New Falcon ls3/5a Silvers in the house

I picked up a pair of new b-stock Falcon silver badge ls3/5a’s last week and have been getting used to them since then. I work in the city and have an apartment where I stay 4 days a week and my real home is a couple hours north where my main stereo system resides. So the Falcons are essentially in a 2nd system setup that is mostly near field. Streaming only right now which is an Ifi Zen Stream powered by a 12V LHY linear supply feeding a 30 year old California Audio Labs Sigma ii tubed dac (16/44.1 only).

My amp at home is usually the Van Alstine SET 120 paired with a Van Alstine RB10 tubed preamp. (And my speakers with that set up are Fritz Carbon 7 se mk2).

So I’m currently using my beloved old 1977 Yamaha CA-2010 to drive the Falcons.

and it’s actually a pretty surprising and sweet pairing. The Yamaha has a Class A setting which outputs 30wpc vs its normal 120. (Into 8ohms).

The imaging , the floating center voices , the textures and the superb bass in this near field set up are truly impressive. I’m so glad I made the impulsive purchase to pick up these speakers. And I’m really happy I have an amp that is driving them well… but… I do wonder if I’m leaving anything on the table by not using a different amp that is known to pair exquisitely with ls3/5a’s?

I’m not really in the market for a new expensive amplifier purchase but I am poking around at some used solid state amps (power or integrated) like Exposure, Sugden, Belles and also some vintage el34 or el84 tube amps .

Curious if anyone has any suggestions for something that would raise the bar from the vintage Yamaha that isn’t going to break the bank. I’m thinking in the less than $1500 zone … used market.


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I have a pair of Spendor 4/5s in a second system -- these are Spendor's most recent incarnation of the LS 3/5a which I first heard when I lived in London in 1979, so I'm familiar with the sound.  I first powered the Spendors with a LSA VT-70 tube amp (EL34 tubes with 35 watts/ch) but midway last year decided to try out the small Schiit Gjallarhorn power amp with their Vali 2++ preamp (combo is $450 new) and have to say I prefer it over the tube amp. For near field listening many people overestimate how much power they need. I'm in an 11X12 room with a vaulted ceiling and listening to the setup right now and am very impressed with the sound. All the volume I want (mid 80 dB range) with no hint whatsoever of running out of power. So, there's one option for you, but as you know there are a zillion options out there.

@mlsstl very interesting.  I was considering the VT-70 as well..but thought the absence of 16 ohm taps on the transformers may be an issue.  Were you happy with the LSA until you tried the Schiit?  Are you running two Gjallarhorns in mono or just one?

The VT-70 is a very nice tube amp, though like many more modern tube amps, more neutral sounding than many of the vintage designs. It worked very nicely with the speakers. I do slightly prefer the Gjallarhorn (I only use one) as it has slightly better bass control than the VT-70 and is smooth through the midrange which extends into the highs with no sense of stridency or grit.  Note that the Vali 2++ preamp I use does have a tube in the driver circuit (6N3P) so I still have some tube function.  One of the other reasons I moved on is, as I get older, I'm tired of the weight and size of tube power amps even though I've been a tube gear fan for decades. 

Just wrote a review on newly acquired ATC 7 V3.  I have always believed that small monitors benefit greatly from Class A amplification and rarely are given that chance.

I've owned original Rogers LS 3/5 A monitors and ran them with the Sugden.  It worked well, they thrived.

I own the Falcon LS3/5A Silver Badge as well (in a second system...) and mine sound absolutely wonderful paired with my Audio Research VSi60. I have KT120s in the ARC and I'm just using a Node as a source sending the signal to a Border Patrol DAC before getting to the amp. The sound is natural, organic, holographic, timbral, and voices sound eerily real. It's a great set up for most genres, but really shines with jazz, bluegrass, female vocals....Today, I was listening to the phenomenal new album by Abdullah Ibrahim called 3 and I was quite taken by the long decay on delicately played notes on piano and flute in particular...I'd be interested in trying a class A integrated on this system just to see what it sounds like, but I'm real happy using my (50wpc) ARC Integrated.....You can find them used sometimes for around $2k and you'd be hard pressed to find a better value at that price.

Your pairing of 30W class A Yamaha is synergistic…why mess with success?  Oops!  I said a bad thing….

@crustycoot kinda what I was thinking, crust!

If you are set on a new amp, please check out Odyssey. Klaus builds fantastic gear ... I have a Kismet Amp that I will never part!



A medium powered tube integrated (25-50 watts) is a good pairing with LS3/5a's. There is almost infinite choice but Prima Luna, Jadis and Copland are some decent names that come to mind.


yes , I hear you and am not determined to get something else.  As I said in my post I am just wondering if the speakers performance could be improved upon via a different amp.

I’m new to ls3/5a’s so don’t have a lot of experience with the classical pairings.

In the meantime I have no complaints 

"I was considering the VT-70 as well..but thought the absence of 16 ohm taps on the transformers may be an issue. "

That’s not an issue. I doubt that you would find any modern tube amp with 16 ohm taps. BTW, I’ve owned many LS3/5a type speakers ( including 15 ohm Falcons) and they are all oustanding with tube amplification!


also agree with you on the Abdullah Ibrahim recording.

I listened to it last week when it was released and am listening again now.

It’s a lovely record and perfect for the ls3/5a’s

You have a nice used Yamaha with well-known provenance and which plays a 83dB BBC monitor speaker well, and it had a selectable class-A setting, rare at any price. If you are happy with the Yamaha (which are excellent amplifiers, especially for the money) why not stick with that for a while. If you find something about it you want to change then look around. I doubt you are missing anything. BTW, have you put a sub in your system?

I have the silver badge near field in my office, and they are amazing in that application. I run a small sub with the mains high passed at 80hz. I've upgraded DAC and pre with good results but I haven't felt the need to switch out my amp (Creek Evolution 100a). I don't have an good response to your query, but I will say congrats on the purchase. You're in for a treat.

OP - Here is a completely different option.  I have Spendor SP3/5r2, a 2012 version of the ls3/5a, paired with a Peachtree GaN1 power DAC/ digital amp.  I had my GaN1 modded by Ric Schultz.   The SQ is just wonderful.  Detailed but non-fatiguing, inviting mids, crisp bass.  I close my eyes and am just transported.

Just plug your ifi streamer into the GaN1, no DAC needed.  I think you can get a used one for $1100, have it modded for $500 and you are good to go.

By the way, I am considering another system and am looking at Fritz speakers. Can you compare your Carbon 7's to the Falcons in terms of SQ?  Thanks.

@treepmeyer to be honest I don’t think I really can as I’ve only spent less than a week with the ls3/5a’s and they are in 2 different systems in 2 different houses..


The Carbon 7’s are much bigger, go much much lower, have an incredibly deep (front to back) presentation and just do texture incredibly well. The highs are there and detailed but relaxed . Apparently the tweeter goes out to 30kHz. But it’s also pretty forgiving.

The Falcons give the perception of bass ...they roll off at 70Hz but if placed correctly you don’t really miss much. They don’t do low sub bass like the Fritz’s somehow can.

The Falcons have this magical etherial floating image’s pretty intoxicating especially with small ensemble music. Also they do texture so well.  I think the tweeter that Fritz uses is more advanced and more refined. After all, the ls3/5a tweeter design is 40+ years old.

I think the Falcons can get a little fatiguing after a few hours but also my pair probably aren’t event burned in yet.

If I had to live with only one it would be the Fritz’s. But I’m feeling very lucky and happy to have both.

I have an AudioNote UK OTO Phone SE integrated amp. 12 watts class A. Would this be a good pairing for the LS3/5As? Looking to downsize my loudspeakers a bit. I have a pair of B&W 804S. My amp drives them very well.

I have heard the Falcon LS3/5A powered by the Oto and I liked the sound.  But, I don’t play speakers very loudly, and so I don’t know if your Oto was enough juice for your use.  I would bet that your B&Ws are at least as hard to drive as the Falcons so you are probably good.  The Falcon is an amazingly good speaker and your Oto is terrific too.

I have Falcon ls3/5a gold badge. Found few tips to get best of em. 1. They need power. The little speakers make my pass labs X250.8 amp needle move. 2. Place them lower. For me, 22 inch stand is perfect, tweeter at my ear level. Good bass too. 3. Very sensitive to positioning. Play with toe ins and width. Overall the falcons are magical speakers but feed them with a high quality juice 

Follow up 

my Yamaha CA-2010 needs service. Yes it sounds good , but there are issues. (1) There is a certain amount of channel dropout .  I’m not sure if it’s the pot (which is a fancy 8-gang sealed Alps unit) or something else.

i had the amp serviced in 2021 but not much was done.  One switch was replaced and all the pots and switches were cleaned .  It hasn’t been recapped or re-biased.

When the channel dropout happens it is quite jarring and can send static signals to the speakers which really could be damaging.  
(2) It can be a little bit flabby.  That is an exaggeration but it’s noticeable.  I believe that if it were to be refurbished and recapped and brought into spec it could be a strong performer . My plan is to do that but I have to find someone in NYC to do it.

In the meantime I just picked up a used Van Alstine Ultravalve 35wpc tube amp… essentially a re-worked ST-70 with el34’s.

It’s an amp I’ve been looking to get for a few years and a used one came up in great condition so I took the plunge.

The amp has 16ohm taps which should make the Falcon ls3/5a’s happy.

Not sure what I’ll use as a preamp in front of it yet.  Perhaps my Van Alstine RB10 or I’ll try my homemade Intact Slagle autoformer volume control as well.

Will share the results here.

If anyone has recommendations for a good tech who could look at my 1976 Yamaha CA -2010 I’d love to hear about them



Nice.  I think you’ll like that combination - I had original LS3/5a’s and a Dynaco ST70 back in the 1970’s and it was my first taste of higher end sound. Had an RB10 as well more recently and think you’d have to spend a lot more to do better. 

Hello there, I’ve owned LS3/5a speakers for over 30yrs.  I’m listening to my pair now playing Vinyl via a Thorens 124 table. I have a 100lb single end tube amp on them 45 watts per channel, the vacuum tube power is combined between 300b and the 805 tube.  I’m a big fan of the original LS3/5a’s.  I still own several pairs.  My son and daughter owns pairs as well and are also setup in their living rooms.  I’ve tried many different types of amplification on the LS3/5a and found tubes to sound best. Do not under power them as the drivers will get damaged as happened to me yrs ago using 18 watts single end 300b mono block amps.  I feel LS3/5a speakers need minimum 30 watts.  I also use another amp in house that provides great performance, 100lb as well, 100 watts EL34 tube power.  I’ve found a nice, well designed EL34 tube amplifier around 45-50 watts to be a perfect match.  I personally feel the LS3/5a speaker sounds best with the EL34 tube. EL34’s has more inner information and resolution than other more powerful tubes and it presents that information in a sweeter more pleasing way. All 15ohm LS3/5a’s should function very similar.  I also own big Electrostats and Magnetic speakers. I personally heavy discouraged Solid State on LS3/5a speakers.  The SS design can easily damage the drivers with loud volume.  Tube amps will be much gentler on the speakers.    My #1 pick for the LS3/5a is mid power tube amp (45-50 watts) and super recommended is a EL34 tube amp design.  No Solid State or No low power amps (below 30) if you care about your speakers. An amp I started with, still own and can highly recommend is the Conrad Johnson MV 55. There are many good EL34 tube amplifiers to choose from, good luck.  I purchased my first pair of LS3/5a when I walked into my friends house yrs ago and heard them. It was one and still, one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard. He was driving them with Cary 805C tube mono blocks.  

In reply to nealkot.  I also played the Abdullah Ibrahim album "3" on  an  oldish Audio Research  vsi60 this week.  Ibrahim's playing on the album reminded me of the NJPAC concert he gave, December 2023.   Of course, the album doesn't end with him walking off stage while singing solo!

Best Wishes,  John Dyson      

I would like to echo BlackBag20's comments regarding the Odyssey Kismet amplifiers.  I just last week acquired a pair of Kismet mono bloc amps to drive my Fyne F702 speakers, and the amplifiers are amazing.  The resolution, the tonal qualities of musical instruments, and the soundstage are excellent.  I have also noticed a significantly improved bass response when compared to the highly-rated tube amplifier I was using before these amplifiers.          

  I then also switched out my preamp to amp cables for Groneberg cables and switched my speaker cables from Raven Audio to six-foot Mogami wire cables from Performance Audio--the amplifiers are located behind each speaker.  Klaus at Odyssey tells me it will be weeks before the amps really sound good, but they already sound very good to me after the first week.  I am very pleased with my purchases.  After a few weeks I will report on how everything sounds.