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rabski

One Thing Audio ESL57 mods.

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I'm joining this thread 10 years after the fact!  I have a pair of 57s I bought on ebay with very little context  on their condition or knowledge. i had   never heard 57s IRL.  I am thinking about getting them serviced by one thing but i would love to be able to judge how they are performing now.  some things sound amazing on them, others a bit flat. As a bit of a novice I struggle tojusge what is the 57 sound and what might indicate they need lots of work.  Any advice on assessing them gratefully received.

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Hello David,

I would suggest that you first need to establish what 'flavour' of  panel you have fitted to your speakers. Notwithstanding,  examples of panels produced in Germany or the U.S.A. in more recent times,  the most common variants that  you are likely to encounter in the marketplace are likely to be all 'original Quad panels ,  One Thing revised panels or hybrids composed of a mix of  both Quad  and OT. units.  Have you got any service history documentation with the speakers ?  The reason I ask, is that if the speakers have not been checked over and had, for example the  EHT blocks or panels replaced then it is very difficult to assess what sound you should be experiencing. Amplifier choice - valve or transistor - and the quality of same will also affect the sound.

Assuming that you have a 'good pair', then  you should find the speakers to very 'clean sounding , accurate and revealing of fine detail in recordings with a very realistic tonal quality to instruments . Vocals should sound superb and the sound stage should be expansive 'with a great sense of ambience on quality recordings . Bass should be very good though not subterranean  in nature and without  signs of colouration,  mid-range outstanding and treble response more than adequate but not overly 'bright' . You should be aware that the OT panels generally have several db more lift'  than the original Quad items, which tends to divide opinion amongst  '57 fans.

There's a lot more that I could add but hopefully the above should provide you with some food for thought. 

Edited by TECUMSEH VALLEY
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Further to above, I would also point out that based on 30 years listening to ESL57s , they should certainly not sound 'warm and woolly' as some listeners have described them.  IMHO in good order , they should sound fast and incisive and ''chameleon' like in the sense that they respond faithfully to the quality of the music being played through them. Great recordings sound fantastic  and poor ones very disappointing - Rubbish in, rubbish out as the saying goes . They are arguably one of the most  honest speakers ever made.         

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17 hours ago, TECUMSEH VALLEY said:

Further to above, I would also point out that based on 30 years listening to ESL57s , they should certainly not sound 'warm and woolly' as some listeners have described them.  IMHO in good order , they should sound fast and incisive and ''chameleon' like in the sense that they respond faithfully to the quality of the music being played through them. Great recordings sound fantastic  and poor ones very disappointing - Rubbish in, rubbish out as the saying goes . They are arguably one of the most  honest speakers ever made.         

Blast from the past thread :D

Nothing here that I disagree with. If even poor recordings sound 'flat' or lifeless, the 57s are likely not at their best. Unfortunately, they tend to degrade slowly and subtely and can still be in 'working order' but not sound anything like they ought to.

In practical terms, a visit to one of the specialists (when such luxuries are possible) will normally get you an honest appraisal. In general, unless you're incredibly lucky, 57s bought off an auction site with no documentation or history are most likely to be in the 'working but less than perfectly' category. You may well get a fair proportion of the magic, but not all of it.

On a small other practical point. If you are prone to attempt any DIY or investigation. Unplud them from the mains and leave them overnight before removing the covers or poking about inside. They can stay charged at extremely high voltage for quite a while and there are enough volts floating around inside to do you some serious harm.

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