Amp for Quad ESL 57


I recently bought a pair of Quad ESL 57, Wayne Piquet modified. They are simply amazing. I am currently using my McIntosh MA2275, and it does a good job overall. However, I wonder whether the new Quad II-Forty might a better choice. Any idea?
ggavetti
the quads do not need power. find a low wattage amp, under 25 watts that you like.
I wonder whether the new Quad II-Forty might a better choice. Any idea?
I don't particularly like most of the new Macs... BUT my idea is, it is most unlikely. Keep the Mac. The Mac's weak point is the phono, then the pre section (BUT, you do get tone controls and a mono switch -- both work quite well). The power amp section is good, with OPT which seem to favour linearity from mid-bass up to reasonably high. The Quad is... well, "pleasant". You;re fine as is.
Find a Berning EA-230.
I've tried a number of different amplifiers and find that vintage English tubes is what they prefer. I'm currently using a Radford STA-15 that sounds wonderful.

Leak Stereo 20 works as well but you will need to pot down the input.
The Quad II Classic (re-issue) or the original Quad II are much better amps than the Quad II Forty. I have the first and with NOS EF 86s (Amperex or Mullard) and a NOS rectifier (a Mullard GZ34 or even better a GZ32) they are very impressive.
I would look for a Berning as well. Another great choice would be an Atmashere.

An old pair of Futtermann's LOL
Glad you like the speakers. You have a particularly amazing pair of Wayne's work.

Your speakers have protection boards installed so any amplifier will work without damage to the speaker.

Quads like amps with beefy, stable power supplies. Don't be afraid to give them some power. You will be amazed at what a 50-100watt tube amp will do with these speakers.

I use a pair of ARC D70mkII with the Quad ESL. About 65watts/channel. Wonderful tone, huge well defined soundstage and fantastic 'grip' on those bass panels.
Quad 405
Has anyone used an Atmasphere S30 with a Quad 57? Your comments about the synergy would be appreciated.
Do the amp requirments change for stacked Quads?
Thanks, Frank
Franks,

I drove a pair of Quad 57's with an S-30 a few years ago. Since I'm a dealer for the latter I'll refrain from editorializing too much and just say that yes, it can be done.

For stacked Quads driven in parallel, in my opinion the S-30's output impedance is too high. The M-60 would be a better choice. If the stacked Quads are wired in series, I think the S-30 would work fine.

I know a speaker cable designer who used stacked Quad 57's (wired in parallel I believe but I can find out for sure if you'd like) driven by M-60's as his reference system.

Duke
Any of the Esoteric Audio Research amps will sound marvellous with the Quads, other than being built in the same home town, the designer, Tim De Parvicini voices his amps with Quads and winds his output transformers to optimally deal with the wild loads they present.
My single ended EAR 869 profoundly pairs with the 57's as if there was to be no better of a perfect match, this combo delivers the 4th dimension AND bass !!
Thanks to you all. Lots of good suggestions.

I've heard great things about the EARs. AS for the EAR 869, are 15W x channel enough? I have a small room right now, but I plan to move to a slightly larger one soon...and I am afraid I need a bit more power.
Any of the Esoteric Audio Research amps will sound marvellous with the Quads, other than being built in the same home town, the designer, Tim De Parvicini voices his amps with Quads and winds his output transformers to optimally deal with the wild loads they present.
My single ended EAR 869 profoundly pairs with the 57's as if there was to be no better of a perfect match, this combo delivers the 4th dimension AND bass !!
Well frankly it's not how much power you throw at the 57's, which is where many go completely wrong....they can only handle so much to start with, I've tried 80wrms PP tube grunt which did not even remotely do any justice to what these remarkable speakers can impart...as previously mentioned the EAR amps are optimally suited to the Quad load, this is more important than mere watt figures will tell you.
My room is 4.5m w x 6m open ended continuing into an open plan area, the EAR 869 was more than sufficient and the bass was superb...dynamics is relatively limited on any Quads regardless of how much power you try to bludgeon them with !
Having said that, I've spoken with other owners who swear by the pairing of 57's with the EAR 861, which is a PP version of the 869, delivering twice the output power per channel.
Whatever you do, if you can have the opportunity to audition the 57's with any EAR amps, I'm sure you will be very impressed.
From personal experience I think the pairing of 57's with the right SET amp such as the 869 is one of the very rare combinations which allows you to enter the 4th dimension of sound such is the tangible palpability...I sat a friend down to listen to Jazz at the Pawn Shop and he literally stood up and looked all around for hidden speakers saying how freakily present the ambience was, as if one was sitting inside the actual venue and partaking at the bar...indeed it is profound how betwixt these two items of electronics from Huntingdon, UK, music is conjured.
This is very helpful, Coolhand. I may actually give it a try. Ken Kessler raves about the V20...that might be an interesting one to try. It looks like EARs are pretty hard to find in the second hand market, am i right?
Quite true, you don't often see EAR items for sale second hand anywhere...for once you own them, you come to appreciate how very special they are at dare I say it, becoming musical instruments,however there is an EAR 859 on the'Gon right now, and with a few tweaks this amp is very special and ideally suited to the 57's...a real sleeper in fact
Ggavetti,What a pair of incredible speakers you have.I have owned a pair of Quad 63s going on 25 years, since overhauled. I drive them with Atma-Sphere model 60s to very good musical results.However,Coolhands advice on the E.A.R. is something I will have to look into....Thanks Coolhand....
This may be a bit cross-grained (pardon the pun) but I have tried my PK 57's with Berning's ZH270, Bel Canto Ref 1's and an old pair of Naim 135's. The Naim immediately let me relax and listen to the music more than the others. The Berning was more sparkly. The Bel Canto's did not have as much control of bass notes as the Naims did but had more depth perspective. All were driven by a minimalist tube pre.

Curious to hear which you decide upon.
I never tried Naim 135's. It's an interesting thought, although I am more in the tube camp. If I could find a used one, I'd probably go for the EAR V20...perhaps I'll wait until I see one. My Mac is actually doing a pretty good job (I am among those who think Mac's are underrated).
I have heard mentioned by people who have tried it that the Audio Note P2 SE amp is a fine match with the Quad ESL 57 speakers. It was characterized as a match made in heaven. I've never heard that combination although I would love to as I have owned a P2 SE for twelve years. In my experience it is a very reliable amp as I have never had a single problem with it in the time I have owned it.
I feel I must put in a plug for Heathkit UA-1s. I've tried several amps with my 57s (which have treble panels rebuilt by Mr. Picquet by the way), including original Quad IIs, Dynaco ST 35s, a Bedini 25/25 and even a Red Wine Audio Signature 30, and the Heathkits are my personal favorites.

I was initially interested in trying the Heathkits when Sheldon Stokes commented on his website that they are his amps of choice for the 57s, and I thought it would be a nice cheap way to get started (as a matter of fact, a pair went for only $350 on eBay earlier today). I personlly find them to be a VERY synergistic match and currently have a pair being updated/modded by Bill Thalman of Music Technology(formerly of Conrad Johnson).

Don
That's very interesting. Is it possible to get Heathkits in good conditions? Where would you get them? For instance, do you know if Bill Thalman occasionally sells them? Tx.
Hello Ggavetti - no, Bill does not usually have any for sale, but I do see them come up regularly on U.S. eBay. Most of them seem need to need minor repairs (such as new caps), but I'm sure you have someone in your area who could do them. Sheldon Stokes discusses the amp on his website and also offers a custom cap board that I'm assuming is still available (http://www.quadesl.com/). Good luck, I think they are a tremendous bargain.

Don
Duke (or others),

I would be grateful if you would "editorialize" just a bit more about matching an Atma-Sphere S-30 with Quad ESL 57s. I have a Stokes-restored pair of Quads and a fully-balanced Joule Electra preamp. I would love to try this amp, but some seem to recommend the more powerful M-60s instead. Not sure if this is for power or impedance reasons. Also, are the Speltz autoformers necessary (or strongly recommended) to run Quads with the S-30 (or the M-60s for that matter)? Thanks for any input.
Hello

The best amp I've ever heard on my Quads is a Futterman OTL. I've had Manley El84's, EAR 509's, Audio Innovations 2A3's, Lectron EL34's (JH50), Audionote Single Ended and an Audionote copy of the Ongaku using 211 valves. Once you hear a good OTL, amps with output transfomers seem veiled. Also OTL's love the high impedence of Quad 57's. Watch out for Croft OTL's especially the 3R which is supposed to be amazing. I heard a Series 3 which was great but not quite as good as my Futterman. Surprisingly too I think my Croft Twinstar Mosfet/Valve hybrid out performs any non OTL valve amp. There's a chap in London called Adrian Parsons (Audioflair.co.uk) who has led me through the maze of amps out there to where I am now and he's been right every time.

have fun SgtWilko
I was actually about to sell my McIntosh MA-2275 for an integrate EAR V 20, when a friend of mine told me it would be a huge mistake. His suggestion was to change a couple of stock tubes for my Mac, and get Telefunken. I did that, and the sound have improved. It's not more detailed and neutral. I like my Mac a lot, although I'd like to try the V 20 at some point. Giovanni
I tried 3 different tube amps and a ss unit. The best I found to power my Quad ESL 57's was the Cary SLAM 100 monoblocks. They ar 90wpc triode. Very warm and powerful enough for complicated passages. I tried Conrad Johnson, Manley and liked the Cary's the best.
I used to drive Quad ESL with Mc2275. Overall pretty good combo. If you use a separate preamp, TVC or passive driving the amp section, the amp gets a lot better. I ultimately sold to for midline Naim combo. I also tried VAC phi 110 and I am going to try Jadis 88S. Never heard EAR but Coolhand has more experience than me.

Also look into quad 2 eighty.
I currently have a Berning EA-230 which pairs great with the Quad ESL 57. The VTL TT-25 is another very good match. Lots of EL-84 PP amps should work well with
Quads.
Roberts4152, FWIW most of our customers who run the 57s seem to prefer the M-60s. I think there are a variety of reasons for this, not the least of which the M-60 is a monoblock, allowing for shorter speaker cables. Usually people operate them with 6 power tubes rather than 8, so it does not seem to be a power issue over the S-30.
I hear the Bedini 25/25 is a great amp for the Quads. I bought a 45/45 awhile back for my Maggie 3.6s and it's one of the nicest SS amps I've had on them and I'm a big tube fan, especially SETs. Good luck.
Music Reference RM10 MKII- try it, you'll like it -- alot.
I have a friend who is using the Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 to drive a pair of ESL 57s and I have never heard the 57s sound so good and he has tried many amps - tubed and solid state, some costing many times the price. He saw this comment about the combo in this review
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/redwine8/302_3.html
and decided to try it out and was equally amazed and so was I. Only 30 watts per channel, but lots of current from the sealed lead acid batteries and the strange impedance of the 57s does not seems to bother the 30.2.

The sound is warm rich and tube like but with very accurate bass response and nice dynamic range. I also recently received my 30.2 and am equally impressed, but I don't run Quads but I am thinking of getting a pair of Waynes ESL 57s now! FWIW...

Jeff
The Music Reference RM10 was designed by Roger Modjeski for use with his Quad Electrostatics. New they are $1950 (good luck finding a used one - $1,000ish), they are small, only 14lbs, just six small inexpensive tubes with the power tubes (EL84) rated for 10,000 hours. Have no idea how they compare to the RW, but these are fantastic amps desinged by one of the great designers made for use with his Quads -- worth consideration, I think.
Atmasphere; thank you for your response.
I love my Quad ESL speakers but my intention in this post is to offer some accolades for the EAR 861.

With the Quads, I can say that for the money, this is the best hi-fi that I have had in my home. It is also, now, a musical reference point for me that I judge all other systems by.

The EAR 861 also drives my Wilson Benesch Curves quite nicely too. It has enough grunt to give them life (although they are not too difficult of a speaker to drive).

The flexibility that the amp offers of using XLR or single-ended inputs on the EAR 861 is also advantageous. It is my preference right now to run a completely balanced system with a digital source, and then with a flip of a switch on the amp, I run a completely single-ended system with an analog source.

The EAR 861 is not a very common amp to find in the US (although the Japanese love it). It took me a while to track mine down, but it was worth the effort.
I just got an EAR 890 to drive my ESL 57, and I don't know which pre-amplifier to choose for it...I have a few ideas but I'd like to hear from more experienced folks. Thanks.
Hello Ggavetti,

That EAR 890 / Quad ESL 57 combo is probably superb. I have thought about building a second system using the 890 with more modern Quads, like the 63 or the 988s.

The advice I can offer on picking a pre-amp is this:

Try a fully balanced pre-amp and a true single ended pre-amp. Toggle back and forth using the switch on the rear of the 890. Right now I am using a Tom Evans Vibe with Pulse power supply for my single ended pre-amp. For my balanced pre-amp, I am using an Ayre-K1x. I prefer the Tom Evans going into the single ended inputs of my 861 (using Kimber PBJ right now) over the Ayre going into the XLR inputs using Cardas Golden Reference. To be fair, the Tom Evans is the latest and greatest, whereas the Ayre does not have the "e" upgrade that I have heard makes it a much better pre-amp (although it is already incredible).

Depending on your sources, and whether or not you can live without a remote, I think you would be doing quite well with a Tom Evans preamp. However, if you run fully balanced sources, I would highly recommend the Ayre.

As an aside, I have always been curious about Tim de Paravicini's pre-amps. If I had a chance, I would try to demo the 912. That things looks killer!

Best of luck on your journey.

-Jake
Interesting suggestion. Thanks. Some people think the EAR ESL 834L is actually quite good and not that pricey. Someone suggested a Shindo Aurieges or any Shindo Lab preamplifier.
anyone ever use vtl tiny triodes or quicksilver minimites.

i am taking my own suggestion and looking for 25 watts or less--tube amps. i may be purchasing stacked quads. iowned them once and two is not enough. the difference in the midbass between two and four is significant.
Hello Mrtennis,

I also use VTL tiny triodes on my Quad ESL 57s. They are a fun little amplifier, and quite worth the price. I would highly recommend them for somebody on a limited budget or somebody that just wants some little amps that they can move around a lot.

As for the sound, I listen to them in triode mode on the Quads exclusively. Why bother with Tetrode mode unless it is a slightly more demanding speaker? Anyway, in triode mode I find that the bass is a bit lumpier than my EAR 861 amp, but it does sound sweeter. The EAR does not shame the VTLs at all (although it should at 6x the price). The VTLs get the job done...I just think the EAR is better.

I talked to Luke Manley about the Tiny Triodes a few months ago while he was demoing some monster Sigfried 750 watt amps. He said that although he liked the Tiny Triodes, the market just never seemed to really have a strong pull for them.

That seems understandable. In this day and age, people either want SET or they want really powerful amps. The manufactures selling 20-40 watt pushpull amps dont have a very big market to chase after.

Actually, that market is basically Quad ESL users, and maybe some 92+db dynamic driver speakers with forgiving impedance curves.

But getting back on point, I would say that a pair of (the later version) Tiny Triodes for $1100-$1400 is really good value.

Happy Listening,
Jake
I was a Quad dealer for years and sold a pair of 57s to a friend who has had them 32 years. I just visited him and he is using a rebuilt Heathkit amp by Foster Blair which sounded as good as anything I have heard. Classic tube gear rebuilt by Foster in available on the Mapleshade site. I have two of the Magic preamps he use to build and they are exceptional.
i have settled on a dyn stereo 70 and a consonance m400 monoblocs (40 watts, el 34, push pull and triode mode).
Mrtennis, any updates for the ST-70 planned?
hi ralph:

since i like a "dark", euphonically colored presentation, i would prefer the stock version, unless you are aware of a mod which would further darken the sound.

most mods tend to clarify and increase focus. this is not the direction i want to go.
My vote would go to the new 50A amplifiers from deHavilland. These are re-makes of the original 50A's made by Fischer in 1954. We used them at the RMAF with WB speakers. Kara has used them with Quads. I promise you won't be disappointed. You can check them out on her website at dehavillandhifi.com
Jim, you're a dealer for deHavilland, aren't you?

Mr. Tennis, there is something I don't understand: If you like a dark unfocused presentation, why are you working with Quads (which can be really revealing)?
high ralph:

i complement you for an excellent question ?

the answer is somewhat obvious. since the quad is as transparent as it gets within its frequency response, it has no sonic artifacts and is low in distortion. by feeding a signal which is subtractively colored, i can voice the frequency response and presentation, without the usual comprimises of box speakers. i achieve the frequency response i want, create euphonic coloration and do so without grain, box colorations and other annoyances of other speakers.

it is much easier to color a clear window than it is to color a tinted and dirty window.

by the way, regarding the dehavilland amps, i heard the predessor. unless the new one sounds very tubey in the classic sense, i doubt i would like it.
Ralph I am a dealer for deHavilland but I recommend that anyone interested contact Kara Chaffee directly. This suggestion was more for Ggavetti. I doubt that the Mr T would like the sound at all.
The most extensive "trial" of amps for Quads (originals and Wayne Picquet modded )I have heard of was done a couple years ago by Robin Wyatt, of Robyatt Audio, and a couple of his friends - Gary Krakow, the tech columnist for MSNBC and David Chesky of Chesky Records. They tried about two dozen amps including many of the usual suspects - Music Reference, Berning, Quad, ARC, VTL, Bedini, etc.. The favorite amp was the very expensive ASR Emitter I Exclusiv Blue, but the second favorite amp was a relatively inexpensive modified Rogue Atlas (bigger power supply, upgraded parts) using EH KT90 output tubes. The speaker cables used probably cost more than the Rogue amp! You can find the complete list of amps tried in an article at 6Moons: http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/roadtour7/roadtour3again.html