THE LSA 2 REFERENCE FLOORSTANDING
As the model numbers of these speakers suggest, LSA is a relatively new company. The company is named for and headed by Larry Staples, a musician who formerly owned an audio store and also was the former director of sales for Thiel Audio. LSA is appropriately headquartered in Music City, USA - Nashville, Tennessee. They have about 85 dealers in North America and 12 other countries.
Larry is not the only musician and music lover at LSA. In fact, just about everybody plays an instrument and has professional experience, much like the staff members of Stereomojo. It is good to know that the people behind the product are not just corporate stuffed suits and bean counters. Many designers say they do not listen to their competitor’s speakers, but that is not the case with LSA. “We’ve listened to 90% of the speakers we compete with, mostly the more costly ones. Our goal is to outperform all of them at a lower price. We believe we have achieved that”, said Larry.
As is our process, I spent many hours talking to or corresponding with the main players at LSA. The impression is that they are all very dedicated, knowledgeable people who are extremely passionate about music and their products. Good people. In this business, that counts for something.They warranty their speakers for 5 years.
The LSA 2 Reference stands 40” tall by 9.25” wide at widest point and 16.25” deep not including binding post. Its sensitivity is rated at 88db meaning it is best driven by amplifiers with around 60 watts per channel in a medium to large room, even though their recommendation is a minimum of 20 wpc. These speakers are best suited for rooms with walls at least 15 feet apart. Twenty watts will easily make them play sound, but you would not have much headroom for dynamics. The max power they suggest is 150 wpc.
The driver compliment in this 3-way design is a 1” dome tweeter, 6.5” midrange driver and 6.5” bass driver. You read that right - the woofer is the same size as the mid. “The woofer is the same size as the mid, but treated differently to better reproduce frequencies down to 27 Hz”, said Brain Warford, VP of sales. “The tweeter in back only sends frequencies above 8KHz to enhance the sense of ambience and spaciousness. There is an attenuator to adjust the volume of the tweeter so that you can tailor the sound to your individual room”, he added.
The floorstanders also come with spikes, four for each speaker, modeled here by my audiophile wife Linda. As you can see, these things are a serious piece of metal. They screw deeply and firmly into the bottoms for some resonance control on hard surfaces and stability on carpeted surfaces.
They did a good job with my carpet, but people with small children or large pets should be aware that they are tippable if enough force is applied. Not easily, mind you, but they are tall and thin with a high center of gravity.
The fit and finish of the towers is excellent with a satin glow that makes them look more costly than their price would suggest.THey do come with black grilles, though I never used them.
I was hoping for and even expecting all the extraordinary qualities of the 1's (also reviewed here at the Mojo) with added low frequencies. We did not quite achieve that, but we came close.
I listened only in the large room B with this speaker. Incidentally, both pairs were well traveled and burned in before they arrived. The LSA 2s were first sampled with the rear-firing tweeter turned off to get a sense of their unenhanced personality. A the same recordings were used as with the 1s. While the speakers were obvious cut from the same cloth, the bigger brothers delivered maybe 85% in vanilla mode, but not the whole enchilada.
The soundstage was deep, wide and tall, but not quite as deep, wide and tall. While they were very transparent, they did not disappear as easily or completely. The mids to uppers were every bit as good as the 1's in frequency response, which is saying a lot, they just lacked that last bit of clarity so abundant in the 1s.
The midrange crosses over at 2kHz rather than the 4kHz of the model 1. That may account for the difference, but also the section of cabinet that houses the mids and tweeters is not quite as tight as the 1s, returning a bit more hollowness when rapped. I would speculate this effects the overall sound and image they project.
Comfortable with the naked sound of the 2s, the rear tweeter was then engaged, starting at the 12 o’clock position. Immediately, the soundstage deepened considerably and the height grew as well. The sound took on a quality best described as “wetter” or a bit less dry, even though they did not sound dry before the tweeter was dialed in. The first impression was “Nice…very nice”.
Over the next few days, the dial was turned up and down in small increments. While the sound took on grander proportions, it also tended to lose a bit of focus in the high end, kind of like Dan Rather used to look on the CBS News. If you did not know, the networks use a special electronic device that softens the video and therefore reduces factors like facial wrinkles, enhancing the visage of the anchors.
The instruments never sounded out of focus like bachelor party snapshots, just not as quite as crystalline and pure as portrayed by the smaller 1s. We are talking very small degrees here, but the more the dial was turned up, the softer the images, especially things that sparkle such as orchestral triangles and rock ride cymbals that are usually placed in the rear of the soundstage.
So here we are presented with a bit of a trade-off; ultimate clarity vs. enhanced soundstage. If you look at the dial in the picture, you will see a setting of about one o’clock, or right on the “A” in LSA. The final setting turned out to be halfway between the “L” and the “S”. This represented the most enhancement with the least amount of artifacts and I must say, the overall picture was very good.
It is very important to point out here that the results described will absolutely vary significantly in any other room. How your room reflects, absorbs or diffuses high frequencies will determine how the rear tweeter influences your sound. It is very possible that the rear projection could increase clarity and soundstage for you. That is precisely why the tweeter has very wide volume adjustment – to tailor it to your room and your tastes. It should also be pointed out that at least you have this option with the LSA 2s, something that is absent with pretty much any other speaker.
One quick caveat: When you stand and bend down to adjust the dial, your ear may come within inches of the rear tweeter. If music is playing, one could get a blast of high frequencies. Either turn down the system volume or crouch, but avoid ear level signal next to your ear.
THE REAL LOW DOWN
The 2's do indeed go to 27Hz, it is said. Now we have a speaker that will handle almost anything – save that 8 Hz signal produced by the Wanamaker. There was new weight and substance present, as if a new foundation had be laid or Lindsay Lohan had put on a few pounds. Bass guitar lines propelled rock and jazz more strongly and low brass and strings served up more impact. Orchestral bass drums were felt as much as heard. My own low synth laced tunes now sounded as they were supposed to and pianos, even when not playing those last 6 keys, sounded fuller and “grander”.
The only flaw which can be reported is a slight emphasis in the region below 100Hz. Songs played in the key of E or F tended to ring a bit when bass players played those notes, particularly when sustained, on the bottom strings, producing a sound that at first resembled room interaction. Since the emphasis was still there when the volume was turned down much further than what would excite a room node, that cause was eliminated. Turning the music back up and walking around the room, also eliminated standing waves since the sound was pretty consistent everywhere.
Me thinks the culprit may be the 2’s cabinet resonance in the low end. While I did not crack them open, the space below the midrange speakers sounded as if it lacked enough internal sound absorption or bracing to prevent the cabinet from vibrating excessively. It was noted that the LSA 2’s specs for the more expensive “Statement” edition includes “Upgrade acoustic treatments inside cabinet”.
LSA 2 Specifications
• Sensitivity: 88db 1w/1m (An input signal of one watt of power at 1 KHz yields
approximately 88 decibels of sound pressure at one meter; in-room measurement)
• Impedance: 6 ohm nominal (benign load for virtually any amplifier)
• Power Handling/Amplifier Recommendations: 20 to 150 wpc (Depending on room
size and volume requirements, SET amplifiers may be used in some instances.)
• Size: 40” H x 9.25” W at widest point x 16.25” D not including binding posts
• Driver Complement: 1” dome tweeter, 6.5” midrange driver, 6.5” bass driver
• Crossover: woofer crosses over to midrange at 400 Hz, midrange crosses to tweeter at
•Frequency Response Graph:
The graph shows on the top lines the anechoic frequency
response curves of the LSA 2 loudspeaker and on the bottom lines the impedance curve.
The two frequency response curves show a frequency sweep analysis of the prototype
speaker (blue line) versus the final design (red line). Note the improvements in the
overall smoothness of the red line compared to the blue, producing a more natural,
organic sound from the speaker. The two impedance curves illustrate the effect of the
final tweeter selection used in the design, with the red line showing the finished product.
AT $2,500 PER PAIR, THE LSA 2 REFERENCE FLOORSTANDING IS A VERY HIGH QUALITY SPEAKER, SUITABLE FOR THOSE WITH LARGER ROOMS. THE VARIABLE REAR TWEETER IS AN ADDED BONUS THAT CAN ENHANCE THE LISTENER’S EXPERIENCE. BASED ON OUR TESTS, WE THINK IT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED WHEN SHOPPING FOR A FLORSTANDING SPEAKER IN THIS PRICE RANGE, BUT WE SUGGEST YOU INCLUDE OTHERS IN YOUR QUEST.
For purchase or other information, call LSA toll free directly at