The Quad ESL 57 is an iconic classic and a legend among HiFi speakers, it an electrostatic speaker that has garnered plenty of accolades and been praised by critics including the discerning few. Even after so many decades have passed, the Quad ESL 57 still hasn’t completely lost its charm and is well-loved by many audiophiles all over the world. We are fortunate that the HiFi industry is still going strong and have made countless amplifiers over the years. The question now is which amplifier is best suited for Quad ESL 57.
This is what we are going to find out and will be listing out the best amps that you can go for. To start, we will need to learn more about the illustrious Quad ESL 57 electrostatic speakers. Such as their strengths, limitations, and sound characteristics. With this information, we will be able to sort through the long line of amplifiers and shortlist the best matching ones that we can partner with Quad ESL 57.
Sound Characteristics and Merits of Quad ESL 57
The vintage design of the Quad ESL 57 speaker brings us back to the past, it looks absolutely special and we can only imagine how people felt when it was first produced. Where conventional speakers in the past are big and bulky boxes, and here you see a futuristic-looking Quad ESL 57. If you look closely, you can see the intricate design of the speaker grilles which is like a work of art. Instead of using the traditional driver units, the ESL 57 uses panels where one is for high-frequency and the other two for mid/bass frequency. They require ample breathing space and do have a big footprint, small listening rooms are not really recommended.
The frequency response of the Quad ESL 57 is rather interesting, as it is only 50Hz-10kHz. The speaker sensitivity is 93dB which is higher than we expected it to be. The impedance is at 15 Ohms which all these specs do point towards the direction that these speakers are easy to drive. They probably will need support from a subwoofer to improve the bass performance. To supplement the higher frequencies, you can go with an external super tweeter but it could change their base sonic signature by quite a lot. We wouldn’t go all out on power as well as the Quad ESL 57 aren’t really able to take in too much of it.
The frequency response may be limited but the music delivery still sounds so beautiful. There is this realism when it comes to vocals and instruments especially ones with strings. The midrange reproduction of the Quad ESL 57 is incredible, there are so many inner details and everything sounded natural. There are also plenty of textures in the music delivery and with very precise pacing, providing a smooth fluid ride through the musical passage. You can’t really hear any harshness at all volumes, probably due to the high-frequency limitations. Looking at the bright side, the overall sound reproduction is really easy on the ears, they sound so sweet and airy.
The Quad ESL 57 bass performance is certainly lacking which does make the overall music delivery sound less punchy and with lesser presence. The sound also feels lean due to the lightweight bass but mixing in a subwoofer will significantly improve this. An active sub will also be able to produce very deep bass frequency which the ESL 57 electrostatic speakers are unable to muster on their own. Though, the innate bass quality is agile and working with the rest of the frequencies in cohesion. They can’t be played too loud due to the limited max SPL but is still loud enough especially for nearfield listening.
The midrange of the Quad ESL 57 is immaculate and that is indeed their greatest strength. The realism and beautiful sounding voice will be enough to make most listeners fall in love with these electrostatic speakers. No wonder they are still so highly sought after. They still hold up nicely even after so many years, that is really an impressive feat where a lot of loudspeakers are unable to do. We have all the necessary details that we need and is time to start listing out the best amplifiers which you can match with the classic Quad ESL 57 speakers.
Quad ESL 57 Specifications
- Speaker Type: 2 way, 3 driver loudspeaker system
- Frequency Response: 50Hz-10kHz
- Impedance: 15 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 93dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 880mm x 790mm x 270mm | 35″ x 31″ x 11″
- Weight: 18kg (40lbs)
Best Amplifiers to match with Quad ESL 57
The Music Reference RM10 is one of the best amplifiers to match with the Quad ESL 57 speakers. It is specially designed by Roger Modjeski to drive his own ESL 57 and you can be assured of how good the Music Reference RM10 will match with these electrostatic speakers. The soundstage is spacious and is deep, with impressive stereo imaging that provides you with holographic sound quality. The sound characteristics match really well with each other, delivering a smooth, transparent and warm music presentation that you can enjoy for countless hours without fatigue.
The Quad 33/303 preamp and power amp combination will be amazing for your Quad ESL 57 speakers. When the classic Quad amps like the 33 and 303 are being designed, the ESL speakers are always part of the equation and they should work hand in hand with one another. The Quad 33/303 are vintage classics, with similar sonic characteristics that match well with ESL 57 and capable of driving these speakers to sound their absolute best. There is also that vintage Quad sound quality to it and if you already in love with their house sound then the Quad 33/303 is an amazing choice for your Quad ESL 57 electrostatic speakers.
The Berning 270 is another great choice to pair with your Quad ESL 57 speakers as this is a high-performance tube amplifier that is sanely priced. The ZH-270 is also impervious to impedance fluctuations which are amazing. It is also more than powerful enough to drive the Quad ESL 57 with ease and the Berning valve amp has a hefty low-frequency impact that does help in providing a meatier overall bass. The expansive and openness of the tube amplifier also matches well with the Quad ESL 57. It will be best if you could audition them and hear how they sound.
The Naim Nait 2 was an excellent match with the Quad ESL 57 speakers and so is Naim Supernait 2. It is an award-winning solid-state integrated amplifier with a dedicated subwoofer output which you can use to connect to an active sub. The low-end reproduction of the Supernait 2 is superb as well and along with an active subwoofer, it will deliver punchy and articulate bass performance. The rendering and precision of the vocals also work very well with the Quad ESL 57, delivering beautiful and high-resolution voices. The power output of the Naim Supernait 2 is more than sufficient to make the speakers sing.
The newer Quad valve integrated amplifier will also be one of the best matching amplifiers to go with. The Quad QII-Classic provides its listeners with high-resolution musical details, it is a bit more transparent and neutral sounding than expected. This also matches well with the sonic realism of the Quad ESL 57 speakers. The Quad QII-Classic delivery can be a little bit punchy along with its sweet and smooth sound reproduction, you’ve got an entertaining system with pristine sound quality.
If you are in search of power amplifiers, the Quad QII-Forty will be one of the finest choices, it is a two-channel valve tube power amplifier that matches really well with the Quad ESL 57. Prefer a more classic power amp? The Quad 405-2 will be the next better choice to drive your ESL 57 speakers. It could probably be the most ideal choice as Quad designed the 405-2 power amps to run with Quad ESL 57 and 63, you can certainly expect they will be an excellent match. Naim also produces high-quality power amplifiers with exceptional sonic performance but we will suggest sticking with Quad amps if possible.
To Sum It Up
Getting super tweeters for the Quad ESL 57 is completely optional, it may change the sound signature quite significantly so you might want to hear the difference first before deciding. Adding a subwoofer into the mix may be a good option if you want better bass performance and this is what ESL owners will do anyway. These are some of the best amplifiers you can pair with the Quad ESL 57 speakers, and like always, it is recommended to audition them first before making a decision. If possible, you should audition them a few more rounds just to be sure.