postjack

The Quad thread

420 posts in this topic

As many of you know I recently came into possession of a nice set of Quad ESL-63 USA Monitors, serial numbers 24783 and 24784. Unfortunately one of the speakers (24784) exhibits a moderate volume squealing noise, with no apparent drop out in the audio. This speaker recently had new panels from Electrostatic Solutions installed by the previous owner. The other speaker is all original parts and functions perfectly.

So I shoot Kent at Electrostatic Solutions an email to tell him about the problem. He writes me back and politely says its difficult for him to make a diagnosis without seeing the speaker for himself. I spent a day or so mulling over what will no doubt be an upcoming joyous shipping experience. Then while I'm sitting in my car with my girlfriend in the Wal-Mart parking lot waiting to go meet our friends for sushi, my phone rings and its Kent. We ended up talking for about half an hour about Quad, the universe, and everything. He said it was really weird that I was getting the squealing with no apparent loss in output (when I play a mono recording its razor sharp in the middle of the speakers), but he ventured he could have something to do with old foam surround. But, if it was a problem with a panel, I was still covered under his warranty, which is pretty cool. Even if it is something unrelated to the panel itself, repairs should be (relatively!) inexpensive. Kent got excited when I told him my first electrostatic experience was with the Omega II (though I think I spoke in error, I might have owned the SR-Lambda first), apparently he also thinks its the end all be all in terms of resolution. He said its the best for setting up a turntable. Bottom line Kent is a really cool cat and I enjoyed talking with him. He says if I can get the speaker boxed up he can have a freight service pick it up, which is great because I was dreading a trip to the UPS store. The alternative is to go ahead and pay Kent to ship his special shipping box to me, which I can then load up the speaker in and have the freight service pick up. I might opt for this path just because it would be such a pain in the ass to procure all the packing mats and find a suitable LCD TV box or similar. The speakers are in awesome cosmetic condition; they look great in my den and I

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That was good reading. And Alison Moyet is great. My LP of Alf is probably my most played vinyl.

The 99/99/909/63 was for years, since before I joined HF in fact, what I always saw myself building toward in a speaker rig. You're living my dream. You're going to get a chance to know your mono stuff better when that iffy speaker goes away for its health check too.

Yay for Quad.

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Great impressions postjack, very interesting! I remember being blown away by the vocal presentation of the ESL-57, and from what I read the ESL-63 share a lot of similarities, so I can see why you like them so much.

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Great initial review postjack. Best of luck with the repairs. Peter has been quoted to say many things similar to the beer crate comment, and I love it.

I own the Quad ESL 57. System is source -> Audible Illusions Modulus 3A -> Bedini 25/25 -> Quad ESL 57.

I bought my Quads a little under a year ago after reading much hype about them in the various Stax threads and the endless professional reviews they've had through the years. Won them in an auction on ebay and showed up at the seller's house shortly thereafter with zero experience with electrostatic speakers. I sat in the listening seat, the seller put on some music, and I just started smiling. One of the moments of this audio journey I'll never forget was that initial listening session with the Quads.

I've had them since and am constantly pleased with my purchase. In fact, they are probably the only piece of gear I have that I don't even think about changing/upgrading. That thought doesn't really register. I can't even say that about the O2s.

The 57 is legendary at my two top preferences in sound reproduction: midrange tonality and transparency. The highs and bass are a little rolled off at the ends, but the midrange is fucking fantastic. I wish I had a better way to describe it, but things just sound right. The transparency of the speaker is a bit frightening at times. When playing music, I usually can't tell that sound is coming from the transducers at all unless I put my ear right up against the grills. These two strengths combine to result in the classic overused audio impression: it sounds like the performer is actually there in the room with you. Vocals in particular are impressive.

The 57 is, like the 63, accused of not having bass which I find to be laughable. There is a good amount of bass, and it's extremely clean. One other misconception about the 57 is that "it sounds like a table radio if you're not in the sweet spot". You'll hear the glorious midrange and the bass anywhere in the room, but you won't get the highs unless you're in the sweetspot. This is because the 57 has a very beamy treble.

I am leaning very heavily towards bringing the Quad rig to the upcoming SoCal meet at shaizada's place on the 30th. I think people will like them a lot. If I do, I'll try to mention this thread to the headcasers in attendance so we can get some more impressions going.

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I haven't heard a healthy pair of Quad 63's yet, the one pair I've heard was waiting for some restoration work. Poor thing buzzed and farted whenever the volume was turned up a bit and the bass from one of them sounded a bit wonky. I've been meaning to go back and listen to them but I haven't found the opportunity yet.

On the other hand I have a fair bit of experience with my local dealer's Quad 57's, he has them setup with tube amps and a killer vinyl and digital rig for use as his reference system for evaluating new products he plans to carry. It's something special, once you hear it you realize that damn near every other speaker is hopelessly coloured. Yeah it's limited in the bass and it won't go to "11", but stay within its limits and it makes you shake your head and wonder what the hell speaker designers have been doing for the last 50 years. It won't play Slayer at rock your socks off volume, but turn it down a bit and it still sounds pretty darn good, you just don't get to feel the music hit you.

I didn't have much of a problem with the alleged tiny sweetspot, from what I was reading I got the impression that everything would come apart if I moved my head a couple inches. Maybe it was the good room setup that helped, but I noticed that the sweetspot was almost big enough for 2 people, it doesn't suddenly fall apart when I move my head a few inches, I could move my head a good foot or so and still have great sound, it wasn't much worse than many of the other speakers I've heard.

And yeah, it'll definitely put performers in the room if the recording's good enough. You do have to be in the sweetspot to get the full effect though, some speakers can do it even if you're way out of the sweetspot but with the Quads your head has to be centered between the speakers.

I love the Quad 57's and plan to get a pair some day. Could take a few years but it'll happen.

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What is the take on the current Quad ESL models, other than that they're obviously a lot more expensive than the classics?

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They are just ESL63's. Same design except they have some major issues putting parts in the right place on the main PCB, at least on the two pairs I've seen. :palm:

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What is the take on the current Quad ESL models, other than that they're obviously a lot more expensive than the classics?

Stretch, my understanding is they are essentially the same speaker as the 63. The same elements with only minor tweaking.

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did someone mention squealing quads? i had two of those!

the original owner of my pair bought his in 89, after finding out he had only one year left to live, so he modded the heck out of them when he had the chance :D

i bought them from his friend last year (who didnt know what they were, and had kept them in his attic), they looked like new but 19 years of storage had taken their toll, as they soon started to squeal like mad!

it turned out the glue had started to fail, and half the panels had insufficient tension, so i ended up buying new mylar and coating from MTaudio in sweden.

p1010005vw.jpg

tensioning the mylar using a fish weight and gaffa tape was hard work, but quite satisfying, and it ended up saving me quite a lot of pesetas, as in the end, all but two panels had to be restored :(

p1010009t.jpg

i do love them though, and they are by far the best speakers i have heard, even though i mostly listen to badly recorded disco albums :P

they do sound a lot better when raised from the ground, and in my experience they sound best raised around 35-40 cm.

i havent got an up to date photo of my current ghetto stands, but i do have a picture of the equally ghetto stands i used when i first got them :rolleyes:

p1010018by.jpg

one thing i have noticed is that they sound completely different with different amps, so amp rolling is highly encouraged ;)

so far i have tried mine with a thule ia150b (150w SS, not a good match)

a sumo andromeda 1 (200w SS, fast and punchy, but a bit to unforgiving when it comes to bad recordings)

and my current setup; a chinese Music Angel XDSE KT88 amp (75w) which so far seems to have the perfect compromise with a lush midrange, clear treble and powerfull, if somewhat mushy bass.

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nice, thanks for sharing the pictures and the story!

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The fake reviewer quote made me laugh out loud. Good stuff Jack, all the best on the repairs.

What are the differences between the ESL57 and 63?

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What is the take on the current Quad ESL models, other than that they're obviously a lot more expensive than the classics?

I think they are a lot better. Yes, the panels are basically the same, but the performance potential of those panels is way, way better than what the structure of the 63's can deliver. Not that they sound bad - they are great speakers. But the structural improvements with the 2805/2905 are very significant, and take the transparency to a much higher level, whilst improving transients, dynamics and bass response. Basically, take everything good about a 63 and improve it. As Peter Walker said (can't find a quote...), the 63's were the best thing they knew how to build at that price point with the manufacturing techniques and materials available to them. Things have moved on since then.

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bjarnetv, awesome job refurbing your ESL-63 and awesome avatar! Mind elaborating on the modding? You know how we orthoists are. Modding for us is analogous to moths to flame.

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I think they are a lot better. Yes, the panels are basically the same, but the performance potential of those panels is way, way better than what the structure of the 63's can deliver. Not that they sound bad - they are great speakers. But the structural improvements with the 2805/2905 are very significant, and take the transparency to a much higher level, whilst improving transients, dynamics and bass response. Basically, take everything good about a 63 and improve it. As Peter Walker said (can't find a quote...), the 63's were the best thing they knew how to build at that price point with the manufacturing techniques and materials available to them. Things have moved on since then.

I haven't opened up one of the new speakers but from what I've heard nothing has really changed. The brace is there but it doesn't do a whole lot since the panels are essentially floating inside the speaker.

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Asked because I read the Ken Kessler spoogefest where he swears there's ZOMG moar bass with the newer models. Always take reviews with ze grain of salt, but he has heard probably as many Quads as anyone. Maybe he was pitching his book idea at the time! ;)

http://www.quad-hifi.co.uk/downloads/HFN%20ESL%20review%2006.pdf

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Moar bass is easy enough to produce by adjusting the crossover a bit...

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The fake reviewer quote made me laugh out loud. Good stuff Jack, all the best on the repairs.

What are the differences between the ESL57 and 63?

glad you like the fake reviewer quote, I was hoping somebody would know what i was talking about.

Physically/techincally I can't really saw what the differences are between the 57 and 63, but popular opinion of some seems to indicate that sonically the ESL63 improves the highs and the lows but sacrifices some of the absolute midrange perfection of the 57. Having never heard the 57 I can't say for myself, but I would love to hear a speaker improve on the midrange I'm hearing with my 63s. :o

In other news, I am in the process of getting the speaker shipped to Kent. I'm opting to just have him ship me the special box, and I'll ship it back in that. This is not going to be inexpensive, but if I can convince myself these are the last speakers I'll own for the next 15-20 years it softens the blow a bit. :)

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Physically/techincally I can't really saw what the differences are between the 57 and 63, but popular opinion of some seems to indicate that sonically the ESL63 improves the highs and the lows but sacrifices some of the absolute midrange perfection of the 57. Having never heard the 57 I can't say for myself, but I would love to hear a speaker improve on the midrange I'm hearing with my 63s. :o

That's pretty much what I think of them, the ESL57 is limited but what it gets right, is spot on. The ESL63 is more versatile and clearly a "better" speaker if it doesn't have the magic of the 57. What I'd love to hear is the Stax F-81 which is supposed to be even better in the midrange (and even more limited elsewhere) and a fully rebuilt 57 with thinner diaphragms. :o

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In other news, I am in the process of getting the speaker shipped to Kent. I'm opting to just have him ship me the special box, and I'll ship it back in that. This is not going to be inexpensive, but if I can convince myself these are the last speakers I'll own for the next 15-20 years it softens the blow a bit. :)

For most people I've heard about they are, well, unless they get the Quad 57 to round out the collection. They'll get other speakers from time to time or maybe a 2nd system, but the Quad remains their main speaker and they end up refining the amps, sources, cables and everything else.

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bjarnetv, awesome job refurbing your ESL-63 and awesome avatar! Mind elaborating on the modding? You know how we orthoists are. Modding for us is analogous to moths to flame.

it was mostly structural mods.

hundreds of small wooden bracers had been glued between the panels themselves, and the inner frame had been glued to the outer frame via plastic bracers.

this is the best picture i have of the wooden bracers

p1010001l.jpg

the result was one incredibly stiff structure, but the wooden bracers had to be removed when refurbishing the panesls, and it was a huge PITA :P

i think i'm going to do something similar again once the reliability of the refurbed panels has been confirmed, as the structure now feel slightly wobbly.

he had also ripped out the protective grille and dustcover; not the best idea if reliability is a concern, but it sounds pretty good ;)

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Interesting, thanks for the info and pics. I'd have at least kept the dustcovers in, even if I knew I was about to croak. Good luck with the re-modding if you choose to do it! Speaking of modding electrostat speakers, I'm finally about to get around to modding my Jecklin 'stats and will go back and search for your posts on it.

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Oooh, modding the Jecklins in what way?

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Something about mass-damping the frame with some bitumen, and I think there were a couple of other things bjarnetv did I need to look up. I will also need to replace the foam that goes over the head and will play around with different materials instead of the thin foam rectangles that go on both sides of the drivers. In fact some of the pics I see of peoples' Jecklins don't even have those foam rectangles and the drivers are just bare (well, they still dustcovers, of course). It really doesn't take much to damp a 'stat, as you know.

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So can I play now too or are my QUADs not worth?

121381848.jpg

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