bracing that wouldn't shame the Eiffel Tower. Maybe it was the recording, maybe it was the room, but, hot damn, these made me think more of panel speakers and dipoles.

Life On Top
Before switching to vinyl and CD, the last open-reel I played was Jackie Gleason's lush double on Capitol, Today's Romantic Hits/For Lovers Only Vol 1&2 [ZWW2074; 7½ips tape], which reminded me again that there is no other label to match this one's 1950s/1960s sessions for sonic supremacy. Somehow, the LS5/9 Classic SE manages to sparkle at the top end, with even the most delicate upper frequency information enjoying a glittery, shimmery effervescence, without turning edgy or sibilant for even a microsecond. Silky? It could be an advert for La Perla.


There's a superb live take of 'Lola' with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra and the Danish National Vocal Ensemble on CD2 in the 50th Anniversary CD box set of Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround Part One [BMG 434BOX]. This is a blockbuster of a track with a full soundstage and a lovely unplugged feel, utterly realistic applause, rich bass and the sheer majesty of a choral group behind Ray Davies. He's positioned dead centre and – in this instance – standing in the room. There is no denying the 3D capabilities of this speaker, within spitting distance of the LS3/5A.

Holy Grail
Please note that I have never harboured any desire to be a musician (well, not after the age of 15), a recording engineer, a broadcaster or anything other than a scribbler, as I know my limitations and lack of talent. Despite this, and notwithstanding its design dating back almost 40 years, the analytical capabilities of the LS5/9 puts one in mind of a studio dweller listening for minutiae. I am not suggesting that such a mindset is like listening for pleasure, which is what hi-fi is all about unless you are using it in a professional capacity. This speaker serves both audiences.

But how does the LS5/9 stack up against the LS3/5A at half its price? The larger speaker has deeper bass and the ability to go much louder, but you knew that. The LS3/5A simply cannot fill a room larger than, say, 15x20ft with anything even remotely convincing, so it remains a small room/nearfield monitor. But the LS5/9 offers slightly less than pin-point imaging – this matters, principally, to anally-retentive soundstage fanatics and reviewers, which is why I noticed it. Also, the LS3/5A, for whatever reasons, appears to deliver greater image height. Then again, nothing sounds exactly like a scaled-up LS3/5A, the creation of which has been a Holy Grail quest in hi-fi for 45 years. But, wow, this comes close.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Ignore my reservations about price. If you are enamoured of the classic BBC sound, want something bigger than an LS3/5A but not too large, with emphasis on midband authenticity and vocal realism, these will charm you for what they are: LS3/5As with more level and deeper bass. I sat there rapt, the sound so natural and uncoloured that such matters as cost vanished. The LS5/9 is simply magical.

Rogers International UK Ltd
Virginia Water, UK
Supplied by: Rogers International UK Ltd
0333 533 0135