Lii Audio F-15

Lii Audio is a company that just keeps pushing the envelope with cutting edge, modern full range speaker drivers. While still a relative newcomer to the esoteric world of wide band speakers, Lii Audio has been around long enough now to have made a pretty big splash in the small full range driver world. With 8 or 10 current driver and speaker models, and a few discontinued, Lii has created an enviable space for themselves in a somewhat crowded niche marketplace. Their drivers are fairly well made, and offer a lot of value. Having been overall impressed by the Fast 8 driver, not the last word on anything but a great deal at its amazingly low price point, I was interested to see all of the positive feedback on Decware’s forum about Lii’s big 15 inch full rangers.

I like big full range drivers, they often cast a huge soundstage and can have a palpability that is remarkably realistic. In the past the only 15 inch drivers out there (other than some antique and unobtantium RCA and Klangfilm models) were Audio Nirvana’s offerings, and over the years I sampled both the ceramic and alnico versions of those fine drivers. While not quite built to the level of beefy industrial extreme as Audio Nirvana’s product, on open baffles Lii Audio’s F-15 quickly proved to be a slightly better sounding driver in my room than either of the AN’s 15 inch models I owned.

The Lii Audio F-15 on open baffles have a coherency and immediacy to their sound that is impressive and that I have found to be addictive. In a small room they engulf the listener in soundscape, almost like being immersed. In a bigger room, they sound realistic in size and scope in a way that I have not quite matched before. Scale is impressive, transients are fast and can be startling, and the overall feeling of live music is a treat. Set up in my living as pictured below, I am often listening from other parts of the house or from the kitchen which is at the far end of the large room, and in this way the sound really can feel like the musicians and their instruments are set up on a stage right there in my house. Chet Baker and his band are live in my living room, big as life. Its impressive to say the least.

At 98 db/wm or so, the Lii F-15 are efficient and easy to drive speakers, and while they play fine with a tiny amp like the 1.5 watt 45 or a Decware SE84, in my experience they do sound better with a more powerful push pull amplifier. In fact, the best match I have had with these drivers so far is with Conrad Johnson’s CAV45 S2, with 45 watts of EL34 power. The McIntosh 225 is also sublime on the Lii F-15. With the bigger amps, there is noticeably more grip on the cone, and the sense of ease (which results in realism) is increased. It’s subtle, like so much at this level of audio, but overall these have found a home with my more powerful amps.

Lii Audio has hit a home run with the F-15! While I am somewhat more on the fence with their stylish looking smaller full range drivers, the big F-15 is hands down a winner. Mounted on simple open baffle panels, I cannot imagine anyone hearing these and not having a smile on their face. My previous favorite, the Zenith 49CZ852, have been taking a long break since the F-15 have been in the house, and in fact I have recently disassembled them and placed them in storage. Take that for what it is, the Zenith are amazing sounding drivers, but after 6 years of the Zenith sound I was ready for a change. I am so impressed with the F-15 I have also purchased Lii’s newest offering (as of early 2021), the even larger F-18. I have high hopes for them (although 18 inches is pushing the limits for high frequency response), but I would not be surprised to find that the F-15 are the sweet spot. Right now, the F-15 are my top recommendation for a one-size-fits-all wide band open baffle speaker solution. Enjoy!

Here are the F-15 mounted in my simple open baffle design. In this case, the drivers arrived at the height of the COVID19 pandemic, and I used scrap wood from my storage shed to construct the panels. The side wings are two panels from an old line array project, and although I wasn't sure what to expect I quite like the look. These drivers make bass fairly effortlessly in this setup and don't need solid support from the wings, so it works well. At any rate, this is an easy, cheap and stress free way to get supreme sound and I could be happy with this setup for the long run.

You can see that this design folds away to a very compact size. Easy to move or even hide in a closet when not in use. How many 36 inch wide speakers can boast that flexibility?

I generally dislike whizzer cone designs, but the F-15 (once fully broken in) makes it seamless and non-fatiguing, an achievement most of these designs cant manage in my experience.

Here are my more refined baffles, made with a pair of 28x30, 1.25 inch thick oak butcher blocks that I scored free on Craigslist. I’m using Ikea shelf brackets and a pair of 2 inch cutting boards to angle the baffles. In this setup, bass is increased slightly and the image floats above and around the speakers with a spatial illusion that is really pretty remarkable.

In my small room these sound enormous!

Very simple, super cheap, but effective.

Set up in my living room, a large and unforgivingly “live” space, these sound extremely realistic. From the far end of the room, about twice the distance pictured, these speakers cast an illusion of players and their instruments in real space, big (and often bigger) than life. I’ve come close to this effect several times before, most notably with my Telefunken cabinets loaded with the Visaton B200 drivers, but the Lii F-15 win the battle. Highly recommended!