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  • Sonically revealing of poor hifi components
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      08.04.2003 05:07
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      • "Sonically revealing of poor hifi components"

      Well, happy 2003! I've been off the net since early last year. Ok, so what have we got here... oh yes, my all time favourite hifi speaker. Last year I reviewed Quads latest and greatest electrostatic speaker, the ESL-989, which will set you back a cool £4600 for the plain black finish, or £5000 for one of their latest finishes... However, in terms of shear beauty, nothing quite comes close to the rosewood and black finished ESL-63. Well, that's my opinion anyway! Besides, the ESL 63 was made less than half a mile from where I live, and was born in the year I was conceived... The sound that it gives when hooked up to quality electronics, (and I'm talking REAL hifi, not mini systems) is amazing. Unlike the original ESL (aka 57) there is some slight colouration to the sound, but this actually complements solid state amplifiers and CD players. A bynote on the colouration - there is a little excess bass, meaning that the sound is slightly "warm." This, in my opinion, allows the system to be listened to for extended periods without ever feeling tiring. Despite the colouring, there is bags of detail to hand, instruments and voices sound real, and correctly formed, transient response is amazing. As I said, earlier, when hooked up to good quality source and amplification components, the music shines through. So what DOES it sound like? Well, short of you actually getting a pair, I'll do my best to give you some idea. With the latest "hip hop" and other popular formats, like "wot the yoof of today listen to" these speakers acurately reproduce the sound as best they can. Seeing as they have a lower frequency limit of 35hz, bass lines can sound a little reduced. Might be better off getting a pair of cone speakers and a subwoofer if this is your prefered music choice. I however, don't listen to garage / street / garden / pond or attic music, so my sister can have her co llection of CD's back. So on to real music... These speakers LOVE jazz music. Whether it be a bass, sax, drums and solo vocal quartet or a big band swing style set, they dish out everything that was recorded, including, if you shut your eyes, the ambiance of a jazz club... the smokey atmosphere, dimmed lights, quiet small talk from neighbouring tables, truely gorgeous. The sound is warm and relaxing with smooth jazz, and and with something more upbeat, they really sing, and hit hard too. With orchestral peices, the speakers again perform a disappearing act. Every instrument can be clearly heard, and each comes from 1 particular area. Quad's Concentric electrode arrangement is behind this. Audiophiles beleive that the most acurate sound comes from a "point source" This is somewhat hard to acheive with a large speaker, especially one where the front is a little under a metre square. So, Quad set up a series of delayed electrodes to make the speaker act as a point source. I can't go into the exact details because I don't know them, but I do know that it's patented, and no other electrostatic speaker manufacturer can copy it. I digress... back to the sound. If you play the music at a reasonably realistic level, it is possible to get the impression that the speakers are actually not there at all, and there is a large orchestra right in your living room. Choral works have the same effect, and if they're well recorded it can feel like you are actually in a cathedral. I may sound like I'm talking rubbish here, but you must listen to a pair of these if you don't beleive it. So why have I just talked up a pair of now obsolete speakers, that are about the same size as a gravestone? Well, when a pair come up for sale on the internet, and go for less than one and a half grand, someone just got themselves a bargain for life.

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