Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

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Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

 

                 Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

A friend once said to me, 'the crazier you are, the more I like you.'

I suppose this explains the self deprecating introduction. Anyway, the point of this blog isn't to shine a spotlight onto my lack of self esteem but to discuss electrostatic speakers.

When putting together my first high fidelity system, I spent seemingly endless hours reading reviews on blogs and magazine posts about 'what did what' real well. I did of course visit my local audiophile store for some actual listening time.

Like most folk, sane or otherwise, I had to accept some price conditions. I believe now with humility that I could have spent more money while achieving less but given an extra $80,000.00….

I had pipe dreams of owning a pair of Vandersteen 5's (but I wanted the 7 A's). However once reality crept in, I found myself cogitating between a demo pair of the Martin Logan CLX's or the Quad 2905's. Much of what I had to go by was based upon magazine reviews and technical jargon from various internet sources. I admit that I've always held a nostalgic preference towards the Quads (and still do) just by having seen them throughout the years in Gramophone magazine advertisements. So along with the Ayre QB9 DAC, the High Diamond cables, the ASR Emitter II Exclusive and ASR Mini Basis Exclusive; I finally broke down and I bought the demo pair of Quad 2905 ESL's.

Several months after initially having set everything up and listening to the sonic developments of equipment in their burn in period, I then went back to the Audiophile store to compare my Quads with their CLX's. The CLX's were connected to an Ayre QB9 DAC, McIntosh flagship tube pre amp, McIntosh flagship solid state mono blocks with Wire World cables. I came away from that 30 or so minutes of listening fully convinced that the lowest and highest registers of a Bösendorfer concert grand were significantly better represented through the Quads than through the CLX's. Most noticeably, there seemed to be a veil characteristic that kept the CLX's from articulating the qualities of any particular instrument. I did notice a fair amount of acoustic overtone from the CLX's however these overtones weren't all that identifiable. If someone is playing a Stradivarius cello in a playback recording, then I want to hear the Stradivarius cello and as very little of the speaker as possible!

So with reference to the many online posts which make claims in favor of the Martin Logan's to the Quad's, I can only say nonsense. Lastly, in addition to what was afore mentioned, having to time subwoofers with either of these speakers would be a timeless impracticability. I'm glad that the Quad 2905's can successfully capture what is needed in the lowest registers thus leaving any subwoofer scenarios out of the equation.

 

goofyfoot

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

As a fellow owner of a pair of 2905s I do not detect any craziness, although listening attentively to only the lowest and uppermost registers of a concert grand may be something of a minority sport.

The biggest surprise I got from my Quads is that they make virtually every CD* in my collection a pleasure to listen to. Their low distortion gives a particularly relaxed and non-fatiguing auditory experience, even after a long session.

I am agnostic on the subject of subwoofer(s) with the Quads. Although the physics tells us that the wavelength of sub - 50 Hz sound is much longer than the distance between the ears and thus unresolvable as to source or direction, in my experience even a carefully tuned subwoofer (REL Storm III in my case) can compromise the pinpoint imaging of the Quads. "What you gain in the the bass you lose in the place", as it were.

*ok, we all make mistakes. Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" was mine.

Roderick

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

As I have just posted in another discussion, I have succesfully combined the 2805's (the 2905's were impractical in our sitting room) with a B&W PV1D subwoofer. There was an issue with room modes, but I cured that succesfully with a DSPeaker Antimode Cinema room equalization unit. Low bass is now just as tight and fast as the higher frequencies, and integration is near perfect. No sub should be used without one, I have come to believe.

Willem

Willem

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

Willem, I'm glad that worked out, I wish I could come by and have a listen but I'm in the states. My scepticism would come from the point of the Quad's sound characteristic, does the B&W sound close enough to the Quad's? Stereo speakers so what about stereo subwoofers?

goofyfoot

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

As a Quad esl user from the mid 1970's the purity of the Quad esl sound is magical, and to be treasured. One of the things that make the Quads special is that they are dipoles, and thus suffer much less from room modes in the lower frequencies. I think it was precisely the difference between the ultraclean dipole main speakers and a sub which excited boomy room modes that made for an uneasy and rather boomy match. One solution would indeed have been to use two subs, as they would be in a different location from each other and thus have room modes at different frequencies: using two evens out the room modes, at least to some extent. In my case two subs was an unrealistic plan. The Antimode does, however, eliminate most room modes very well. The result is that the sub no longer sounds at all different from the main speakers. The PV1d is a very fast and tight sub, and with the Antimode it can show what it is really capable of.

I had indeed become sceptic of any subwoofer with the Quads, but with the Antimode there is no longer any reason for such scepticism. Even full range speakers can probably benefit from this technology. For that, DSPeaker now has the Antimode 2.0 Dual Core. Alternatively, you could try a perhaps bigger sub than mine with your 2905's, and an Antimode 8033. From what I understand, in the US you can try the Antimode and return it if you do not like it.

Willem

Willem

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

 

Willem, I certainly would like to try both of these components together but I'm wondering as to whether the lower frequencies become more about harmonic overtones instead of an increase in identifiable reverberating pitch. My earlier statement about registers at the bottom of a 'concert grand' was to draw attention this particular point; that I can hear the lowest reverberating pitches be it from a piano or from a double bass and in a way that sounds natural coming from that particular make of instrument. Do you know for the sake of comparison; whether or not the Quads compromise the lower registers as instruments begin to multiply, for example from a solo piano to a band of six or eight natural instruments and I mean this taken from what is in the recording without compression measures factored into it.

The Martin Logan CLX's had to my ear, apparent lower register but was veiled in a way that seemed ambiguous and in general sounded like it was mainly an increase in harmonic distortion ( not to mention the compression of the higher frequencies ). The Martin Logan's may reproduce a better image with recordings of instruments using electronic amplification however I tend to think of that in a totally different context. Lastly, bass drums sound as they should and so do tympani. No run on sentences intended.

 

goofyfoot

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

I am not sure I have an answer. The 2805's were the largest speakers that I could realistically have in my room. Equally, my budget is not unlimited, and my answer to that constraint has always been to think hard, and then live with my decison for a long time. Thus, I have spent les than some people who buy and sell speakers often. Yest I have better sound than they do. Do it once and do it well. My 2805's have been the second set of main speakers since I bought the orininal esl 57 in the mid '70's.

The 2805's had a much more extended and tighter bass than the 57's, but after a while I decided that I wanted more. I had heard esl's with a subwoofer and had been impressed, so I went that way. I could not house a large sub, so I looked for waht was probably the fastest tightest sounding small sub that would also accord with my modern house and furnishings. As I wrote in my other post initial impressions were good, but after a short period I found that I needed to tame the sub to an extent that almost defeated the purpose. My hypothesis was that I was plagued by room modes. I then discovered that dsp such as are part of some bigger subs was also available separately, and that is what I bought.

I am not sure why the ML sounds a bit veiled to you. I never auditioned it because I would not have been able to house it. It could be that with its lower extension the ML is plagued by the same room modes that ruined the performance of my sub. The upper harmonics of such room modes can spoil the sound at much higher frequencies. The advantage of the Antimode is not only that it flattens the frequency curve of the bottom end, but also that decay times are much shorter.

I think that adding a good sub and an Antimode could give you an even lower extension than the ML's, and yet retain nearly all of the quality in the lower registers such as you liked so much in the Quads. Adding the sub to my system also helped my system cope better with larger sound levels and larger ensembles. On the other hand, even if things are now better, no audio system can realistically reproduce large scale music in a domestic environment.

Willem 

 

 

Willem

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

As far as I'm concerned, all of the Quads are special and I am by no means targeting the 2805's as somehow being a compromise. You very well may have a better solution than do I. The references that I've been making about the 2905's lower extension is to merely acknowledge that the 2905's capture enough of the lower and higher registers to offer lifelike playback in the realm of classical music recordings. So then why not keep the solutions as simple as possible? However, the 2905's with other types of music, well maybe not so much. But of course, these conditions are precarious based upon too many variables to even begin to mention. My comments concerning the characteristics of both the CLX's and of the 2905's are from my hearing the two sets of speakers in very different environments and powered by very different amplifiers (to me). As stated originally, the Martin Logan CLX's that I auditioned were in the dealer showroom and that isn't so with the 2905's. Finally, the posts that I've been reading by CLX owners with comparison to the Quad 2905's are staunch yet puzzling and this acted as the impetous for the posting of the topic. Its just shop talk my friend, I never meant it to be taken personally by anyone.

goofyfoot

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

Sorry, 'and this acted as the impetous for the posting of the topic.' I meant; 'this acted as the impetus for the posting of this topic.'

goofyfoot

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

Have you heard the Cadence Avita, Arista and Arca electrostatic hybrid loudpeakers. They are simply outstanding. There are nothing like electrostatic/hybrid speakers for openness, purity and delicacy of sound. But they need a high quality source and amplification. GIGO. regards Anand

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

Well, however we may like them, all speakers are compromises, so I was never offended at all. Don't worry. If I had the room to use the 2905's I would have bought those, but I don't. They are in front of a huge panaroma window from about 1 meter up, and I did not want to spoil the view from the window. I have heard the 2905's and I think they are glorious. I only suggested you might try a sub because I sensed that you might like a lower extension, and from my experience that will only work with the Quads if you use some dsp room equalization to preserve the clarity of the sound.

Willem

Willem

RE: Quad ESL's, I Must Be Crazy! All Responses Welcome.

Fair enough Willem. If given the option, I would of course choose to have the sub components rather than to not and I appreciate your sharing technical solutions but where to place them on my wish list? Currently, isolation tweaks are at the top, then there is a new SME tonearm and a Miyajima mono cartridge, a triode tube upgrade for my tuner and the upgrde in a hgher end line conditioner. I'll fit the sub (or even better two subs) in there. My list is subject to change depending on how much money I have at the time anyway.

Nevertheless, my questions about resonating pitch and low end harmonic overtones and comments in general regarding the Martin Logans by comparison still stand, so any and all responses welcome.

I'm just grateful for the chance to post my questions on this site. Thanks.

goofyfoot

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