When Paul White heard that Rogers had built the LS1 low‑cost monitors for home studio use, he was keen to try them out. But could they deliver Rogers' quality at such a low price?
Rogers have a long history of building loudspeakers both for hi‑fi and for pro audio applications, but this is the first time, to my knowledge, that they've set out to target the budget home studio market. At under £150, the LS1s are relatively inexpensive, yet are well engineered and are designed to present an accurate sound, the main compromises being in signal level and bass extension rather than in quality.
Housed in compact 300x195x195mm high‑density particle board cabinets with a simulated black veneer finish, the LS1s are made up of a passive, 2‑way ported system featuring a 125mm bass/mid unit and a 19mm soft‑domed tweeter with Ferrofluid cooling. Obviously you don't expect hand‑built drivers on a system of this price, but the bass/mid unit is still substantial with a pressed steel basket and a high flux magnetic system. The damped paper diaphragm is supported in a roll rubber surround and the crossover, which operates at 3kHz, is fixed directly to the driver terminals, ostensibly to minimise internal wiring.
The front baffle has rounded edges which must help reduce cabinet edge diffraction, and the removable grille fits flush into the baffle rather than being fitted in front of it. Connection to the speakers is via nickel‑plated brass binding posts, which also accept banana plugs, and the nominal impedance is 6Ω, which means that you really need to use an amplifier that's capable of working down to 4Ω or less.
Sensitivity is usually sacrificed to a greater or lesser extent whenever a small cabinet size is part of the equation, but the LS1s manage 87dB for 2.83V at 1 metre, which, although on the low side, is still quite respectable. Rated at 75W of unclipped music signal, the speakers are best driven from an amplifier rated at between 50 and 100 Watts per channel, although the manufacturers suggest that you can get away with as little as 15 Watts per channel if you don't intend to run at high SPLs. The maximum rated SPL is 99dB at a listening distance of 2m, and as most nearfields are used closer than this, level shouldn't be a problem. The recommended maximum continuous monitoring level to avoid hearing damage is around 90dB — just to put things into perspective.
Bass response, of rather lack of it, tends to be a problem with compact speaker systems, although in practical terms, a speaker with a modest bass response will generally sound more accurate in an untreated room than a full‑range monitor which manages to excite all the unwanted bass resonances and room modes. Rogers' LS1s have a response extending from 75Hz to 20kHz within +/‑ 3dB, and although you don't get any really deep bass from them, you still get a punchy sound that is in no way small or thin. Again, as a guide, the main punch of a bass drum usually occurs at around 80Hz. In a typical domestic room, music reproduced via the LS1s at a moderate listening level is assertive and solid, but without being boomy. I set the speakers up on stands a few inches from the wall as recommended by the handbook, but those wanting a little more bass can always put the speakers closer to the wall to capitalise on the boundary effect.
Overall, the speakers have no obvious vices, although I get the impression that they are voiced slightly on the bright side of neutral. When you consider that most of the currently popular nearfield monitors are even brighter, especially those of Japanese origin, it's possible that a small amount of spectral tailoring has been introduced to make the LS1s more acceptable to a marketplace brought up on forward‑sounding monitors. Even so, I didn't find the LS1s overly aggressive‑sounding, and the slight top lift makes them very revealing of detail and subtle distortions. The stereo imaging is good, and I found there was plenty of level when working in the nearfield.
Although I wouldn't recommend any small monitor as the sole monitoring reference in a studio producing dance music, or any other kind of music with a significant low bass component, I'd feel quite happy mixing pop, rock or electronic music on these little speakers. They are very revealing of fine detail, their tonality is reasonably neutral (other than a slight proclivity for brightness), and the overall sound is natural and confident.
In the larger studio, the LS1s would make fine secondary reference speakers, and even though they aren't magnetically screened, I think they'd be well suited to applications such as computer music and digital editing work providing they are not mounted too close to a VDU. At the asking price, the LS1s offer that rare combination of good value and quality.
- Compact and affordable
- Solid, detailed sound.
- Slightly bright voicing.
A good choice for the home studio owner, or for professional nearfield and edit suite applications.