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Which pair of Quad ESL 57 to buy?

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Hi everyone,

Trying to decide between two pairs of Quad ESL 57 speakers, I could use your input. The first pair is in perfect optical condition. It has been rebuilt completely by One Thing Audio in 2011. They have the protection widget, and come with the Rupert stands (the original feet are not provided, though). Cost would be between 1600$ and 1800$ roughly. I’ve heard them and they sound like they should. No noises, both speakers play equally loud.

The second pair was rebuilt by Quad Musikwiedergabe in 2007. Optical condition is perfect as well. They come with spider legs, as well as the original feet. I assume that it has a protection widget fitted, but I will make sure that it actually does. I will listen to them next week. The price would probably be a bit cheaper than the first set. Around 1300$ to 1500$ I guess.

Assuming that the second set plays perfectly as well (in addition to a good listening session for me, the current owner will also measure the speakers and send me the frequency response). Which one would you buy?

My primary concern is longevity. If I buy a set I would want to be able to run it for years without troubles (playing them on Quad 303, and taking care not to arch the panels despite the widgets). Of course you can never know, but the ESL 57 has a good record for longevity if treated well. As both pairs have been completely refurbished 8 years and 12 years back respectively, how long would you guess I can use these before a next service is due?

Currently I have a slight preference for the Quad Musikwiedergabe set. It has black grilles, which I prefer over the gold grilles on the One Thing Audio pair. And it comes with original legs as well as spider legs.It is slightly cheaper as well. I have heard another pair refurbished by Quad Musikwiedergabe, and it sounded stunning (will listen to the pair that is on sale next week). But the last servicing has been done twelve years ago. So I am wondering when the next service will be due.

TLDR:

Quad ESL 57

Which pair to buy?

One Thing Audio completely refurbished in 2011, for 1700$. Perfect condition.

Or Quad Musikwiedergabe completely refurbished in 2007, for 1400$. Perfect condition.

 

Which out of these two is more likely to give me years of problem-free operation?

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Buy both and stack them? :drool:

 

What was refurbished?  Could be they only did the dust covers anyway.

 

If the membranes of all panels were done, that at least is the hard part.  Certainly doing the crossover and power supply  is not a major.

 

Go for the cosmetic or condition you want as 4 years difference in the refurbishment is nothing on the grand scheme of how long the originals ran for.

 

 

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Thanks Tesla. There is not enough space for a stacked pair. Maybe in the future 😊 True, these speakers are all running since a few decades, so four years will not be a decisive factor. I'll decide based on my preference after having heard both.

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If the speakers are not being demonstrated on the same system & room & room location, then even if the 2 sets are identical, acoustically, the listening experience will differ.

The main reason why people can be disappointed when they bring their brand new speakers home.

 

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I'd be careful and inspect both speakers carefully before deciding which to buy.

Especially with vintage hifi.

 

What work has been done on them?

Any proof to back this up?

Take the front and back covers off and inspect the panels. Any arcing?

Dust covers ok? New panels or just the original ones?

Has the wire been changed?

What about the power supply? Still on bulgin or changed to IEC?

Does the OTA unit have the upgraded power supplies?

What about the rectifiers?

What's been done to the input transformer? New speaker binding posts? Any internals replaced?

 

After checking all this it might shed more light on the amount of money already spend on the speakers.

 

Buy the better speaker. After you've compared the extent of what has been done to them.

 

OTA are great to deal with and do great work.

Quad Musik - not dealt with before but I'd rate Manfed's work very high.

 

Also - maybe just me - but if a ESL57 was rebuilt by Quad Musik I would expect it to cost a lot more. Their services don't come cheap and to get a pair of 57's from Europe to Aus costs as much as an air ticket.

 

 

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Ok, I have heard the German set. It sounded fine, except for a small shift in the stereo image to one side. A frequency measurement revealed one speaker to play at a slightly lower volume than the other. The owner is going to change the eht board of both speakers with new ones from One Thing Audio. I hope that fixes the problem. I have asked Quad Musikwiedergabe exactly what work has been done in 2007 - which parts are still original, which are new or revised etc. If that instills enough confidence in the overall shape of the speakers I'm probably going with the german pair. At the moment, however, I feel that One Thing Audio might have been more thorough with their restauration, and thus that overall condition of the British pair is better. After all they stated that they have completely rebuilt both speakers.

 

It's true that Quad Musikwiedergabe is expensive. Their resale value isn't much higher here than One Thing Audio though. In addition, I assume that only certain parts have been serviced in 2007. I'm located in europe, so shipping cost applies on a smaller scale.

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Thanks for thr link Ian.

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Any updates on which Quad ESL is the one you are going to get Dom?

 

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Sure, thanks for asking @haygeebaby. I have gathered all the necessary information from One Thing Audio and Quad Musikwiedergabe about the two sets on offer. The One Thing Audio is a complete rebuild - all panels new, transformer and audio supply rebuilt, clamp boards fitted. This is basically in ideal condition, and costs accordingly.

The Quad Musikwiedergabe has had all panels exchanged in 2007, plus new cascades. The current owner will now exchange the eht boards with new ones from One Thing Audio. The rest of the psu, and the audio transformer are still in original state. On top of that, they have no clamp boards fitted. Meaning the treble panels might have arced since 2007. I'll ask the owner to check when he fits the eht boards.

 

Still, the One Thing Audio pair are clearly in ideal condition. Quad Musikwiedergabe doesn't have clamp boards, may have arced panels, has an old audio transformer, and parts of the psu are original as well.

 

So I made an offer for the One Thing Audio, which has been declined. The lowest the owner will go is higher than what I am willing to spend max. I asked him to contact me if he thinks we can find an agreement. Don't know if he will.

 

So now I am debating whether I should go for the Musikwiedergabe pair (if the new eht boards fix the volume imbalance, no arcing occured on the panels, and clamp boards are fitted - so, a lot of ifs). I am sure I could get a good price on this pair. If I should pass on both offers and wait for another one (they seem to come maybe twice a year in my region. Or if I should pay up on the One Thing Audio pair.

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