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Glen Wagenknecht
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: Luxman Brid CD Player modified by Audio Upgrades to be a now tube-less, zero oversampling machine with integral volume control; Audio Space CDP 8A CD Player
Preamplifier: Audio Space Reference 2S
Amplifier: Bel Canto 200.4
AV Receiver: Pioneer Elite SC-25
Main Speakers: Apogee Duetta Signature, Paradigm Servo 15 subwoofer
AV Speakers: JohnBlue M3s
AV Subwoofer: Paradigm PW-2200
Cables: Audio Art SE cable loom, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 speaker cables, Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects and speaker cables, digital optical and coax cable.
Resonance Control: Solid Tech, EquaRack Footers, Weizhi Precision Gold Glory footers, Boston Audio TuneBlock2 footers, Superspikes, and Black Diamond
Powerline conditioning: Noise Destroyer power filtration
Accessories: TrueHarmonix Black Magic CD Mat
Main Room size: 12' x 17'
Home Theatre: 10.5’ x 16.5’
Review Component Retail:  AS-3/5A speakers CND $1250/pair in Red Cherry veneer as reviewed,  CNS $1200/pr in Black Walnut veneer, Charisma Audio 24" stands CND $449/pr, 28” $499/pr

This photo is of the Audio Space LS-3/5A, not AS-3/5A. "This top model was introduced towards the end of 2010 about six months after the introduction of the AS-3/5A. Canadian retail will be about twice that of the AS-3/5A. The cabinets use solid premium wood like ebony.  Components are higher-grade parts with tighter tolerances. The sound according to Audio Space surpasses that of the vintage LS-3/5A."

What’s in a name?  While today's speaker hasn’t directly called itself LS-3/5A like the new top version, the play on designation and carefully worded "bears a strong resemblance" shows where Audio Space has set its target. In naming it the AS-3/5A, they threw down the gauntlet conjuring up the ghost of the legendary BBC monitor and setting a daunting standard for themselves. Why would a company with a track record of innovation want to resurrect an aged warhorse design and subject themselves to the intense scrutiny of devoted followers?

The continuing lure is what many consider an almost perfect balance of resolution and musicality. In the mid 1970s a small group of BBC engineers managed to create a compact field monitor that did so much right and sounded so unnervingly real that even by today’s standards it’s tough to beat. Tantalizingly good in some respects, obviously limited in others, it became a benchmark that continues to impress fans and inspire generations of talented designers. But there's a catch.

36 years of production and evolution have made the LS-3/5A a moving target. Some purists will claim that the only real LS3/5A was the original 15Ω version and that the more amplifier-friendly 11Ω version was already a sonic compromise. If the use of identical parts is a strict parameter, every modern namesake is outta luck because the original KEF drivers have been out of production since 1998.

All present-day designs amount to trying to achieve the same objectives by different means. The passage of time has left us with less of a single concrete commodity to emulate but rather a guideline set by the BBC whereby to achieve uniformity and an idea of what the original engineers were trying to accomplish. The LS3/5A has entered the realm of legend and any product hoping to break into the small circle of acceptance must compete against long memory and high expectation.
  Question: Does the AS-3/5A meet the BBC specifications?

Answer: Audio Space have tried their best to meet the specifications of the BBC LS3/5A monitors. These specs are based on the speakers, not the specifications provided by the BBC themselves. Specs for BBC LS3/5A monitors are irregular. Some are 15Ω (from 1st to 4th generation) and some 11Ω (5th to 7th generation). Some wired the T27 tweeters in phase (Rogers for example), some out of phase like Chartwell.

Question: Do the drivers and other components match the original specifications and tolerances?

Answer: The driver materials are different from KEF's but similar. They were developed and built by Audio Space to our specs. With regard to the crossover, it is difficult to describe similarity and dissimilarity since the crossover of each BBC LS3/5A maker was different. The Chartwell, Rogers, Audiomaster, RAM, Goodmans, Spendor, Harbeth, KEF, Richard Allen and Stirling were all different. Even the crossovers of the early and later version of the same manufacturer were not the same, e.g. in 1979, Chartwell was purchased by Swisstone and all their LS3/5A were manufactured under Rogers afterwards. Essentially the Audio Space crossover is similar in features, size & specs but different.

Question: Have you gone with the traditional birch ply and solid beech corner fillets and for the grill cloth did you use the original Tygan material?

Answer: Audio Space constructs the cabinets in our own way and uses available fillets instead of the original. The first generation (the first few hundreds pairs) of LS3/5As did not use Tygan for the grill but rough hemp fabrics and linen. Tygan was used from the 2nd generation up to the 7th. Audio Space does not use Tygan but something more up to date.

Question: How does the voicing differ from the LS/35A?

Answer: Sonically it is very close to the original but with better dynamics and power handling.

Question: What changes has Charisma Audio made to the Canadian version?

Answer: There was a minor change to give the speaker a better sonic match with the North American dry wall construction rather than the concrete and brick walls of South East Asia.

With the AS-3/5A, Peter Lau‘s Hong Kong-based company Audio Space decided to take a brave crack at the challenge and threw considerable expertise and enthusiasm into the endeavour. They had already earned critical praise for their amplifiers and preamplifiers as well as digital product. This foray into loudspeakers modestly priced by audiophile standards was an ambitious attempt to recapture the voice of a legend. The Canadian version of the AS-3/5A that arrived on the doorstep had received additional tweaking by Canadian distributor Charisma Audio’s Bernard Li to meet his own standards. Would Audio Space’s effort turn out to be a contender or merely a pretender?

To begin the journey of exploration, I immersed myself in the lore of the little BBC monitor and conversed with Audio Space owner and designer Peter Lau as well as the Canadian distributor Charisma Audio’s Bernard Li to catch a glimpse of what they were trying to accomplish and how. That conversation showed considerable knowledge of the individuals attached and reverence to the original LS-3/5A design for not a straight homage but a desire to improve. Sacrilege?

Mr. Li of Charisma Audio—himself an LS-3/5A enthusiast—took the opportunity to introduce the first product to carry the Charisma Audio badge, the Function speaker stands. Mr. Li had subjected the product to rigorous testing not only with the AS-3/5A under review but several other versions of the LS3/5A to ensure good performance and a perfect match. The stage was all set.