The history of Quad is one of audio excellence. The early products were all firsts of their particular type and cast the mould for the products which would follow for many years afterwards. Quad products are renowned for their longevity, every product Quad releases is a landmark, building on the successes of the predecessors, refining and innovating to bring you closer to the original sound.
The company was founded in 1936 by audio master Peter Walker, under the title, the 'Acoustical manufacturing company'. The company produced 'Public Address' systems and compact amplifiers (relatively speaking). In 1949, The company produced the 'Corner Ribbon Loudspeaker, producing higher frequencies than had ever previously been achieved. In the same year, the QA12/P was launched and the brand 'QUAD' was born from an acronym 'Quality Unit Amplified Domestic'.
It was around this time, that a series of concerts were given at both the Royal Festival Hall in London and 'Carnegie Hall' in New York. Gilbert Briggs, founder of Wharfedale was trying to prove that recorded music could compete with live music. A capacity audience of 3000, filling the Royal Festival Hall, listened to Peter and Gilbert demonstrate the undeniable clarity and quality of well designed, and well-built hi-fi.
In the period from 1957 to 1966, innovation was fast. Improved broadcasting meant a high demand for quality reproduction equipment. During this time, Quad developed the world's first ever full range electrostatic loudspeaker, nicknamed 'Walkers little wonder' and later called the ESL-57. Many have tried to emulate the Quad electrostatic principles, but none have ever managed to produce a speaker with quite such transparency and clarity.
After a series of articles published in 1999, spotlighting the truly important milestones in the development of audio, Hi-Fi News Magazine pronounced the ESL-57 'The greatest hi-fi product in history'.
The next big step was that from valves to transistors. The Quad 303 was revolutionary, introducing the 'triples' output stage, solving all the thermal instability problems that plagued early transistor designs.
Later, the Quad 405 introduced the world to 'current dumping', an innovation still used today in the 909. The principle involves using two amplifiers instead of one. The first is low powered and very high quality. The second is very powerful, but not as high quality. The low powered, high quality output is inverted and fed back over the high powered, low quality signal. Thus, the low powered output acts as a filter, cleaning the high power output, so it is incredibly close to the original input signal. This product earned Quad a reputation for producing 'straight wires with gain' as well as the Queen's Award for Technological Achievement in 1978, the only one ever awarded to a hi-fi company.
In the early 1980s, Quad launched FRED, an acronym for 'Full Range Electrostatic Doublet', or the ESL63 as it is better known. Called the 63, because that is when development of this new product started. FRED took the concept of electrostatic speakers to a whole new level using, for the first time ever, delay lines and concentric annular electrodes to create an almost perfect theoretical point source. The 63 was an immense success, becoming the reference standard in countries across the world, with an entire years production selling within two months. No other manufacturer has ever been able to reproduce such a transparent speaker. Our patented system of concentric electrodes has been maintained and improved within the new ESL range with the addition of extra bass panels.
In 1993, the 77 series was launched, the first fully integrated sound system from Quad. Boasting some of the most advanced control software ever seen in a consumer product and a two-way remote control system. The 77 series excelled in an increasingly competitive market place, earning accolades for several products in the range, including 'European amplifier of the year' for the 77 integrated amplifier.