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Have Quad ESLs had their day?

Discussion in 'classic' started by fran, Oct 20, 2021.

  1. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    I have had ESL 57s for a good ten years. First, a pair [dated 1960 and 1968 when the owner bought his second speaker to go stereo], and more recently a single example made in 1957, which surely is one of the oldest gramophone speakers in daily use on PFM.

    If I were you, I would send them back and ask for a full refund.

    It seems the seller does not know the remotest thing about what he sold you or else he would have removed the little feet. These are really nice but certainly not up to loading in anything but the normal use position.

    Dinged aluminium covers can be improved, but never will they be as good as not being dented in the first place. Your pair seem to be both basically non-functional and not good cosmetically.

    Find a pair that are cosmetically very good, but may require servicing or rebuild work. Or find a pair that are tidy enough to live with that you can audition. Then collect them yourself, even at the cost of hiring a small van for a day. I have found that with the feet off, they transport quite happily laying down on their back on top of pillows and a duvet. No damage will be done this way if you drive sensibly. Or get hold of the proper transport boxes, which are probably not cheap. My 1957 speaker has its original transport box, and is a minter. I suspect that it was very much cherished by its previous owner. It came to me via a now retired Quad dealer, and it was serviced at Huntingdon immediately prior to me buying it, for a low price I promised never to reveal. The dealer liked me, and single ESL is much harder to rehome than a good pair.

    Get your money back and start afresh. They are marvellous speakers, and even better with mono!

    Best wishes from George

    PS: I power mine with a relatively modern Quad II Forty [mono-block valve power amp], which is a larger version of the original Quad II. In theory driving on the high [speaker] impedance tap for output it should not be capable of causing damage to the venerable old ESL! I don't play loud anyway, so chances are my 64 year old will survive to be a centenarian!
    tonerei and martin clark like this.
  2. chartz

    chartz If it’s broke fix it!

    Yup, you should probably do what dear old George says.
    It also depends on how much you paid for them really.
    My nice OTA pair set me back £ 1200 in 2016.
    tonerei and martin clark like this.
  3. tonerei

    tonerei pfm Member

    George is correct on the transporting. I loaned mine to a friend and they travelled safely in the back of the car on their rupert stands. Basically you have been spun a yarn by a person just looking for a sale. Hope your guarantee is solid enough to call in as going by what you have outlined so far the seller appears quiet economical with the facts.

    I sold my OTA done pair with Rupert stands for €1000 about 4yrs ago and the buyer must have spent about 3hrs in the house listening to all sorts of music before heading happily off into the sunset with a pair of OTA boxes also. He travelled from Cork to Dublin to view and buy them and I could stand over any description I gave him on how they performed.
  4. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    Eek - as above, return them as not as described. Given what you state I’d assume they’ve been messed with - are the 4 million staples holding the rear screen in place still there? Any missing? I’d assume yes from your description of sound - normal failure would be arcing panels or dud EHT units, mismatch of bass and treble between speakers suggest dead panels.
  5. FrancisClement

    FrancisClement pfm Member

    I sent a PM to LazyHammer. I am in Malaga province and have ESL 63s, if you want to listen to a pair that have been checked over and sorted by OTA let me know.

  6. LazyHammer

    LazyHammer Well-Known Member

    I think you're right about the seller not having any clue about what he was selling, since when I asked about the serial number he said he did not know it and did not know it was of any importance. They're both in the 25XXX range, I checked.
  7. LazyHammer

    LazyHammer Well-Known Member

    So... I did every test imaginable, and I think every doubt is clear now, they are faulty. I don't know which one of the two is faulty, or if both are, but basically I used an L/R test from youtube and then swapped the speakers to the other side and indeed the same thing happened. So that rules out my room being the culprit.

    One of them has nice treble and shy to normal amounts of bass, and the other one has no treble but somewhat muddy/boosted bass.

    I took videos in both positions and sent them to the seller, see what he says. He said no returns, but this is unacceptable IMO.

    I'm quite disheartened and if I get my money back I'll wait a good while until I find a pair that is in mint condition both inside and outside. Maybe I'll toy around with other speakers meanwhile... Just need to get my money back :(
  8. chiily

    chiily PFM Special Builder

    And that is strange because the serial numbers are quite clearly stamped on the plate at the back.
  9. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    If you can't recover the money through your bank or through Paypal buyer protection, take him to the small claims court. It's easy and cheap to do. It'll be a long process, maybe six months or more, but you will win the case I think, judging from what you said here, and eventually bailiffs will recover the money -- if he doesn't agree to pay first.

    I wouldn't give it a minute's thought any more. If it were me I would be in touch with my bank/paypal tomorrow and if they couldn't help, I'd give the seller a week, no more, before taking him to court.
  10. LazyHammer

    LazyHammer Well-Known Member

    He told me they were packed up and couldn't check them.
  11. LazyHammer

    LazyHammer Well-Known Member

    That's probably the best way to go about it. Problem will be shipping them back to the seller though, that's gonna cost me some money. We'll see.

    Seems like I won't be having Quads for quite a while...
  12. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    The seller is legally responsible for the cost of return if the speakers are not as described.
  13. LazyHammer

    LazyHammer Well-Known Member

    Welp, so after some talking with the seller, the Quads are leaving my house next week.

    Pretty bummed. So much in fact that I think I'm going to grab some other, more "normal" speakers meanwhile to scratch the itch until a minty pair of Quad 57's appears nearby for a good price, which won't happen for quite a while.

    Been eyeing the JBL L96. Unfortunately, kinda same problem as the Quad, not easily found... gonna take me some months to get them, too. Man, now I need to scratch the itch with something good and everything I want is either hard to find or possibly broken, or both :(
  14. robbyd

    robbyd pfm Member

    LazyHammer - whereabouts are you?
  15. LazyHammer

    LazyHammer Well-Known Member

    Barcelona, Spain
  16. bencat

    bencat pfm Member

    I own a pair of ESL 57 speakers and these were something I wanted since I was young . They are not used in anyway that most Quad owners would recognise but they work for me . First I would say Andrew Jones of AQuadthing is a real expert and he can service and repair your Quads to a very high standard . Now I have a music room but it is not big enough to have quads out and away from back walls to work on their own. So I use a MiniDSP DDRC 22D and DIRAC Live DSP programme which takes care of all the room reflections and time delays and just lets the music get on with playing. As result of this I am able to use the ESL57's hard up close to a back wall ans till get the sound quality I love from them . I know anyone I tell this to just looks at me as if I am mad then get to hear them playing and have to agree they do sound top class .

    Now the only fly in the ointment is that one speaker has started to make some popping and strange noises so they are are going to have to go to Andrew for some work . Hopefully not too much and not too much expense but it has to be done .
    Nagraboy, fran and PhilofCas like this.
  17. Has a pair of 57's years ago, absolutely loved them. Only thing against them is the servicing and the space that they take up. Also, i was single then and the space didn't matter. Now have Apogee Centaurs, as they are more living room/ wife friendly!
  18. peelaaa

    peelaaa pfm Member

    Some advice.
    NEVER throw away the 63 boxes. Rare as hen's teeth. I paid £100 for a 2nd hand pair including the inserts. It's the only way to transport them.
    Boxes are massive mind you, even when folded up are difficult to store in a regular sized house.
  19. theoldtrout

    theoldtrout pfm Member

    I haven't been here for a long time but noticed this thread. I've owned a pair of Quad 989s for few years and haven't found anything else that comes close. The clarity and soundstage accuracy is astounding; a piano sounds like piano in my room and all the instruments in an orchestra are easily identified. I drive mine with a 25W/channel valve amp, designed by me but similar to the Radford STA25. I've also used the 989's with a Leak TL20 and Quad11/22 both which work well. I've tried customer's Quad 33/303 and 34/405 but they sound dead. The only downside of the 989s is that they show up poor recordings. Had some ESL 63s on loan about ten years ago and they are very good but like the 57s, lack bass.
    misterdog and peelaaa like this.
  20. dalryc

    dalryc pfm Member

    If planars suit you, the Quads represent a classic that you can (arguably) do no better than. They represent the pinnacle of their sound and will prevent you from spending stupid amounts of money with diminishing returns. That applies to both new and second hand.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2021

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