Quad ESL 989 and Maggie 3.6s

I'm thinking of moving from the world of monitors and floorstanders to planers/electrostats -- this is partly due to my new amps, a set of McIntosh MC-501s, which finally give me more than ample power to get into this world.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has listened closely to both of these speakers, or has strong opinions toward one or the other? I've heard both described as near-ultimates of the type and certainly as "giant killers." Unfortunately, I have not heard the Quads (and it's been a long time since I have heard Quads).

One possible consideration against the Quads is that we do have small children in the house and they could be dangerous.

I own the Maggie 3.6R's and love them. I did have the MC501's for a short time and didn't think they were a good match with the Maggies, but I have heard that the MC501's match great with Soundlabs (you don't have to buy the Ultimates if you buy Soundlabs), but I have not heard them.

After all of that, I love the Quads. Everytime that I have heard them I thought they were sublime. Not sure of the best amp match. I have heard them with modded Antique Sound Lab Hurricanes, and the was a great match.

Good luck
I have and LOVE Quad 989s. I too drive them with ASL amps, but mine are FIFTY-Watt SETs, the Explorer 805 DTs. My listening room is fairly large at c. 3200CF, but the amps will play the speakers louder than I ever want to listen. I drive them full-range and they have QUITE-ample bottom-octave energy for this lover of big-orchestra classical and film music. I use subwoofers in the home-theater mode. See my System for pics.

There are LOTS of 989 reviews on-line which include amp recommendations; I know nothing of the MC501s.
I do not know much about the Quads but what I think I remember reading is that they didn't need needed anywhere near that much power and that they were fairly efficient.
Take a serious look at Eminent Technology - at less than half
the price of the 3.6r's, I think the LFT-VIIIa would more than
hold their own.
Check the build quality of Maggies. I am sure that Quad, no matter who actually owns the name now, can't do much worse. If you want Maggies do yourself a favour and buy them new from the dealer nearest you.
You know, I've considered Soundlabs -- I've only heard wonderful things about them, although I've never seen a pair.

You guys are now making me feel like I shot myself in the foot with the MC-501s! They haven't even arrived yet (but paid for and shipped) but I've been very excited. I currently have Electrocompaniet AW-220 mono blocs, which are very fine in and of themselves.
Soundlabs are sublime, well to me. Everytime I hear them I leave amazed. That said, the 989 Quad is almost the equal of the Soundlab Ultimates to me, but they are different speakers, and have different strengths. The bass from the SL's is amazing.

All that said, I have never had any problem with the build quality of the Maggies. They can be upgraded with with a better speaker stands (Mye stands are the best I have seen), and those adept at it can upgrade the crossover network. But for $4500, I don't think anything touches them. After having seen some posts on the Eminent Tech speakers I did a test drive and was impressed. At their price point, but they are not Maggies, certainly not in the same league with the 3.6R as far as dynamics, range or coherency. IMHO.
I've heard (not with my ears) and have read that the ESL-988 actually surpasses the 989, especially in the all-important midrange. They're much in price point to the 3.6rs.

Anyone familiar with them?
FWIW, from my experience in auditioning Maggies, and owning Quads (63's) the differences I heard are significant and which you prefer will depend on your expectations. The Quads are much more of a point source speaker where as the Maggies are more like typical line stages in providing an image inhanced in height and width which can be great on orchestral stuff but which can be distracting on recordings of voice and solo instruments.

Also, before you plunge forward with planers or electrostats, research thoroughly the set up issues. They are more demanding of placement and room treatment than the typical dynamic speaker. If you're not going to do this set up properly you lose the benefit of the transparency that they can bring to your music.

I prefer the sound of point source speakers and I've always liked the Quads driven by a good medium powered tube amp. I've never heard them with a Mac, but other than a Levinson ML2, I've never heard them with SS that I've really enjoyed.

The problem with the Quads in comparison to a good dynamic (box) speaker is you do lose the ability to play loud and you lose some of the dynamics (think compression) of live music. I've lived thru panels and electrostats and I'm back to good dynamic's all because I went off half cocked. Hope your experience is different. :-)

Really? You feel the electrostats are somewhat compressed and less dynamic? I would have thought the opposite.

Also, I'm hearing (and reading) tha the esl-988 is actually the smoother speaker. Anyone audition both of these?
Auditioned both and bought 88. More focused and better mid-range. Bottom end difference between the 88 and 89 is insignificant as you will need a sub or ideally a pair anyway. There is no reason to spend extra $$$ for the 89.
HighDungeon -

Put a pair of Quads or Maggies next to a big pair of wilsons or Dynaudios. Play some dynamic rock or jazz music. You will near night-and-day differences in dynamic capabilities between the planars and the boxes. Granted, you'll also hear night-and-day differences in transparency in favor of the planars... so pick your poison.

Hi Wc65mustang,

I'll be auditioning Quad 988/989 hopefully soon myself.

Did the 989 have a taller soundstage compared to the 988 so you don't have to look at the performance?

My concern would be if images have body like good cone speakers like Living Voice OBX-R2. And mid level dynamics.

With the exception of the 88's slightly more liquid mid-range and and a more focused presentation, the 88 and 89 are virtually identical in sonics. I suppose that the extra panels permit the 89 to go a bit lower but it is barely discernible and relevant. As I mentioned before, you'll need assistance at the bottom end as neither the 88 or 89 are true "full range" speakers.
"Bottom end difference between the 88 and 89 is insignificant as you will need a sub or ideally a pair anyway."

I disagree. The extra level and extention of the 989s WITHOUT subwoofers are what helps the coherency of the system. The 989s may not reproduce the bottom half of the bottom octave very well, but driven full range they do VERY well with orchestral bass drums and organs down to, say, low-C, and that takes VERY GOOD care of ALL the big-orchestra music I listen to. I love my 989s and wouldn't have the 988s.

I do have subwoofers connected to the '.1' channel of the preamp, but they're driven only when there's something IN that channel, and the vast majority of my DVD-As and SACDs have nothing there. The system sounds fabulous with movies*, too, where, of course, the subwoofers often are driven hard.

* my favoriteof which is the DTS track of 'Master and Commander...'.
The bottom line is the 988 is an overall better sounding speaker than the 989, bottom end nothwithstanding. Period.
Thanks both to Wc65mustang and Jeffrey!

I'll keep your points in mind when I go auditioning.
"The bottom line is the 988 is an overall better sounding speaker than the 989, bottom end nothwithstanding. Period."

Glad to see you're so open-minded, WC. Some of us have steel-trap minds; you have an iron-doored mind, and the door is CLOSED.
Wc65 is just stating his opinion even if it sounds like a fact. Anybody who states anything like, for instance, Solid State is better than tubes as a fact is in fact an idiot. Some simple logic proves this. It's fine to have your own tastes and preferences, just don't tell me what I like.
Name calling? Insults? Coming from you, I'm crushed. :-)
I've read your posts and reviewed your system (as shown in your profile) and find it difficult to take you seriously.
Glad to see your :-) instead of a :-( at the end of your post. No insult intended. Just my opinion not a fact. :-)
OK Onemug. I just find that name calling, opinion or not, reduces the effectiveness of any argument. We can agree to disagree, and that's a good thing, so long as it is conducted with civility. All of course IMO. :-))))))))))
Jeffreybehr -

I looked at your system as well... You've got some nice stuff, but you've got to clear out the space between / behind those Quads of yours! I can't imagine how there could be a soundstage without any space behind/between the quads. They really need a lot of space to do what they do
>>You've got some nice stuff,<<

Antique Sound Labs, Denon, Audioquest, Audio Refinement, B&K.

You're kidding right?
I second the Eminent Technology suggestion; they seem to be not well known, which is amazing considering their incredible performance. See the recent review of them in vol. 38 of HiFi+ Mag. I have heard the 3.6's several times and would not trade my stacked Eminent LFT-8A's for them. The dual magnet array technology, in my opinion, clearly outperforms the Magnepan technology. I believe the 20.1 version may use the dual magnet technology, which would help explain why it is a world class speaker.
Eminent's certainly give nothing away in terms of performance to Magnepans (imho). At their price point, I don't know of any speaker which could outperform them. That's a pretty bold statement, but when you hear them, you'll possibly agree. Just make sure you do hear them!
I see all the smiles but I want to make sure you know my first post was not directed at you. If anything it was maybe more for Jeff. He seemed to have an issue with you stating the 88 was better than his 89. That's fine if its viewed as an opinion even if it seems like a fact. I just made a general statement after that because I sometimes come across a nice thread that degenerates into flames because people don't get it. Kinda like, "I went to a fight the other day and an audiophile forum broke out". So there was no name calling specificaly, just a lesson in general that I learned awhile ago that helps me get along with Dealers, Salesmen, Reviewers etc.
Onemug: Those were honest and heartfelt "smiles". No sweat!!

Jeff can be as irate and/or stubborn as he wishes but the general consensus of reviewers, retailers, and users is that 88's sound better. Here's another example of bigger not being better. If he had heard them blindfolded with really high end source and amplification equipment he would know better. Hey to each his own!!
FWIW, I always find it interesting when people complain about the lack of bass (32hz+) in the 63's and 988's. Most often these are the same folks who say the speakers sound best when they are elevated 8 to 12 inches off the floor (which would reduce the bass in any speaker, box or stat due to a change in the floor reflections which reinforced the bass when they were on the floor.)

Peter Walker designed the Quad 63's to be on the floor (he later changed is mind but I think this change was more about sales than sonics.

A well set up 63 or 988, on the floor, will produce a very tight and flat bass down to the mid 30's and it does not screw up the mid-range, it just fleshes it out. I had full range boxes and 63's in my room which measured exactly the same when the Quads were on the floor and the imaging was not effected either. Off the floor (I have stands for the Quads) they sound brightish and enemic.

Just some more stuff to think about..........
Hi Newbee. For the record I don't want my comments regarding the Quad's deficient bottom end taken as a complaint. The 88 and 89 are world class speakers and I enjoyed my 88's immensely for 3 years. However, they are what they are, and to truly appreciate the depth of recorded music, a subwoofer(s) is required; not specifically for Quads but most speakers. There exist very very few speaker systems that will not benefit from a properly selected and positioned subwoofer system. For more information check all of the threads currently running here on Audiogon outlining the rationale. I won't even begin to enumerate all the reasons; it would simply be duplicitous. Look for posts by member Rauliruegas; he's done a lot of homework on the subject.
"I can't imagine how there could be a soundstage without any space behind/between the quads (SIC)."

'Any space?' Huh? They're SEVEN FEET from the front wall. I sure am glad all you folks know so much about me and my system...NOT.
I had magnepan and moved into second system and replace with 988 Quad. Use same amp, Pass, then try different amp, quad II tubed mono. Quad speaker sound good but magnepan is better, more real, more life, more present.
Quad very good, magnpan better for creating live music.

Quads and Maggies are both great speakers with different strengths and weaknesses. Positioning is critical for both. However, an evaluation of the 988 with either a Pass or Quad II amplifier will not truly reveal their capabilities. IMO, Quads sound better with tubes (75WPC minimum) while Maggies need significantly more power and sound better with sand amps.
Hi Wc65mustang,

What speaker system do you use presently?

I own Silverline Grande La Folia. Preceding the Quad 988 (2000-2005) were Apogee Caliper (1988-2000), Ohm F (1975-1988), and Bose 901 Series 1 (1971-1975).

Be aware that Quads are not ideal speakers for all types of music and amplifiers. Be sure to bring your own music and try to audition them with similar amplification as your own. The impedance curve will give some amplifiers trouble. I used them with Belles, Pass, Atma-Sphere, and Art Audio.
Hi Wc65mustang,

Thank you for thoughts!
Well, I have simplified thing: I now I have set of Quad ESL-988s on order. Smaller than the maggies and soundlabs, which is nice. Plus, the price was right. The experiment goes on!
Congrats. Do yourself a favor and scrap the factory supplied power cords and get a pair of decent (you don't need to break the bank) power cords. I was using Stealth Cloude Nine, which are pure silver, with great results. I also liked the Audience powerChord but the Quads were a little quicker and slightly more transparent with Cloude Nine.
Experiment with positioning; this is very critical. Eventually you'll want to add a sub or two. Enjoy!!!
Well, on the sub question I've been lookning at TBI, REL, and Vandersteen.

As it happens, I wound up order a Quad L sub AND a TBI magellan. The TBIs are smaller and, were I to use two subs (is that really necessary?), it would be easier to go with TBI.
Yes two subs are necessary. As I mentioned in an earlier post in this thread, do a search for member Rauliruegas and read what he has to say. He's done extensive research on the issue and you'll find a great deal of information. Have fun.