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Quad’s current flagship valve design has some pretty decent specifications based on the four KT-88s per channel driven by a pair of 6SH7s and rectified by a single 5U4G valve. The KT-88s are quite comfortable putting out the specified 80 watts RMS and the input sensitivity is 1 Volt RMS. Frequency response is a quite impressive 10Hz to 30kHz +0dB/-0.5dB. THD is quoted at 0.5% at full rated power. Input is via high-quality single ended RCA and speaker outputs have independent transformer taps at 4 ohms and 8 ohms via gold-plated terminals. An IEC receptacle allows the use of after-market power leads. I must mention here that the fit and finish of these units is immaculate and very retro chic.

The Quad II-eighty embodies all of what aficionados have come to expect and love from these classic valve designs. Let’s start at what we rate as the biggest strength at hand - the sublime midrange. Valve amplification at its archetypal has been treasured for its palpable and life-like presentation of vocals and instruments that live within the midrange of the frequency spectrum. Well, the Quad manages to retain this cherished quality in spades.



Smack down a male or female vocal track on the CD player (or turntable for those on the Dark Side) and prepare to be surprised and then delighted by the way the Quads can recreate the presence of a voice in body, image size and perspective  within the confines of your listening room. Janis Ian’s growling tone in Breaking Silence, B’Jezus lead singer BJ’s nicotine-blues huskiness in Kangaroo Street Part 2 and David Sylvian’s almost desperately profound howl in God’s Monkey come across the divide of time and space to seemingly appear between the speakers (rest of the system permitting).


A similar degree of clarity and presence is at hand when playing musically complex music. The amplifier’s alacrity and vividness combine to present an unravelled and resolved mix of instruments that were always musically satisfying. Yet this high level of resolution is teamed with a measure of warmth that enhanced the body of the music without turning it into a sugary mush.


Sonic excellence continues up the frequency range with the Quads’ refined sound making all treble information come across cleanly and without a trace of hardness or grain. Treble harmonics as heard within the post-note decay of cymbals and bells seemed unimpeded in terms of extension and clarity.


I’ve always maintained that two of the most important elements that help create a more believable facsimile of reality are dynamic contrast and accuracy in instrumental and vocal tonality. From top to bottom the Quad amplifiers’ delivery of timbre is spot-on. Instruments sound like the real thing. What’s more, be it guitar, piano or percussion, the sound is lush and vividly textured.