jkmcc Posted February 4, 2021 Share Posted February 4, 2021 Greetings all, I thought I’d introduce myself and my system. As I said in my maiden post on the music thread, Bob (aka gdnrbob when appearing on Audiogon) suggested I join in on this forum. Before I get started on this embarrassingly long post, (a bit too much context maybe?), I’ll give you a quick sketch of where I’m coming from. I grew up in coastal Connecticut in the 60’s and 70’s, moved to California in ’84 and currently live in Altadena, CA where my wife and I have been for the past 20 years. Our one daughter is a sophomore in college. We have two cats and two dogs. I like to say that I fell in love with my wife, we met when we were in college, because she had no musical skeletons in her closet; she was into Roxy Music, Bowie, Patti Smith, XTC, etc, and, when the emotional chips were down and other girls pulled out that Fogleberg/Weisberg Twin Brothers of Different Mothers record to be morose to, she pulled out Iggy Pop. In terms of my relationship with my stereo, it didn’t really get serious from a sonic standpoint until about 15 or 16 years ago. But I do still have the Thorens TD145 turntable I bought when I was 16. And, I never got rid of my records. I’ve been to exactly one audio show. I’ve heard exactly one pair of 2ce Sigs - the pair I owned, and one pair of 5As - the pair I now own. I have not heard another Vandersteen model. I can say the same about amplifiers, pre amps, turntables, etc. The gear I’ve heard has pretty much been the gear I have owned. And since I seem to replace or add components every 10 years or so, that isn’t a whole lot of gear. But, like many of us, I’ve read lot’s and lot’s about all kinds of gear on audio sites and in Stereophile, et al. To paraphrase my good friend Bill, I realize I know only a little . . . . . . About a month ago, in early January, I purchased a 10ish year old pair of 5As from their original owner. I’ve been engaged in a slow motion upgrade of my system over the past three years and I wasn’t yet in the market for speakers to replace my 15 year old 2ce Sigs, BUT, Jack, the 5A’s owner lives just a few blocks from me in Altadena, CA and the price ended up being very attractive, so, they are now in my system. (Coincidentally, both Jack and I had bought our Vandys from Brooks Berdan in Monrovia, CA) It’s been an entertaining few weeks getting them set up and integrated into the system. The 9v batteries in the high pass filters and crossovers had not been changed since the speakers were purchased, but before I had them replaced, I just had to get the speakers up and running in my room to get an idea of what they sounded like. I was rather queasy to discover that they didn’t sound great . . . dark, and . . . not great. (Uh oh, have I made a big mistake?) But, as I did more reading - I’ve been reading everything I can on every forum about the 5As for the past month and basically memorizing the manual - I found an exchange in the Ask Richard forum where he said, Yes, you can run the speakers with dead 9v batteries, but they will sound DARK and LIFELESS. Exactly! Phew! After having had the 9v batts replaced last week by Brian Berdan of Audio Element, (Brian is Brooks’s son), the speakers now sound VIBRANT and ALIVE. I was happy to have a Fluke multimeter on hand from my Bottlehead building days to do the high pass filter double check for impedance values. My amp, a VTL S-200, has a 45k input impedance according to its manual. Setting the 5As high pass filters at 50k confirmed this as the correct setting to set the dip switches for. (Along the way I also set the HPFs for 33k, 75k and 100k, just to hear. But it was the 50k that sounded best.) I followed Richard V’s low frequency calibration procedure, (love his video), using the SPL Meter app, by Studio Six Digital, on my iPhone. I’ll get my hands on a RS meter at some point and take another pass through the process, but so far it seems like I’m in a pretty good ball park. My system is setup in our living room; living proof that my wife loves me. The room’s dimensions are about 25 x 13.5 x 8. I have the system on the short wall firing the length of the room. You’ll see in the photographs that the rack sits in the bay window cut out at that end of the room, there is a built in bookshelf to the left and 4’ wide opening into our entry hall on the right. My seating position ends up about 12 to 15 feet from the speakers, depending on which chair I’m in, with the rear wall 5 to 8 feet behind me, again, depending on the chair I’m in. (Those chairs are light and easily moved. When not engaged in listening, that chair in the center ends up in front of the fireplace facing the couch.) Initially I placed the 5As in about the same spot I had my 2ce Sigs, about 60 inches from the back wall, 3’ from the side wall on the left side and about 4.5’ from the right side wall/opening. This placement is based roughly on the room division formula in the Vandersteen manual. (I’d listened to the 2ce Sigs in a lot of positions over the years, using various methods, but at the end of the day it was the Vandersteen setup procedure that sounded best.) I’ve also set up the tilt with the washers, using the formula in the 5A manual. This week I’ve spent a few hours on Tuesday, and a few hours today moving the speakers around in search of the best of all possible worlds. On Tuesday I separated the speakers a few inches, moving them a bit closer to the side wall. That sounded great. Focused and articulate. But last night, while playing a track from Bobby Hutcherson’s lp, The Kicker, I heard a disturbing low frequency resonance from the right side that seemed to feed back into the turntable. I adjusted the low frequency levels on both speakers a couple of notches lower thinking that might be the culprit. But, as I walked around the right speaker, I noticed that when I stepped heavily, the floor itself seemed to boom and resonate. I'd never noticed this before. (Ours is a one story wood framed stucco house, built on a foundation, with a crawl space beneath. Built in 1949 the walls and ceilings are lathe and plaster.) I made a few more exploratory stomps and came to the conclusion that the right speaker had ended up at exactly the most resonant spot on the floor. A foot or so in any other direction, closer to the underlying supporting structure I suppose, and the floor sounds deader and less loaded. So, this morning I got up determined to find a more effective placement for the speakers. Having seen a lot of photos on this site of 5As and Quatros closer to rear and side walls than I would have considered; after all, the Vandersteen mantra all these years has seemed to be “Minimize side wall reflections, and for god’s sake, whatever you do, get the speakers at least 4’ out into the room!”, I thought I’d take a pass at moving the speakers closer to the corners. After all, between the bay window notch to the rear and the big opening on the right side, I’m not living in a symmetrical paradise. After a couple of hours of trial and error I think I’ve found a spot that I’m happy with. At least I’m satisfied enough to live and listen with it for a week to see if I like it for the long term. I’ve ended up with the following set up: Left speaker - 34”ish from rear wall to acoustical center, 24” to side wall Right speaker - 34”ish from rear wall to acoustical center, 36” to side wall / opening Width between the speakers - 8’ 4” Toe In - 2.5” This presentation yields a broad and articulate sound stage that still maintains focus and has some fore and aft dimensionality. Although that fore and aft aspect seems to be a bit less than when the speakers were a little further into the room. Widening the speakers from about 6’ to 8’ lessens the solidity of the sonic presentation a little, which makes sense, but, it occurred to me, as I was listening to a Debussy sonata for piano and cello a little while ago, that the slightly more diffuse quality sounds maybe a little less hi-fi and maybe a little more like live music. Well, if my memory of the Disney Concert Hall is still intact, that is - it’s been about a year since we were last there. Anyway, this will keep me entertained for now. It’s easy enough to slide these things around as long as I’m very careful about it. (“Audiofool dies when crushed beneath 185 lb speaker. ‘He just wanted to bring Blossom Dearie a few more inches into the room,’ his resigned wife commented, as she quietly considered what she would do with all the new found space she would have in her living room.”) It’s a real gift to live with speakers and gear of the quality I’ve ended up with. Our musical sessions really are magical these days. As my old friend Dave likes to quip, “It’s a pretty good life.” Rock on, John PS - Comments and optimization suggestions welcome! My system - VPI Scout & Hana SH cart, VTL 6.5 phono stage, Bluesound Vault 2i, Chord Qutest Dac, BAT VK 30 pre, VTL S-200 amp, Vandersteen 5A speakers, mainly Cardas cable throughout, Quadraspire SVT rack. 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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