Quad 989/2905 all around qualities


I would like to ask how newer versions of QUAD ESL with additional
bass panels perform in other styles of music rather traditional QUAD ESL
ultimate - jazz, classic, vocals and acoustic in general. Are they a way better then ESL63 let's say in progressive rock, pop of 80's psychedelic, fusion, or modern free jazz with some touch of electronic ?
I am not talking about hard rock, trance/house/excessive electronic or dynamic music.

Unfortunately, I can't listen to the new QUADS ESL in my area, so all i can do is trust some reviews and ask for people opinions.

I liked a lot ESL63 for what they do, but they were almost unlistenable while I was feeding them with LED ZEPPELIN or BoneyM for example.
So how are the new ones ?
Thank you.
Hi katampah,

i have the opposite experience...never heard the older ones but have heard 988, 989, 2905 and the bigger 290-series as well. from what people in the room told me (who had heard the older ones and used them for years):
- the newer ones might lack a bit of the 'magic' that existed in the originals...but not everyone agreed with that
- what most people DID agree is that the build quality of 2905 is more solid, and the bass more powerful...and it does not shut off at nearly as soft a dynamic level as the older ones...so you can play much louder without fear of shut-down
- its faster and cleaner, more linear and more modern in its sound qualities
- otherwise, though very much a Quad speaker that has much of the electrostatic qualities that make them so unique
Hi, Lloydelee21

Did you here them with more modern and dynamic music such
as pop/rock, some electronic or free jazz ?

My understanding is that even the new ones 989/2905 are still not
well suitable for that kind of music. They are the "extension" to ESL63 abilities, but they still pretty limited with their dynamic and impact abilities while playing classic/progressive rock, fusion etc.

Do you share such opinion ?
Yes, i do. I heard all kinds of music...because i brought my own music which includes both jazz, classical, orchestral, as well as hip hop, rap, deep house. They are not optimal speakers for the hip hop, electronic stuff.

But compared to their older ancestors, i am told they hold up much better and you might find, with very high current amps that effortlessly deliver clean power to the speakers, you (might) get to a level that you are happy with. try...you never know.
You listen to a broad music styles.
Did you bought Quads at the end ? :-)

As for ESL2905, they are very expensive speakers.
It is tough to buy such an expensive speaker with no ability to listen to it
in the first place. I do like my ESL63, but it was bought 2nd hand and it is completly different price tag, so while i do like it "sweet spots" and they suits for about 50% of my music taste, i would not buy a 15000$ (or even 5000$) speaker that is not a good all around speaker for me.

Yesterday i heard again the MG1.6 and while they were more dynamic and had a better bass, i just can't compare them to my QUAD ESL63. ESL63s strong and weak sides are almost the same as of 1.6, with MG1.6 being a bit more suitable for "modern" music, but still not great for rock or pop. Still, for the strong sides, i would choose ESL63 any day.

I will try to listen to MG3.7 (some people suggest it might suit me as all around speaker).

There is another option of course. The one that seems to me the most logical to some extent. Have 2 pair of speakers I always thought of it as a non-adequate solution, because i don't have a big room space, hence 2 pair of speakers is not very convenient, but as far as i see buying good all around dynamic speaker (SF, Audio Physics, Dynaudio etc) might be pretty expensive and even then, i'm not sure, they could be compared to ESL63 in what it does well. So buying a moderately good dynamic speaker (even 2nd handed) for all the dynamic music and keeping the ESL63 might be a better (and cheaper) overall solution than going for a very expensive new ESL2905 (given it is still not that good for dynamic music) or going for very expensive dynamic speakers...
Hi. i did not buy them...but not because i was not tempted!!! ;) I think the MG is a very, very good option. they are excellent, clean and much, much better suited for power. Whether you think they have quite the natural tonality is up to you...some of the MGs are cleaner, more linear, more modern in their sound. i have not heard them all. But they are still definitely electrostatics. They have the special magic that makes electrostatics so alluring. i have heard only very, very good things abou the 3.7.

You may also wish to hear the CLX, depending on budget. It is stunning...it lacks super bass but add the Descent sub someday and you've got world class full-range, full dynamics. seriously.

as for 2 speakers, thats a personal choice. not one for me...i prefer to buy the 'one' i like and focus on optimizing room, system, etc to optimize. and i know not all music will sound as good on it as others...but as you suggest, 2 speakers takes space and requires time wiring, moving, etc...

i do like Guarneris and Amatis...very electrostatic-like. The Anniversario has good bass (the new Futura even better). Guarneris are very, very electrostatic in nature...but very sweet tonality. you can play them loud...providing you've got high current...which the Quads will also require. good luck!!! pls keep us posted.
I heard SF Extrema(2nd hand) and was really impressed with the sound. Not sure it good for "cold" electronic music in nature (trances and alike), but otherwise it has very special sound. It is like a good liqueur - many different flavors combine in one delicate sound. Also the wood work is superior.
Being told requires a lot of very clean watts and current. SF is amazing company. Liked it a lot...
Hi Katamapah,

Actually, if i may respectfully say...the Extrema is probably the best of the SF speakers for trance, deep house. The Homage series are mellifluous...like cognac. The Extrema is more like a whisky or a bourbon. It has the extreme bass power and solidity to carry thru the pounding and the quick deep propulsive bass better than the Guarneri by far.

and yes, it needs and can take TONS of high-current power.

that is a very good option, and at today's s/hand prices...a great, great deal if you are happy with it. its' got my vote on your behalf! but only your vote counts!
I have missed this specific Extrema by the matters of hours :-)
Somebody bought it :-) I was almost ready with the money :-)
In cash :-) Sad story, but the life goes one :-)

As for "cold" electornic music, i don't listen to it myself very often, but i have a few disks and i take always one with me to test the speaker. It reveals certain abilities (or disabilities) of the speaker. With the extrema the only problem i had was it "warm" or let's say "acoustic" type of sound.
It was perfect with all the rest, but for "cold" electronic music it was a bit
too warm for me, but again - it is a very sensitive speaker. It is of course depends on the cables, electronic equipment and alike. But i've heard the potential with in that speaker... As for its speed, dynamics and bass - i had no problem with trances or anything else... Many sais it is SF best speaker.
Never heard Amati or Stradivari (far above my room space and budget, even second handed). Mementos are of more specific-music-type oriented speakers than Extrema IMHO. Also, living with ESL63, my current equipment simply not good/strong enough to drive the Extrema...
It was my other concern... I'm using moderate powered tube amplifier with ESLs.
Till recently i was not into HI-FI/Hi-END equipment business.
I like the music, much less the equipment, but you need some level of equipment to enjoy the soul within the music... I am still learning...
Given your desire for some serious volume, i would take Extrema over memento. Keep looking...you'll find one.

As for warm on Extrema with electronic...what electronics did you hear with the Extrema?

I suspect if you'd been using a good preamp and Krell FPB monoblocks, you'd have hard superbly powerful, clean natural but not overly warm sound with your deep electronic music...
Yesterday, i have listened to Mistral Audio (see separate thread) and was impressed with it sound given its price. It is some Chinese-UK company.
It is presented in US by NAPA acoustic (I am not from the States as you may understand from my english mistakes). I don't know much of this company and it doesn't have any serious reviews on the net, but again, i was pretty impressed with the sound. It is not SF of course. Not in the build quality (it is just average) and not with that sort of multi-flavour sound, but it still was pretty decent. Have you ever heard of Mistral ?
Hi...i have not heard mistral.

did you check the Sonus Faber for sale section here? there is a pair of Amati Homages for $9995. That is a superb price. The seller is an SF dealer, so hopefully you are buying safely. The bass is way better than esl63, and for the money hard to beat in the overall sound spectrum. at least email them and let them know you may be interested...give you some time to consider your next move!
First i heard it with Ensemble hybrid power-pre and it was just not strong enough to drive the Extrema IMHO, specially in orchestral music etc.
Than, we changed it to Parasound (HALO 2?) POWER. 400watt in 4ohms, high current. Was OK with the power(much better than 100+ watts of high current from Ensemble), but it clearly lack some quality to make SF Extrema to sound up to its potential. Never heard it with the Krell. I heard their FCA(?) 200/250
class A powers should be much better choice.

Yes, SF Extrema is on my list. If i find one, i will buy it and sort out the amplification. It really might be a good candidate for a decent ONE all-around speaker for long time to enjoy the music.
FWIW, when i heard the 2905s...i started out with an A/B to Guarneris...then to Amatis...then to Strads...so when i give you my thoughts, they really are direct comparisons on the same day in the same system with amplification that was supposedly set up well for the audition.
It sounds logical that Strads or Amatis are better than the ESL63 (and probably 2905) at least "all around".

I prefer buying an person rather online and i am far from US/UK.
I have SF on my mind, so i will continue to look for opportunity to buy an Extrema. From time to time they've been seen on the 2nd hand market here as well.
There is SF Electa Amator2 on sale now, but i think it is much more conventional bookshelf than Extrema, so not sure it is a good choice for me.
Didn't hear them.
Did you hear the old SF Concerto Grand Piano ?
Yes, I have heard them. They maintain the qualities of SF but are not as refined as the Homage series or the Extrema, Electa Amator2. However, they are are quite full range for the price. And with excellet amplication...they go well with Krell (imho, unlike the Homage series)...they are quite a smooth, powerful sound. Electa Amators are excellent speakers...their bass is the question...it is enough for you? Is there no way you can hear the Amati's in person someplace...and then negotiate for this pair on AGon?
BTW, if you haven't already, check out the new review on The Absolute Sound (jonathan valin) regarding the Maggie 3.7.

I think it shouldn't be a problem to find a place to listen to Amati here. With some homework i should find it at dealer's or somewhere else.

I didn't read the MG3.7 review, i will read it and i most probably find a way to listen to them as well.
Ppl say it is much more refine and generally better than 1.6
yes, i have heard that as well. Jonathan Valin actually specifically makes comparisons to earlier models...worth a read. look on line. www.avguide.com
Hi, haven't been here for a while...
Busy at work...

I read some reviews and i will try to listen to Magnepan 3.7 and Martin Logans.
They presented here by the same dealer.
That's for a moment. Also trying to negotiate with Quad dealer a 2905/989 presentation. It's a pitty they don't have one on display, but they said not many ppl buying this speakers today, so it is not economically wise for them to have one on display. From time to time there are certain trade-ins and then its the time they can offer a presentation. Should call me back with info as for whenever there is one now... I guess most of all he wants to be sure i am seriously about buying one. But i can't really tell till i listen... :-)
Anyway, i will continue and update here from time to time as for my findings.
It is very helpful to share an opinion with other people. It is difficult to buy something, based solely on other ppl opinions though...
by coincidence, walked into the local dealer around the corner...playing unico tube amp with Quad 2905...beautiful air, space, 3-dimensionality and musicality. Not the last word in definition...but you only know this is if you have heard systems that are super resolving with the best in the world. And i know i came from the side of the fence that would take fuzzier more warm music over strident detail any day. I am fortunate to have come from that side of the fence, and been able to add some amazing detail into my system...so that is the only reason i heard the relative lack of precision in the 2905s...by most any other measure...a great speaker...and for the money, superb, unless you play super loud and/or lots of heavy bass intensive music.
I hope the importer would be able to arrange me a listening...
I am not sure though...
I liked ESL63 a lot, specially for they musicality.
I mean, it's amaizing... I wouldn' tell "it's the best speaker on the planet" or something alike.
After all, it's an equipment, it's a technology. It is always have its own pros and cons. But after all, when i listen to the music - i do notify some "problems", but even then, i so emotionally involved with the music it presents. Amazingly musical speaker. The only area i really felt its limitations (i.e. i couldn't enjoy the music) was rock (specially with distortion) and lack some bass/dynamics either in rock or high scale classic. Sometimes i had a certain a moment of discomfort with the treble, but that's it. If those are improved with new Quads i don't think i need a better speaker :-)
You make me want to listen to those speakers :-)
I start to think of possibility going abroad for a small trip to listen the Quads
and enjoy let's say... Spain... May be i can do it within a month or so.
Just need to hold myself tight and not to buy something till then.
It's not easy once you start listening to a speakers :-)
I have another 2 speakers on the list. Never heard them, but they might be interesting to listen to:
Vandersteen and Klipsch horn speakers (La Scala or Klipcsh horn).
Did you ever heard them and what are your perspective on them for the type of music i am listening to ?
From the horn speakers i only heard some simple Zingallis.
They had a horn tweeter. It suited some music very well, but for some other music (specially voices) i felt it was not really suitable. May be just a first time experience.
Hi Katamapah,

I have not heard Klipsch in a long time...i have heard good things about horns, but the sound is quite a different character from electrostatics. i prefer 'stats myself. The sense of enveloping you in sound is quite something. Your observations about the Zingali horn is probably about where i came out when i heard horns properly set up.

Vandersteens are very, very good and (like the Quad) good value for money...will also probably play louder and possibly lower depending on which one you consider. They do have some characteristics that are similar to Quads in the 'feel' of the music.

Zingalis i have not heard, but understand from the dealer that they consider themselves competitors with Sonus Faber, so perhaps that might tell you something. Since you have heard them, the choice is obviously yours.

You may wish to consider SFs, btw. The Homage series have much of the mellifluous character of a 2905...but are slightly more precise in some cases.

good luck and pls keep posting!
tomorrow i am going to listen to SF Grand Piano.
I have a chance to buy them second hand and it could be an "addition" to ESL63 to solve the issues of more dynamical music.
Otherwise, on Friday i am going to meet the Magnepan and Martin Logan dealer.
I plan to listen to Magnepan 1.7/3.7(mostly) and some Martin Logan (i was recomended to listen to Summit X).
Will keep you posted. :-)
Ah!!!! Nice day of listening today and tomorrow! Enjoy! Talk to Myles Astor (who is a reviewer and posts here)...he owns the Summits as his references and is very helpful.

My suggestions: SF GRands sound amazing with really powerful Krells...i would not say Homages Series SF sounds particularly great with big Krell...but i was stunned to hear how well the SF Grands sounded with krell. Not the only amp...just in case you have the options at the audition. Plus your tastes may well vary.

I think given your focus on esl, the Magnepan and ML auditions will be interesting. they are panels...a good thing...but they are also different. Will be very interesting to hear your views...please post!!! Enjoy.
So here is the bottom line - I am still in search for a speaker after this weekend.

SF Grand Piano - I couldn't really "evaluate" this speaker despite of all good reviews and opinions it got.
The room was very small (about 7-8 sq m) the speakers were about 50cm, they were driving by some digital Akai amplifier, so it was not a set and a room to enjoy them. Tonally and temporally they were OK, but the bass wasn't punchy and they were not revealing. I suppose the setup has a major role in all this, but since i didn't hear this speaker before i couldn't really form any impression.
It also failed the most important "emotional test", that is much more important for me than an "audiophile" test.
May be i did a mistake and should rely solely on all those reviews. After all, it shouldn't be very hard to sell a SF speaker.

Magnepan 1.7/3.6 - I couldn't hear the 3.7, but i heard the 1.7 and 3.6;
The 1.7 is tonally better than 1.6, i think it is more balanced.
Of course 3.6 is much a better speaker. It is more refined etc, but it still fails with the rock and everything alike.
So, it is still very similar to Quad in its problematic areas while i strongly prefer Quad in what both of them do well. Quad is amaizingly musical speaker with tons of emotions. Never knew how good is it in what it does...
The only better points for Magnepan 3.6 are: reliability and a better slam/big orchestral music.

Martin Logan - I heard the more simple Vantage model.
Despite it is also an electrostatic (hybrid) speaker its sound is very different to Quads. Even the electrostatic panels sound differently. Much more colored and sound-oriented IMHO. For what Quad does, it does much better, BUT Martin Logan is definitely better as all around speaker.
Actually better then Magnepan 1.6/1.7/3.6 as well (if you like its tonal coloration). The dynamic woofer gives a lot of slam. It is not just a bass, it is the whole slam that is missing in those planar speakers. Suddenly the rock is solid, electronic music sounds better etc.
Still... i feel this model is to "colored" for me and not as musical and emotional as Quad. As i said, never realized how REALLY GOOD QUAD IS in what it does... Unfortunately it still limited to some specific sort of music.
Then, i heard a Martin Logan Ethos. It was a big improvement over Vantage. Less colored, better punch, stage, everything... Probably a candidate...
Still want to listen to Summit X... Probably ML highest series are less colored for a sound and more true like.
Everything IMHO of course...
Hi Katamapah,

You've done your homework. Quads really are special. As you already know, they just dont play super loud and their bass could be stronger.

The new 2805s/2905s will play louder and lower from what i am told. will be interesting to hear what you think of them.
I am still trying to arrange the audition for 2905/989...
I also heard a very good things about apogee, and while testing some videos on the youtube i was very impressed with the clarity of sound... Unfortunately it is quite complicated to import them, since they are not in the business anymore...

Is your impressions of ML/Magnepan/SF Grand Piano comply with mine, or was it some kind of equipment mismatch. It is always tough to talk about a component from one specific listening.
Hi happy to share thoughts offline in more detail. i would say SF Grands can sound special but only when set up right...Krell Evo402 was the only time i heard this and was quite shocked. The Homage series are closer to the sound you seek...but more expensive.

Agree on magnepan, not quite the transparency when i've heard them, of a quad. ML with the built-in cone drivers have sometimes struggled to get the overall balance right.

BTW, check out hifitradingstation.com. i know the owner extremely well...Apogee Minigrands demo pair. last time i heard apogees, i was pretty blown away at how good they are.

I woul
Well... here are some good news.
I finally got a permission from the local importer and they are sending a new speaker to the local dealer for audition. It will be a cheaper Quad ESL989.
So, by the end of next week i should form first impressions of newer Quads with bass panel.
Also, the same place has Dynaudio Contour and Naim Ovator speakers on display for about the same price as 989.
Unfortunately, Wilson Audio Sophia (2nd hand around the same price tag as new ESL989) was sold a few weeks ago, so can't listen to that one at the moment.
Anyway, this place is a serious one, it is actualy a recording studio running from the old 70s. They were using the old ESL57 back then... They supported me a lot while negotiating the demonstration with the dealer. Surely, they hope to sell... but still it was very kind of them.

P.S. Your post seems to be truncated.
P.P.S Apogee and more high level SF as well as Vandersteens are still on my list, but let's hear the Quad first :-)

Maybe adding a subwoofer would solve some of the shortcomings you are having, specially on demanding type of music? If I recall correctly, the old Entec subs are quite fast and preferred by many Quad and ESL users. I use Rel Stratta III for my ML CLS and seems to keep pace nicely. You may look at the old Vandersteen sub too (one with several small drivers) which are also known to be fast and mates well with panel speakers.

You have great speakers! Enjoy...
Hi, for some reason i didn't try the sub woofers yet.
Probably a pre-judgement and some negative opinions around.
After i heard the ML hybrids this idea came back to mind.

Are all those active sub woofers ?
Because otherwise i guess i will need a bi-amping...

It might be the way to go if newer Quads don't have what i am looking for. You're right. I should try it regardless of prejudgements.
Some feel the ESL-67 had a better midrange but I've come to find they feel this way because of the lack of low frequency reproduction. Having little bass, and accentuated midrange, there nothing else to draw their attention away from it. It's the masking affect, a natural occurrence in which a sound covers another over, as perceived by a listener. Personally I prefer the 2805 by a margin. Bass is important for my listening. Without it, there is no foundation.
As far as the Klipsch La Scala goes, they are very bright, forward and aggressive. Bass is not very deep. They are a power speaker, quantity over quality. With mods they can be very good but for $6000 I'd take the Quad.

Legendary Sound Labs are the only thing that will top the Quads, but you MUST have the room for them and they will not tolerate cheap gear. Sound Labs go deep and throw sound wide so room treatment is a must. You will, however, be rewarded in spades with a soundstage and depth like nothing you have ever heard.
Do you feel like the ESL2805 have enough bass ?
I would expect it to be very similar to 988 and theoretically to 63 in the low end because they still use 4 panels (no extra bass panels, those only added to ESL2905 or 989)
To my ears they sound very, very similar in all respects. The 988 was an updated 63 with better electronics. I don't own the 63s but have heard them repeatedly. I have not yet had the chance to hear the 2905, unfortunately. Some people experienced quality issues with their late model Quads, but then again the earlier ones were not immune either to their foremost British design and craftsmanship flaws...

The big thing with Quads is they don't last forever, now with shops cashing in the their marketed reputation form years ago. They "someday" will need to be repaneled, keep this in mind because it's not cheap from a refurbisher, (despite being a simple and cheap precess that takes nothing more than a couple hours once your jig and expander/stretcher are in place).

Given the choice at this price point, I would buy the new Quads, 2805 or the 2905 (like I say, haven't hear this bigger model).
I felt that ESL63 doesn't have enough bass and not enough slam/dynamic range to play the rock to my satisfaction. And i am not talking about crazy SPLs or hard metal rock. That is the reason i am prompting to bigger (hopefully more dynamically and more bass oriented) 989/2905; The difference in price tag between 2905 and 989 is huge. It seems a common ground that 2905 is a better speaker than 989 (more refine, yet better slam and better bass), but it is difficult to measure whenever it worth the additional 3-4K$
That's why i want to start from auditioning the 989 and see if this direction will lead me somewhere. Probably i will found out that even with additional bass panels the results with rock are less to my test and that the difference with ESL63 is not that huge...
QUAD reliability problem is indeed an important point...
And I agree, the Quads squash (compress) dynamic range, and most of the music sounds like its at the same level all the time. I know exactly what you mean, not loudness, but rather the CONTRAST between dynamic crescendo and low level passages. SO many people mistake dynamic range with "loudness spl level". Anyhow, on another topic if you feel the urge to crank them and arc a panel by accident (it happens), be prepared to hand over up to $250-$450 to a Quad shilling tech for a repair- that's for one for one panel. And they are light in the deep bass department like many panels, and those that do go deep typically have moderate high distortion, with Sound Labs being the primary exception. There's no replacement for cubic displacement, as they say. But they cost alot.

There has been little advancement in speaker technology in over 30 years, be it dynamic speakers or panels. That's obviously reflected in the measurements and the subsequent sound. What has changed (when there actually is a change) is better average cabinet design, lower cost speakers that perform better than medium high priced speakers of the past, better average balance, and more uniform dispersion which is important in a reflective room. But, the good speakers and the Quad 57 and 63 that were good back then are still up on top today, with obvious normal maintenance. If the 2905 can be auditioned in the future and its doing it for you, it might be worth the freedom of re-paneling headache and questionable re-workmanship. If you find a good 989 that has been serviced and is packaged properly on a pallet for shipping (accept them no other way than on a pallet!) then this may offer perfect value.

You can add additional bass panels to virtually any stat and simply (well, its not that simple to do) extend the stators and charge the diaphragm off the same EHT output, size and panel number matters not to the hipot DC-DC converter. There are numerous routes here to take to get what you want, but let it be your ears that make the final decision.
I have heard 2905 and 2805...i prefer 2905 for its fuller sound and bass...perhaps not as seamless as 2805, but very good. I actually preferred Guarneri Homage to both...in a direct several hour session. Some old hands in audio were there and supported the conclusion given my taste in music.

As for subs...buy a really, really good one...if you are buying a quad...whose incredible alacrity is one of its key attractions...make sure the sub can be adjusted as well as possible and keep up.

I have only ever used Velodyne...the DD series is good and very easy to adjust in many, many ways. I have heard JL Audios are even better. Good luck and pls keep us posted.

As for Apogees...the Apogee mini-grands stand out as one of the all-time greats in my book going back 25 years.
Hi, ppl
I am going to listen to SF Guarneri (i think it is an older homage) speaker this week.
Yesterday i was listening to the very basic Vandersteen Model 1 and some DIY horn based on full range Fostex FE206E driver.
In Vandersteen i could clearly see a potential of this Model 1/2/3 line, but i should certainly look into 2 or even 3. Model 1 is simply too basic. Nice, excellent VFM specially at 2nd hand, but at more objective level simply not good enough. You definitely need to invest more money into the speaker.

Considering the horn... it is really difficult to form an impression...
It certainly has its own magic with some type of music. A "big box" gives some volume, substance to the sound. Jazz sounds very sweet and even classic rock is good. Some pieces were a true magic... But on more instrumental and heavy music it becomes a mess... and there are certain "parts" of the spectrum that are simply not presented well... Some voices were heavily distorted.

At the moment i am mostly waiting for the Quads and trying to listen to some interesting "pivots" in terms of alternatives in the design or some well-regarded dynamic speakers like SF. With the Guarneri my only concern a priori is its lack of bass... It seems to match the Quad ESL63 and it is not enough... but may be it is a bit punchier because SF is a dynamic speaker... Let's wait and see...

I still would like to listen to
Viena Acoustic Beethoven Grand
Audio Physics Scorpio
Wilson Audio Sofia.

What else would you recommend ?
Did someone knows the Duevel ?
to Bwcanuck:
Yes, it is EXACTLY what i mean. It has nothing to do with SPL.
My room is small, about 15-16sq. m, so i don't have the SPL problem with ESL63
My problem is that dynamic range, or contrast, or bit-depth. It is like an .jpeg artifact due to quantization. On "easy", more acoustic type of music this isn't really a problem, but with more intensive music like orchestra or progressive rock (King Crimson for example) with all its distortion, effects etc the problem kicks in and makes this music almost unlistenable. And i am still not talking about the lack of bass and slam.

Unfortunately, as i understand, the problem of reliability is not limited only to older 63/57, but even the completely new speakers and models had many failures. Some are of an electronic type and some are due to panels.
So, even if you buy a new 989/2905 you still should pray your pair of speakers is on lucky side of the road... So yes, reliability is my big concern...
But first, i need to listen to this speaker and see how the additional bass panels help a better bass, certain slam and dynamic range increase... if any...
Tempted to find out.

Thanks for support.
the guarneri is a pretty impressive speaker and with great amps and proper setup in the room...can produce good bass. the older SF speakers like Extrema have more bass..perhaps not as refined (not heard myself)...though i have heard electa amators and a few others...all excellent and with the right electronics are really beautiful to listen to.

older SF more like a great whisky...while homage more of a cognac.
No news so far.
I took a "vacation" from speaker listening :-)

Quads are at the shop being break in by the dealer.
Didn't make it to listen to SF Guarnieri so far.
Probably do it over this weekend or during next week.

Bottom line, lazy "kid" messing up his home work :-)
look forward to hearing how homework goes!
This weekend i was finally able to listen to Quad 989
The setup included Quad2-40 mono blocks and Quad99CDP - basic cd+preamp from Quad. The speakers were just few days old, so those are definitely "first" impressions.

First of all - the look. I did like the look of those.
Read a lot of negative feedbacks, in my opinion they are surely not the prettiest speakers around, but i had no problem with their looks. The white-blue finish is pretty nice overall. They are pretty solid-standing too, although i felt this aspect still could be improved. (ESL2905 :-)

As for the sound...
Here i have some mixed feelings compared to ESL63.
First, i have to say again:
a) These speakers were just few days old
b) There was no critical placement done for the speakers and during the listening session i felt it is a must with those. They were "generally placed as suggested", but without critical fine tuning.
c) I don't like the Quad 99CDP. I have had several opportunities to listen to this preamp-cd and i think it is not very musical, somewhat harsh, not too revealing - in one word very basic and not a match for 989 (even the 63).

Having said that i was depressed not to hear the magic of ESL63 mid-range - their unmatched musicality, acoustic sound being slowly decayed etc. It exhibit little magic i remember from ESL63. On the positive side, i somehow felt it might be improved, since my feeling was those speakers ARE MUCH MORE SENSITIVE to a-b-c above (break in, placement, source/pre amp and the recordings).

Other impressions: bass was much better, still not very deep or dynamic-like bass (no "wooo", no air movement), but significantly improves the contra-bass and organ pieces.
Much more presence and substance then ESL63 - they were almost "flat" and had zero bass.

Also the slam and general presence/substance - MUCH better then ESL63.

Certainly less compressed than ESL63.
More sonically neutral than already neutral ESL63
More precise (better resolution), less directional in treble.

It seems like 989 bass has some hole. The transition from mid-bass to a deeper bass in not always flat.

Generally, my impression was: Those speakers while being more neutral, more precise (still not greatest precision around), having better frequency response and dispersion, being better dynamically had become closer to "traditional" speakers sound wise and have lost much of old ESLs magic.
Again, my feeling is that at least some of this magic may be gained back, by breaking-in, positioning and matching the equipment. Those are much more revealing and sensitive speakers than ESL63. Less forgiving. Up to a complete dissatisfaction !

Music types.
Bottom line, they were better with rock than 63.
Rock became listenable on some minimalistic level, but
still far from being good enough or even satisfying.
By rock i mean Led Zeppelin, Queen, King Crimson.
Not the heavy rock.

On other types of music - classic (easy classic, organ music, Beethoven's 9 symphony) - much better result than 63. Image, presence, absolutely listenable and enjoyable.
Acoustic rock - Also, better presence, more substance.
Jazz/Vocals - good.

So, this speakers are still not good for rock. Not even try.
Additional bass panels do improve presence, substance and make low octaves listenable.
Could the magic of ESL63 be regained ?
That's the question....
If yes, clearly an improvement over ESL63.
Otherwise... you have a more traditional like, magic-less sound from the electrostatic speaker...

What is other people's impression of 989 ?
How it compares to 2905 ?