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The BBC’s legendary LS3/5A is arguably the Godfather of nearfield monitors — and now it’s back, thanks to UK company Graham Audio.Intrepid readers may recall a feature I wrote back in 2011 on the history of the venerable Yamaha NS10.To illustrate the story, and compare old with new, I’ve been loaned a pair of Graham Audio Chartwell LS3/5s.

Now, there is no record (well, not in any document I’ve found) of who the engineer was to whom it first occurred that the acoustic modelling speaker used at Kingswood Warren actually sounded pretty good and might form the basis of a compact monitor.The genesis of the LS3/5A was not as straightforward, however, as the Kingswood Warren boffins simply being asked to design a compact monitor and dutifully delivering.Although there was a need at the BBC for a ‘Grade II’ compact monitor for use in outside broadcast trucks, the development of the speaker that became the LS3/5A didn’t kick off in direct response to such a request.However, those shortcomings weren’t issues that Harwood expressed much concern over; in fact he was generally satisfied with the Maxim’s performance.The issue that was of most concern to Harwood was sample consistency.With stereo, however, came the problem of speaker positioning, and with that not only came the need for speakers to be smaller, but also for pairs of speakers to be closely matched in terms of performance.It hardly seems believable now, but back then, there were very few commercially available small speakers that would satisfy the BBC’s needs.One of those few speakers that was available to the BBC was the original Goodmans Maxim, and a 1965 internal Kingswood Warren report describes its performance and assesses its potential.The report was written by Dudley Harwood, who went on to found Harbeth Audio (the company name being a conjunction of Harwood’s name and that of his wife, Elizabeth).Harwood’s Maxim report, which can be found at makes interesting reading (well, it does if, like me, you’re irrationally interested in the history of speaker design).Even without converting the archaic imperial measurements of the test results, it’s obvious that the Maxim, by today’s standards, was inefficient, had restricted bandwidth at both ends of the spectrum, and displayed precious little power handling.

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