I'm Jenny. 40+ professional gal educated to postgrad level. For 21 yrs I was an engineer in broadcasting & IT but I now work in the theatre. I like Apple macs, they work! I enjoy writing novels, opera, am-dram, gardening walking & cycling.
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Small rectangular Speaker Smooth Round Sound
Compact size . attractive black onyx finish, nicely rounded well balanced sound
At £400 a bit pricey for some . Chinese QC not up to Quads usual high standards
Look & Design
Value for Money
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Welcome to the very final part of my review of the Quad 99 Hifi system.
For those seeking to get a feel for the overall system this review should be read in conjunction with those that I have previously written covering the other components in particular the Pre and power Amp.
My Quad 99 system comprises of:
99 Pre Amp control unit. 99 Power Amp 99 FM tuner 99 CDP2 Cd player 11L2 Speaker
In this much delayed last instalment I am going to look at what, in many respects is the most important part of the system namely the speakers. These are the things which have the job of actually changing all those electrical impulses back into something that your ears can register and for this reason alone we should spend as much time choosing them as we do all the other bits. But for some inexplicable reason when the average non-technical person approaches buying hifi they always seem to forget the speakers until the last minute and then bundle in a cheapo pair which they can squeeze into what is left of the budget.
This is a false economy because whilst it is true that a £1000 pair of speakers will never make your £50 wing-wang-woo amp sound good it is also true that a £50 pair of speakers can easily make your £1000 quad 99 amp sound like an old 1950's Dansette record player (and for those not old enough to remember these they were pretty awful…)
In my case, as I have already explained I won the system in a competition so I didn't get a choice of speakers. The unit came with Quad's own 11L2 speakers which at a typical price of just a shade under £400 should be reasonably good.
I say should be because by Quad standards £400 is a very modestly priced item so I was very aware that these were indeed an entry level unit. That said they do perform remarkably well on light classical, Jazz and vocal music. I'm not sure that they would be up to anything which demanded a heavy base response and in fact having auditioned the system through them and through my beloved Tannoy Sixes I can indeed confirm that the sound is much more impressive with the Tannoys than with the Quads. That said the Tannoys are big brutes and the Quads are diminutive bookshelf sized items so it probably wasn't a fair comparison.
So what's good… well the size is pretty neat as is the finish of the cabinets which, although made of the usual MDF sport a polished black onyx like finish. Overall they sound pretty good within the stated limitations. The sound is remarkably uncoloured with good stereo imaging and great clarity given to vocal performances.
What is not quite so good is the electronic construction standard. Just a few months after I received the units one of them developed an intermittent connection between the input pillars and the crossover circuitry. As an engineer I am well able to solve this kind of problem and with a couple of minutes on the telephone to a very helpful man in Quad's service department I was easily able to open the unit and rectify the problem. BUT - and it is a big but, this is a bit disappointing for a unit from a manufacturer of this stature. The cause was undoubtedly poor quality control in the Chinese factory where the units are made. Even though it would have only taken a couple of seconds to fix them the average Joe would have had take the unit back to the dealer to get it done…
If I had the money I would upgrade the speakers to a pair of Quad's ESL2805 electrostatics. These are the final development of a technology that Quad first pioneered in the 1950's and they are still the best speakers that money can buy… The only problem is at £4000 a pair they darned well need to be!
Having said all that, back in the real world, where £400 is a much more realistic budget, I would give the 11L2 speakers a qualified recommendation and suggest that if you are in the market for a pair of high end compact bookshelf speakers you include these in your auditions. If, like me, you are into Jazz and light music they should hit the spot pretty well!
Really well written, detailed and very informative Quad review there indeed. I'm suprised you had a problem with these though, as Quad equipment normally lasts for a long time, and has an excellent sound too.........Roy..........