Quad and Merrill-Williams

Welcome to retro city. Not only did the Quad ESL2805 speakers ($10,000/pair), Classic II integrated amp ($6000) and QC24 phono stage ($2449) look from another era, but the equally classic-looking Merrill-Williams turntable ($4000), clamp ring ($649), weight ($249), and 33/45 power supply ($1150) was playing Frank Sinatra's "Days of Wine and Roses."

About Quad's loudspeakers, so many glowing reviews have already been written that no comment is necessary. Their electronics, however, are another story. Despite some positive reviews, and at least four experiences with them at shows, I have yet to find them to my taste. There was a lovely midrange on Sinatra's recording, but the treble was rather brittle. Switching to another classic, Moody Blues with the London Festival Orchestra, treated me to great air but there was the same brittleness on top. I know that these speakers can sound better still.