I was into buying a pair of JM Lab Electra Be Floorstanders (EUR 5.200 / pair), when a Dealer in the South of France offered me to compare the electras to a pair of ESL-989s he had in his showroom.
Although the Electras were very good, they sounded far less convincing than the ESL 989's, with a number of different amps, both solid-state and tubed. We also listened to the top-of-the range Triangles (I guess the Magellans).
My veredict: Quads top of the range, Triangles very good, but with unnatural high-ends. The Electras came a very clear third. Am I getting something wrong here?
Voice, soundstage and microdynamics were gorgeous with the Quads. Bass was as clean as you can get, not too much, not too little. They need hefty and expensive amplification, that's for sure.
The news is, that as Quad's lineup is being modified as I write of this, he offered a 40% discount on the demo units, and we settled on 50% discount. Same warranty as if new. Dealer is reputable, and told me the speakers have been in the demo room for 1 year, and never lent for auditioning outside of his shop.
I have a few questions I need you to help me out with:
i) Was I really listening to the Quads, or only thinking about the mystique they have created for the last 45+ years?
ii) Can someone tell me what's the street price for a pair of ESL 989's right today in EUROPE? I just want to make sure that the EUR 5,000 I have agreed with the Dealer are a fair deal.
iii) I was really into buying the Electras, acclaimed everywhere, and Class-A rated by Stereophile this April. I fell in love with the Quads. Are the Electras that very much behind the Quads, for the kind of music I like (voice, instrumental, chamber, opera, solo piano, string music) or was it I misjudged it all?
As you can read, serious help is needed here to get me out of this dilemma.
Your feedback is not only appreciated, but urgently needed.