Because its sound proclaims “major significance,” our coverage starts with the show premiere of Graham Audio’s LS5/5f loudspeaker ($24,995/pair). Unveiled in Munich, albeit only in passive display, the speaker was designed by Derek Hughes, son of the late Spencer Hughes, founder of Spendor.
The Graham LS5/5f is an augmented reissue of the original LS5/5 monitor that was designed by Dudley Harwood and Spencer Hughes for mixing and mastering purposes, and issued by the BBC in 1967. Withdrawn not long thereafter because, in the age of the Beatles, it could not play loud enough, and subsequently used solely for microphone calibration, the LS5/5 languished until Graham Audio’s extended dynamics redo arrived in 2019.
Now we have the LS5/5f, which adds an extra 16″-long lower acoustic chamber to the new LS5/5, and places the front-firing port below the woofer. The slot window around the woofer is said to force a driver that is inherently non-linear to perform in a far more linear manner from the top to the bottom of its range. All told, the change in cabinetry is specified as delivering 7dB more bass at 20Hz than the stand-mount model, and a frequency response of 35Hz20kHz ±2dB.
Thanks in part to Neil Strickland, former BBC recording and mixing engineer and part of the S. CA-based “British Audio Guys,” set-up was superb. Paired with the far less expensive giant killer Moonriver 404 Reference integrated power amplifier with phono ($5550), Shunyata Research Delta cabling and Hydra line conditioner, and Artesania Exoteryc and Krion support racks, the speaker sounded markedly open, extended, and drop dead gorgeous on a tape of mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, supported by piano, performing one of her greatest triumphs, Vivaldi’s “Sposa son disprezzata” from the opera Bajazet. With the tape played on a vintage Revox/SonorouS PR99 reel-to-reel, the sound was also extremely beautiful, open, and expansive for a bit of the Florestan Piano Trio performing Debussy’s Piano Trio. The warmth was lovely, and the presentation all of one piece.
On very different music, the LP version of Donald Fagen’s “I.G.Y.” was played on Bergmann’s Audio Modi turntable with air-bearing platter and Thor air-bearing, linear tracking tonearm ($17.000) with Hana ML cartridge ($1200). The sound was again warm, smooth and lovely. Here’s hoping that Stereophile can review the Graham LS5/5f soon.
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