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To start with, I'm suprised that these speakers even exist! Quad is the big sister of wharfedale, they basicaly broke off to focus on the high-end market. Until now, Quad's speakers have been highly priced, electrostatic wonders! We're talking thousands of pounds here!
These speakers are basicaly Quad's version of Wharedale's fantastic diamond range (see my review of the diamond 8.3s). Being Quad however, they've had to take things one step further, with all new techno wizardry, fancy magnets, expensive materials, componants and finish - these beauties really are the 'high-end' of 'budget' speakers.
--THE SPECIFICATIONS-- The quad 11Ls can produce sounds with frequencys from 45hz (nice and bassy) to well into the in-audible range over 20,000hz. This might not seem useful, but it does add detail and sparkle to the trebble. They have two rear bass ports which helps keep the bass clean and in its place (not overwhelming) The drive units consist of silk dome tweeters and kevlar drivers, much like wharfedale's diamond range. They are available in a choice of real-wood veneers - the choice of finishes being maple, birdseye maple (my favourite), black and rosewood. The finish itself is imaculate for speakers of this price. They are finished with 7 coats of piano laquer! - Imagine that, fans of black speakers can now own the kit that has the shine of a spanking new yamaha piano! Gorgeous! These speakers look very well built and I suppose they are quite durable, but I'm hardly going to test them to their limit, so it's hard to tell!The speaker units themselves measure 31 x 19 x 24cm (You can also buy the Quad 12Ls which are slightly larger and bassier, but slightly more expensive and not quite as good with vocals)
--THE SOUND-- Quad's 'L' range are currently the best sounding speakers I've ever heard. And I've auditioned speakers that are more than double the price. I like the 11Ls inparticularly because of their incredibly detailed and warm midrange abbilties. The trebble is also delivered with liquid smootheness and has a real sparkle. The bass is very snappy, short, punchy and very controlled - however the bass is not particularly deep or powerful, but I dont see this as a drawback, the bass is still very pleasant to listen to.
The only flaw I can see in the sound is that it is incredibly transparent, in that what you play is what you get. If you play a bad recording or can't quite stretch your budget to buy equipment that can perform to the same level, chances are that they will sound awful! You could literaly spend thousands to get these speakers sounding their best.
It's therefore very important that you read plenty of reviews in order to buy an amplifier, CD player and cables that will match the performance of the Quads.
--PRICE-- I belive that the official retail price for these speakers is £389, but I've personaly seen them for under £350. Look out for special offers, alot of reatilers offer free cable or interconnects with your purchse. Of course, the costs don't stop here, which I feel is the main drawback of owning these speakers. First off, you're going to need a good pair of speaker stands. I think the best on offer at the moment are the 'Partington Super Dreadnoughts' They're usualy £140 but I've seen them for as low as £100. Bargain!
--IN CONCLUSION-- If I hadn't of known the price of these speakers before I auditioned them, based on build, finish and especialy sound, I would have guessed these speakers to be at least £1000. They are probably best suited to buyers who originaly planned to spend over £500 on speakers. The only real question here is can you stretch your budget to accommodate for the needs of these speakers, only you have the answer!!
I have a pair of these at the front of my Naim set-up they sound jaw-dropping the details in recordings you can hear is wow!!!!
numberthree 09.02.2004 10:59
We have some Kef C Series speakers at the moment which were very good when we got them - many moons ago! I think we may have to think about changing our complete Hi-Fi system soon though, if only to fit a DVD in! Useful review. Cheers, Jan