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Quad QSP review

An articulate performer that brims with confidence – but make sure you match it with the right kit Tested at £1200

Our Verdict

Don’t spend upwards of £1000 on a stereo power amp without auditioning this one

For

  • Exceptionally clean, articulate treble and midrange sound
  • eager, confident listen

Against

  • Bass doesn’t have same openness or positivity
  • system-matching is absolutely crucial

You’ve got to hand it to Quad, it’s difficult to mistake its electronics for anyone else’s.

Even something as straightforward as this QSP stereo power amplifier (number of fascia buttons: one) could only be a Quad: its 33cm-wide chassis is a dead give-away.

As is the way with power amplifiers, the QSP’s appeal is overwhelmingly about the sound it makes.

Quad QSP: Current-dumping
The casework is sturdily finished, sure, but when a power on/off switch, a pair of RCA inputs and two pairs of speaker-cable binding posts are the extent of a product’s external features it’s difficult to get over-excited.

At least the Quad is a little more stimulating under the hood. Its claimed power output of 140W per channel into an 8-ohm load seems entirely plausible, and while Quad’s patented ‘current dumping’ technology sounds far from glamorous it’s undeniably effective.

Put simply, it utilises both low-power Class A amplification and a high-power current-dumping section in an effort to combine the inherent finesse of the Class A output with the power and authority of the current dumper.

Quad QSP: Sound quality
In action, the Quad is a confident, vigorous listen. From the very top of the frequency range to the bottom of the midrange it’s an upfront performer, willing to grab recordings by the scruff of the neck and drive them forward inexorably.

Open and revealing, with a real facility for vocal nuance and subtlety, it’s as enjoyably enthusiastic and poised a stereo power amp as we’ve heard in a good while.

Problems, such as they are, concern low-end reproduction. Fed by our reference Bryston BP26 pre-amplifier, bass is rather vague, soft-edged and uncertain – almost the exact opposite, in fact, of the rest of the frequency range.

Switching to Quad’s matching Elite pre-amp brings a deal more solidity and certainty to bass, but much of the thrilling clarity and expression of the midrange goes missing at the same time.

Verdict
This, then, is a power amp that demands a good deal of system-matching.

Find its most sympathetic partners, though, and you’ve as communicative a device as £1200 can buy.

See all of our power amp Best Buys

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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