Anyone had Vandersteen 3's upgraded to 3A Sig?


I have a 12 year old pair of Vandersteen Model 3s that have served my system faithfully over that time and through many other system upgrades.

I have been researching my options on a new pair of speakers, since the rest of my system has far surpassed my trustee Vandy 3's (at least in terms of list price!).

As all of you know, buying new speakers online is not as easy as buying other equipment, due to the cost/risk of shipping them.

As I considered my options, one interesting idea I discovered was to have my Vandy 3's upgraded to 3A Signatures for $1600.

I am also considering adding 2 Vandy 2Wq subwoofers to aproximate the sound of Vandy 5's.

Some of my concerns are:

Shipping my perfect Vandy 3's across the country for the upgrade. I would hate to have them lost or destroyed by UPS!

Adding a crossover and more cabling into the signal path, which I try to keep as simple and direct as I can.

If anyone has experience with either of these topics, I would appreciate hearing about it.

My associated equipment:

Meridian 586.2 DVD/CD used as a transport for audio/video.
dCS Purcell D/D upsampler - Cardas Lightning RCA intercon.
dCS Elgar D/A Converter - 2 Cardas AES/EBU for 192 upsamp.
Krell KSA 150 with all new Caps - AudioQuest Amazon XLR.
Vandersteen 3's - Audioquest Dragon+ (top) Sterling3 (bot)
Sound Application CF-X - Delta MAC powercord

I had my pair of Vandy 3A's upgraded to 3A Sig's about two years ago and was very pleased with the added refinement, transparency, and imaging that the upgrade provided. I'm confident that the change from the original Model 3 to the 3A Sig would be an even greater improvement. I'm sure you realize this, but for those who don't know I will also mention that the upgrade is not just for the drivers (same tweeter and mid-range as used in the Model 5's), but also includes a new crossover (same components as Model 5), additional cabinet bracing, new veneer end caps, and a new jersey "sock", so the upgrade is really more like a total rebuild. The upgraded speaker is indistinguishable from a brand new unit.

If you decide to have the upgrade done, I have the followign words of advice:

1. Ship your speakers ONLY in the original Vandy boxes, provided they are in good condition. If you don't have the original boxes in good condition, you can buy a pair from the Vandersteen factory. The Vandersteen boxes are superbly well made, and I have shipped/received three sets of Vandy speakers in their factory boxes, and the speakers arrived without a bit of damage.

2. DO NOT ship by UPS from the east coast to the Vandy factory. It won't cost much more to ship via a good truck freight company. The Vandersteen factory can give you the name(s) of the truck freight companies they have found acceptable, or you can call John Rutan at Audio Connections in New Jersey for similar advice. (John shipped my original pair of Vandy 3A's to me from New Jersey to Seattle via truck freight.)

As you will note from looking at my system (see link below), I have a stereo pair of Vandersteen 2Wq subs. I highly recommend them to owners of the 3A and 3A Sig speakers -- their addition results in a speaker system that provides about 85% of the audio quality of the Model 5 for about half the cost (MSRP).
Excellent post by Sdcampbell above, and I agree. I had 3As up-graded to 3A sigs 3-4 years ago and found it worthwhile for the reasons Scott gives (above).

At the time, Richard Vandersteen flatly told me that when speakers are shipped to them via UPS, most of the time there is some damage. Vandersteen repairs the damage, does the work requested, and returns them via a trucking company that handles them much better. I agree with Scott too re: if you don't have the original 3A boxes, get a set from Vandersteen.

I now have Vandy 5s (and love them), but I think Scott's assessment is right on regarding the 3A/3Asigs and using subs with them. Good Luck, and Cheers. Craig
Hi, Craig:

Good to have you posting. I forgot one point in my first post: the cost of the upgrade includes the cost of return shipping from Vandersteen to the owner. I would expect the cost of shipping for Davemon will be around $250-300 via truck freight from the east coast to Hanford, CA (somewhat less if he is in the midwest). Shipping via UPS and FedEx will be a bit less -- maybe $50 less -- but the monetary savings is not worth the increased risk of damage.
The cross over for the 2wq's can be quite transparent providing that you DON'T; #1,use the switchable X-over box that comes with them. #2,use the wrong value fixed filter. #3,use the Vandersteen fixed filters(they cloud the sound in a bad way).

DO; #1, use the Vandersteen 5 crossover. #2, solder High quality caps(the Vandersteen fixed X-2 used cheap muddy crap) in the amp at the input for the filter value or have some filters custom made using the cap brand of your choice.

I had to learn this the hard way!
Maxgain's comments about the temporary crossovers that come with the Vandy subs is pertinent. I purchased a used pair of the Vandy Model 5 crossovers, which contain MUCH better component parts. Further, there is a separate crossover box for each channel, and they contain a 9-volt battery that keeps the capacitors charged at all time. Unfortunately, the Model 5 crossovers are expensive ($600 for single-ended, and $800 for balanced), but you can sometimes find them here on A-gon for 1/3 to 1/2 off retail. The Model 5 crossovers are absolutely transparent when used with my Vandy 3A Sig's.
I haven't had mine upgraded, but I did buy them used and FedEx caused $400 worth of damage! Take Richard's advise and ship them with a motor freight co. FedEx paid for repairs but it took over a month to collect.