Quad 21L Floorstanding Speakers

21L

  • X-over point 2.2kHz
  • Frequency Fb 40Hz
  • Height 780mm + 15mm plinth
  • Width 205mm
  • Depth 263mm

User Reviews (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6  
Martijn Kruiten   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 29, 2008]
Strength:

Fast. strong (not bloated!) bass. In combination with decent equipment they'll go very low. Very detailed too.

Highs are very clear, although sometimes a bit harsh (don't know if it's the right word for it) with my equipment, but I got the feeling that's because of my amp. They appear more on old records, so it's probably a recording issue too.

Midrange is detailed, neatral sounding. Voices are were they belong. Instruments sound very real and the clocks in Time from Pink Floyd get some reallness I've never heard before. I compared them with Kefs, Wharfedales, B&Ws and some awfull sounding JBLs. Some speakers tend to put the voices too much in front. They may seem better sounding to some people, but If you spend some more time listning, you will notice the more detailed, neutral, not tiring sound of those beautiful Quads.

The soundstage is really amazing. Never heard better. The sound is not only projected in between the speakers, but even outside them. It also seems like the most of the sound is coming from behind the speakers. You get the feeling the sounds is all around you, floating in the air. Not like some fake spatial effect, but very natural.

Very detailed on quiet parts as well as more complex louder parts. You will aprieciate some music you did'nt really like before. The intentions of the musicians are clearer and you will get the feeling of a better timing. Close your eyes and you won't notice your listening to speakers anymore. You are just listening to music. I've had some short nights because of that. They make you want to listen for hours and hours.

Weakness:

Bi Wiring causes phase shifts (at least with my equipment), which results in a bigger, but unnatural, soundstage. I felt like the timing of the music was much worse and the midrange sounded a ripped apart. It may seem better in the first place, but after listening to a couple of albums you might want to switch back to single wired setup. Maybe Bi amping would be a better choice, although I've never heard that.

Takes some time to break in. Have been breaking in for about 15 hours and sound great, but are still improving by the hour. But I don't know if that's really a weakness.

They need some space to breath. Don't put them to close to the wall and avoid corners.

Couple them with decent equipment! They will reveal every weakness of your system.

Sound amazing. Everything could be bettered, but with these speakers, start with your other equipment, because I've got the feeling they have much more potention then what my equipment is able to give them.

Similar Products Used: Audiolabs
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
govanomy   Casual Listener [Mar 29, 2008]
Strength:

Clear Image, Solid bass, Not fatigue-inducing,
Great delivery for anything not-too-noisy, not-too-fast.
Looks like those kinds of music too.
Not-too-much coloration.

Weakness:

Takes ages to free up the mid/bass driver.
Clipping happens sooner than expected when pushed.
Relatively weak midrange.
Has slight problem to interpret fast and complex signals.

In short, if you are a fan of jazz, chamber, instrumental, vocal, solo, easy-listening and such not-too-noisy kinds of music, it is highly likely you will LOVE these speakers. On the contrary, if you are a fan of Metallica, AC/CD, and the likes, you will not like them at all and you don't even want to look at them either. For a start, they don't even look the part for those kinds of music.

I was expecting something new and good from 21Ls when I first got them, only because all the positive reviews I'd read here. Especially after spending so many years with my old AR3a's from mid 70's, and so little money on audio equipment. (I did re-con and x-over job myself.)

Instead, what a disappointment!!
Awful, poor sound. Proper bass and mid were nowhere to find and the sound felt like it was coming from a rice paper. Vocals were behind a thick curtain and instruments were behind the vocals. "The first owner told me he owned Tannoy Cheviots and he must have been hugely disappointed as well, and that was the reason for selling.", I thought to myself. But the deal was done and return was not an option. So I decided to give them a chance as QUAD recommends 50-hour burn-in, and the first owner told me he'd done less than 10 hours.

It wasn't 50 hours, let me tell you.You may be able to do that after a few police visits to you if you enjoy your music late in the evening, but if you are like me, it won't happen in 50 hours. At modest volumes, it will take 100 or so hours, probably more, to free up the driver. You won't be able to really enjoy the music during that time and you will most likely constantly question your decision of buying them and that's what I did. For me, the real burn-in didn't happen until I got somewhat pissed off. Out of dissatisfaction, I pushed them to clipping stage several times with all the doors and windows closed and played them right below that clipping level for some time and 21Ls began to show some noticeable changes after those max-outs. After all, the quiet listening style of mine didn't help and as a matter of fact, frustration helped.

Once the driver is freed, it's a different story and the difference is not small. Nora Jones and Bryn Terfel come out from behind those blanket-thick curtains to the front stage, strings start to sing, percussions begin to rock, and Bach's pipe organ pieces come to life. I've been able to compare the set with my old AR3as all the way, as I often used them together to compensate each other's downside, muddiness of AR's and poor mid/bass of QUAD's and I especially liked the combination at reduced volume during the late evenings and nights.

But now, I hardly use AR anymore since Quads give me a lot more joy without the help from ARs. Bass, though not as solid or deep as AR's, goes deep down without the usual muddiness of AR's, mid-range opened up and sings naturally and the high gives a very clear image without causing fatigue. I can immerse myself in Brahms' violin concertos and Romero's guitars all day long. These Quads will be my friend for the coming months and years.

One more thing. These speakers do NOT need big power. At first, you may think they need relatively strong amplifier to get them moving. But, that's not the case here. They only take quite a long time to burn-in and when they are done, you only need modest power to drive them to your satisfaction. These Quads get to their clipping stage sooner than you'd expect. On my little Yamaha RX-797B, they start clipping at about 2/3 of max output whereas my old AR3a's never do that even when maxed. So, I wouldn't push it too hard.

Enjoy listening

Similar Products Used: Pioneer, AR, JBL
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Tripping Billy   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 26, 2008]
Strength:

Image and soundstage are excellent.

Tonal quality excellent - no humps, not even in the bass with a rear port.

Good pace, great to listen to.

Fit and finish -- excellent execution with the cabinets and general design/appearance. By FAR the best looking veneer and lacquer I've seen on a speaker, with maybe Focus being the exception...

Weakness:

Need an amp with some good punch (ie Rotel, or similar) to get them really rocking.

Not enough places to audition them, and then typically they aren't really well showcased.

Bought a pair without even listening to them.

No regrets.

Got them hooked up to a little system I've been cobbling together -

NADC521bee CD
Rotel RA-01 integrated with PS Audio xStream power punch ac cord
Kimber hero I/C
Kimber shotgunned 4TC speaker runs

Not much, but I like it, and given that i put the whole thing together for less than $1500, I'm laughing all the way to the bank.

Proof positive that good things can come in small packages.

Similar Products Used: PMC FB1
Athena
Mission
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
B Matichuk   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 05, 2008]
Strength:

- Imaging and stabilty
- Accuracy
- "Feel"
- Fit and finish (exceptional)

Weakness:

- Hard to find - one retailer that I know of.

So I did the unimaginable -- after months of careful consideration, auditioning, postings on boards and tapping every resource imaginable -- I bought a pair of speakers not only "sound unheard", but "sight unseen".

On both counts, no regrets.

Visually these are stunning. The descriptions do not do the fit and finish of these units justice. Absolutely impeccable. Mine are Rosewood - which looks absolutely liquid under the high gloss 7 coats of lacquer. They are smaller in stature (cabinets only 31" tall, but with the plynth and spikes are of average height) and measure only 8" wide and 10" deep. The finish and veneer quality, when combined with their size and simple design, are bound to fit with any decor. Simply, I could not imagine any improvements.

Listening to them is equally enthralling.

- Imaging and stabilty and absolutely mesmerizing. I swear I can tell which side of the piano the player is sitting on and how full their drink is. I have them in a smaller room and the stabliity is remarkable, to the point of being 3D. The sweet spot is broad and wide, to say the least, and tall. Yes tall.
- Accuracy runs with the best. The sound is very integrated and very, very good. The 2-way design provides ample bass response and the drivers seem well suited to each other.
- "Feel" is a weird word to describe audio, but these speakers have it. It's not a colouration, it's more of a projection. Your toes will tap, your fingers will snap and the dynamics of the music are clearly articulated with emotion.

These are EXCELLENT speakers for the money, and compete with speakers many times their price. They are well suited to small to medium rooms and are easy to position and love. I have a modest, but capable system -- NAD C521BEE CD, Rotel RA-01 Integrated amp. Middle of the road I/Cs and speaker runs (Kimber for both).

Quad 21s prove again that while you can spend untold thousands of dollars in this hobby - you really don't have to. Simple design and quality execution win the day.

Keep your eyes on the boards and give these more than just consideration if you are looking for speakers.

Similar Products Used: - Nothing even comes close, for the price.

- PMC FB1
- Athena
- Mission (too many to count)
- JM/Focal (lots)
- Monitor Audio (all)
- B&W (many)
- Totem
- Linn
- etc

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
The13thGryphon   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 26, 2006]
Strength:

Tonal neutrality, excellent dynamics and resolution, and outstanding stereo imaging.

Weakness:

Not the last word in deep bass, but what they’ve got is musical and articulate.

Admittedly I am biased... I just purchased them... but I seriously have not heard any speaker under two grand that I would rather have. If I had found such a thing, I'd have them instead of the Quads.

To my ears the Quad 21L’s are dynamic, musical, tonally accurate, and transparent without being hyped or accentuated. They have good, tight, tuneful bass extending down to about 35 Hz. And they project an almost holographic spatial image. It's downright spooky to hear sounds coming from way beyond the outside edge of the speakers, and to be able to place each instrument in three dimensions.

Personally, I don't care much for metal dome tweeters. I can't listen to them for very long without wanting to turn down the volume. There is a hardness to the sound that I find very fatiguing. I have always preferred silk/textile dome tweeters, and the textile domes in the Quads are literally music to my ears.

Brass sounds brassy... woodwinds sound woody... symbols sound properly metallic... I can tell whether the artist is using steel or nylon guitar strings... and I can feel the ivory under my fingers when someone tickles the keys on a piano… all without making me want to reach for the volume control and back it down. Incredible!

I like the 21L’s better than their 12L or 22L brethren. The 12L, although faster and very slightly more articulate just doesn’t do it for me in the bass. I need more than they provide. The 22L’s on the other hand have more bass than is good for them. The bass is not as tight and tuneful, and it also tends to muddy up the mid-bass and midrange. The 21L’s are the best of the lot, in my opinion.

I auditioned them with a Rega Apollo / Mira 3 combo, as well as with a Naim Nait 5i / CD 5i setup. The Quads sounded fantastic on both systems. My own gear is getting a bit long in the tooth, and do not do the Quad 21L’s justice. However, as I’ll likely be purchasing the Rega gear in the near future I know what I’ve got to look forward to.

Similar Products Used: Monitor Audio Silver RS6, Vienna Acoustics Bach, Spendor S3e and S5e, B&W 603, 604, CDM 7SE and 704, Soliloquy 5.3, Dali Ikon 6, Sonus Faber Concerto, Rega Jura, R3, and R5, Definitive Technology BP-2004, Paradigm Reference Studio 60, and many, MANY more.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Leonardo   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 09, 2006]
Strength:

soundstage - depth - natural - realistic- beautifull - involving

Weakness:

?

I bought the 21L showmodel speakers for 600 Euro with a crack in the lack (oly noticable form less than 1 meter in sunlight)

What a speaker is this.
I compared this speaker with different speakers in the same prize range and above (B&W, Monitor audio s6 and s8, Kef Q7 and many more)
For me it was clear that this were the speakers I was looking for because they did not sound to me like a pair of speakers but more like the real thing .

The soundstage and depth are amazing
They are smooth and detailed and fast at the same time.
What I also like is that all instruments/ voices are separated.

I compared these with the 22L which I found less transparent and articulated and since my REL Quake II takes care of the low frequencies there I do not need that extra speaker (and filter etc.).

I notice now that the quality of what I hear is more depending on the studio / recording quality.

And maybe upgrading my Yamaha R300, which I use for 25 years now and is warmed up on me quite a bit, might be a good idea as my Pioneer DV 350.

Anyway I am very very happy with these speakers bringing back again the sheer joy of enjoying music at a much “closer” and realistic level.

I read somewhere that this speaker will reviel the quality of less upstream equipment. That might very well be the case not because the speaker is hard to drive but beacause of the lack of detail clarity etc...

Similar Products Used: Kef, totem, philips
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Art S   AudioPhile [Oct 28, 2004]
Strength:

~ All of the strengths of the 11L. ~ Good bass in the 32Hz to 60Hz range.

Weakness:

~ They sound very good at louder levels, and you may be tempted to push them to very high output. Be cautious if you do so, as you'll bottom out the mid-woofer's excursion limit, getting only loud "tapping" noises. ~ They seem to be not quite tall enough for me to raise the drivers to the best height in my listening position, even with the supplied spikes installed. So I found some maple cutting boards that are about 2.5" thick and trimmed/finished them to the shape of the 21L footprint. Copacetic!

The picture above is incorrect. It's a picture of the 22L; the 21L has only 1 6.5" driver, not 2. C'mon, get it right Admin!! Having bought and liked the Quad 11L's, I decided that rather than spending the $ for a decent set of stands for the 11's, with about the same outlay I could have the 21's and not need stands to raise them, gaining more low-range output in the process. Well, it was a great trade, and I have to give a plug to The Speaker Shoppe in Amherst, NY - they were very understanding about it. So, rather than repeat what I've already said about the 11L, (see my review here on AR) I'll just say that the 21L is like the 11L on EPO!! [Disclaimer: we cyclists don't use steroids, we prefer EPO. Ask Lance! ;)] I also think these sound better than the 22L in the midrange. You don't have the interference of that second 6.5" driver, nor the second X-over to go through - just pure 2-way goodness in a larger box for greater bass output and extention. In fact, I was told by one of the propeller-heads at Quad that they feel the 21L is the "sleeper" in the L-series line, and many of them prefer the 21's over the 22's as well. As always: YMMV.

Similar Products Used: See 11L review.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-6 of 6  

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