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Quatros and M5 amps are here


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I initially took a day off work and drove to my dealer (~1 hour away) to listen to Quatros and M5 amps in October of 2020.  The vocals were immediately lovely.  Tracks I knew very well, sounded like they had never before.  There were bits of music that I didn't even know were part of the song.  They were reminiscent of the first time I heard Vandy M7s, the first time I heard Linn Keilidhs with actively-crossed over Linn amps.  The bass was lacking, despite our best efforts to adjust it, only to discover several weeks later the dealer had the internal crossover inside the M5 amps set incorrectly.  Who knows what else was set wrong on the Quatro room EQ.  In my business, if QA finds one thing wrong, usually there is more than just that one thing.  On top of that, the buying experience was sour and high-pressured, and coupled with difficulties in my personal life, I walked away from the whole deal.

 
Had it not been for a close personal friend who is a Vandy aficionado, I would have just gone to one of the other high end dealers in town and went with other venerable names in speakers and amps.  Time will tell if that would have been the right choice.  I eventually did circle around a year later in October of 2021 through back channels to one particular salesman at my local dealer who I actually liked, and ordered then.  I have not had a great experience with my Vandy dealer, even after ordering (more on that in this post), and I do not plan on seeing them or going back there ever again.  I cannot recommend that shop.  We are moving out of state in a few months and I am looking forward to meeting another Vandy dealer and starting over.  I think I'm a pretty technical person and I am certainly not new to audio, but Vandersteen products are complicated.  Vandy stuff is built for performance and value, not necessarily user friendliness.  They only work with a really sharp dealer, and we don't have one in this part of the country.
 
I've posted before on this forum my mission is to buy well-made gear from American craftsmen.  It's not to be an audiophile.  I want to enjoy the music and try to lower my blood pressure.  That's it.  I don't want to learn how all this stuff works if I can avoid it.
 
Some early thoughts in the first 24 hours.
 
1.  The shipping cartons for the Quatros are genius.  I love how they work.  The dealer delivered my amps and speakers, and they hand carried the speakers in on their sides, despite the clearly marked arrows all over the boxes.  If/when you order speakers, point out to whoever delivers them that there are handle cutouts on both sides of the cartons.  I assume my speakers were shipped upright when they left the factory.  Who knows how they were stored at the dealer's warehouse or how they were moved from the dealer warehouse to my home.  Hopefully they don't develop an issue later in life.
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Look... handles!!!!!
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2.  The fit and finish on the amps and the speakers is world class.  I think the woodwork is as good as Cherner chairs, and that says a lot.  These are very beautiful pieces, all of them.
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2 DBS jacks shown here:
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3.  The internal cross overs in my amps came set correctly at 100 Hz.  I opened them to check.
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Factory M5 power cable is quite stout.  Love the locking feature.
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4.  The backshells for the AQ Robin Hood silver biwire cables touch each other when installed in the barrier strips on the back of the Quatros.  I called AQ, and a person answered and they were very nice.  They claimed the backshells were aluminum, but they surely feel like plastic to me.  They do not pass a continuity test and you can see what I think is a mold line.  But to be safe, I removed every other backshell.  If I can validate they are plastic, I will put the backshells back into place.  For now, I have them taped out of the way so they don't rattle.  It is a cheesy solution for some very, very expensive 3 foot long cables.  I would have preferred plain old heat shrink myself.
 
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5.  I ordered my speaker cables with the DBS connectors on the amp end, so I could take advantage of the BDS jacks on the M5s.  Two problems here: (1) the AQ connectors are too short to reach the jacks on the amps, so I need an extension cord of some sort for the 1/8" connector, and (2) I should have ordered the 3 meter AQ Wind XLRs with the DBS on the amp end too.  I didn't realize I had to do that, I'm not tuned up to the science of DBS and the importance of it on the interconnect between the preamp and amp, and the dealer certainly didn't catch the error in the order.  It's not a total loss, there are DBS packs on the preamp side, but it is a missed opportunity, especially when AQ will make the change for free.  You would think the Vandy dealer wants you to use all of the capability of the product and if you are using AQ cables, they should help you order the right stuff so it all works together.  Especially on a pair of ~$3400 cables.  Incidentally, I was unable to order anything from AQ without DBS packs (full delete), even though I don't need 4 of them theoretically.  You can't get a credit, which is a bummer.  I tried to order ring connectors for the speaker ends, but AQ can only do spades.  The spades do fit nicely.
 
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6.  The M5 amps have the power and speaker output connectors lined up vertically.  The Robin Hood cables are super stiff (I assume William Tell and up are even stiffer) and I don't love wrangling the speaker cable to avoid contacting the power cable.  Also, I don't mind power cables crossing signal cables at 90 degrees to one another, but I definitely don't like them parallel.  If power and signal could be more separated, I'd feel better.  Although it may make no difference to the sound.
 
IMG_3020.thumb.jpg.46d68a895f255d2c98eecf0063550733.jpg
 
7.  This dealer, who I have bashed enough in this post, swears by Linn Skeet speaker feet over the Vanderfeet.  I tried to order Vanderfeet but they insisted these are better.  The Linn feet are steel and heavy and nice, but they have nothing on the bottoms to protect wood floors.  Dealer sent some furniture felt stickers, which I think is too padded and too slippery.  I won't use it.  My plan is to try different furniture feet... the non-skid kind, or call another dealer and buy the Vanderfeet from them.
 
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I got everything connected and I am burning everything in.  Tweeters and vocals sound fantastic.  I suspect it will take many weeks to get the speakers positioned and get the room EQ right.
 
 

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38 minutes ago, Stringreen said:

I tried soft spike floor protectors....didn't do my speakers justice......I use AuioPoints (brass?) floor protectors......much better.

Maybe I should try the Linn's with no felt/floor protector.  The speakers will slide around though... I am looking to be more direct-coupled to floor.

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Jon - Nice detailed thread. Stick with us and you are going to have many years of musical pleasure. I am sorry that i was not in Seattle to help you thru all of this including dialing them in. I will get up there soon. We can facetime to do the room EQ 😉

Love all the super detailed photos, love your veneer choice, cat in the box pricesless. i had never seen internals of M5 amps.

re the Vandersteen spike shoes - the felt is fairly easy to remove if you or anyone want a more solid connection to the floor. I personally like them because they are designed to fit the Vandersteen spikes AND importantly the machined cup is deep - Vandy speakers rest on three points, the deep cup has saved many a near tip over accident in our house….

Best to all

Jim

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Congrats and thanks for the great post Jon. Same set up as I have, other than the wire (still it’s all AQ). I’m sure you will love this set up. So nice of Jim to help. I have my vanderfeet that I use for coupling them to my granite plinth (strongly recommend this $300 or so upgrade. The felt is a special felt that actually makes a difference and it hold beautifully. 

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Gorgeous system Jon, and a gorgeous room. I love the Barcelona chairs . . .

I nodded my head when you wrote that you anticipated a few weeks of dialing in to get speaker placement right. That was my experience a year ago when I brought my new (used) 5As home. Two or three weeks to find what sounded like the proper placement and then 5 or 6 passes at working through the EQ setup, with the help of Richard's step by step video on the site, and my Radio Shack meter. But it's all a lot of fun. And now I just listen to music instead of gear.

I also see you have a Core Audio stand. Arnold made me a pair of stands last spring and I love them.

Have a great weekend and rock on! Best, John

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19 hours ago, JonM said:

I initially took a day off work and drove to my dealer (~1 hour away) to listen to Quatros and M5 amps in October of 2020.  The vocals were immediately lovely.  Tracks I knew very well, sounded like they had never before.  There were bits of music that I didn't even know were part of the song.  They were reminiscent of the first time I heard Vandy M7s, the first time I heard Linn Keilidhs with actively-crossed over Linn amps.  The bass was lacking, despite our best efforts to adjust it, only to discover several weeks later the dealer had the internal crossover inside the M5 amps set incorrectly.  Who knows what else was set wrong on the Quatro room EQ.  In my business, if QA finds one thing wrong, usually there is more than just that one thing.  On top of that, the buying experience was sour and high-pressured, and coupled with difficulties in my personal life, I walked away from the whole deal.

 
Had it not been for a close personal friend who is a Vandy aficionado, I would have just gone to one of the other high end dealers in town and went with other venerable names in speakers and amps.  Time will tell if that would have been the right choice.  I eventually did circle around a year later in October of 2021 through back channels to one particular salesman at my local dealer who I actually liked, and ordered then.  I have not had a great experience with my Vandy dealer, even after ordering (more on that in this post), and I do not plan on seeing them or going back there ever again.  I cannot recommend that shop.  We are moving out of state in a few months and I am looking forward to meeting another Vandy dealer and starting over.  I think I'm a pretty technical person and I am certainly not new to audio, but Vandersteen products are complicated.  Vandy stuff is built for performance and value, not necessarily user friendliness.  They only work with a really sharp dealer, and we don't have one in this part of the country.
 
I've posted before on this forum my mission is to buy well-made gear from American craftsmen.  It's not to be an audiophile.  I want to enjoy the music and try to lower my blood pressure.  That's it.  I don't want to learn how all this stuff works if I can avoid it.
 
Some early thoughts in the first 24 hours.
 
1.  The shipping cartons for the Quatros are genius.  I love how they work.  The dealer delivered my amps and speakers, and they hand carried the speakers in on their sides, despite the clearly marked arrows all over the boxes.  If/when you order speakers, point out to whoever delivers them that there are handle cutouts on both sides of the cartons.  I assume my speakers were shipped upright when they left the factory.  Who knows how they were stored at the dealer's warehouse or how they were moved from the dealer warehouse to my home.  Hopefully they don't develop an issue later in life.
IMG_2963.thumb.jpg.06d81109c96ff045a1fc763302bfc4cf.jpg
 
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Look... handles!!!!!
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2.  The fit and finish on the amps and the speakers is world class.  I think the woodwork is as good as Cherner chairs, and that says a lot.  These are very beautiful pieces, all of them.
IMG_2999.thumb.jpg.77ca2ae89b6bf981ce3e87abfa7c91c1.jpg
 
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2 DBS jacks shown here:
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IMG_2982.thumb.jpg.51aa80a16c3dfdcd1bd7181c753795ee.jpg
 
3.  The internal cross overs in my amps came set correctly at 100 Hz.  I opened them to check.
IMG_3017.thumb.jpg.077e0acd2b86aad239daeaebfcb33cd7.jpg
 
IMG_3012.thumb.jpg.83a8292e4ea6d7099f530384ef1a8d42.jpg
 
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Factory M5 power cable is quite stout.  Love the locking feature.
IMG_2977.thumb.jpg.eba29fa66747f5208edb01051e24c473.jpg
 
IMG_2979.thumb.jpg.c215b78955e8b04955f1fe97e1a99917.jpg
 
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4.  The backshells for the AQ Robin Hood silver biwire cables touch each other when installed in the barrier strips on the back of the Quatros.  I called AQ, and a person answered and they were very nice.  They claimed the backshells were aluminum, but they surely feel like plastic to me.  They do not pass a continuity test and you can see what I think is a mold line.  But to be safe, I removed every other backshell.  If I can validate they are plastic, I will put the backshells back into place.  For now, I have them taped out of the way so they don't rattle.  It is a cheesy solution for some very, very expensive 3 foot long cables.  I would have preferred plain old heat shrink myself.
 
IMG_3018.thumb.jpg.1a9983bc5eacacf419893b1dbe54a5a3.jpg
 
IMG_3021.thumb.jpg.e68e3629dc44705982dab0f5af65fc3b.jpg
 
5.  I ordered my speaker cables with the DBS connectors on the amp end, so I could take advantage of the BDS jacks on the M5s.  Two problems here: (1) the AQ connectors are too short to reach the jacks on the amps, so I need an extension cord of some sort for the 1/8" connector, and (2) I should have ordered the 3 meter AQ Wind XLRs with the DBS on the amp end too.  I didn't realize I had to do that, I'm not tuned up to the science of DBS and the importance of it on the interconnect between the preamp and amp, and the dealer certainly didn't catch the error in the order.  It's not a total loss, there are DBS packs on the preamp side, but it is a missed opportunity, especially when AQ will make the change for free.  You would think the Vandy dealer wants you to use all of the capability of the product and if you are using AQ cables, they should help you order the right stuff so it all works together.  Especially on a pair of ~$3400 cables.  Incidentally, I was unable to order anything from AQ without DBS packs (full delete), even though I don't need 4 of them theoretically.  You can't get a credit, which is a bummer.  I tried to order ring connectors for the speaker ends, but AQ can only do spades.  The spades do fit nicely.
 
IMG_2968.thumb.jpg.2c720854282a78ba68d0fe631cd41e4e.jpg
 
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6.  The M5 amps have the power and speaker output connectors lined up vertically.  The Robin Hood cables are super stiff (I assume William Tell and up are even stiffer) and I don't love wrangling the speaker cable to avoid contacting the power cable.  Also, I don't mind power cables crossing signal cables at 90 degrees to one another, but I definitely don't like them parallel.  If power and signal could be more separated, I'd feel better.  Although it may make no difference to the sound.
 
IMG_3020.thumb.jpg.46d68a895f255d2c98eecf0063550733.jpg
 
7.  This dealer, who I have bashed enough in this post, swears by Linn Skeet speaker feet over the Vanderfeet.  I tried to order Vanderfeet but they insisted these are better.  The Linn feet are steel and heavy and nice, but they have nothing on the bottoms to protect wood floors.  Dealer sent some furniture felt stickers, which I think is too padded and too slippery.  I won't use it.  My plan is to try different furniture feet... the non-skid kind, or call another dealer and buy the Vanderfeet from them.
 
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IMG_2966.thumb.jpg.2a0f4562148d0f597da2136cd788c19d.jpg
 
I got everything connected and I am burning everything in.  Tweeters and vocals sound fantastic.  I suspect it will take many weeks to get the speakers positioned and get the room EQ right.
 
 

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Jon, I promise we did not ship that cat!  Enjoy, you will discover they are easy to set up as there is no ambiguity just follow the instructions.

RV

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9 minutes ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

Jon, I promise we did not ship that cat!  Enjoy, you will discover they are easy to set up as there is no ambiguity just follow the instructions.

RV

Sure Richard. Sure you didn’t send the cat.  They are known for having great heating. Maybe he snuck in there during packaging. Haha

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I love that little kitty. Black cats are my favorites.

And, I second your impressions on the stiffness of the AQ cables. Though they sound great, they can be a PITA to position, especially the power cords to which I have resorted to using 90 degree adaptors in order to connect them to equipment.

Bob

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We have 2 black cats who were previously feral... super grateful animals.  Very affectionate.  And obviously, curious.

Plan is really great music + cats + careful mostly plant-based diet + exercise = lower blood pressure.  Will take a lot to counteract 11 hour days in the salt mine, but I think I have a good shot at it.

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On 2/4/2022 at 8:12 PM, TomicTime said:

Jon - Nice detailed thread. Stick with us and you are going to have many years of musical pleasure. I am sorry that i was not in Seattle to help you thru all of this including dialing them in. I will get up there soon. We can facetime to do the room EQ 😉

Love all the super detailed photos, love your veneer choice, cat in the box pricesless. i had never seen internals of M5 amps.

re the Vandersteen spike shoes - the felt is fairly easy to remove if you or anyone want a more solid connection to the floor. I personally like them because they are designed to fit the Vandersteen spikes AND importantly the machined cup is deep - Vandy speakers rest on three points, the deep cup has saved many a near tip over accident in our house….

Best to all

Jim

There are two small spikes in the box that go into the back corners.  These spikes should be installed with the tip slightly off the floor.  These extra "contact points" help prevent the tip over, while not interfering with the self-leveling three points in a plane create.

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4 hours ago, JonM said:

Target practice. Not on cones yet. Still working out positions and toe-in. Portrait by Violet, age 7. 

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Jon, the first and most critical part of setting up a pair of Vandersteen's is getting the tilt set on the cones.  All of the sonic impressions will change once all the drivers are in time with your ears.  Once you set the tilt almost every other impression will change.  Have fun and enjoy the music along the way.

RV

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1 hour ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

Jon, the first and most critical part of setting up a pair of Vandersteen's is getting the tilt set on the cones.  All of the sonic impressions will change once all the drivers are in time with your ears.  Once you set the tilt almost every other impression will change.  Have fun and enjoy the music along the way.

RV

I plan to do so ASAP. Wife and I did an unofficial test today… sit in same spot and slouch down a few inches below normal; sit in same spot on a pillow (up a couple of inches). Dramatically different sound.  Much more sensitive than right-left movements. 
 

I will follow the chart in the manual for tilt.  What are the 4 thin washers for in the kit?  Half- or partial-steps?

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