The Maggies have a wonderful coherence, but so have the Quads, they present a wonderful soundstage, but so do the Quads. The Maggies play a touch louder, they also seem to me a little more power hungry than the Quads. The Quads I think, dissolve complex musical information slightly better than the Maggies, they are a tiny touch more transparent, perhaps, but I cannot be quite sure. Its a very tough choice to make, both are excellent transducers. My advice is that you should try and listen to a Quad system before making up your mind. Perhaps through Audiogon you can find a fellow audiophile in your vicinity who runs a pair, or hop a plane, if you can. I would definitely not buy blind. Oh I think you Maggies are also a touch more dynamic, however with the Quads, if positioned right, you sometimes get the most beautifully holographic images, say of female singers, they are amazing in reproducing string quartetts, but when I listen to large symphonic music, I always want to turn up the volume control, a sure sign, that they lack a bit in dynamics, though they dissolve complex musical scores in a bewitching fashion. I could live with both speakers for a long long time. If you want the best of both worlds I would try one of Roger West's offerings though.
Since you obviously will run into quite a bit of trouble in order to listen to a 989 demo, you might as well buy a used pair on the Internet. If you don't like it, sell them and take really minimal loss (shipping plus less than 5% depreciation). Another beauty of buying used speakers is that they are well broken in by the time they reach you.
I own the 3.6, and have listened extensively to the 63's. Both are great. The quads are very easy to listen to and are very engaging, but you do lack dynamics and I think they need a big room. They are also rolled off in the highs. The best I heard was a double stacked version with a ribbon tweeter to extend the highs and a pair of subs. They require a lot of expertise to get right, but once done there's not much out there that will sound more pleasing. The Maggies have more sparkle and air and are much easier to set up provided you have high quality upstream components, and they do require a minimum of 100wpc with plenty of reserve power. Overall, they are far less expensive.
I have owned Quad 63's, 63's with Gradient subs, Original Quads, and Maggie 3.6's. It's a tough call. I really like the voicing of the Maggies - they are laid-back in the upper mids and lower treble, which keeps them from sounding harsh even with relatively poor recordings. The 63's are a bit forward in upper mids and lower treble, and will sound good with fewer recordings. I don't know if the 989's are voiced like the 63's in this region or not - from what I've read they are probably similar, but I haven't heard them yet. The Original Quads have the best mids of all, but don't do the frequency extremes as well as the Maggies. The Quads have better resolution than the Maggies, and the Quads sound better at low volume levels than the Maggies do. Overall I'd probably pick the Maggie 3.6's over the Quads I've heard, but the Maggie is not a clear winner. It's their warm, forgiving voicing that tips the scale in their favor. And I would pick any of them over box speakers in the same price ballpark, just to put things in perspective.
I would keep the 3.5s and buy a good subwoofer. Properly integrated, you will have a full range speaker system which would be comparable with if not more musical than some very expensive dynamic speakers (to wit, the Revel Studios, etc.)
Remember, newer and more expensive does not necesarily equate to more enjoyment of the musical experience. Isn't that the bottom line?
Audiokinesis, to these here ears you are right on the money! You've put it much better than I did. Gmorris's subwoofer idea is also great, that goes for the Quads too, by the way. The 989 are indeed similar voiced to the 63s in the midrange, they have better bass, the highs are sometimes slightly etchy with mediocre software. Its a demanding speaker, but heaven with good recordings of small ensembles. All the same, Sdzink, I would also look into the Soundlab ESL's, they REALLY give you the best of both worlds
The Quad 989 is a great sounding speaker but it has a low wife acceptance factor. i just sold mine and really miss their full-balanced sound and great imaging.
Sorry about that, LjGj, what was it, that she didn't like about it? Was it too big, too black? I think its a very good point to bring in and to consider, when hunting for a new speaker system.
Thanks everyone for your suggestions!
Pleasure, Sdzink, will you tell us how you decided yourself and, once set up, how you liked it?
To repoond to the wife factor - the 989 was just too wide and plain - and the plastic endcaps are distracting to any decor done in woods - she thought they were cheap looking.
I think, she had a point aboput the endcaps. Its truly a pity that they went cheapo there!
I agree with your wife Ljgj, the new Quads are really cheap looking. WHY did they replace the wood with plastic?!
The Quads are great sounding speakers but I prefer my Maggie 3.6´s over the new 989´s.