On the practical level, this means that the ideal performance is obtained for a centered listener with the speakers aimed directly at the listening position. And for the listener in that ideal position, the radiation pattern has considerable advantages. Whereas with wider-radiating speakers, one is, as it were, running away from 3kHz energy (right around the frequency of maximum hearing sensitivity); with the LS3/6 one is, as it were, trying to get enough of it, since there is something of a droop there in the overall room response.
There are theoretical reasons beyond the ken of simple-minded engineering criteria for not having too much 3kHz energy in terms of sonic naturalness (you can find a detailed discussion here: http://www.linkwitzlab.com/xo_eq.htm). And the proof of the pudding is here in the LS3/6—it sounds natural and non-aggressive with orchestral music at considerable volumes, allowing closer to close-up live levels than one might tolerate otherwise. (Three-thousand Hertz off hard walls really sounds yucky when it is loud—not happening here, even if you have hard walls!)
Returning to the stereo question as such: The narrowing of the pattern in this range has the apparent effect of enhancing image focus. A wide pattern can generate a sense of “spaciousness”: the threshold for enhancing spaciousness via sidewall reflections is lower by a good bit than the threshold for altering timbre so one can get the spaciousness without altering the basic sound. But this spaciousness is generated at the cost of de-focusing of the individual images. (There is a good bit written round and about how wide uniform radiation makes for good stereo imaging—but this depends on what one means by “good.”)
The LS3/6 has very precise image focus. And when big space is actually on the recording rather than being potentially promoted by sidewall reflections, it is admirably presented. Space in the true sense is of course a matter of locating things precisely, not just having some sort of sense of things all over the place—hearing the boundaries of the hall and so on is what real spaciousness is about. And here you get this. Listen for yourself, centered and with the speakers aimed at you. Remarkable stereo, indeed.
To say that I like and admire the LS3/6 is to understate the case. This speaker seems to me a true realization of a dream that many audiophiles have held for a long time: a modern (and available) speaker with the unique virtues of the Spendor BC-1/ BBC LS3/6—the extraordinary articulateness and neutrality in real listening rooms—but without its dynamic limitations. The Stirling LS3/6s delivers the goods, and it is satisfying in musical terms at a very high level. This is a sound that is both attractive in its own right and true to the real sound of music in a way that most speakers do not approach at all. And when one looks at the price, the idea of a wild bargain comes to mind inevitably.
Speaker design has changed over the decades since the original LS3/6s appeared. Floorstanders have largely replaced stand- mounted speakers, narrow fronts have largely replaced wider fronts (for no better reason than visual fashion), ever wider radiation patterns have become popular—the list goes on. In some of these senses, the LS3/6 does not look contemporary. But the sound of real music has not changed. And the things that made the original LS3/6 so truthful to the live experience remain as valid today as they were then. If the word “great” means anything in speaker design, the new LS3/6 is a great loudspeaker.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Three-way (dual tweeter) stand-mounted loudspeaker
Driver complement: 7" bass/ mid driver, 1.75" tweeter, 1" tweeter
Crossover frequencies: 3kHz, 13kHz
Power handling: 90 watts continuous, 150 watts short term
Maximum SPL: 107dB/pair/2m
Frequency response: 45hz–17 kHz +/-3dB
Impedance: 8 ohms nominal
Dimensions: 12" x 24" x 12"
Weight: 40 lbs.
Bridgefoot Lodge, Lydford on Fosse
Somerset TA11 7DP UK
01963 240 151
ACOUSTIC SOUNDS (U.S. DISTRIBUTOR)