Quad S-1 Speakers, $800 Per Pair
Mahogany or Black Ash: 11 3/8h, 6 1/8w, 9 1/2d
Beauty is more than skin deep. But it’s OK for beauty to grab your eye and start the lusting process! Such began my intrigue with the Quad S-1.
S-1 has a pretty face and a great figure. I’ve sold a million small speakers over the years. Many have sounded good. But almost all have been squared off, squat boxes. The truly fine sounding models like various iterations of LS 3/5a’s, don’t wake up until you kick ‘em a bit. Yet with a small speaker, the application rarely allows you to play them as loudly as they need to be played to really sing. While S-1 is a knock out aesthetically, how would it play at low volumes? Or higher?
I had a hint S-1 would be different due to its exquisite, all but massless ribbon tweeter. Virtually all other small speakers have used this or that dome, and were chunky monkeys, cheaply finished in spotty laminate or plastic. Hey guys, we’ve gotta sell these to our wives!
Quad sent me a set to audition. While unboxing them it was impossible NOT to be impressed by the fit and finish. S-1 has an elegance far beyond anything I’ve seen in this range. The cabinet has
curves that make them much more beguiling than the competition. Even the back is finished nicely and fitted with major league binding posts. What a unique offering- small, great looking, solid construction with audiophile accouterments.
I had high hopes with the ribbon tweeter and Kevlar woofer (4”). It took about five seconds of listening to vocal/guitar at low volume to smile. Driven by a pint sized NAD amp, S-1 exudes an open, airy sound. You don’t have to turn them up, to have them WAKE up.
THIS is a big deal. When you play the majority of minis out there, you’ve got to goose them up quite a bit to get MUSIC out of the box. At low volumes, most minis sound like table radios. Not so for the Quads. It’s almost like they knew what we needed! Imagine that.
Job one accomplished- they have floatatious sound from square one! Happily, S-1 also delivers a warm, fairly robust sound. They are extremely shelf placement friendly. The long throw Kevlar mid-woof does deliver ample bass and warm vocals. In a New York minute, S-1 became my favorite office, den & bedroom mini monitor. They sound big enough, with detail and air reminding you of Magnepans.
The coup de grace was how they did when I tried them in the near field. They bring you intimacy
similar to headphones that you can enjoy at a low volume. S-1 is an articulate, refined, affordable, gorgeous looking and sounding mini!