goodkeys

Budget amp to drive a complicated load

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Hello everyone,

Currently I am on the lookout for a pair of Quad ESL 57 monitors in good condition. The purchase will eat up most of my budget. Unfortunately, these speakers seem to pose quite a challenge for an amplifier. My amplifier budget is 250$ max, and I am investigating my best option. The amp should not have too much power, otherwise it could cause arcing in the panels. 50 watt per channel or under should be fine. It should be happy to drive a reactive load.

My save bet would be a Quad 303. I can find one in good condition within my budget. I can be certain that they will work well with the ESL 57. However, I've read that they are nothing special, and that modern amps easily surpass them.

I should mention that I am not looking for a 'character' amp or anything. I am looking for low distortion, and something that does not introduce a sound of its own. It should drive the ESL safely to reasonable sound levels (95db would be more than enough for me) without causing arcing or taking damage, and with as little distortion as possible.

I've compiled quite a list of interesting amps. Does anybody have experience with any of them driving Quad ESL 57s? Would any of them be a better choice than a Quad 303? Or is there an even better option within budget that I have not listed? Which amp would you choose? Thanks in advance for any pointers.

Allo Volt+D: https://www.allo.com/sparky/volt-plus-d-amp.html

Audiophonics TPA3116D2: https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/audiophonics-amplifier-21-class-d-tpa3116d2-2x-50w-4-ohm-silver-p-9946.html

and https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/audiophonics-amplifier-21-class-d-tpa3116d2-2x-50w-100w-4-ohm-black-p-12676.html

Dayton Audio DTA-1: https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/dayton-audio-dta-1-digital-amplifier-ta2024-stereo-2x-15w-4-ohm-p-4638.html

Amptastic Mini-1: https://www.amptastic.com/

AudioSource Amp 100: https://www.kenrockwell.com/audio/audiosource/amp-100.htm

Cambridge Audio Topaz AM5: https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/en/products/hifi-and-home-cinema/topaz-am5

Finally, here is one that is slightly over budget, but I might be able to find one used (I've read that Hypex Ncore are pretty mighty)

Audiophonics PA-S125NC: https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/power-amplifier/audiophonics-pa-s125nc-stereo-class-d-power-amplifier-ncore-2x75w-8-ohm-p-12756.html

 

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I'd choose a Quad 303 alright, perfect for 57's (which I've owned), I've been using a 303 for a few years now running into a pair of Audioplan Kontrast's which are about 86db, the 303 will drive 57's fine.

Peter

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If you dont want to compromise the results with the 57's I would go for a decent amp, save up and wait a while if necessary.

There are a few lists out there of amplifiers people have used successfully worth a look at those 

http://www.quadesl.org/index.php/hard-core/amplifiers/christian-steingruber

http://www.quadesl.org/index.php/hard-core/amplifiers/gary-jacobson

As you seem to live in the US my choice would be a vintage David Berning EA-230 tube amplifier one of the best :) http://davidberning.com/products/ea230. The 57's were originally designed to the Quad II tube amplifier and later the 303 solid state was introduced as an alternative. 

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1 hour ago, goodkeys said:

Hello everyone,

Currently I am on the lookout for a pair of Quad ESL 57 monitors in good condition. The purchase will eat up most of my budget. Unfortunately, these speakers seem to pose quite a challenge for an amplifier. My amplifier budget is 250$ max, and I am investigating my best option. The amp should not have too much power, otherwise it could cause arcing in the panels. 50 watt per channel or under should be fine. It should be happy to drive a reactive load.

My save bet would be a Quad 303. I can find one in good condition within my budget. I can be certain that they will work well with the ESL 57. However, I've read that they are nothing special, and that modern amps easily surpass them.

I should mention that I am not looking for a 'character' amp or anything. I am looking for low distortion, and something that does not introduce a sound of its own. It should drive the ESL safely to reasonable sound levels (95db would be more than enough for me) without causing arcing or taking damage, and with as little distortion as possible.

I've compiled quite a list of interesting amps. Does anybody have experience with any of them driving Quad ESL 57s? Would any of them be a better choice than a Quad 303? Or is there an even better option within budget that I have not listed? Which amp would you choose? Thanks in advance for any pointers.

Allo Volt+D: https://www.allo.com/sparky/volt-plus-d-amp.html

Audiophonics TPA3116D2: https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/audiophonics-amplifier-21-class-d-tpa3116d2-2x-50w-4-ohm-silver-p-9946.html

and https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/audiophonics-amplifier-21-class-d-tpa3116d2-2x-50w-100w-4-ohm-black-p-12676.html

Dayton Audio DTA-1: https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/dayton-audio-dta-1-digital-amplifier-ta2024-stereo-2x-15w-4-ohm-p-4638.html

Amptastic Mini-1: https://www.amptastic.com/

AudioSource Amp 100: https://www.kenrockwell.com/audio/audiosource/amp-100.htm

Cambridge Audio Topaz AM5: https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/en/products/hifi-and-home-cinema/topaz-am5

Finally, here is one that is slightly over budget, but I might be able to find one used (I've read that Hypex Ncore are pretty mighty)

Audiophonics PA-S125NC: https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/power-amplifier/audiophonics-pa-s125nc-stereo-class-d-power-amplifier-ncore-2x75w-8-ohm-p-12756.html

 

Second hand Quad 33/34/44 and 303 or 405 power amp .. job done 

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Whoever told you that the 303 is 'nothing special' is possibly a bit too 'special' to appreciate it. An unconditionally stable amp designed around this speaker with an impressive reliability record. It was good enough for the BBC so for $250 it might just be good enough for you and will certainly drive your speakers without worry? The 'nothing special' criticism is IMHO better reserved for the 33 preamp.
It is worth getting a 303 serviced if it's been a lot of years since the last one, they can drift.

Sent from my BLA-L09 using Tapatalk

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Super Wammer

Welcome!

Another vote for a 303 in view of your budget.  They don’t sound anything special with most regular speakers, based on my recollection from about thirty years ago. But they are the default choice for Quad ELSs.  (which incidentally are not monitor speakers, by any stretch!)

Edited by Nopiano

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I decided to get my 303 serviced by Quad UK a few years back, it plays and sounds excellent every day for an average of 7/8 hours per day seven days a week.

It can boogie very well, sounds really amazing in my current hifi setup. A lot of hifi folk seem not to like them maybe because you can pick them up on average for around £150 or so, cheap money can usually mean cheap sound......certainly NOT with my ears..!!

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3 hours ago, Nopiano said:

Welcome!

Another vote for a 303 in view of your budget.  They don’t sound anything special with most regular speakers, based on my recollection from about thirty years ago. But they are the default choice for Quad ELSs.  (which incidentally are not monitor speakers, by any stretch!)

What ever gives you that idea! Widely regarded as one of the most important speakers of all time, revolutionary in its day and widely used as monitors by many recording and broadcasting organisations including the BBC

Edited by complin

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2 hours ago, macvisual said:

I decided to get my 303 serviced by Quad UK a few years back, it plays and sounds excellent every day for an average of 7/8 hours per day seven days a week.

It can boogie very well, sounds really amazing in my current hifi setup. A lot of hifi folk seem not to like them maybe because you can pick them up on average for around £150 or so, cheap money can usually mean cheap sound......certainly NOT with my ears..!!

Yes many of us prefer the 306 sonically to the 303 if going down the Quad route, and available at a similar price.

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Thank you everyone. Appreciate the help.

A Quad Amp it is, then. I can buy a a 303 that has been recapped, a 306 in original state, or a 306 modified with decoupling capacitators (?). All for the same price roughly. Given that the ESL speakers have a clampboard fitted, which of these to choose?

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Another big improvement for the ESL 57's are a pair of Rupert stands, these lift the speakers off/away from their small wooden feet around 14" inches and improve overall soundstage. When I owned my 57's I'd a pair of these dedicated Rupert stands they were a perfect fit for the 57's, you could nearly make them yourself if you were handy with a bit of carpentry skills.

These used 57's look the business, for sale via Midland Audio X-change, ask for John.

http://www.midlandaudiox-change.co.uk/main/picture.asp?picture=quad7.jpg&Id=4349&ProdName=ESL57&ManufName=Quad^&Desc=bronze very tidy pair sound amazing still &OPrice=0&SPrice=599&Comments=original boxes

Check out this link for 'Rupert' stands;

http://www.classiquesounds.co.uk/quad_esl.htm

Edited by macvisual

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Thanks for the link. But I'd rather buy a pair that has been refurbished in the recent past. And I've not yet decided on the stands either. I've heard a pair on the original legs, and they sound awesome if you are sitting on the floor or in a low chair.

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2 hours ago, goodkeys said:

Thanks for the link. But I'd rather buy a pair that has been refurbished in the recent past. And I've not yet decided on the stands either. I've heard a pair on the original legs, and they sound awesome if you are sitting on the floor or in a low chair.

I'm assuming you are based in the US? If thats correct then there are lots good refurbishers based over there

Two which come to mind are Sheldon Stokes and Wayne Piquet have and excellent track record in refurbs

http://www.quadsunlimited.us

https://www.quadesl.com

Regarding stands Sheldon has a very good design for 57 stands which I prefer to the Ruperts. There are also plans available to build or get built foc.

https://www.quadesl.com/origRefs/eslstand.pdf

Image result for sheldon stokes 57 stands

If you are looking for a dealer who has a lot of experience with 57's then it might be worth contacting Robyatt Audio

 http://www.robyattaudio.com/index.htm

Edited by complin
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