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Thread: Quad ESL 57 -- what am I missing?

  1. #21
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,026
    I'm Tom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebottle View Post
    Tom I have to disagree with a couple of your points. My 75 s definitely do 3D but I guess you do need good quality amplification and good placement.
    Like you with the Tannoys I have worked to overcome the limitations of the Quads, particularly the small sweet spot. I can play any genre of music and enjoy it.
    Each to their own and forever shall that continue.
    I thought we were taking about Quad ESLs - ‘57s’ as they are known. The bigger , newer models have more dynamic range and are more versatile, and beam less in the treble (though personally I neve quite warmed to them the same way).
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  2. #22
    Join Date: May 2016

    Location: Notts

    Posts: 1,335
    I'm Geoff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigman80 View Post
    There are a few bits that have landed in that catagory for me. Decca Gold, Denon 103, Alphasson 100HRS and the Quad 57's plus more.

    The speakers deliver on the soundstage front and micro detail as Macca points out but to me, they always sound a little soft or warm and cozy. I've had the opportunity to listen to a very nice pair on multiple occasions and I've never wanted a pair. I've much preferred the standard box speaker approach.

    I'd have a pair of Magneplanar speakers though. The ones I heard (on the end of lesser Quality equipment) were fantastic. Still lack bass and impact though.
    I have a pair of Magneplanar 1.7 speakers. Whilst they will not compete with a 12" plus box speaker for bass, they are capable of very good bass. Problem is that most users don't drive them with the right amps. They are a real PITA to drive, but when done properly all notions of insufficient bass disappear.

    Geoff

  3. #23
    Join Date: Sep 2012

    Location: London

    Posts: 275
    I'm Nick.

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    Yes, a lot of the Tannoy Nasties have gone or been substantially reduced, but enough remain to drive me batty after a fairly short while.
    I know this is a Quad thread but as an owner of RFC Tannoys I'd be interested to know what you feel those batty-making nasties to be? We could take it to another thread if needed?

  4. #24
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: The Black Country

    Posts: 4,165
    I'm Alan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by montesquieu View Post
    I thought we were taking about Quad ESLs - ‘57s’ as they are known. The bigger , newer models have more dynamic range and are more versatile, and beam less in the treble (though personally I neve quite warmed to them the same way).
    I meant 57s, yee old finger trouble.

  5. #25
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,351
    I'm Geoff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nickbaba View Post
    I know this is a Quad thread but as an owner of RFC Tannoys I'd be interested to know what you feel those batty-making nasties to be? We could take it to another thread if needed?
    I know what it is. Some people are sensitive to the tonal character of the horn compression driver. I have found that it is less noticeable with the non-alnico, ceramic magnet pepperpot drivers. I think this is due to the shorter and more steeply flared horn. My speakers use the 12 inch 3128 driver that superseded the HPD and to my ears is superior (and superior to the Monitor Gold).

  6. #26
    Join Date: Sep 2012

    Location: London

    Posts: 275
    I'm Nick.

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    Interesting... can you describe that 'tonal character' (or what people generally consider it to be)? I find my HPD315s (with RFC Xovers) incredibly natural sounding. In fact the most natural sound I've yet heard from a loudspeaker. Maybe I just have complementary ears (or the right kind of hearing loss!).

    Mods - I don't mean to hijack this Quad thread. I'll start a new thread if this becomes a separate discussion.

  7. #27
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,351
    I'm Geoff.

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    Horn tweeters do tend to have a 'character', a colouration I guess may be a better term. It will vary according to the shape and size of the horn. This characteristic can be heard if you feed white noise through say a regular dome tweeter and then a horn tweeter and compare the sound from each. Some may describe it as a mild 'megaphone' type of colouration. I don't find it unpleasant, but some do. If you connect a Tannoy driver so that just the tweeter is working this can be heard.

  8. #28
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,026
    I'm Tom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nickbaba View Post
    Interesting... can you describe that 'tonal character' (or what people generally consider it to be)? I find my HPD315s (with RFC Xovers) incredibly natural sounding. In fact the most natural sound I've yet heard from a loudspeaker. Maybe I just have complementary ears (or the right kind of hearing loss!).

    Mods - I don't mean to hijack this Quad thread. I'll start a new thread if this becomes a separate discussion.
    Nick, Geoff's entitled to his view (and he states it often ) but it's contrary to what most people consider to be the case, the Monitor series Alnico drivers from throughout their evolution (Black, Red, Silver, Gold, HPD) are considered by most to be the most desirable of all Tannoy drivers as reflected in market demand. As prices go up and up for the older drivers, the later pepperpot / ceramic ones are being used more and more often for DIY projects but I for one wouldn't be prepared to swap under any circumstances, not even for the supposedly latest and greatest Prestige GR range. (And I'm not criticising the 3128 and similar, these drivers do indeed sound good, just not **as** good, to my ears, as the Alnico ones).

    The supposed Tannoy 'honk' in my view is largely a function of the original in-built crossovers - cheap (and by now, quite old) components, more than likely often exacerbated by the smaller factory cabinets that limit low bass response and thereby emphasise the midrange, in particular making the 'step' above the crossover point more prominent. It can be bred out with properly-tuned cabinets and quality crossovers (as you and I know Paul has really worked some magic on this).

    Match these to the right amp and sources and I'm personally in heaven. I am looking forward to when Jerry finally gets here as I'm pretty confident he'll change his tune!
    Last edited by montesquieu; 31-05-2018 at 09:32.
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  9. #29
    Join Date: Sep 2012

    Location: London

    Posts: 275
    I'm Nick.

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    Thanks Tom, and Geoff, for your posts.
    My Cheviots went off to Paul C last summer for a complete overhaul and came back with re-braced and damped cabinets and his top-of-the-range external crossovers and I have to say I think he has done a magnificent job on them. I don't detect any trace of HF distortion or honk from them, and in my years as a professional recording engineer I'm very accustomed to forensic-level listening across the frequency spectrum, on studio monitors with very neutral presentation.
    I can't speak for the sound of un-modded 315s but I know the original xovers used with the pepperpot waveguides had more HF distortion than the later 3128s- perhaps that's the 'megaphone' sound Geoff refers to? But I do think Paul C has found a way to mitigate this.
    I remember Paul and I had long discussions about the relative merits of various Tannoy drivers and cab models before settling on the 12" HPDs as a sweet-spot (I previously had 15" HPD Ardens which I also liked but they weren't quite so nimble in response).
    I'm always curious when someone offers up a 'superior' sound to something I feel is already pretty great. Guess I'll just continue to enjoy my Chevys : )

  10. #30
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Essex

    Posts: 17,680
    I'm openingabottleofwine.

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    Back to The Quad 57s.

    I can understand the disappointment felt by some when listening to '57s as they do come with a lot of 'baggage', justifiably earnt in the 10 or so years after they were introduced. At the time they were a revelation and it is this that has imparted a 'certain mystique' to the design. But like all speakers they cannot do everything well. Like all speakers they have their shortcomings, which depending on taste may be regarded as faliures.

    For the 57s these shortcomings are:

    [1] They have a sensitivity of 83dB/W and they will be damaged if fed with a signal with a peak voltage of more than 30V. This implies a maximum power of around 50W, or 17dBW, hence the maximum acoustic output will be no more than 99-100dB. Pretty loud, but not loud enough to capture orchestral tuttis, or to play rock music at ear-bleeding levels. Thus a sense of dynamics can be lost.

    [2] Their frequency response is curtailed: 40Hz - 10kHz, falling off asymptotically at 18dB/octave. This means they don't really 'do' bass with the weight or impact that moving coil speakers can do. So if you are a fan or organ music don't expect them to fully reproduce the 32Hz note at the start of 'Also Spracht Zarthustra', or expect the stomach-thumping bass of Jaco Pastorius.

    [3] Owing to the effective line source of the treble panel, the 57s have a poor vertical dispersion: only 15 degree in angle. So they sound different if you stand up to when you sit down. The dispersion is the horizontal plane is much better at 70 degrees, so you can listen off-axis, but for many the 'letter box' presentation is unsatisfactory.

    [4] Room placement - being dipole speaker, despite some rudimentary absorbtion fitted behind the panels, the 57s really need a couple of metres (say 6') of unimpeded space behind them. They can be placed near a side wall, but not a rear wall, unless some sound absorption material is fitted.

    There is another problem with the positioning of the speakers. The 57s were designed in the days where the seating level of chairs was higher than it is today. Thus the treble 'beam' (owing to the poor dispersion mentioned above) will shoot over the head of listeners sat on modern chairs and sofas. To get around this the speakers need to be tilted forward by placing a block under the rear leg of the speaker; but at the risk of the speaker being tipped to far forward and toppling over! ( Some suggest removing the feet and placing the speakers on stands, approx 10" high.)

    [5] The wooden frame used to mount the driver panels is not as rigid as it could be: displaying a resonance between 7 - 10kHz.


    After all that, it is not surprising that these are reasons enough for some (many?) listeners to reject them. But if you can put up with, ignore these shortcomings, or find that they are not important to you, you will have in the 57s a set of speakers that can hold their own with the best of them:

    A sound virtually free of colouration, clean and accurate tonal purity, avoidance of cabinet or horn colourations that affect other speaker designs. A sense of transparancy, detail and clarity in the midrange (where most of the music resides, as does the human voice) virtually unequalled elsewhere.

    Provide care is taken with positioning, a near holgraphic presentation with pin-point imaging. The performers appear real and solid with space around them. When listening to an ochestral performance recorded in a concert hall, one can 'hear' the walls of the hall which will appear beyond the walls of the listening room.

    Superb attack, decay and speed due to the panel membranes having a very, very low mass. This lack of overhang gives a sense or 'air' and atmosphere to the sound.


    So try to give them another audition - insisting they be demonstrated properly. They still might not be for you, which is perfectly reasonable, but having owned a pair of 57s for the last forty years or more I have no inclination to change them (and I have absurdly wide tastes in music).
    Have you listened to this month's choice in the Album Club?

    Barry

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