Review: Gibson Les Paul LP6 Reference Monitors

It's much more than Les Paul aesthetics on a studio monitor.
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The unveiling of Gibson’s Les Paul Reference Monitor Series at last year’s 137th AES Convention allowed us a first look at the Les Paul guitar’s aesthetics overlaid on a studio monitor. Based on initial buzz, the LP Series was just a bit shocking to those averse to “style forward” pro audio products, though absolutely logical with a marketer’s eye. After all, studio dwellers often stare into speakers while working and listening intently; why shouldn’t our “instruments” resemble one of the most attractive ones we regularly record? But for our purposes, the real question is this: Has Gibson Brands’ Pro Audio division—a group including top studio monitor brand KRK Systems and portable PA purveyors Cerwin- Vega—built another accomplished reference monitor?

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For this review, I received the middle- sized model, the LP6 with sixinch woofer, for a month-long evaluation. Other models include the LP4 and LP8 with 4- and 8-inch woofers, respectively.

Due to their striking appearance, let’s start with LP Series aesthetics. There’s nothing subtle about these monitors; odds are you will like the way they look, or you won’t. In a room of black and gray audio gear, they definitely “pop,” and I believe they would look ideal in a visually warm, wood-accented room—residential, studio or somewhere in between. As you can see from the adjacent photo, the LP Series’ sunburst coloring and bookmatched wood veneer really does resemble a Les Paul guitar; further, Les Paul’s signature is on the woofer and “Gibson” prominently glows a bright honey color set in chromed accenting. Dual F-hole style bass ports, tweeter waveguide surrounds and the LP6’s front fascia edge mimics the guitar’s creamy trim. As such, the LP Series earns the “unique” description, at least visually, and is available in three colors: cherry, cherry burst and tobacco burst. Build quality is notably high, with thick and rigid cabinetry materials—mainly comprised of high-grade MDF.

L to R, Gibson Pro Audio LP6 (reviewed here), LP8 and LP4 powered reference monitors. Each two-way LP Series active speaker features a 1-inch carboncoated titanium tweeter (sporting the “density of a diamond” for detailed transient response, offers Gibson marketing materials) and the woofer is made of a multi-layered, non-woven carbon material. The 18.5 lb LP6 offers a frequency range of 37 Hz to 47 kHz with a 2.7 kHz crossover point and a 117 dB maximum peak SPL. Its newly designed proprietary amplifier provides 247 W of bi-amped power; inputs include RCA, balanced TRS and balanced XLR. Manual rear-panel controls include volume and dual stepped EQ adjustments: bass and treble, respectively, at -4, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 and +4 dB settings. An idle/standby setting kicks on after 30 minutes of downtime.

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Whether listening for pleasure, production or both, the LP6 is detailed and accurate to my ears, full yet controlled and punchy on the bottom end and exceptionally silky smooth up top. They are notably powerful for the size, too. To me, the LP6 really doesn’t sound like any KRK sibling that I’ve heard, and I’ve had the opportunity to use most Rokit, VXT and Expose series models available today. Gibson states that the LP Series is a ground-up new design, and I believe it.

At $799 each, the LP6 is priced alongside some stiff competition in a relatively packed marketplace, though I believe it would hold its own in sideby- side comparisons. The LP Series is a refreshing blast of color and style and, like the Les Paul guitar, it has the look, feel and sound of a classic yet stylistically flexible instrument.

Gibson Pro Audio

www2.gibson.com/Products/Pro-Audio/2015.aspx

Strother Bullins is NewBay Media’s Reviews Editor, AV/Pro Audio Group, active musician, recordist and club-level sound reinforcement wrangler. sbullins@nbmedia.com