Quad Listener Contemplating Horns

I have reemerged into this mad pursuit after a nine year hiatus, and just got my existing system back up and running (Crosby Quads, ARC SP-10, Classic 60, semi-tweaked Well-Tempered TT, Lyra Parnassus) after that many years (freshly gone over, retubed, TT readjusted, etc.)
The thing makes music, no doubt, but I'm still left with the complaint that I always had about this system, and earlier variants- the whole illusion seems to collapse on large scale pieces- not talking about volume here, but a combination of other things going on, including distortions that have to do with the overall spacing of the instruments- it is like the image is constricted even if the program content is not. (OK, enough of my psycho-babble).
Here's the question- I know that there is a long established school for horns, very low wattage tube amps. Need to know how liveable these systems are- not as a substitute, but in addition to, the more 'conventional' electrostatic system I'm running. I know I have some auditioning to do- I want to hear the Avantgarde speakers with the Lamms or Audio Notes, perhaps a Carey amp. I'll probably use the same front end, and at least for now, the SP-10 (which, by anybody's standards, may just be too noisy to tolerate over a system with a very low noise floor). I'm particularly interested in the insights from folks who use these types of systems as one among several-
aka Chateau Lafite drinker contemplating Sutter Home?

You should talk with Fred Crowder, here is a link to his system here at Audiogon. He ran Crosby Quads for many years as his reference system and recently went horns (of a sort) with Acapella Campanile Highs ($78,000). Too rich for my budget but perhaps not for you?

Crowder system

Even if you don't go the same direction as Fred, you share common ground with the great Crosby Quad.
I suspect you may be correct about the SP-10 being too noisy for use with horns, although it's a good sounding preamp, especially the phono stage. With regards to electrostatics vs. horns, only you can be the judge, although if you are sensitive to the 'cupped hands' effect of many, though not all, horns, you might find the latter hard to take. Acapellas, especially those with the plasma tweeters and preferably the larger models, are among the handful of horn speakers I would consider owning, if the cost isn't prohibitive. You might find other electrostatics more to your liking, however, without requiring a different preamp and taking out a second mortgage.
Albert- I will reach out to Fred. Thanks for the tip. Your system doesn't look to shabby either.
There is obviously a point of diminishing returns with all this stuff- I guess I lost interest 9 or so years ago, and that wasn't the first time I was 'out of it' for a while (and, having nothing to do with my drinking habits).
I've been around this stuff long enough to know that there are few absolutes and that, despite the ideal of having a 'perfect' system that can do it all, that is an unlikely though admirable pursuit (isn't that what we say we are doing when we go through the tortures here- to make the system 'more better'?)
The Crosbys are, to my ears, a compromise over the 57's I have sitting in the basement, at least in 'purist' terms- the mids in those are still more uncanny than the Crosby. But, the Crosby plays louder, deeper and is less beamy/headvisewise, so I run them, and not the 57's (which are in desperate need of a total rehab, anyway).
So, the idea would be to set up another system, not to foresake the Chateau Lafite, but maybe to give me something else to guzzle when i'm in a less 'precious' mood. The Big Acapella is a little rich for my blood as well, so I was considering entry onto this path through the used equipment route- the Avantgarde Duo coupled with a small AudioNote (UK) or Lamm low powered tube amp would not be so outlandish at used prices for a 'second' system.

Thank you both for your immediate responses. I'm just getting my bearings here, and it seems like the center of the universe for this strange passion of art and engineering.
Whart, Fred is a friend of mine and a very bright guy. He absolutely loved his Crosby Quads but they drove him crazy with repairs.

It's difficult to own Quads, Maggies or Sound-Labs and go to cones. Panel speakers definitely have some magic and Quad is one of the oldest in the book.

Your welcome to contact me as well. Heck, your welcome to listen with me if you live near or traveling my way. You can click on the user name of any poster here at Audiogon and that will link to email.

I have to admit I am not a fan of any Avantgarde products, personally I would prefer your quads, but then again that's why there are so many different speakers built and sold.
Building up on Albert's point, I'd add my own preference for the Acapella (i.e.fcrowder's choice of spkrs)over the Avantgarde. The Acapellas sound seamless (more or less) despite differing sound sources (ion, cone + tractrix horn, multiple cones in bandpass?/closed box), the big Avantgarde less so. OTOH, the Avantgarde are way cheaper than the Acapella...
A line array configuration of cone drivers is similar to a planar speaker in the way it distributes sound, and might ease the transition from planar to boxes. Albert has some of the best, but you can get a line array for less money (if that matters).
Yep, I've thought about bigger panels, but that isn't necessarily cost-effective either, is it?
I remember years ago listening to a Monster-sized Martin Logan, playing through big Jadis tube amps, at a shop on the Il St. Louis. The image was disproportionate to reality.
I've only heard Soundlabs in stores, never in a home.

I remember the Dayton-Wright from the 70's- but so much has changed for the better since then up the chain.

I've often thought about an HQD type system- double 57's with tweets (I still have a set of Decca ribbons and a set of Sequerra ribbons laying around in my 'stash' from earlier efforts to make a mini-HQD type system).

I also remember Pearson advocating a set of Maggie bass panels for use with the Quads (maybe even Crosby Quads, would have to dig to find it).
I'm wary of active X-overs, but haven't listened to anything modern in that area.

I think Rhapsody in NYC is a dealer for both Acapella and Avantgarde. I just don't want to waste a dealer's time if I am going to buy used- I do think these guys deserve to make a living....
Hi Whart. Interesting thread. WOW.... from E-stats to Hi efficient horns? After reading a few posts here I thought it only fitting on my behalf to post here considering I do use a highly effecient hybrid horn speaker[Tannoy Westminsters] as well as a couple of other systems with e-stats. Considering you are already familiar with the voice of the 57's, and currently own a pr of 57's as well as the deccas..... if your room is not overly large, perhaps you should consider acquiring another pair and do the HQD system. Still an incredible experience in the right room even without a sub, and the bass panels of the 1D's really blend well with the quads and in my experience,much better than subs with cones. RE: your reservations regarding crossovers...You can experiment here on the cheap, run the stacked quads full range and just cross the bass panels with the cheap little paradigm x-30. Although the X-30 is pretty much usless for the quads,it's a very competent cross for the bass panels.Allowing you the flexibility to adjust for gain,crossover frequency and more importantly for phase.If your intent on crossing the bottom octave from the quad, the older dalquist x-over is passive on the top and active on the bottom, the earlier ARC crossovers were also passive on the top and both can be had for very little money today. The Bryston crossover is also a very good one although perhaps a little more money. I suppose I should qualify myself here... I have been an E-stat fan for most of my adult life, used the stacked 57's with 1D bass panels for years as well as various acoustats,Dayton Wrights,single x-8 MK3's, stacked xg-8's with ribbons] and Soundlab A-1's. I am still using a pr of 3 panel acoustats as well as the Dayton Wright's in another room. To be candid here: After working with various vintage altecs,Jbl's and Klipschorns in pro sound applications, I have to admit to never really being much of a fan of using horns in a typical home enviroment.
Find yourself another pair of 57's and stack them. Wire them in series parallel and forget about it.
Hi Gang.Didn't mean to end my post as I accidently pushed the submit while attemting to preview my post. Anyway, about 6 years ago I acquired a 100 year old school house in the country with 4 large classrooms and a large gymnasium. The main classroom is a huge room [34ft x 27 ft with 16 1/2 ft ceilings] Thinking this would make a great room for setting up a system that would accomodate both music and movies, I decided I would renovate [a whole nother story] and move some equipment into the room. Started with my acoustat 2+2's,then the sound lab A-1's, both driven by an ARC sp-10 mk2 and Atma-sphere 2.2 Mk2's.While very good at average listening levels, Unfortunately neither speaker would pressurize the room. Well OK then... we'll try some boxes. Started with the proac reponse 3a...nope, on to response 4,close but no cigar. In came a pair of vandy 5's, better but still no cigar. Well maybe some subs with them, well that just made things even more difficult to get things right. A couple of musician friends suggested the big Klipschorns. Yanked a pair in from a old business associate.... now we where getting closer, but a touch shrill and a little shouty when approaching near live spl's not to mention the bottom octave that was MIA. Then hauled in a pair of altec a-7's...better still,great bass punch and dynamics but after living with e-stats in my home for most of my adult life and working with altecs at live gigs and nightclubs for many years,well it just wasn't the voice for me. Enter the big 300lb Tannoy Westminsters. Now these exhibit none of the colour of the others, as a matter of fact they remind me very much of the voice of the quad 57 whereby the midband is smooth and coherent with a speed thats akin to an Estat on steriods. Sound great at very low volumes too. Sound great with both quality tube amps as well as big solid state stuff. Certainly worth the trouble finding a pair to audition. Mind you,that said: I have never heard a pair in a small room and suspect they may be difficult to set up and adjust in smallish rooms. Although the westminsters are revered buy many Asian music lovers, most are made to order for the Asian market and their rooms are typically smaller than ours.
It seems to me that hardcore audiophiles often gravitate in one of two directions - either towards fullrange electrostats or high efficiency horns, as each does some things quite a bit better than we typically find with "conventional" systems. The ultimate speaker may well be an electrostat with the dynamics and efficiency of a horn, or a horn that sounds as good as an electrostat.

I've been a Sound Lab owner and dealer for about six years now (had Crosby-modded Quads before that), and it has been difficult for me to find a horn system that didn't distract me with colorations as often as it delighted me with liveliness. I would say that the front-runners in low-coloration high efficiency sytems are the Edgarhorn Titans, the eXemplars, and the GedLee Sumas. Disclaimer - I peddle the latter. I also like the Classic Audio Reproductions T-1 and Hartsfield very much, as well as well set-up Avantgardes. The PiSpeakers Seven Pi is an excellent high efficiency cornerspeaker at a much more reasonable price than the Hartsfield, but for sheer butt-shaking fun the Hartsfield is probably unsurpassed.

Anyway, as a diehard planarhead myself, yes there are high efficiency systems that I enjoy a great deal. Being a dealer I don't have to make a soul-wrenching either/or choice, but if I did I'd probably stick with 'stats.

Best of luck in your quest!

Enter the big 300lb Tannoy Westminsters

The only time I heard these were in Switzerland at the home of Mr. Breuer, the wonderful builder of Breuer tonearms and cartridges. He loved the Tannoy and voiced his products with them.
Man, I am so happy I started this thread. You guys are bringing back memories. A-7s. Tannoys! Love Lacee's response, but which is it, parallel or series? (Somebody on this site is offering a double pair of Quads with the original Levinson frames that include a branded 'knob' with the Levinson imprint. How funky is that!)

So, I placed a few calls to known suppliers. (God this sounds illicit). Seems like my timing is good. Everybody is on their way to CES. (This used to happen to me alot when I drank. For some reason, I always needed a drink on election day, when the bars were closed).

One of my cohorts urged me to listen to the Consonance amp configured with 211's, in conjunction with the Avantgarde Duos. Reminded him of the early AudioNote amplifier.

I'll have to do some listening before I draw any conclusions for myself. But, the input here has so far been invaluable, as well as fun to read. I guess I'm looking for an alternative to the Quad-based system, for those times when I want to hear a certain 'aliveness' to the music, rather than delicacy, detail and nuance.
Series parallel wiring with stacked Quad 57.
Positive from amp to positive of top Quad speaker. Negative of top Quad Speaker to positive of bottom Quad, negative of bottom Quad to negative of Amp.You require one long positive lead ,one long negative lead of equal length and one shorter jumper.Again the jumper goes from the upper Quad negative to the lower Quad positive. This is how to wire when you stack the Quads bottom to bottom so that the upper Quad is in the standard orientation and the Quad below it is inverted, (the top of bottom Quad is now at the bottom of the stack). This will make your amp see the same load as 1 pair of Quads 57.It worked for me.
Thanks for clarifying, Lacee. Sorry for my ignorance.
I find it interesting that people seem to be focusing on your speakers as your problem.
Could your problem be the source? If your cartridge and tonearm are not up to handling big dynamic passages, it won't matter what components you have downstream!
What about the phono stage or the amp? Any of these things can cause the problem you are describing.
I see so many poeple continually plodding through a whole series of speakers, cables, etc., never happy for long, when it is their source component or amps that are the problem.
Lacee's proposed wiring scheme will actually result in TWICE the original (single) speaker impedance at the amp's terminals. His description is simply a classic series connection of the two speakers, in which the impedances are additive.

OTOH, a parallel connection (positive-to-positive/negative-to-negative)of the two speakers would result in HALF the original (single) impedance at the amp.
914nut, electrostatic loudspeakers tend to be capacitive loads, not just resistive. When you connect two identical capacitors end to end (in series) the resulting capacitance is half that of one of them, much as when you parallel resistors of the same value.
How do you get twice the impedence?Maybe you are not reading me correctly. The impedence will remain the same if I wire 5 speakers this way.Remember the positive amplifier terminal goes to the positive terminal of the first Quad. The negative terminal of the last Quad goes to the negative terminal of the amp per channel.The negative channel of the first Quad goes to the positive of the second Quad.I don't know how you can wire a stacked pair and keep the impedence from varying any other way.

You, of course, are correct. I overlooked the fact that the discussion was with regard to the use of Quad electrostatics.

My apologies.


My original point was, nevertheless, that the series connection you proposed, for two speakers---regardless of the nature of transduction---cannot possibly present the same load (as you asserted) as that presented by a single speaker of the same type, at least without internal mods. It may very well work to your satisfaction, but it still presents a different load at the amp's terminals, dependent upon the resistive/capacitive/inductive components of the speaker's impedance.


(Please refer, also, to my reply to Essentialaudio.)

Do you actually think you can connect two, or "5", speakers in series and still end up with the impedance of the original single speaker? Regardless of the number of descriptions of your connection scheme, you're still proposing a simple series connection between the speakers.

Lacee: I just had a thought which may make this whole exercise a waste of my time, your time, and that of Essentialaudio.

When you stated: "This will make your amp see the same load as 1 pair of Quads(sic)57.", did you mean a stereo pair (one speaker per channel,which is how I interpreted the statement); or a pair connected to each channel of the amp?

If the latter, I agree and case closed.

If the former, we continue to disagree.

I'm not going to wade into the series/parallel discussion on the Quads. But I would like to come back to the Golden-Ear's question, which is a fair one. I am making the assumption only because I know the characteristic sound of the Quads, which is a bit 'polite.' Yet, I've heard the same thing I am describing on a big system that I had a fair amount of seat time in front of, using Dunleavys and Krells with what was then a first rate front end. So, it ain't just the speakers, I agree. But, the thing that does intrigue me about the horn approach is the ability to render big dynamics, and create that 'alive' feeling that you get in live performances.
My front end currently consists of the Lyra Parnassus, running into an ARC SP-10. (I am currently using a Sugden phono stage, but the same constraint existed with other, higher output MC cartridges run directly through the SP-10 phono section- The Well Tempered Classic, somewhat tweaked, is the front end). I don't know if these components impose a straight jacket on the music- I was actually thinking about upgrading preamp next, rather than TT (I'd keep the Sp-10 for funk value). The amp, as noted, is currently an ARC Classic 60, which provides ample power for the Quads, and has loads of 'image depth' if not a 'whitish' upper range. I have not tried a digital front end, and doubt I will....
THanks again, for all the good input. MOre updates soon on the progress of my Quest...