Westlake Audio, manufacturer of high-end loudspeaker systems for more than 30 years, continues the downward expansion of its popular Lc speaker line with the introduction of its smallest models to date.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, multimedia, broadcast and remote audio production
Features: Lc4.75 – two-way; ported enclosure; 4-inch woofer; 3/4-inch soft dome tweeter; Lc24.75 – two-way; shielded; dual 4-inch woofers; 3/4-inch soft dome tweeter
Price: Lc4.75 – $1,125 per pair; Lc24.75 – $1,125
Contact: Westlake Audio at 323-851-9800, Web Site.
The Lc4.75 two-way enclosure ($1,125 per pair) and Lc24.75 two-way center channel speaker ($1,125) are primarily targeted for use as a compact multichannel monitoring system, though the speakers will find their way to many other uses as well.
Westlake introduced its affordable Lc series six years ago to make the quality of its high-end BBSM line available to a much wider audience. The Lc line found great success with project and small-to-midsize commercial studios with many fans in the consumer audiophile market as well. About two years ago, Westlake extended its Lc range with the introduction of the fairly large Lc3w12 (105 lbs. each!) and the compact Lc5.75 (18 lbs. each) speakers.
Buoyed by the smaller speaker’s popularity, and with an eye towards the ever-increasing home studio/home theater market, Westlake recently rolled out the Lc4.75 and Lc24.75 compact speakers. One marketing concept is to use four or more of the ultracompact LC4.75s with an Lc24.75 center speaker to form an affordable high-quality surround monitoring system.
Other suggested uses for the new speakers include using two of the Lc24.75 center channel speakers in a stereo pair or to use a pair of the Lc4.75s for quality monitoring at a video or audio workstation. It should be noted that the Lc24.75 center channel speaker is also a good acoustic match for use with the slightly larger Lc5.75 model speakers.
The Lc4.75 is 5 x 12 x 7 inches and weighs in at just 12 pounds. The system is housed in a bass reflex-type enclosure featuring the manufacturer’s trademark solid construction and extensive electro-mechanical and acoustical dampening.
The two-way system pairs a 4-inch woofer with a 3/4-inch soft dome tweeter and in traditional Westlake form, the speaker features a hand-built crossover with point-to-point wiring. Manufacturer’s stated frequency response is 65 Hz – 20 kHz, ± 3 dB; sensitivity is 85 dB (at 1 meter/2.83-volt input). Max power handling of the Lc4.75 is 60 watts continuous and up to 200 watts peak; nominal impedance is 7 ohms, 4 ohms minimum.
The Lc24.75 center channel speaker features the same build characteristics as described above but is outfitted with dual 4-inch woofers flanking the 3/4-inch soft dome tweeter in the center. Departing somewhat from the traditional Lc design and appearance, the Lc24.75 features an elongated horizontal enclosure with dual bass reflex ports.
The magnetically shielded enclosure measures 6 1/4 x 16 1/2 x 7 inches and weighs 18 pounds. Frequency response is rated at 65 Hz – 20 kHz ±3 dB, with a sensitivity rating of 89 dB (at 1 meter/ 2.83 volt input). Impedance is rated at five ohms nominal/three ohms minimum with power handling of 75 watts continuous/225 watts peak. Both models connect via dual banana, five-way binding posts and are equipped with removable speaker grilles.
I must admit it was a funny site with the diminutive Lc4.75 speakers looking like something from “Honey, I Shrunk the Westlakes” as they sat next to my pair of Westlake Lc8.1 monitors. Although the Lc4.75 is less than a quarter of the size of the 8.1s, the “Mini Me” Westlakes packed some punch, as I found out during the evaluation.
Since movies were on my brain, I figured I would jump right into setting up the speakers in their intended surround configuration: as five channels of a 5.1 surround mix. So as not to start from scratch, I simply moved my existing (and carefully measured) surround speaker setup out and put the Lc4.75s in their place, raising the five speaker stands up nearly 4 inches to bring the new monitors up to ear level.
I ran high-resolution Audience speaker cable from a Bryston 9B SST five-channel amplifier to the Westlakes. After some fine-tuning of levels, I was ready to go… almost. I still needed a subwoofer to reproduce bass-managed and LFE signals. Curiously, Westlake does not offer a matched subwoofer for the set. This poses a bit of a hurdle for those attracted to the integrated performance and simplicity of setup in a unified surround system.
But, like it or not, subwoofers are a necessity in surround mixing and reproduction. I tested several different subwoofers from other manufacturers during the evaluation. Speakers ranged from eight to 12 inches, and levels and crossover points were carefully set for each model.
For the initial “get familiar with the speakers” period, I spent several days auditioning the speakers without any subwoofer. On their own, the speakers pack an impressive and tight punch – one that seems ideal for close monitoring in tight spaces.
For lack of better adjectives, I can describe the Lc4.75s as having a focused, present middle range with a gradual de-emphasis in the upper reaches and a rather steep low cut off. Within their specified frequency range, the speakers exhibit a strong family resemblance to their big brothers, best characterized as tight, detailed and accurate
In addition to auditioning the speakers on their own, I also regularly used the front left and right Lc4.75 speakers as an alt reference speaker pair during several stereo mix projects.
Once the pairs were level compensated, switching between the L8.1s and their smaller relations was an easy transition. On other projects, I used a pair of SP Technology Time Piece monitors as the main pair, with the small Westlakes as an alt pair; again the two sets of differing-sized speakers made a useful reference set.
With a properly set subwoofer, the Lc4.75/Lc24.75 set made a surprisingly capable surround mix system. This seems to be where the system really shines: you get high-resolution Westlake performance in the areas that count the most, and a good subwoofer picking up the slack.
In remixing several surround projects I had done on the 8.1s, I found the results eerily similar to the original mixes – certainly due in part to familiarity, but I found myself making almost identical EQ choices, witch indicates to me that these speakers hold their ground in the Westlake Lc family.
Despite their smaller size, the Westlake system would also be a substantial improvement to many home theater systems boasting far larger (yet woefully inaccurate) speakers.
Bottom line on the Westlake Lc4.75/Lc24.75 surround system: When used with high-quality amplifiers and a decent sub, the set presents a means to experience trademark high-quality Westlake fidelity at a greatly reduced entry price. The low-profile system is perfect for postproduction and multimedia professionals and studios with space constraints.
As with any surround monitoring system, proper setup is critical for real-world speaker translation, but once there, this little system just might become your new best friend.
Bryston 9B SST 5-channel amplifier; SP Technology Timepiece 2.0 and Westlake LCW 8.1 monitors; Tannoy and Velodyne powered subwoofers; Audience high-resolution speaker and audio cables; TASCAM DS-M7.1 surround controller.