In nearly forty years of searching for the absolute sound, I can count the number of moments where I actually thought I’d heard it—reached a new plateau of stereophonic realism—on the fingers of both hands. The last such epiphany that I reported on in TAS was the Magico Mini/Mini II, driven by the Audio Research Corporation Reference 3 preamp, ARC Reference 610T power amps, ARC PH7 phonostage, and the Walker Black Diamond record player. One of the first was the Quad 57 electrostatic loudspeaker, driven by an ARC 6B preamp and ARC D40 amplifier and sourced from a Kenwood turntable with Grace arm and Grado cartridge.
I now have in house the latest descendant of the Quad 57, Quad’s 2905 electrostatic loudspeaker, and for all the many changes Quad has made since the ESL-57 was introduced in 1956-57, its newest entry is still one of those unmistakably magical products that transports you to that high plateau of stereophonic realism that few other loudspeakers in my experience have reached. Like the 57, it still opens a “window on the soundstage” with a clarity and purity and precision that only great electrostats seem to own fully.
I will report in detail on the 2905 as I get more experience with it. For the time being, it is enough to say that this is a truly wonderful transducer that—given the limitations of electrostatic technology (and, of course, there are limitations with any loudspeaker technology)—deserves the attention of even the most high-end of audiophiles.