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Have Quad ESLs had their day?

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

  1. tonerei

    tonerei pfm Member

    I have only heard one pair of 989's and initial listening blew me away but when I heard the same pair in a different setting they didn't really sound great.
    Hope to get a pair of 989's eventually to test out the bass theory. OTA suggest that the larger Quads were not properly integrated with the treble panels as it was just a bolt on job rather than development done by PWalker.

    Have a new pair of OTA 63's and they sound great but bass is a little lean. Turns out the HV is down on both pairs and the EHT boards need to be replaced. Will report back when I get them installed on whether that improves the bass response.
  2. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    I have 2x12" subs with my 989's, most of the time I can turn them off as there is so much bass output from the Quads. I did fit all the panels into custom built steel frames though which made a huge difference.
    The Quads benefit from the lowest distortion source you can provide. Peter Walkers aim was to build the lowest distortion speakers he could, so I am following his philosophy regarding source.
    martin clark likes this.
  3. tonerei

    tonerei pfm Member

    Yes your approach would be one that Fran and I would completely subscribe to with regard to the stiff frame and running with dust covers off etc etc. Fran's side by side 63's throw out a huge soundstage and more than enough bass. EHT's I think are done on all them and new panels on most of them. The 'stacked' 63's are impractical for most people but the 989 arrangement can be accommodated but needs a big room I feel to work well.
  4. fran

    fran pfm Member

    The stacked 63s throw a huge soundstage, but the listening sweet spot is even narrower than with 57s! There is just a big jump in impact and lower end weight without losing the top end goodness - but as tonerei says, the room needs to be big enough to carry them. They need very careful setup too -both speakers at the same height, so that mid panels are lined up. They don't seem to be too fussy around amps (I was expecting a bigger difference having tried various solid state and valve amps, diy and commercial).

    I hope over Christmas to open up the 57s I have here to take a look inside. I know at least one dustcover is needed, and most likely EHT units need doing up. I think I'll move on from the Bulgin plugs as well while I'm at it. They are all worth it.
  5. theoldtrout

    theoldtrout pfm Member

    Interesting what you say about 989s sounding different. I spent quite a lot time getting mine in the right place and angle turned in and they must be spaced well away from walls - not so good in a small room. Needless to say, the amp used to drive them makes a lot of difference.
    tonerei and martin clark like this.
  6. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    For 989s it turns out that OTA are wrong and the effect of the extra bass panel pair on the LC delay line is trivial and has no other deleterious effect.

    Awesome when cleanly driven (I agree with @misterdog 's general sentiment), and with enough space around them. It's not that the enlarged ESLs do 'more' bass, but that the quality extends all the way down, really quite low enough. Also - so evenly they deliver bass timbre in a way nothing else can - 'obvious change of upright basses between takes' - good; kind of ear-opening.

    4yrs into my pair now; love them.
    DAVEDWACK likes this.
  7. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    I wonder what happened with the pair Quad showed at Munich a few years back, with 8 panels ?

    I think my pair of 989's can only be improved on by building a larger room for them, though that sends the hi-fi budget into a different orbit.
    When I showed the architect my drawing for the listening position, and told him I merely needed some bricks around this space. He was both amused and impressed, he said the correct way to plan a space was to plan how the interior was going to perform the required task.

    He was amused at the size I wished, for the space around the panels..
  8. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    @misterdog - I are one, with considerable exp in acoustic design; I sympathise ;)
  9. tonerei

    tonerei pfm Member

    I would be inclined to agree re OTA's assessment. They are married to the original 63 and although they might be correct that the 989's will not work in a small room from anything I have heard they work well in a bigger setting. I will find out for myself some day!
  10. ducatiman

    ducatiman pfm Member

    Looking for feedback from owners past and present What amplifier are you guys using with your Quad 989’s.
  11. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    Hypex NC400 ( Class D, DIY), Neurochrome Mod 86P (Class A/B DIY), now Benchmark AHB2.

    The Benchmark was described by Sq of this parish as the most accurate amplifier he has heard.
    Not everyone likes near zero distortion though, some prefer to add some 'warmth'.
  12. dalryc

    dalryc pfm Member

    For my 2912s I've got McIntosh MC275 power and C49 pre.
    Classic speaker and power combination and there's no transformer hum that plagued my QUAD QMPs.
    C49 preamp holds all the digital decoding components I need so limits any future technology path impacts to a single box that I'd need to change.
  13. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    I hesitated to post what I use, because it's long out of production - Deltec DPA50S , a pair of, serviced and modified and used as monoblocs. V,v low distortion/high feedback designs, so in summary - a preference @misterdog describes. The 50S also use a 4-wire speaker cable to take feedback off the speaker terminals, up to c.160KHz, which makes considerations of output impedance and cables beyond-contention and irrelevant. That sort of thing appeals to me.

    I'll add that - it's the speaker doing the work, and these speakers can be enjoyed with amps of many different flavours - even though, once you get your ear in, they'll tell you all about it.

    For myself - other more-diverse amps I've used & enjoyed have been an Audio Innovations Aura*, a c. 30w amp with an architecture not unrelated to the classic JLH Class Amp; a serviced Nait2 - sounds like a Nait 2; and always fun if never the last word; and a late Quad 306 ,which was actually the 4th and last generation development of Quad current-dumpers. That's an amp I also like very much, and keep because the developed, clever design (circuit, and industrial) appeals; and the bombproof 50w/ch output is always a great sense-check on 'newer and betterer'.

    tl;dr: Pick the flavour to suit you.

    * actually I lent this to a friend as a stopgap a handful of yrs ago... so doubt I'm getting it back ; )
    PhilofCas likes this.
  14. narabdela

    narabdela who?

  15. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    Interestingly benchmark also recommend a 4 wire star quad speaker cable, with Neutric Speakon connectors on the amp side and locking bananas on the speaker side.

    I may change the speaker connectors on the Quads to Speakon as they are superbly engineered and I have already replaced the stock input wiring to twisted pair.

    I forgot to mention above that alongside my amplifier upgrades I also swapped out my Bruno Putzeys DIY balanced preamp to a Topping Pre 90. Again a near zero distortion design (with remote :)) and each reduction in input signal distortion has led to increased sound quality.
  16. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    That's mostly just to put more copper in the route, and potentially a little more Rf indifference - but Benchmark don't do remote feedback.

    I'd def add Speakons to the ESls in preference to the cables linked- I was once given a comparable set of locking bananas, and they were utterly horrid; actually crappy (point) contact, brittle pins - becasue brass doesn't like to flex/bend as these designs require, etc. I'd take a standard set of spring-tensioned (cheap!) lab-issue 30A Deltron plugs above any locking banana, every time.. avoid.
  17. ian r

    ian r 401's Nakman

    As an owner of a pair that were done by that firm I can say the opposite is the case, far from being as revealing as they once were and not engaging at all. Sadly
  18. chiily

    chiily PFM Special Builder

    When you say "done" do you mean that OTA replaced the panels with their own, or rebuilt the original panels?

    I'm curious as my 57s have had at least the original treble panels rebuilt by OTA, as I can see that the metal rivets have been replaced with plastic ones. And I have a receipt for rebuilding the bass panels, but the grey paint on their dust sheets obscures the internals.

    They have had new HT boards, a clamp board and the TX resistor/cap update too.

    They sound really good to my ears.
  19. ian r

    ian r 401's Nakman

    I'm glad you like them, as I recall the relevant company replaced the panels in both. I take no pleasure in slagging off a company so prefer to leave it, but they are unlistenable too compared to before and have remained boxed since shortly after return. If I had known rebuilds were possible I would have specified that
  20. brecklandboy

    brecklandboy pfm Member

    This has been my experience also when doing comparisons between untouched Quad speakers and aftermarket rebuilt examples. OTA however, have long stated that their replacements are not intended to be replicas of the Quad originals. The treble 'lift' characteristic of OTA panels finds favour with some ESL57 owners but not all. OTA actually recommend having their own bass units fitted alongside new treble panels so that the overall 'balance' of the speaker is maintained.

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