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About britishcomposers

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Personal Info

  • Location
    Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Wigwam Info

  • Turn Table
    Origin Live S'gn 3.2
  • Tone Arm & Cartridge
    OL Illus/Cadenza Bk
  • SUT / Phono Stage
    G Slee Accession mc
  • Digital Source 1
    Lexicon RT-10
  • Digital Source 2
    Goodmans (Freeview)
  • DAC
    Metrum Octave Mk2
  • Pre-Amp
    Townshend Allegri
  • Power Amp/s
    Benchmark AHB-2
  • My Speakers
    IAS Beaulieu Quad 57
  • Headphones
    AKG K140S (not used anymore)
  • Trade Status
    I am in the Hi-Fi trade

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  1. The QUAD ESL - perceived shortcomings with the '57 and how to build on it's strengths Background For those averse toward lengthy responses, I must apologise in advance, but whenever dealing with a subject that (in my view) has taken so many wrong directions within written articles by hi-fi magazines, in this case, the venerable QUAD ESL, plus having had the advantage of access by dint of ownership over a long time to what can best be described as 'extreme' loudspeaker designs, whose enclosures have enabled a learning of the kind that probably no amount of reading could ever truly garner the inside track understanding with the hands-on practical approach experienced, (without fear of being Wammed to death with ridicule), I feel that this article should hopefully be found to be a fairly honest appraisal: dispensed of all frippery but committed toward the relevant measures for optimising the performance envelope of this superb transducer; all from experimentation conducted within a room measuring: 19' x 13'6 x 7'10 with concrete floor & ceiling, breeze-block wall to rear of speakers and RH wall, windows & blinds to rear of seating opposite speakers, plus thermally-backed plasterboard bonded to plaster-on-brick on the LH exterior wall - as can be seen within the pictures posted on the current Carpets and floors thread found elsewhere, where several room images are shown on page 1 and more on page 2, including the 1978 QUAD ESL pair within my own stand design. Note, as discussed further on, said stand is no longer available due to cost of manufacture being prohibitively expensive. Prelude I was lucky enough to buy a pair of 1978 electrostatics 20-years ago from the original owner who had downsized from a subsequent house move, yet the speakers had only been serviced the previous year at the St Peter's Road, Huntingdon plant; as certified by the adhesive service labels inside each unit, atop the metal transformer-case frame. They came in their original boxes and cost me £60. Yep! That is all the vendor wanted and I felt as guilty as hell, but they wouldn't budge. I therefore offered free future help, were it ever needed; as is my wont in such circumstances, being in the business as it were. These were my first encounter with electrostatics, and the Quad ESL in particular, and from the off, they were something I knew were in the realm of 'something completely different'. Moving into my current home back in Spring 2000, I installed these in their 'stock' form: positioned around a yard from the rear wall, slightly toed-in and playing down the length of the room. They worked delightfully well. Driving these was a pair of E.A.R. 519 mono valve power amps, (100-watt PL-519 o/p push-pull), each located beside a speaker and fed via Chord Chorus unbalanced RCA terminated cables, (bought trade - but what a mark-up they had!), fed from an E.A.R. 802 pre. with Meridian 506/24 CD player, LEAK Troughline II tuner, (GT Audio rebuilt with Gate stereo decoder), and turntable, (not relevant here as it wasn't right in this company). The QUAD's take on sound was utterly immersive and sublime, playing every genre of music and at modest listening levels. Good, adequate bass was achieved within it's remit; my room's proportions clearly assisting in realising their best in this regard. Around the same time that I secured the QUAD's, I purchased a second-hand a pair of Tannoy Westminster HW's from rostrum camera guru, Ken Morse from his W. London studio opposite Wembley Loudspeakers, but hadn't got around to the logistical nightmare that a second-floor move with two wardrobes would entail until a few months after moving in, (following said QUAD ESL set-up). When the big boys did make their grand entrance, (courtesy of a band of friends and a very strong piano dealer friend who never relinquished the tailor-made suit he'd be wearing for the task in hand, - Peter Dawkins, now sadly missed), I found the room receiving these well too; noting that the Tannoy horn loading had no perceptible trace of room modal resonances in the ubiquitous presence-bass region whatsoever; no matter what was played. So far so good with the room's balance, which had been decorated and furnished prior to the importation of all things hi-fi related, though later experimentation with middling reflex loudspeakers had mixed results, in part due to the breeze-block wall behind the speakers with mildly unpleasant LF enhancements. Now, the point about bringing up the Tannoy horns is because unlike nearly all other typical and domestically acceptable loudspeaker models whose energies are, by their comparably reduced size alone, highly concentrated in their pressure-to-air velocity, creating volatility with room modal issues, the giant horns were somewhat free of this, and upon first hearing, appeared lean in their perceived balance, though in reality, they were possessed of the cleanest bass encountered and with real extension. As a result, it became my introduction to realising what was and was not acceptable in sound-balance practice; albeit in the form of the least likely candidate for enclosure design principles where perceived linearity characteristics are often found wanting. Not so with the Westies. As stablemates, the Tannoy and Quad models would each teach me a thing or two for anything else that would follow into my room for evaluation or subsequent ownership. The Tannoy with it's unnerving ability to write-off the Linn LP12 for it's lack of neutrality, or any (sic) 'proven' muscle amplifier with fundamental issues that betrayed artistic licence practices through complete lack of control or speed with bass and mid-range delivery that couldn't pull it's punches. Horns can be such unwieldy and unrelenting beasts, but are truly worth the pain along the way until finding the holy grail that make them sing fluidly and without the trade-mark boxiness so often (and sometimes unjustly) attributed. I regret selling mine after 15-years of ownership, but then we can all tell a similar story on a given favourite product from our past, - much like the coveted girlfriend that got away! This leaves a footnote for what one should not expect from any full-range electrostatic loudspeaker system for those embarking on the journey of experimentation with what is the rewarding ownership (if getting things right) of such an alternative approach of transducer model to that of a conventional loudspeaker. There is no overhang in it's presentation; save for room modes through poor placement. This means there is no fullness in the bass unless given a recording that is mixed and/or balanced accordingly. Most listen to colourations in conventional loudspeakers that generally thicken the bass. Ergo, the electrostatic can sound lean by comparison at first sitting. And there's the rub. Electrostatics require a non-partisan approach for those new to the experience; an acquired listening palette for those with a discerning ear. Inspiration & oft quoted misguided criticism I had been reminded of articles I'd read over several decades about the use of reinforced-in-steel QUAD electrostatics, (two pairs of QUAD ESL-63's in this instance), installed onto a stage: one pair faced forward, the other pair set at 90-degrees end-to-end to the sides of the first pair; all set behind acoustically transparent curtains within a proscenium arch that discretely dissuaded any visitors from judging the technology used, - merely taking in the sound alone and all within a dedicated scaled-down theatre-like mini auditorium with huge chandelier that the creator of this space referred to as: 'The Concert Room'. Said creator was the late founder and CEO of engineering firm and maker of pick-up arms and turntables: SME Ltd. of Steyning, W. Sussex. Alastair Robertson Aikman had this one-off listening-room-cum-demonstration and testing facility especially built right next to his factory; representing what must have been the 'last word' to any visiting business client: not only from around the country but across the world too. His influence in all this was possibly based around his dedication to opera; frequenting a private box held in his name at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In latter-day use it had installed an SME Model 30/12/V12 turntable/arm set-up, with Koetsu MC cartridge fitted and an Audio Research/Krell Class A pre-power compliment. Again, this part of the story is from reading articles on visits made by the hi-fi press over the decades. I myself never got the opportunity, but did receive an invite from A R-A, but he passed away a year later. A missed opportunity! What was common ground was the universal opinion of all reviewers who visited there about the sound they heard from the demonstrations given, and in particular, a late 50's or early 60's LP pressing of band-leader Billy Cotton and his band, (of BBC TV fame, and great grandfather to Fern Cotton), for which had every one of them bowled over in all the areas of sonic performance characteristics witnessed, and the complete opposite from their widely held and collective beliefs; that of certain unassailable deficits, as written before and since said visits to SME. So, what are these areas of deficit and are they to be believed? How could no-one view the SME experience and not look at the how's and why's from the clearly successful model as demonstrated? We've all heard the arguments, including lack of bass extension, bass energy, no bass (!), restrictive dynamic range capability, etc. etc... This made me curious as to find out why, for then began my experimentation with the earlier model, (affectionately known as the '57, although it actually came out in 1956 for the Wireless World feature on it's launch. Serge may have more accurate info on this, as I am committing from memory with articles read many moons ago). Much was discovered as I shall explain further. Experimentation I realised that with the stock QUAD ESL, each with their bass/mid panels' underlay sound absorption lining and the treble panel's multi-layered felt sound absorption lining, (all applied to the loudspeaker system's rear), were, out of all probable necessity, a move toward commercial viability against what could strongly be argued as being (in absolute audio terms) a 'best-case scenario' compromise; enabling close-to-wall proximity within reason, for without such considerations in-place, the prospect of anything closer than even 5-feet to a wall would make for a very uneven balance with modal issues abound, largely centred around a most obvious bass hump. The additional prospect of there being a reflective surface behind the speaker would also present it's own set of obvious problems that would detract from the frontal sound projection, causing phase and imaging errors to the stereo sound-stage presentation. In short, the manufacturer quite rightly engineered the loudspeaker to be positioned where the end user (or his wife) deigned it to best sit in the context of the typical modern living room space. Anyone wanting a light entertainment interval at this point, do go to my Youtube posting on the relevant thread of 'Interesting things to watch' (posted last weekend) and have a laugh at the BBC's 1950's take on hi-fi in the living room; taking a stab at Decca in the process with their 'Journey Into Sound' LP of 1958. But before trying this, I first used a pair of very thick sand-filled metal speaker stands of around a foot in height and with a top-plate size of around 7" square, with base-plate of around 9" wide x 11" deep and fitted with four spikes. I'd had these in store, plus four small G-clamps and a couple of 2" x 2" wood blocks, cut to fit within the rear of the QUAD's treble panel reinforcement columns for clamping onto the wooden base-plate at the rear of the speaker; the three wood legs and rear metal mesh panel being duly removed, but with power disconnected and two-hours full discharge time allowed for in regard of safety - take note - HIGH VOLTAGES! No animals or children to be within reach of same, nor nosey people with wandering fingers to be entertained. With the speakers now in position again, (we'll just say at this point that they were in the same place as before for the experiment conducted), and the amplification used being Audio Research SP-11 mkII pre. and Accuphase designed Kenwood L-09M mono's (yes, a bit powerful these), I left the Quad's on charge for a couple of hours and then put on a CD I'd played before the changeover, (using a Lexicon RT-10 disc player), that showed immediate improvement of considerable merit in all areas: bass power, treble focus, centre image resolution and dynamics with leading-edge transients, all probably given to the system being afforded greater structural support and rigidity of anchorage. Bass extension was also improved by some degree, now just revealing organ pedals that had previously been non-evident. overall, a general openness to the presentation had now taken hold; probably given the increase in height and slightly less tilted-back inclination that the 'clamped-to-stand' arrangement afforded over the tri-pod leg arrangement of the stock item. Note! By having the speaker system clamped to the sand filled speaker stands, this meant that the test had to be conducted with the bass/mid panel's rear sound-absorption underlay taken out of the equation, simply because this was glued in production to the inside of the rear metal mesh grille that had to be removed as a consequence. In this regard, there was more than one variable at play in this test. Therefore, I needed to next test the speaker system in it's 'returned to stock' state with legs screwed back on and then compare the sound (in the same position in the room as before) with the speaker first with rear grille on and then again with it removed; noting the influences heard. While certain bass characteristics were noted, the results conveyed as being rather unpleasant in character when listening with the rear mesh grilles removed, for with the lower position, now off of the stand and on their stock tri-pod legs, plus the speaker's greater tilt rearward, as compared with the more 'upright' panel angle on the stands, meant that the energies were gathering courtesy of the floor's reflections, (in this scenario: carpet with underlay on concrete), which made for a muddy interpretation of things. However, the mid-range was somewhat free of issues with what can best be described as a less congested presentation; not necessarily out of it's new dipole status, but possibly through limiting any secondary rear reflections from further influencing the diaphragm's modulations, for as controlled as the regulated quiescent-voltage floated mylar diaphragms have a probable resistance to movement beyond any music signal input, the sound heard just felt free of 'clutter'. This now meant one final test. The idea of the removal of the treble panel's multi-layered sound absorption felt lining has frequently been advised against in many articles for a number of most valid reasons, but largely it is in regard for the prevention of any rearward-influenced wall or object beaming of high-frequency content which, by nature of wavelength and high susceptibility to listener acuity can be ruinous to imaging as well as with playing it's part in a number of other ways too. However, I chose to conduct my own test in this regard whatever the outcome as behind my speakers by the time I conducted this test were an array of open-fronted record storage units and nothing in-line to reflect upward both speaker's sound-waves. Again, an improvement was heard. A cleaner, sweeter, (not as in brighter), and more fluid take with string tone becoming apparent through subjective listening over time; I already knew these speakers well, so it was not a quick-fire listen by any means on this part of the journey, and I did make the change back, just to be certain. (not easy with those staples, for one must take great care as to not disturb the laminated wood strips they attach to from undoing from themselves). The caveat here is that if you have anything reflective behind your ESL, it would be wise to design an aesthetically acceptable frame that suspends some felt behind the treble panel region, for placing this instead of using the close-proximity QUAD multi-layered felt model (in which the stock ESL uses), will both address the reflection issue, (should you have one), while affording the benefit of the improved sound, as I encountered while listening to the treble panel as a true dipole, which I personally think sounds more natural and unencumbered in balance. Accessories and room placement Which brings me on to a most important aspect which is wholly down to room shape, materials and the whole edifice of acoustic interaction. No, I'm not going to open this can of worms, but in the context of the generous rectangular room used here, the late Peter Walker of QUAD once stated that in ideal circumstances, a stereo pair of his loudspeakers should be positioned at one-third the way down the length of a given room, (assuming the rectangular ideal), with toe'ing-in toward the listening area. This suggestion from PW may well have applied post the original '57 ESL model, for all that followed it were dipoles, but as we are now discussing this early model in the context as now being used in this vein with everything removed at the rear to free the sound up in the manner described earlier on, we can adequately assume this maxim to be continued practice. Positioned accordingly, the bass then needs to be fine tuned in regard to their final resting place; ultimately seeking the best or most preferred balance between being cited too far from the wall and losing range and body to the sound presentation or being too close to the wall and hearing some added heft in the mid and upper bass registers that may appeal to some users with rock music or electronic, but repel to others with the incontrovertible 'bloating' of everything played: desiring the sound to be honed toward accuracy, (particularly important with acoustic recordings), for the latter move can, if not playing it carefully, behave in a way that is rather unlike that of any box loudspeaker and can be quite futile in a narrow band of frequencies, generating what is commonly referred to as 'one-note bass' in hi-fi parlance. Getting this placement just right reaps it's rewards generously, for underneath the obvious range of perceived low-frequency content that is the usual 'known' preserve of this loudspeaker, one discovers a level of purity and extension that will challenge many a modern loudspeaker. Not in absolute terms of weight in the lower registers but enough in balance and range to satisfy many critics who begin to realise that this speaker does actually achieve so much more and on so many levels than was first (and unfairly) imagined. Experimentation is key in this pursuit, and listening at the far end of a given rectangular room to the speakers' location usually helps where boundaries generally reinforce the lowest frequencies; though not in all circumstances. Again this being dependent upon materials used in a room's make-up and construction. Reinforcement to extreme Following-on from these successful experiments, I engineered a quartz-composite stone stand that, when weighed by Keith Howard in HFN & RR, came to an unexpected but quite appropriate 57Kg! How that happened goodness only knows. Not only do they reinforce with the greatest stability imagined for the loudspeaker. They actually embrace the entire frame, courtesy of removing the two side wood strips on each unit and using longer wood screws that secure right through the 30mm-thick side uprights of the stand. Additionally, height of the ESL is raised, together with alteration of the panel's inclined angle: sitting more upright, but not so much as to be aiming the sound-waves toward the listener's ears; rather they wash just above head height to the seated listener when at a suitable distance in a moderately sized living-room. The explanation for this is aspect is detailed in the 'hot-spot' paragraph further down. Lastly, a continued baffle, also crafted from the same material fills-in the space between the floor, (giving just clearance from same), and the loudspeaker panel; thus increasing the frontal area and reducing any unwanted phase cancellation issues associated with the panel's rear modulations. The same extends to the small return on the side columns and the lip across the rear top of the structure. The prototype pleased a good number of reviewers, including a client who actually purchased a set specially made to order. Alas, with very high costs involved with the production, they were deemed too expensive for many people to actually produce, and in-spite of other reviewers also putting it out in US journals and my receiving trans-Atlantic enquiries, the words, "How much?!!" was often the response, but no snake-oil costing was applied. It was just costly materials, the manufacturing process, plus the need for two wood crates, insurance and so-on. My Concorde project that never really was, - except for in my own living room to this day and another set somewhere else. Stacking not always necessary Suffice it to say, with such results, I saw no need in the model of stacked pairs to be implemented, (so often recommended), unless used in very large spaces. As already mentioned in the discussion on this thread, this approach hasn't been without detracting comment regarding certain presentation related drawback issues, as well as with there being the need for two stereo power amplifiers, as wiring two pairs of ESL's in series is thought to be an unwise practice, (for what reason I do not know), but with one pair of ESL's, I had all the sound I needed, and this, coming from regular use of Tannoy Westminsters! It is also not widely known that for a given distance, (given the nature of the 'planar' radiation of sound-waves emanating from an ESL diaphragm, as compared with those from a cone and dome loudspeaker array), that the sound output over relative distance is better maintained with less of a perceived drop in output. Add to this the qualitative improvements achieved through the reinforcement models applied, including revised height and the improved inclination, plus the close placement of one-third the way down the room, which brings the speaker system closer to the listener, (where where able to do so), and collectively you have a sound source with unbridled advantage over the stock model. I make no bones with stating now that am certainly no fan for additions like sub-bass speakers nor super high range treble units, simply because I truly feel these can be the undoing of the QUAD ESL's nature and characteristic balance, which speak unadorned by such measures on their own terms. Trying to make a long-throw cardboard cone in a box fully integrate with what is a very short-throw high velocity planar diaphragm of not only dissimilar material structure and associated technology, but ultimately with non-linear performance criteria achieved within same, ultimately create many problems; solving very little, that, with real music played in a good quiet listening room, don't really apply in the manner imagined. Ultimately, the real flaw in the understanding of the ESL as viable technology in the reproduction of wide-band (eg; within typical 40-18,000Hz @ +/- 3dB) recorded sound, lie with the fact that like the stylus tracking a record groove, much is misunderstood toward how powerful those diaphragm modulations are; short in travel, yet being more precise with real 'kick' to the air that can load up a space like little else: short of reality itself within the realms of it's intended domestic performance envelope, but only when launched from a tightly held, massy and rigid structure, for anything less reduces the whole presentation to a soggy cardboard-like lacklustre presentation with just the immersive homogenised and unique mid-range qualities, so revered by many, left to immerse the senses with top and bottom appearing to roll away prematurely. Running a pair of electrostatics late at night in a room playing BBC Radio 2 with a modern dance track containing a bass-line at very low volume perceptibly generates more wall vibration than any box loudspeaker, (even if turning said box speakers toward the wall), while listening two rooms away, (two walls flanking an intermediate room), from the main reception room, (all breeze-block walls); the energies in the bass can be audibly tracked more clearly with the ESL in play than with any given box loudspeaker. The difference being so great as to negate the discipline of comparative measurement models being necessitated. We apply so much understanding to the modern turntable model with vibration control, yet with an electrostatic loudspeaker, we are missing the whole mechanical-engineering point by leaving out salient details with flimsy foundations and simply throwing sub-bass speakers into the mix or stacking, which is either unnecessary or respectively over-egging the same problems. Amplifier By and large, while the QUAD ESL was in production, (1956-1985), for the better part of it's run solid state amplifiers were to be avoided as the impedance loading of these loudspeakers could really pose a problem for many fledgling designs, of which commentators far more versed in electronic theory on here will comfortably attest; probably going right down to a shortlist of those that could, (it would probably be easier than saying which one's couldn't!). Therefore, thermionic drive was widely seen as order of the day, though with some exceptions. Today, a good many non-valve-based examples of the breed can comfortably be used, but the wisest move for any newcomer to ESL ownership would be to ask on here first. A qualified answer won't be too far away. For my own system, I now use the remarkable Benchmark AHB-2 power amplifier, which is both a reliable and safe candidate; having spoken to John Siau, the product's designer, and director of Benchmark, in advance on the matter of suitability. This unit is resilient to the QUAD crowbar protection circuit, as I once accidentally found out, having tripped the QUAD crowbar overload protection circuit while doing something I shouldn't; the amp was reset without any fuss or problems encountered and the speakers were both fine, - so a highly recommended SS amp that doesn't have issues with stats. The detail for which this small, cool running unit has, combined with everything wished for like control and unflappability, together with huge soundstage and clarity make it a good partner for the QUAD. It is reasonably inexpensive and generally betters items I've had pass through here at ten-times the cost, (but bought second-hand); making it a win-win situation for great value. On a good working pair of QUAD ESL's, set-up as discussed, and using amplifiers of or near this calibre, you will achieve astonishingly vivid results that should not be found wanting. Safety - speaker and amplifier This last detail, - that of the QUAD ESL'S condition, - is a very important one, and for many reasons. Least of all, you don't want tired components to limit the workability of these loudspeakers or you'll run the risk of certain trouble, which at worst can be the cremation of the electrically conductive DuPont mylar diaphragms migrating onto one or more of the stator panels while possibly doing something horrific to your precious amplifier.. One can easily inspect the loudspeaker's history if finding what looks like a dark grey cigarette-sized burn-mark on the rear (visible side) of your naked ESL speaker. Equally important is that you don't invite the sort of have-a-go friend who'll whack the volume up without thought nor regard, as these speakers require a knowing in their use of operation: especially in the perspective of a given recording's dynamic range swing; especially SACD's and certain LP's - and avoid playing action films on discs or downloads that are uncompressed dynamically as these are possessed of dangerously unpredictable wide dynamic-range programme material with very loud and extreme sound effects whose content is far removed from the normal scale of recorded music. For any QUAD electrostatic, these should be considered highly unwise playback models, for which the likelihood of panel damage is a given. In general then, learning how to 'feel' when the loudspeakers' might just be running close to their imperceptible limits by erring on the side of caution until fully getting used to their abilities is good 'estimable' practice. In short, you are becoming their limiter; protecting against the inevitable. Failure with such vigilance could lead to an amp re-build or worse, a speaker panel requiring total re-build; the former instance I have done myself by simply forgetting the important discipline of lowering the volume before cue-lifting the pick-up arm on a record, causing the inevitable 'pop', serving like a DC signal traversing right through QUAD's crowbar (short-circuit) protection and blowing the amplifier's complete driver stage and output stage transistors in equal measure on an early SS mono pair, (much thanks to Rega's Terry Bateman for sorting those out). The speakers actually survived without any issue, as the bass panels are allegedly more resilient, with only the treble panels having protection, - though not all models of ESL's of this era have it fitted, (check for the red QELCLPA label inside, seen through the mesh grille and stuck onto the top of the HT's metal casing) Listening area, or 'hot-spot' No it isn't actually. Now, are you sitting comfortably? A little to the left? No, right a bit. One more cushion, maybe stand up, or move the seat forward a little. Talk of having to sit bolt upright or elevated and dead-central to the speaker's narrow field of sound directivity pattern, once getting everything put straight with this loudspeaker, as discussed, becomes an irrelevance, for the balance of a fully working to spec ESL system, whether an originally specced pair or with the slightly HF lifted and differently-gapped treble panel versions, offered by One Thing Audio or QUAD Musikwiedergabe (Germany) as restored variants, (even QUAD at Huntingdon, UK now buy in the German panels as this is the source who bought QUAD's original jigs, but chose to alter the gap in the name of a fresher sound or somesuch), the presentation with the speakers mounted or anchored suitably well to avoid any structural wobble, (not visible to the naked eye, but still the cause of acoustic-transfer inefficiencies through migrating energy losses), then the balance can actually be slightly brighter than is actually desired when sat fully on-axis; especially with modern recordings played on modern and transparent electronics. Now I won't enter any debates on this aspect of driving equipment used and their characteristics, as this really is a minefield of observation and personal opinion, but from all the people who have witnessed the system here through an evening session have found that when sitting-up to perfectly align one's ears to the line-of-fire presentation of the loudspeakers somewhat 'beamed' directivity pattern, the sound loses it's reality and consequently 'glares', much like the proverbial 'rabbit in a car's headlamps' scenario. Move back down to just below the line of image dispersion and even to one side, off-centre if you will, and suddenly it all appears real! Why? Our hearing localisation is highly acute and yet the stereo model we still deploy is increasingly becoming somewhat challenged with numerous recording techniques faltering in their presentational remit, but this model was never better served than with the Blumlein cross-mike principle. A number of you may even cite additional, lesser known models to this 1931 UK patent, but as a rule, the only time the true in-line seating alignment to the speaker scenario correctly holds-up with a soundstage that is hard-pressed to be matched or bettered is with this simple method of 'capture' of a given recorded acoustic performance, which is the most simple but realistic of techniques deployed, though rarely used, The Calrec soundfield mic garage door slam recording on the BBC test CD probably being the nearest thing to this in recent years that I know of. However, nearly everything else recorded in all it's various technical forms of multi-mike, mixed-up/mixed-down, multi-panned mono, midi'd electronic instrument, artificially-applied reverb and so on, all leave our brain and hearing faculty in no doubt as to the artificiality of it all, and the QUAD ESL is very well placed at highlighting all of this; dissecting it for all it's worth with all the precision of a surgeon's scalpel. If every recording made was a-la Blumlein, QUAD might well have sold well over several million electrostatic loudspeakers in total over the years; such is the revelatory presentation achieved on this medium of recording practice alone. But how best to create the illusion of the playback of any given recording removed from this 'ideal' that actually resembles that of 'all the source localisation cues being held in space', as in real life, with illusionary omni-directional soundfields from an otherwise compromising cut-and-paste mix? When listening off-axis to electrostatic loudspeakers like the QUAD ESL and other full-range panels, where their advantage lie in limitation of influences beyond their directivity pattern, such as with side wall reflections, ceiling reflections, or floor reflections, (as compared with cone and dome loudspeakers which are rife in this regard with polar response patterns that are the reverse to the panel discipline), then by taking oneself away from the focal-point of these stereoscopic-like loudspeakers, often referred to as 'The best late-night headphones ever produced', then a deconstruction or 'retarding' of the scene takes effect and our brain then begins to attempt reconstruction, but in a way that sums the channel balance between the two loudspeakers, which are playing past our zone of sitting instead of at us, which to our brain may as well be omni-directional in orientation; all largely due to the added benefit of this narrow field of execution not having any outside-of-the-bubble distracting room interactions to smear or muddy the perceptions of what become reconstructed images, as if real and three-dimensional. I place great stock in our minds having better facility than any standard (and largely out-of-date) technical document may choose to describe by way of argument against such phenomena and it all narrows down to the notion of pulling slightly back from something and equating a bigger picture. In this vein, it is one of having to not be quite so telling of the subject matter, by way of a presentation that can be ruthlessly frank when in-line, yet off-axis and our beliefs can form a more accurate and rewarding picture, but as I have found, this can really only be achieved when upping the performance envelope of the QUAD ESL, and without any of the add-on tricks that can only serve to ruin the picture of sound. That's it! Off to bed now. I am out all day tomorrow but am sure there will be overlaid red-type remarks dotted along re-quotes where I've made some inaccurate point or another, but while it's cold out and business is quiet during January, why not? Good-night, or good-morning all, - as may be the case.
  2. Have DACs really improved?

    Maybe using a high-compliance cartridge did the trick, like the Shure M44 or similar? I never doubted the motor units though. Superb Swiss engineering. I may have been a little unfair on it's headshell.
  3. As fanatical experimenter with this venerable classic, I have much practical experience with the original QUAD ESL, so I shall be preparing a comprehensive overview of what can be achieved from this loudspeaker, and it doesn't require stacking; although unless you want to press the volume further, enough can be achieved with decent levels of volume, bass extension, not to mention startling dynamics and a less-than-critical 'sweet-spot', a single pair is all that's required. Too much rubbish has been written in hi-fi publications down the years about what it can and cannot do, that shows real ignorance on their part. There are fundamental elements that are all too frequently overlooked with this discipline of transducer and I have had several renowned columnists marvel at how much more can be achieved beyond the stock unit. Watch this space tomorrow morning!
  4. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    Yes, early Floyd for me too, though I don't mind the later albums, except Roger Waters whinning/shouting Wall, Final Cut, Hitchhiker's whatever; all of a rant really to my ears! Now, this room of yours. It looks a rather nice place for just 'chilling-out and I bet those speakers can bark it out when they want to. Pretty much the size and arrangement of the Scala Focals I used to have, though yours are probably much better at timing. The only thing I can think of is with a textured lining on the ceiling, like a raised pattern paper. Alternatively, have you ever tried hearing how much the ceiling actually is influencing things by placing two oversized cushions, one on top of each speaker with sufficient frontal overhang, just to find out if anything improves on the image focus and central balance? The only other thought is with a suspended pelmet or apron that comes forward from the system by about three feet, and with a drop from the ceiling by about 18-inches; pref. using something aesthetically balancing with your fabric behind the system using double layered velvet with lining, - much in the same way as the Royal Albert Hall has, that flanks the top of the performing space at the Proms, limiting migration to the ceiling dome from the orchestra and conversely back toward the audience.
  5. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    What do your speakers look like, and moreover, in the context of position in the room? There are always temporary measures one can take, but would need to see a wider view of the room and speakers. The setting looks ideal for late night early 70's Pink Floyd sessions. May have to go and buy a second lamp myself, or maybe four to replace the uplighters. Now that really would be microbiotic stuff!
  6. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    I was married, but that's another story. WW2 Squadron Leader father-in-law Colonel Blimp type and ancient pink-rinse version of Anne Robinson (both lived to their 90's!!), with a wall-flower for a daughter who had no interest in anything interesting. My error of choice. Ex girlfriend in regular contact, but with safe distance; I enjoy a great deal of freedom.
  7. what speakers have you owned

    I have a pair of Tannoy Edinburgh HE's going; late 2002 pair. Mint, two owners. £5k.
  8. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    One option for some who suffer with restrictions like your attached image there (yes, dreadful it certainly is) is with building a summerhouse across the end of the garden, but with the right materials. I was at a friend's daughter's 18th birthday party last night and saw his new outbuilding, complete with heating, basic home-cinema with screen, a bar, (well this is Essex), but moreover, no planning permission required! The factor being height. Something like 'below 2.5 metres or somesuch. Gets around many hurdles does that model with access, putting your name on the project with your needs, etc.
  9. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    I saw their A1 series flagship OLED, which was something to behold. A true Sony product worthy of their name. If there was more to watch, I'd have invested in one, but then my music listening and reading would go down the drain. it's my easily distracted lack of discipline in such matters really. Thought to add these further images while it's of interest to people as newbie on here: various gear down the years, another wall rug, plus lava lamp suggested.
  10. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    Aren't they just! Like corridors really, and then, like some cars today, the settee's are all excess, being way too large in arm-rest width, rear support depth, and so on. That's another factor. Try and avoid the usual 'chain' stores if wanting to find something with credible and intelligent design cues that is also comfortable. I don't confess to having anything expensive or particularly high quality here, because it's not, but it does fit in better than most for being sensible in size. Not easy to find as demand in the UK is for bigger. Bigger cars, tv's and kitchens, but don't get me started on the latter; houses with small reception rooms and football pitch kitchens for families that probably eat out of a microwave.
  11. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    The HW from 1989, just before the Royal came out. I bought them in '98 around the time of the Far East stock market crash. Bought them for the princely sum of £2,250, which was all that the seller wanted for them: renowned rostrum camera guru, Ken Mills. He bought them secondhand for his studio opposite Wembley Loudspeakers (or Acoustics?) in W. London. Graham Tricker to thank for that connection. Years earlier, I used the Buckingham, but the mid was rather coloured. Cone profile wasn't right on the 10" DC, plus too many controls in circuit. The Westies I had totally re-worked by Dr Ken Mills at Tannoy (all gone now in the recent Behringer buyout) with component changes, re-wired throughout and all the HF level/roll-off controls bypassed and the components all relocated back-to-back with the LF component array in the void above the front horn. Also experimented with Tripath Class T stereo evaluation boards mounted inside: bi-wiring LF & HF with L & R o/p's. True control and neutral in a way as a horn was never really meant to achieve. HFN & RR did a feature on this and there began my contact with Steve Harris. (Sorry Martin for going off-topic)
  12. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    New layout does have a lava lamp. Couldn't resist, though rather Kitsch. The two Grundig radios were used one at a time as their EQ is based on mono and doesn't work for stereo. Very high quality voicing that surprises many in the business as they can do live Radio 3 on VHF/FM with solo instruments like nothing else I've heard, literally. I only have one now in the current layout of the room.
  13. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    Hello Martin. It wasn't a very early plasma, but one can assume it was for the Koreans, as around this time there were some dreadful Samsung sets, (well, they were all dreadful on resolution for a long time as compared to CRT weren't they?!), that consumed around 700-watts in standby! Hence all the fanaticism from Which? magazine readers all turning-off their televisions at the wall, - even to this day. No, I just find tv schedules to be weak on quality content and also, using my Townshend Allegri control unit, had to re-work the hi-fi nearer to the speakers with the silver computer cable I'm using (given to me by retired Rayleigh Hi-fi guru and friend, Laurie Bing), that warranted central location and hence no central tv anymore. Glad to see the back of it really. Hideous monolithic things.
  14. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    Thank you. I notice you're just up the road from here. You must know my pal, Dave Smith.
  15. Audiophile Carpet and Curtains?

    I am a bit of an interiors planner in some of my projects, but at home, I dealt with one fundamental issue in my fairly generously sized room, which is laid out with a fair degree of theatre-like symmetry, as in stage of sound at one end and me at the other, though I know some will critisise this as being a hot-spot for LF energies, - however, my issue was with side wall reflections, even with toe'd-in speakers, so I got two hardwood battens, fixed two brass key-hole hangars to each and then stapled a £16 IKEA designer rug to each strip; hanging one on each side wall at the point of reflection. Then for ambience, I parked uplighters on top of my IKEA record storage units: flood-lit over said rugs, plus another two trained on my then Westminsters; all making for a pleasant and restful aesthetic, plus a dimmable main uplighter to one corner for a warm spread of light throughout the room. The sound in there gives me no cause for concern, except reflex speakers, which I'm not keen on anyway. The Thermalite block rear wall (behind main speakers) being a slight issue with IB boom. Much of what's in here has changed since this old picture, including getting rid of the television, which drew 1500 watts! Couldn't believe it when I took it out and looked at the back. I don't care for the majority of tv schedules anymore and have since pressed my old 14" Trinitron back into service which has superior colour and definition). The following year's electric bill, post the plasma's exit, went the opposite way to everyone else's. By and large, the rugs continue doing a good job after 17-years service, but probably time for a design change.