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The world's best-sounding stereo system?, NBCNews Tech & Gadgets article about Quad Electrostatic speakers
2tec
post Feb 8 2013, 16:28
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"When I finally sat down to listen I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was the best sound I’ve ever heard in my home — and I’ve had some unbelievable sound systems in my living rooms over the years." ~ www.nbcnews.com

Ken Kessler article mentioned in above (PDF)

This post has been edited by 2tec: Feb 8 2013, 16:50


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rick.hughes
post Feb 8 2013, 17:45
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QUOTE
QUADs have drivers made of stretched Mylar (a special plastic sheet) that are moved back and forth by high-voltage electrical force fields

Seems like an odd use of terminology for an "expert".
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2Bdecided
post Feb 8 2013, 18:15
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Have you ever heard any? I have.

Have you ever seen the frequency response graph?

While I can hear that they have magic to them (whether it's different distortion, or lack of distortion, or transient response, I can't say), that frequency response graph is true. The people who adore them have forgiven the frequency response. I don't think I could.

Cheers,
David.

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db1989
post Feb 8 2013, 18:20
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QUOTE
The world's best-sounding stereo system?
Probably not. /thread
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2tec
post Feb 8 2013, 21:31
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 8 2013, 10:15) *
Have you ever seen the frequency response graph?

QUAD ESL-57 frequency response graph (unrebuilt tweeters)


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cyberdux
post Feb 9 2013, 13:31
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I have heard a number of Quad systems and without invoking any of the TOS's, I can simply say that if I could afford them, they would be in my home.
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Kees de Visser
post Feb 9 2013, 15:17
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FWIW, Philips Classics used the QUAD ESL-63 as its reference speaker for many years. I don't know exactly when they started using them, but it must have been from the early 80's until the mid 90's. I bought my pair in 1983.
It's very well possible that their recordings from that period sound superior on the ESL-63 because they were recorded, mixed and mastered on them.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 9 2013, 18:10
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QUOTE (2tec @ Feb 8 2013, 10:28) *
"When I finally sat down to listen I couldnít believe what I was hearing. It was the best sound Iíve ever heard in my home ó and Iíve had some unbelievable sound systems in my living rooms over the years." ~ www.nbcnews.com

Ken Kessler article mentioned in above (PDF)


One thing that Quads, whether 57s, 63s, stacked or singles are not, and that is very loud, even with a good subwoofer.

Yes, I've heard them and they are in a category I've labelled "Nice but not my cup of tea".

My impression of Ken Kessler is that he has a well-developed hyperbole bone. ;-)
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2Bdecided
post Feb 11 2013, 10:57
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QUOTE (2tec @ Feb 8 2013, 20:31) *
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 8 2013, 10:15) *
Have you ever seen the frequency response graph?

QUAD ESL-57 frequency response graph (unrebuilt tweeters)
Yes, that seems to be just the tweeters though. The full response is in Google image search.
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chicks
post Apr 17 2013, 20:50
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I own QUAD ESL-63s. Read Peter Walker's articles in Wireless World on the design of the original QUAD ESLs. He did the very hard work of making ESLs practical, then he perfected the design for his second generation, starting in 1963 (hence the name), and not finishing until their release in the early 1980s. QUAD, at that time, was decidedly NOT an "audiophile" or "high end" company, in today's sense. Peter detested the subjective magazines, and let them know it. Nevertheless, they gave his speakers glowing reviews.

Peter included delay lines in the '63s design, turning the speaker into a virtual "point source". As the moving mylar elements are nearly massless, and due to the push-pull stators, the distortion levels are far lower than traditional cone/dome speakers, as low as some amplifiers, at least above about 120Hz.

I found mine on Craigslist, in beautiful cosmetic condition, but typically, the stators had come unglued. Cost a good bit to get them repaired, but well worth the expense, to my ears, and I've heard many speakers. I bought them without ever having heard a pair, not due to the glowing subjective reviews, but primarily to my research on Peter Walker and QUAD, reading up on his ESL design and technical advantages, and the realization that this was a man of science, and of his word.

For reference, I also own vintage Acoustic Research AR2a's and AR91's, and smaller Celestion, KEF and B&W speakers. I always migrate to the QUADs.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 19 2013, 21:22
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 11 2013, 05:57) *
QUOTE (2tec @ Feb 8 2013, 20:31) *
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 8 2013, 10:15) *
Have you ever seen the frequency response graph?

QUAD ESL-57 frequency response graph (unrebuilt tweeters)
Yes, that seems to be just the tweeters though. The full response is in Google image search.


There seems to be a lot of mythology about exotic construction techniques.

Convertional engineering wisdom is that exotic tecniques generally fail to go mainstream because on balance, they just aren't worth the trouble.

A real world example of this might be this well-known comparison relating to listener preferences between conventional and exotic speaker designs:

http://db.tt/eZ7HGbaw

starting with slide: "Does Generation Y Prefer Higher Quality Loudspeakers?"
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chicks
post Apr 19 2013, 22:09
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QUOTE (Kees de Visser @ Feb 9 2013, 07:17) *
FWIW, Philips Classics used the QUAD ESL-63 as its reference speaker for many years. I don't know exactly when they started using them, but it must have been from the early 80's until the mid 90's. I bought my pair in 1983.
It's very well possible that their recordings from that period sound superior on the ESL-63 because they were recorded, mixed and mastered on them.


The BBC used the original QUAD ESLs. From Wikipedia
QUOTE
The ESL-57 was quickly adopted by the BBC for monitoring the sound quality of their broadcasts. The BBC eventually replaced them with moving coil based monitor speakers developed by several manufacturers to meet BBC specifications, such as the highly successful LS3/5a, that were more easily transported and stored, and were more representative of typical contemporary hi-fi speakers.

The ESL- 57 was renowned for sonic transparency and very low distortion. A properly configured stereo pair would generate a very small 'sweet spot' where the sound stage snapped into focus. This led to criticisms of the speaker's directionality but in practice was rarely a problem and had the benefit of reducing the effects of room resonances. Its superior sonic characteristics were offset by its moderate power handling, the need for a large room, and moderate bass extension.


Again, Peter Walker's QUAD was nothing at all like today's "high end" audiophile companies. Quoting Wikipedia again
QUOTE
Principles

Quad have always had a very straightforward engineering view of their products, and insisted that all amplifiers of adequate quality sounded the same when used within their capabilities, and that speaker cable had no sound at all, unless ludicrously long and thin wire is used.

To verify or disprove that amplifiers of adequate quality sound the same, Quad commissioned James Moir to organise and conduct listening tests comparing Quad II, Quad 303 and Quad 405 amplifiers. Statistical analysis of the expert listening panel's scores showed that "the decisions of the panel were no better than might be expected from sheer chance".
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MikeFord
post Apr 19 2013, 22:49
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I've had ESL57's, still have ESL63's including an Enigma dipole sub, currently listening to Klipsch Forte as a change of pace.

I don't see how any meaningful discussion of the merits of the Quad speakers can be done within the constraints of the TOS, but I like them, preferred them to all others for a good two decades.

There are two schools of thought on speaker response, flat to 20k, and rolled off above 16k at the listening position (but maybe better at 1M or something). If your over 40 does it even matter?

Quads are 86.5db 1w sensitivity, and go into protection mode around 140 watts, not loud.

Despite spending $3k on a great subwoofer, something about dipole bass even when it measures flat fails to satisfy. Perhaps someone can help me out here with a reference to a study comparing dipole bass and sealed box, something perhaps about room mode interactions.

Quads are very accurate, low in distortion. Love them or hate them, they have been a reference design since there creation, not in the how to do it sense, but used as a real comparison in listening tests.
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chicks
post Apr 23 2013, 17:06
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I run my ESL-63s without a sub, don't feel they need one. But then I listen primarily to '50's jazz; I leave the thumping stuff for the idiots in cars passing by, who will be deaf by the time they're 30.

I believe the ESL-63s like a very large room. My listening room it about 15' X 30', with sloping ceiling up to 12' max. The '63s are pulled out about 3' from the back wall, and about 3' from the side walls (thought they can be placed right against side walls, as they're dipoles). I use absorption panels on the walls behind them.

I'm using a Kenwood Supreme 600 integrated amp, which is rated at 130Wpc into 8 ohms. Appears to be a pretty good match, have never even come close to triggering the protection in the '63s.

These are fairly new to me, but I expect these to be the last speakers I'll ever need. Haven't heard any others that, for the kind of music I enjoy, perform better. Ultra low distortion and the lack of crossovers are the key, I believe, to their clarity.

This post has been edited by db1989: Apr 23 2013, 17:10
Reason for edit: deleting pointless full quote of above post
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MikeFord
post Apr 25 2013, 07:02
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For the dipole drivers in the ESL63 to reproduce frequencies below 100hz at even moderate levels the panel needs to move back and forth enough to create IM. A good subwoofer crossed at 80 to 100hz removes the need for the movement in the ESL63 with a corresponding drop in IM.

OTOH bass extension and thump were a total disappointment, not what I expected anyway. I ended up playing a lot more piano than organ or drums, which is as far I as can tread in shaky TOS land.

This post has been edited by db1989: Apr 25 2013, 18:52
Reason for edit: ditto
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2Bdecided
post Apr 25 2013, 09:57
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I think there is some leeway to bend TOS8 when discussing some aspects of speakers, simply because the ability to run blind tests on speakers is beyond most of us. (Sean Olive wouldn't get to make this excuse wink.gif ).

It is also understood that there is no great need to ABX things that people here (on HA, not on some other site) universally accept are obvious differences. In most contexts, adding a sub could fall into this category - though some kind of blind test should be possible simply by getting someone else to remotely switch the sub on and off.

Having demonstrated that you really can hear a difference, you can use whatever language you want to describe what that difference sounds like to you.

Cheers,
David.

EDIT: P.S. it is nice to see someone actually caring about the Terms of Service though!

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chicks
post Apr 25 2013, 19:13
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QUOTE (MikeFord @ Apr 24 2013, 23:02) *
For the dipole drivers in the ESL63 to reproduce frequencies below 100hz at even moderate levels the panel needs to move back and forth enough to create IM. A good subwoofer crossed at 80 to 100hz removes the need for the movement in the ESL63 with a corresponding drop in IM.


I've seen measurements somewhere (can't find them at the moment) that show distortion levels at 0.03% through most of its range, rising to 1% at 40Hz, where response drops off a cliff.

If I ever switch listening habits from Lady Day to Lady Gag-me (just shoot me if I do), I will add a sub.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 26 2013, 13:32
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QUOTE (MikeFord @ Apr 25 2013, 02:02) *
For the dipole drivers in the ESL63 to reproduce frequencies below 100hz at even moderate levels the panel needs to move back and forth enough to create IM. A good subwoofer crossed at 80 to 100hz removes the need for the movement in the ESL63 with a corresponding drop in IM.


Good point. The ESL 63 driver is limited in the area/displacement regime as compared to a SOTA subwoofer such as 4 drivers with Xmax = 30 mm.

The system designer has the choice to invest this capability in doing what the ESL 63 does uniquely and well which most agree is above 100 Hz, or to try to make ESL 63s into what they are not and can never be.

Fear of crossovers and bass management is usually irrational.

IME the benefits of a good bass management system composed of crossovers, matrixes, appropriate drivers, room design and sonic treatments are readily measurable and audible.
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