I owned Quad electrostatic loudspeakers (ESL) when I was a teenager. I've always been a nut for sound gear. I sold that first pair of Quads ESLs when my wife had our first child (circa 1975) we didn't want speakers with lethal high voltage grids around our child. I figured kids would mangle the metal speaker grills anyway. By the time I moved to Fillmore in 1988 my home stereo system was composed of a pair of compact BBC monitors (the celebrated Rogers LS3/5A) and a Janis W1 subwoofer. The Janis W1 was manufactured by John Marovski Audio Systems of New York, its a very prestigious sub-woofer from the 1970s, when sub-woofers weren't very common.
I decided to build a 5.1 home theater circa 2001, my youngest son was 14, I decided it was time to acquire the Quads I had been waiting to own once more. I purchased two pairs of Quad ESL57s, and arrayed 3 of them as left front, center & right front. The Rogers LS3/5As became the surround speakers and the Janis W1 subwoofer provided the bass. The six speakers were powered by a trio of John Bedini Class A 25 watt/channel stereo transistor amps. The amps are some more famous vintage audio gear. The 3 Quads arrayed across one wall of my living room in Fillmore was visually stunning for the guys, the women just didn't appreciate the decor, but everyone loved the sound. My home was a bachelor pad.
I moved to a condo in 2009, and there's no room for a rig like that in a condo. The neighbors would not appreciate the bass emanating from the Janis W1 either! I kept a pair of Quads ESLs and a Bedini amp for my secondary (i.e. bedroom) stereo system ... I'm not giving up my Quads ever again.
The Quad ESLs, powered by the Bedini 25 watt/channel amp without the low frequency aid of the Janis W1 sub was disappointing. The speakers were thin sounding, no lower end. You are not supposed to power the Quads with anything more than 25 watts because higher voltages can arc the electrostatic speaker panels. But I found the pair of used Quad II-Forties for sale, made the owner a low-ball offer and he accepted. Now the bass of the Quad ESL57s is very full and powerful, it is truly a full range speaker coupled with the Quad II-Forty amps. Quads ESLs powered by Quad II vacuum tube amps not only sound great, they make a nice conversation piece for guests. It ties in with other art-deco stuff I have in my home. This system will be around until I die.
The original Quad amplifier, the Quad II, was introduced in the 1950s, it used KT66 output tubes, and was rated for only 15 watts. The Quad II-Forty was introduced in 2005. Each Quad II-Forty weighs about the same as a 351C cylinder head, they're heavy. You'll notice each amp has a pair of cooling fans behind it ... enclosed in that wooden stereo cabinet the amps would generate enough heat to shut themselves down after about 20 minutes of playing, so I installed the fans. The amps are unmodified, the tubes are factory supplied, made by Genalex in Russia.
High end audio gear in Japan is champagne colored and runs on 120 Volt, 60 hertz, just like the US. The CD player on the top shelf in the pic is a Japanese market Sony SCD-XB9, one of their first Super Audio CD players, which I picked up last year simply because it was champagne colored and matched the Quad amps.
Rather than use a stereo pre-amp, I like to piece together pro components to give me the signal handling functionality I need for my stereo system. That functionality included a Yamaha 1/3 octave graphic equalizer for tone controls, a Yamaha two channel dynamic range compressor for low level listening, a Rane two channel two-way cross-over for sub woofers and a Benchmark outboard digital to analog converter (DAC) for level matching signals from CD players and to serve as a master volume control.
On the second shelf in the picture is the pro-grade outboard DAC, a Benchmark DAC-1, which I painted champagne to also match the Quad amps. Besides level matching the DAC-1 provides a very high quality Alps volume control and balanced XLR outputs to match with the other pro components. As an added bonus, the analog output of the DAC-1 is very smooth sounding, its better than the analog circuit built into the CD player, the equal of any analog phono system. Benchmark claims this is due to their anti-jitter circuit. The 3 other components were removed to make room for the big ol' Quad II-Forty amps. Since the picture was taken I've reinstalled the Yamaha compressor. But I don't feel I'll ever need the 1/3 octave equalizer or the crossover again. I would only need the two-way crossover if I were using a subwoofer.