That's a big change going from quad's to vandersteen's- I think both are great speaker's though they are very different from one another. The quad's will give you speed(unlike ANY dynamic driver can) and a natural midrange that is to die for- not to mention being one of the most coherent speaker available today. The vandersteen's will be slightly easier to drive(due to the powered bass cabinet), have more dynamics, and more bass while being a little warmer then the quad's. The vandersteen's will seem slow compared to the quad's, I find its hard to listen to any dynamic speaker when you've gotten used to electrostat's/planer magnetic's- but that's me and not you! If you are looking for more bass and the ability to play louder with greater dynamics then the vandersteen's will be the speaker for you. If your not willing to give up speed and coherency then stick with the quads. If you favor large orchestral music(with lots of dynamic peaks), or heavy rock(or any form of music that sounds better with a little more reinforcement in the lower octaves) then my nod would go for the vandersteen's. If you favor chamber music, sonata's, piano music and acoustic/folk music, I would lean towards the quad's. As much as you may like the bass with a powered sub, I don't think that's a good idea- I have never(and I seldom use that word in this hobby) heard seamless integration between any speaker and subs- in particular a speaker that has the articulation and speed of quad's. To me it sounds that you may be willing to make the change to get the 5a's.
I have recently auditioned the 5A's at my local dealer, and they are fabulous! Although Shane Buettner (reviewer who wrote the 5A review for TAS) is a big Vandersteen fan, I have to agree with almost all of his comments. The 5A is fast (only a hair slower than planars/electrostatics), VERY dynamic, superbly cohesive from top to bottom, and possessed of prodigious bass response.
Like Buettner, I own a pair of 3A Sig's with a pair of 2Wq subs, and thought I had it pretty good -- until I heard the 5A's. I don't know when or how I am going to find $15K for a pair of 5A's, but I am going to do it somehow. The best suggestion I can offer is get thee hence to thy local Vandersteen dealer and listen to the 5A's for thyself!.
I do not think you will give up any coherency moving to the Vandersteen's. They are unbelievably coherent.
I have to agree with the above posters. The Vandy's are very coherent. I too own the 3A Signature's with a pair of 2wq's. I didn't think it got much better until I heard the 5A's. A wonderful speaker system that gives up nothing to no other speaker available in my opinion(including electrostatics.)Of course, I have never been an electrostatic fan.
As in Sdcampbell's case, I've got to find a way to come up with $15K!! Maybe the lottery-got to get lucky sometime!
I have owned the 5As for 8 months and can not wait to listen to my system every night. These speakers have incredible bass that is so well integrated with the woofer you can not hear the crossover or transition between the drivers. The base is very natural even at low volumes and you never are aware that you are listening to a sub. The tweeters extend cleanly with no noticable distortion. The mids are warm and extremely well defined and focussed. I simply can not hear either speaker directly on well recorded music. These speakers can create a very wide, high and deep sound stage and sometimes I would swear I am listening to surround. This speaker continues the Vandy natural sound and was designed as the flag ship of the line. It is a must to consider - go do an audition.
I agree that for a multi-driver speaker the Vandersteen's are very coherent, but(and this is a big but) there is no comparison to a single full range panel/driver(or pretty close to full range) when it comes to coherency. That was the point I was making- I notice a lot of vandersteen owner's posting and I am sure pride of ownership will sway there opinion slightly- can't say I blame you guy's they are great speakers. However I don't own either but have listened to both speakers on more then one occassion. If you posted
Quad 988 vs Vandersteen 5a
you may get more diverse input from quad owners as well. I feel they are both great speakers, and you could live happily with either, but neither of them are perfect- no speaker is, there will be trade off's its the nature of this hobby.
I've got 3A Signatures (which replaced 2Ci's), and love them, so I am biased for Vandersteen. I've heard the 5A's at the local dealer and at the HE2003 Show and they do sound very nice. But it's kind of hard to make a comparison since they are not in my room (and I'm not borrowing $15,000 speakers to find out!). One of the nice features of them is the adjustable response of the woofer, you can tailor them to the room. A big plus for room response problems (I really need this!). This same dealer also has Magnepan and Quad. Quite honestly I've always thought the Magnepans sounded more lifelike, but my room was a little too small and too square to get the best from them. I haven't gotten a good listen to the Quads, so I can't comment on them (curiously he has them in the show room but they are almost never hooked up!?). The one nagging thing about the Magnepan's to me is that they always sound more open than box speakers, is this because they do a better job of recreating the space in a recording or are they artificially creating space? I don't know and bet this would create two groups of opinion. We don't need to go there now!
If you like the Vandy sound, you will be astonished to hear the improvement in the 5A. It is simply better than the 3Asig + 2wqs in every way. IMO
I bought my Vandersteen 5A's in June, so I've had them for about five months and I am naturally biased. They are great speakers. Their greatest strength is that they have a tremendous amount of resolution but are not edgy or analytical. I think they need a pretty big room to sound their best. Mine is about 17 x 21.
That said, they are quite different than Quad's. The Quad's also have tremendous resolution with an entirely different presentation. I think it comes down to your preferences and the type of music you like to listen to. I listen to lots of different kind of music and I think the Vandersteen's are great all-arounders. The Quad's will sound best with smaller scale music and probably cannot be beat for listening at lower volumes.
Best of luck with your audiophile anxiety. No speaker is perfect, but you are considering two of the finest.
Yes the TAS review seems almost too good to be true. I have auditioned lately the Wilson's (Sophia and WP 7's), and the Focal JMlabs Alto Utopia and I liked the WP 7's the best. Now with this new review I can't wait to hear the Vandersteen 5A's. Are there any
dealers in the Westchester/Northern NJ area or NYC for that matter? If I could find one dealer to audition the Wilsons, Vandersteens and Cremoras I would be a happy camper. I am willing to spend the 15K-22K on the best speaker in this class.
dkuriloff, I don't know if Verona qualifies as northern NJ, but Audio Connections in Verona had a pair of 5A's on display at the beginning of the summer, in a room with Audio REsearch, Cary, and Rogue.
I also have heard that the Vandersteen 5A is at the dealer in Verona, N.J. I am looking forward to auditioning same.
I did hear the Wilson Watt Puppy 7 and though my Quad 988
put them to shame. The only area that the Watt was better
was in the bass. Otherwise the speaker was not as clear as the Quad and it also seemed congested.
I am sorry KJL, but either you didn't audition W/P 7, or whoever demonstrated them to you screwed something! What kind of amplification was driving the W/P's? THE REAL Watt/puppies DOES many other things better than just BASS! Which is not saying much copmaring it to the Quad 988. If W/P sounds "congested", Vandersteen certainly wont sound any better in that regard.
The review in TAS was a reasonably accurate description of what I've heard by comparing my Model 5's to the 5A's, although I don't think the differences are quite as dramatic as Shane made them out to be. He did do a good job of describing the considerable virtues of the speaker, though. Everyone that has heard them has been completely seduced by their sound.
This may be a little off topic but has anyone ever taken the 3A Sigs and used a linkwitz riley active electronic Xover with other subs like VMPS or others...Seems like if crossed over at 40 this would free the Vandys to do more of their magic...just a thought
I recently auditioned the Vandy 5A's and was very impressed indeed. I have been in the market to upgrade for over a year now and have not found a speaker in this price range that moved me the way these speakers did. Not the last word in resolution but great coherence and musicality. The low end is tight, extended and authoritative. Very tuneful and well integrated. The spatial qualities are strong as is the overall sense that the musicians are playing together. This is not a speaker to analyze and repeatedly play your audiophile recordings. These play music plain and simple and seduce you with their warmth and immediacy. A really great speaker that could make you happy for years to come.
I recently moved from big Magnepans to Vandersteen 5As. Tireguy's concerns about a big difference in "speed" between panel speakers and the 5As is sound from a purely theoretical standpoint; however, the reality is that I feel I gave up almost NOTHING by going from planars to the 5As. The little I did give up is vastly overshadowed by the numerous areas where the 5As are superior to even the best that Magnepan has to offer.