Quad ESL 57 Floorstanding Speakers

Quad ESL 57 Floorstanding Speakers 

DESCRIPTION

electrostatic loudspeaker

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 29  
[Nov 09, 2016]
Gordon
Audio Enthusiast

I will not repeat what so many have already said except to comment on the narrow listening. While I agree that these speakers are more sensitive to positioning and the room it is not untrue for other speakers as well.

The bottom line is the listening experience no matter where you are is excellent. I have mine in my main living area and the TV has been moved out. No matter where I am in the room ( kitchen and living area together, wider townhouse so 2.5 longer than wider. ) I can hear all the good things that have been said about these speakers.

Having said that listening alone in the sweet spot is extra special.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 04, 2016]
Bart
Audio Enthusiast

About 15 years ago i used to have a set of these ESL57. They were not in good shape but still quite impressive. They started to tick when you would play a little louder. I sold them and bought several other sets of speakers.
About seven years ago I found a dutch company ESL Labs (I'm dutch myself) that was specialized in refurbishing and restoring ESL57's. So i decided to find a set (not necessarily a very good set) to have them completely rebuilt at this company. New transformers, new foils, new connectors for the wires to the power amp and a overload protector. Buying the set and rebuilding them costed me about € 1600 in total and there is absolutely no other set in this budget range (new or used) that can compete with the ESL57.

The sound is so amazingly neutral. If you found a good position for your ESL's (they need space) and you found your sweet spot (it's true what everybody says: it's a small spot) they seem to disappear: you only hear the instruments in their original position, original size and with their original sound. You hear things you never heard before in the music you know so well.
The backside of this medal: so many CD's have bad recording quality and that is also revealed by listening through these ESL's.

I have a Quad 303 power amplifier (there are so many power amplifiers that cannot drive these ESL's, but this one is great). All the parts of this unit has been replaced by new parts. Especially for the big elco's I advice to do this with every amp that is older than about 10-15 years. The quality of these parts fade away and you'll hear the difference.
Further I use a Rotel pre amplifier, a Harman Kardon CD player (which is also the DAC for my Sonos Connect) and a Project 2 turntable. All this stuff is 10-15 years old or more and I really don't want to replace anything of my set. The ESL's will follow me until I die :)

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 09, 2014]
Tunaoue
Audio Enthusiast

My friend has a set of these Quads. Since we're both audio buffs, we'd sit and listen several times.
The pro is the sound and imaging are stellar -- once you got everything dialed in.

Unfortunately, there are several cons.
First, the "sweet spot" is very fine, almost for a single person. It took a while to arraign the speakers so they listened well. Being on the floor with a slight upward pitch, the focal point for the listener ascends. The floor footprint is rather large, so these are not for a small room and the listening area must be dedicated to just that.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
[Oct 28, 2011]
opus10
AudioPhile

My pair of 57s is middle-aged (late70s) and still sounds breathtaking. Let me amend that: the music sounds breathtaking. This iconic 50+ year-old design has simply no sound of its own, none that I can hear at least.
A sublime design - were I a speaker builder I would either give up or do my best to copy this - that closes the book firmly on nonsense like exotic cables, expensive power cords and the like. Like Sri, I use a bog-standard set of interconnects, having got rid of all my expensive designer gear. Result; bliss.

I've attempted to augment the bass with a variety of subwoofers, some being rather expensive; nothing, repeat nothing was an improvement on the original. I would say the same for supertweeters.

This is the end of the line. Unless they get eaten by giant moths (unlikely) I am devoting my time to music from here on. No other speaker has what the 57 does: a midrange to die for. The extremes of frequency are utterly unimportant by comparison. The treble, like the power of a Rolls Royce engine is "sufficient". So is the bass. Why you would want more is beyond me. For those recordings that require a lift or a tilt down I have tone controls, but I use these exceedingly rarely.

I imagine that there are a few dealers of high-end gear out there that would like these speakers to vanish off the face of the earth....it must be upsetting to realise that the last 50 years of progress has been less than progressive....

My only criticism of any importance is against myself: I try not to think of the money and time that I have spent/wasted in the last 25 years! Peter Walker got it right first time, and the fact that there is a small army of listeners who will never be parted from their 57s is a wonderful testament to that. I am one of them.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jul 13, 2011]
Sri
AudioPhile

Just bought a late serial numbered version of these immortal classics. Mine are in the 45000 range, which makes them near the end of the run. I consider this the best audio purchase I have made in the last 25 years.

Simply put, there is NOTHING that come close to the sound of the original Quads. I have owned the later Quads, including the 63s and the 989s. They sound veiled and bright in comparison.

In the fairly narrow sweet spot, these have a mesmerizing sound. Strings sound meltingly pure. Voices sound spookingly real. The sound of these speakers is like listening through an open window to an instrument or voice just outside.

They have sufficient bass to satisfy almost anyone, save those who treat their stereo as a toy wanting to hear subway trains or subsonic nonsense. Even in my very large room, they play loud enough for me.

The main weakness is that they are a very narrow dispersion design. The stereo image is really only satisfying for one person.

Don't waste another nickel of your hard earned money on nonsense like cables to fix badly designed products. I am using these with zipcord. The sound is better than anything I have ever heard in the last 25 years! I can now die in peace! I paid 1600 for these. I would not sell them for 10 times that price!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Apr 01, 2008]
upstate dave
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Absolutely amazing midrange transparency and realism...completely convincing soundstage, both in depth and precision.....from 50 Hz up these speakers are scary good...the best I have personally ever heard!

Weakness:

Won't produce prodigious amounts of bass or very much extension below 50 Hz.

I purchased a used pair of 57's in the early 90's for about $800. I have heard a lot of other speakers that can do certain things better than Quads's (bass, sheer volume levels, etc.), but none that can create the sense of realism and transparency that the ESL-57 presents. I've listened to B&W 801's and 808"s, Thiel's, Vandersteen's, Snell's, Merlin's, even ESL-63's and Martin Logan's, and none of them has been capable of resolving music to the extent that the 57's do! Thay are, simply put, the most transparent natural sounding loudspeaker I have ever heard...period! I must confess that there are many speakers that I have not yet listened to, but have heard great things about; like Sound Lab's and the larger Magnepan's. But as of this writing, I have yet to hear a speaker that is capable of relaying voice and instrumentation with the startling sense of realism that the 57's do.

Similar Products Used:

ESL-63
Audio Static
Emminent Technology LFT4
Maggies

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 04, 2007]
Michael from Oz
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Mid range to die for
Accuracy

Weakness:

None that matter to me.

Back about 1970 I first heard a pair of Quad ESL57s and I remember being unimpressed. They just sounded so ordinary. Many years later I bought the pair I have now and I realized that the fact that they sound ordinary is their greatest strength. They just sound like the real thing. OK, so they are not going to blow the roof off and organ pedal notes need a bit of help from my home made sub-woofer but everything else is just right. I can listen to them for hours and they are do not induce listening fatigue. For voice and accoustic instruments they are just so accurate. And the stereo image is so stable and deep. These things may have limitations but I am more than willing to live with them for the amazing ride they give on just about everything.

Customer Service

For a product designed in the 1950s and made in 1970 the support is fantastic.

Similar Products Used:

Nothing else I have ever had has even come close.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 12, 2006]
teemacs
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Quite the best speakers I have ever heard

Weakness:

Very large and low WAF.
Can be cantankerous in their old age

These were bought on eBay and the price incudes a complete refurbishing by ESL specialists Quad Musikwiedergabe GmbH in Germany (whom I cannot recommend highly enough).

Is this the greatest loudspeaker ever made? I don't know, but I've heard enough to convince me that it might be. An open, airy and above all EFFORTLESS sound. A common criticism is lack of bass. It's true, they won't do bass on the Richter scale, but what's there sounds so natural and unforced that I throttled back my subwoofer on my other speakers to match.

A word of warning - the last authentic Quad ones were made in the 1980s, so they are all getting on and will occasionally need some TLC from people who know what they're doing. However, they are so addictive that you can't wait to have them back in action. Of course, you can avoid that problem by contacting Manfred Stein at Quad Musikwiedergabe and buying a pair of the brand new ones he makes (QM inherited all the tools for making the ESL 57 from Quad, including the wondrous contraption for stretching the membranes).

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jun 16, 2004]
aroostookme
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Soundstage, clarity, piano and voice (wow), and vocal texture. Horns and fiddle and cymbals are incredible. Try the Housemartins' "Build", Wilderness Road's "Death Dream", Andy Pratt's "Avenging Annie", Little Feat's "Long Distance Love", or 10CC's "I'm Not In Love", or the 2nd BS&T album... you'll be spellbound. Just a wonderful reason to have time alone!

Weakness:

None

Well, hearing the Quads for the first time after 30 years of listening to finer audio reminds me of a Mel Brooks line in an old movie. Brooks' head is screwed on backwards (literally) in one scene and he looks down and asks "How come no one told me my butt was so big?" Same with the Quads. How come no one ever told me to listen to these FIRST! I own a great set of Snell A's, they are amazing. My Grado Reference headphones fantastic. Now multiply it all by a thousand and there are the Quads with a Dyna St-70 and a PAS-3 with a Music Hall MMF-7. Maybe there's another level. But I am fine right here in Quad Heaven.

Similar Products Used:

KEF Reference 4 Snell A, Snell B, Snell C-II Proac

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 24, 2004]
Jane Parsons
AudioPhile

Strength:

Lovely transparent, transcendent sound. No distortion. Once heard, you will never go back to any other speaker.

Weakness:

None

My current pair of Quads has been in my possession since 1978. For 26 years they have shared my life through folk, hard rock, jazz and classical phases. The same electronics with no modification have run them: a Quad 405 amplifier and a Citation 11 pre-amp. A Sony CDP-302 CD player was added in the mid-80s which permanently replaced the original Technics manual turntable. There is a reason that so many knowledgeable people have stated the original Quads are the finest loudspeaker ever made. For you to agree is to listen - just once will do. The sound is crystal clear, transparent, splendid. There is nothing to come close to the sound of these full range electrostats - not horns, not cones, not magic, not anything. Specifically, sound is so real it's easy to believe the musicians have sneaked into the room with you. If you are a fan of voice, piano, horns or string instruments, put on the CD, close your eyes, and Quad heaven awaits you. There are a few caveats in owning a pair of Quads. They are like an old MG car - British and quirky. Positioning is everything. Obsessive-compulsive types will spend months to get perfect placement. They have solid, clear bass, but if your idea of stereo is a thumping rap party at ear splitting levels, these are not the speakers for you. The arcing and subsequent repairs will empty your bank account. And they can be picky about the type and quality of amplifier and pre-amp. You don't need but 20 or 30 watts a side for full volume, but it has to be clean. The Quad clean sound is a two-edged sword. You will hear every bit of distortion from any sub-standard electronics or even poor CD production. My Quads have never had repair and I believe the reason is the matching Quad amp and the fact we have resisted blasting the neighbors with our favorite music. My husband, a cellist in a past life, also adores these speakers. To blow away friends who come over for dinner, he just puts on something like Madama Butterfly or Linda Ronstadt. They sink into the chair in front of the speakers, down for the count. I have critically listened to hundreds of speakers and can state conclusively that the Quad ESL 57 is the finest loudspeaker ever made.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 29  

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