Classics: Rogers LS3/5A BBC Monitor

Rogers LS3/5A BBC Monitor

Without the commercialisation of this small loudspeaker, it would have remained a well-kept secret among BBC technicians.

Published 2022-08-20 - 10:00 am

This speaker was invented by engineers at the BBC in England in the mid-1970s, who needed a compact speaker for monitoring radio recordings and broadcasts, and was designed to meet the BBC’s requirements for a modern monitor speaker.

The entire technical design was based on near-field listening, but the commercialisation of the loudspeaker led to as many as over 60,000 pairs being sold to customers worldwide. And they had no intention of sitting next to a pair of LS3/5As at a mixing console. The qualities of the small speakers were so obvious to people who heard them that they became hugely popular for home use.

More than Rogers had the licence from the BBC to produce the LS3/5A, and KEF, Audiomaster, Spendor, Chartwell, Stirling and Harbeth were among the most widespread suppliers of their versions of the BBC monitor.

Technically, the Rogers loudspeaker wasn’t anything impressive. A foam padded three-piece chassis with fabric-covered grill hid relatively mundane drivers from KEF. Inside the 31cm high cabinet was a complex crossover with 26 components, giving the speaker a system impedance of 15 and in some versions 11 ohms, and an efficiency of a modest 82.5dB.

The sound pressure limit was 95 dB. The small woofer from Kef was a 110 mm B110, while the tweeter was a 19 mm KEF T27 with a dome diaphragm. The crossover was optimised for a clean and clear midrange, although many thought – and still think – that the midrange reproduction is somewhat nasal.

rogers ls35a 1
rogers ls35a

The bass response is adjusted in the crossover to give the small speaker a bit of fullness, but they don’t go any deeper than 70-80 Hz at -3 dB.

Later versions of the LS3/5A were of course modernised, design-wise the JR149 is perhaps the coolest, but most stuck to the BBC recipe.

Linn Kan was actually based on the basic design for the LS3/5A, and many believe it is better than the original, however, the fact is that Rogers LS3/5A is the original, and the one collectors are willing to pay for.

Despite its refusal to play loud, the tame bass response, the nasal midrange and the restrained treble.

Those who love an LS3/5A, and there are many thousands of them, will often have several pairs. And they appreciate the brilliant three-dimensionality and, after almost 50 years, very lifelike vocal reproduction.

The consumer market is not exactly overflowing with Rogers loudspeakers, but it is not hard to find nice and well-functioning pairs around €1000 to €1,5000, considerably more for limited editions, and a little less for somewhat battered specimens.

Truly a legendary speaker, whether you like the sound or not.

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