Quad ESL 63 In Another League Now


I’ve owned many speakers over 30 years. I now have owned a total rebuilt ESL 63’s with the work done by Electrostatic Solutions. Kent did a wonderful job and the speakers sounded better than stock that I can say for sure. During the last few months for the fun of it I added better power cords, though Kent said they cannot make a difference well I can tell you they do and they do in a big way, so if you own any Electrostatic speakers you owe it to yourself to put better power cords on them even the Signal Cable power cords were a big step up from the stock power cord.

So things were just great then I read in my Furman reference 20i manual that the high current outlets are great for active speakers, though I read it, I never tried it because they sounded so good. Well blow me away, I tried it, and wow, more natural, clearer, bottom end more dynamic, and so forth, but the lowering of the noise floor, brought forth detail, more natural body, warmth, and a pitch black background, i.e. a grayness or veil in comparison gone, and I mean gone.

I never knew just how good these speakers were until I did the power cords, but in addition what the Furman does, with lower impedance, reservoir or current on demand, and of course the isolation between any interaction of the components. I also added some nice ebony cones with a copper tip (cheap) on Amazon, for a nice tilt back of about one inch which opened up the speakers and really made imaging better.

In this hobby, we are always learning something, and the big lesson I keep learning is always try something, even when some may say it will not make a difference, such as power cords cannot impact the Quads, well they do so try it. The bottom end now really go low and tight, I added 2 small Mini Vee subs crossed over at 40Hz for that last bit of bottom end in the 20’s range.

The rest of my system is McIntosh 402 amp at 400 watts, Luxman C800F preamp, and the Esoteric K-01 SACD/CD player with streaming capabilities. All cables are Lessloss Marc-C( the best I’ve ever heard) regardless of cost and that includes the ones with the big network boxes. Power cords the Luxman (for the preamp) beats anything I’ve tried and that is the stock cord, Crystal Clear Opus for the Esoteric, Essential Sound MusicSound Pro for the McIntosh Amp. I use a pair of the Emotivia Power cords for the quads due to their length, they work just fine, the AntiCables reference 3 power cords work well also with a bit more mid-bass and warmth but were a bit too short.

No matter how long you’re in this hobby you can always learn, and improve the system without buying new gear, in fact, I would say the power cords can change the sound of your system as much as a new piece of gear and even the wall plates impact the sound, not just the ac outlet. That also was a surprise to me. Go figure!




phillyb
Kent does good work. I don't know if we talked about him on another thread, I had him restore my '57s, which I've owned since 1973. I had 63's modified by Crosby for a long time as well. They were good. What stand are you using for yours? I had the Arcici stand for both sets of Quads but now am back to the stock feet on my '57s. I keep them plugged into a ZeroSurge even though I have whole house surge protection, just because you never know....
Great thread - thanks for sharing! I have a pair of 63 I am restoring. The factory riser stands leave a lot to be desired for sure.
They ring like a bell, attach to the flimsy plastic bottom cover with a few screws... iF I change, will post up what I do...
thanks for tip on power cords and conditioning.... I have a Furman also

best
jim
Can't imagine how power cords could affect the sound quality of the Quads...
During the last few months for the fun of it I added better power cords, though Kent said they cannot make a difference well I can tell you they do and they do in a big way, so if you own any Electrostatic speakers you owe it to yourself to put better power cords on them even the Signal Cable power cords were a big step up from the stock power cord.
Sorry to say this is a "furphy", Kent is absolutely correct.
The current draw on full range ESL’s is so low they can use the thinnest cheapest power cords, it’s so low that many earlier ones are/were powered by wall warts.

Cheers George
George,

Sorry, but they sound better with a better power cord. My ears tell me the truth. 
Better power cords is a MUST for Quad 57s, too. Oh, and ditch those hideous and clunky metal screens. Whose idea was that? Time to get ill.

I do wish the directional power cords such as Hurricane were available back then. 
Georgehifi, I am surprised at you. I have heard improvements better power cords can make with quite a few brands and models of electrostatic speakers. 
Georgehifi, I am surprised at you.
I’m not and it’s a big negative. "Maybe" ones that have active bass with amplifiers involved.


directional power cords
really!! "there it is"
When ac mains is just that "Alternating Current" that changes it's direction, as bad a saying ac mains fuses are directional, total snake oil.  

Cheers George
George is getting upset.
I tried changing he direction of my power cords as geofkitten had suggested but no matter how much I tried I could not fit the three prongs in the IEC plug. Did I use the wrong lubricant? geofkitten, please help!
Post removed 
George is getting upset.

Because you so full of it sunshine. 
In this hobby, we are always learning something, and the big lesson I keep learning is always try something, even when some may say it will not make a difference, such as power cords cannot impact the Quads, well they do so try it. The bottom end now really go low and tight, I added 2 small Mini Vee subs crossed over at 40Hz for that last bit of bottom end in the 20’s range.

The rest of my system is McIntosh 402 amp at 400 watts

ESLs can work quite well with tubes. Try a Mac tube amp on them and see what you think! We have lots of customers with Quads.

Geoff, aren’t all power cords directional by definition (IEC and plug connectors defining the directionality)?
Celander, it’s the wire that’s directional. All cables and power cords should be controlled for directionality during the manufacturing process. Too bad the industry is slow to catch on.

Ignore that celander, not one mention that the ac mains running through it changes it’s direction 60 x a second (60hz)
And for you to hear "if" the cable was directional, you would have to reverse the cable 60 x a second in snyc with the 60hz mains frequency!!! Only then would you know if it’s directional.
In other words "snake oil BS" just like direction mains fuses or directional primary and secondary wires in in the ac mains transformers of all equipment.
And what about your house wiring what are you going to do about that, not to mention that it continues all the way back to the sub station as well.

Total snake oil BS that will ruin another perfectly good thread if given the chance!!!!!!

Cheers George
Damage Control! Damage Control! The concepts of the 80s are under attack! Man the battle stations!

George, George, George of the jungle
Look out for that tree! 🦍


Post removed 
I am enjoying this exchange.  

@georgehifi 

You’re needed in another post:

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/is-my-dac-my-weakest-link





Nothing there, that interests me.
This one needs saving though as Quad ESL57’s are an icon of speakers and any BS being spread around them needs to be squashed, especially from the "directional" power cord B.S.’ers

As Electrostatic Solution’s Kent McCollum said, "they cannot make a difference", he knows it’s impossible with just 5w of current draw for both speakers. It should make the B.S.’ers realize why it’s impossible, that’s why many Acoustat ESL models used wall warts, that had the thinnest twin flex power cable going to the speakers.

Cheers George
Directionality ( in power cords )  is like pushing the “ up “ button in the teleportation device when you are already “up”

back to Lynyrd Skynyrd - “ I know a little, baby I can guess the rest ! “
(sorry for long post)

Agree with georgehifi that Quad ESL57’s are an icon of speakers (and ESL 63's as well for that matter) and any BS being spread around them needs to be squashed. Why invest in meaningless stuff and even recommend others to do the same on forums like this.

Every ESL63 has a neon lamp that shows that (if in perfect condition) the panels need recharging only roughly once/minute using a fraction of a second current pulse from the HV power supply  -- in other words the panels producing your sound are actually connected to mains and your esoteric and expensive power cord during a fraction of a second every minute. It then must be the mere presence of those expensive cables that produce this vast quality improvement you describe: 
 more natural, clearer, bottom end more dynamic, and so forth, but the lowering of the noise floor, brought forth detail, more natural body, warmth, and a pitch black background, i.e. a grayness or veil in comparison gone, and I mean gone.

I would even say you would get the a bigger quality improvement by buying a bunch of *very* expensive power cords (preferably bi-directional and water-filled) and putting them on the floor infront of your stereo (not connected to anything), since they would at least remove some unwanted floor reflexes.

You can do a quick A/B test by turning off your right channel speaker and connecting a cheap, low quality power cord to your left channel ESL and flip the on/off switch that speaker. In the off stage the ESL will keep its charge for a long time and neither be connected to the lousy power cord nor all the noise coming from your mains outlet.
You will then notice that you can't hear ANY difference att all in sound quality.

Please note I'm not questioning your subjective observations, just our human brains are really lousy in terms of placebo thinking -- if we want to hear something changing, we definitely hear it.

Same thing happened to me when borrowing a really expensive signal cable which my friend said was fantastic. I was extremely sceptical but very surprised when I heard substantial changes --- a more natural, clearer midrange and treble, some veil gone -- making me sit for a few hours, swapping between my favourite CDs.

It then dawned on me that I was listening to CD, and I had connected the new fantastic cables between my preamp and DAC (not the CD)....

If you want to make improve your ESL57s or ESL63s *for real*, I would suggest to do one or more things of the following in the list below (not necessarily the full list, these are obvious):

(every item possible for DIY or using pros like Kent McCallum or Sheldon Stokes, OTA in Europe)

- refurb your panels if older than, say 15-20 years (YMMV)
  -- 57s and 63s

- upgrade your HV power supply --- 57s

- get a proper stand with the optimal height --57s and 63s

- fasten better or even remove some of the obstructing metal screens -- 57s, but only if no children or pets in the house (keep dust covers)

- improve input components (esp. bipolar cap) -- 63s

- replace all crossover caps and resistors -- 57s

- power off your ESLs for a day and then use a pair of good headphones in parallel with one of your speaker connections to check if there is any difference in sound quality (e.g. sibilants on female voices) when connecting/disconnecting the amp to the (quiet) speaker. If it is, upgrade your amp -- 57s and 63s (any speaker really)

- spend LOTS OF TIME trying out the best speaker placement (distance from rear wall, angle and distance to listener, height, and of course room treatment with diffusors and of absorbers.

All of the above items provide REAL improvements, IMHO.
Forget everything about power cord BS, sorry to say.

ESL addict and audiophile for many, many years...





esl57addict
All of the above items provide REAL improvements, IMHO.
Forget everything about power cord BS, sorry to say.

>>>>>If you have not removed the heavy clunky metal grills, removed the suffocating plastic dust covers and placed the Quad 57s on stands, you are hardly a good judge of what the Quads really sound like. No offense intended.

esl57addisct
ESL addict and audiophile for many, many years...

>>>>If time spent in the hobby was a determining factor of knowledge or wisdom all the old fuddy-duddies here would be geniuses.
A little story to add some perspective on this thread...

Several years ago Kent was invited to my home. Why? He and I had a disagreement over at the Asylum (I no longer participate due to what I considered virulent disdain of women) on whether an ESL's power cord could effect the sound. He said no, I said yes. 

I invited him to my home to hear this on the Kingsound King (can't recall whether it was the original King or King III - doesn't matter, as I've owned both and both operate similarly). The bottom line is he acknowledged that he heard the obvious distinction in operation between different power cords. It was tough for him to admit it; he inferred that it was the power supply of the King III speaker, as though it might not be a universal effect. 

Now, I can't speak to the Quad, as I have never owned it or been given the opportunity to swap power cords on one. So, wisdom dictates a neutral stance, not a proclamation - as is the habit of some here - of what can or cannot happen. Perhaps the Quad operates entirely differently and would be insensitive to PCs. Perhaps not. A simple comparison of power cords would tell.

Who cares anyway? The older Quad is an also ran, a crippled speaker, like putting an 80 year old into a foot race with teens. 

Since then I have had the pleasure of reviewing the Sound Lab Ultimate 545 (at the time called the U-4iA) for Dagogo.com. Guess what? It, too, is quite sensitive to power cords. Surprise, surprise. No, not really if anyone bothers to actually TRY changing power cords. If the Quads are not sensitive to power cords, then I consider them even worse than their already quite stilted performance. They would be one step away from junk, imo, as they are so compromised holistically, to add the crippled performance of not being tuned by power cords would make them undesirable as ESL speakers, imo. Frankly, I think they've been surpassed so thoroughly over time that the cult of adherence to them is more from nostalgia than superior sound. They were an amazing product many decades ago. Now? Hardly.  Having heard them several times I wouldn't dream of swapping out the King III for them. They aren't even in the running for SOTA sound. 

I have no interest in debating/arguing my position on this.  

Phillyb, is the smart one. He actually tries things, and realizes it's a waste of time listening to people who don't.   :) 


“I have no interest in debating/arguing my position on this.”

Quote of the Week!  😀
doug

I tend to agree that the Quads are more limited than some of the newer designs, but I dont condemn them outright. I do think that they have the edge over the Kings in a few categories. I have a pair of 63s that I will send to Kent soon to be redone and I will try various power cords on these speakers.

Exactly what convinced you of the disdain of women on the Asylum? I find it odd but predictable that you would see fit to add this tidbit to your post. First the request to not mention weapons in any context and now this makes me wonder how you survive in such a tainted world. Please dont engage with me as such an exchange might prove to be uncomfortable.


Against better judgment I got myself involved in a cable discussion (and the view of the ESL57s -- some think old nostalgia garbage, other think superior to many USD 25,000+ speakers in the important midrange).
Let's agree to disagree about the importance of power cords (they need to be long enough to reach the outlet for sure) and keep on enjoying our sound systems. 

Peace and happy listening!!
Until one is willing to try different cables on the Quads and comment through personal experience I dont see the point of the discussion. I dont comment much these days on things of which I have no direct experience. I dont see any harm in people buying power cords if they think that an improvement results. I look at chiropractic the same way, I dont believe but others do so what is the harm in a possible placebo?
Boy, lot’s of opinions. But in this day and age attacking someone call a product garbage does zip for a anyone posting something heard, and doubled check by switching several power cords, what I heard is not something I expected, per what Kent said when I purchased a pair from him. I keep my mind natural caring either way and that how I always listen when I listen to any system or gear change.

I found you don’t have to spend a lot on cord for the Quads. My expensive ones sound no better that just a good power cord, something like a anti cable reference 3 or a signal cable or even a PS Audio mid level line, buy these used.

This is only a fun hobby yet in today’s world expect what starts out positive will be invaded by attacks. The audioasyum has been that way for years, good educated
Discussion turns into attacks, name calling and put downs, much like our President does daily, no substance just put downs. Which adds zero good, I hope we learn common respect, if you don’t hear it, fine but don’t say that as a fact.
If you never tried it then say zip because your taking opinion with no way of making a statement, like those who say cables cannot matter, audiophiles are fools etc.

I have 30 plus years of experience and one thing I keep in my never say never and don’t be afraid to try something, like wall plates affecting your sound, that was one i never thought about, until a Audiophile wrote me to try pure copper plates, sound did change, he was right. Depending on the power you might like them or not.

Enjoy the music and enjoy your system, magazines will always temp you to buy and buy, buy, that’s their job now, a sales marketing tool. But hey with 20K gear being called a bargain they No longer are taking to me. I’ve learned once you get a real enjoyable system to your ear, stop the day race and enjoy your accomplishment!

I seen many great system torn apart because of reviews and then thinking they need to upgrade. I upgrade just to change a sound that I am used to, but I’ve found a power cord will change your system sound and a lot cheaper.