Anybody heard the Quad 21L or 21L2?


A couple of weeks ago, I started what has turned into an enormous thread on the topic of "budget" loudspeakers for a small to medium-sized room. Here is the link, if you're interested:

I want to thank all the people on this website who have been so helpful in their comments and suggestions. I had not been involved in the high-end audio scene for over 20 years, and really wasn't aware what's available these days. Really, the people on Audiogon gave me a complete reeducation on this topic! Thanks to all of you. :-)

Now, getting to the point. At my price range, and with my associated equipment and room size and listening preferences, I was pretty well settled on picking up a pair of used Totem Arros. They seem to be going for around $800 here. The problem, however, is that my wife would really prefer that the speaker be black, or in the case of the Totem, Black Ash veneer. But all of the used Totems here on Audiogon are either mahogany or cherry finish. Getting a pair of them, new, in the black finish, will cost me over $1300, plus tax. :-(

In the other thread, however, a speaker that came highly recommended was the Quad 21L2. It turns out that I can get a pair of these in Piano Black finish for just under $1000, plus shipping. this is very attractive, indeed, but reviews of this speaker on the Internet are scarce-to-nonexistent. So, what I need to know is, whether any of you fine audiophiles have actually heard this speaker? Do you know anything about its power handling, imaging, transparency? Do you know anything about how fussy it is about room placement?

Thanks, again, in advance! You folks are fantastic. :-)
I have actually been meaning to post a review of these but have not finished it up yet as I have been too busy.

I have alot of experience with the L series Quads. 12l, 21l, 22l, 12l Active and now 21l2- in black.

I am going to keep it short for now but these might be the best all around performing speakers I have ever heard- all things considered. (price, size, amplifier requirements, looks, imaging, bass, transparency, and top end)

They do very well with good and bad recordings and are fairly easy to place. They are extremely transparent and natural sounding. I absolutely love them.

Can you tell me about the imaging and transparency? Thanks!
They are almost as transparent as my Magnepans and pin point image far better. Transparency is a big factor for me- they have a good dose of that "music materializing out of thin air" quality that good ribbions are known for. They are extremely cohesive from top to bottom and completely dissapear. I think they are better than the 22s in this respect. They also throw a wide and deep dipole like soundstage.

In terms of character, in my room they sound relaxed with a sweet top end that may be just a little laid back. I never am gritting my teeth trying to get through passages with a lot of HF information. They are never harsh sounding. They resolve small details very well but also are able to play back poor recordings and make them sound decent- this alone is a very rare trait at any price.

I have run them with various tube and SS integrateds and seperates. The best results I have had is with Arcam electronics. I have an a65 integrated which is 40wpc SS and powers them well. 20 tubes watts is not enough for FWIW- they sound flat- in fact it is not even close to enough power. A big 100wpc Aragon amp offered no more control or depth than the Arcam and had a slightly less appealing tone to me. Arcam is known to be "warmer" sounding gear and paired with the Quads which I would consider a tad cool and neutral it suits my tastes well.

The speaker is very much like the 12l but with more bass which seems to provide more information spatially in addition to a more muscular overall presentation. There is a ton of stuff written about the 12l, and the 21l/l2 gives up nothing in comparison so it might be worth a search or two on the 12l to get a baseline.

The pictures that you see online do no justic to the cabinets. My wife likes black as well and she really likes these. They may be smaller than you imagine, but they are finished extremely well and the new binding posts and plinth system are very well implemented. L1 series binding posts, while high quality suck to use.

The one qualm I have with them is that sometimes I wish vocals were presented a few inches higher. Tilt may be the key here and I am working on figuring out a good formula.



This is all extremely helpful. Many, many thanks!
Happy to share!

Good luck

Ditto! I am purchasing a pair of 21L2s -- really looking forward to setting them up. I will be using a Jolida 302b - should be enough power I think
Let me add a slightly different perspective to the mix here. I've had a pair of 21Ls, but eventually moved up to the 22Ls. The price difference between the two models on the used market borders on trivial. The added low end on the 22Ls makes then a bit more desirable in my view, that is unless you are pairing the 21Ls with a sub. I will agree with the others who commend these speakers for their fine sound. The 21Ls have a very smooth sound, never harsh, and are indeed stunning to look at in all of their different finishes. With that said, what's frustrating about the Quad L series is how power hungry they are. I have my 22Ls in the living room and have progressively moved from a 100 wpc, to a 120 wpc, to a 200 wpc amp to drive them--and I'm still turning the preamp way up to get decent loudness out of them. I'm astonished that one of the contributors to this thread can effectively drive these with a 40 wpc amp. My advice, unless you are going to place these speakers in your powder room, is to have on hand an amp with a bare minimum of 125 watts per channel to drive them. With that, a good preamp, and bi-wire speaker cables, you will almost surely like what you hear.
In the end, I decided to go with a pair of Totem Arros, in part do to this being a very small listening room, and in part because I'm only running a PS Audio Elite Plus integrated amp with 70 watts/channel. Waveform, thanks for the info about the power needed to drive the 21L2's. I'm sure they're marvelous speakers, but I'm suspecting that given my room and associated equipment, the Totem's were a better choice for me.
Waveform, sounds like your sources are lower voltage than normal, you like things real loud or you have a huge room.

21s are 88db sensative, 22s are 89. This is far from what most would consider power hungery.

16wpc is getting 21s close to 100db. That is pretty loud.


FWIW -- I have the Quad 21L2s up and running with the Jolida 302. Sounds marvelous to me! I imagine the bass will take a few weeks to settle in, but so far so good!

Cheers - Marty
It did take a little while for the bass to relax on mine it seems. They seemed a little tense out of the box to me.
How many Watts are you running through them?

There is a review in last month's Hifi World - they were awarded 5 stars in the group test, only negative issue was they recommend a low couch for the tweeter to be at ear level.

Measured sensitivity was 86db and average impedance around 6ohm.
I carefully compared 21Ls to the Rega 3 and the Devore Gibbon 8, which is a great speaker and over twice the price of the Quads. Using Naim's entry gear (50Wpc), the Quads held up really well and while I did like the Devore's bass response just a bit better, the difference was very slight.

Echoing what others have said here, the finish on the Quad's looks like a million bucks - and is Steinway piano deep. I suggest tipping the 21L's up a few degrees towards your ears, and you will be amazed at the soundstage presented and lack of boxiness.
Please note that the bass and overall sound of the Quads should be judged after 200hrs. Yeah, sadly that is true. As an owner of Quad 21L for 3 years, I think I can chip in my 2 cents. But be prepared for pleasant surprises after that. Once the speaker is properly broken in, it is as if you purchased an entirely new music collection. One more thing that helps is bi-wiring. You can check my system and the tweaks I have made to my amp. Not too much in $$$....but worth improving the sound up a couple of notches. Right now I am saving for a better amp - not in terms of power - but in resolution. Enjoy your 21Ls and your music :-)

Something may not be in "synergy" with your system - or it must be a really big room that you have your equipment in. I never go above 9 o'clock on the volume dial on my NAD.
For the 22L2's .... how much difference does using the plinths and spikes make (on hardwood floors)?