A few years ago Quad introduced their 77-line of electronics, while killing-off
the older and quite unique 66-range of products. This made be feel quite
angry, and with some reason. The 66 system provided an excellent remote
control, was tailored to drive electrostatics, and was relatively good
value for money. The new 77 siblings had a dubious and optional
remote control, an also-dubious system-bus which ever so conveniently made it
incompatible with other brands' components, and they overall lacked the
To make things worse, Quad introduced two rather expensive small
box loudspeakers, as
if to say that their devotion to the electrostatic cause was less than it
used to be... As if to say that Quad would be no alternative
brand anymore, but yet another faceless Mission or Arcam...
God, I hated these speakers...
I hated them, and I completely forgot about them. Until I went to my regular pusher for a listen to the Mission 750s. The little Quad 10Ls were standing there too, ready to play. (By the way, the larger 20L had already been discontinued at the take-over of Quad by Verity). Just for the sake of the experience I asked the dealer to set up the little Quadies. And damn, did they play music!
But more on that later. The BeF40000/$1300 10L is a tiny Spendor-designed minispeaker with a tiny 13cm woofer and a tiny soft dome Vifa tweeter. The smallish (325mm x 190mm x 240mm) enclosures are of the infinite baffle variety (so maybe they can be put right against the back wall), and are finished in immaculate yew (taxus) veneer. The binding posts are gold-plated, yet do not support bi-wiring (that's OK with me). Quad specifies the lower bass limit as 55Hz for -6dB, while sensitivity is 84dB/2.83V @ 1m, with a sane and easy nominal impedance of 8 Ohms. As a bonus, Quad matches both speakers of a pair to within 1dB, to assure a good stereo performance. The speakers should be put on heavy stands, and IMHO can easily find a place in about every room.
We put them on Atacama SC-24 pillars, and used the same test system as with the Mission 750 review.
Now, the first thing you'll notice is these speakers' musicality: they play music and they play it very well indeed. The overall impression they give is one of poised neutrality. Everything there is in the mix can be heard, and no frequency band ever fights the others. Quite unexpectedly the bass is detailed and tight, and goes deep enough for my tastes.
In fact, it clearly conveys all of the bass notes there are in the music, without overhang, and without boom. The midrange has a warmth and naturality that, indeed, reminds one of the old ESL electrostatic, if with a bit less transparency and hear-through character.
And the treble, well, that tweeter never puts a foot wrong, as with the about ten CDs I played I never experienced one trace of harshness or undue emphasis. Playing loud also went well: I tried Live (hard rock), Dead Can Dance's Toward the Within life recording (kinda eerie acoustical strange weird music with fairy vocals), and my beloved Monteverdi at levels louder that I would play with my faithful ESLs, and the sound simply refused to break up.
I like my sound open and totally free of the speakers.
My ESLs perform that trick, and it is this property that enables me to dream away on the music, as if I were not in my chair anymore. Now, in the dealer's room, which is quite good but still so unfamiliar that I almost never experience a decent sound stage there, the 10Ls did disappear, while for instance the cheaper but just as small Mission 750s had the sound sticking to their enclosures.
We also performed the same experiment as with the Missions. Foculpods between stand and speaker made the bass a tad slow and fat, and dulled the sound overall.
Fine if you have ear-piercing electronics or if you happen to live in a bathroom. With Michell cones, things brightened up and detail was available in abundance, yet without becoming overbearingly so.
As often, the best compromise might be in using tak (blue or black ;-) ) between the speaker and its support.
So with the 10L we have here a small, easy-to-use speaker with a natural and sweet sound, that is not afraid of going loud, and that is always well-behaved. If I had to give up my ESLs for something more domestically acceptable, the 10L would be the first on my list to try at home!
God, I love these speakers...
And things get even better. Quad also launched the new 707 stereo power amp, which is like a 606-done-right: oodles of power, finesse, a low price, and darn cool looks. Want electrostatics? You can have them. This year will see a cosmetically updated ESL-63, a totally new large full range ESL-98, a smaller model for home theater, and a subwoofer working with a totally new concept, they claim.
© Copyright 1998 Werner Ogiers - http://www.tnt-audio.com