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 Post subject: Vandersteen Reconsidered
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:35 pm 
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Hi,

My lovely wife left for Calgary this past Tuesday morning. Old-timers on CAM will know what this means. It's 'sand-box' anarchy time! Lots of long listening sessions sliding late into the night and early morning. Time to break out all that gear sitting in storage and do some serious equipment swaps. There's chaos on the living room floor here with cables and components and empty boxes and so on. It's a lark.

Which brings me to Vandersteen speakers. Forum members know that Vandys, and particularly the Model 2 in it's various iterations, are one of the most loved speakers on CAM, right up there with Magnepan models for numbers of enthusiasts and eternal fans. I have long been Vandy curious but the deal breaker has always been that they are floor-standers.

You see I have this eternal love affair with two way stand mounts, particularly the expensive descendants of the BBC designs, even the French ones. I buy and sell about one pair of these types a year just to keep my ears sharp. In the process I have long settled on J.M. Reynaud Twins with Reynaud Magic stands as my go to reference for this type of speaker. This model was introduced by JMR over twenty years ago and evolved into the Duet and then the Bliss and finally the Bliss Silvers, all highly regarded and well reviewed designs. They are not perfect by a long shot but they are very listenable and, hey, after all this hobby isn't about torture, it's about pleasure. Other names come and go, the latest being a pair of Spendor S3/5R2s, which I reviewed on CAM last fall and which I still have in rotation. But my passion for two way mini-monitors has always put a dent in my acceptance factor for floor-standing designs. Every once in a while I will buy a well-reviewed floor standing pair, usually on the used market, but they never stick around very long. I have wondered why and here is what I think.

Without pointing fingers and naming any names there are some common characteristics that I find whether we are talking PSB or even Focal. The first issue stems from the number of drivers. When a box speaker design exceeds two drivers, there are often some issues with driver voicing integration and by necessity the cross-over becomes quite 'busy'. The phase angles between drivers starts to be a problem as well as the driver time alignment. All these contribute, IMHO, to reduced overall coherence and to various types of inter-modulation distortion. I am very sensitive to this as a listener. Of course perhaps one or two of these challenges can be overcome by careful design. I mention Thiel speakers as an example, where he tackled phase and time alignment head on to great effect. But IMHO more drivers always multiplies the driver integration anomalies and so a two way simple system is, I would contest, a purer approach.

It is true that there are (or have been) some good two-driver floor-standers available, and we are going to examine one below, but other than a pair of J.M. Lab Dalines that I heard several years ago and stupidly didn't buy, they have never captured much of my attention. Generally, floor-standers start with 2.5 configurations and then drivers can multiply up from there, sometimes to ridiculous levels.

So when I got struck again by Vandy curiosity late last summer, I selectively focused on the two way Model 1 design since I thought it might be possible to test the Vandy water but perhaps avoid some issues I had previously noted above with multiple driver speakers. The Model 1s are two way speakers with a 1" metal dome tweeter in an open baffle array with a small TL enclosure behind it. The mid-bass unit is an 8" polycone dual voice coil driver also fitted into a TL design cabinet, but this driver is located just under the tweeter and tilted back at an angle. Attention has been paid to phase angles and time alignment. Efficiency is a laudable 90 db and impedance is just under 7 ohms with little variation across the frequency range. They are a snip to drive, even for 30 watt tube amps. The cross-over frequency is 2800, well up there, and a first order design as well. I like the specification sheet - it''s my kind of speaker design.

A couple of reviews are available here for the curious:
http://www.highfidelityreview.com/vandersteen-1c.html
https://www.cnet.com/news/a-bona-fide-h ... nder-1000/

Some further 'user reviews' which I concur with (when they are positive and obviously written by experienced hands) are found here:
http://www.audioreview.com/product/spea ... en/1c.html

It turned out that Gene Evely at 'Take Five Audio' was having a wee clearance sale last August and he had a a couple of pairs of Vandy Model 1cs that had been languishing in his house/shop. So a friend and I went on a road trip to Mount Forest and picked up a pair. I hate buyer's regret and so instead of unpacking them right away they just sat in their lovely double packed boxes in the dining room for three months. Then my wife said one day 'take these to storage' and so in they went and now she is gone for a week and they are running loose in my living room and am I ever glad.

They came with a pair of those very heavy Vandy approved spiked stands that bolt to the bottom but I am not a spiked speaker fan. There are two schools of thought on this. One is to couple the speaker to the floor and possibly the walls too by using spikes. The other is to completely isolate the speaker from any direct interaction with the floor and I am firmly in this second camp. I want all the radiated energy in the room to be coming from the drivers and the enclosure with no enclosure vibrations being transferred to the floor. So, I set them up on each side of the equipment table with four hard rubber corks (about 1 1/2" deep) that I think are used to plug large glass bottles when you ferment wine. Then I shimmed the front corks up a tad to get maybe a 1 degree front rake angle, similar to the way the Vandy spiked support stands are set up. They are just shy of five feet apart and toed in about 10 degrees. Here is a picture.

I was thinking initially that since they had been sitting around for a few months they might be quite stiff, so I set the volume low and threw on a CD, not expecting a whole lot. I am also the kind of audiophile who really believes that first impressions are very telling. Right from the first few notes though I could tell these babies had something extra. But to be fair, I went out for a walk with the dog and let them play undisturbed for an hour or so.

So what happened? Here is the skinny. They offer me a full half octave more of real 'fundamental tone' bass as well as much more bass note definition. They are as smooth in the vocal mid-range as the best mini-monitors I have ever owned, although they are noticeably 'leaner' and they do not add as much bloom to the mids as many of the little box two way designs usually do. Further the high treble range and the octave overtones in the highest frequencies are exceptionally smooth and well defined. Coherence, time and phase alignment are very very good, and this is more typical of much more expensive and well designed two way driver mini-monitor systems. Shouting on male and female vocals is only apparent when they are driven very hard and I think this artifact is right around the low point of the cross-over hinge. In other words, I am quite likely to favour them as reference reproducers to many others I have owned, including my now outdated Reynaud Twins.

And, as much as I love little two way boxes the Vandys point out very clearly and directly the biggest failing of many mini-monitor designs. Those little boxes must always march to the limits of acoustic physics and just cannot reach very deep. To compensate for this most designers build in a nice soft mid-bass bump and this fools the ear/brain. The rythmic propulsion of music which exists mostly below 120 HZ (toe tapping) is then tilted up by the mid-bass bump so that instead of fundamental tones being reproduced, the higher order harmonics of instruments like kick drum or electric bass are being highlighted. This bump also affects the lower mid-range which takes on a lovely mid-bass bloom and while this is really quite aurally appealing, it is not, strictly speaking, accurate. So some two way stand-mounts, like the Reynaud Twins and the little Spendor models (and I rather think the Harbeth PS3s too) project a hugely flattering and romantic mid-bass bloom which is very addictive.

With the Vandys the bass notes are primarily projected as fundamental tones rather than as harmonic overtones, so the mid-bass becomes leaner and less 'forgiving'. Initially I was pining a bit for that mid-bass bloom and romance but after a short listening period I realized that it was an artifact and that the leaner sound is quite rightly more accurate. For instance, the Reynauds and the Spendors are always trying to make you forgive that really bad recording you selected to play. Put on some cheesy electronic dance music and somehow it gets covered in maple syrup and you are thinking, 'this stuff isn't so bad'. Through the Vandys, electronic gizmos, keyboards with samplers attached and so on, sound like what they really are; not orchestral grade instruments but musical gimmicks.

The lack of a mid-range bump in the Vandys also affects vocal resolution and instrumental clarity. There is less congestion in the critical vocal region. I put on a vinyl copy of Stevie Winwood's album 'Back in the High Life' because his voice and lyrics are very hard to separate out in that complex mix. A clarity issue with his voice has always been the case, going all the way back to his vocals in the Spencer Davis group and then in Traffic. He just has a voice that gets easily buried and with 'High Life' the amount of electronic energy that is in the mix is huge. But with the Vandys, his vocals are clear as a bell.

Now we come to the hard part. Is it possible that a speaker can favour 'CD' playback, or that another speaker could favour tape playback, or yet another, vinyl playback? Formerly I thought not and I was of the view that I should always set things up to just give me an identical sound field with both CD and vinyl. I have a whole series of duplicate performances on CD and vinyl that allow me to make useful comparisons. Well, the Vandys don't work that way. They overwhelmingly favour CD playback, and in fact they are the best reproducers of CDs and bit-stream sources I have ever had in my listening room. As a test case, this afternoon I played a couple of hours of vinyl straight through and then after a walk outside I put on a soul CD featuring Mavis Staples, Ann Peebles, Irma Thomas, Billy Preston and Alan Touissant. The ear catching difference that CD offers on the Vandys and that I hear is not trivial, and in fact this enhanced level of listener engagement is significant even when I am sitting in a room off the main listening room. This outcome stumped me for a while.

Then I realized it was likely due to several factors. One of the touted advantages of CD playback that was offered up back in the day was the advantage of having a much larger dynamic range available in that format. So much dynamic range was available that recording sessions were ramped up and eventually some of this extra dynamic range reached vinyl pressings but only within certain limits proscribed by the RIAA vinyl format. Late vinyl era classics like the Dire Straits' album 'Brother's in Arms' and the voice/guitar jam on 'Telegraph Road' found on 'Love Over Gold' were able to get much of that extra dynamic range that resulted from digital recording over and onto the vinyl versions but the CD versions still have more immediate impact IMHO. I think the Vandersteen 1c was developed right in the midst of the booming CD era and was voiced in favour of CD's extended dynamic range. I think this speaker excels at resolving and responding to the enhanced dynamics that CD offers. Once again the leaner mid-range of the Vandys favours this style of presentation because with CD input the speaker can always expect to see much wider use of the complete 20-20KH frequency range and higher levels of mastering gain spread across a host of instruments and voices.

Of course the downside is that much vinyl content now sounds less warm and intimate. For me, this is a problem, because I have a large collection of vintage vinyl much of which was recorded in an era when dynamic band-width was not the main objective of studio recording. Not surprisingly, the better vinyl discs that I spin up come out of the era when recording consoles were shifting over to digital and mastering was being done digitally prior to analog transfer. These sound the best to me. The DDA steps seem to preserve a lot of the dynamic range of the CD, even if the actual amount of music that can be inscribed on a vinyl disc results in fewer tracks.

But with some older records, particularly pop albums that preceded digital recording consoles, well, they sound kind of thin, because in fact they are kind of thin, and the loss of the lower mid-range bump, so fetchingly attractive in the sonic field of a quality mini-monitor, is not available to dress them up. I have an old recording of Les McCann and Eddie Harris called Second Movement and on side two there is a cut called 'Set Us Free' which I just love and when I played it I thought maybe the cartridge had gone south. So then I put on some digitally recorded and mixed stuff like Robbie Robertson's eponymous solo album and it was all right there even on vinyl. In some ways this is a terrible album. I often wonder what he and Daniel Lanois were thinking. The songs are brilliant but the soundscape for the album is all flint and gravel - there isn't a ravishing sound on it anywhere. But it is a real challenge to reproduce this album and not want to shut it off. So, romantic treatment of the lower mid-range is an artifact that is alive and well in many if not all small high quality two way mini-monitor systems, and in it's absence you can potentially lose some of the emotional connection to the music. However, this has to be balanced by appreciating that you just gained an extra half octave of real fundamental bass energy. Many audiophiles cannot live without that real bass energy and they avoid mini-monitors like a plague of locusts.

What to do? It's a cross-roads. I can see that I need the Vandys and I also need the mini-monitors for playback of some vinyl era things. One possible option is to go on the hunt for a cartridge that gives me some of that mid-bass bump that I still crave in vinyl playback. Your recommendations are being solicited. This might work and would not require swapping speakers every time I want to play some vinyl.

But I know my habits. If the speakers sound better with CDs and bit-stream sources then I will inevitably stop spinning vinyl, and this is a bad solution. So, there will have to be some cartridge swaps coming up, with me sitting on a stool, hovering over the Gold Note TT, trying to get the angles right. First up I already swapped in a Grado Prestige Silver, because I happened to have one lying around. It retrieved some of the vinyl bump I am looking for but it also comes with more surface noise retrieval than I really like to hear and also some background hum as it nears the TT motor. This is likely due to ineffective shielding. But our dog likes it and she continued to sleep in front of the speakers even when sound levels hit 85 db. Maybe I should try a Denon as I have a feeling this situation may require a MC solution.

Bottom line? Keepers. Until 'hi-fi jones' calls me up some late night and says he is giving up his Reynaud Bliss Silvers and I have to drive to New Mexico to get them, until then, these littlest Vandys have found a new home.

Later!

Cheers,
David Neice

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:03 pm 
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Your comments are interesting. Vandersteens are on a short list of speakers I would like to have in my house. They simply sound great, and have for decades.

Did you adjust the contour controls at all on the speaker?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:33 pm 
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Hi,

mdl_tor asked: 'Did you adjust the contour controls at all on the speaker?'

Yes, dialled down about 10 degrees of rotation, to about 11 o'clock, with 12 o'clock being centred. Almost nothing really.

Cheers,
David Neice

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:55 pm 
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Hi David.
Fantastic articulation and evaluation of your 1cs.
As you personally know if you remember i had an encounter with you about Maggie mgs but alas they were indeed large floorstanders not your cup of tea.
Well i now have had the listening pleasure you so aptly describe with my Vandersteen 2ci's.
They have only sounded better each time i have changed something else in my system.
They love power the way Maggies do and my 2cis are getting aprox. 350 w/chnnl at 4 0hms.
They just sing.
Like you i listen to digital and analogue.
The Vandees love my r2r and i run an mc cart on my Systemdek lll transcription table with a vintage Sony Mc-2.
But when i stream through my Dac the Vandees really come alive so i agree with your analysis.
I have them 4 feet off the back wall and 6 feet apart.
They give me the most incredible imaging and soundstage I've ever had.
Thank you for your rundown on the 1cs and i hope you can accommodate them with a satisfactory cartridge for you vinyl listening.
Cheers Chip.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:02 pm 
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Nice write up; I appreciate your taking the time.

Happy Sunday evening,

John


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:04 pm 
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david nice write up, as ever. thank you!

a few things.

dynamic range, cd vs vinyl. the superiority of cd in this regard is a myth. ive experinced the difference and also had it explained, though i struggle to recall what was said at this hour. (1 part of it is that digital media get harsh near the upper limits so the mathematical top range not practically useable. however digital media are also inferior at very low levels, which make up much of the experience. the bottom has to be boosted to gain nuance and depth there but that then squeezes the dynamic range from the bottom as well. the reverse was true of analogue, that it has the ability to do better than its supposed limits for a variety of factors i dont recall. theres more and im not the authority by any means. the long and short of the argument was that analogue playback offered superior dynamic range, theoretical limits and marketing taglines nothwithstanding.

my experience- upon retreiving my lp12 years ago after its first service i was blown away, frankly it literally scared the crap out of me, made me uncomfortable. i startle easily, and can get uncomfortable with massive and instant swings in amplitude. for a while after that service, id never heard anything like it in a home system. the whole thing was alive, tiny signals jumped and escalated with alarming speed and zero effort, and it was scarcely different at high levels.
my cd players were no slouch, an alchemist nexus and a roksan caspian. they could not at all compete with that, though i loved them and still do.


lp12s go out of tune after a while and one day i noticed that effect had subsided. it was sad and irritating but also sort of a relief when it happened, i have to say.


so if dynamics are your thing, we need to find out how to get that. ill think about it and answer back. but quickly, you havent mentioned your turntable/arm/cart/ phono preamp/ (you mentined the dek but then a bluenote tt, not sure what youre using. (nor what cd player) the odds are both dynamic jump and warmth you seek are possible, and that with the vandys proving to be both resolving and dynamically engaging you may well end up with better results on both with the right analogue front end. it may or may not cost depending on where were at.

what cd player and tt front end do you have, all the way through? (cables included.)

even if its not possible to have both and im wrong, (i dont think im wrong but its not at all impossible) it sounds like you want warm and romantic at least from your turntable. this is not hard to get from a tt by itself.

without knowing what youre using, the right phono pre and cartridge combination (one that works well with your table of course) will give you warm and lush right now, with your present table and arm.

you might choose to do it that way- some music on vinyl for its romanticness, and others for cd for its aliveness. then you only need to obtain the more romantic sound from your tt.

so, i might suggest a decent mc combined with a tube phono stage using transformers at the input.

a goldring elite or eroica may do it, (eroica maybe a little exuberant and rough for the purpose, maybe not. a benz glider will be a good fit also, ) the phono stage i was using at the time was an ear 834p, mine was modded. they are a bit dear but not too bad, and some come up at good prices from time to time. there are other choices of course. (frankly i thought it was stark sounding until i upgraded my cartridge. with my old mc gold the rega fono sounded nearly as good and quite a bit warmer. i initially thought i wasted my money. then i upgraded my cartridge to a benzL0.4 and the whole spectrum changed, the 834 was then well justified and sounded just incredible -it left the fono completely in the dust. (as it should for the price) that was a mid sized lesson for me.



ive since got another one, with much better and more extensive mods, its easily my favourite phono stage. its warm, lush, organic and holographic, and it can totally hammer when the time comes. its very very good.,

depending on your budget and the state of things, that may be a good choice too- the benz micro mc gold and rega fono mc version 1 provided a very engaging and warm sound together for not much money. (mc gold, 2 or 300 used or demo, rega fono 200 bucks used. ) in that system they were very warm and musical together and if your budget and sytem are right for it that may be all you need.

the point of all that was illustration. changing whatever is holding your tt back or taking it away from you is the answer.


you can shift your tt toward romantic lush presentation and more midrange weight without much effort, and can leave it there. you also can have it all for a bit more work and probably money. is what im blabbing on about. (there may also be other floorstanders that will do exactly what you want and be fine with what you have. we can mull over that. too. )



dont give up, dont dismay. im sure with the collective experience here, we'll get you there.


please if we may- what tt/arm/cart/phono stage/preamp are you using, and what cd player/digital front end do you use? (cables included as mentioned) what are both sources sitting on? ( type of platform, shelf, etc?)


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:07 am 
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Lovely review, thanks for that.
I have never seen the Vandersteens before, let alone heard them, and that is with a couple of years in the “industry” a generation ago. (at least not that I recall, my one visit to CES may prove that statement wrong, but alas, memory escapes me)
I always wondered if the round metal vertical support bars would ring, but many positive reviews of the product over decades suggests not.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:39 am 
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Hi,

Notes to phowell1.

1) You asked about the front end parts. I don't list these things in my user reviews because it is too easy to dismiss other people's perceptions because somebody is not using your favorite cables. I think that attitude misses the main point that with speakers perceived differences are often very real despite other component colouration factors.

Gold Note Valore 425 Plus Acrylic with B5.1 arm
Grado Prestige Silver (cartridge du jour - others laying around)
Graham Slee Gram Amp 2SE phono pre
Audio Sensibility Impact phono interconnect cable
CD Source - Cambridge Audio Azure 640
All RCA interconnects are DIY using Kimber PBJ
Speaker cables are DIY and an open secret.
I regularly swap several amplifiers (both tube and SS) before commenting on anything.

2) Your comments about dynamic range for CD and vinyl are quite interesting and there are certainly some trade-offs regardless of the medium under review. Even 1/2 " and 1" tape running at 15 or 30" per second, which had a very wide dynamic range, required eq inversion circuits in the tape input/output stage, although with most home recorders this equalization was built right into the tape ins and outs. In studios it was handled by a separate outboard pre-amp device.

3) I have long wanted to invest in an EAR phono pre and this may be the time to do it. An EAR phono pre and an MC (maybe a HANA) might nudge up the vinyl mid-warmth just to a level that I would like. Other suggestions are being sought.

Cheers,
David Neice

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:10 am 
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David, what a great topic opener. Articulate, to the point and penetrating. One of the easiest-to-read long posts I have come across. Thank you very much indeed, not least for the good example. Now I have a selection of gear in mind that I'm sure I would enjoy listening to with you. Not gear that you would necessarily be considering owning, but just for fun.

You mention cartridges that work well with the vinyl bump and your speakers. ( And pass muster with the dog. ) You don't seem to lack for ideas, but let me suggest you keep the Charisma line in mind. Their developer is a solid vinyl lover and tends to prefer a neutral result.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:21 pm 
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buybye88 wrote:
My lovely wife left for Calgary this past Tuesday morning. Old-timers on CAM will know what this means. It's 'sand-box' anarchy time! Lots of long listening sessions sliding late into the night and early morning. Time to break out all that gear sitting in storage and do some serious equipment swaps. There's chaos on the living room floor here with cables and components and empty boxes and so on. It's a lark.

Which brings me to Vandersteen speakers. ( ... )

Bottom line? Keepers. Until 'hi-fi jones' calls me up some late night and says he is giving up his Reynaud Bliss Silvers and I have to drive to New Mexico to get them, until then, these littlest Vandys have found a new home.


David. Really enjoyed the read.

RE: Vandersteen. I have always admired Mr Vandersteen's speaker designs and the 1b in particular. I truly believe the design platform of the 1B is a near perfect 2 way alignment and quite possibly the best bang for the buck 2 way speaker out there. Having lived with the 2c, 3's as well as my good buddies 5's,all the Vandersteen designs make for a very musical experience. I also believe the 1b is the most focused speaker in the entire Vandersteen line up. The 2's, 3's and 5's are a lot more picky when it comes to amplification.
The 1b or 1c models are a much easier load to drive than any other of his designs, near perfect for those that prefer tube amps or low powered solid scrape amplifiers.
His choice of midbass driver for his 1st order alignment [a vifa P21 WO-8] with the tweeter is about as good as it gets. With a 1st order transfer function at 2.8kz there are very few midbass drivers that qualify for the task and the few that do qualify are a whole lot more expensive.
Personally, I'm a little more partial to the soft dome employed in the 1B over the metal dome of the 1C but his choice of transfer function at 2.8khz [2.7khz for the soft dome] to bring in the tweeter is the reason why it sounds so much more focused than any 3 way in that price category.
Furthermore: Where most any speaker design in that price range employ cheap electrolytic capacitors in their crossovers, Vandersteen employs a decent film cap [Wima] for the tweet.

Regarding the leaner midbass tone. Certainly room dependent however I do believe the response of the 1c in the midbass [2nd octave] is spot on. One can always bring in some extra bass weight or body with any decent sub without mucking up the beautiful focused lower midrange.
In the right room & paired with a decent sub they will hold their own with the Vamdersteen 5's!
I kid you not.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:04 am 
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Hi,

First, thanks to all the above for your comments and suggestions. It takes me quite a while to write a user review and I appreciate knowing that some people read them and respond.

Note to chipmunk1957: I do remember our correspondence about the Maggies (MGs) and I am actually still Maggie curious but that will have to wait for another day. It is interesting to me that you went over to the Vandys as your next step after the Maggies and that they are still thrilling you. I will be living with this pair for quite a while.

Note to Toby (moderator): I checked out the Charisma line of cartridges and that reworked Denon 103 they offer is very interesting. Thanks for the tip. More later by PM.

Note to eclecttique: Great technical information from you that filled in some blanks for me. I remember now reading a long time ago about the tweeter change in the 1b to the 1c and then I think later on there was another change in the 1ci. Gene Evely had a pair of 1cs and another pair of 1ci's and he told me after I bought them that I had chosen the smoother pair. The 1b, according to your analysis, is likely even smoother because that aluminum dome tweeter in the 1c was a challenge to tame. He tamed it, but just so. Some day it might be nice to compare this pair I have to a 1b. Regarding that mid range bump that occupies the sound field of many mini-monitors, the more I listen to the Vandys the more I realize it is just another artifact. I am now preferring the leaner integration of the Vandy sound field and I think it is more spot on and purer. With tubes it is a dream. Anyway, one final comment, 'solid scraper amplifier?' - I love that image.

Cheers,
David Neice

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:30 am 
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Really enjoyed your review. Particularly enjoyed the fact you used "real" music not test tones or audiophile approved recordings (I'm not counting Dire Straits-it's a great music that happens to be well recorded, not as common as I wish).
Well done.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:36 pm 
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buybye88 wrote:
Hi,

First, thanks to all the above for your comments and suggestions. It takes me quite a while to write a user review and I appreciate knowing that some people read them and respond.

Note to chipmunk1957: I do remember our correspondence about the Maggies (MGs) and I am actually still Maggie curious but that will have to wait for another day. It is interesting to me that you went over to the Vandys as your next step after the Maggies and that they are still thrilling you. I will be living with this pair for quite a while.

Note to Toby (moderator): I checked out the Charisma line of cartridges and that reworked Denon 103 they offer is very interesting. Thanks for the tip. More later by PM.

Note to eclecttique: Great technical information from you that filled in some blanks for me. I remember now reading a long time ago about the tweeter change in the 1b to the 1c and then I think later on there was another change in the 1ci. Gene Evely had a pair of 1cs and another pair of 1ci's and he told me after I bought them that I had chosen the smoother pair. The 1b, according to your analysis, is likely even smoother because that aluminum dome tweeter in the 1c was a challenge to tame. He tamed it, but just so. Some day it might be nice to compare this pair I have to a 1b. Regarding that mid range bump that occupies the sound field of many mini-monitors, the more I listen to the Vandys the more I realize it is just another artifact. I am now preferring the leaner integration of the Vandy sound field and I think it is more spot on and purer. With tubes it is a dream. Anyway, one final comment, 'solid scraper amplifier?' - I love that image.

Cheers,
David Neice


David. In regards to that midbass bump you hear with so many of the better 2-way mini monitors [British designs in particular]
That proverbial bump or boost in the midbass [2nd octave] is by design. If the frequency response of the monitor actually measured anywhere near a flat response in the 2nd octave...... the tonal balance of the speaker will surely sound thin or lean. Most of the better mini-monitor designs compensate for that by shaping a stepped response in their crossover to "voice" the speaker to make it sound tonally balanced. The better ones typically use a smaller midbass driver [5-6 inch] then shape or tune it with a narrower boost in midbass so the steep roll off in the upper bass range avoids any blurring or interference with the frequency response of the midrange. High order crossovers are the only way to accomplish that.
Many of these monitors [read too many here] can be rather difficult to find a coherent tonal balance when a subwoofer [or two] is added to the mix to bring in the bottom octave.


Well, that would be next to impossible to pull that off with any design employing a first order crossover!
BTW: The Vandersteen model 1 is not really a true open baffle design. I suppose the tweeter mounted in a 5 inch square box with an open back could be considered a semi open baffle. :wink:

So why would anyone choose to design a 2-way speaker employing a simple first order crossover?

Any passive component in the signal path will have an influence on the purity of the signal. The steeper the slope or higher the order...... the more capacitors, inductors and resistors are required.

[1] 1st order crossovers = only 1 capacitor for the tweeter & 1 inductor for the midbass
[2] Phase shift = 90 degrees on both the tweeter and the midbass.
[3]a stable impedance profile= a predictable frequency response behaviour.

Both the midbass & tweeter have a phase angle of 90 degrees.
The angled profile of the sloped baffle takes care of the 90 degree phase shift of the midbass driver relative to the tweeter.
The tweeter is now time aligned with the voice coil of the midbass driver.
Simply put: You now have a 2 way speaker that is in correct phase & time!

For those that want more response in the bottom octave....unlike many of the mini monitors or stand mount designs. Adding a sub or two to the presentation is a relatively easy task for a coherent full range presentation.

David: Are you using a sub?

If not: The transmission line can be tuned [to a degree] without compromising the lower mids .

Get yourself an 8 ft length of 1"x 2" wood. The 1"x 10 1/2" vent at the end of the transmission line can be tuned by inserting various lengths in the vent.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:11 pm 
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Hi,

Note to ecclectique. Wow, more good information.

Answering your questions here. No, I don't have a sub inserted but could do that once I get fully familiar with the lowest registers of the Vandy 1cs without any extra boost. That'a a great tip about possibly variably tuning the bass/mid TL port. I also agree that this is not really an 'open baffle' design - that is more of a marketing angle there. Compared to say a real open baffle speaker system like the Pure Audio Project system, they are pretty far removed, although I think that small damped baffle on the tweeter may smooth things out there somewhat. I also like the open tops (with the grill cloth) because I know there is some almost vertical dispersion, even from the mid-driver that escapes upward thus providing, I think, some air up top that expands that sense of sound-stage and image they provide. You comment on the necessarily more complex cross-overs that are needed in mini-monitors which allow for step baffles and so on, as well as their usual lower efficiency ratings which, again, I think cause issues. These little Vandys drive effortlessly. At a rated 90 db efficiency they only require mere millivolts to kick out some sound and so the tiniest change in amplifier voltages is met by an instant response in the drivers. Even a very well-designed 85 db two way higher order cross-over network cannot IMHO ever be that transparent.

I have to say that by keeping the driver/cross-over design simple and first order and by utilizing the sonic benefits of his already proven 'open' enclosure design as well as the TL support, Vandersteen fashioned a real hybrid winner.

Cheers,
David Neice

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:25 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:43 am
Posts: 1115
Location: Stratford, ON, CA
Hi,

Further note to phowell1.

I read once again your comments on your experiences with phono pre-amps and cartridges. I noticed that you had, at one time used step up transformers, and I remembered also reading a long time ago about Ortofon SUT's. You have to understand I have never owned a MC cartridge so I have zero experience, although I have had dozens of MM types and always do my own set-ups with all the necessary ancillary gear. So, what gives there? Is the transformer boost better or is it better to just use a dedicated MC input stage? For purposes of economy I like the idea of using an EAR MM phono stage, so I am trying to guess at the possible combinations.

Cheers,
David Neice

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