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Life after Quad ESLs - Ideas for shortlist of quality speakers


Established Member
For several years my Hi-Fi has relied upon a pair of Quad ESL 989 speakers.

I have always loved the ESL sound but not the look and Mrs hates them! Now we need to relocate out Hi-Fi into a smaller room and I have agreed that the ESLs will go.

However I have no idea what I should look at as replacements, I am very out of touch and I want to create a short list of models to consider.

Some info:
listening room is 3m x 4m
Amp is Lyngdorf TDAI2200
Source is SimpleAudio Roomplayer+
Music is mainly rock & jazz

Budget is a wide range £2-6k hopefully not too near the top of this range. I would like well made high build quality speakers.

Any ideas ? Thanks


Prominent Member
I'd shop around a for a second-hand pair of Meridian DSP5200s or even DSP7200s if they fall within your price range. Sound quality to die for, built in amps (so you can sell the Lyngdorf too - make the missus even happier) and the Meridians are beautiful loudspeakers - I'm sure she wouldn't mind their looks.

You would need a source component with a digital output, that's the only caveat.
And here you go, a pair of DSP5200s and a matching G91:

Meridian Audio DSP5200 G91 System | eBay

The Seller of this Item states 'Please Note - Due to high PayPal fees, PAyPal is not accepted as a payment method unless the buyer pays the fees. '

This (passing-on of fees or surcharges) is NOT allowed under Ebay's rules, and any potential Buyer should firmly point this out to the Seller and REFUSE to add any such fees to what they pay !


Prominent Member
Fair point, but I don't think it's relevant to this discussion nor is it an obstacle to buying the components offered.
Fair point, but I don't think it's relevant to this discussion nor is it an obstacle to buying the components offered.

Well, the Listing has now been deleted by Ebay - almost certainly because of the violation of the Ebay rule referred to !


Life after ESL speakers is difficult. They do have a unique quality which is hard to match any other way.

I wouldn't recommend Meridian speakers as a like for like replacement. They are fine speakers but cut from different sonic cloth.

Perhaps worth exploring the smallest Martin Logan's which might just get domestic approval. Failing that, look at speakers with ribbon tweeters which can sound similar.

I used a variety of ESL speakers for many years. Started with stacked Quad 57, Martin Logan, Acoustat x, Dayton Wright and others.

Eventually switched to Infinity Ref 1b which use arrays of ribbons and then to the Wilson Watts. Actually for your choice of music and budget, maybe a used pair of Wilson Duettes might be a good choice.


Established Member
Thanks all, keep them coming.

I think I will be adding Monitor Audio PL200 and PL300 to my list they look interesting, anyone know how they perform?


Prominent Member
Very well liked by other forum members here, I think there is a discussion thread just for the Platinum range? IMO the sound quality excels at the top end (thanks no doubt to that ribbon tweeter) and then as you get to the bass I found the 300s to be a bit light and even a bit pedestrian, if I may use such a term. I'm fussy about my bass though, so YMMV. Well worth an audition, and the finish is absolutely first rate, really beautiful, probably very wife-friendly :)


Distinguished Member
If you like Electrostatic speakers, then consider Martin Logan and Magnepan.

Martin Logan ElectroMotion Electrostatic Loudspeaker available in matt or gloss black with free UK delivery from Hifi Gear

Martin Logan Ethos Electrostatic Loudspeaker available at Hifi Gear

Floorstanding Speakers | Tower Speakers | Hi-Fi Speakers | Hifi Gear

The more expensive Martin Logan have independent amps and volume control for the bass driver so you can tailor the bass output to your taste.


Though the Magnepan will probably be hard to find in the UK or EU.

OF course there are other very fine speakers, but they aren't Electrostatic -

The Dali Helicon 400 and 800 are stunning speakers -

DALI HELICON 400Mk2 AV-LAND Floorstanding Loudspeakers

DALI HELICON 800Mk2 AV-LAND Floorstanding Loudspeakers

The Dali Epicon 6 are beyond stunning and also a bit over your budget -

DALI EPICON 6 AV-LAND Floorstanding Speakers

On the lower end, the Dali Mentor 6 are very impressive -

DALI MENTOR 6 AV-LAND Floorstanding Loudspeakers

Though probably too big for your space, there is a Dali Mentor 8 with twin 8" bass drivers -

Dali Mentor 8 Speakers (Pair) for £3,999.00 in Speakers

Of course, the Monitor Audio Platinum are very impressive -

Floor Standing Speakers Monitor Audio PL200 | hifix.co.uk

Floor Standing Speakers Monitor Audio PL300 | hifix.co.uk

The PL300 have twin 8" bass drivers and might be a bit big for your room, but the PL200 has twin 6.5" bass drivers and should work better in a smaller space.

The best floor standers money can buy! Monitor Audio Platinum PL300 Floor Standing Speakers | AVForums

There is a long thread on the new B&W CM10 speakers. These are very impressive speakers, and I found them more balanced and clearer than the B&W 804D.

B&W CM10 floorstanding loudspeakers | Bowers & Wilkins | Hifi Gear

The CM10 really are extremely impressive speakers for the price (~£3000/pr).

Bowers & Wilkins CM10. | AVForums

As an alternative to those, at a very reasonable price, are the very impressive Focal Aria 900 series -

Focal Aria 936 Speakers (Pair) for £2,198.00 in Speakers

Focal Aria 948 Speakers (Pair) for £2,798.00 in Speakers

The Focal 948 have twin 8.25" bass drivers.

And, if you can afford it the stunning Focal Chorus 1000 series -

Focal Electra II 1028 Be Speakers (Pair) for £5,075.00 in Speakers

Focal Electra II 1038 Be Speakers (Pair) for £7,599.00 in Speakers

The absolute clarity of all the Focal really is stunning. Even the moderately priced Focal Aria 900 series are very impressive.

All that said, it is going to be hard to equal the clarity and presence of Electrostatic speakers.

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Established Member
I missed the most obvious Electrostatic speakers - QUAD.

Quad ESL 2912 Electrostatic Speakers (Pair) for £8,000.00 in Speakers

Quad ESL 2912 Electrostatic Speakers (Pair) for £8,000.00 in Speakers

Quad ELS 2912 - Google Search

The new Quad are shaped a little different than the older versions. Perhaps that is sufficient change for you.


Bluewizard many thanks for all the ideas, regarding the new Quads I have looked at them however when I listened to them the differences were very small and I don't think I could justify the expense, as they are still fairly large and according to the Mrs they still look like gravestones.


Prominent Member
Can't believe some of these suggestions for your small listening room (3 x 4m)!

OK, then how about these for the smallest room in the house:


Seriously though, having tried many different speakers (active & passive) in many different listening rooms over the years (I don't know why - it's just my thing), it's clear to me that you generally need to roughly match speaker size to room size because too large a speaker in such a small space will give truly ridiculous bass. I say 'generally' because it's not impossible (might be pointless though) to design a large speaker specifically for use in a small room but I'm not aware of any.

IME, I'd stick to designs with the equivalent radiator area of one 8" unit (per cabinet) absolute max. Personally, in your room size, I know that one 6.5" per cabinet would work best for me - but this isn't exact due to differences in bass loading techniques (sealed box loading tends to give less bass than equivalent ported speakers, all else being equal) and listening room construction, shape and furnishing. And I guess that electrostatics are a different case.

How about reconfiguring your entire setup to incorporate active speakers like these, the AVI ADM9RS:

Latest Active Speakers - Products | AVI HiFi

Will likely sound glorious in your room but I wouldn't know if they're likely to sound similar to your old Quads.

This is about as big as I would risk in a 3 x 4m room:

Event Electronics | Reference Studio Monitoring
| opal


Distinguished Member
About the only ElectroStatic in your price range would be the Martin Logan.

I heard, what I believe might have been the Martin Logan Ethos with the separate amp for the Bass driver. Very very impressive, and with the separate bass control you can dial in as much or as little bass as your like. However, they are just a bit over your budget. The speakers have a very crisp clear presentation as is common of electrostatic speakers.

However, the other speakers I listed are considered very fine speakers, and should be more than enough to meet your needs.

On the low side of the price range, the Focal Aria 900 series (936) and the B&W CM10 are very impressive speakers and well worth an audition. They are not ElectroStatics, but they are very impressive for the money. I would include the Dali Mentor 6 in this same catagory, a very impressive speaker on the low end of your budget range.

On the higher end the Monitor Audio PL200 and the Dali Helicon 400 are very impressive speakers. It is just a question of which one suits your taste. The Dali Helicon 400 have a pretty standard front profile, but they are relatively deep speakers.

The Martin Logan Ethos are a bit over your budget at about £6700/pr, but I would expect those to be very stunning speakers, and they certainly have a soft profile and blend nicely into the room.

Martin Logan Ethos Electrostatic Loudspeaker available at Hifi Gear

As to the size of the suggested speakers, while I did mention some speaker with 8" bass drivers, I also cautioned that they would likely be too big for the room. Also keep in mind we are trying to replace a pretty impressive speaker. Run of the mill speakers are not going to be the equal. I would suggest that 6.5" (165mm) are about as large as you can reasonably go in that room, especially if it is a closed room of those dimensions. If it is an open room and the given dimension simply represent the listening area, then perhaps larger speakers might work. But for now, I would say speaker that are not already bass heavy, and speakers with no more than 165mm bass drivers is the limit of what will be functional in the room.

However, if you want to consider Bookshelf or Stand Mount speakers, there are certainly speakers that could fit your needs and budget.

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Prominent Member
I suggest a pair of Elac FS 407, costing £3,300 new retail price. Your wife should find them compact and very smart to look at, and they sound fantastic. The jet ribbon tweeter sounds amazingly clean and transparent, the speakers have terrifically fast dynamic transients across the whole range, and the bass is deep and tightly controlled.


Distinguished Member
Very well liked by other forum members here, I think there is a discussion thread just for the Platinum range? IMO the sound quality excels at the top end (thanks no doubt to that ribbon tweeter) and then as you get to the bass I found the 300s to be a bit light and even a bit pedestrian, if I may use such a term. I'm fussy about my bass though, so YMMV. Well worth an audition, and the finish is absolutely first rate, really beautiful, probably very wife-friendly :)

I find your impressions of the MA P300s bass response interesting. One would certainly expect, with it's cabinet construction and high quality 8" drivers, the bass to response to be both articulate and rather substantial by any standards. People often find very clean distortion free bass to be lacking, particularly compared to the mass market boom boxes available out there. I wouldn't however expect an individual of your apparent experience to make that mistake so wonder if there was something else at play like poor seating location e.g. in a bass null or poor acoustics/amplification/source etc? I would give it the benefit of doubt and consider another demo ideally in a different room or setup before drawing further conclusion.


Distinguished Member
Since someone brought it up, let's take an alternate approach to speakers.

PMC make outstanding speakers, some very large and some reasonably small. Case in point -

Floor Standing Speakers Pmc TWENTY.23 | hifix.co.uk

Floor Standing Speakers Pmc TWENTY.24 | hifix.co.uk

These are floorstanding transmission line speakers, but they each have a SINGLE bass driver of moderate size. I would expect these to be very clear, and to have substantial bass.

In a 3-way transmission line speaker, consider these floorstanding -

Floor Standing Speakers Pmc OB1i | hifix.co.uk

Perhaps an imposing speaker, but with a SINGLE 170mm bass driver.

Other Floorstanding following a similar design principle -

Floor Standing Speakers Proac D30R | hifix.co.uk

Floor Standing Speakers Proac RESPONSE D28 | hifix.co.uk

ProAc Response D30 R Speakers (Pair) for £4,750.00 in Speakers

ProAc Response D30 Speakers (Pair) for £4,500.00 in Speakers

Now if you want bookshelf, any of the brands mentioned will have a bookshelf model. For example -

DALI HELICON 300mk2 AV-LAND Standmount Loudspeakers

DALI EPICON 2 AV-LAND Standmount Speakers

Focal Electra II 1008 Be Speakers (Pair) for £2,899.00 in Speakers

Bookshelf Speakers Monitor Audio PL100 | hifix.co.uk

ProAc Response D2 Speakers (Pair) for £1,879.00 in Speakers

Of course, you are sacrificing a bit of bass with these bookshelf, but not really that much. Most of them go impressively low. For example, the Dali Helicon 300 has rated bass down to 37hz at -3dB, which should bring it down very close to 32hz at -6dB. That is impressive by any standard. And, the bookshelf keep you WELL under budget.

How close to the sound of the QUAD do you want to come in your replacement speakers? As has been pointed out, the QUADS are a very hard act to follow.

Just a suggestion, but if you want to impress your wife, don't get black monoliths. Get fine wood grain speakers in a finish that reasonably matches your decor.

Just a few thoughts.



Prominent Member
MI55ION - yeah, I was surprised too, it could very well have just been the room. However I noted the rather small (IMO) bass reflex port that suggests to me quite a high tuning frequency and thus quite a high rolloff frequency (for that size of cabinet and driver compliment). I suspect that they were designed to roll off a bit higher than other equivalent designs and sacrifice a bit of depth for lower distortion and perhaps greater headroom higher up the bass region. I may be wrong though, which is why I'm so willing to give them another chance (should the opportunity ever arise). For the record I heard them at Sevenoaks' Manchester showroom, now long closed.


Established Member
Hi all, Thanks fro all your ideas and recommendations.

I have resolved the speaker situation.... for now !

I guess it was inevitable but after listening to a few other speakers locally and then moving my Quads into the new small room and being surprised at how well they worked in there, we have decided that our new speakers will be the same as our old ones and we are keeping the Quads.

They sounds great and to get any improvement will cost to much to justify. However having also stumbled upon the Dynaudio Xeo range we might soon be going in a different direction with active wireless synchronised speakers throughout the house.

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