Quad 12L Classic review

Plenty to admire, but they need to stir the soul more Tested at £500

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

There’s plenty to admire in the 12L Classic, but we wish they’d stir the soul more


  • +

    Tonal neutrality

  • +

    integration between drivers

  • +


  • +

    fine build and finish


  • -

    Lacks verve

  • -

    gloss finishes add £80 to the price

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

In the end it came down to two tracks: Arvo Part’s Litany and De La Soul’s Eye Know. When listening to these two somewhat contrasting tracks, both the brilliance of Quad’s 12L Classic loudspeakers, and also their shortcomings became readily apparent.

The brilliance of the speakers is particularly easy to hear. Quad touts the 12L Classics as monitor speakers, and it’s easy to understand why.

Their tonal balance is as even as you could wish for, and the integration between the 25mm soft-dome tweeter and Kevlar mid/bass driver is seamlessly handled.

Superb detail, tonality and richness
The 12L’s detail levels are high, and they deliver even the most complex of music in an impressively unflustered manner.

The way they handle a natural recording such as Litany is truly a joy, particularly as they get the tonality and harmonic richness of instruments so right.

The Quad’s stereo imaging is impressively precise and nicely layered –provided, of course, the recording has these qualities to start with.

Much as there is to admire, however, we’re not totally bowled over. As with the Quad 11L Classic reviewed back in last year’s Awards issue, these standmounters aren’t the most exciting of listens.

But lack a little exuberance
They lose a little too much of the exuberance of recordings such as Eye Know for our tastes. It’s a trait that can turn listening into more of an academic exercise than we care for.

For all the speakers’ neat engineering – you’ll find twin bass ports, a layered construction used for the cabinet walls, and a tweeter face plate shaped to form
a wave guide – there’s still just something important missing sonically.

And that’s the ability to convey a musical sense of fun, and dramatic verve and excitement. Until Quad manages that, the 12L Classics will remain a pair of speakers to admire – rather than to truly love.

See all our hi-fi speaker Best Buys

Follow whathifi.com on Twitter

Join whathifi.com on Facebook

What Hi-Fi?

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, Reading 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.

Read more about how we test