The LS6 was a two-way standmount of the post BBC design school. It was a Rogers design and the Chartwell-badged floorstanders shares little bar the name. This is probably a good thing; although it was a popular design of the 1980s and went through a couple of revisions during its life and was reasonably popular, the LS6 had a reputation for being deceptively difficult to drive well for a Rogers design, with a flaccid sounding bass whenever the amp was not up to snuff. However, the Derek Hughes-derived design has no such flaw in this respect, and the loudspeaker – whether in stand-mount LS6 or floorstanding LS6f form – reflects what a difference a generation makes in speaker design and technology. Mostly.
Like the VOTU (the extreme ‘Voice Of The Universe’ flagship from the Graham Audio brand), the LS6 is unlike many of the Graham/Chartwell line in that it doesn’t have to hold to an archetypal design from the BBC. As the drive units for these BBC-derived monitors are now all long gone, this task becomes ever more complex. The LS6 by way of contrast is more of a clean sheet, as it’s not a design with a cult following. It was a low-cost ported two-way from Rogers and never attracted the same attention as even the company’s LS7 loudspeaker, allowing Derek Hughes more of a free hand in the design. It still remains a ported two-way, however. It’s possibly best to think of the LS6 as a Chartwell design from first principles, rather than an homage to a 1980s Rogers.
The LS6 (tower and stand-mount) use a 19mm Mylar dome tweeter coupled with a 165mm polyproplyene woofer in a 17 litre cabinet. Where the two differ is the bookshelf speaker’s port passes to the rear of the thin-walled, bitumenised cabinet, where the floorstander’s port passes into what is effectively a built-in wooden stand to exit from the base of the speaker. The floorstanding speaker sits on a wide(ish) plinth. Looking at the performance specifications of the loudspeakers, the floorstanding loudspeaker is more about aesthetics than frequency response, because the two are identical in frequency response, nominal impedance, sensitivity and amplifier power handling.
This is a good thing in terms of actually selling loudspeakers. Although there are still many successful stand-mounted speakers on sale, the majority of mid-to-high-end loudspeaker sales go to floorstanders, and have done for the last 30 or so years. With ‘homage’ loudspeakers, there is little or nothing to be done about this – you can’t make a floorstanding LS3/5a without ending up with angry mobs, pitchforks, and burning torches being involved. But, with the LS6... go for it!
Their identical nature means the LS6f also sports the tweeter control seen on the stand-mount LS6. This affords the loudspeaker a +1dB or +2dB lift to the tweeter performance, which is useful for performing to more than just the guy in the hot seat (and it’s almost always a guy). However, the cynic in me thinks this adjustment is also handy to compensate for hearing loss due to advanced age, and to cope with very well-furnished homes of those born a generation or so before Ikea.
The LS6f is even less fussy about positioning than its unfussy stand-mount brother. That last had a rear-firing port, which meant the loudspeaker worked best some distance from the rear wall. By firing down and out, the port on the LS6f is more room friendly and the speaker can work almost bang up against almost any wall. Just a few inches from the rear wall will do. That being said, don’t mistake the LS6f for an installation pushover: it requires good, careful installation and particular care and attention in toe-in to get the performance on song. In fact, perhaps it’s this aspect that gave the original LS6 its reputation for ‘pipe and slippers’ bass: a relatively low-cost loudspeaker in the 1980s would be partnered with OK electronics and possibly installed with less care and attention than might be expected of a modern high-end design. Back then, many Rogers buyers were firmly ensconsed in the ‘all well-desgned amps sound the same’ school, and a more enlightened modern viewpoint would partner this loudspeaker with a little more care and attention, and the result is better bass. Don’t try the LS6f with a soft-sounding valve amp, though!