I once bought a pair of Spendor Classic 4/5’s. Very much the ‘BBC’ sound. Ultimately I simply couldn’t get on with them. As lovely as they were, and they did many nice things, I found myself admiring them rather than really getting carried away with the music. They never really seemed to let their hair down - but that’s part of the BBC type sound. Refined uncoloured and polite. Not a criticism in any way. That type of presentation can be absolutely lovely but it just wasn’t right for me.
Thanks for the replies Hollow & Pete.
Hollow…I think the 3.1’s would be ideal but out of my budget I’m afraid.
Pete…I know exactly what you mean when you say the Spendors were “refined, uncoloured & polite”. Mine do sound absolutley lovely but that “letting your hair down” is perhaps missing. When I said I like that “BBC monitor” sound perhaps I meant that the current trend for modern speakers to be almost surgical in their presentation was not really my thing, particularly in the treble, yet I would still like the passion of the music to come through.
devondick - I agree completely about the trend for modern speakers to have that very clear-cut and as you say surgical presentation with an unnaturally bright treble. Impressive as this can seem at first on longer acquantaince it can begin to become wearing and tiresome. This is what drew me to buying a BBC type speaker in the first place. I wanted to get right away from the ‘modern’ sound and back to a natural and unexaggerated presentation. The Spendors were superb at this and sounded absolutely lovely. Yet as you say, I felt that some of the passion in the music was missing or subdued. It all depends on one’s priorities of course. Careful system matching will minimise this and perhaps allow the best of both worlds. If you like the BBC sound then I imagine that pretty much any of the Graham Audio models would be nice and very much in keeping with what you are used to. I recall reading a review of one of the larger Graham Audio standmounts (the model escapes me) and the reviewer was mightily impressed. I seem to remember him commenting on improved dynamics whilst still retaining the classic BBC type presentation.
Have a look at the review of the Graham Audio LS6 here -
I think this is more complex. I suspect that digital sources play into this. I am sensitive to the 7-8Khz range which can lead to what sounds like sibilant vocals and digital frequently sets off issues here where vinyl doesn’t.
A few months ago I was listening to the Sonus fabre Lumina III. These were £2.2k and as good as my SBLs, unfortunately they are NOT a boundary speaker. In part I am sure this is due to material improvements as well as cabinet design progress. Be interesting to hear what Naim could achieve with a modern SBL.
I think you’re right about modern digital sources playing a part here. Certainly speakers like the IBL and Kans were always happiest with a vinyl (LP12) source. There does seem to be a trend these days though to voice speakers to have a rather bright character. This is a very sweeping generalisation I know, but if one looks back to the 1970’s I think speakers then tended to have a more subdued top end. But as you say this could have been because digital sources weren’t around then and the speakers were simply reflecting the characteristics of vinyl replay. Interesting.
I am a big fan of all Graham speakers - I own the LS5/9 and LS3/5 and have listened to the 5/5 - I very much prefer the Grahams to other BBC variants (Spendor, Stirling, Harbeth). As some else put in a review - “Most have seemed beguiling on voice, and rather lacking in energy. But the Grahams appear to have been built with double espresso rather than decaf on the parts list”.
I do find that the Graham LS5/9 not only feature a lot more energy, I find them overall also more balanced, detailed, delicate and resolving. This displays especially well on classical music with beautiful instrument separation and tonality. This has made the LS5/9 my favorite speaker for classical music (even symphonic). The LS5/5 should work of course even better for symphonic music …
I am running the Grahams mostly with an Accuphase E800/DC37/C37 (switching with a pair of Devore O/96). However, I am experimenting with my NAC52/SC/250 as 2nd setup to drive the Grahams LS3/5 in the future. And I should also have opportunity to compare to a Falcon LS3/5a gold badge soon.
I’m a bit of a Graham evangelical…these speakers are music. I have the LS3/5 (not LS3/5a) in my TV system on an atom and they are a joy to listen to. On my Supernait 3/NDX2 XPS DR/Rega P6 system I listen to the LS5/8.
The LS5/8 are my favorite speakers. I haven’t heard anything that rises to their level. The LS5/5 come close, different, but are twice the price. I do like the LS 8/1 quite a bit as well. I had the LS5/9 for quite a while and they are about the best you can do for the money.
All of these work incredibly well with Naim. Graham is the best of the current BBC manufacturers in my opinion.
Great set up - and great view!
Thanks for all the really interesting replies. Restock & jhsnider, obviously extremely positive responses to Graham speakers & you make me drool when describing your systems (as Isca said, great set up & view restock) but unfortunately my funds are on a slightly different level. Pete & MrUnderhill…I know all the LS6 reviews by heart now but very interesting to read your views on the part digital sources play in the soundscape of a system. I play a lot of vinyl & love that analogue sound so, as HH said earlier on in this post, the “weak link” in my system could well be my faithful CD3. To this end I’ve been looking closely at the Rega Saturn R which acording to most reviews appears to have an almost analogue sound. I know their reliability record is not on a par with Naim but they do seem to be commited (at least for the present) in stocking replacement parts. I’m also aware this has been covered in depth elsewhere on this site but any comments would be most welcome.
Thanks again for taking the time to reply.
@restock Love your room and system set-up
A hifi pal has the 5/9s. I really like them - very coherent - my type of speaker. He mostly listens to classical and a bit of folk with which they work really well. Not so sure how well they work with rock though (based on a couple of rock tracks he’s played) but that could be his system in general. Not heard them with Naim source or Naim amps either.
I will chime in here, in complete agreement as a fan of Graham speakers. I’ve been running a pair of the LS8/1 (rebirth of the Spendor BC1, which was designed by Derek Hughes’s father Spencer) for several months, and it is fabulous. Haven’t heard the Graham LS5/9, but I am familiar with the new Rogers LS5/9. In comparison, the LS8/1 has deeper bass and larger scale. It does symphonic music very well indeed. Would love to hear the 5/5 and 5/8 someday.
Independently, I also recommend both that new Rogers LS5/9 and their new LS5/3a. Rogers has a secret weapon, their custom stands made of Panzerholz, that make a real difference. They are also using Panzerholz baffles in their new SE versions, which I have not heard. Anyway, I find the Graham and new Rogers BBC speakers to be considerably better than the comparable Harbeth models. My dealer thinks one factor is the birch-ply cabinetry used by Graham (and Rogers), in comparison to the MDF of Harbeth.
I have been trying out Harbeths lately but the Grahams/Rogers LS5/9 sound much more to my liking. We did a Linn Tune-dem evaluation and both the Grahams and Rogers performed very well so why they would not fit a Naim system seem strange. And I currently run my old olive 135’s. The only alternative is the ATC SCM19 which is a sealed box which is very good - but in different areas compared to the 5/9:s.
I demoed a s/h pair of Chartwell LS/6 on a 300. Not long enough to to judge them but I certainly liked what I heard. If you want to compare try the similar size/priced Proac DB1 (with a normal tweeter and not the ribbon, they sometimes ribbonize perfectly good speakers).
Look forward to your thoughts.
Hi @devondick ,
The 72 pre-amp is a great bit of kit, but it was made in the analogue era. I think it was @hungryhalibut above who mentioned checking what line input cards you are using, plus a few searches on the internet may assist in deciding what might make the 72 a bit kinder in the digital age.
Mt experience is that different equipment in different rooms make a huge difference. Problems that I hear using my main system via my SBLs do not occur with my nearfield system via my el cheapo Sound Artist LS3/5a knock-offs.
Trouble with these threads is I feel the very real temptation to by a ‘proper’ LS3/5!
One of Tim de Paravicini’s top tip speaker’s for EAR amps was the Grahams LS5/9.
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