Quad 9L Active System technical highlights:
As I mentioned above, the Quad 9L Active system has deliberately been given what I would characterize as “desktop friendly” voicing. In order for that comment to have any meaning, though, I think it is helpful to first ask what kinds of things can go wrong, sonically speaking, with typical desktop systems. When I consider that question, I come up with three answers.
Desktop problem number one is that bass response often sounds thin, anemic, or in some sense truncated. This is not just a frequency response problem, per se, but also a problem where the foundational mid-bass weight underlying the music (or at least many types of music) seems to have gone missing.
Desktop problem number two involves a nominally unpleasant quality of treble shrillness or edginess. In many cases I suspect that the problem is simply that the listener is seated so close to the loudspeaker that what would ordinarily seem very minor (or perhaps even nonexistent) tweeter response anomalies are suddenly laid bare and thrust into painfully sharp focus. Either way, what you may hear are disruptive traces of edginess and glare that break through to spoil the music.
Desktop problem number three, which may be related to number two, is a failure to achieve desirable soundstage depth, width, and three-dimensionality. While some listeners might prefer a relatively up-close listening perspective and others a more distant one, I think we all enjoy the sensation of hearing 3D soundstages that break free from the surfaces of our speaker systems—something many desktop systems seem unable to provide.
The Quad 9L Active systems addresses all three of these problems in creative ways.
First, the 9L Active system addresses the problem of overly lean bass (and general lack of bass weight), first by offering unusually well extended bass response for its diminutive size (claimed response down to a respectable 50Hz), and second by building in a small, well-controlled dollop of extra mid-bass emphasis. For obvious reasons, some will consider this gentle mid-bass lift to be a sonic coloration (which, technically speaking, it is), but if so it is also a decidedly “euphonic” coloration—one that helps the 9L Active supply those missing touches of bass weight and gravitas that many competing desktop systems lack. While the 9L Active system can’t reproduce truly low, deep bass (no speaker system this small can), the system’s response curve tends to make the bass that is present feel much more satisfying.