Quad 988 / 989 reliability ??

It's well known that the old Quads (57 and 63) had some reliability problems, and that repairing them can be expensive. Is there enough data our there on the 988 / 989 to say anything about their robustness and reliability ? Have any of the 988 / 989 users who are reading this had any problems ?
So far, so good.
I've been using 63s for years and had no special reliability problems, except for the fact, that after about 3 years of very heavy use they had to go into service, which was costly, but well worth it, because it is still an excellent transducer. Not so with the 989, which I am not happy with. 2 weeks in use, one went sour one me and since then, there are intermittent crackling and popping noises from both speakers.
First pair were faulty. Replacements have been fine so far (touch wood). I think that if you get a pair with a problem, it'll be immediately obvious so you can get them exchanged straight away. Once you have a good pair, based on other owners' comments I've seen, I think that you'll be fine. I admit that you shouldn't have to deal with QC issues at this price level, but please don't it dissuade you from owning a magnificent speaker.

And BTW, do you really feel the need for a sub? The 989s go down to 35hz at -6db and adding a sub will introduce a crossover and phase incoherency (if your sub is ported). If you must, perhaps you could try the REL ST series subs which are very flexible from an integration perspective and are designed for music, not HT.

We sold the first 25+ pairs of the new speakers. It was a task trying to keep them working. The circuit boards were very thin and the delay line coils would come loose and fall off. Also the panels seemed to be very inconsistant. The speaker is not a Quad product in the old sense as the Walkers have nothing to do with this company any longer. We are close to the US service center and problems are still present. Make certain you have a dealer who will replace out of box failures or take care of warrenty for his customers. Also they have econimized the board system by placing all the electronics on 1 board instead of the 3 boards used perviously . If a failure occures the whole electronic needs replaced.
Detlof - Thanks for your post. What kind of service was required after 3 yrs? How much "system downtime" did you incur while they were being repaired ? thanks.
Anopax - thanks for your post. I am seriosly considering a pair of Quads. I am undecided between the 988 and 989. I am smitten by the sound of Quads, but I want to alleviate all the concerns I have heard and read about: reliability, LF extension, and max SPL. I really don't know if I will be satisfied with LF extension and max SPL until I have lived with them in my home for a while - that is why I am inquiring about subs. I currently use a transmission line loaded speaker that is flat to below 20 Hz, so I am spoiled by superb LF performance, and I am reluctant to give this up. But, I also want the transparency and imaging of the Quads. thanks
Hififarm - Are you STILL a Quad dealer ? If so, is recent experience improving ? i.e. are the QC issues being addressed by the manufacturer ? Where is the US service center? Are they competent and responsive (fast turnaround)? thanks
You might want to try Sound Labs as an alternative. Comparing new production to new production, fewer problems. In the right model, better bass - the kind you are looking for.
Mbonn, we talking about the ESL 63, right? Had no downtime, because I've always kept a pair in reserve, bought cheap and used. Downtime would have been 4-5 weeks and we are talking Switzerland, Germany here. Service: sometimes panel replacement, restretching of the plastic covering, checking all the electronics, tightening loose panels. As far as the 989 is concerned, parts quality is cheapo, the bord is flimsy. Hififarm is right and to be commended for his honesty. Also the speaker is voiced differently from the old 63s. It is darker. I am going to drive it to death and then switch to SoundLab.
Detlof - Actually I'm talking about the 988 or 989. Having 2 pair so that I always have a spare pair is not a realistic option for me. It sounds from your post that you have moved from the 63 to the 988 or 989 ? And that you plan to swith to Sound Lab when you "drive it to death" ?
Thank you all for your reponses. I would like to keep this thread going. I am assuming that any Quad owner who is an "end user" (not a dealer) who sees this thread will respond as to whether they have had problems or not with their 988 / 989. It may require some time to gather meaningful statistics.

I encourage all 988/989 Quad owners to make a posting on this thread. Thanks !!
Mbonn, I use an array of stators in mys setup. I am running 63s with a pair of 989s. It is the latter that I am unhappy with and which, after its demise, I shall replace with Sound Labs. Cheers,

I have had my 989s for a year and a half now, with no
problems yet (I even moved 800 miles to a new job, and
they survived just fine). I use them a LOT, up to several
hours a day. I tend not to listen very loud, perhaps
around 86-88 dB (with peaks up to 6 dB higher).

Before my 989s, I had the ESL-63 US monitors for 10
years. It never failed on me even once in all that time!

Perhaps I've just been lucky. I do have a spare speaker
just in case my 989 dies (a Harbeth M40).

- Sridhar
I've had my Quad 988s since December and haven't had any problems whatsoever. For what it's worth, Hi FI Farm is no longer a Quad dealer, and, if you look back over the last few years, products that Steve and his salesmen say leave other equipment in the dust come and go faster than inventory at Wal-Mart.
I've had my Quad 988s since December and haven't had any problems whatsoever. For what it's worth, Hi FI Farm is no longer a Quad dealer, and, if you look back over the last few years, products that Steve and his salesmen say leave other equipment in the dust come and go faster than inventory at Wal-Mart.
9rw, congrats, I guess you have been lucky. On principle, the 989 is a wonderful tansducer, though voiced a tad darker than the 63s to these here ears. But then again, that soft bubbling last night coming from the right speaker near well drove me nuts. Ironically this morning it was quiet and left the blubbering noise to its left companion.I guess I'll listen to nothing else but Mahler, Berlioz and Heavy Metal from now on....)-:
Just to put comments in context I have had so-called 57s for over 25 years, I had 63 for 5 years. I found that these speakers were no more unreliable than cone speakers. For example I have a pair of broken Celestions that are no longer supported by the manufacturer or importer. All in all I think that the SLs are more robustly manufactured. Both the late Peter Walker and Roger West are brilliant designers but contemporary SLs are a tour de force that are properly engineered in many categories including reliability.
Ivanj, I've also moved from the 57s to the 63s. I fact I still drive 3 pairs of 63s. Apart from the usual servicing of the 63s, I've never had any trouble at all. As long as Walker was in charge quality controll has always been excellent. I am talking of the 989 only.
Detlof: The bubbling noise that mysteriously moves from one channel to the other could also mean there's a problem with one of the components upstream. It's worth checking out at least.

Also, before commending HIFI Farm for having so much integrity, you should find out why it is no longer a Quad dealer.
Thanks for your reply.
What do you mean by "usual servicing"? thanks, Matt
Does anybody know why HiFiFarm is no longer a Quad dealer?
The quad 988,989 is essentially the same speaker as the 63,they all use the delay line design,cheap circuit board and electronics,I know I have taken them apart.Quad is now owned by a chinese company,but they are still made in England.They have never been a benchmark in rugged design,but the sound when properly set up is beautiful,I presently own the 989 .I had some problems with burning holes in the panels of one speaker I sent it back to qs&d twice and then finaly was given a new speaker,Randy by the way was very helpful in repairing and then getting me the new speaker.That was over a year ago and I have not had any problems since.Some people will tell you the new 989 quads are brighter, darker,have flabby bass,dont do this dont do that blah blah blah,point being they take time to match equipment,room and proper room treatment to get them right but when they are they are awesome.I know people who have had problems with sound labs also, but once they worked out all the bugs they wouldnt own anything else ,and the same can be said for quads.You just have to decide if your willing to go through the effort to get there.By the way the problem with mine was somewhere in the clamp circuit,possible faulty capacitor.I would like to hear from others about what they have experienced with equipment matching ,room treatments etc.to get the new model quads to work there best.
9rw, the bubbling noise, alas , is NOT upstream. That was checked. Mbonn, by usual servicing I mean, that the plastic foil in the 63s covering the panels has to be restreched or replaced every 2-3 years of fairly heavy use. If one is handy and sufficiently careful with the use of a heatgun or hairdryer, this can be done at home.
Steveboeck is essentially correct to my mind. Only regarding the parts quality, which has gone from bad to worse and quality control of the new Quad speakers has gone completely down the hill, alas. However, if set up and driven right and if you have a service departement near, it is still one of the best transducers to be had anywhere!
No need for Quad with Piega which are totally realiable.
And here I thought this was a forum for audiophiles to excange ideas and share knowledge,not free, crass advertising by dealers trying to push their latest product line.At least now I know I will never buy anything from the previous poster.
For anyone interested in what makes the new Quad tick compared to the old here is a breakdown of the differences as we see them.
There is a fairly good deal of difference in the way these spaekers sound compared to the original 63's and the later 63 USA monitor. First The construction quality is not at all the same as they have used a much cheaper plastic to contain the electronics than in the 63's. All the electronics are now contained on a single circuit board of a lower quality creating several problems. If you have a problem with protection it requires a new board ,if it's delay lines,a new board ,if it's power supply ,a new board.This certainly will cause a higher cost to the customer after the warrenty period if work is needed. Along with the lessor expensive parts come some distinct differences in tonality. We still sell after market speakers certified with full warrenty form the 57's to the latest 63's and find a more desirable balance over the new models. In my opinion ,and I've sold the speaker for 20+ years and have used hundreds of different components ,the new speaker offers some advantage in volume but never in the area for which they became famous ,long term listenability.As for the realibility we are in close contact with many people who are intimate with these speakers and issues still exist with realibility.. In one of my home systems there sit's a pair of 30 year old 57's and there great. I think better than any of the products produced since, but I certainly recommend auditioning more modern designs be they one's I carry or any other qualified dealer before purchasing the newer speakers. There are many that will produce a higher level of detail, sheer dynamics, better listenability and will not fall apart under maximum listen conditions.
I fully agree with Hififarm. I can compare the 989 side by side with the 63, as far as sound, workmanship and quality of parts, as well as reliability are concernend and I regret the day for my part, on which I took in a pair of the 989s. Period.
The Hififarm post comes from someone who just two years ago -- before he and IAG America, the Quad importer, had a falling out -- told me that any reviewer worth his salt had a pair of Quads on hand. He said the Quads 988s and 989s were far better than the Dunlavy SC-IV/A, which I had at the time. He offered me a pretty good deal, actually, on a pair of 989s, and he said nothing about their poor build quality. If it's a product he was carrying, I would think he would have looked into that.

Anyway, the previous year, I think HiFi Farm was pushing Dunlavy. Before that, ProAC. Before that, Merlin. Before that, well, you get the picture. It changes often. Today it's Piega. Tomorrow, let me guess, Ensemble?
Sadly, Hi Fi Farm writes a note which casts great suspicion on their trustworthiness. After reading it I would expect that anything they carry at the moment would be fabulous while gear they no longer carry, but which used to be fabulous, is now unreliable junk. I had Quad 57s for many, many years. Yes, they do sound great if they're not arc'ing, if you limit your SPLs to something short of realistic, if the bass panels don't flutter while trying to do low frequencies, if you don't overdrive and burn them out with your 100 watt amp, etc., etc. There are now many dynamic speakers which have equalled, if not surpassed, the Quad's vaunted midrange and they wont break down.
Lets not glide into a thread of dealer- and Quad bashing. The Quad 63's midrange to my ears still clobbers most of even the most vaunted cones, inspite of what my esteemed beemer riding colleague cares to point out. I fully agree with him though on the 57, which I had in stacked form for over a decade and which for chamber music is unbeaten to this very day. I miss it, as if it were a long lost lover... and come to think of it, the Servo Statics too. Oh, what a Harem I had! (-;
When we first began bringing the new Quad to the U.S.,and yes we picked the first 20 pairs of speakers directly from the U.K.. We had no idea that there was going to be the problems that existed. After selling numerous pairs, and replacing a number at our expence ,we became suspicious of the qc. We started to sell the electronics, particularly the tube pieces, and had further breakdown and this is when we said what is up here. During this time we modified and replaced binding post and tried to make the speaker more appealing to new customers and one's who were owners Quad who might want the new product if it was superior to the original. Not once did I claim it was the superior to the 57 and was only different from the 63. We never carried ProAc ,still recommend Dunlavy and haven't sold Merlin since the middle 80's. We held great hope for the new Quad but it failed to meet our expectations. I would still reccommend a Quad for certain types of listening or for environmental reasons over others we sell but it is a case to case basis. This is why we have 63's on constant display in our showrooms.
Very sadly the old saying "you cant judge a book by it's cover" is true in far too many cases in this business. It may be true we supercede brands as do many other dealers and most of the time there is good reason. In some cases it's reasons that are beyond the control of the dealer and in others it mutual. Sometimes design flaws make it impossible to offer the kind of service necessary to maintain relationships ,sometimes personalities don't jive. Whatever reason the fact remains most relationships begin with good faith. Many of the companies we sell are 20+ year relationships and many more are the longest some manufactures have with a dealer, but some do become short lived. If from our side you could look at the short lived one's service and reliablity are the reason for most that end. Still yet we will always service and maintain every piece we sell to the absolute best of our ability. You don't stay in business 23 years otherwise.
HiFiFarm: Looks like you stirred up a hornet's nest with your first post of 9/7. Then, in the first of your 2 posts of 9/9 (3rd line) you stated that you "replaced a number of pairs at your own expense". Are you implying by this that the manufacturer would not honor the warranty on defective product, and that you, the dealer, had to "eat it" ? I find this hard to believe.
Hififarm:I called qs&d today to find out if they had been seeing a larger than normal return of 988&989 Quads,they told me that the return for repair was no more or less than for any other quad model.I also questioned them about the major differences in the electronics,all of the components are the same as the 63s except that everything was now on the one circuit board,hence the larger base of the new speakers.Granted the new quads sound different than the older models but who is to say that one sounds better than the other,how about different.I have listened to the 57s in many different configurations a great speaker to be sure but also with its own shortcomings.I have owned and listened to many a very fine speaker systems in the thirty years that I have been in this lunatic hobby and I have to say that the new quad models are among the most musical I have heard.You stated that you were once a Dunlavy dealer,I had pair of the SC4 for several years a very accurate and musical speaker indeed,but to my ear the 989 kills them.I dont know what your relationship with IAG is or was but to use this forum to attack the Quad line is unscrupulous at best,considering you are former dealer of Quad ,sounds like a personal problem to me.So as to the original question that began this thread, the reliability of the 988,989. All electrostatic speakers from day one have been problematic to some degree,the Quads are no different.If you are willing to put up with something more than normal setup, equipment and room requirments ,they will reward you with some of the most breathtaking sound you can imagine.
Steveboeck, I've had and have Sound Labs, MLs, Servostatics, StaxF1 and the Stax stacked, Dutch ELS, the name of which I don't recall, as well as the Quads in all configurations. Sound Labs (Pristine) and Staxes have been completely unproblematic, not the Quads though alas, and the 989 is the worst of the bunch in my experience.
Detlof: You may have had more problems with the 989 than previous speakers you have owned but the fact of the matter is the 989 is no more or problematic than many others. I have owned electrostatics my self, I have not had problems with my 989s for the last 18 months. At some point in time someone will have aftermarket upgrades to the electronics for the new generation Quads as with all previous models.I am sorry that you are having problems with your 989s,I am just enjoying mine.Later steve.
Steve, I'll grant you that I'm more than a tad emotional regarding this question. However there is no doubt, that we both love the way these transducers make the music sing. Cheers,
The question here is about reliability. I am giving a straight answer as to our experiences. No attack is being made on anyone and QS&D is a quality service center to maintain all Quad speakers.I'm glad your experience is a positive one. That's what this hobby is all about.
In responce to Mbonn. The cost of shipping ,to replace parts and to handle all the logistics was completely on our dollar. IAG did stand behind it's warrenty but left the cost of these other items up to us. We shipped all speakers on palette truck freight to avoid complications so the cost of this alone was substaintial. Ship to the customer,from the customer,to the service center, replace to the customer. If it happens at a 5% rate this is the industry standard but at much higher numbers, and Quad is not the only product this can happen with, it becomes a nightmare. With the large base of friends and customers we have,23+ years and somewhere around 15,000 ,the numbers become staggering and must be closely managed.
Thank God I didn't read all of this before I bought my 988s ! Maybe I am one of the "lucky" ones or maybe it is too early to call. I have owned my 988s for six months now and every night I go to heaven when I sit to listen to my music.
The 988s have rewarded me we better sound every time that an improvement is made in the rest of the system (ac power cords,interconnects, speaker wyres, pre amp etc...)

Prior to the 988s I used to have 63s and InnerSound.
and by the way QS&D, when I needed them, are great people to deal with. Should something go wrong I have comfort that the service will come trough.
(I am not in any way related to QS&D and I live in another state.)
Lucky you Manati and yes, when they work, they are wonderful transducers and hard to beat. By the way, I've found a way to stop the clicking and bubbling, ticking etc in my 989s by raising the humidity in the music room. As simple as that.
I have had 989s for slightly over two years and ever had a single problem. However, it took three pairs to get a perfect set. I think Quad is past this now. At this point, I would be surprised if reliability is an issue. Also, my third pair came straight from IAG via QS&D, whoi checked it out thoroughly. I agree with others: QS&D appear to be good people, and if they say something works, it does. The same cannot be said for HiFi Farm, who may have been at least partly responsible for failures in the early samples due to improper shipping. Again, I agree with others: whatever Hi-Fi Farm is selling is the best thing since sliced bread. Anything they no longer carry gets bashed. Use your own judgement; draw your own concludions.

By the way, I owned 3 pair of ESL 63 US Monitors over the years and NEVER had a reliability problem of any kind. I don't know where this "Quads don't last" myth comes from.