At one time, Stereophile named the David Berning EA230 as the most perfect amplifier for the Quad ESL-63.
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you didn't ask for set a set up question but your comments on your sound tells me that either they are not set up properly or the electronics are off. these are great speakers but set up can be very difficult. i spent a long time getting them right. tube electronics go well with quads but they can still be bright and less than optimum with the best electronics if your not spot on re set up. If your using stands, try putting them on the floor. with stands you really need a sub woof. there is a large upper bass suck out which will make them sound cold. give them plenty of room from the back wall and make sure the area behind them is not reflective - dispersive is much better. also, i think many people, including me, feel that the speakers are a bit dry in the upper mid range - you might want to look at amps and preamps that are noted for some warmth. Re amp recommendations, what price range are you looking in and are you considering used as well as new?
My EAR 519 100 watt monoblocks barely drove ESL 63s. They did sound amazing once an 18" velodyne was added. A warm amp helps as well as lots of room around the quads. A good sub x-over with a nice powered sub will not only do amazing things but will also let you get away with normal amounts of power (50-100 watts vs 250-1000).
I've had Quads all my musical life and I would say that the advice given above holds good. I have nothing to add to that or to disagree with. Linn and Quad musically do not go very well together.The Quads show up mercilessly all the inherent faults of the Linn stuff. If you want to stick with the CD player, why not try to get one of the older CJ amps, which would give it some warmth. Stay away from AR gear, its too "cold" in that combination. The Berning mentioned above, would be a possiblity, a RM amp, would do as well, and Jadis, the 80 monos of course, but they cost a packet, or the Defy 7 by Jadis, which has lots of punch. I am not familiar with other tube gear in the 100 to 150w range, so I am also curious, what the other contributors are going to say.
I've used two tube amps with Quad ESL 63's that have had the wonderful Nick Gowan upgrade (62' of inferior wire replaced, among a lot of other, more obvious things). One was a heavily customized Sonic Frontiers SFS-40, the other was a pair of Atma-Sphere M60 II.2's. It was no contest, in favor of the A-S amps, which are legendary for their ability to get great sound out of electrostatic speakers. As far as I can see, the legend is the simple truth.
I have owned ESL 63s since 1981, 1984, 1992, three different runs. The very best amps I have used on them were
ARC D-115 II
JADIS JA-80 (When they sold for $5500.00 New)
Conrad Johnson MV-75A
LEAK Stereo 50
Try any of thes amps with a good solid Sony CD Unit with motorised volume and never look back. You wont be very far from the truth.....Frank
My small experience of old with 63's (10 yrs ago) both agrees with Detlof's &, strangely, agrees & differs from Frank's above:
-The small Jadis (now Defy7) gave me great joy;
-The Jadis 80 were my "reference" at the time; note that these were wearing ancient GE tubes -- I couldn't afford to re-tube them!
-Old Symphonic Line RG4 monos (ss), were at par w/Jadis 80 in driving, but I slightly preferred the sound of J80 over the S-Line in the upper mids (maybe due to my being accustomed to tubes)
-The Quad-Linn combo's I tried were... off (surely not only a matter of components synergy but also of set-up on my part)
- EAR 519 monos: good synergy & drove the speakers well
-The A-Research I listened to (the 150, I think) didn't quite involve me emotionally.
-Finally, Quad's own 45 (?) ss, sounded harsh
Note that during that time I was using a DNM6 pre with the power amps, only had a few cd's, and listened mostly to, and judged by vinyl.
Your best bet with the quads 63 would be a conrad johnson mv125 amplifier. this is 125 watts per channel & the richness you get out of this amp. is quite musical & revolving. I am using this amp with maggies 1.6 & the sound is natural & musical. Good bass & imaging also. I have been involved in audio for over 38 years. I owned original quads in Ca. years ago. Good luck Marvf5.
The speaker needs an amplifier that can do a good job of making constant power with respect to its impedance. The reason for this is that the impedance curve is based on a capacitance, and so is decreasing as frequency increases. At the same time the impedance is quite high in the bass region, and many amplifiers will have difficulty making power at these frequencies as a result.
So. much like the 57, but with greater power handling ability, the speaker has always been a good combination with OTLs, going back to its initial introduction. OTLs are one of the few amplifiers that can make power in the bass region of the speaker, without sacrificing the highs. Its been my experience that the speaker can manage 100 watts alright, and it seemed a lot more fun with the extra power.
I used a Cayin 50 with great results in a smaller room. When the 63's went to the living room I used the Quad 909/99 with excellent results. I absolutely agree with an earlier post that the 63's should not be toe'd in...keep them square to the room. If you need to adjust soundfield play with distance between the speakers and the distance from the walls. They aren't too finicky but when they are set up right and played at the right volume they are great!
Atmasphere has made an excellent point. After abandoning the 63s for the big Sound Labs I switched from Jadis to his OTLs and have not had a single regret since.
(Audiophiles are fickle and unfaithful. Divorce is cheaper in this field, though not quite inexpensive all the same.
Regarding my new gear (SLs and OTLs) I've been faithful for over four years now and intend to remain so.
II40 or 909.
for the period of more then two decades I have tried various ss/tube amps for 63,988,2805 and to my ears they work best with Quad electronics. I owned CJ pV5/Mv50,electrocompaniet,counterpoint in the eighties,then Krell,Pass Labs,Bryston,Athmasphere,Graaf etc
but always after longer or shorter time interval (sometimes a few days,sometimes a couple of months) i start feeling the fatigue, which never comes with Quad electronics.Give you a favour: try some Quad amp before spending money elsewhere !
After I tried 300B SE tube amps like AN-UK, Unison Research, Mosfet SS and other, I stopped to Nagra VPA 845 PP amps, which gave me great musical satisfaction for the last decade. I still want to try a direct drive amp dedicated to my ESL63, but I did not find one, or at least a DIT schematics to construct.