Westlake Audio has been a leading name in professional audio forclose to 30 years. Founded as a studio supply business, the companysoon branched into designing and building studios and listeningrooms for clients and operating its own recording andpost-production studios. That, in turn, led the company to startmanufacturing studio monitors, and, today, Westlake offers a rangeof loudspeaker systems for professional and high-end home audioapplications. Westlake loudspeakers—in particular its BBSMSeries—are widely accepted as a dependable reference sourceby leading studios, broadcasters and engineers/producersworldwide.
However, because of meticulous, hand-crafted assembly methods,solid construction and quality components, Westlake monitors can besomewhat pricey. With that in mind, Westlake designers developedthe LC Series, an aggressively priced, full line of monitors forsmaller rooms, project studios and the video post market.
The newest—and least expensive—entry in the LC lineis the Audio Lc5.75, two-way, near-field reference monitorsfeaturing a 5-inch woofer and a 0.75-inch soft dome tweeter in acompact enclosure (14×6.5×9 inches), weighing 18 poundstotal. The drivers are arranged symmetrically(nonmirror-imaged), with the front port placed between thedrivers at the acoustical center of the monitors. Removable speakergrilles are provided, and although the grille cloth is acousticallytransparent, the grille frames can cause diffraction effects;Westlake recommends that the speakers be used sansgrilles. The grilles do, however, provide a degree of protectionfor the drivers during transit, which is a plus as the Lc5.75'ssmall size makes them ideal as a portable reference for thetraveling engineer.
The rear panel is uncluttered, containing only a recessedsection with the gold-plated, five-way binding posts. The internalcrossover is fixed at 4.5 kHz, and no external adjustments (tweeterlevel, etc.) are provided or required. The speakers are intended tobe used in a vertical position with the drivers at ear level andthe listener positioned in the near-field. Ideally, the setup formsan equilateral triangle with the distance between the monitorsequal to the speaker-to-ears distance.
I used the speakers with a variety of amps and found thecharacter of the monitors remained constant, though they didrequire a decent-quality amp with plenty of power (150 to 250watts/channel). These are not monitors that require a certain amptopology or model to sound good. However, the Lc5.75's sensitivityrating of 86 dB (at one meter/2.83-volt input) is fairly low, andthe monitor's power handling (per IEC spec 268-5) is 80-wattscontinuous/200-watts peak, which results in maximum SPLs in the 104to 107dB range. I usually monitor in the 80 to 87dB range, which isplenty loud in the near-field and offers ample headroom for punchwith the Lc5.75, but anyone who is used to heavy SPL monitoring orneeds to fill larger spaces may want to check out Westlake's largerLc6.75, Lc8.1 or BBSM models.
Although the Lc5.75's stereo imaging is excellent, allowing theuser to hear even the slightest changes in panning or perspective,Westlake also offers an optional ($79) set of foam surround“muffs” that provided a subtle, but noticeable,improvement in imaging, as well as a bit of LF bass extension.
What surprised me about the Lc5.75 was the fact that they soundmuch larger than their size would indicate; bass response is soliddown to 60 Hz—impressive for a 5-inch driver. I also triedthe Lc5.75 with my Infinity IL100s powered subwoofer (crossing overthe Lc5.75 at 80 Hz) and achieved excellent results, an indicationthat these little speakers would do well in a surround environment.(In fact, Westlake is currently developing a companion centerchannel monitor to go with the Lc5.75.) In terms of the midrangeresponse, the 4.5kHz crossover point is smooth, and the speakerspresent an amazing amount of low-level detail that other similarlypriced monitors blur or omit entirely. The top-end is natural andnonfatiguing, even after long listening sessions.
At $999 a pair (also available separately), the Westlake Lc5.75offers an alternative for anyone seeking affordable, high-qualityreference monitors for portable or permanent applications in thepro or project studios.
Westlake Audio Inc., 2696 Lavery Court, Unit 18, Newbury Park,CA 91320; 805/499-3686; fax 805/498-2571; www.westlakeaudio.com