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Drew769’s System with Vandersteen 5As


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Hi everyone,

 It’s great to see a Vandersteen forum!  I’ve been a big fan since my first set of Vandersteen speakers, a pair of 2CE Signatures.  I had been in the market for my first hi fi system back in 2003 when I bought my prior house.  I had narrowed my speaker choice down to the Quad 22L floor standers - that is until I visited Audio Connection in Verona NJ to audition an integrated.  I can’t even remember what I went there to listen to, but John Ruttan sold me on the Vandersteens.  I ended up with a simple system of the 2CEs, a SimAudio integrated, and a Rega Planet 2000 CD player. That little system kept me happy for a few years, providing a beautiful 3D sound stage.  Over time I upgraded my Amplifiers to Rogue Audio, added a 2WQ sub, then another.  My beloved 2CEs were traded in on a demo pair of Treos at Audio Connection sometime around 2012 I think?  

I had also shifted my focus towards vinyl from CD, adding a near entry level Pro-Ject in 2006, a VPI Scout in 2009, then a Prime, and finally my current table, an Aries 3D.

 Over the past few years, I have been all over the map, with 5 preamps, 5 power amps, two phono stages, three DACs, two streamers, cables, etc.  am at one point I turned to the dark side (they had cookies) and bought a pair of hand made Daedalus DA1.1v2 speakers to replace my Treos.  I liked the fact they they are not fussy at all - sit anywhere you like and they sound good.  And they went from good to great with the 2WQs taking those lower frequencies away from the mains.  But...I lost that detail, sparkle, air and speed that I lived in my Vandersteens.

I moved right before the pandemic lockdown in early 2020, and my new room has the space that I had always wanted for a larger speaker.  As luck would have it, a friend from my car club was selling a pair of gorgeous 5As, originally bought from Audio Connection.  I quickly made the deal, and enlisted the help of a good friend and fellow audiophile, and bribed my 14 year old son to help move these heavy things to their new home.

I did the set up as carefully as possible without John’s help.  After things started opening a bit, though, John and Samir from Audio Connection came over to do the final set up.  I have to say, these speakers and my system have exceeded my own expectations.

 I am driving the 5As with a pair of the latest Quicksilver V4 monoblocks, each running a quad of KT150s.  I have an Aesthetix Pallene  preamplifier, another suggestion by John.  My vinyl source is a VPI Aries 3D, modded with a ceramic bearing and hard wired junction box by VAS/Steve Leung.  I have an original version of the 10” 3D arm (only made a few hundred before moving to a cheaper alternative).  My cartridges are a VAS Nova Ultimate Reference LOMC, and an Ortofon Cadenza Black.  I run them through a VAS step up transformer, and then into a Modwright PH9.0X.  My vinyl never sounded this good. 
 

My digital front end is an EMM Labs DAC2X V2 , connected to an EMM Labs NS1 Streamer/Bridge.  I also have a Sony HAPZ1ES, a Rega Planet 2000 ( the only remaining component from my initial set up!), and a TASCAM DA-3000 ADC.  The EMM stuff is my latest purchase, and I’m shocked at how great they are.  I’m truly loving digital now.

I’m running all of the source gear through a new AQ Niagara 1200 power conditioner.  My cables are mostly AQ, and my speaker cables (again on John’s recommendation) are the AQ Robin Hood Zero/Bass double run biwires.

 To help combat any trampolining effect of my hardwood floors, John recommended a pair of 3” thick granite bases to go under each 5A.  I was a little bit skeptical, but I sourced a pair in the large size needed through a machine company (they are made for scientific equipment calibrations).  It was a lot of work (and weight) moving those into my room, lifting the speakers on to them, and  readjusting the tilt of the speakers  - but it was well worth it!  The improvements to the lower bass (tighter, more controlled) and the mid-bass and percussion sounds is just amazing.  The speakers- fast already - moved up a level or two towards their bigger, newer brethren.

 I’m thrilled with my system and the 5As.  They were a dream speaker years ago, and to actually own a set now is very satisfying.  The only place I could see going from here would be a model 7 out a Kento.  I’m going to enjoy what I have for a while, though!

 

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5 hours ago, MNSki said:

Beautiful system and I’m sure it sounds amazing! Can you tell me more about what type of company you fond the bases at and how you sourced them?

Sure!  I bought two (2) solid granite machine test plates (basically they are scientific grade, dead flat, slabs of granite used to calibrate sensitive instruments) .  I sourced them from Penn Tool Co. in Maplewood, NJ.  They are 18x24x3 in size. They cost about $160 each, plus tax and shipping. They are extraordinarily heavy so freight to the shop was over $200.  All in, around $550 for the pair.

Edited by Drew769
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5 hours ago, Drew769 said:

Sure!  I bought two (2) solid granite machine test plates (basically they are scientific grade, dead flat, slabs of granite used to calibrate sensitive instruments) .  I sourced them from Penn Tool Co. in Maplewood, NJ.  They are 18x24x3 in size. They cost about $160 each, plus tax and shipping. They are extraordinarily heavy so freight to the shop was over $200.  All in, around $550 for the pair.

Awesome, thanks! I did a bit of searching and found that these are called “surface plates” for anyone looking for something similar.

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First, what does the dog think?  Please ask on my behalf.  Thanks.

Second, I really love the room.  Especially the window curtains, or lack thereof.  I much prefer the approach you've taken, but the director of finance here over-ruled me.

Finally. for those interested, you can purchase similar bases at your local counter-top custom fabricators.  There aren't reference grade flat, but I'm not clear that matters.  The price is similar, but you have a choice of multiple colors and patterns, can get the exact size you want, and you save on shipping.  Shipping is a killer these days.

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58 minutes ago, BKDad said:

First, what does the dog think?  Please ask on my behalf.  Thanks.

Second, I really love the room.  Especially the window curtains, or lack thereof.  I much prefer the approach you've taken, but the director of finance here over-ruled me.

Finally. for those interested, you can purchase similar bases at your local counter-top custom fabricators.  There aren't reference grade flat, but I'm not clear that matters.  The price is similar, but you have a choice of multiple colors and patterns, can get the exact size you want, and you save on shipping.  Shipping is a killer these days.

Glad you noticed Bailey!  He is kind of a wandering room treatment.  His routine every night is to jump up next to me, only on his blue blanket, and listen to tunes.   He seems to dig post punk.

 The backyard view is pretty cool, so I like the curtain free look.  My other half was all for this at first but then wanted window treatments.  I said hellz no it’s my room.  Bam. 

I tried all of the counter top places I could find, but none had 3” thick slabs.  That is a special domain inhabited only by mad scientists and audiophiles that have been convinced that the difference will not be subtle.  And shockingly, it isn’t subtle! 

Edited by Drew769
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Bailey was the first thing I noticed.  Sorry if I ignored the other stuff.  Nothing personal.

Counter top slabs typically come in 2cm and 3cm thicknesses, from what the guy at the fabricator told us.  That matched what the experts on the 'net said.  In order to go thicker, as for counters, they bond more than one piece together.  This is a standard thing for these guys.  I figured that two bonded pieces might actually be a feature, not a bug.  Maybe I'm wrong about that, but your description of the sonic differences match mine exactly.

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20 minutes ago, stratocaster said:

Beautiful AND clean setup. Hard to get that combination....Am surprised to see the speakers so close to the rear wall. I thought they needed to be out quite a bit to get the most out of them. 

This is the advantage of Room  EQ!  The only down side is a slight reduction of stage depth but for many the visceral engagement of the bass and mid-bass is worth it.

 

RV    

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1 hour ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

This is the advantage of Room  EQ!  The only down side is a slight reduction of stage depth but for many the visceral engagement of the bass and mid-bass is worth it.

 

RV    

This was my first experience with room EQ, set by Samir using software and a microphone.  It’s amazing how well he was able to dial everything in. 

The system is comfortable and enjoyable to listen to just about anything - it’s not fussy at all.  Yet, any changes I make are much more easily noticed because they system is so revealing.  Truly enjoying the 5As!

@Stratocaster I had the speakers out further, but when John and Samir tweaked everything, they moved them back.  Trust the pros!!

Edited by Drew769
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On 5/3/2021 at 6:26 PM, Drew769 said:

Hi everyone,

 It’s great to see a Vandersteen forum!  I’ve been a big fan since my first set of Vandersteen speakers, a pair of 2CE Signatures.  I had been in the market for my first hi fi system back in 2003 when I bought my prior house.  I had narrowed my speaker choice down to the Quad 22L floor standers - that is until I visited Audio Connection in Verona NJ to audition an integrated.  I can’t even remember what I went there to listen to, but John Ruttan sold me on the Vandersteens.  I ended up with a simple system of the 2CEs, a SimAudio integrated, and a Rega Planet 2000 CD player. That little system kept me happy for a few years, providing a beautiful 3D sound stage.  Over time I upgraded my Amplifiers to Rogue Audio, added a 2WQ sub, then another.  My beloved 2CEs were traded in on a demo pair of Treos at Audio Connection sometime around 2012 I think?  

I had also shifted my focus towards vinyl from CD, adding a near entry level Pro-Ject in 2006, a VPI Scout in 2009, then a Prime, and finally my current table, an Aries 3D.

 Over the past few years, I have been all over the map, with 5 preamps, 5 power amps, two phono stages, three DACs, two streamers, cables, etc.  am at one point I turned to the dark side (they had cookies) and bought a pair of hand made Daedalus DA1.1v2 speakers to replace my Treos.  I liked the fact they they are not fussy at all - sit anywhere you like and they sound good.  And they went from good to great with the 2WQs taking those lower frequencies away from the mains.  But...I lost that detail, sparkle, air and speed that I lived in my Vandersteens.

I moved right before the pandemic lockdown in early 2020, and my new room has the space that I had always wanted for a larger speaker.  As luck would have it, a friend from my car club was selling a pair of gorgeous 5As, originally bought from Audio Connection.  I quickly made the deal, and enlisted the help of a good friend and fellow audiophile, and bribed my 14 year old son to help move these heavy things to their new home.

I did the set up as carefully as possible without John’s help.  After things started opening a bit, though, John and Samir from Audio Connection came over to do the final set up.  I have to say, these speakers and my system have exceeded my own expectations.

 I am driving the 5As with a pair of the latest Quicksilver V4 monoblocks, each running a quad of KT150s.  I have an Aesthetix Pallene  preamplifier, another suggestion by John.  My vinyl source is a VPI Aries 3D, modded with a ceramic bearing and hard wired junction box by VAS/Steve Leung.  I have an original version of the 10” 3D arm (only made a few hundred before moving to a cheaper alternative).  My cartridges are a VAS Nova Ultimate Reference LOMC, and an Ortofon Cadenza Black.  I run them through a VAS step up transformer, and then into a Modwright PH9.0X.  My vinyl never sounded this good. 
 

My digital front end is an EMM Labs DAC2X V2 , connected to an EMM Labs NS1 Streamer/Bridge.  I also have a Sony HAPZ1ES, a Rega Planet 2000 ( the only remaining component from my initial set up!), and a TASCAM DA-3000 ADC.  The EMM stuff is my latest purchase, and I’m shocked at how great they are.  I’m truly loving digital now.

I’m running all of the source gear through a new AQ Niagara 1200 power conditioner.  My cables are mostly AQ, and my speaker cables (again on John’s recommendation) are the AQ Robin Hood Zero/Bass double run biwires.

 To help combat any trampolining effect of my hardwood floors, John recommended a pair of 3” thick granite bases to go under each 5A.  I was a little bit skeptical, but I sourced a pair in the large size needed through a machine company (they are made for scientific equipment calibrations).  It was a lot of work (and weight) moving those into my room, lifting the speakers on to them, and  readjusting the tilt of the speakers  - but it was well worth it!  The improvements to the lower bass (tighter, more controlled) and the mid-bass and percussion sounds is just amazing.  The speakers- fast already - moved up a level or two towards their bigger, newer brethren.

 I’m thrilled with my system and the 5As.  They were a dream speaker years ago, and to actually own a set now is very satisfying.  The only place I could see going from here would be a model 7 out a Kento.  I’m going to enjoy what I have for a while, though!

 

398277BE-F05D-4C41-82FC-2C42A5F341F2.jpeg

94687A5D-C90C-4935-8E12-29C3F8F49539.jpeg

B9F8CB1C-F036-4B86-85B8-6E6E9F6660CF.jpeg

716362AE-8B9E-4EB5-A238-A0D8F961D75F.jpeg

499DDA65-FA2E-4DE0-A187-4EF36CDD7895.jpeg

4225C424-20F4-4AE8-8EA1-FF1FB2A8AFF3.jpeg

Your room and system are exquisite, I can tell you have great taste! What happened to your phoenix TT controller?

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1 hour ago, Huang said:

Your room and system are exquisite, I can tell you have great taste! What happened to your phoenix TT controller?

 

27 minutes ago, Tom Newell said:

I have a feeling that Bailey got hold of it somehow. That is a super nice room!

LOL, I had to go back and look at the picture.  The Phoenix TT controller does look weird in the picture, but it must be a shadow or digital artifact or something.  Looks normal in real life.  Bailey is a little guy and cannot jump that high!

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On 5/11/2021 at 5:31 AM, John Gallup said:

Beautiful (large!) room and system. Thank you for sharing it with us. It was nteresting to hear your experience with stone slabs under the speakers. My Quatros are on their spikes into brass disks over a wood floor and I'm getting granite-curious.

I’d say a pair of granite slabs is a “no risk” upgrade for the Quatros on wood floors.  You really notice it in the snap and speed of a snare drum or tom tom.  It makes the speaker  faster by giving it a more sure footing.  The flex in the floor causes minute amounts of smear and you lose impact.  For the cost it’s a no brainer.

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