Quad's new Artera Pre brings back Quad's useful tilt and bass contour tone controls now assignable to each input. The up-to-date fully balanced short signal path design (always been a feature of Quad preamplifiers), offers an extremely transparent sound with an inky black noise floor that is fully revealing of the benefits of high end balanced cables and indeed the capabilities of the current dumping Artera Stereo power amp. Even with the recent tariff related price increase, the performance is truly impressive at the $1,495 price point. I always admired what Jan Ertner, who led the design team, had previously achieved with Quad's 67 CD player (one of the first decent sounding CD players that I still own) and there is more than a little bit of the magic back that originally elevated Quad in the HiFi world. Hook up the Artera gear to Quad's Z-2 bookshelf speakers and you will be mesmerized.
Quad Electroacoustics is a world famous brand best known for its iconic electrostatic speakers, dynamic speakers with ribbon tweeters, well-designed modern electronics, and classic tube gear. Products continue to be developed by the Huntingdon UK(Quad's original home) based design team with the same ethos of reproducing music with the closest approach to the original while engineering for longevity rather than short-term marketing advantage. That Quad's legendary ESL 57 electrostatic was manufactuered almost unchanged for 28 years seems almost inconceivable today.
Quad started with amplifier design and following on from a history of ground breaking circuit concepts, the current range of corporally named Vena and Artera products offer superb sound in striking physical designs. The new Artera Solus is a strong contender for the heart of a simplified HiFi system particularly for those with large CD collections. It retains the advanced DAC, slot loading CD transport and touch screen control of the Artera Play adding an uncompromised 75 watt-per-channel top performing amplifier.
The 140 watt-per-channel Artera Stereo amplifier is the latest refinement to Quad's current dumping amplifier technology with it's very low cross-over and intermodulation distortion that is normally only associated with class A-type amplifiers. This naturally linear amplification is key to very smooth Quad sound that contrasts with the glare and hardness found in many other solid state amplifiers.
The Vena has been updated to a mark 2 version. To this 45 watt class A/B gem of an integrated amplifier has been added a phonostage to partner the 24/192 asynchronous DAC, Bluetooth, headphone socket for a complete classically styled compact unit which references the appearance of the orginal Quad Preamplifiers. An outstanding product at the $1000 price point.
Quad amplifiers have always been highly regarded. The tube monoblocks have been brought upto date while preserving the original circuit concepts. The QC24p tube phono stage is particularly popular having a volume control and variable outputs so it can be directly connected to a power amplifier or monoblocks. The classic integrated tube amp is rather special.
Quad brought full-range electrostatic loudspeakers to the world in the 1950's raising the bar for sound reproduction. The full-range, cross-over free, virtual point source design delivers more of the potential of electrostatic speakers than the compromised hybrid approach used in other systems. Generally any loudspeaker design using second order or above cross-overs, if well designed, can offer a flat amplitude response, or synchronous non-distorted time waveform, but not both at the same time.
The Quad ESL is one of the few loudspeakers capable of reproducing a clean precise 1 kHz square wave. The virtual point source design gives a wide dispersion pattern and is another reason for the extraordinarily integrated coherent sound reproduction. Movement of the ultra-light weight diaphragm within the electrostatic field is far more linear than the conventional drivers using magnets and this results in very low distortion. For these reasons, musicians and music producers continue to use them as a reference monitor for their recordings.
The latest ESL 2812 and ESL 2912 models have better power supplies improving consistency of the EHT supply, and new triple insulating coatings on the stators preserve the EHT when the diaphragm comes into close proximity. These refinements enable the speakers to play louder while a very effective protection system handles overdrive situations.
Quality manufacture is paramount and now far exceeds what was possible in the past. A multi-stage sophisticated manufacturing process is used to fabricate and assemble the panels used in the Quad ESL. Non Quad substitute panels - which may be used to rebuild older ESLs - may perform at first but do not have the longevity of authentic Quad made panels.
The latest series of dynamic loudspeakers from Quad features ribbon tweeters and low inertia dynamic drivers which reproduce some aspects of ESL sound where there is not enough room to accomodate electrostatic speakers.