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drainaps
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Quad ESL-989 Demo Units vs JM Lab's Electras vs Triangle's Magellans

Guys,

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.

RGibran
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Re: Quad ESL-989 Demo Units vs JM Lab's Electras vs Triangle's M

My friend,

The answer seems simple and obvious. If to your ears the Quads smoked the others, then the Quads it is! Your the one who is going to live with them.

If ten of us tell you the others are better, are you going to buy them instead? Trust your ears.

Lastly, if you can get a dealer to give you a fifty percent discount, on a ultra high end speaker that your in love with, I would lay down my cash as soon as possible before someone else jumps on the bargain of the year!

RG

gkc
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Re: Quad ESL-989 Demo Units vs JM Lab's Electras vs Triangle's M

Hi, Drainaps -- I agree with Rgibran. You must go with your own ears. I prefer the Triangles, but that's just how I hear the software I play. Did you try a wide selection of the CD's/LP's that YOU play for YOUR own enjoyment? If so, and the Quads sounded best to you, then that's the ticket. The only other consideration is how well the sound you heard at the dealer's will transfer to your own listening room. Can you give the Quads the same kind of operating space the dealer did? Most Quad users agree that these speakers need to be placed away from room boundaries...is this going to be possible at your home? Price? 5000 Euros is going to be around half of the manufacturer's suggested retail -- an excellent deal for these speakers, as Rgibran noted, provided the dealer will support your purchase with some kind of warrenty, in case something goes wrong when you take them home. Most "demo" sales come with the full manufacturer's warrenty, backed by the dealer. I would certainly hammer this out with the dealer, if I were in your shoes. I have heard all of the Quad models (except for the new ones that are due to come out soon) and I love their performance. The 989's are terrific, but I heard them in a large showroom with pricey (and powerful) electronics. Be certain that you can provide them with an environment that sounds similar to your dealer's set-up, in both room acoustics and ancillary equipment. Cheers, and good luck! Clifton

gkc
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Re: Quad ESL-989 Demo Units vs JM Lab's Electras vs Triangle's M

Antonio,
2 veteran Stereophile reviewers, Sam Tellig and Art Dudley, own Quads. Sam has the 988's and Art the 989's. Both have had success with a wide variety of tube and solid state amplifiers. The amp MUST be stable into difficult loads. Both the preamp and amp must be neutral, without any "tipped-up" highs or upper midgrange. Art, if I read him correctly, favors the LAMM single-ended tube amp (I forget the model number), which puts out only 20 watts a side, but they are such high-quality watts that Art finds them plenty dynamic. Unfortunately, they cost 20 grand (US). Sam loves the relatively new McIntosh 70-watt tube amp (I forget the model #, but it came out a year or two ago and looks just like the one I had in the 1960's, when I was a young pup), which is around US $3800. He has also had good luck with budget amps like the Unico. I love the Musical Fidelity A3.2cr with my Triangles -- it doesn't sound "solid state" and is very rich in timbre. It puts out around 150 wpc. And it is only about $2000, high retail. I see them all the time for aroung $1500-$1800. I am biased toward Musical Fidelity -- all the models I have heard, including the integrated amps, are affordable, stable under all conditions, built like tanks, and reliable. Quad electronics seem like a natural choice, but I have never heard them. I believe Art Dudley gave them a positive review with his 989's. I think you have a WIDE array of choices, but you must avoid designs that sound "thin" or "etched," because the Quad speakers are clean as a whistle and will expose any upper-middrange-treble nasties mercilessly. Many Quad owners prefer tubes. SET's tend to be quite expensive, even though the Audio Electronic Supply and Antique Audio designs are reasonable priced. ALMOST everybody I know who owns an SET, because of their low power capabilities, has a second amp that is more powerful. I doubt if an SET will be the best choice for an ONLY amp IF you enjoy symphonic music played at close to concert hall levels. As you know, SET's excel at more scaled-down ensembles -- vocals, trios, chamber music, Jazz groups, etc. Still, if you love that sound, few other amps will satisfy you, because it IS a unique approach to sound. I love them, but I also want to be able to throw something more powerful into my system for Mahler, Bartok, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Berlioz: I gotta have my bombast, too! I hope this helps. One thing the smaller room WILL help you with is getting by with fewer watts -- you won't have to drive 7000 cubic feet of air! I believe one of Art Dudley's listening rooms is 18 X 12, which is about what you have. It's good that you'll be able to set them up 4-6 feet from the back wall. Best of luck, and I know you will really love your Quads. Clifton

Monty
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Re: Quad ESL-989 Demo Units vs JM Lab's Electras vs Triangle's M

This seems to mirror some of Clifton's observations.

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