Quad Z-4 Floorstanding Speaker Review & Comments

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Speakers' started by Ed Selley, May 3, 2017.


    1. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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    2. Cyprio

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      Thanks for the review Ed. For a speaker costing over three grand they could have done a better job with the plinth - imo it looks more befitting of a budget speaker plinth design.
       
    3. Ken T

      Ken T
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      Good review , thanx.
      You know . . .
      . . in the olden days, cars used to have distinctive looks and shapes, the Cadilac was big and comfy, the Ford Capri attempted a streamlined look for the likes of Del-boys, VW beatle was the first bubble car and so on.
      But now-adays most car's looks are dictated by the wind-tunnel, aerodynamics and fuel efficiency!
      So we lost those traditional looks in order to find something new, functional, scientific and curvy!
      HiFi speakers are also going the same route.
      Square boxes are being phased out, and acoustics demand curvy (hyperbolic) enclosures, the likes, Sonus Faber been using (correctly pointed out in the review).
      So slim, tall baffles with multiple bass drivers, curved enclosures are becoming more common place.
      Also worth a mention that these days with new automation techniques, it is more feasible to produce such enclosures economically.
       
    4. mainaman

      mainaman
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      Hmm,maybe i am nitpicking,but while the perceived build quality looks fine the speakers appear relatively lightweight for their size and arsenal of drivers.Heft is not always a measure of quality,but the KEF R900,MA GX 300,Focal 948 and others are both heavier and cheaper.
       
      Last edited: May 5, 2017
    5. Jefke13

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      I love these speakers. They seem to have a balance between detail and musicality.
       
    6. gizlaroc

      gizlaroc
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      I have been running some of the smaller Quad S-2s for a few months now in a second system. Just using a Sonos connect amp with them and a Rel sub, and was really pleased with them.
      However, I then bought myself a pair of Scansonic MB2.5s for the loft and with that bought a highly modded Quad 405-2 power amp. Longs story short I didn't get on with the Scansonics and while deciding what to do I swapped the Sonos Connect Amp for my spare Connect and put the Quad 405-2 in its place, massive difference.
      Much smoother, liquidy sound coming from them now.
      So I tried my Meridian MS600 dac/endpoint and things started to come to life. in fact I was impressed with them I moved them into the main room, where I run a Meridian G68 and DSP5200 speakers, that is running Roon with the MS600.

      I wanted to see how far behind the Meridian Speakers the little Quads were, again with a Rel sub to help them out in the lower regions and the Quad 405-2 amp. The bigger room I thought they may struggle somewhat, however, they sounded even better.

      The soundstage opened up and the midrange is one of the sweetest I have ever heard in that room, almost panel like. Even my wife said "That sounds really nice" which believe me is high praise indeed.

      This got me thinking about my current system, and a couple of weeks back I took the plunge and ordered a pair of the Z-3's, which quite a few people say are nicer than the Z-4s, a little more open sounding if a bit bass light, but with the sub I preferred that. I nearly bought the Z-2 bookshelves, as I love the S-2s so much, sonically I think they may be even better in bookshelf form, the S-2 imaging is holographic, but aesthetics ruled as I (she) wanted floorstanders.

      They are wonderful! I bought a Quad 909 power amp for them and I am using them with the Meridian pre/dac still. The soundstage is even bigger than the S-2s and the midrange is sweeter. It uses a bigger tweeter on the Z compared to the S range.
      After 12 years with Meridian DSP speakers, many others have come and gone again, these Quads have seen off the Meridians.

      The other thing worth mentioning is source. I am now running Raspberry Pi's as endpoints, the swap from the Sonos gear was a no brainer, what I was not expecting was the Pi's to beat the Meridian and the Auralic Aeries.
      Raspberry Pi £35, iFi Power Supply £45, Dig+ board £40. Software DietPi with logitech, airplay and Roon.
      The second one with the S-2s is running a Meridian Explorer 2 MQA Dac instead of the Digi+ board, that plugs straight into the 405-2 amp.

      The best way to describe the sound of them is 'clean'. That's all I can think of, they is no edgey'ness at all no matter what volume, all recordings sound nice, good recordings sound blissfull. Detail levels are stunning, you can hear different mics on some albums, you can tell the size of the room it was recorded in, yet it is the most laid back and easy to listen to source I have ever had, you can put it on at 9am and listen till midnight with no fatigue at all.

      The whole range of Quad speakers currently available are imho some of the best value hifi you can buy, if you like your Cyrus, Naim sort of sound they probably won't be for you, but if you like valves or a sweet midrange with a shed load of detail you might just want to check them out.

      Also, if you don't mind bookshelves then definitely consider the S-2s, imho that is the real bargain in the range. they may not have the piano lacquer black finish of the Z range, but they still look amazing and far better than some of the speakers I have tried over the last few years from PMC, ProAc, Focal etc. at 5x the price. I paid under £500 for a new pair, and £300 for my Snook/Net Audio Modded 405-2, that combo is something pretty damned special for not much money at all.
       
    7. Jefke13

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      Hello gizlaroc,

      Thanks for the review. The s2 is available in high gloss i believe. The z series were on my short list. I settled for the audiovector qr1. Similar speaker. Front slot for easy placement. Amt ribbon tweeter. Beautiful finish and cheaper than the z series.

      I think quad makes amazing speakers you can listen to for hours and hours. Good luck with them. Hope mine are as good...
       
    8. gizlaroc

      gizlaroc
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      Just a bit of a follow up here.

      These Z3s are stunning!

      I decided to grab my Quad 988s into the main room to have a proper comparison with the electrostatics and have to say that the Z3's are 'nearly' as good. The ESLs still have a slight edge, but there is very little in it, which is huge praise indeed. And the Z3s are so much more wife friendly!!!

      Z3's...
      IMG_3576.jpg

      ESL988's...
      IMG_3580.jpg



      One thing I will say though, is they are a bit lacking in bass. The top end is just divine, as is the midrange, what bass is there is very good, but these sound more like big bookshelves than floorstanders and it made me realise even more just how amazing the little S-2s I also own are.

      In hindsight, I think a pair of Z-2's on stands might be an even better choice. I use a Rel sub, so no an issue for me really, everything below 50hz goes to that and above to the speakers, so the Z-2s might have given me an even more open midrange and even more holographic imaging.

      I went with the Z3s for aesthetics as much as any thing, but for someone considering these speakers I would say a pair of Z-2's, BK sub and stands for less money would be a better overall bet and give you stunning results for the money.

      Don't get me wrong, put on an album like the superbly recorded "Double Bass, Double Voice" in direct mode, so no sub and speakers full range, and nothing is lost in the lower regions. Same with albums like Leonard Cohens "You want it darker" or Diana Krall's new "Turn Up The Quiet", neither of those benefit from the sub for bass, all it adds to is ambience, the sub allows you to hear the size of the rooms the tracks were recorded in. The Cohen album is a good example of how the Z Series improve over the S series, that oversized ribbon tweeter on the Z really does add something to late night listening. You can hear a change of mics on the Zs for example which is missing on the S's, you can tell one of the Cohen tracks is recorded in quite a big studio/room on the Z's which is lost on the S's.

      I have been running Meridian DSPs for nearly 15 years now, I have bought and sold lots of other passive speakers and amps, and some I have truly enjoyed, but none have got me to come away from the Meridian actives as my main system. I have had PMCs, Roksans, Dunlavey, ProAc, Focal and others that have been impressive through to disappointing, but none have bettered the Meridians. Now I am not saying the Quads are better than the Meridians, they beat them in many areas and with a lot of music, jazz, voclas, acoustic etc. but the Meridians are not that far behind them with those genres, but the Meridians do do things like electronic and rockier stuff better. That is the thing with the Meridians, there is simply no type of music they don't sound excellent with, sure some styles can be beaten by others, but there is not one area where they are anything but excellent, the same goes for levels, listen at 0db during the day and they sound amazing, listen at -45db at midnight and they sound the same, that is what the DSP aspect brings to the table, every click on the volume scale is the sweet spot. But, I like the Z3's enough to have let the Meridians go to a new home.

      I still DJ and like my deep sassy underground house, and this is the one area that I feel I have lost out slightly with the Quads to the Meridians, the Focal 1028BE's I tried had the edge there over the Quads, but with everything else I listen to the Quads constantly impress me, and considering they retail at £2499 and can be had for around £2k there are incredible value for money imho. The Focals were £2700 used, £5k new I think? and for me didn't sound anywhere near as refined and grown up as the Quads or Meridians, and the Meridians are now £6500, although do have a very good apodising dac and 3 power amps in each speaker.

      So overall a big thumbs up for the Quads, my only gripe is the size of the silver clamp rings on them, they stand out a bit much for me! See attached pics. It means the grilles stay on all the time.

      IMG_3577.jpg


      quadz3room.jpg
       
      Last edited: Jun 28, 2017

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