Nokturne Audio, Lejonklou HiFi's SINGularity, and the Quad Electrostatics

"Good grief! They are using Quads!" I used to use Quad ESL-57s in the mid 1980s before I moved to the US and in some ways, no other speaker has come close to the sonic transparency offered by these idiosyncratic-looking electrostatic speakers. But to see and hear an original pair dating from 1958 in the room shared by Michigan dealer/manufacturer Nokturne Audio and Lejonklou HiFi from Sweden was a highlight of the 2019 AXPONA.

The Quads were being driven by a Lejonklou Tundra 2.5 amplifier ($4950), a Lejonklou Sagatun 1.4 preamplifier ($4950), and the front end was a Linn Sondek LP12, with its Radikal power supply. The NOKtable turntable stand looked identical to the excellent Archidee TNX table from Italy that I bought too many years ago to mention, and which looks like two metallic U's, one behind the other and joined at the tops of the sides, with a platform supported by four upturned spikes.

Looking more closely at the system as I enjoyed "The Blues and the Absolute Truth" from saxophonist Oliver Nelson, I wonder what the two copper boxes were behind and to the right of the turntable. Turned out they were Lejonklou's new SINGularity mono moving-coil phono stage, which costs a whopping $42,700/pair! Designer Fredrik Lejonklou started with a design he had been experimenting with for seven years and took it to the limit. Separate switch-mode power supplies are used for the positive and negative voltage rails and Fredrik says that he listened to every possible choice for every component before deciding on the final bill of materials, including orientation of ground wires, fuses, and resistors. As Fredrik assembles and hand-solders every circuit board, as well as doing the final assembly and testing, this is a truly unique product—indeed a singular singularity!

Josh Hill's picture

Those Quads were a wonderful surprise! A friend and I were marveling that a pair of 61-year-old speakers were making the best sound we'd heard at the show so far.

I confess I felt a bit guilty, because I should have been listening to their electronics but it was hard not to focus on the Quads -- though as Fredrik pointed out, you can't make great sound without great electronics up front. In fact, he had an interesting thesis -- that the earlier in the chain a component is, the more it affects the sound. I don't know if it's true, but it is true that nonlinear distortion becomes worse sounding with every stage as the distortion components give rise to new components, so maybe there's truth in it!

For me, those Quads and the Magnepan LRS were the highlights of the show, not just because one was 61 years old and one was $650 a pair, but because they each did something very special.

Dcbingaman's picture

Very nice sound from a pair of iconic speakers. Unlike too many rooms in the Renaissance, this room had NO bass boom either, LOL. The gentleman who hosted this room was very gracious and played some great (classical) music. I had a pair of ESL-57's about 40 years ago and this pair brought back many good memories. The only room comparable to this one was the EAR / Marten room which had great sound also, plus the legendary Tim de Paravachini. We talked about what a great amp the Michelson and Austin TVA10 was, when paired with the ESL's.

JRT's picture

Sheldon Stokes used to rebuild these as a sideline. Might be worthwhile to look him up if you have an old pair of these in need of some help.