Arcaydis SM35A review

The retro style may not suit everyone but these easy listening monitors are well worth an audition. Tested at £750.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

If you value midrange performance and an easy listen above all else these are well worth an audition


  • +

    Lovely midrange performance

  • +

    stereo imaging

  • +

    unfussy nature


  • -

    Doesn’t go very deep or loud

  • -

    lacks tonal purity

  • -

    retro appearance

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

The BBC LS3/5A – originally designed for BBC outside broadcast vans – was a little monitor hijacked by the hi-fi community who fell in love with its natural sounding midrange and impressive imaging.

The original hasn't been built for years, but there remains a market for such a design, and the SM35A is Arcaydis's take on it. The name, look and dimensions are more than reminiscent of the original LS3/5A; so is the sound.

There are certain things they can't do. They won't go massively loud, so if you want something that will play at party levels look elsewhere. It's only a small box, too, measuring just 30cm high, so very deep bass is off the menu.

Unlike many modern speakers, this one can to go close to a rear wall or even a bookshelf (if you must). Place it on some solid stands, and you'll hear one of the sweetest, most fluid midranges available below the £1000 mark.

Adele's 19 set comes through with breathtaking naturalness, with her voice focussed sharply between the speakers. When it comes to projection and subtlety, there are few rivals that do better.

Decent bass for a small box
Move down the frequency range and you'll find the SM35A does well for its size. As far as they go, bass frequencies are delivered with weight and authority, though these speakers would never be our first choice for listening to the likes of Massive Attack.

Tonality is well judged, though by the standards of the best of the class transparency isn't quite top notch: there are slight colorations that stop these speakers sounding as pure as they should. Still, these are relatively minor in nature and easy to get used to for most listeners.

These SM35As aren't for everyone, but if you listen to predominantly vocal-based music or smaller-scale acoustic works, we think you'll love them.

And, when you consider the same could be said of the BBC original, we think Arcaydis has done a fine job.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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