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QUAD 2812
Copyright 2020 © Troels Gravesen

 

Measurements ->

 

My neighbor inherited a pair of QUAD ESL-63 speakers from his granddad together with a Thorens turntable with SME tonearm and some other good stuff - and I had the speakers for loan a few days. This granddad had good taste and cherished his vinyls with the best of best in the 80'ies. After that, I just had to have a pair for reference.

Maybe I shouldn't tell I've bought a pair of QUAD 2812 electrostatic speakers. These are commercial speakers and may discourage you from building your own speakers based on conventional dynamic drivers but I need them as a reference for overall coherence in mating dynamic drivers. And still, you can get a lot of good sound for less than ~7000 EUR and there are some issues to be addressed before engaging in something like the QUADs.

1:Efficiency of the 2812 is nothing to write home about, some 86 dB/2.8V/1 meter. They're inefficient, yet still do not need a lot of power as they -
2: - really can't play very loud either. If you push them too hard there's a protection circuit that shuts off the speaker. 30-60 good watts will do.
3. You do not get the kick-butt quality from a kick drum as you may from many other speakers. Rock and heavy metal at loud levels? Forget it.
4: The QUADs are dipoles, hence takes special care from placement in your room and to get the best possible bass response although it has to be said that dipoles are less critical on room-nodes compared to mono-poles, so maybe not an issue at all.

Let me start with the bass first, because this may seem the achilles' heal of the QUADs. Not to my thinking. First of all it goes deep, but just not with the dynamics of a 15-18" bass driver. Yet, I love it for its coherence and weightless quality. Mind you, we have a huge membrane, many times the size of a 15" bass driver,  and it weighs less than the diaphragm of a dome tweeter.
The naturalness and coherence of instruments and vocals is unparalleled. The ability to portray the room in which the recording had taken place is unparalleled. You may miss the sparkle and maybe edginess of certain instruments only to find out they should never have been there. You may put on a jazz quintet and for the first time hear the subtle chords thrown by the piano player during the solo of another musician, chords so subtle they vanished in the colouration and time smear of conventional multi-way dynamic drivers. I could go on...
"And that's all I have to say about that." to use a famous quote. But let me quote a couple of reviewers and not just the for the 2812 but also for the predecessor ESL63, because they're the same bread:

"They have low distortion, among the lowest; they have almost unparalleled coherence and unity of voice; they have an exceptionally uniform radiation pattern and a very low level of resonant coloration. They are also phase-linear, which I did not mention in much detail earlier, but which is known to have subtle but definitely audible positive effects, on transients in particular (try some woodblocks). In these categories they have always been in the very top echelon and they still are. “Alone at the top” is a phrase that one is tempted to use, though it would be a slight exaggeration since others are in the same realm, though not many. No amount of money will buy a speaker that does definitively better the things that the Quads do well."

"It is impossible not to be mightily impressed with so many aspects of their performance and I have little doubt that most people will have several musical revelations during their time with them. There are so many things they can show you about an instrument that are wonderful. There are also times when they can seem rather flat and uninspiring and never quite “let go” like a quality conventional speaker can and in this sense they are quite conservative (though this conservative quality is also part of their appeal). I think every audiophile should try a pair of electrostatics on their musical journey. Some will stop at that station, as the Quads, once heard, may spoil listeners for conventional speakers ever afterward."



Coming all the way from China, these babies exactly fill a whole standard pallet!
Very well packed I should say.


I'm not sure I'll ever use the white gloves....

 

Measurements


In-room measurement @ 1 meter distance and 2.8V signal level. Speakers lifted on 30 cm stand. 320 ms window and smoothed 1/3 octave.
Red = 50 cm above floor level, green = 60 cm above floor level, blue = 70 cm above floor level, orange 80 cm above floor level.
55-60 cm above floor level is around middle of speaker panel.

 


Step response display the familiar "I-wish-all-speakers-looked-like-this" profile.

 


Distortion measured with microphone 5 mm to front in middle of panel @ 2.8V, equivalent to around 85-86 dB @ 1 meter, 2.8V.
Green = 2nd harm., orange = 3rd harm.

 


Distortion measurement.