Amps for ESL

I'm looking for suggested amps for Quad 988's, but I am chasing something different for these speakers, not the usual stuff. I'm looking into Bryston or Classe pre and power. Anyone with any experience or advice?


Read my recent post "Quad is going to happen to me!?????

I have spent the last two nights in audio heaven, I am getting ready to sell a huge collection of obsolete equipment.

For what it's worth, I had M.L. reQuests with a Classe CA301. I "auditioned" an InnerSound ESL amp (check the various reviews on the ESL) and in my case -- no comparision, the ESL "killed" the Classe in all areas.

I would strongly recommend you audition an ESL amp before buying anything else. And, some icing on the cake, it's very affordable, should be able to pick one up for around $1600. used. 300 watts per channel, but more important, has TONS of VOLTAGE -- paramont for driving electrostats.

Another great amp with 'stats (and any speaker) is the Spectron Musician II, again, very affordable @ under $2k.

(Also, be sure to check other threads on this topic.)

Good luck!
Hello Milk&juice,

Although I presently own and peddle another brand of electrostat, I've also owned several pairs of Quads (though not the 988's).

Of the two amps you mention, I'd suggest the Classe'. I try to kinda specialize in amps that work well with electrostats, and among others I'm a dealer for the InnerSound amps that Denf mentions. If you find a used InnerSound for $1600, jump all over it!

The Spectron is a very nicely voiced amplifier and very enjoyable, but in my experience amps with digital switching power supplies don't have quite the liveliness of amps with a nice big conventional power supply. They seem to play plenty loud but don't quite have the impact and dynamic contrast (this is easier to discern when you listen from a room away than when you're in the sweet spot). I mention this because, if there is one area where our beloved electrostats could use a little help, it's in dynamic contrast. That being said I have not heard the latest incarnation of the Spectron, so this generalization may not apply.

You said that you were looking for "something different" to drive your Quads with. Have you considered an OTL tube amp, or do you want to stick with solid state? If OTL's are in the running, then I might have a rather "different" suggestion or two...

Best of luck to you!

I haven't heard the Classe 301. I have heard wonderful things about Classe and Innersound amps in general with stats. Have you considered Quad's own amps or Odyssey or Spectral. My experience with driving stat panels is that the amps need to be extremely stable. Some of the amps with switching power supplies just don't have the juice to play at anything but moderate levels.
I have Innersound ISIS, hybrid speakers. Couldn't afford their amp so went with a much less expensive alternative. Parasound HCA 1500, plenty of power & current, but I do consider it the weakest point of my system. I'm currently looking at tube amps (Music Reference, VTL and ARC). If I could have afforded the innersound amp I would have gotten it, and if I could afford their tube amp I would go that way also.

Good luck
I'm using my YBA Integre 50 watts integrated amp and can crank it up at very high volume and with very good result. If you have some sweet sounding integrated amp, try it. you might be surprise like I did.
Thanks for the advice

The reason I mention SS amps is because they are rarely used for electrostats and I am curious as to why, but after much reading I have a fair idea now.

The Innersound amps have gotten great feedback from the ESL camp and I am definately going to try to get my hands on one for an audition. Only drama is I'm in Australia and I can't find a dealer, and I'm waiting for a reply from Innersound.

I've also read good things about Classe but not anything with Esls though. I absolutely love these speakers and it seems anything I put through them just sounds "magical", but upgradeitis is really taking over and I am continuously looking for information on amps before I decide on a shortlist.

Thanks heaps for your help guys

check out: aamps&1024105702&read&keyw&zzkind=of=power
I use the Innersound esl amp to drive Magnepan 1.6 and love the effortless sound. Paul Seydor, a reviewer for The Absolute Sound, reviewed the Innersound esl amp with Quad speakers in the February 2001 issue. Here is a link to the review:
If you are interested in an Innersound amp and you can't find a dealer in Oz, give Duke at Audiokinesis a call or email. He is one of the best people to work with in the industry, not just amongst dealers either : ) Sean

PS... BIG voltage and BIG current are a winning combination for any type of reactive and / or low impedance load. The less "finicky" the load that the amp sees and the more efficient the speaker is, the easier it is to pick amps.
I had the quad esl 63 with the stax da80(45 watts pure class A,and stx da 100,100w class A),
They really are singing superb mid rande ,musical,et plenty of dry bass.
You could get a da80 for $800 on audiogon but you have to be patient,never seen a da 100
Try a McIntosh MC402 amp you will have no issues. They use auto transformers and function like a tube amp. Quad 62 will sing.
do yourself a favor: try a QUAD amp (909,606,306,303 but not the 99!) it will sound better then most other amps costing 10x more. However, you should avoid Quad preamps!
For more then 30 years i've owned 57,63,988,2805 with CJ,Electrocompaniet,Bedini,Counterpoint,Bryston, Naim,Pass Labs...,but always returned to the Quad amps !
i own the quad esls, i owned the 63s, i have auditioned the 988s and 989s.

i find that solid state amps rob the electrostatics i have mentioned of warmth and body.

i have auditioned the 63s using some ss amps, and prefer tubes.

if you are intent on purchasing a solid state amp. you might consider other amps, e.g., class a, or "darker" sounding ,older amps.