Quad ESL owners question


Quad ESL lover's, what other speakers would you consider or own that is very close to the natural sound of the Quads?
pinoy6
One of my friends who own the ESL 63 liked alot my old Harbeth C7ESII while he absolutely doesn't like my Thiel 2.4
Sound Lab
I had the 2805's for several years and loved them, but reliability issues forced me to sell before they turned into larger repair problems.

I have replaced them with the new Martin Logan Spires and have not looked back. The Spires have all the transparency, openness and midrange detail of the Quads, with better dynamics and real bass impact. Martin Logan reliability and customer service is an important consideration for me as well.
I have Magnepan 2.7s as well as the ESLs.
They all sound different. Quads are a pain in the ass and have a very small sweetspot. On the other hand...

You'll get some of the dispersion qualities from other dipoles but the imaging is different on different speakers. I don't really think quads sound natural as much as they sound musical.

I think you will get a similar type of musicality out of some of the english speakers like the spendors and maybe out of some di-poles. The phase coheerence is more like a dunlavy but the freq is night and day different.

If you like the quad midrange, try some ls3/5a's or spendor 3/5's as well as looking into other planar speakers.
Spendor SP-1s. I had my first Quads in 1964 and was a dealer for years. I got my first Spendors about 1970. They are close to being as uncolored as the Quads and have more bass and top. They were designed by an engineer who had worked at the BBC for years[this is also true of the Harbeth]. They have been used as broadcast monitors by most of the large national radio networks in Europe,e.g. England, Germany, Sweden and others. They are available at very reasonable prices on Audiogon, they currently retail for about $5700 and I have seen them for around $800.
BTW. I also have a Spendor S5e and it doesn't come close to the sound of my ESL 2805
Sound Lab or ATC are other options. Gordon Holt used Sound Lab for years - I believe he now uses ATC. I don't think ATC midrange beats a great electrostatic but it comes close and of course it does other things that electrostatics generally can't do as well (such as less beaming issues and a much wider sweetspot, dynamics and high SPL output). Of course, ATC's will not have the acoustic ambience of a panel that radiates forwards and backwards (nice for chamber, church or low level classical music)- so it depends on your needs - horses for courses...
I think Soundlab's would be on the list. Albert Porter's system used to be soundlab's but now Dali Megalines are in his home;he talks very highly of these speakers when I inquired on advice before I bought my soundlab m2's.
Mothra
"Quads are a pain in the ass and have a very small sweetspot..."

Have owned a pair of 2905s for two and a half years plus and its certainly news to me that the Quads have a small sweet spot!! On the contrary, the Quads, IMHO have one of the largest soundstages which stretches floor to ceiling and wall to wall. There is no narrow sweet zone or spot. I owned a pair of ML Odysseys and now they really had a small sweet spot eg the sound changed fairly dramatically if you stood up from your listening chair etc
If you want to capture the holographic sound stage of an ESL and yet overcome some obvious shortcomings of this genre, quite a few of the higher priced speakers come pretty close with a superior bottom end. The 3 or 4 speakers that would be on my priority : Revel Ultima Salon 2, B&W 802D, Wilson Sophia2 and the Rockport Mira. Of these I have heard the Rockport and the B&W and heard the the higher priced Wilsons. They are all outstanding speakers and the final choice would depend on what makes sense to your ears, room and the partnering gear.
Best of luck
LS3/5A has that midrange magic and "you are there" but little bass.
Harbeth super HL7's are very good.
I owned Quad ESL988's for many years but now live with the LS3/5A and find them over all a very pleasing speakers.
"the acoustic ambience of a panel that radiates forwards and backwards (nice for chamber, church or low level classical music)-"

Yes, electrostats (or any dipole for that matter?) are bad bad bad bad bad for any other type of music particualy rock, progressive, symphonic, punk, be bop jazz, straight ahead jazz, electronic, dance, orchestral etc, well you get the idea. I am not even sure why they make these things. Thankfully I like Ann Murry, Carpenters, and churches without organs music.

Bob
Yes, electrostats (or any dipole for that matter?) are bad bad bad bad bad for any other type of music particualy rock, progressive, symphonic, punk, be bop jazz, straight ahead jazz, electronic, dance, orchestral etc.

Less well suited to some of the heavier genres that tend to be heard at higher SPL's but definitely not "bad bad bad bad".
ATC Active Speakers are very Quad like.
Sound Labs
as a quad esl owner, previous quad 63 owner, magnepan owner, previous tympany owner and hybrid infinity owner, i can say that i would never be satisfied with any speaker but another panel speaker.

i could easily live with some of the martin logans, the apogee duetta signature, the infinity servo statics and possibly (i'm not sure), the piega c 10. i'm not sure about the piega because it is a hybrid.

my 2nd speaker is a pair of magnepan 1.6s. the esls and magnepan sound similiar.
I am a former user of Quad 57s and 63s and currently own Apogee Duetta Signatures but the speakers I am listening to now are SP-1s. The S5e is the product of a different design team entirely. I bought Spendor originally because of a review in STUDIO SOUND, a British pro sound mag, which compared the 57s and Spendor BC-1s and found them very similar. This was in 1970. I was a Quad dealer for 15 years and a Spendor dealer for 16 with considerable overlap. Both of them have been in wide use as broadcast monitors[ why the BC-1 was designed] and by classical recording engineers. They share an uncanny ability to get the timbre of the music right. They do not play especially loud or deep but are very accurate. The large speakers mentioned have their own set of virtues but do not sound like the Quad. I confess that any similarity with the Maggies elude me. I have never been able to stand them.

01-16-09: Acoustat6
"the acoustic ambience of a panel that radiates forwards and backwards (nice for chamber, church or low level classical music)-"

Yes, electrostats (or any dipole for that matter?) are bad bad bad bad bad for any other type of music particualy rock, progressive, symphonic, punk, be bop jazz, straight ahead jazz, electronic, dance, orchestral etc, well you get the idea. I am not even sure why they make these things. Thankfully I like Ann Murry, Carpenters, and churches without organs music.

Acoustat6,

Can you tell us more about your extensive experience with electrostats, planar, dipole, etc. speakers? My speakers can play, with authority, everything you throw at them, of course except anything bellow 30hz. I have also heard non-boxed speakers play loud and well anything from rock, punk, symphonies, ...


the spendors and many other speakers having drivers in cabinets have cabinet colorations.

the differences between spendors, proacs, rogers, etc., and quad 57s are huge. while there is no explanation for taste, i find it surprising that anyone who loves the virtues of quad 57s can appreciate a cone design. i have yet to hear one that i would want to own, especially after listening to quads.

i recently reviewed a decent monitor speaker, using a modified heil tweeter. they were no match for quads.
Your loss. Its wonderful to find someone with so refined a taste that he can tolerate only one kind of speaker. I like the Quads, but they have faults of their own. I am amazed that you would have expected the Heil tweeter to sound good. I remember when a store in Chicago sold 14 pair of the original Heil speakers and got every one of them back in trade in a short period. I will call it to your attention that when the European national radio networks stopped using Quads as monitors they replaced them with Spendors. Of course their only concern was fidelity to the original sound , not maintaining their pose as an audio guru.
most "box" speakers sound "boxy", whereas panel speakers do not have box calibrations.

i guess one man's trash is another's treasure.

for the record, i could live with any panel speaker, from magnepan to martin logans, apogees, audiostatic, analysis audio, and other panels. cones have colorations which i find annoying.
most "box" speakers sound "boxy", whereas panel speakers do not have box calibrations.

I agree in the sense that a great panel is wonderfully devoid of coloration in the midrange.

However, MrTennis how would you describe the sound of kick drum and toms?

To me they naturally sound "boxy"....

All I am saying is there is "bad boxy" sound from cabinet waffle and "good boxy" sound from instrument resonance...
I liked the big Quads but went with
OHMs for almost 1/3 the cost. No regrets.
having studied percussion instruments in my teen years and became a member of my high school band, i actually played bass drums and also, occasionally snare drums.

there is nothing boxy about a snare drum, bass drum or tom tom, there is a particular timbre of each of the aforementioned instruments, but in either case it does not remind me of the vabinet of a loud speaker.

anyway, if a wood cabinet resonates at a a specified frequency or depending upon the design, resonates at more than one frequency, the timbre of certain instruments may be affected.

i am interested in natural timbre. that is the reason i prefer panel speakers.
Hi Isanchez, my post, "Yes, electrostats (or any dipole for that matter?) are bad bad bad bad bad for any other type of music particualy rock, progressive, symphonic, punk, be bop jazz, straight ahead jazz, electronic, dance, orchestral etc, well you get the idea. I am not even sure why they make these things. Thankfully I like Ann Murry, Carpenters, and churches without organs music."

Was in response to Shadornes assertion that electrostatics are, "the acoustic ambience of a panel that radiates forwards and backwards (nice for chamber, church or low level classical music)-"

I usually disagree with every one, so this was my attempt at conformity. You really should ask Shadorne about this.

My response was a bit tongue in cheek response to Shadornes remark, and I am sure he understood it. It really is difficult to make a sweeping statement like he did, for any technology.

As to my experience with electrostats as you can see by my username Acoustat6, guess what I listen to?

I started my audio life with the usual suspects in the 70s, box speakers and in 1984 I purchase my first pair of Acoustat 3s. I then a couple of years later found a used pair of the Acoustat 6 which I continue to listen to, till this day. I have also owned a pair of Super Quads with the bank of RTR electrostatic tweeters and KEF woofers. I have also owned Magnepans. And I have heard many of the usual suspects in boxes, horns and single drivers etc..

Personally I liked many of them and appreciate many of each technologies attributes. I am sure I could have gone in any direction. But i bought the big Acoustats and have stuck with them for better and worse. It is a mrriage as I have owned the sixes for over 25 years. So yes I do indeed like electrostatics. Hence my reply to Shadornes remark.

I also like dipoles. My DIY subwoofer system consists of 32 eight inch Eminence drivers in sealed enclosures. There are eight forward and eight rear facing drivers per side in a stereo pair. It is a linesource configuration. They use a pair of stereo amps. Each woofer tower has its own amp with the "left" channel driving the front bank and the "right" channel driving the rear bank.

You may view them here, http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/album/10047418LsbjGLlsDK?start=0

Bob
Bob,

Your system is totally awesome. However, I'd say that the shear size of your speakers is indicative of what I was alluding to when I generalized that good panels have great ambience, midrange second to none but are less well suited to higher SPL's. Perhaps that is partly why the bigger panels (Apogees, Sound Labs, Acoustats etc.) are BIG.
Bob; did you consider anything larger than 8 inch drivers for the subs; I have soundlab m2's and anything more than 10 inches for the sub seems to be "slow" and can't keep pace with the panels;just wondering if you experimented with different size drivers;they look awesome !!!
Hello Bob,

It seems I should have read all the posts more carefully before jumping in.

In my experience, whether planar speakers can play convincingly the genres of music you mentioned depends on the rest of the system and the size of the room. For instance, I couldn't listen to rock until I added the Spectron* Monoblocks. I recently added the Joule Electra Marianne Electra Memorial preamp and the sound I'm getting, in terms of slam and impact, is usually not associated to planar speakers.

I assembled my entire system around the Maggies 3.6r. My goal, and my reference, has always been real (live) music, so I need to hear, see and feel the music. In my current system, I get all this while having control and finesse in the music presentation. On the other hand, I've also heard the Maggies in other systems and they couldn't really play loud or have impact. So I personally think it all depends on each one's goals and music tastes.

Best,

iSanchez

*
2,400 Watts at 8 Ohms
3,200 Watts at 4 Ohms
5,600 Watts at 2 Ohms
Headroom of 7,000 watts over 500 msec
Peak voltage: 240 volts
Stability - up to 0.1 Ohm
THD: <.01% from 1W to 600W @ 8O ( in the listening range)
Output impedance: @ 1kHz .036 Ohms
Output impedance: @ 20kHz .19 Ohms
Bandwidth: 200 kHz (less)
On the other hand, I've also heard the Maggies in other systems and they couldn't really play loud or have impact.

That has been my experience and I am sorry that my generalization clearly does not apply to you or Bob. My excuse is I never heard Maggies with 7,000 watts behind them!!!!
Hi Shadorne, My point was that many technologies are indeed "good". And that it is difficult to make any sweeping statement. Now of course that doesnt mean that one cannot prefer one over the other, this is where our personal preferences and likes and needs come into play. Which is what makes the world go round. And just like ones preference for tubes/SS, transformer/active, TT/CD, DD/belt drive, who cares? The only thing we should be concerned about/helping each other with is how to get the best performance out of THEIR equipment. Why? Because that is what we own, why not just work towards getting the best out of it. Thats all you can do, unless someone can talk you into spending $$$$ for new equipment.

How can it be that, no matter the topology there is always someone on this site that says it is wrong while others have the complete opposite view?

I could have fallen for any speaker type. As I mentioned when I was looking for speakers many years ago, I chose the Acoustats (part fate/part desire) but I had listened to a number of speakers that I could have lived with forever. I have had the Acoustats for a long time and plan on living with them till the day I die. But thats just me. I also have and use my original SAE amps circa 1980. I have made changes over the years but enjoy many of the (now old) fine pieces of equipment that I own.

This is not limited to electronic equipment but also to all of the things in my life. Motorcycles that I have owned and continue to ride after 25 years, same for art, clothes, music, books, you get the idea.

Now just think if I had bought those Klipschorns.....but not before going to bed, don't want any nightmares:)

Just kidding! But just think of how different my system would be if I had bought and kept them.

Also I am sure that few people would even like to own my system (or listen to it for that matter, I am sure it would put Mr Tennis into cardiac arrest!) and I know that, but for me it is spectacular.

It is no different for my motorcycle collection, probably useless for 99% of the motorcyclist out there. But me and a couple of other nutty friends thrive on them and we help each other get the best out of them. Should that not be what we try do do here?

Now just think if my first bike was a Harley, but not before going to bed, we dont want any nightmares!

Bob
Hi Rleff, The subs were designed by two internet friends one of which works for an important speaker/electronic company. These were indeed made to match the big Soundlabs as that is what these two fellows own. Mine work quite well with my Acoustats also.

As can be imagined they needed to be dipole, linesource and very quick (sealed box). They were also designed, and you need to use, the Marchand Bassis or some other form of a Linkwitz transform to counteract the natural rolloff of the sealed box.

The drivers are custom made by Eminence for this project. They had 100 drivers made to obtain a good discount. Each system uses 32 drivers so three sets were able to be made with 4 drivers left over for spares. The 32 drivers cost me $600 about 8 years ago. Total for the entire project about $1000. Can you say DIY:)? But dont forget you then need the Marchand Bassis and two stereo amps. The increadible thing is the drivers barely move, perhaps 4mm of excursion for even the most bass heavy music. The articulation, dynamics and imaging of the bass is what we were after and this goal was achieved.

They are low Q ( 0.5 ). With 32 drivers, 10" drivers are not needed, actually I am sure 32 8" drivers are overkill, I believe 24 drivers would be enough, but that would not give a pure linsource.

Bob