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Which pair of Quad ESL 57 to buy?

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Posted (edited)

Be careful with the German ones you are looking at, in my experience with the Quad ESL57-63-&2905 is that if there is a channel imbalance, the problem is generally to be found in the panels not the electronics. A pull to one channel usually indicates a treble loss in the offending treble panel. This is as a result of two things, either the conductive coating on the mylar membrane has gone ‘off’ resulting in a reduced charging of that panel, meaning less treble output, or that there is a static discharge and leakage occurring at the edges of the membrane due to debris being there or some part of the membrane is bridging the required gaps. Anyway, no easy fix for either problem as it will require dismantling the treble strips which involves self-destruction of 64 steel rivets holding the treble strips together.


For context, I have owned four pairs of ESL-57 over time and while they do sound fabulous (within their playing envelope) they can be a labour of love to keep going.









Edited by Steve M

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Thanks for the heads up Steve. We will know after the new eht boards are in. Sheldon Stokes and One Thing Audio both said new eht boards was the first thing to try. If indeed the panels are damaged/deteriorated I'm not buying this pair. I would want a pair that is likely to run for years without bigger problems. So I really hope to find a pair that doesn't need high maintenance to keep it running.

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Posted (edited)


Dom - may I suggest another method to reach the same goal.

Trying to find a pair of 40-60 year old speakers that are without problem could be difficult.


About 11 years ago I went through a similar process that you are going through now.

In the end I found a shabby/cheap/but 100% working pair of 57's with good panels in LA USA and hand carried them back to Australia and then spent two months restoring them. It wasn't too difficult to restore the speakers.


These days you can buy brand new upgraded panels, power supplies, etc for your Quads.

Why don't you contact OTA and get a quotation for all the new components.

See how much parts will cost and even ask about installation from them.

From time to time they have old 57 stock.

DIY on the 57 is not very difficult.


This way you will know that your speakers are in 100% working order and should last a long time.


ESL57s are great speakers - something every audio guy should own or experience once in their hifi journey.

But saying that I would not recommend spending a lot on these speakers.

The mids are hard to beat but the highs are missing and the bass is mediocre.

Money could be spent on newer products for an equally engaging experience.


Just my two cents after pondering on your situation and how I would go about it if I had to do it all again.


Good luck




Edited by haygeebaby

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I've thought about that too. In the end, buying a refurbished pair used will be cheaper if you need new panels. The electronic components are relatively affordable at One Thing Audio. But new panels add up. On top of that I am not skilled at do it yourself. I can not solder, and I don't have the tools. So for me it makes more sense to buy a used pair that has been refurbished.


I do have very good nearfield speakers by Geithain for critical, close listening. And I have a set of surround speakers for movies and the party stuff. What I am missing are a pair of speakers for relaxed, yet engaging listening. They don't need to be super clinical and neutral. I have the Geithains for that. Rather they should be captivating on classical and smaller, intimate music. I liked the ESL 57 very much for that.


Out of interest, are there any other speakers you would recommend for that purpose in the same pricerange? Much as I liked the ESL 57 musically, they are obtrusive in a room, and could cost effort and money to keep in shape.

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Yeah I agree 57's are great. Follow your heart and acquire them however way you can. You won't regret - great stage in the hifi journey.

Magnepan perhaps - great bang for buck. Lots of happy followers.

If I had to get another ESL I would consider ER Audio Acorn speakers.

They are however a kit speaker. But having compared them to the ESL57 sound - 57 mid is slightly better - but the Acorn wins everywhere else. 

I'd also consider the ESL63. A better speaker than the 57 - same sound signature - better build, bass, and highs. But 57 mid is still better and nothing beats the look and charm of the 57.

But get a high current amp with some good oomph. Brings out the best in ESL.

If it wasn't panel speakers - the next stage would be horns.




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Posted (edited)

Thanks haygeebaby, it helps a lot.


Actually the ESL-63 was on my list. I've had a listening session where I could directly compare them to the ESL 57. I prefered the latter.


Now I am waiting to see if the new eht boards solve the issue with the pair by Quad Musikwiedergabe, and whether the treble panels are ok or whether they have arced. Once that's clear I'll decide.

Edited by goodkeys

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