Quad 33/303 combi really that good?

Many has been written on the web about the legendary Quad 33 pre and 303 power amplifier. It got on the market in the late 60's and it is still a hot item on the second hand market. Why is that?

About 15 years ago I have owned the Quad combi. A friend of a friend wanted to sell it. I did not have the money, but luckily I could trade my Cambridge P50 integrated amp with a bit cash for the Quad. I was a happy young man! I was the owner of something special. Only the looks was something out of the ordinary. And the DIN sockets were also not very common. At a rate of 45 Watts for each channel at 8 ohm, it wouldn't have difficulties with driving my KEF C60 at extraordinary levels!

However, what I didn't know at that time, is that the powerrate of the Quad decreases when you drive a 4 ohm load. And that what the KEF's were. But, my room wasn't that big, so it wouldn't be a problem after all.

Sound of the Quad

How did it sound? Well, not bad at all. Better than the Cambrigde, that's for sure! But was it really that good? It was fairly musical and could drive the KEF's without problems. But, the bass wasn't really that tight and the mids were not natural. Voices were like one meter wide and the highs were in some moments harsh. But it had its charms. Like an X-factor that is hard to explain. I have listened to the Quad combi for some years with satisfaction, no question about it.

But at a certain moment I could get my hands on a second hand Audiolab 8000A integrated amplifier. WOW! This really sounded different. I didn't had to think and I purchased the Audiolab. The Quad was easily sold, for a good price and I never felt bad or had regrets about it. Simply, because the Audiolab outperformed the Quad in every way. Ok, maybe not in the looks!

Nowadays, you can still find a lot of Quad 33/303 combi's on the net. The prices are mostly reasonable and remain stable. If you are interested to buy one, I would recommend to get a renewed pair. It will cost you more, but you can be more sure it will last longer. Do not expect an exeptional sound quality.

Of course , standing its ground after 40 years is a big compliment, but the boxes aren't magic. However, Quad delivers you a legend that, in my opinion should last for another 4 decades!