Imaging, as noted above is already a strong point, as is driver integration—two qualities in which LSA takes particular pride. The owner’s manual for the Model 2 concedes that the speaker’s drive units may not look special, but that the sound they achieve is. As it turns out, this appears to be pretty much a statement of fact—not fanciful marketing hype.
The LSA Model 2 is a very capable floorstander for its price, and it features—among other things—a somewhat unusual rear-firing “ambience” tweeter. I haven’t yet settled on the optimal levels for the rear tweeter, but it definitely adds a subtle but welcome touch of spaciousness without significantly affecting the speaker’s generally neutral tonal balance.
Another noteworthy point is the sheer versatility of the LSA “On-Wall” speaker. For starters, the speaker can be wall-mounted, but doesn’t have to be; it’s equally at home when used as a stand-mount monitor. But what’s really unusual about the On-Wall is that it provides a total of four drivers that can be used in different combinations to achieve different intended results. Specifically, the compact, bass-reflex speaker features a single mid-bass driver (the same one used in LSA’s Model 1 stand-mount monitor, by the way), plus three fabric dome tweeter—one mounted on the face of the speaker and two mounted on the On-Wall’s beveled, left and right side flanges.
But here’s where things get interesting. On the face of the speaker, users will find two “Tweeter Setup” switches: one labeled Front/Sides, and the other labeled Bipole/Dipole. Together, these switches give you three use modes. If you set the upper switch to Front, the side tweeters are disabled and the On-Wall functions as a traditional 2-way standmount monitor. If, however, you set the top switch to Sides, the side tweeters come into play and the front tweeter is shut off, while you’ve got two more options to consider. You can select Bipole (meaning the side tweeters move in and out in unison) or Dipole mode (meaning the side tweeter move in “push/pull” mode). After some trial and error, I set the switches in the Side/Dipole positions, since I prefer relatively diffuse-sounding surround speakers, which is exactly what the Side/Dipole settings provide.
Listeners potentially interested in trying LSA speakers will want to know that most LSA models are offered in three grades: Standard (the grade I selected for our review samples), Signature, and Statement. The difference between the Standard and Signature models entails significant upgrades to all crossover parts plus a shift from spun Dacron to long-fiber Wool cabinet damping materials. The shift from Signature to Statement levels involves replacing LSA’s signature fabric dome tweeters with very high quality ribbon tweeters, plus changes in crossover components as necessary to accommodate the ribbon drivers.
To give you a rough idea of the cost implications of upgrades, note that the standard Model 2 floorstanders sell for $2500/pair, the Signature Model 2’s sell for $3500/pair, and the Statement Model 2s sell for $6000/pair (hey, ribbon tweeters aren’t cheap). But here’s the really cool part; if you buy a set of standard LSA’s and want to upgrade later, LSA will remanufacture your speakers for just the retail price difference between grades—effectively giving you a 100% trade-in on your original models toward the upgraded version. To take advantage of the offer, however, users do have to pay shipping to and from the factory when they have the upgrades done. A pretty generous policy, no?
Stay tuned for TPV’s full review of the LSA system. Until then, happy listening.