For those of you that don't know, Quad is a company based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, making (in my opinion) the worlds finest electrostatic loudspeakers, and have been around since 1936. Perhaps their most famous product is the ESL57, their first full range electrostatic loudspeaker. This was in production for 28 years, truely a testament to the quality of the product. In 1981, Quad released the ESL 63, which was awarded a patent for the point source effect that it was able to deliver. These are now starting to trickle onto the second-hand market, at prices of around £1000. Snap them up, people - you'll be listening to all your music again, and hearing things you've never heard before! (It's worth noting that the ESL 57's are going for about £300 - £750 today. Definatly worth every penny - I know, I had a pair!) Right, that's enough of aimless fact and opinion, how about the 989? I will start off by quoting Quads technical specifications. Maximum power output: 2N/m¹ at 2m on axis Sensitivity: 86dB Impedance: 8 ohm nominal Max continuous input voltage: 10v Maximum peak input: 55v (40v undistorted) Directivity index- 125Hz - 5.0dB 500Hz - 6.4dB 1 kHz - 7.2dB 8 kHz - 10.6dB Axis band limits- -6dB at 30Hz -6dB at 20kHz Power consumption: 6w Dimensions (HxWxD): 1335mm x 670mm x 315mm Weight: 25.3kg net Trust me - these are loud! One cannot measure the output in watts, as the tchnology does not allow for that. But to give you an idea - Quad's 909 Power amplifier is 140 watts per channel output at 8 ohms. Now, provided I haven't bored you to death already, I'm sure you're now gagging to know what these things sound like. The answer is simple. Awesome! The speakers handle just about every sort of music with ease, though if you're a Heavy metal listener, look elsewhere. Buy a s
et of cone speakers and a powerful amplifier, as you just won't get the most out of these speakers. The first peice of music I played on these speakers was Lighthouse Family's "Lifted" I was stunned by the clarity of the bass line, and the guitar straight away. The speakers were just cruising along. The bass was tight also, and crisp. Vocals were lifelike and strong. The tamberine also came across very well. Glorious sound, I'm telling you! Jean Michel Jarre's "Oxygene Part II" was a real pleasure to listen to on my ESL 57's, but you don't want to know about that. How do the 989's cope? "Breath taking" is one way of describing the sound now being generated by the £6800 worth of speakers, CD player, pre amp and power amp I was playing with. The speakers were handling everything thrown at them with ease. They were having no trouble with transientals, and really sounded to be giving an immediate effect. White noise was also not a problem, and had shape to it. The best bit was the music was not compromised by crossovers as there are on multi-drive cone speakers. The ESL truely is full range, on the one drive unit. Widor's Toccata in F major is one of my all time favourite peices of organ music. How did the 989's cope? If the above were the cake, then this has to be the icing, the cherries and the fine champagne to go with it! I felt that I was actually in Kings College, Cambridge, listening to the real thing, played live. Large organ pipes take a bit of time to get themselves vibrating, and this was came through perfectly in the recording, as did the echo of the organ. (And it sounded a damn sight better than the electronic organ that they have in Kimbolton School's 'Lewis Hall') What about a nice orchestral piece? Tchaikovsky's "The Lilac Fairy" from "Sleeping Beauty" is handled admirably by the ESL's. Brass
is strong, strings, are much more refined and woodwind is clearly heard on these speakers all at once. and the level of detail is outstanding. Instead of trying to pick out various instruments, they really just pop straight out at you. Think it's a French horn? Yep, that's what you heard. No more guessing games as to what you think you can hear! So what are the bad points. Other than the shear size of them, there aren't any. Unless you happen to use MP3's as your main source of music, in which case, as in the heavy metal catagory, go buy cheaper cone speakers - as you'll find that you can hear the compression underneath, especially on voice and bass, and that's really bloody irritating, if nothing else. If you have a fat (£4.6k) wad burning a hole in your pocket, go and listen to a pair of these. If your wad is £1200 less, go and listen to a pair of Quad ESL988, which are identical to these minus two extra bass panels. From my knowledge of the ESL 63's though, this does not detract from the normal audiophiles enjoyment, but the 989's simply add to it! Go forth and listen, my faithful readers!