Over the last couple of weeks we've had the Quad QII-Forty mono block power amps up here in Manchester for our listening pleasure. Designed by Tim de Paravicini from EAR/Yoshino, they have a look which lets you know instantly that they have more than 50 years of heritage behind them, combined with a sound which is as modern as you like.
Ok, so a quick potted history of Quad taken from their website.
The history of Quad is one of technical achievement in the field of sound reproduction. It is a story that began with the Quad 1 amplifier, which brought the benefits of 15 years knowledge and experience in professional audio and industrial products to the task of making the most accurate domestic audio amplifier of its age.
A few years later, in 1953, the product which set the standard for amplifiers was the Quad II Power Amplifier, the time of Queen Elizabeth's Coronation and the year in which Mount Everest was finally conquered. This amplifier pioneered the principle of cathode coupling through the output transformer to reduce harmonic distortion to almost negligible levels. Such was its clear superiority that this model remained in production for 18 years. Three years later, in 1956, Quad demonstrated the first true full-range electrostatic loudspeaker. This remarkable product (known later as the ESL 57) used a virtually mass-less plastic film as a moving diaphragm between two charged plates. Compared with moving coil loudspeakers, the ESL 57 was free of unwanted colourations and distortions. This landmark product remained in production, virtually unchanged, for 28 years.
The Quad II Series circuit design is the work of Tim de Paravicini, a man widely acknowledged to be the UK's foremost valve amp designer. His design is faithful to Peter Walker's philosophy of cathode loading onto the same output stage and fundamental simplicity of design, ensuring the amps deliver the same wealth of detail and exquisite tone as its famous predecessor.
Ok so now the history lesson is out of the way, the first thing we noticed when we switched them on was the obvious bandwidth that the amplifiers have. We have them paired with the Dynaudio Contour 30s and the Quad's managed to unleash a bass extension I wasn't aware they were capable of and at the same time, there was an openness to the mid range and higher frequencies which made me appreciate how directly the speakers are connected to the source.
The second thing you notice is just how much power and drive these things have. "Not usually something that I associate with valve amps, having used transistors nearly all my life, I fall into the trap of believing all valve amps are under powered and warm sounding." The whole Q range from Quad disproves that particular trope with a resounding musicality.
The speaker binding posts offer 4 and 8 Ohm taps for impedance matching.
With the whole QII series being developed as an homage to Peter Walker's original QII design, the valve choices have been no different. The QII Classic, which is a faithful reproduction, uses a pair of KT66 valves, this has been kept the same for the QII Classic integrated. With the need for more power as they go up the range, the QII-fortys that we have had the pleasure of listening to, uses a pair of KT88 for the power and the top of the range "Eighty" doubles that to use 4 KT88s in a dual push pull configuration.
The Quad II Forty mono amplifiers will be at the Manchester store for the next few weeks. Ours are running at the front of the store with a pair of Dynaudio Contour 30's, and when we feel like it the Contour 60's get a work out too. (see pics below)
Lets hope Quad will forget about them and we can keep them for a few weeks more.
See you at the the store.
Ciao for now.
Mike, Munir, Haden, Dave and Simon - Audio T Manchester