Quad gets active with compact 9AS speakers with built-in DAC

17 Dec 2013

Quad 9AS

The latest addition to the Quad hi-fi range is the £600 9AS active speakers with built-in DAC (digital-to-analogue converter).

The 9AS speakers feature a built-in amplifier in each unit, thus eradicating the need for an external power amp. Quad has also built a DAC into the speakers, which is able to support 24-bit/192kHz audio.

Each pair comprises a 'master' and a 'slave' unit; both units feature a 100W Class AB power amplifier. The master accepts all audio inputs, as well as controlling volume levels. The slave meanwhile is fed audio data via a line-level output from the master. A subwoofer output is available to create a 2.1 set-up if you want extra bass.

The drivers in the 9AS speakers comprise a Quad mid/bass unit with a 10cm woven Kevlar cone, plus a newly designed 2.5cm fabric-dome tweeter.

The 9AS speakers can be placed in almost any location, thanks to a three-position bass EQ facility, which equalises low-frequency response. This means they can be free standing, placed on a shelf or even close to a wall. Quad claims no matter where they are positioned, they will "deliver crisp, clear and musically insightful results."

Quad has fitted the 9AS speakers with a range of inputs. On the digital side are asynchronus USB and S/PDIF connections, all of which can receive 24-bit/192kHz audio data. For analogue sources, RCA inputs are on hand.

A 3.5mm jack input is also provided for the connection of portable devices. 

Volume controls and input selection is handled via either a remote control, or a touch-sensitive panel found on the base of the master speaker.

The Quad 9AS active loudspeakers are available this month for £600 per pair. Buyers can choose from high-gloss black, high-gloss white or ruby finishes.

By Max Langridge

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We'd love to review them, as soon as we get a pair.

Has anyone heard these? If so what wer your thoughts! Will Whathifi be reviewing these at some point?

May sound good but the design looks a bit wife-repelling. Not even any grills? Maybe as other photos emerge they will look better.

So this is akin to the Dali Kubik Free, almost to the pricing.
I have the Kubik Free, it has the same model idea with an additional speaker function, and does also sound very good

Question, apart from Bluetooth wireles support (plus optical and analogue) I'm looking for an expert to help me get the best out of this in terms of hardware, or do I have to go the Sonos, Denon, Marantz streaming route?
As I seeit I just need a media interface and out put only and not a full blown amplifier streamer, yes?

"Bi-amping" refers to the number of amplifier channels used, "active" refers to the use of active crossovers instead of passive crossovers. Not all bi-amped systems are active, although it's true that all 2 way actives are bi-amped.

Speakers with on-board power but using a single amp channel per speaker and passive crossovers are usually just called "powered".


Quad have produced proper bi-amplified active speakers before. Their 11L Actives had dedicated HF and LF amps + active crossovers but they never extended the same technology down to the old 9L 'Actives'.

(The 11L Actives never incorporated a DAC or remote control pre-amp though.)

Nice that Quad have made a complete package this time. (True active design, pre-amp, DAC, remote control.)

I am going to be hearing these in the New-Year when the IAG rep brings a pair to my local dealer.

Thanks chebby, I failed to check and recheck the facts, and simply read this very short note, but in fact, this note says textually:

     "The 9AS speakers feature a built-in amplifier in each unit, thus eradicating the need for an external power amp.

      Quad has also built a DAC into the speakers, which is able to support 24-bit/192kHz audio.

      Each pair comprises a 'master' and a 'slave' unit; both units feature a 100W Class AB power amplifier."

Which omits the important information you are highlighting.

My comment about passive crossovers used in about 99.9 % of the speaker systems sold to the public is based on the engineering observation that a passive crossover has many compromises.  My observation is that most of the audiophiles use a costly and elaborate stereo amplifier, which is forced to work through quite imperfect passive crossover networks, usually wasting some expensive power in the process, and producing a lot of artifacts caused by the non resistive reactances and non resistive loads that dynamic loudspeakers present to the crossover and the amplifier.  By using multiple smaller amplifiers and active crossovers, many advantages are realized.

I'm happy Quad is promoting a BIAMPLIFIED design, after all they should have realized the advantages and are passing them to the buyer.


Quad's own description and specifications show that they have seperate HF and LF amplifiers in each enclosure.

They go on to say ....

"....both driven by low distortion Class AB amplifiers via a sophisticated active crossover."

So I don't understand where you got the basis for your comments about the  "nefarious effects of the passive crossover network" or the speakers not being 'biamped'. 

I think you must have been looking at a description of the old Quad 9L Actives from a few years ago (which were indeed 'self-powered' or 'powered' designs and not true active designs).

Here is the new Quad 9AS webpage...   http://www.quad-hifi.co.uk/Product.aspx?lang=En&Tab=53

LHC, I'll put it down to the slight - ahem - headaches we head after the office Christmas party on Monday night. Normal service now resumed Embarassed

Even when the "active" circuitry feeds the speaker components directly, and provides some adjustability, the designers lost the opportunity of producing a true BIAMPED speaker system.  Therefore, the nefarious effects of the passive crossover network will still be there...  what a shame!  Should them have taken the true Bi-amplified approach, a much better concept would have resulted.  This short note on the design leaves one wondering how aspects such as time-alignement of the drivers, phase behaviour etc., are handled.  I'm shure a Biamped system should be quite a bit better overall.


They do look nice and with a useful 100 watts per speaker should have plenty of dynamic range.