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My "new" 5As went unplayed for 7 years . . . a question or two . . .


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Here’s a question for you guys. If left unplayed over time, might the drivers in a pair of speakers become slightly non compliant and benefit from a period of “burn in” by playing music through them over several hours and days?

The reason I ask is that the 10 year old 5As I bought in early January from my neighbor Jack, a very nice guy in his mid 70’s who I had not met before but lives just a few blocks away from me, had not been played or plugged in for the past 7 years or so!

Apparently Jack and his wife had converted their garage to an apartment space about 7 years ago, and all the boxes, etc. that had been in the garage had been moved into Jack’s home office / music room and taken over the space. It is only in these past couple of months that he has gotten that room cleared out enough to reclaim it as a functional space again. When I demoed the speakers in that room, Jack was running them with a pair of McIntosh 2102 amps that he had bridged and some kind of McIntosh pre amp, it was a less than optimal environment to hear them in. But his room is large, 25’ish by 40’ish?, and although the speakers didn’t sound perfect, they still sounded pretty darn good and I could hear their sense of scale and figured that once the housekeeping on the 9v batteries was done, they would be worth owning.

Now that I’ve been playing the 5As consistently over the past couple of weeks after having the 9v batteries in the high pass filters and crossovers changed, they seem to have continued to open up and sound more relaxed and articulate and authoritative as I listen each day. Of course this may simply be a function of having found a close to optimum spot in the room for them after several days of adjustments. And maybe I’m just getting familiar with the sound of the speakers and what they can do. But still, each day I’ve seemed to be surprised by something I hear and think to myself, I didn’t hear that yesterday. So, is it the speakers “burning in” again? Or is it just me?

Another question I have, and this was suggested to me by Brian Berdan of Audio Element when I told him this tale, is whether it would be advisable to send the subwoofer amps to Vandersteen to have them gone through. Brian thought, since the speakers had been sitting unused for so long, that it might be worth doing. At the moment everything sounds pretty amazing to me, but let me know what you think.

Best, John

Oh, and btw, the reason Jack was selling the 5As is that he had purchased a pair of MBL 101E Mk1s, that he’d purchased from someone somewhere in New England, that are now sitting in his room inside of a couple of enormous plywood crates. He told me that he’d wanted them forever, having never shaken the memory of being blown away by a pair of Ohm As over 50 years ago.

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John, I’m not qualified to give a definitive answer, but can only share my experiences.   Burn In or Settling In is almost as controversial as cables.  I have experienced improvements in both cables and hardware by extended playing; particularly with the former.  As to your particular situation, Richard or Brad would be able to provide more insight.  The manuals for Vandersteen speakers suggest 100 hours of burn in on new speakers.   Whether yours returned to that “unsettled / new” state is beyond me; but, things certainly appear to be going in the right direction!
 

Early in my audiophile journey, it was suggested to me to leave my system powered on 24/7, particularly the solid state power amps.  I have followed that guidance most of my years.  But recently, I had my amps recapped.  That tech suggested powering them down once a month to allow the caps to cycle.  In the few times I have done that since getting them back, I have heard the sound improve in the subsequent listening sessions.  
 

Play on

 

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I've heard about recycling caps.  I know that if you turn off electronics, the caps can go bad (is that the right term?).  I'd think you could hear the difference if there was an issue.  It's not difficult to shut down the whole system monthly to leta things recycle.  The 5's have an upgrade path too that you can check out on the site.

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@jkmcc.

I always wanted to try MBL, as I love that Radialstrahler design looked so cool. Unfortunately, they are wicked inefficient.

I think @Steve Edwards said it best.

Mr. V. should be able to answer your question best, as to whether any of the internals need to be checked. 

But, when I think about the 2w and 2wq subs I owned- Subs that must have been close to 20 years old-They still worked as they should, and without issue. The 5a's are a bit more complex, but I would expect are built just as well.

Bob

 

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Thank you all for your responses. Yes, I certainly could give the Vandersteen office a call and ask for their opinion about whether the sub amps should be given a going through given their relative inactivity over the past several years. However I am reluctant to ship off the amplifiers and disable the speakers for the time it would take to service them given the fact that, as I have said, they continue to sound better and better as each day goes by. So, I think until I actually have a problem, I am A-OK to continue to enjoy these speakers on a regular basis.

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18 hours ago, jkmcc said:

Thank you all for your responses. Yes, I certainly could give the Vandersteen office a call and ask for their opinion about whether the sub amps should be given a going through given their relative inactivity over the past several years. However I am reluctant to ship off the amplifiers and disable the speakers for the time it would take to service them given the fact that, as I have said, they continue to sound better and better as each day goes by. So, I think until I actually have a problem, I am A-OK to continue to enjoy these speakers on a regular basis.

No need to send them in as you have run them and all is well.  There is a protocol for bring up the voltage slowly  with a variac to reform the capacitors in the power supply if they have been discharged for years.   Too late for your amps.  

RV

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Thank you sir for taking the time to check in on this thread. I truly appreciate your insight. I can also let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed my 2CE Sigs for about 15 years and I am now enjoying these 5A’s in a way I did not think it was possible to enjoy a pair of speakers.

Best, John 

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Yes Bob, it is sounding like a pretty big jump to me too! Honestly, as I said somewhere on this board, I wasn't exactly in the market for speakers six weeks ago. But . . . I saw a listing, and the seller was in my neighborhood, an easy walk from my house, and the price worked, and my wife was all for it, and yes, I am a lucky, and very satisfied guy.

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First off, congratulations on the 5a, frankly besides the Quattro and above there is little that can touch the performance, real world performance adjusted for your room.... But you already know that.  What cables are you using ? The same technology to form your hipass filters and internal crossover capacitors can be and has been applied to cables, notably Audioquest. Part of what you may be hearing as you listen more, are your cables forming....

The cool thing about DBS cables is they sound great the first note... Vandersteen and Low of Audioquest share the patent....

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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Hi Jim, thanks for checking back in. Life with the 5As in the system is satisfying to say the least. Pretty much every time I sit down to listen I'm enthralled. It's become clear that life with subwoofers makes an enormous difference to the richness of the presentation. 

As Ray Davies sang in Top of the Pops, "I'm oh so happy, so glad to be alive"

😁

And, of course I've made a few more adjustments to gear placement and furniture arrangement while maintaining domestic acceptability. (Our living room is proof that my wife loves me AND the music.) Yesterday's photos below . . . Rack between the speakers includes the VTL amp, the BAT pre and the Bluesound Vault into the Chord Qutest. The rack in the other room holds the VPI Scout, VTL phono stage and the Intel NUC Roon core

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Ha! Those little black boxes, for once, have nothing to do with the system. They are the infra red barriers for the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. With two dogs in the house and a big back yard, the Roomba has become an essential appliance!

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