Quad ESL 2805 Floorstanding Speakers

Quad ESL 2805 Floorstanding Speakers 


Electrostatic loudspeaker, planar and point source.

Sensitivity: 86db/2.83V rms
Impedance: 8ohm nominal
Dimensions: 1040mm x 695mm x 385mm
Weight: 34,8kg


Showing 1-2 of 2  
[May 23, 2010]
Audio Enthusiast

This is a review of the Quad ESL 2805 in classic finish, bought in Mar-2010, now in use for some 3 months.

Sound quality:
I have compared several loudspeakers in the same price level to the ESLs, and since already a lot has been written about the Quads I will not repeat that here, and just highlight what for me were the strong points that made me buy them: sound is open, natural, and well balanced from low to high. Bass is definitely there, and well controlled. I have not compared it to the 2905 because those were a no-go for me anyway due to size. I like in particular the 'swift attaque' of the speaker: the fact that with string instruments and light percussion you can literally hear the onset or 'start' of every sound the musician makes, no matter how subtle. This makes you feel you are really close to and even part of the performance. Thinking about this further I realized that this must be one of the reasons why one often reads in reviews that these speakers are good with small scale music like chamber music, easy listening, jazz, etc. (so not huge orchestras).

The rounded shape in combination with the classic finish cloth (aka 'classique finish') makes the whole unit look quite 'lightweight', and certainly less dominating than a square black box of similar surface area. The color is somewhat difficult to describe. The photos on the official Quad web site are not very good in terms of color. The best photo I know that is available in the public domain, is the photo of the old ESL988 in vintage cloth in a classic living room as can be seen in the old Quad brochure on pages 8+9. The cloth used on the 2805 classic seems very much identical: color is a combination of bronze with a thin black diamond pattern. The metal frame at the side is in bronze. The housing at the bottom is dark brown plastic, but because you can hardly see it from a distance there is definitely no 'el-cheapo plastic kind of look'. All in all I think the design is very pleasing to the eye, and will fit seamlessly in any classic interior; for me it was worth the extra 700 euro.

- Sound quality (see above).
- Classic design is eye pleasing. For the readers who consider large speakers a problem design wise, please take a good look at the design of the 2805 classic, as I think that the designers have succeeded in removing the 'bulky 1st impression' effect by the subtle shape and choice of cloth. Several months of use, and feedback of visitors, confirm this personal impression.
- Although I have the Quads only a few months, the build quality looks good to me. For shipping they come in custom designed boxes with special semi-rigid foam insight that narrowly encloses the speakers along their entire contours. Well thought-through. The whole construction of the speakers feels solid and well designed. The dealer warned me that I should anticipate that over long time (5-10 year period) electrostats are known to be prone to develop some moisture issues with the membrane, but who knows? Only time can tell. For me no reason to stay away from these.

- Size of speaker is a bit large, and they need some wall separation. But all floorstanding speakers at this price level will need that, so I suppose that if you are considering spending 7k euro on a pair of speakers you have already accepted this fact.

Other remarks:
- I use the Quads in combination with a 75W amplifier and find that in my 8x7m living room I have more than enough power.
- Value. Price paid in Europe for the classic finish is about 7500 euro / pair. This includes some 700 euro for the classic finish. Yes, quite expensive and there is much choice at this price level. Nevertheless, I feel I made the choice that was right for me: I enjoy listening to them, even looking at them! The fact that on the used market they still fetch good prices after many years, and that professional refurbishing services exist that can handle very old Quads gives me extra confidence that also financially the investment has been sound.

[Oct 14, 2007]

I have recently taken delivery of my new QUAD ESL 2905's (June 2007). I have auditioned speakers extensively over the past 3 years in my search for the perfect speaker and tried Watt Puppy 7's and 8's, Revel Salons, Dynaudio Evidence Temptations, Magnepan 20.1s etc etc ..... the list goes on.

When I came across the 2905's back in June 2007 I auditioned in awe. They remain the most coherent and seamless speaker I have heard ...... and they have REAL bass. I have long dismissed electrostats because they had no bass ........ but the 2905's have redefined for me what true palpable bass is. It's a truly integrated speaker from top to bottom. It is effortless and entirely non-fatiguing.

To answer an earlier thread about whether vocals sound more forward on the 2905's than others my view is no. The vocals sound right ..... but then so too does every other part of it's frequency re-production. There is beautiful separation and 'air' between instruments and vocals which makes them 'right'. They are superb ..... but there is a catch that will not please many.

I am now on my 2nd pair of 2905s after the first pair (then only 3 months old) had a panel failure of some sort. I began noticing huge differences between speaker sensitivities that made correct imaging and soundstaging impossible. And then, to make things worse, I lost most of the bass response from both speakers.

To Quads credit they did provide a brand new replacement pair which I received 3 weeks ago (September 2007) and which are now burning in nicely.

Recent experiences on the web suggest this is not an isolated case and panel failures in the 2905s and 2805's have been recorded elsewhere. So reliability is clearly an issue with this speaker and I remain nervous that the same type of failure will happen again and I'll need to spend another 12 weeks waiting for a new pair.

So ........... yes, they are a stunning speaker (regardless of price) and compete with units 5x their price. But the "Made in China" thing has clearly affected reliability.

Ken Kessler of "HiFi News" in the UK gave these speakers a "20/20, Best Speaker on the Planet" review back in 2006. My listening experiences are almost consisitent with those in his review, including his lab report findings that suggest he also experienced sensitivity differences with his audition pair. What I wasn't expecting was the 5-7 dB of sensitivity differences that I experienced which is, well, kind of important.

But I also note that Ken Kessler wrote the glossy "History of QUAD" book that accompanied my 2905s when they came delivered in their "bigger then mankind" cardboard boxes ........ so I therefore remain sceptical about Kens impartiaility and objectivity in his scoring of these speakers. If Ken knew how unreliable they are now proving to be, he wouldn't be giving them 20/20 !

It's food for thought and I'm happy to answer questions on my ongoing impressions of my (now 2nd) pair of 2905s.

Overall rating reduced from 5 stars to 3 stars simply because the initial pair failed after only 3 months.

Showing 1-2 of 2  

(C) Copyright 1996-2018. All Rights Reserved.

audioreview.com and the ConsumerReview Network are business units of Invenda Corporation

Other Web Sites in the ConsumerReview Network:

mtbr.com | roadbikereview.com | carreview.com | photographyreview.com | audioreview.com