Mellow is the word for this gentle-sounding monitor from Westlake. It is smooth and easy on the ears, well-suited for long-term use without listening fatigue. Westlake Audio has produced highly respected, full-size monitors for 25 years. Its latest effort is the model Lc5.75, a smaller version of Lc675. It is quite compact for a closefield monitor and has an understated professional appearance.
Product PointsApplications: Control rooms; mobile recording; on-air or production broadcast; quality-control and editing suites
Key Features: 5″ polyglass woofer; 0.75″ soft-dome tweeter; 60 Hz to 18 kHz response; accepts dual banana plug, lugs or bare wires
Price: $999/pair; $1,099 with magnetic shielding
Contact: Westlake Audio at 805-499-3686
Suggested applications are control rooms, mobile recording, on-air or production broadcast, quality-control and editing suites, as well as offices, for auditioning by the executive producer. The Lc5.75 employs a 5″ polyglass woofer and a 0.75″ soft-dome tweeter. A front-mounted port extends the bass response.
The speaker muff, a foam rectangle that slides around the front baffle, is a special accessory. The muff is said to absorb sounds that would otherwise reradiate from the cabinet edges. Claimed benefits are a smoother response, better apparent bass and sharper imaging. A set of high-quality, low-resistance 8′ speaker cables with spade lugs is also available.
According to Westlake, the Lc5.75 has a response from 60 Hz to 18 kHz +/-3 dB. Impedance is an easy-to-drive 7 ohms (5 ohms minimum). Sensitivity is moderate at 86 dB/W/meter, and the claimed power handling is 80 W long term, 200 W per short term per IEC 268-5. Magnetic shielding is optional.
The black, dense cabinet is 14″ high by 6.5″ wide and 9″ deep. Each cabinet weighs 18 lb. On the back is a pair of binding posts that accept a dual banana plug, lugs or bare wires. Although the speaker comes with a fabric grille, it can be removed for critical listening. The user manual is full of tips on optimizing room acoustics. The speakers cost $999/pair; $1,099 with magnetic shielding.
I listened to the Lc5.75s before making any measurements. I placed the monitors as recommended – with the midpoint between the woofer and tweeter at ear height, speakers toed-in, without the grille, with the muff, vertical, on stands just behind my mixer, about 1′ from an absorbent wall behind them. Here’s how the Lc5.75 sounded to me on various instruments:
Piano: Organic, not steely. Seems to lack air in the extreme top.
Cymbals and percussion: Smooth with extended highs, but not as crisp and bright as the real thing. Not at all harsh.
Drums: Woody rather than metallic. A bit weak in impact.
Acoustic guitar: Gentle. Not as crisp or trebley as a real guitar, but otherwise uncolored.
Electric guitar: Meaty and aggressive.
Sax: The body or fundamental frequency of each note is enhanced while the breathy edge is missing. The tone is a little hard because of an emphasis around 1 to 3 kHz.
Bass: Deep bass is weak and lacks weight, but these are small speakers. The rest of the bass is clear and well-damped.
Vocals: Warm and human. Not overly sibilant. Vocals that were recorded extra bright, such as in Tuck and Patti recordings, sound natural on these speakers.
Strings: Velvety string tone. True timbres – not edgy, steely or brittle. A natural sound, very much like you hear in a concert hall. “Air” is not exaggerated.
Author’s master tapes: My mixes sound softer in the highs and stronger in the mids on the Westlakes than on the monitors I used during mixdown.
Overall the Lc5.75s sound is smooth and listenable, although it tends to blur together at high volume levels. Stereo imaging is about the best I’ve heard! And since the speaker does not hype up the highs, you’ll EQ in enough of those frequencies to get clear, punchy mixes.
Like most monitors, the Lc5.75 has some pros and cons. Although the response varies only 2.5 dB from 60 Hz to 20 kHz, it has broad areas of slight emphasis or deemphasis. Specifically, the highs above 5 kHz are a little weak, giving a duller sound than many other monitors. But this effect might spur the user to create bright, punchy mixes. The Westlake Lc5.75 has the usual tradeoff between size, bass and volume: the speaker is very compact but is weak in the deep lows. Compared to larger speakers, it is more limited in SPL output.
The monitor is exceptionally good at imaging and high-frequency dispersion. At moderate volumes, the Lc5.75 has an effortless sense of ease. There is no listening fatigue, no harshness. Check it out and see if its strengths and weaknesses will work for you.