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The Beatnik on Wayne Picquet’s Restored Quad ESL 57

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That difference in perspective results in what seems to me to be two different kinds of transparency. For example, I still remember the first LP I ever heard on Quads. Ken had a pair and we played Cat Stevens’ Teaser and the Fire Cat. On the song “Bitter Blue” the sound of the guitar was huge and just seemed to roll out of the left channel from behind the speaker and into the room. When I played this LP on the Wayne Picquet Quad ESL, it was the first time I had heard that cut sound that way in over 30 years. It’s an amazing sense of harmonics, space and power. With the Teresonic and the DeVore, it was much more localized and the sense of space comes more from the air around it and the sound of individual notes. This is exactly how I hear difference when at the first row of tables at Yoshis’ and sitting at the back row of tables. So, I think the difference in how you hear the space and how transparent it sounds depends on the difference in prospective the speakers portray.

The way the Wayne Picquet Quad 57 plays bass is one of its biggest strengths and its bass frequency response is one of its weaknesses. The bass is absolutely incredibly realistic and natural in a way that only panel speakers can play it. It’s full, powerful as long as you don’t play them way too loud. With the Pass Labs XA30.8, the bass was never too loose or too fat. The tonal balance of the Quads ESL is very similar to that of the British LS3/5A monitor. I remember the first time I heard a pair of the little Rogers LS3/5A, I was told they were Quads in a little box. This is especially true in the bass. Both the LS3/5A and the Quads ESL don’t go that deep, both have a nice little bump from around 70 to 90 hertz. What’s striking with both speakers is how well it’s executed. The result is a speaker that doesn’t go very deep that have very impressive bass without the little boost standing out when you are listening. Since neither speaker plays that loud, it is a very effective way of having the speaker play a nice, full bass.

This results in bass that sounds a little undefined, a little slow, a little overdone but somehow very natural. It also contributes to the speakers not being the last word in PRaT or micro-dynamics. With the Quad ESLs’ big bass panels that move a lot of air, this is even more natural sounding. On many recordings the bass has incredible bass harmonics and sounds very natural. Anyway, the bass is much better with these Quads than I remember and on most recordings is some of the most natural sounding bass I have heard.

The biggest weakness of the Quad 57 I remember is that they didn’t play loud enough for rock music or big band music. This weakness is not as bad I remember of course I’m not in my early 20s either. These Wayne Picquet’s rebuilt Quad ESLs play louder than I remember my single pair of Quads, but not as loud as my stacked Quads. I think to really play rock or big band music at real life levels you would still need a stacked pair and this gets to be a seriously big speaker. They have to be at least six feet high and about 3 feet wide and have a base around eighteen inched deep. If you have a room that can handle this size speaker I think they would should be considered a serious speaker at any price point, but they still have weaknesses to consider. The good news though is you don’t need a stacked pair to enjoy big band music or most rock music, at least I don’t.

One other weakness I remember is that the treble beamed in a way that caused a very small sweet spot. This problem is actually worse than I remembered. Truth is, they only sound great from the center. If you sit anywhere but the sweet spot, or if you stand up, the top-end simply disappears. This is no real problem for me as I most often listen alone or from a stool directly behind the chair when there are two people listening. Still, the Teresonic and DeVore sound great anywhere in the room and even from other rooms.

Another place the Quads have always fallen short of high-efficiency speakers is that you can’t play them with a great SET. Well, the Pass Labs XA30.8 has really solved that problem in that even on my Teresonic Ingenium XR, I like it as much as my Wavac EC-300B with Western Electric tubes.

Placement is very critical with these speakers. It was not until I moved the Quads out a little over five feet from the wall behind the speakers that they begin to really come to life. I placed them 7 feet apart center to center and then I pointed them at my ears, also 8 feet from the center of the speaker. Next, I placed a two-inch block under the rear leg of each speaker. I tried raising the speaker up about 14 inches but thought the bass suffered too much.

Placed like this, the Wayne Picquet Quad could have very deep and very wide soundstage on recordings that should sound that way. They had adequate height, but not what I am used to. This did not bother me, but it did a few listeners. The instruments within the soundstage were layered very well and had real substance. I found the soundstage very natural, but like most things with the ESLs the prospective was from mid-hall.

 

Comparison

Well, how do the original Quad ESL compare to my Teresonics Ingenium XR with everything in the system the same? The Quads have slightly more inner detail, more delicacy, bigger bass and were warmer, smoother and more liquid sounding.

The Teresonics are much faster, have a more extended top-end, are much more transparent, much better PRaT and sound more alive on more recordings. I also like that I can sit further back and they don’t have to come far out into the room. When the Quads err, they err on the side of being a little boring and when the Teresonics err, they err on the side of being a little raw.

In the end I love both speakers, but for daily listening I’ll keep my Teresonic Ingenium XR. Ken, thanks for this great trip down memory road.

4 Responses to The Beatnik on Wayne Picquet’s Restored Quad ESL 57


  1. Hi Jack,
    I don’t pretend to be an English professor, but your articles really need to be proofread. There are numerous errors, and one that is apparently deliberate. You use the word “prospective” an number of times in place of perspective. I have a hard time believing that as a writer you could make this mistake. Good article, but I think that you should take the extra time to proof read.

    • John,

      Thank you for your readership and your comment. The misspelling is now corrected.

      Sincerely,

      Constantine Soo

    • Jack Roberts says:

      Well John maybe it’s time after all these years that I confess. I am about as dyslexic as one can be. I’m so bad that if I see a spot on the right lens of my glasses I know it’s really on the left one. So, I’m at the mercy of the editors when it comes to the spelling and even the grammar sense I often don’t see the mistakes as they are written. By the way that is why I memorize most things I read out loud and am know as a story teller more than a writer.

      Well it’s good to get that off my chest and thank you for reading my articles.

      Jack

  2. Luke says:

    Hi

    Nice article, enjoyed the read although it forgot to mention the overal significant difference in price point between the two speakers.

    Thanks
    Luke

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