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LSA Group LSA2 Speakers
A Worthwhile Listening Experience

 

March 2007

 

  




A company that is still consumer driven
When I first arrived in Las Vegas for the 2006 CES/T.H.E. Show, I spent some time walking around the airport trying to decide where I wanted to start doing my investigative reporting. Did I want to go straight to Alexis Park, the St. Tropez, the Las Vegas Convention Center (a.k.a. “the zoo”) or even one of the many off-site exhibits at some of the other Vegas strip hotels. With so many adventures to embark upon, who could decide which one to start with?

Luckily, one of my friends tracked me down and told me that he found something special that he wanted me to hear. Feeling that most things here were special I decided to oblige him, if just for a few minutes to see what it was that had him so stoked. It was then that I met Larry Staples of the LSA Group. I had heard about Larry Staples through the audio circles. I had heard that he used to work for Thiel Audio and that he used to have an audio salon. Larry Staples also led a group that purchased DK Design from Daniel Khesin. Obviously Larry had been active in audio and is trying to make his mark in the industry. Interestingly enough, none of this is what Larry wanted to talk about. The love of music is what drives Larry and the LSA Group. He sat me down and played some of his albums and talked about music, all before he even started to talk about his speakers. Then he introduced me to his LSA2 speakers. Keeping in mind that I was in a room not optimized for stereo reproduction, the sound I was hearing really took me by surprise and I actually found myself enjoying what I was hearing. What I thought would be a five minute visit wound up lasting almost an hour. We listened to recordings that were good, some that were not so good, and there were even some tape recordings of live events. Eventually, we got around to setting up a time to do a formal review, exchanged information, and I was on my way.

Parts that work together
Months after my initial encounter with Larry, the LSA2s arrived. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw as I unpacked them. The speakers are finished in a dark rosewood and appeared to be bigger than what I remembered them being at CES. Fit-n-finish were very good and the speakers looked to be far more expensive than their price. They utilize drivers that are proprietary to the LSA Group and consist of a 1” silk dome tweeter, 7” natural paper midrange and 7” natural paper woofer.

Now, I must confess to having heard the speakers before I found out what material the drivers were made out of, so let me share this with you: As with anything in audio, try not to have any pre-conceived notions about how something is going to sound based any personal biases against certain materials. If I had held on to my bias against paper drivers, I would have been in for a big surprise. There is a reason LSA Group chose the materials they have for their drivers and it's all based upon sonic character. Having drivers constructed out of exotic materials does not ensure the success of a speaker. The sound of these speakers is nicely balanced and not over emphasized on either frequency extremes.

These speakers also have a rear-firing tweeter for ambiance enhancement that you can set the output level on to suit your own taste. One of the unique features of the LSA2 is the design of the cabinet. Looking down from the top, the shape looks sort of like an elongated “tear drop”. The speakers are 8” wide at the front, about half way back they taper out to 9.25”, and at the back of the cabinet they are 6” wide. According to Larry Staples, a lot of time and effort went into getting this shape just right for the LSA2s and that this ship also has a great deal to do with how the speakers’ sound.

Regarding the LSA2's crossover setup, per Jason Spangler, the LSA Group's Operations Manager, “There is a 3rd order crossover between the tweeter and midrange. This helps eliminate beaming effects and cabinet localization. When midrange speakers are asked to perform above their optimal range, they tend to beam. For this reason we used the sharp slope of a 3rd order and lowered the crossover from the typical 3K to 2K. There is a 2nd order between the mid and bass drivers.”

Internally, the LSA2s are damped with Dacron. I think it interesting to note here that the LSA2s bigger siblings are the LSA2 Signature ($4,500) and the LSA2 Statement ($8,000). The LSA2s that I reviewed were the standard version. All LSA2s have the same size and footprint but the crossover parts and drivers are upgraded with each speaker.

How do they sound?
In a word, stunning. There is no way speakers at this price point ($2,500) perform this well with all aspects of music reproduction. I had the LSA2s anywhere from 8’-10’ apart and the rear of the speakers were 6’-7’ feet from the rear wall. My initial impression of the LSA2s was that they sounded bigger than they look. They easily filled my listening room with music. The LSA2s’ soundstage is expansive but with good focus. The images across the stage were rock solid and there was never a need to move the speakers closer together. I probably could have spread them further apart but would have had the speakers up against the side walls. Image depth was noteworthy as well, as music seemed to be coming from beyond the boundaries of my rear wall. Image height was good as well. These speakers are extremely musical and have the ability to transport you to the original recording event. The dynamic range of the LSA2s is also very good. They have the ability to convey the delicacy of strings being played softly and still play clearly even when played uncomfortably loud. The treble performance of the LSA2s is revealing and airy. Highs are extended and clear, no doubt helped by the rear-firing tweeter, which I actually did not have turned up very high.

I was also surprised by the amount of bass these speakers were able to generate. The bass performance was extended, detailed, tight and full with good impact, pitch and the ability to make things rattle in my room. The low end reproduction never sounded loose or dominated the room. The LSA2s midrange performance rendered both male and female vocals with a natural, lifelike tone and warmth and had the ability to transport vocalists into my room with a palpable presence. This the LSA2s were able to do while being driven by solid-state and tube electronics. Triangles and cymbals were reproduced with a good amount of shimmer and a natural decay without sounding hard or strident.

On the Wynton Marsalis CD, Live at the House of Tribes [Blue Note], the LSA2s do an excellent job of conveying the energy from the audience as they really seemed to be not only enjoying themselves but also interacting with the performers. This recording seemingly had microphones everywhere in the audience and helps to give the listener the feeling that he/she is part of the event as it is taking place. On the Dan Cray Trio CD, Save Us! [Blujazz BJ3343] Dan Cray's piano sounds real and its rich tones are portrayed truthfully. On tracks such as “Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing” and “Trinkle Tinkle”, where the trio pays homage to Stevie Wonder and Thelonius Monk respectively, the LSA2s allow you to hear the percussive attack of the keys and the decay of the notes that sound natural. One of my favorite discs to use for listening to how equipment handles transients and details is the Tin Hat Trio disc, The Rodeo Eroded [Ropeadope]. This is one of the best recorded CDs I have heard and contains a wealth of wonderfully recorded musical information. The LSA2s ability to reproduce this disc, with it's harmonious use of guitar, violin and accordion, had me spellbound. With the profuse amount of detail and information available from this recording, the speaker's drivers need to be fast and responsive, otherwise the transient information will not be what it should be and neither will your enjoyment of this disc. I am happy to say that the LSA2s get it right. On Jane Monheit's seasonal CD, aptly named, The Season [Epic], the LSA2s reproduced her voice with so much realism that it was easy to close my eyes and believe she was standing there in my room singing her rendition of “Moonlight in Vermont.”


Winding things up
The LSA2s are not going to be everything to everybody. They don't have quite the detail and resolution of electrostatics or some of the mega-buck speaker systems available nowadays. But the LSA Group's flagship speaker, the LSA10, will more than compete with those speakers.

What the LSA2s do provide you with is music reproduction that competes with any speaker up to the $5K range. Of the speakers I have reviewed recently, the Almarro M3As, Nomad Ronins, and the LSA2s, the LSA2s competed more favorably with the Ronins even though the Ronins cost twice as much. Other speakers that I think the LSA2s would compare sonically with include the Joseph Audio RM25 and the Coincident Technology Partial Eclipse.

Another thing I want to mention here about the LSA2s is that they would do a phenomenal job as the front speakers in a H/T system. This past Thanksgiving, the LSA2s were used as front speakers while we watched Star Wars I: Phantom Menace. Watching the scene where they had the pod race was greatly enhanced by having the audio portion played through the LSA2s. The imaging, dynamics and sense of realism enhanced the movie watching experience with the LSA2s providing the sonics. The LSA2s present an easy load for amplifiers to drive and I got good results with solid-state and vacuum tube amplifiers and integrated amplifiers. The LSA2s sound good using a single run of speaker cables with jumpers and even better if bi-wired on the speaker end. They absolutely sounded their best when bi-wired as they exhibit slightly more control in the bass with better focus and richer tonal colors. The LSA2s were easy to setup and require little effort to get good sound out of. As with any speaker, the more time and effort you put in to setting up the LSA2s, the greater the reward will be in terms of sonic enjoyment. Taking into account the LSA2s build quality, looks, sonic performance and cost, I would have to say that they provide you with extremely good value and are a bargain at their price. Highly recommended.

Michael Wright

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Specifications
Dimensions: 8” W x 39” H x 15 3/4” D
Weight: 62lbs /each
Drivers: Tweeter: 1”, Midrange: 7”, Woofer: 7”, Rear Tweeter: 1” (adjustable output control)
Power Handling: 50-250 watts
Frequency Response 30Hz – 26kHz
Nominal Input Impedance: 6 ohms
Sensitivity: 89dB
Crossover: 3rd order 18db per octave
Crossover: Woofer/Mid at 400Hz, Mid/Tweeter at 2kHz, Ambient Driver at 8 kHz

Price: $2,500

Manufacturer
LSA Group
7620 Highway 70 South
Suite 274
Nashville, TN 37221
Phone: 888-671-8607
Email: info@thelsagroup.com
Website: www.TheLSAgroup.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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