Westlake Audio has been producing studio monitor systems for more than two decades. In its manufacturing line are more than 40 different speaker systems, including the Lc3w12V midfield control room monitors ($4,899/pair list), reviewed here. As Westlake says in its promotional literature, “The technology is traditional but the performance is extraordinary.” I absolutely agree.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, post production, mastering
Key Features: Three-way biamplified/biwired mid-field audio monitors; frequency response 40 Hz to 18 kHz; +/-3 dB
Contact: Westlake Audio Manufacturing Group at 805-499-3686 Web Site
+ Exceptional fidelity
+ Good power handling
+ Compact size
The Score: The Westlake Audio Lc3w12Vs are high-value and high-fidelity monitoring tools.
The Lc3w12Vs (the V is for vertical – the three speakers are centered in the cabinet in a row; a horizontal-oriented version is also available) have real meat in the three-way bass-reflex cabinets – 102 pounds each with a 12-inch pulp-cone woofer, 6.5-inch polypropylene midrange and woven soft dome 1-inch tweeter.
Westlake matches the left/right speaker components, which contribute greatly to the stereo imaging and transient response of the system. A shock-absorbing, self-adhesive, foam rubber gasket seals the drivers in the cabinet. Time alignment is accomplished by terracing the faceplate.
Frequency response is specified as 40 Hz to 18 kHz. +/-3 dB, which is extraordinarily tight response. The power handling is rated at 110 Watts continuous, 300 Watts peak; 4 ohms nominal, 3 ohms minimum. The monitors can be biamped or biwired. Dual banana five-way binding posts are on each speaker.
The pearly black utility paint finish is the nicest I have seen on a nonlaminated set. With the grilles attached, they are so cleanly styled that they would look fine in your living room. They looked even better in a Russ Berger-designed control room at National Public Radio, where I set them up for review.
I hooked the speakers up to a Crown PSL2 preamp and Legacy Ultra High Current Monoblocks using Tara Labs Prism 33 and Music Metre Calibre interconnects. The speaker cables were Westlake Audio-supplied biwires.
To get familiar with the speakers, a colleague and I auditioned a wide range of commercially available source material. In all cases, we were struck by the Westlake’s richness, clarity, stage and dynamic response.
Each instrument had its own atmosphere, yet blended into the same space with the rest of the mix. Westlake has not forced these cabinets to reach too deep, and the result is a stunningly rich, yet tight bottom. There was no woof or pillow sound of any kind.
The top is natural, not hyped. The detail of each instrument was absolutely distinct, from placement in the mix to tonal content.
Okay, now for the serious stuff. I work with Global Satellite Network’s program “Modern Rock Live.” Bands are interviewed and perform “live in the studio;” we feed the NPR mothership in Los Angeles via ISDN. In addition to the live performance mix, I multitrack the sessions.
On one occasion we hosted The Afghan Whigs, a rock band with drums, bass, two electric guitars, keyboards, electric cello and three vocalists. I remixed the show through the Westlakes. The speakers provided punch at a much lower volume than NPR’s Studio 4A’s ambient-field JBL DMS1 did. Most importantly, the depth of field remained. Closefields often sound two-dimensional; the Westlakes gave me a real sense of stage and depth. I did find the kick drum required a bit more 3 kHz to match the snap of the JBLs, but the sonic demands of the band were handled with ease.
I recorded a “Performance Chat” for NPR’s program “Weekend Sunday” with the jazz group RachelZ Trio – acoustic piano, acoustic and electric basses as well as a full drum kit. The Westlakes revealed rich, full and crisp sound without a trace of harshness. I’m not used to such detail at so low a volume, and I really value this ability.
Ambient-field monitors are usually difficult to listen to for extended periods. And with the recent popularity of self-powered closefields, we have forgotten what real control room monitoring is about – entertainment. The cabinets have to be large enough to move the air. The Lc3w12Vs provide all the imaging, clarity, tight-bottom and volume required for you to make astute decisions regarding equalization, placement and effects.