Reviewed by: Raj J (AudioPhile)
Review Date September 27, 2010
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Value Rating 5 of 5
Used product for Less than 1 month
Good day! Greetings from Melbourne.
My Quad ESL 2905 speakers were delivered on Friday Sept 24th, have had them running since (72 hours nonstop) they have be run in nicely and sound very warm indeed.
Firstly to those who have said that these break easily due to “made in china” are complete idiots! the build quality and craftsmanship is second to none, only found on very high end speakers such as Sonus Faber, Wilsons, Genesis audio and the like, these are solidly built and are very sturdy for a panel type speaker. In fact these are probably the most sturdiest panel type speaker I have ever come across, other names such as Martin Logan, Magneplanars, Sanders sound, Sound labs, Inner sound etc are equally good, but not close to the 2905′s solid build.
Secondly: to those who say these speakers have failed and have faulty panels – please don’t lie! you have either abused the panels by over-driving them or someone else in your household has abused them – again this category of people are idiots! The above two types of people DO NOT deserve Quad ESL’s, because they are IMMATURE! (See Roxy54 comment on this)
1. These are extreme fine precision musical instruments! they are for the MATURE MUSIC LOVER who cares for their music and their audio systems! these speakers are not for show offs, loud ghetto blasters, or how loud can this play… i.e. so called music enthusiasts who don’t really listen to music other than passive listening perhaps; in other words they are clueless, and sadly you find a lot of these people who have the money to spend on high end audio, but do not have the high end intellect to match up! go get an education!
2. I spent nearly $15 grand (AUD) for these ESL’s and I can proudly say that they beat the hell out of speaker systems costing nearly twice that! or way over. I have listened to the following:
Martin Logan evolution II statements in Chicago: very very loud and listener fatigue sets in within few hours.
Sonus Faber stradivari: very nice, smooth and probably the best dynamic driver out there. only draw back they are housed in boxes. not as open as maggies or panels types.
Wilson X1:outstanding speakers, very smooth and easy to listen to, but there is that boxey effect after some hours of listening
Apogee studio grands: probably my favorite type of ribbon speakers, very nice indeed, can play soft or loud but requires some very hefty amps to make them sneeze!
Infinity IRSV: listen to these in the early 90′s can still remember their sound, very wide soundstage and extremely powerful, again requires massive monoblocks that would be ideal to drive these and they are usually tri-amped.
Wilson Beneech Bishop: very good bass & highs, but the mids were no where close to ribbons or ESL type
Genesis 1′s and Genesis 300: very cool looks and ok sounds, for the money there are better out there… sorry Genesis fans.
The awesome Klipsh Horn (original version): this speaker probably was very easy to listen to, relaxed on the ears and very easy to drive. However they are horns and sometimes have a glaring midrange, although not too bad. preferred the maggies though.
Avant Garde Trio Classico: very annoying, too big and requires massive room to perform well; not my cup of tea at all!
Maggies MG20.1: this was about to be my next purchase-upgrade if you like to call it, until I actaully sat down and did some serious listening to the Quad 2905. as far as the categories are concerned, I personally conclude:
Dynamic driver – either Wilsons or Sonus Faber (excellent speakers in it’s design & class).
Ribbons – Apogees (no longer made although there is some chap in Queensland re-making apogees) for that matter with ribbon designs I would go for Maggies either MG 20.1 or MG3.6.
Electrostatic – Quad 2905 period!
3. There are certain things the 2905′s cannot do compared to the other types listed as above… but I am not really interested in those other types, since my listening tastes are most suited to Jazz (old & new), live recordings/natural music recordings, vocals from Ray Charles, Toney Bennet, Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson, Holly Cole, Norah Jones, Rene Marie, Dena DeRose, Melody Gardot, to Michael Buble & Nat King Cole, also instrumentals such as trumpet by Chet Baker or Chris Botti, piano by Bruce Barth, Bill Charlap, Errol Garner, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, and the great Ahmed Jamal, and also some easy listening by Tracy Chapman or Nina Simone & the list goes on…
4. To me the Quad 2905 based on my personal music tastes & listening is the best one could possibly ever have! They are the most accurate sounding of all that I have listed. Free from any coloration, zeros listener fatigue, zero distortion, full of drive & liveliness, fills the entire room and makes the perfect ambiance and soundstage that I have not experienced with any other speaker to date!
5. I guess the magic is in the design, ESL with no cross over = no distortion. also the drive of energy comes from a point source i.e. From one original spot hence the entire spectrum of the soundfield is launched into the room without any effort whatsoever. The 2905′s are also lightning fast, extremely fast transients and way faster than anything I have currently heard including the Avant Garde Trio’s.
6. The 2905′s tonal accuracy is second to none! the start/stop, speed acceleration and decay is simply breath taking, leaves you in awe… wondering what they could do this with Quads before…the soundstage is incredible you can visualize everyone & everything. There are other panels that will do this be it ribbons from Apogee or Martin Logan or other ESL types such as Inner sound, but there is something they cannot match it’s called the “Quad Magic” the essence of the new Quad 2905 magic is simply pure music at its best!
7. The other beauty is that you don’t require mega watt amps to drive these gems, just 10V to 30V or so is plenty to drive them to realistic levels – of course depending on your room! therefore somewhere starting at 16watts on tubes to 70watts on tubes would be fine. On solid state somewhere around 30watts to 100watts would be more than enough with good current drive and stable drive capable of going down to 3 ohms. A simple NAD 35 watt integrated or a 40 watt Musical fidelity will drive the 2905′s to glorious levels.
8. But Ah! This is where the Quad ESL magic is! it is not about the watts or power or how loud you can really go ho ho ho… it is about the clarity, finesse, smoothness, & pure musicality that these ESL’s can do better than any design I have ever come across. Therefore the amplification you match it with, will ultimately determine the sound you get out of it. If you want pure music with some gusto and balls then perhaps Audio Research or Manley may suit your tastes. If you want something lighter but still have enough of juice to get the bass & lower registers going names such as Bryston, Aragon, Pass Labs or Macintosh will do just fine.
then again like me – if you want clarity, finesses, 3D soundstage, smoothness and very easy to listen to for endless hours, amps such as Conrad Johnson, Golden Tube, Quad, Quick Silver, Lam, Audio Note, Sonic Frontiers, Cary and other likes will make these the most pleasurable speakers to listen to and live with.
9. Drawbacks: considering what has been stated by other people, and the real problems they have encountered, it remains whether their claims are really true or not… I could think of mainly 2 drawbacks with the 2905′s.
(1) they do require a lot of space to from the back wall to perform well
(2) installing the stabilizer 10kg bar is a pain in the butt!
Summary: if you really like & enjoy your music, appreciate what the artists do in their purest form; just audition the Quad ESL 2905 – you will probably come back with a pair!
Cheers to Ken Kessler – probably the best speaker on the planet indeed! And yes they do bass wonderfully & plenty of too, even way lower than my maggies.
Cheers, Raj J
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