This is insane...the Quad ESL

Simon Moon

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Apr 24, 2015
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I had a pair of Quads I was driving with the mythical Yamaha B2 (with the now, unobtainium V-FETs).

That was an incredible match.

The speakers showed off the best attributes of the amp, and the amp showed off the best attributes of speakers.

I wish I still owned both
 
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Big Dog RJ

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2012
768
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Sorry for the late reply... thought it's about time to mention a few cts.
G'day from Melb, currently listening to some very fine tunes by Charlie Hayden on LP- private collection 3LP set, superb indeed! There's just some magic in TTs, tubes and stats, just gotta love it!

Speaking of SET amplifiers driving your ESL 57's, well there's nothing wrong in always trying it out. Specs alone will never give you the actual picture and for that matter most so called high-End amps actually fall short not on specs but from just demo's, and they simply run out of breath. It's like asking a hefty chap you is a keen smoker to take one full breath into the blow tube when the cops pull you over for random breath testing... He takes a deep breath and blows as hard as he can but even before the coppa tells him to stop, his eyes are blue and nearly cross-eyed and has run out of steam... Just like a high-End amp which looks great on specs!

So when considering any right so called "power amplifier" by all means try them out, regardless of design, SET, Push pull, hybrid, SS whatever.

Over the decades, in my experience the key to good amplification vs outstanding amplification is mainly focused on one thing/area, that is the power supplies.
If these are not designed properly with the right kind of transformers, caps, stable current capabilities and so on, the main output stage will run out of gas when handling difficult loads of varying impedence.

Some of the best SET amplifiers I've tried and auditioned are Lamm Audio, Kondo Audio Note, Cary Audio, Manley Labs, Aries Ceret (however you spell it). There are plenty of quality tube amplifiers out there but in terms of true SET design, I've never heard anything quite like these and what they offer. Of course taking into consideration various budget requirements, Cary Audio and Manley Labs are quite affordable and can very easily compete in the top tier no doubt. However, my all time favorite SET amplifiers are the Kondo Audio Note Kogaru monoblocks, absolutely stunning, one of a kind indeed!

I can certainly understand the sheer delight and brilliance you're getting out of those SETs with the Quads, keep those fine tunes playing and enjoy!
Cheers mate, RJ
 
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Vivianbl

New Member
Feb 8, 2020
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Sorry for the late reply... thought it's about time to mention a few cts.
G'day from Melb, currently listening to some very fine tunes by Charlie Hayden on LP- private collection 3LP set, superb indeed! There's just some magic in TTs, tubes and stats, just gotta love it!

Speaking of SET amplifiers driving your ESL 57's, well there's nothing wrong in always trying it out. Specs alone will never give you the actual picture and for that matter most so called high-End amps actually fall short not on specs but from just demo's, and they simply run out of breath. It's like asking a hefty chap you is a keen smoker to take one full breath into the blow tube when the cops pull you over for random breath testing... He takes a deep breath and blows as hard as he can but even before the coppa tells him to stop, his eyes are blue and nearly cross-eyed and has run out of steam... Just like a high-End amp which looks great on specs!

So when considering any right so called "power amplifier" by all means try them out, regardless of design, SET, Push pull, hybrid, SS whatever.

Over the decades, in my experience the key to good amplification vs outstanding amplification is mainly focused on one thing/area, that is the power supplies.
If these are not designed properly with the right kind of transformers, caps, stable current capabilities and so on, the main output stage will run out of gas when handling difficult loads of varying impedence.

Some of the best SET amplifiers I've tried and auditioned are Lamm Audio, Kondo Audio Note, Cary Audio, Manley Labs, Aries Ceret (however you spell it). There are plenty of quality tube amplifiers out there but in terms of true SET design, I've never heard anything quite like these and what they offer. Of course taking into consideration various budget requirements, Cary Audio and Manley Labs are quite affordable and can very easily compete in the top tier no doubt. However, my all time favorite SET amplifiers are the Kondo Audio Note Kogaru monoblocks, absolutely stunning, one of a kind indeed!

I can certainly understand the sheer delight and brilliance you're getting out of those SETs with the Quads, keep those fine tunes playing and enjoy!
Cheers mate, RJ

Looks like you were still awake in the early hours in Melbourne. I’m from there as well, but I was where sane people ought to be - fast asleep!
I think you are correct, the design features of the SET amplifier are critical to the performance and getting the best out of the Quad ESL 57s. I had used a variety of SS and valve amplifiers over the years. They all sounded good! All the valve amplifiers were push pull design. I was sorely tempted by the Manley 300B mono blocks that had both PSE and push pull switchable options, and variable feedback control. That would have been ideal if the SET resulted in the the poor sonic outcomes theoretically predicted by many audiophiles.
John Hall (the Quad guru, in Australia) had mentioned that he had heard Audion Silver Night 300B mono blocks with ESL 57s and was very impressed with the result. I did a fair bit of researching about SET/PSE and was concerned about the negativities especially in using with 57s. But came across two people who were actually using SET/PSE and were ecstatic about outcome.

Anyway, Some time later when a used Audion Silver Night Anniversary PSE 300B 18wpc mono blocks (with new Shuguang 300B-z Black Treasures) came up I took the plunge.

They were a revelation in my system and was very pleased with the results. What I hadn’t realised was that the ones that John had heard were the 24wpc push pull version!

He came around one day to have a listen and commented that it was the best his heard from the ESL 57s and was particularly impressed with the bass response and attack.

I am curious about whether other people have used similar combinations and what their experiences- good or bad- were!

Thanks for your comments
 

RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
21
7
233
I recently picked up a Naim 250DR amp. I was using tube amplification with my 57s (EL34 60 watt mono blocks). Has anyone tried Naim with their Quads? What do you think?
 
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Vivianbl

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Feb 8, 2020
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I recently picked a Naim 250DR amp. I was using tube amplification with my 57s (EL34 60 watt mono blocks). Has anyone tried Naim with their Quads? What do you think?

I have used several Naim amplifiers with my two pairs of Quad ESL 57s. The Naim Nait CB, 250CB and pair of 135s. They all sounded good, particularly the 135s.

I had Three systems on the go in my previous house. Used the Naims primarily with the Linn Isobariks, but tried them out with the ESL 57s as well. Tried out various other SS and valve amps over the years.

The Naims were very good, but I preferred the Leak ST20 and passive pre with the 57s and that was used as my main listening system. Mainly the more lifelike, subtle detail and ambient presentation, 3D soundstage, and the vocals/ voice was just beautiful!

More recently I replaced the ST20 with Audion Silver Night Anniversary PSE 300B Monoblocks - and that’s the best I’ve had!
 
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RDSChicago

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Nov 13, 2013
21
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233
I have used several Naim amplifiers with my two pairs of Quad ESL 57s. The Naim Nait CB, 250CB and pair of 135s. They all sounded good, particularly the 135s.

I had Three systems on the go in my previous house. Used the Naims primarily with the Linn Isobariks, but tried them out with the ESL 57s as well. Tried out various other SS and valve amps over the years.

The Naims were very good, but I preferred the Leak ST20 and passive pre with the 57s and that was used as my main listening system. Mainly the more lifelike, subtle detail and ambient presentation, 3D soundstage, and the vocals/ voice was just beautiful!

More recently I replaced the ST20 with Audion Silver Night Anniversary PSE 300B Monoblocks - and that’s the best I’ve had!

Thanks. I have.a Melody AN300b push pull and will give it a try today and report back.
 
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RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
21
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233
Well this 300b amp sounds amazing with the Quads! Listening to Shenandoah by Charles Lloyd and the Marvels and each note of each instrument is palpable like I’m watching them play live in an intimate venue with terrific acoustics sitting in the third row center. This amp weighs around 85 pounds. It has huge transformers, Royal Princess tubes and drives these Quads with more authority than I ever thought it would. I guess if the speakers were voiced with 15 watt EL84 Quad II’s, I should have guessed this amp, putting out I believe 24wpc, would have more than enough! Highly recommended! A15D9E8C-3E59-4EBF-8AF0-97AAA3185FC3.jpeg
 
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Vivianbl

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Feb 8, 2020
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Well this 300b amp sounds amazing with the Quads! Listening to Shenandoah by Charles Lloyd and the Marvels and note of each instrument is palpable like I’m watching them play live in an intimate venue with terrific acoustics sitting in the third row center. This amp weighs around 85 pounds. It has huge transformers, Royal Princess tubes and drives these Quads with more authority than I ever thought it would. I guess if the speakers were voiced with 15 watt EL84 Quad II’s, I should have guessed this amp, putting out I believe 24wpc, would have more than enough! Highly recommended!
View attachment 63014
Wow, that’s good to hear. That’s the type of experience I had with my 18wpc PSE 300B. Audion have a 24wpc push pull version as well, but haven’t heard it, with the 57s. The deep bass I’m getting out of them is astounding!

Those transformers look quite large. I’ve got toroidal transformers , but the mono block amps are only about 11 kg each. The addition of PS Audio P10 power plant and improved low cost isolation of components and speakers took the music to another level.

It’s interesting that you say “palpable” and like “watching from”. I find myself putting my spectacles on, because I want to “watch” the performance! And “intimacy “!!


Let us know how it progresses.
Cheers
 
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Big Dog RJ

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2012
768
76
373
Melbourne
Agreed, Naim is one of those respectable British brands that are made solid! Excellent power supplies and very well built, no issues whatsoever and to add a wonderful sound as well. As it gets going, it sounds warmer and warmer, which is a good thing, unlike most SS devices...

Listening to the mighty Naim Statements ($200 grand for monoblocks, with the control centre) driving a fine pair of Audio Analysis ribbons (Omega's), was an absolute pleasure to listen to.

Tubes with stats, and especially Quads, has always been magical. Whether it has a midrange bump, which is a hallmark of Quad, plus the delay coils, unique dispersion pattern with its concentric ring anodes, again very unique to Quad, when it all comes together, it definitely sounds marvelous!
As I've always stated, P Walker is a fine genius!

Our very own Quad, and CJ importer for Melbourne and Aus in general, also offer the Naim gear. Whenever I walk in and tunes are playing, sometimes I really can't tell the difference between Naim or tube gear driving Quads. Both sound very fine indeed. However, if it's CJ amplifiers driving Quads, the difference is very significant!

I wouldn't say one's better over the other, it's a personal preference that one chooses.
A well designed power amplifier, whether it be tubes or SS, as long as it has stable power supplies, capable of high current, not just average ratings but also "stable ratings" that can deliver and don't dip in reacting to the stats impedence swing, that's the amplifier to get!

Obviously there are various brands, unusual designs and a myraid of pricing... at the end of the day only a handful offer true amplification to the very last Ohm. Again it's not so much the watts, that rating can be very misleading!
I've experienced many so called high-end contenders fall extremely short driving either ESL2905's, which I had or even the much older ESL63 & 989 series.

Find the right amplifiers to drive your Quads and you are pretty much set for life! That's about as good as it gets.
Trust everyone's keeping well and safe, and most of all, enjoy that music!
Cheers, RJ
 

RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
21
7
233
We should feel fortunate that we have various amplifiers to test out with our beloved ESLs! mine were restored by Electrostatic Solutions in Missouri and although I have several other pairs of speakers, the Quads are the ones I keep coming back to!
 
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Kcin

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Mar 27, 2016
296
188
130
Canada
After a few months of a winter project. I sat back to listen to a modified Counterpoint preamp where I effectively ' ripped out' the power supplies and created a 40lb box of a outboard ( sitting next to the amp on the floor) shunt regulated B+ with a 5AR4 rectifier and super regulated filaments and film caps for the B+. Hooked up to the ESLs , the Wyetech and streaming... wow..

The ESLs are truly something special.

IMG_3520.jpg
IMG_3520.jpg IMG_3520.jpg

IMG_3521.jpg
 
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RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
21
7
233
Well, just for s___ts and giggles, I had the opportunity to purchased a recapped Quad 303 for very little money. I've read many posts throughout the web which indicate that this solid state amp has very good synergy with the Quad 57s. Just hooked it up for the first time and color me impressed. It seems to put out very nice bass with these speakers that I'm not used to hearing. So now I'm using the Naim 250DR, Quad 303, Rogue Cronus Magnum with KT120s, Synthesis EL34 monoblocks, Melody AN300b push pull, and I have a few others I could try but they're heavy and I'd have to bring them in from another room - Pass Labs Aleph 0 monoblocks (75 watt Class A), a Bel Canto SET 40 (845 SET @ 40wpc) and a 40 wpm custom made EL84 integrated amplifier. Heck, I've even had my recapped Marantz 2230 driving these Quads nicely. I guess the bottom line is when you have amazing, transparent speakers, it's really hard to find an amp that doesn't sound good with them. I think my quest for finding amps to match the Quads is over. If I had the inclination, I would try an ASR Emitter II, which some say is the best amp ever with the Quads, but I'd have to find the room to fit four huge separate boxes for the amp, power supplies and battery pack.

Would love to read if anyone has tried any of the above amps, or what other amps you've tried and loved with these speakers.
 
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dpgals

New Member
Nov 10, 2020
1
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I now have moved on from my Leak Stereo 20 to a Croft Series 3 OTL amplifier running my Quad 57 speakers. The amp was built by Glenn Croft in the early 90s and it sounds absolutely fantastic with 8 519 power valves and about 35 watts of power. Glenn does not live too far away from me so he is always there to keep the amp going. He recently changed the big transformer on the amp over to 4 toirroidal transformers and that has made the amp sound even better. If you ever get the chance to hear or even better own this combination it is absolutely incredible. This is a picture before the transformer upgrade. Sure it is not super pretty and looks like something out of a 1950s sci-fi B movie but it surely can sing! DSCF1895.JPG
 
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montesquieu

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Jan 27, 2019
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Nice to see Quad ESL 57s being 'discovered'. I ran them for quite a few years though eventually settled on vintage Tannoys. What they do well, they do superbly, possibly without peer. In particular, with a transparent source, their transparency (with the right amp - SET amps for the most part are not the right amp) is second to none. (This is measurable).

The down side is a very small 'sweet spot' - not much more than the width of one person - that was what killed them here as my wife far preffered how Tannoys energise the whole room in a way that Quad ESLs simply can't.

I retain a huge affection for them and they are really not demanding from an amplification perspective (anything over about 12-15w push pull is perfect). I recall something over a decade ago being party to a shoot-out into Quad ELS between contemporary amplifiers, Quad II monoblocks (about 25w KT66) , Radford STA25 (35w EL34 PP), Leak Stereo 20 (12w EL84) and EAR V20 (20w parallel PP) with 23 'signal' valves per channel). The Radford was the clear winner, with a bit of discussion about the number 2 position, but with a Weiss DAC as source, the main point of the exercise was clearly demonstrated: just how special the ESL could be. The EAR V20 was mine and I was a bit deflated at its performance vs the Radford but in hindsight it was a real lesson in getting too smug about 'modern' equipment. I ended up running various Radfords myself into my current Tannoys before settling on my current Leben CS1000P.
 

Phillyb

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2012
35
24
348
Quads are Quads once heard you're our hooked for life. Who did the rebuild? Electrostatic Solutions if so class A work. Kents' full-blown ESL 63's were out of this world. Made most other speakers sound like hi-fi speakers. Quads sound like real instruments and vocals to die for set up right. with proper toe-in and the right speaker cables and a good quality power cord. 30" from the front wall or so, I liked them 6 feet apart and with the right toe-in, they just disappeared. I like Open Baffle speakers also for lack of BOX sound of dynamic drivers. Quads rid me of ever going back to them (boxed speakers), they sounded like toy's hyper-detailed and boom for bass, and I heard them up to 25K, and just shook my head how they could not get color, tone, body, and weight right. Many of them reviewers delights, so much for their ear of what real music sounds like. It truly is a music lovers speaker, but not headbanging loud, or in your face dynamics, natural as laid/even back like music sounds. ^3's give you more extension top and bottom, and dynamics than the 57's, the 57's excel on the midrange and mid-bass, which makes music sound so real.
 
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RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
21
7
233
BTW, I just got out my KLH Nines today and played them in the place of my Quads for the first time in around a year. I have to say, they too are pretty awesome. They're so tall that you really feel like a wall of sound is enveloping the listener. I can only imagine how good the Nines would sound if I had them restored to the extent that Kent at Electrostatic Solutions restored by 57's. Long live electrostatics!
 

RDSChicago

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2013
21
7
233
Agreed, Naim is one of those respectable British brands that are made solid! Excellent power supplies and very well built, no issues whatsoever and to add a wonderful sound as well. As it gets going, it sounds warmer and warmer, which is a good thing, unlike most SS devices...

Listening to the mighty Naim Statements ($200 grand for monoblocks, with the control centre) driving a fine pair of Audio Analysis ribbons (Omega's), was an absolute pleasure to listen to.

Tubes with stats, and especially Quads, has always been magical. Whether it has a midrange bump, which is a hallmark of Quad, plus the delay coils, unique dispersion pattern with its concentric ring anodes, again very unique to Quad, when it all comes together, it definitely sounds marvelous!
As I've always stated, P Walker is a fine genius!

Our very own Quad, and CJ importer for Melbourne and Aus in general, also offer the Naim gear. Whenever I walk in and tunes are playing, sometimes I really can't tell the difference between Naim or tube gear driving Quads. Both sound very fine indeed. However, if it's CJ amplifiers driving Quads, the difference is very significant!

I wouldn't say one's better over the other, it's a personal preference that one chooses.
A well designed power amplifier, whether it be tubes or SS, as long as it has stable power supplies, capable of high current, not just average ratings but also "stable ratings" that can deliver and don't dip in reacting to the stats impedence swing, that's the amplifier to get!

Obviously there are various brands, unusual designs and a myraid of pricing... at the end of the day only a handful offer true amplification to the very last Ohm. Again it's not so much the watts, that rating can be very misleading!
I've experienced many so called high-end contenders fall extremely short driving either ESL2905's, which I had or even the much older ESL63 & 989 series.

Find the right amplifiers to drive your Quads and you are pretty much set for life! That's about as good as it gets.
Trust everyone's keeping well and safe, and most of all, enjoy that music!
Cheers, RJ
I never reported that I recently added a Naim NAP 250DR amp to my collection. You are certainly spot on when you say that Naim equipment drives the Quads very well. This amp puts out around 80wpc in a very authoritative manner and I have to say, I'm enjoying the Quads with the Naim almost as much with my various tube amps. Also nice to have different options, or maybe different flavors is a more descriptive way of saying how much I enjoy electrostatic and how different amps can bring out different characteristics in the music. Enjoy your electrostatics!
 

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