vandersteen and rotel [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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Sanjay Shakkottai
09-05-2005, 06:22 PM

I am looking to buy my first 2-channel system. So far, I have stayed with grado headphones and now have the budget to buy a mid level system.

After reading several discussion and review pages, I have the following combination that fits my budget ($4000).

Vandersteen 2Ce signature speakers ($1600)
Rotel RC 1070 preamp ($500)
Rotel RB 1080 amplifer ($1000)
Rotel RCD 1072 CD player/NAD C542 CD player ($700/$500)
Denon DRW585P Tape player ($250)

This system will be for audio only (no tv/dvd). My listening will primarily be (western) classical music as well as voice (indian classical music). The room I will be listening in is 20 ft x 14 ft x 8 ft.

I would be most grateful if anyone could let me know if the above configuration makes sense. Any other suggestions will be most useful as well.

I apologize if this has been answered before. I searched through the discussions and could not find an answer.

Thanks in advance. Regards,

09-06-2005, 09:54 AM
Have you actually heard the 2ce's? The reason I ask is that Vandy fosters more polarizing opinions than just about any manufacturer I can think of. You either love 'em or hate 'em. There is no middle ground. I respect the brand and actually live only 20 miles from Richard Vandersteen, but alas I fall into the latter camp. I find them to be far too laid-back for my taste and coupled to Rotel's warmish/neutral character would make for a pretty uninvolving experience IMO. Understand, this is just my opinion as Vandy's fans are among the most rabid out there.

For classical, you should really look into planars from Magnapan or perhaps Martin Logan. I think you'd like the speed and cohesivemess. Maggies aren't the most dynamic out there, but coupled with a good sub (which you're going to need anyway), you would have a very satisfying system. Just be sure to choose an amp with loads of current as planars/'stat's can be somewhat demanding to drive.

You might also look into B&W, which claims to have over half of all classical recordings monitored by their speakers. This is what I chose over other makes, including the 2ce's, but have to admit I'm not crazy about B&W's succeeding 700 line to the CDM NT's I bought.

Audio is perhaps the most subjective of all hobbies. Make sure you audition everything, preferably in your own home, before you drop $4 large on a two channel rig.

Hope this helps.

Jimmy C
09-06-2005, 01:52 PM
...Vandersteen DOES seem to be a polarizing company... but, I think that bad rap is due to the owner, not so much the speakers. Some say Richard himself can be a bit "abrasive"... not sure. I do know that a local dealer actually dropped the Vandy line (years ago) for Paradigm... but it was aesthetics that made that move. Many didn't like the fat Vandy look. My dealer got reamed out by R.V. himself re: the lack of sales.

The first time I heard them (1992ish) I thought they were amazing... ultra smooth, detailed, and fun to listen to. I have had a less than stellar demo of Vandy since... but, I know what they are capable of... I wouldn't judge them by one dealer demo, though.

I'll also agree with TopSpeed about Rotel being on the "nice" side of neutral... it seems it to me, as well as all the measurements. Never bright, but probably a bit dry as well.

I'll disagree with Top on the MLs... I don't find them coherent at all... probably the worst in that respect - at least the models over the smallest ( ie. Aerius..not sure what it's called now) but the larger Logans had some BIG problems to me... they also did a lotta things correctly, not enough to make me wanna buy them.

Not sure what the "proper" Vandy set up is, but I bet you will like 'em!

Let us know what you hear...

Sanjay Shakkottai
09-07-2005, 04:36 AM
Thanks for the comments. I have heard the B&W 703 speakers. They sound nice with classical music but they are out of my price range. There are no dealers in Austin for vandersteens. I need to go up to Dallas to hear these and I plan to go over the weekend.

Another option I am considering is to go with the Creek Audio 5350 SE integrated amp instead of the rotels. Would this be a better match with the vandys?

Buzz Roll
09-07-2005, 06:31 AM
I've talked to Richard a couple of times, and he didn't come off as abrasive but rather opinionated about the industry. He sees a lot of BS and lets you know about it. He steered me towards a dealer that was a little farther away from me because they set up his speakers properly (and because he said the staff was nicer).

I'm not sure about synergy with the Vandys, but I like integrateds and I'd suggest a Sim Audio i-3 or Naim Nait 5. Also, since you listen to classical check out a pair of Ohm Walsh series if you can. I think they have a lot of the great qualities of the Vandys, but are much easier to place and have a big sweetspot. Amazing classical/acoustic speakers. Check out the reviews at 6moons.

Have fun and tell us what you think of the Vandys.

09-07-2005, 06:42 AM
If you are considering Vandersteens, you really do need to listen to them. I don't know what it is, but people either love them or hate them. ?????.

I happen to love them. I do think the choice of amplifier makes a big difference. I have played mine through a Carver, Adcom, and Yamaha receiver. Of these, the Carver does the best job. The Yamaha receiver (RXV650) has no business driving these. I am using pre-outs to the Carver. I think the impedence drops off at places, you need a high current amp to get a full sound. In as much as amps sound different, go "bright". The low end on these is very good, just don't plan to shake the house apart with volume. Imaging is excellent, though setup is important. You need an open room, stay away from enclosed spaces.

I think people who "hear" phase accuracy like the Vandersteens. ???. My wife hates them, cause they're big, ugly, and cannot be built into an artsy-fartsy cabinet. 13 years and I have replaced them.


09-07-2005, 06:52 AM

Although I don't own Vandys, but I have listened to the 2Ce signature and the 3A signature models carefully while my brother shopped for speakers. He ultimately bought the 3A sigs and powers them with a B&K reference 7250 amp (200 watts/channel, equivalent to the Reference 200 series amps sold today). When we listened to the 2Ce, I believe it was powered by a B&K receiver which is about 150 watts/channel.

What struck us about both Vandersteen speakers was their excellent imaging ability. No other speaker we listened to could compare - including Meadowlark Kestrels, Revel R30s, and similarly priced models by Dynaudio and B&W. He prefered the 3A over the 2Ce because it improved on what topspeed called the "laidback Vandy sound". The 2Ce (about half the price of the 3A) sounds either bass heavy or lacking in midrange and treble when compared to other much brighter sounding speakers, especially the B&Ws. The 3A does a better job of balancing the spectrum of sound while keeping the imaging that was so pleasing to us.

My brother's experience as an owner, with Richard Vandersteen has been excellent. He personally answered his questions over the phone, or by email. He was full of useful information and was always friendly and curteous.

So find a dealer who handles Vandys and give them a listen. If you prefer the very bright sound typified by B&W, then you might not prefer the Vandys. If you value speakers that are the world champions at realistic imaging, you will love them.

09-07-2005, 07:01 AM
Well put, Swerd. Do take a critical listen to them. You'll either find exactly what you were looking for, or you can cross them off the list.


09-07-2005, 10:54 AM
If you prefer the very bright sound typified by B&W, then you might not prefer the Vandys. If you value speakers that are the world champions at realistic imaging, you will love them.
Interestingly enough, I can find just as many publications that proclaim B&W's to have the typical laid-back British sound as those that find them "bright." It's all in the ears of the listener. Unfortunately, I think too many people go into auditions using their eyes instead of their ears. They see a metal tweeter and automatically perceive a hot treble region before note one. To my ears, I've heard many speakers that are far more aggressive than most B&W's, not that there's anything wrong with that. As long as we all find something that floats our boat, that's all that matters.

09-07-2005, 12:07 PM
About a dozen years ago I bought a pair of Vandersteen 2c's (used). They
were bought for use in my home theater at the time. In terms of stereo
only, to me, they sounded excellent. Somewhat laid back, but a detailed
(unboxed) warm sound. They had a similar sound as my Mirage M5si's.

I agree with Topspeed that the Vandy's are the type of speaker that
you will love or dislike. It's the same thing with Mirage bipolars. You
like 'em, or wonder why anyone would ever buy such a speaker.

For music I thought the Vandy's were great (I loved the sound)...
but for home theater they were not my cup of tea....they just
lacked impact for home theater. Since you are setting up a music
only system, I say go give the Vandy's a listen, you may love the
way they sound........vardo

09-15-2005, 06:10 PM
I use the Vandys 1C with the Creek 5350SE and find the combination to be excellent. You need to like the open and laid back sound though. The 5350SE has been discontinued and in its place is the Classic 5350SE or the Destiny range. You need to listen to them together to decide. Good luck.

09-16-2005, 06:10 PM
I've heard both the Vandy 2ce and the 1c, and they were the most frustrating speakers that I've auditioned. As others have mentioned, Vandersteens image exceptionally well, and in a 5.1 arrangement, they can produce about as convincing an encirclement effect as I've ever heard. And their coaxial center speakers probably provide the best timbre match of any center speaker I've heard.

Unfortunately, the Vandys' tonal characteristics came across to me as bizarre. It seemed like entire sections of the frequency range were missing, and some percussion sounds seemed hollow. That might explain why so many people regard them as laid back sounding. I would almost call the sound detached. The Vandys do specific things exceptionally well, which makes it frustrating for me to hear how strange other aspects of those speakers sound. Plenty of people who own Vandys pretty much swear by them, and feel that they are the most accurate representation of live music out there.

As far as the amplification goes, I've heard the Vandys with both Adcom and NAD amps, and they seemed to have comparable results with both. They're not known for being difficult to drive, so the sound with the Rotel should be fine.