Quad II with quality glass. I’m running real GEC KT 66s. I did a piece on the web which has links on amps for the 57. I’ve owned mine since 1974 (they’ve been restored by Electrostatic Solutions-- there are several other amps mentioned). When I used them back in the ’70s, I ran various ARC tube amps. The little Quad II sounds better. My pair of amps date from around 1961-- also restored. They aren’t terribly expensive but the tubes can get costly. I don’t know where you can even find OG KT 66s today, though I understand that the one modern one- I forget which-probably Russian- sounds ok.
I’m running rebuilt late 50s EICO HF-35 monos under each speaker. They are a EL34/6L6 design (running 7581A) and sound fantastic.
Basically any 10-35 watt (more if you have protection circuit) push-pull tube amp will work. The Quads reveal more and more detail with improved equipment at every stage.
@whart I ran Quad ll in the 80s with GEC 66s too. Magical midband and sweet as a nut. However, If my aural memory serves me well, I do believe my updated EICOs may solidly outshine them.
EBay seller otsonline has the Bedini 25/25 listed at $1599 + $50 shipping. Maybe he would take a bit less? That's the first one I've seen with the 19" rack panel. Plus it has new filter caps. Certainly a rare amp! I still have mine which I bought new in 1981 from Innovative Audio in Brooklyn Heights. Mine is awaiting new ps caps.
If you have any DIY skills, consider these. I made half a dozen of them - and still use two of them in my HT, running Magnepan MMW. Clear, musical sound and dirt cheap. The better the parts, the better they sound.
If the link doesn't work, Google "J L Hood amp for Quad".
Near everyone goes for tubes with these, but a Sugden A21SE integrated or the Bedini will garner some very good results. Both Class A. The Bedini of course will be aged and suffer from degradation like any electronics.
The VTL Tiny Triodes were dynamite. Very quick and musical with surprising bass control. I love EL 84 based amps. Best of luck in your search.
OP, with such programme material, you might enjoy addition of air, separation, and greater front to back spatial rendering, trying Max Townshend's Supertweeters. Designed specifically for ESL57's. Listening to the kind of music you note, even, at low volume in the evening resulted for me in a magical bath of sound. (Electrostatic Solutions rebuild at 89dB efficiency and 4W + 4W ADI valved SET, (15' x 13' x 10' ceiling room)). The SET was part of the magic. Alas by comparison my rebuilt Quad 303 was dry with markedly reduced colour. If you go the SET route, check with amp and valve / tube manufacturer on long term operating conditions. Alas, I had no space for my 57's, and so they went to a very happy fellow listener.
Original Futterman H3. Quicksilver Minimite Monoblocks, Antique Sound Lab AV 25 Monoblocks.
The Bedini 25/25 is known for its synergy with the ESL 57. What may not be as well known is that the Futterman H3 OTL was also highly recommended for use with the Quad 57. I’ve never owned a pair of 57’s, but I did own an H3 and early 25/25 which I used to drive 15 ohm Rogers LS3/5A’s. These we’re both successful pairings.
Owning both the ASL AV25 and QuickSilver MM mono's, I would think that they would also have a great synergy with the ESL 57.
Thanks everyone for confirming the Bedini, seems like a sure bet.
@terry9 , thanks for the DIY suggestion, got the skills but
corporate America and my three young kids aren’t agreeable ;-), but a great option down the road …
@psf4972 , really interesting option those superweeters, and appealing for the low volume capabilities
I ran super tweets with my 57s back in the day-- Deccas, which I still have and Sequerras, which were a good substitute (also used ribbons).
It gave the Quad a broader sweet spot, given how beamy the original tweeter panel is- but it wasn’t a substitute for the stock tweeter. It was fun putting it together even with the subs available at the time (this was before subwoofers were as common as they are today- which I attribute to the home theatre boom of the ’90s). Sort of a mini-HQD system.
These days, I just run my Quads without add-ons, no aftermarket stands, etc. They serve well in a small parlor as part of a vintage system.
If I wanted to get serious about Quads as a main speaker-- I still know a few people who run them as such-- I would definitely look at a stacked/double pair.
Quads are sort of a perennial favorite- I’ve known people who got rid of them, only to buy another pair. As long as they are in good condition, and have been gone over (E Solutions added a protection circuit and more conventional connectors), you can enjoy them without worry. Classic speaker, despite its obvious limitations.
PS: I also had Crosby modded '63s, and though a better all-arounder, it did not have the magic of the '57 in the mids in my estimation.
Futterman OTL- best I’ve owned or heard
Heathkit UA2s, Eico HF14 or other 6BQ5 amp with good iron
EL34, 6L6 or 7591 tube amp (see above) like ST70, Eico HF87, MC225 or Klimt Kent and 8B if you’re well heeled
Scott 222s, Fisher X100s and other vintage integrateds can be wonderful, too
I prefer tubes, clearly, and feedback is necessary in my experience— I’ve had several pairs over the past 30 years-:)