Graham LS5/5 at low volumes

I’m getting older and while I liked it loud when I was younger, I find high volumes increasingly unbearable.

I saw in the System Pics thread that there might be some Graham LS5/5 owners. I am looking for the final speaker for my - hopefully many - remaining years and I think that might be the LS5/5.

Thus I kindly want to ask how the LS5/5 performs at low levels? I mean room volume and below.

I would be pleased to receive first-hand statements. Thanks a lot.


I don’t know those speakers’ happiness at low sound levels, but you will always have rolled off bass and also, though to a lesser degree, treble because of the ear’s natural frequency tailoring at low levels. The only solution if you want to experience the same frequency balance as realistic levels is tailored frequency boost - a bit like the crude “loudness” button did in 1970s/80s lo-fi products, but ideally directly linked to sound level for accurate compensation. Sadly I’ve never heard of anything doing that, though it would not be beyond the capability of modern DSP.

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In my opinion, the volume depends on the amplification only. Regardless of the speaker manufacturer, regarding getting a good quality/musical image, at low volume, you should focus on speakers with high sensitivity, of over 88DB and high impedance and with a woofer that is not “hard”.
In addition, take into account the size of the speaker in front of the space in which it will play.
The 5/5 will fit a space over 35 square meters and the 5/9 is more forgiving and in my opinion also more likable.
Good luck.


IMO BBC type speakers would be amongst the worst choices for low level listening. I speak from experience.

I’m not a fan as you probably gather. But many speakers don’t ‘come alive’ until you hit a cetain level. The BBC types are amongst these IMO.

But speakers are such a personal choice and there are those who swear by the BBC designs.

So really you need to try for yourself. Good luck.


What is your room size? 5/5 are monsters, aren’t they?

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About 40m2 where I intend to install them.

May I ask what the rest of the system is that you are planning it use with these speakers, as your profile isn’t clear?

Hi HH,

that has not yet been decided. Either a Lindemann Musicbook Source/Power pre/power amplifier or a Prima Luna 400 integrated. Both can drive a Harbeth 40.3 in a controlled way. That doesn’t have to mean anything, but I think it’s a good start. However, Derek Hughes advises against tubes for the LS5/5.

My approach is to first find a speaker that works in the room, then an amplifier to match. I like the idea of using diffraction to give the LS5/5 a listening position outside the sweet spot.

That’s the opposite way round to what I’d do, but if it works for you…. They are expensive speakers, I wonder how much it costs to allow them to reach their potential. No Naim under consideration then?

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Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that the speakers should cost about twice the price of the amplifiers in order to achieve a balanced result. That would be adequate with the amplifiers mentioned.

I know that there are many different views and methods on this, all of which I can understand.

Maybe Naim too, yes, but I wanz to keep the number of boxes down. And with the NC 2 series,I would end up with 6 boxes (with phono pre, step-up and power supplies)…

Monsters? They’re large I suppose for standmounts (65 x 48x 36 cm), but not huge - and would look pretty small in OP’s room

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very curious about these speakers and interested to see if, how and what will work best for you at lower volume. I value low volume performance from speakers highly. Never quite so easy to tell but in my experience more about the speakers than anything else.

Did you not end up prioritising the speakers-room-preference after all (if I remember correctly, after some several changes - from higher end source first to speakers that work best for you first after)?

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Not really. I decided on a Nova then found speakers that worked well with it.

My approach would be to firstly decide on a pair of speakers that you like and that work well in your room. This is the most crucial thing to get right - because the speakers will have the biggest influence on what you hear and the speaker/room interface is critical. It can make or break a system.

Having done this then you find a suitable system to drive them. If you can’t afford one then you need to lower your sights regarding the speakers.

Don’t worry about whether the system allows them to reach their full potential. This is nonsense reasoning often put forward by the ‘source is all’ brigade. No system in the world will ever allow speakers to perform to their full potential. Something better will come along and then they will sound better. And conversely, no speaker will ever allow a source/amp combination to reach its full potential. Again there will always be a better speaker. It’s all complete rubbish.

I would certainly spend the lion’s share on the speakers, if you value realistic sound. This means large speakers with serious bass and scale. Speakers capable of at least approximating to what one hears in real life. Small speakers are all very well musically, but they won’t ever convince you that you are sitting in front of real musicians. It always amuses me when people talk about ‘accurate bass’ from small speakers. I can state categorically that no small speaker in the world will give you accurate bass. Just listen to someone playing a drum kit or a double bass and then show me the small speaker that can accurately reproduce that.


I see, have then misunderstood and hope it all sounds at least as good.

Well, that is exactly my approach. Over the last 40 years or so, my experience has been that systems have always sounded particularly well-balanced when the speakers were a lot more expensive than the amplifiers and, above all, when they matched the room. Source is important but not everything.

Of course, the IBL with a quad of NAP135 monos was fun a long time ago. From today’s point of view, however, I am convinced that it could be better for the same money, especially since the speakers had quite severe limitations.

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In your opinion. A large speaker that’s not really well controlled will sound as dynamic as a lettuce. A small speaker driven well can give a far better impression of the dynamics of a drum kit. There is no right answer and nobody should be saying ‘I can state categorically’ about this subjective stuff. It’s just hubris.


As I always say: Small speakers small problems, large speakers large problems. Anyway, it‘s all about matching.


Absolutely. That is why I say that one must find a suitable driving system, and if not affordable in the context then one must lower one’s sight’s regarding the speakers.

Frequency bandwidth reproduction is not subjective. Yes I can state it categorically because no small speaker will reproduce the bandwidth of a drum kit or double bass with anything like the accuracy that a large speaker can.

You hit the nail on the head though when you say that that a small speaker can give the impression of the dynamics of a drum kit. And many small speakers can. Think back to the Kans for a prime example. But a large speaker can do more than just give an impression - it can convey something of the reality. There is a very big difference in practice and you have only to listen to large speakers, which I’m sure you have, to appreciate this.


Small speaker, small drums. Big speaker, big drums.