alon II or Vandersteen 2ce how do they compare?

I have a B&K ST-202 amp (150w) and B&K Pro 10MC sonato pre-amp. I am looking for a used set of floor standing speakers under $700.00. How do Alon II (or any other Acarian speaker) compare to Vandersteen 2ce's?
I've heard both in different settings. Basically my impression is
- the Vandersteen 2CE's are very liquid and smooth. Pleasant to the ear and easy to listen to. They present music very nicely, if a little polite for some people. A speaker you could truly love. But you will probably need a tight amp to deliver the best bass from these speakers, and may also need room treatments.
- The Alon's are a bit more "live" sounding, and can be somewhat bright and forward, They truly need a tube amp to smooth them out. However, their big bass speaker needs solid state to be contruolled and not overwhelm the room. That may be why they have individual terminals and recommend bi-amping. They are very open when driven correctly, but definitely need some taming.

Both are good when done right. The 2CE's are probably more easily a plug-and-play option for most people though.

I actually owned both. They are ENTIRELY different animals. The Vandies were always musical and forgiving and seemingly easier to drive. They were more forgiving of ancillary equipment and wire, etc.. The Alons were certainly more revealing and even more open and spacious. They need the right speaker cable or they can sound dreadful and wiry. I would also recommend at least 50 tube watts to drive them. Your B&K should have no problem at all. They hated Kimber wire. The Alons were more an audiophile type speaker and the Steens were for just enjoying music. I hope that helps
Hey Bob,
It seems like we heard the exact same thing!
I've never heard the alons, but Chris and Bob are right on with respect to the Vandies. And you can always hear the impact of an upstream upgrade.
I owned the earlier 2ci and later owned the Alon II. I have to agree w/most comments above, except that I think the Alon is being sold a bit short. IF you plan to upgrade electronics eventually, the Alon gives you much more of a long term path to pursue. If you really "have the bug" the lack of detail resolution of the Vandys will leave you wanting to upgrade somewhere down the line. I used the Alons w/ a VTL 80w stereo amp. Rogue & Sonic Frontiers are other affordable tube options to consider IMHO.
You're definitely looking at 2 nice options. Good luck.
For some reason, Vandies produce a "nose-dive effect" at high frequencies for most any amp connected to them. As such, they tend to sound slightly tilted towards warmth in tonal balance and lack "apparent" upper frequency detail. Most of this is probably due to the reduced high frequency output and lack of "glare" that one is used to hearing on bad recordings. One can somewhat counter the roll off by going to an amp that has a rising high frequency response above appr 8 - 10 KHz or so. That is, IF they are trying to sum the system towards flat response*.

Personally, i don't think that your B&K amp would be a good match for Vandie's as both the 202 and the Vandie's are on the "warm & relaxed" side of neutral. If you like everything to sound "smooth and romantic", it might be a good match. I would not expect tightly controlled bass out of that combo though, especially as volume increases.

I can't comment on the Alon's as i've never heard them. I have no idea as to whether or not they would be a good match for your electronics.

Having said that, B&K's in stock form tend to work best with smaller woofers ( 8" or 9" at most ) and speakers with a higher nominal impedance ( 6 - 10 ohms ). The lower the impedance that you go with a B&K, the more congested / less defined the sound stage will become. On top of that, the bass will become looser and lack control and definition. Sean

* While i've never heard the combo, i'm thinking that a bigger Aragon amp might be a good match for Vandie's. The high current capacity of these amps will help control the Vandie's slightly loose bottom end and the Aragon's tendency towards slight brightness might balance out the Vandie's soft top end. Anyone ever try this combo ? What kind of results did you get ?

PS... Richard Vandersteen prefers that one use tubes with his speakers, primarily ARC products. At least that is what he told me at a Stereophile show.
i have owned both of them. both are very nice speakers depending on what you are looking for.

both of them require a mid size room with room around them.the alons you can place a little closer to the side wall vs. the vandersteen.

the alons are a little more finicky in the setup, but also more rewarding when you get them down to the 1/16"- i am talking about planar sound out of a box speaker- but with bass and dynamics.

the vandies lack the transparency of the alons. especailly in the midrange, that is the downfall of the speaker. i unload my vandies in favor of celestion 700's at the time.

if you want to stay where you are at with gear and your room, then go with the vandies. they are a nice speaker and easy to drive.

if you eventually want to upgrade, the alons are a great choice. i am in the position to buy new $4k speakers if i choose, and i have no desire to upgrade the alons.they are that good.

the alons are extremly revealing of everything upstream. if someone says the alons are bright, they are using crappy grear/cables and not set up properly. they are a poor mans review speaker, if you have decent musical gear, you will be in sonic heaven.

if you plan on upgrading, than the alons are a the way to go if you have the room for them. they require a fair amount of space due to the dipole design. when set up, they totally disappear and have a monsterous soundstage. my neighbors who are not audiophiles comment on this. they are revealing of what is fed to them. i am currently using all solid state and the sound is short of incredible ( imo ). btw, i use neutral/revealing ic's - xlo signiture 2 and cardas neutral. the sound is not bright, but transparent and relaxing.

you can use solid state with both speakers. a great amp for under $600-$700 is the pse studio v's monoblocks. when used with tubes, they become extremely holographic. but they need 80-100 wpc on tubes, they are not the most efficent speaker.

if you ask richard vandersteen what amps he used to voice the 2 ci's - he used the arc d-76Mkii(tube) and the pse studio 5 monos(solid state). the pse monos are a f^&**#$%@! incredible amps. Very clean, transparent, and neutral.they pass the signal on very cleanly and are very dynamic ( awesome bottom end) and the imaging from the monos is added bonus. i bought these for my vandies and now use them on my alon 2's and they are a great match.

i hope that is helpful,


btw the system is:
alon 2's
pse studio v monoblocks
audio research ls-12
marantz sa8260
xlo signiture 2 between cd to pre
cardas netural refernce between pre to amp
monster 2.4 speaker
monster 3500 power cond.
asc 1/4 tube traps