The lacquer secret of the Stradivari ESLs
For centuries people believed in a story that the unique sound of the violins made by Antonio Stradivari was caused by a secret lacquer, which the Maestro used for the coating of his instruments.
Only a few years ago a violin maker from the Rhineland in Germany and a physicist performed a lot of investigation to solve this enigma. They made use of spectrum analyzers, CT and other most modern equipment to find out not only that the lacquer is only there to protect the surface of the instruments. Indeed they found that the secret lies in the knowledge how to optimize all parts of the instruments and how they work together. When applying this knowledge to their own violins, they were finally able to create a sound as brilliant and as unique as the original, introduced by Stardivari.
This story has much in common to the history of QUAD ESLs. When their production in Huntingdon was terminated 10 years ago, one of the reasons to do so (among others) was the fact, that a certain conductive lacquer was not available any more. For one reason or the other this certain lacquer was adopted by the HiFi community of that time as the secret for the unique sound of the QUAD speaker. Even in our days one can find the opinion in several papers and in the Internet. Maybe that the suspicion last but not least was created by the fact that until today he producer of the lacquer did not publish any details on it.
Mainly to maintain the legendary sound of the QUAD ESLs to the HiFi world again in the Rhineland, this time a HiFi expert and a physicist started investigations to solve the enigma. And it is interesting to mention that their labor lead to very similar basic recognitions.
The secret of the lacquer was discovered very fast and without any sophisticated chemical tests, just by carefully reading old patents. It was in 1956 that Peter Walker, the inventor of QUAD has described it in a respective patent.
But in a very similar way as it was the case with the Stradivari the QUAD ESL showed its secret not in a special component, but in the interaction of this components and the profound engineering knowledge how to handle them.
To make this story complete; from a location in the Rhineland one can today purchase ESLs with identical performance and identical sound of the original QUAD speakers. And this location is only 50 miles away from the city, where today the violins with the Stradivari sound come from.