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Help with speaker or amp upgrade, please:


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Hi, I have the latest version of the  2CE SigIII, which replaced my 20 year old pair of 2CEs. As you can tell, I love them! What I wanted when I got the newest SigIIIs was the Treo CT though, and couldn't quite swing a new pair, and the price has gone up in 3 years  (I missed a great deal back then on a like-new used pair for $6000 from John Rutan at Audio Connection).

The help/advice I need is this:

  • Do I upgrade from my good Odyssey Audio KHARTAGO++ amp and keep the 2CE SigIIIs and switch to mono blocks (maybe the well-reviewed Van Alstine 225) because the 2CE improves with each upgrade upstream to amp and preamp?
  • Or, would I yield better results by keeping my amp and upgrading to the Treo CT (along with speaker cables, replacing my old Audioquests with better AQ cables)? Going that route will be more expensive, for sure.  $4k for the mono blocks, vs $10-12k for Treos. By keeping the 2CEs, I would have $$ left over to upgrade my preamp and/or DAC too. 

I'm 66 and the ears aren't getting younger. I love the look of the Treo CT (the sound benefits are already well-known), and being able to place them closer to the wall. I have a small dedicated listening room, so the look of the 2CE doesn't bother me and I am used to it.  

I have been told by smart people that going to monoblocks will yield very good improvements, speakers aside. 

THANKS. I don't upgrade often and I am careful...I can't or won't try upgrades that could cost me $1000s in losses if I get it wrong. 

Edited by Patrick D
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As you are familiar with Johnny, I would get his take on it.

From my long path of upgraditis, If funds allow, would go to to the Treo's or Quatro's. They really are much better speakers, due to the solid cabinetry.

The issue for you is whether your current amps/equipment will do justice to the Treo's or Quatro's. - I have no experience with Odyssey, so I won't go there. Looking at the specs, it should have enough power. So, if you are determined to do a major speaker upgrade to the Treo/Quatro, it would make sense to get your amp/pre in the 'Goldilocks' region first before making the plunge.

Ayre, and Belles are really good companions to Vandy speakers, IMHO. The latter is a bit more price accessible. I use the Belles Monoblocks with my VLR's and have no issues.

Sorry for the ramble, I had a nice Single Malt whist writing and listening to Oscar Peterson.

I hope others will chime in with their recommendations.

Bob

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Thanks, Bob! I've actually been looking at used Ayre VX-5/Twenty amps, which would be an upgrade. My Khartago is equal to the Belles, I'm told. The Van Alstine AVA-225. monos got a superb review in several of the magazines, including by the late Anthony Cordesman in AbSound. They would be slightly less than a used Ayre stereo amp. 

Of course, if I upgrade the amp for five grand and get a pair of Treos, now we're looking at a $15,000 upgrade! 😳 Then I will want a new preamp, and better cables. Oy. 

I wouldn't hesitate to do it if I wasn't so conservative, cautious, and needed more money. 😎

➡️ But peripherably, what do most people think about monos versus stereo amps?

I'm told, including by Richard V, that there's definitely a benefit to doing that because of short speaker cables. I could put the mono amps right next to the speakers and have 3 ft cable. 

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When I had my 2CE Sig IIs, there was a night and day difference between one amp vs mono blocks or vertical biamping. I did both combinations and never went back to a single stereo amp. The headroom improvement was  starkly apparent and not subtle.  

Edited by stratocaster
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13 minutes ago, TomicTime said:

Treo CT all the way…. My brother in law had 2’s with Odyssey amp….   

Reality is when you have competent electronics FOCUS investing in transducers….

Thanks, Jim! Let's get together sometime. 👍

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2 hours ago, stratocaster said:

When I had my 2CE Sig IIs, there was a night and day difference between one amp vs mono blocks or vertical biamping. I did both combinations and never went back to a single stereo amp. The headroom improvement was  starkly apparent and not subtle.  

Thanks! I am very interested in monos. Wish I could get the Vandys. 

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I think you raise a good question probably all of us have faced as we have constructed our systems.  I suggest you think about it in the context of two dimensions:

1. Is the next step you are considering the final step or another step to reach your goal?

2. What is the weak link in your system today?

My thoughts are if the answer to #1 is this is your final step then I would get the best speaker I could afford.  I think speakers are the highest “leverage” component in an audio system meaning they have the greatest impact on the sound. If the answer to 1 is this is just a next step, then I would address the weakest link.

I am not familiar with your electronics but I would guess your 2CE Sig III’s probably aren’t your weakest link.

Please keep us updated on your choices, good luck.

Brian

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3 hours ago, BFW said:

I think you raise a good question probably all of us have faced as we have constructed our systems.  I suggest you think about it in the context of two dimensions:

1. Is the next step you are considering the final step or another step to reach your goal?

2. What is the weak link in your system today?

My thoughts are if the answer to #1 is this is your final step then I would get the best speaker I could afford.  I think speakers are the highest “leverage” component in an audio system meaning they have the greatest impact on the sound. If the answer to 1 is this is just a next step, then I would address the weakest link.

I am not familiar with your electronics but I would guess your 2CE Sig III’s probably aren’t your weakest link.

Please keep us updated on your choices, good luck.

Brian

BRIAN,

Does it ever end? 😅 Probably right now with all things staying the same, the speakers will yield the biggest gain, BUT— ideally, it will certainly mean upgrading other components, hence the slippery slope. I have been told by smart people that the 2CE will rise to the occasion with system upgrades. My dealer has used $40k worth of Audio Research gear with a pair of 2CE's and said it blew their minds how the 2 improved as the front end did. 

So, I could probably be happy with monoblocks with my 2CEs and would notice the improvement, and that's the least expensive path. But I cannot get the TREO CT out of my head!

 

Cheers

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22 minutes ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

This has always been the case with the Two's as they will reveal the system upgrades but all the possible upgrades you could imagine will not make a pair of Mk III's sound better that a pair of Treo CT's with your present gear!  RV

THANK YOU, SIR! 👍 In a perfect world, I would have the Treo CTs and a better amp and preamp. If I have to choose just one, the Treos make sense, it seems. 

 

- PD 

Edited by Patrick D
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3 hours ago, Patrick D said:

BRIAN,

My dealer has used $40k worth of Audio Research gear with a pair of 2CE's and said it blew their minds how the 2 improved as the front end did. 

So, I could probably be happy with monoblocks with my 2CEs and would notice the improvement, and that's the least expensive path. But I cannot get the TREO CT out of my head!

 

Cheers 

That's what I did. Dual Manley Snappers have awakened my 2Ce Sig. II rig. Was running a VTL stereo amp.

2's scale right along with every equipment change.

Cody

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I was in a similar position when I met Rutan right when the tree CT was released.  I bought the regular ones as Johnny undersold me (I wanted the CT's and he talked me out of it, but I understand why).  

As others have said, this is actually an easy question to answer and not as subjective as most are.  Get the Treo's and then save for a nice pair of mono blocks. with shorter cable runs.  A preamp is more important sound wise than an amp is in most set ups.  

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One thing to consider is all Vandersteen are engineered to be a relatively EASY load, no bizare filters, drivers wired out of phase, strange phase angles and bizarre impedance changes… high or low….

I’m not saying immune to a wonderful amp upgrade…. but it’s not typically going to provide biggest sonic enhancement…

Somebody asked a great strategy question above…. Adding a Sub 3 later also makes the load on your stereo amp even less….

i get big iron is fun…. but better isolation, transducers cartridge and or DAC and speakers ARE the big payoffs….

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2 hours ago, TomicTime said:

Please also know, i understand everyone desires, constraints, tastes are different…. so my input is just an opinion…..

Tomic, but yours is a learned opinion, and thoughtfully given. Plus, I appreciate the fact that you have the Treo CT and  the Seven and that you said the Seven does not put the Treo to shame. That speaks well for it. 

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Thank you…i was blessed to grow up with a high end stereo in the house since 1965…. certainly a LOT of bumps and mistakes along the journey….. and hopefully this old dog can learn new tricks…. eh ?
 

The basic design tenants are solid and similar thru the entire Vandersteen family of speakers…. so the common DNA is there…. economics do come into play… The Treo and up benefit from more $ to spend on a more inert cabinet…. lower grunge and smearing….. Lord knows i love the 1-2-3 as i’ve owned two of the three 😉 They are capable of MUCH 😉 Here is a pair of mind bendingly great 1ci  in my old place……

Best to all in music

CA9D08AB-745D-4784-83EA-8A03454B76F3.jpeg

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Tomic, I convinced one of my oldest friends (literally and figuratively, because he's 80 and we've been friends for over 40 years) to buy a pair of 1Ci's about 25 years ago. He still has them and loves them. 👍

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