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Budget amp to drive complicated load


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Hello everyone,

 

Currently I am on the lookout for a pair of Quad ESL 57 monitors in good condition. The purchase will eat up most of my budget. Unfortunately, these speakers seem to pose quite a challenge for an amplifier. My amplifier budget is 250$ max, and I am investigating my best option. The amp should not have too much power, otherwise it could cause arcing in the panels. 50 watt per channel or under should be fine. It should be happy to drive a reactive load.

My save bet would be a Quad 303. I can find one in good condition within my budget. I can be certain that they will work well with the ESL 57. However, I've read that they are nothing special, and that modern amps easily surpass them.

I should mention that I am not looking for a 'character' amp or anything. I am looking for low distortion, and something that does not introduce a sound of its own. It should drive the ESL safely to reasonable sound levels (95db would be more than enough for me) without causing arcing or taking damage, and with as little distortion as possible.

 

I've compiled quite a list of interesting amps. Does anybody have experience with any of them driving Quad ESL 57s? Would any of them be a better choice than a Quad 303? Or is there an even better option within budget that I have not listed? Which amp would you choose? Thanks in advance for any pointers.

Allo Volt+D: https://www.allo.com/sparky/volt-plus-d-amp.html

Audiophonics TPA3116D2: https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/audiophonics-amplifier-21-class-d-tpa3116d2-2x-50w-4-ohm-silver-p-9946.html

and https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/audiophonics-amplifier-21-class-d-tpa3116d2-2x-50w-100w-4-ohm-black-p-12676.html

Dayton Audio DTA-1: https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/integrated-amplifier/dayton-audio-dta-1-digital-amplifier-ta2024-stereo-2x-15w-4-ohm-p-4638.html

Amptastic Mini-1: https://www.amptastic.com/

AudioSource Amp 100: https://www.kenrockwell.com/audio/audiosource/amp-100.htm

Cambridge Audio Topaz AM5: https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/en/products/hifi-and-home-cinema/topaz-am5

 

Finally, here is one that is slightly over budget, but I might be able to find one used (I've read that Hypex Ncore are pretty mighty)

Audiophonics PA-S125NC: https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/power-amplifier/audiophonics-pa-s125nc-stereo-class-d-power-amplifier-ncore-2x75w-8-ohm-p-12756.html

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1 hour ago, goodkeys said:

Hello everyone,

 

Currently I am on the lookout for a pair of Quad ESL 57 monitors in good condition. The purchase will eat up most of my budget. Unfortunately, these speakers seem to pose quite a challenge for an amplifier.

 

They certainly do!  :lol:

 

1 hour ago, goodkeys said:

My amplifier budget is 250$ max, and I am investigating my best option. The amp should not have too much power, otherwise it could cause arcing in the panels. 50 watt per channel or under should be fine. It should be happy to drive a reactive load.

 

The key point is that it should be happy to drive a reactive load!  And a load which drops to a very low impedance, I understand.  That rules out many amps.

 

And I suggest it is not the rated power output which will cause arcing in the panels ... it is turning up the preamp's volume control too high which is the culprit.  :)  And if a 50w-rated amp is compared against a 100w-rated amp, it should not be forgotten that at a level which causes the 50w amp to clip ... the 100w amp will not.  Clipping causes extremely undesirable effects to any speaker - so you want to avoid this.

 

1 hour ago, goodkeys said:

My save bet would be a Quad 303. I can find one in good condition within my budget. I can be certain that they will work well with the ESL 57. However, I've read that they are nothing special, and that modern amps easily surpass them.

 

Sure a Quad 303 is 'proven' to work with 57s.  But that's all it offers.

 

Andy

 

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Just my 2cents, but a refurbished 303 is not to be underestimated, in a smallish room with close proximity listening, I have found the 303 a great match to the 57s.

Mr Walker waited some time before he released this amp. Plenty of happy 303 / 57 user reviews out there..

For the money , they are a stonking bargain for this combination.

Edited by Mr 57
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Interesting info. Thank you andy. Any of the amps listed above you'd prefer over the 303?

 

Thanks @Mr 57  Apart from being a safe bet for driving ESL 57s, the Quad 303 seems to be robust and long-lasting amplifier. And it has a pretty good resell-value. I guess that's pretty tough to top at my budget. But if another amp at that price measured significantly better and worked with the ESL 57 I'd certainly be interested.

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4 hours ago, goodkeys said:

Interesting info. Thank you andy. Any of the amps listed above you'd prefer over the 303?

 

Sorry - I know zilch about all of them.  But I suspect none would be better than a refurbed Quad 303.

 

Andy

 

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some interesting Quad info

http://liquidaudio.com.au/quad-405-amplifier-restoration/

 

a bit closer to Switzerland is Quad specialist Dada Electronics in Belgium!

http://www.dadaelectronics.eu/Home.htm

< We are the specialists for maintaining your Quad amplifiers & tuners.
We sell electronic Audio and related components and upgrade- and revision-kits for Quad. >

http://www.dadaelectronics.eu/ContactUs.htm

< Dada Electronics Europe
Stefaan Verdonckt
Boomgaardstraat 88
2600 Berchem (Antwerpen)
Belgie
+32 3 663 87 39

info@dadaelectronics.eu
www.dadaelectronics.eu
VAT: BE0639.298.393

The Shop in Antwerp is open: From 10 till 18.00h, Sat. 10 till 14 h., Sundays and holidays closed. >

 

regards Ian

 

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FIT CLAMPING BOARDS!!!!  These are available from OneThingAudio and easy to fit.

 

I use QuadII amps on my stacked pair and are only 15W and play plenty loud, so ignore the common theme that ESL57's don't play loud or produce base.  I never felt the single ESL's were lacking, but, wanted more in a big room.

 

I did use my Plinius MA102 monoblocks rated at 100W and never had the clamp boards activate, so as Andy says it is restraint on the volume that is required.  However, without the clamp boards you have no protection and wont know until you have gone too far and arc your panels.

 

P.S.  Depending on the state of ESL's you get servicing the HVPS and cross over can make a big difference prior to considering rebuilding the panels.

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Thank you all for the very good info. If I can't find a refurbished Quad amp I'll buy in original state and send it to Dada Electronics. The Nad is interesting as well. I might have a chance to hear one driving some ESL 57's. I will check that out.

As to the speakers, I am a low volume listeners and won't use the Quads for party levels. Nevertheless I will make sure that they have clamping boards fitted.

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