Best Amplifier for LS3/5a

Happy New Year All!  Seeking advice from LS3/5 enthusiasts!  I have tried a number of these speakers (Graham, Harbeth, Falcon and KEF LS50's (if that counts)) - and to me the Falcon Gold Badge really stood out. It's been a while now since I did the comparison, so I don't remember all the details - but I felt that the Falcons were the most musical, engaging, open and did NOT have bloated bass (important for a small room)!  I've held on to a pair for my bedroom system, but I don't think that my current bedroom amps (AGD Audions, which I love with my current Raidho XT-1 monitors) are the best match for them.  I get a bit too much sizzle on the top and some associated sibilance.

Herb Reichert (Stereophile) seems to love these speakers, and his review notes that the Parasound A21+ was too dry with these speakers, but he really liked the Line Magnetic LM-518 IA.  That's not going to work for me!  In this bedroom system I keep the amp(s) under the bed and generally leave them on 24/7.  If possible, I prefer a balanced design, as I want NO HUM in my bedroom and my DAC/Pre (Weiss 501) has both balanced and RCA outs.

Based on the intended setup, I think balanced solid state would make the most sense. Amp selection might be influenced by the speakers having 15 ohm input impedance.

Any suggestions?  Thanks, Peter


I used a Tandberg 3012A integrated with a 15ohm set of Chartwells - it was fabulous.

@dekay I don't know for sure that there would be hum with RCA connections.  There has been in the past, with different equipment.  I know that it is absolutely silent with all the balanced amps I've used, and I don't like to have any background noise in my small bedroom (not even mechanical transformer hum).  

LS3/5a are not difficult speakers to drive and you don't need a lot of watts to get reasonable listening levels in an average room. I've driven them with amps, both tube and ss, from 15 watts to 140 watts per channel.

Presently, my best results are with a restored vintage Quad 405-2 with a Quad tube preamp. Completely silent at idle, as long as I correctly keep power cords away from interconnect cords at the back.

More important, I think, is the character of the amp. The ls3/5a need a lusher kind of amplification to mine the tonal richness available, and to fatten instrumental timbres. I used class D for a few years, but the top end can become brittle and dry. I would also avoid passive preamps. An active preamp adds good body to the tones.

So, vintage, perhaps?

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@sumaato Thanks for that.  I am definitely interested in trying out the quad amplifiers.