I had the 57's for about 15 years and have been through a succession of speakers since then. I am now breaking in a pair of the Harbeth Super HL5. I have been impressed that, In the all-important midrange, these appear to be closer to the sound of my Quads than anything else that I have tried. Not sure I would say they image better, but too soon to call. Try to take a listen if you can. There are other models of Harbeth, also.
Disclaimer - I'm going to suggest stuff that I peddle. I'm a Quad fan, and have tried hard to find more "conventional" speakers that do some of the same things right.
You might want to consider the Gradient Revolutions. The designer, Jorma Salmi, used Quad 63's as his reference speaker, and the Revolutions are among the few conventional-looking speakers this planarhead could live with. They are a dipole up to 200 Hz, and then have a cardioid-approximating response above that point. A new pair retails for $4995, but I saw a used pair for sale at this site for $1795. This is an absolute steal for these speakers. I have no connection with the seller.
I'm a previous Quad 57 and 63 owner, an ATC dealer, and have friends who own Merlins.
In my experience the Revolutions prefer a fairly lively-sounding high-current amplifier, so a tube amp might not be the best match.
One other possible follow-up is the Omega line. These high efficiency single-driver speakers are also reminiscent of the Quads, especially the "R" versions. They tend to be somewhat rolled off in the bass region, so a subwoofer might well be needed if you can't get adequate bass lift from boundary reinforcement. Single-ended triode, OTL, and low powered push-pull tube amps work well with the Omegas.
Gradient's website: www.gradient.fi
Omega's website: www.omegaloudspeakers.com
Best of luck to you,
For the actual experience you requested, I've owned the B&W Matrix 801, Vandersteen 3a and 2ce, Merlin VSM, then I experienced Planars. For the last 8 yrs, that's all I've owned. Recently I needed a smaller speaker for a smaller room and couldn't find anything that satisfied me after all those yrs with the Planars. On Dukes recommendation, I tried the Omega 3r's. That was 9 months ago, I still have them and continue to be amazed at how good they are. I found their midrange to be very close to what I'm used to. A couple of points if you do decide to go with them: They need a good breakin, they sounded MUCH better with PP tube than SS, and some really nice stuff is happening with some SET's. Add a sub if you need Hz below 50 to 60. Good Luck
Aside from the Harbeths, Spendors are also considered as box speakers close to the Quads, esp. in the midrange (but most people move from Spendor to Quad, not the other way). Also the Spendors will work well with tube amps.
I had my Quad ESL-63's for 7 years. I enjoyed every minute with them.
I recently upgraded to a pair of Gallo Reference 3's. If you can stretch your budget, they are worth an audition. They compete with the best of the best in the imaging category. Martin Logan Aeon's are also very nice.
I have found that the Gallo Reference 3's match well with Cary tube amplification. You might find a nice used integrated in your price range.
FWIW, I have passed thru Acoustats, Quad 63's (5 years of use, they are still in my closet), Paragon Jubilee Jems (think Dynaudio Contour 3.3 with better bass and resolution), and most recently Tyler Acoustics Linbrook Signature systems. The reason I parted with my Quads was due to dynamic range limitations. The Paragons were as smooth and detailed (in my invironment)as the Quads but were more dynamic. The only downside was they needed to be played are medium to high levels to shine, unlike the Quads.
I got the Tylers as much out of boredom and esthetics as anything else (I still have the JJ's in the closet). What I discovered was they produce a very large soundstage at lower volume, they are very smooth and while not "bright" in any way, they are very revealing and its easy to distinguish equipment changes and tweaks. The bass is actually tighter than the JJ's. Based on these observations I suggest you look at their Linbrook monitors which get considerable praise, or the new Linbrook System II. You could always get a sub for the monitors later if you thought you needed the extra octave. A bit abouve your price range used but probably worth it.
That volume thing is important. I listen a lot at low volume and Quads may be the all-time champ for that application. The Harbeths don't seem to be so good until you turn it up a bit, alas (but not too much).
I think the Harbeths are the ones you should listen to. I have not heard the SHL5s, but the C7s, M30s, and M40s all play superbly well at low volumes for dynamic speakers. The Quads are still king at that, and the 63s and 988s have that "of a piece" quality which no multi-driver speaker can match, but these Harbeths are not too far behind.
The Harbeths have equal or better bass, better and cleaner highs, and the midrange actually beats the Quads. What really swings it for me, however, is the fact that the Harbeths, while they won't play disco loud, play demanding material at naturally high levels and a bit above--levels which will either fry or shut down the Quads.
Robert E. Greene of TAS owned Quad 63s for more than 10 years before moving to Harbeth M40s as his reference. He has now used the M40s as his reference for more than five years. He likes the Harbeths better and finds them to be yet more accurate reproducers of music. I agree and now own M40s. Check out the Harbeth user group (HUG) archives.
Thanks to all who have responded so far. Thank you for considering the transparency/low listening level/imaging puzzle.
Based on your recommendations I would like to hear the Harbeth 5... has anyone compared the harbeth to the Spendors?
To me, the Gradients look a little large, and sound like they would be harder to drive, though they're advantage would be that they would not need a sub.
Something about the look of the Tyler suggests to me that this is not a forgiving speaker, and the price (with stands) is closer to $2000 used.
The most intriguing suggestion is the Omega 3R, but then the issue of bass... looks like a subwoofer in my future. I suppose I could find a sub for $500, or so, which would bring me in at my buget.
Truth be told, I have been single-driver curious, but after all these years without real bass, I was hoping to find a speaker with response into the low 40's without resorting to a sub.
Sounds like we may soon be seeing lots of used Gallo Ref III's as they lose their "flavor of the month" status, I expect they will be available for $1700 within a year. The Gallo has low efficientcy, and goes lower in the bass. It also seems to have few detractors. How would you decribe the top end and low level resolution of that speaker?
Thanks again to all.
Michael in S.F.
I listened to the Gallo Ref 3's at Marin dealer yesterday... If I were willing to spend it, I would pay $2500 for that quality of sound: very fast, and extended. Well intergrated, to these ears.
hi earthpulse. i own 2 pairs of esl57's and have owned 63's and the baby brother of the gradient revolution. the 57's are my faves, especially with rebuilt treble pannels. am on the same quest. would not recommend the gradient, as while its very good, it just doesnt have the midrange magic of the 57's, or the depth and presence and imaging, and musicians in the room feel. i fear that david price of hi fi world may be right in that the 57's (and 989's) are almost impossible to beat at what they do, as electrostatics they are! i'm going to research the harbeths and omegas. thanks dor the info guys
I have Quad57s and a highly tweaked Hammer Dynamics speaker. I've had the Quads for years and even built some home made electrostatics back in the early 80's. So as you can see I am a Quad lover. However, I don't think the Quads are really neutral speakers. They have a bump in the mid bass and definitely are rolled off in the highs but have a gorgeous mid range and the mid bass bump sounds nice too. I play my Quads pretty loud but they tend to buzz or resonate when played too loud at certain resonant frequencies. Therefore I used my Quads primarily for female vocals and acoustical music. Other than female vocals I find the Hammer Dynamics to be a better all around speaker since they are very detailed and can play very loud, not to say that they sound bad on female vocals but no speaker can beat the Quads in this area. They are also 97db and mate well with my 45 SET amp. Even with the 45 SET amp, I can feel the bass on some music and I feel they play as low as my sub but not quite as loud. The Quads do take a lot of room and that's why I have them against the wall when I am not playing them, my Hammer's are my every day speakers. See my system for pictures.
Sorry I forgot to mention that the Hammer's image like crazy. They image as well as mini monitors and especially with my Lenco Turntable some music seem to extend past the walls and the low bass envelopes me like no other speaker I've had before. The bass is tighter and more pin point than the Quads. I had a Lowther Medallion owner over who was caught by suprise and was totally amazed with the imaging of the Hammers.
The Quad's do however have a larger image and sound great on live concerts with a lot of ambience. Lot of this is probably due to the Quads being dipoles and all the late reflections which make them sound larger with a lot of ambience. The Hammers are not bad in this area also but everything seems to be highly focused with the images being more pin point but not as full sounding as the Quads. The Hammers really shines on great recordings but are not as forgiving on bad recordings like the Quads. I highly recommend the Hammers if you don't mind building your own.
If you can live with less bass or would use a sub the newest "V2" LS3/5a put out by stirling broadcast (order only from the UK) is very good in the same sort of way the 57's are. They improve on the normal LS3/5a with better bass texture, better freq. extension and play louder without strain. Many of the folks who have these also have quads and use these instead. Not that they are better than 57's but the WAF is so much higher and they feel they lose very little if at all.
I have a set an really like them.
I have owned Quad 989's, loved listening to them and enjoyed their warm very engaging sweet midrange; however, I made the mistake of A/B ing them against Dynaudio C-1, which thoroughly trounced them in the highs and lows and made it a horse race in the mid range!
I used very fine all tube electronics and a turntable with a Koetsu for the comparison and purist cable.
The C-1 is a small monitor that delivers amazing bass, the coherance of an electrostat and smooth extended highs. The only drawback is the price...$ 6000 pr.
I want to get back to all of you.
I bought a pair of Gallo Ref 3's based on listening to a pair that had been broken by a nearby dealer.
Given how this new pair of ref 3's sounds after 75hrs of break in (apparently only 1/3 of the way through), I would have already returned them if I hadn't heard the dealer's pair. Fabulous tweeter but still searing at this point. I chose these for their:
1) Sound (very refined)
2) Great dispersion/ Imaging
3) Lack of cabinet resonance
4) Bass extention and potential
5) Simplicity of crossover (easy to drive/ tube friendly
6) Highest WAF of ALL (at our house), (I also like the looks)
I have also decided to update my ancient amps (Quad II Mono's, contact me if you are interested in them), and bought a used CJ MV-60, here. I love music, and have loved CJ amps because they make music.
I have used the MV-75, MV-50, Premier 4, Premeir 5's, Mv-55, and now it will be the MV-60. Lew and Bill's company is always a pleasure to deal with for updates and service (of which I have needed little).
I am also going to try a pair of NuForce monos for the second voice coil, and perhaps full range. NuForce makes an amazing new switching amp, small, cool running, and powerful, 100wpc Monos for $1600. I'll try 'em! Word has it that they compare favorably with the highe$t of the high (all bow), THE HALCRO.
I'll be comparing the NuForce amps to the MV-60's holographic midrange, and also the Rowland 201's and we shall see what we shall see.
Should have listened to "The Horns" from the Horn Shoppe! Had two pairs of 57's (my fav), have 989's. Fi"X" and "Horns"-paradise....
great midrange great price
Couldn't agree more with Robyatt, having acquired a pair of Horns a couple of weeks ago for an 8wpc SEP -- still kind of amazed at how good they are by any standard, let alone in relation to their modest size and price.
When someone finally makes a decision and is pleased with it, it's just so nice when you folks chime in to say he should have done something different. How thoughtful of you!
The horn shoppe horns look fantastic, I bet they sound that way too. Especially with SET or SEP(?) single-ended pentode?
But in my case, as I think I mentioned, my domestic harmony ruled out large obelisks.
Also, with back loaded horns, many here have also complained about beamy high frequencies and wooly bass or less than steller bass, or no low bass at all.
Because the Quads always had these limitations which were a source of irritation to other listeners (I enjoy sharing music with friends) as well as myself, the solutions to these limitations became the criteria any new speaker had to meet.
According to design review (singer/songwriter Pollyanna Bush see CDBaby.com, for her album), the Gallos Ref 3's are a winner, and that, my friends, is more than half the battle.
Good listening, with good music,
I also preferred the 57's over the 63's and lived with the 57's in a second system for a while. I preferred my Sonus Faber Electa's over the 57's, particularly driven by a tubed amp. So my recommendation would be to try the smaller standmount SF's and maybe use a CJ CAV 50 integrated. You asked for specific experiences so I'll stick to what I've owned and suggest trying Sonus Fabers with CJ tubes.
On the other hand, if imaging is your main priority, there are probably better choices out there than the SF's. But it's hard not to fall for their midrange and purity of tone/timbres.
I have used many speakers throughout my years as a audio enthusiast. I recently owned a pair of Harbeth Monitor 40's, I have owned speakers like Dynaudio, Spendor, Proac, Rogers LS5/9 Rogers LS3/5a, Tannoys and many many others, I recently heard electrostatics and found them to have the best imaging and midrange. I sold the harbeths and have very happily settled with a pair Quad ESL 63 speakers (fully refurbished). The Quads are like a window, the better your equipment is the better the Quads will sound. I use Accuphase equipment costing in the region of £13,000. The Quads are amazing. Do not sell them!
Just in time Abz90.......
Another few years and Earthpulse would have made a terrible mistake?
I had stacked Quad 57's, and a single pair of 63's.
My first stats were Acoustat 3 without the servo amps.
Also owned Martin Logan Sequel 2, and two pairs of ML CLS.
I went thru a cone phase,but came back to stats with a nice pair of Acoustat Monitor X with the tube servo amps which have been upgranded where necessary.
I think that once the stat bug bites,and you have been bitten, someday you will want another pair of stats and rue the day you let your Quads go.
I suggest you find some cheap little speakers to please the wife, and look for another space in your home for one pair of Quads, or at least put one pair in storage.
Trust me, someday you'll be looking to buy what you've sold.
I've had several ESLs through the years, from Acoustat 2+2s, Audiostatics, Quad 57s, and Sound Labs. The Quads and the Sound Labs are the best of the genre; I have been a Sound Lab dealer for several years. Wanting a smaller speaker line, I recently brought in Transmission Audio M1i monitors, and as great as the Sound Labs are, these little speakers are the real deal. I can listen to them joyfully all day and night without fatigue. They're not inexpensive but the performance belies the simple appearance. Fast, fun, and true to the music.
Audiokinesis also makes speakers that should be considered. They are easy to drive and quite musical! as well as very reasonably priced.
In your stated price preference:
I'm a former owner of Quad ESL (what people now call "ESL-57) and ESL63. Particularly if you prefer the 57 over the 63, I think you will not find satisfaction in a crossover-based dynamic speaker. Of that sort, consider the Spendor S3/5 in either of its voicings. This is one of a few speakers able to legitimately claim to be a modern update on the venerable BBC LS3/5a monitor, and is probably the most neutral among them.
However, I have two other, more pertinent suggestions in crossoverless speakers that have the behavioral unity and speed of the Quads. One option is the Zu Omen speaker. THey take up about 1 square foot of floor space and can be ordered or found used in a variety of stained wood colors. The Zu Omen is friendly to SS or tube amps. The Omen is built around Zu's 10" full range driver supplemented by a supertweeter above 12.5kHz on a high pass filter. At 98db/w/m efficiency, Omen is easy to drive with a modest power SET tube amp, will handle much more power from push-pull tube amps, and it puts solid state amps in their sweet spot.
A second excellent option, if you stretch your budget just a little, is the Audience 1+1 micro-monitor. This uses the astonishing Audience full-range driver. This speaker delivers all the behavior unity of the ESL57, without the beaming, and despite its tiny dimensions is less limited dynamically than the much larger Quad.
For anyone looking for Quad ESL-like sound and unity behavior in an aesthetically discreet speaker with high spouse acceptance factors, I think the Audience 1+1 is unbeatable. $1800/pair. It was pushing out one of the best sounds at any price, at the recent Newport Beach show.
Well you upgraded the speakers, and Im not sure how that turned out for you? How about upgrading the wife and keeping the Quads!!!