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Are my Quad Esl 63s off colour?

Discussion in 'audio' started by eisenach, Dec 29, 2018.

  1. bencat

    bencat pfm Member

    Nothing is made to be easy to service ask any Apple Owner ask any Mechanical Watch owner . I only own a pair of Quad 57's they are currently being overhauled it will cost me about £700 total and the expectation is that unless I get a little over zealous with the volume knob they will be fine for about ten years . That is not a huge cost for the quality they can give. While it is fair to point out the issues with Quad talking to owners of other Electrostatic speakers they all seem to have issues and difficulties . I am certainly no engineer but my guess would be that they are not easy to design or build or they would have had many more me too products. So like an exotic cartridge with a hand ground tip and wood body Electrostatics are not easy . The only reason they still survive is because when they are right and working they sound (or rather do not sound) like any other speaker type . What they have some people just love and get blown away by and once heard nothing else will do .
  2. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    I strongly disagree.

    In my experience, 988 circuit boards were of generally poor quality both in terms of manufacture and solder joint quality, clearly hand stuffed and soldered. Some wires simply broke off, when I was unsoldering them.

    Separating the top of the speaker from the bottom was difficult and extremely unwieldy. I stopped at this point, because I did not like the way the threaded rods that attached the top of the speaker to the base were interacting with the plastic bosses and became concerned that in the semi-undone state any imbalance between the top and bottom of the speaker would apply significant moment to those locations, permanently cracking the cheap plastic bases. I could only imagine the impossibility and cost of procuring these cheap and ugly parts from Quad.

    The idea that a speaker owner buying product in the price range of north of $12k would interested (and capable) of this repair is quite laughable. And oh, by the way, the cheaply molded plastic bases were not deburred, so lots of cuts as part of this fun project for me. And this was only to add reasonable binding posts and bypass the cheap electrolytic input cap.

    I can honestly say that I did repair big Magnepans (gluing the wires that came unstuck from the panels - another "brilliant" manufacturing job by a famous speaker maker) and that was markedly easier.
    Darren likes this.
  3. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    Fair enough. 57s were my wife's favorite speakers.

    The only reasonable replacement that I found was Eminent Technology. They are planar magnetic and made correctly - from a cleanly manufactured plated mylar, etched away to create the circuit and permanently bonded bar magnets in a very robust steel frame. They do not go bad and don't need "repairs." They sound almost as good as the Quads.
  4. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Dimitry, your experience (partial) of disassembling and reassembling Quads does sound bad! Perhaps my rudimentary DIY skills are better than I thought; in the end everything is relative, what one man finds straightforward will defeat another. That is no reflection of the product though. If they were so bad to service Quad’s labour costs would have been through the roof.

    My problem with Quads was buying them secondhand and late finding out about their internal condition and also discovering that I preferred Logan’s to the older 63 style of Quad. The newer models sound much better to my ears and closer to the excellent sound of an ‘undressed” 63 (don’t undress them unless you live alone and understand the potential risk to yourself and the speaker!).

    Quad electrostatics can be a hate/love affair it is true, c’est la vie, but I can’t really see why you have such an agenda about them to the the extent that you keep repeating yourself ad infinitum.
  5. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    New speakers have much sparser grills than the old 63s. Electrostatic Solutions offers new grills for the 63s that made them sound essentially identical to the 988s, because its the same speaker. They also fitted new very sparse socks to the speakers that improved the sound as well. Plus new HT boards and HQ internal wiring.

    I repeat because people make highly partial positive comments about the ease and moderate repair costs, which are simply false for most users. Its a public service.
  6. bencat

    bencat pfm Member

    Sadly Dimitry Eminent Technology do not have a UK Dealer so they are not available here . I presume the LFT-8b is the speakers you are using would like to hear them but sadly unless I visit a European Hi Fi show it is not really possible.
  7. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    The circuit boards were typical of cheap UK sourced pcbs, China does it better.

    If were snapping legs removing components that's because we Brits like to bend the legs over, invisibly.
  8. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    There is a Greek magneplanar design that is similarly built, from what i understand - analysis audio:


    It may be attractively priced in the EU.
  9. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    So your thought is that newer 63s sound better than older ones - is that right? If so, why? Is there a design difference?

    How do you tell if you have a newer or older pair of 63s?

    (oh, I see that Dmitry has gone some way to answering the question about design with his point about “sparser grills”)
  10. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

  11. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    The sparse grills were US import only on 63s.
  12. Jowcol

    Jowcol pfm Member

    There was a discussion on this a few years back.
    In later years Quad only sent the more rugged Pro version of ESL63 to USA. The standard versions were sustaining too much damage during shipping.
    The US audiophiles claimed that the Pro version sounded better than the standard version.
    We determined that the only difference between the two versions was that the Pro had a steel grille (which made it more robust) but the steel grille also had large rectangular straight-through holes to let the sound out, as opposed to the louvred aluminium grilles on the standard version.
    The 988 onwards has grilles with large round holes, allowing the sound out easier.
    If you get 63's rebuilt they will use current panels. I believe Quad can fit 988 grilles to the 63's. So there will not be much difference after that.

    There was a circuit-change quite early on with 63's. They get updated when Quad do a service. I think it was just protection circuit.
  13. eisenach

    eisenach Thüringen

    OTA now do a "professional" grill with wider spacing:


    They will also sell you a fully re-built "Pro Conversion" set of 63s for £1 995, over £500 more than their standard re-built 63s.


    "The Pro-Conversion consists of every option and new board we can offer.
    This includes: -
    • Refurbished Panels Throughout
    • Refurbished Bases and Trims*
    • Replacement of Spark Detector boards with out own uprated version
    • Replacement of the EHT boards with out uprated version
    • Replacement/supply of Clamp boards with our uprated version
    • Fitting of our uprated Widgets
    • Replacement of the old speaker connections with new Gold versions
    • Fitting of our new Professional Grills
    • Fitting of new Cloths"
  14. sq225917

    sq225917 situation engineer

    That sounds pretty much like my own mod list, just not bothering with adding clamp boards.

    Gooding aluminium do a 50% + open, 15mm square sheet.
  15. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    They sound like an excellent company. If I ever move to the UK, I will make sure to buy a house near them.
  16. eisenach

    eisenach Thüringen

    Hurry up ! They're getting on a bit!
  17. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Sorry, wasn’t clear. By newer Quads I was referring to the 2805, the one with the strut. Same or similar panel but in a much improved frame etc. The problem with the older 63 was the combination of dust cover, expanded metal screen and sock, all of which the sound had to negotiate, and none of which helped the sound quality. The 988 (hope I have the model correct) wasn’t much better. The 2805 sounded much closer to running the old 63 without socks, expanded metal and dust cover - a great improvement.
  18. Marchbanks

    Marchbanks Golly, do I ever have a lot of soul!

    When I last visited six months or so back Steve told me they had an apprentice and were moving to - um - more conventional premises.
  19. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Has the chap near Portsmouth stopped importing them? I was interested in the Eminents and got in touch with him. He explained that it wasn’t his main line of business and that I would have to wait five weeks before he could come and dem them. He charged for the dem, refundable if bought. Rightly or wrongly I detected a lack of commitment which might affect after sales service, so politely declined. Interesting looking speaker though, which I would like to hear.
  20. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    Other than the Maggie 1.7i, ET8B is the most affordable large(ish) planar in the US. Dollar costs are ~2.5k, similar to the medium Magnepan. The speaker is push-pull for both planar drivers, exhibiting very low distortion (like an ESL) and can do the square wave (again, like an ESL). Below 200 Hz, it is a sealed 8" woofer.

    The speaker has one flaw. The woofer is run with a first order crossover, so there is out of band output at ~1.5 KHz, which can be sometimes heard on some program material (opera soprano, to cite an obvious example). This effect is very amplifier and placement dependent and many people will not be bothered by it, but I was. I talked to the maker about it, he acknowledged the issue, but intimated that it was not something that most owners noticed. I connect mine with two monoblocks per side, with the woofer amp using the sub output of my preamp, with the low pass filter (2nd order in the case of my preamp - Emotiva) set at 250 Hz. 500 Hz would be preferable, I think, but it not available to me. In this configuration, the speaker is superb. There is a Absolute Sound review out a few years back and in Hifi Choice, both very positive. 2.5K BP is quoted in HFC review, which is OK, but not as much of a bargain.

    They are not easily available at dealers stateside, either. I just bought them from the maker, Bruce Thigpen, who is very nice to deal with. Packaging was very robust, as are the speakers themselves. The speaker has been around for ~25+ years, so a very mature design. It seems to be getting more attention now.
    camverton likes this.

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