Old Wine In New Skins: Quad's New 'Statics
I'd heard a lot about Quad's upgraded ESL-989 speakers, renamed the Quad 2905 ($11,500/pair), so I dropped by the company's exhibit at the Alexis Park to check out these electrostatic floorstanders.
When I arrived, IAG America's Larry Shafer was listening to 2905s driven by Quad electronics. Smaller 2908s sat by. The new Quads sure looked sweet! So, too, was the sound, which was just as pleasing as my Quad '989s in my own listening room.
Julian Maddock, Quad's technical expert, assured me that the 2905—the model number combines the year (2005) and the panel size (9)—uses exactly the same circuitry and measures identically to the '989 in both time and frequency domains. This was refreshing—a manufacturer who upgrades his product but announces that the more expensive, newer version tests just the same as the old one!
So, what is new here? The ca-$2000 upgrade was done to strengthen the panel by reducing the speaker frame's "cantilevering" action while playing music. The new design is "centered on tensioned aluminum extrusions coupled to a stainless steel support structure." Structural rigidity was increased further by adding aluminum side bars that frame the cloth grille, a black-piano-lacquered wooden top plate, and a thin strut that runs perpendicularly down from the speaker top to latch behind onto the base, and a larger and heavier base plate. The aerofoil profiled tensioning strut reduces bending motions in the panels—and their chassis—while the speaker is reproducing music.
Finally, Quad listened to the laments from owners about the old-fashioned, tiny speaker terminals, and upgraded them to accommodate heavier spade lugs.