The ESL series has always been one of Quad’s greatest achievements and at long last, after so many years of waiting, we finally have the latest iterations which are the Quad ESL 2912 and 2812. We will be focusing on the Quad ESL 2912, finding out which are the best amplifiers that we can partner these electrostatic speakers with. The partnering amplifier must be able to bring out the very best of the ESL 2912 without compromise.
We can’t just blindly get a high-end amp and so how should we proceed? We will first need to learn more about the Quad ESL 2912, find out about their strengths and their sonic characteristics. With a better understanding of their sonic prowess, we will then be able to find the right amplifier that unleashes their fullest potential. If you are looking for such an elusive amplifier then do continue to read on, as after we have gathered the necessary information, we will then show you a list of the best matching amplifiers to go with your Quad ESL 2912 speakers.
Sonic Characteristics and Strengths of Quad ESL 2912
These are towering electrostatic speakers with a broad width, the Quad ESL 2912 speakers are definitely meant for a large listening room with sufficient space for them to breathe. You may need to trial and error until you get the best imaging for your listening position, we will suggest asking for help while moving these heavy speakers (44kg). Electrostatic speakers are quite demanding when it comes to room acoustics, you may need to treat your listening room in order to get the best sound quality out of them but let your Quad ESL 2912 break in first if they are brand new. Unlike conventional speaker design, the ESL 2912 are very slim or “flat speakers”, they will definitely grab the attention of your guests due to their striking appearance.
The frequency response of the Quad ESL 2912 is at 32Hz-21kHz (-6dB) which digs pretty deep into the bass extension for an electrostatic speaker. Still, it will likely need a subwoofer to supplement the bass performance. The speaker sensitivity is 86dB which is really low but expected. We also expect ESL 2912 to be power-hungry as well. The nominal impedance is 8 Ohms with impedance variation of 4-20 Ohms. Just to add in, the toe-in position of the speakers is also crucial and will require experimenting as well.
When you finally find the right sweet spot, the dimension of the music immediately catches your attention as the Quad ESL 2912 hook you right into the beautiful musical space which it has created for you. The sonic imaging is precise, projecting a holographic music performance with amazing accuracy. The various musicians are accurately positioned and highly defined all the time. Everything sounded natural and realistic without any strain. The midrange sound quality of Quad ESL 2912 is revealing and smooth, making the vocals sound so sweet and vivid.
The highs are silky smooth as well and very clean sounding, playing at high volumes really opens up the high frequency but never sounding harsh or bright. The overall sound quality is very well-balanced and neutral with a touch of warmth. The mid-bass of the Quad ESL 2912 also provides a slightly fuller sound than its predecessors. The overall bass performance is also better and goes deeper into the low-frequency extension. For most music genres, the bass reproduction of these electrostatic speakers is sufficient, and integrating a subwoofer into the mix is completely optional. If we are talking about movie scores, pipe organ instruments, trance, and so forth, you will need a subwoofer to really “feel the bass”.
The soundstage is also what makes the Quad ESL 2912 so engaging to listen to, the spatial sound quality and the airiness are also so alluring. The low-frequency performance is slightly better than the Quad ESL 2812 since the ESL 2912 has additional bass panels at its disposal. Now we know how magnificent this pair of electrostatic speakers are and how much it needs to be driven to sound its absolute finest. It is time to share with you the list of the best amplifiers for your Quad ESL 2912 speakers.
Quad ESL 2912 Specifications
- Speaker Type: Multiple Electrostatic Drive Membranes
- Frequency Response (-6dB): 32Hz-21kHz
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Impedance Variation: 4-20 Ohms
- Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 86dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 1470mm x 690mm x 380mm | 58″ x 27″ x 15″
- Weight: 44kg (97lbs)
Best Amplifiers to match with Quad ESL 2912
The Parasound Halo series preamp and power amp combination will be amazing for your Quad ESL 2912 speakers. For the preamplifier section, you might want to go with the Parasound P 6, a 2.1 channel preamp with a high-quality digital to analog converter ESS Sabre32 (384kHz/32-bit). The warm tonality of the Halo P 6 provides a fuller sound without compromising the musicality and precision of its sonic prowess. Coupled with the matching Parasound A 21+, an extremely powerful high bias Class A/AB amplifier, which can easily drive your Quad ESL 2912 speakers to high levels of volume. The sonic performance of these Parasound HiFi separates is a worthy match to your coveted Quad ESL 2912.
The best amplifiers to match with the Quad ESL 2912 will probably be from the same company since they are more than likely to share similar sonic signatures and able to bring out the very best of each other. Going for Quad HiFi separates will be ideal, for the preamp section, you might want to go for the Quad Artera Pre and the power amplifier section, you can go with the matching Artera Stereo. The patented Current Dumping technology, provides your Quad ESL 2912 with stable power, allowing the electrostatic speakers to maintain their high-quality sound and sonic performance without unnecessary disruptions.
The Quad Artera Pre is a pure analog preamplifier and if you require digital features, unfortunately, this won’t be an ideal preamp for you. For this case, you might want to check out the award-winning Cambridge Audio Edge NQ, it is a preamplifier with a network player. Other than a high-quality DAC (32bit/384kHz), it also has wireless capabilities such as Bluetooth aptX HD and Wi-Fi connection. There are plenty of digital connections like TV ARC, USB Audio Input, Toslink, etc. The sonic performance of the Edge NQ is also exceptional, the spacious music presentation and the clean sound quality suit the Quad ESL 2912 speakers really well. You can use Quad Artera Stereo as the power amplifier.
The coveted McIntosh MA352 is very well matched with your Quad ESL 2912 speakers, as firstly, it has more than enough power to make your electrostatic speakers sing. The McIntosh MA352 is one of the very finest hybrid amplifiers and the vacuum tube preamp delivers that refined valve sound with a massive sound field that the Quad ESL 2912 are more than capable of projecting. The warmth provides a fuller sound overall, and a weightier bass presence which complements the ESL 2912 really well, and still delivers plenty of details. It is worth your time to have an audition with them.
The Yamaha A-S3200 delivers high definition and clean music delivery of your favorite tunes, with crisp trebles that complement Quad ESL 2912 and don’t sound harsh when driven at loud volumes. The bass performance of A-S3200 is another sonic characteristic that works well with the electrostatic speakers, providing a tad more weight and authority. There are plenty of details been revealed, as the powerful integrated amplifier cleanly produces them out in spade in crystal clear sound quality. There is plenty of amplifier power to handle the music transients with confidence and provides more texture to the overall sound quality. It is recommended to hear them out first before making a decision, especially you are used to listening to a very warm-sounding audio system.
There are other power amplifiers you can go for and are easy on your wallets, one of the best performance for the money will be Emotiva. There are recognized by audiophiles and have received many praises over the years. If budget was never an issue, McIntosh power amplifiers such as their MC2152 2-channel vacuum tube amplifier are well-match with the Quad ESL 2912. Another high-end brand to go for will be Naim Audio, some of the best solid-state amplifiers are made by them and they are able to deliver music beautifully. If you are interested to get ICEPower (Class D) power amplifiers, the multiple-awards winning brand Wyred 4 Sound will be an amazing choice. Check out their Mono-block power amplifier, mAMP, and they have stereo power amps as well.
To Sum It Up
The ESL speakers are suitable to match with valve tubes amps but we will suggest hearing them out first before deciding. The listed amplifiers are some of the best on the market that you can go for and match with your Quad ESL 2912. Shortlist a few of them and give them a chance, audition them and see if you like what you hear. The Quad ESL 2912 electrostatic speakers have better bass performance than their predecessors, getting a subwoofer will be optional but if you really want one, we will suggest going for sealed subwoofers as they are better for music due to their core strengths.