B&W vs Vandersteen?

After a long search and lots of auditions I narrowed my options down to 2 very different yet excellent brands. I know they sound very different but still. For my 50 sq.meter living room with 5 meters between the wall and the sofa (something like 3,7 meters between the speakers and my ears) and approx. 2,4 meters distance between the centers of the speakers I'm choosing between B&W and Vandersteen at the moment. Each option has something going for and against it.

Vandersteen 3A Signature is

much cheaper than even 802, not to mention 801 and 800 and is not as difficult to drive. I can buy it right now.

It has glorious musical midrange and highs and sounds big.

Since Vandies are not as deep as B&W I can give them more space between the speakers and the wall - up to 1 meter (maximum 60 - 70 cm in case of B&W)

But I'm not sure if it can be as open and dyamic or as fast and tight with heavy metal and other modern rock music. Also I'm not sure it's perfect for movies because of the same PRAT issues.

And most likely I'll have to move away from the well known McIntosh line (I'm a Mac guy for many years now) since Mac and Vandersteen is not a perfect match and get back on audiophile treadmill of choosing amps etc.

The weird small-spades connections make any audition of cables almost impossible since I can only use cables specially made for Vandies.

B&W 800 or 801 or 802?

sound absolutely neutral and equally great with Carpenters and Celtic Frost.

The can be cranked up as high as possible without becoming shouty. Their speed must be perfect for HT use.

I can stay with Macs since they are a classic combo.

Demand huge and highly expensive amps.

Are much more expensive themselves. The only model from the old 800D line still available is 802 so unless I can find a good deal on used 801 and 802 I'll have to settle for 802s or start saving for new 800 Diamonds which I'll be able to afford by the end of this year with good luck...

What do you guys think? I know some would say - audition both at home and choose for yourself. Not possible at the moment and anyway I'm interested in your opinions!
if you jump up to the Vandy Quatro or 5a (used) then you are in the same league. I think the B & W is a better speaker for rock music and in a high end home theater.

For everything else, I would choose the Vandy's they are just sublime. Also, they do rock music very well, but the phase and time coherence of them don't put the music "forward" like the big B & W's do, which gives you some huge impact on rock music.

Both are great speaker lines, I love Mac gear with B & W, always sounds stellar. I have never heard Mac gear with Vandys, but I have heard it with VTL and ARC gear where it was about as good as it gets.

good luck
sorry...keep playin' the maggies....you're so 'there' it isn't funny.
Between these two, it would be an easy choice for me; the Vandy's. YMMV, to each his own, etc..
fwiw a friend had a 802D/MAC combo (401 and I forget the pre) and I thought the midrange was colored, too warm and the sound seemed to stick around the speaker instead of flowing out and forming a big soundstage, the high end was terrific and without character though so that part was nice.

This was in a big one room type cabin.

I am not a B&W person so I lean toward the Vandys...
I have owned both and I can say from experience the B&W is the better speaker especially if you are considering the 801 or 802. The signature series Vandersteens have better matched drivers and crossover parts like the speakers Richard Vandersteen used to send to reviewers until the word got out, hence the Signature Series. Although I have had incredible sound with Vandersteens driven by Audio Research and Audioquest cables. Vandersteen was a big fan of Audio Research and Audioquest used Vandersteen speakers to evaluate their wire. The Vandersteens would be too warm with your Mac gear, but B&W speakers are much more neutral and may sound just right with the Mac depending on the vintage of the Mac.
Well, I have always been a fan of B&W but I have to eat crow now.I have the 802D, I bought them blind because I wasn't able to audition them. I have owned many B+W speakers and the 802D are the second I am not happy with.They are SLOW/compressed.They seem to have a real problem in the lower portion of the high frequency( 3-5 khz region). I am guessing the tweeter mass is simply too great for the drive unit.The woofers are also slow.Maybe the motor assembly isn't up to par or the crossover is simply soaking up too much power.At the price point of the 802D these problems shouldn't be so blatant. Unless these significant problems are adressed in the new line this will be the end of the road for me with B&W.
From a sonic aspect John Bowers would be ashamed of these speakers. B&W, get your act together and start producing the speakers we know you are capable of.
Budt - What were your other B&W's. WHat electronics are you using and the size of your room. It will help others who are looking at buying them, know what comparisons you are refering too.
Hmmm, I auditioned 802D 3 times allready and each time they seeemed excellent with the highs and not slow or compressed by any means - quiete on the contrary.
If you think the 802D is fast and dynamic then I can only conclude you have never lived with a really dynamic speaker. There is no mistaking the compression of the 802D for those who have.I am simply telling it like it is.
Why has B&W went changed magnet motor assembley in the new range? Why have the also changed the magnet assembly?
Is it simply marketing or are they trying to correct a problem?
I guess time will tell.

I would encourage you to audition a well regarded active speaker( maybe ATC or PMC). Then you will realize just how compressed the 802Ds really are.
Incidently my current up-stream components are a Bryston bp26 pre, Bryston 4b sst amp.So I don't think these are the cause of the sluggish performance of the 802Ds.

I concur that the ATC midrange is unimpeded, the music just flies out of those things. Active 50 is what I heard...

Antonkk it sounds like you have made up your mind, I believe a good stereo is one that sounds good to you, period. The rest does not matter...

good luck and enjoy
All Bowers have a shy bottom end and yet one of the best midranges.
Vandy's have enough resolution on that ballpark but the bass response is extremely slow compare to the speakers of the same class.
If you plan on Bowers and need more bass I would suggest a sub or a couple.
Would I start the thread if I allready have made up my mind? No. Dynamics are of course important to me, but it was my main concern with Vandies, not B&W.

I was thinking you made up your mind to like the B&W but I guess that is already established.

Sorry I lost track of the goal....
Philjolet, my goal is to choose. I allready like both brands, the sound very different but both great in their own way.
Call John Rutan at Audio Connection who is a dealer in Verona, New Jersey. John carries both lines and I think is the largest Vandy dealer in the US. He is an excellent person and will give you the best advice for your equipment. John knows how to mate and match components to get the best out of both speakers. You simply cannot go by most opinions here because John can get the best out of each speaker line. His number is 973.239.1799. I am no way affiliated with the store and John.

I will throw my two cents in here and say that I've listened to the 802D against lots of competition and they hold their own and sound great. As you already know, all spkrs have trade-offs. The 802D's compromises are ones that I can easily live with. As for Budt's complaints, hey, they are his ears, his room, his music, his electronics and his taste. To each their own. I just don't agree with him. BTW, I recently auditioned Maggie 20.1s at Audio Connection and I must concur. John really seems to know his stuff. Good luck. Both are very good choices.
As a last ditch effort I am going to try a big kick ass power conditioner( torus) and a bigger amp( maybe a 600 watt per channel). Maybe that will wake the 802Ds up.I know 330 per channel of bryston power isn't enough.Maybe a digital amp is the answer.
What amp were used to drive the 802Ds?
A buddy of mine uses the McIntosh 501's that we didn't like with my Maggies, but sound absolutely SUBLIME with his B & W's
I've only heard the 802D in the shop, where the music seemed to just float free of the speakers. Though deeply impressed, I was not willing to part with $14k at the time. I was not as favorably impressed with either 803 as I found the B&W tweeter in these models attracted too much attention to itself.

However, if you're considering the 802Ds, why not consider the Quatros as well? The Quatro bass (120 Hz and under) can be tailored to the room and to taste, which can make a huge difference in how the rest of the audio spectrum is perceived by the ear.
Budt, the amps were Mac 501s. Perfect match!
I never heard them with the mac . I still can't see it solving the 3-5 khz region but I guess ya never know till ya try.
I will try and find a pair to demo...
In the meantime I have a torus on the way.
If you guys have to choose specifically between Vandertseen 3A Signature and B&W 802 (as my wallet begs me to!:)))which one would you buy?
If you guys have to choose specifically between Vandertseen 3A Signature and B&W 802
Well, the B&W of course. BUT....
...Your better bet would be a pair of Vandy 4 or V (used). Better than the B&W 802. Cheaper to drive, too. I mention these because you like the Vandy sound.

The 802 D is a nice speaker but I enjoyed it best when driven by a humongous expensive amp... so, keep in mind that the cost is not limited to the speakers price alone!
Out of sheer curiosity - how does Thiel CS6 compares to B&W 802? I can pick up one used for half the price of 802.


Not sure what you mean when you say that the connectors on Vandy's require specially fitted spades.

I'm using spades made by freaking Blue Jeans Cable, and they're large, but fit just fine.

You should be able to try any cable under the sun.
Theunderlyingtheme, do you have 3A Signatures? They have small-spades connections that most cables with standart spades (not to mention bananas) don't fit at all.
I'd choose the the Thiels and the Vandy's over the B&W's, but that's just me.
I came home with the 802d's and have really enjoyed them... you just need good amps (high current) to turn them loose. I have also added the HTM2D center channel when in theater mode. I would buy them again in a heartbeat!

Antonkk, I have 2Ce Signatures - are the terminal screws different between the two?
To me the Vandersteens are the clear winner. I had a pair of 3A sigs for a few months and found them to have incredibly tight bass when driven by a good high powered solid state amp. They also got quiet loud, but if you really crave high DB's may not be enough. FYI, I listen primarily to rock.

I sold the Vandies because I just couldn't part with my Maggie 2.7's and Velodyne ULD-12s (pair). The Vandersteens actually had tighter and deeper bass than that combo.
One more thing, I have never cared for the B&W's, so I do have a bias. I have been told that they sound much better (different)when driven by the big McIntosh solid state amps.
Antonkk, I posted on your preamp amp question also. But one thing the Vandersteen's offer is the ability to improve upon the sound. If your stuck with only the 3A Signatures you can tailor the last octave or two with a pair of 2Wq's and increase the performance of the 3A Sig's. At one point I was deciding between the the B&W and Vandersteen myself. You have narrowed down two very synergitic systems, not sure if home audition is available but it seems that is the point your at because they can take on a different character in a different environment. By the way the Vandersteen's play Metallica, Creed and Nickleback just fine, just with a different presentation as mentioned earlier. Hope this helps.
Keep the McIntosh and go for the B&W 801s. Classic combination that you cannot go wrong with The V Steens are more picky and have a much poorer resale value vs the B&Ws
Antonkk, I'm coming back in late here, so maybe you already decided on a speaker, but I wanted to mention your room may be the determining factor. If you are set up on the short wall the Vandersteens don't work well without sufficient distance from the side walls. Also, with the rear firing woofer the speakers need to be farther into the room than some speakers.
Well I don't want to pick for you since they are such different speakers and I don't know your taste. I wound up goign to Audio Connection and talking with John, great guy, I listened to both. Basically to get the same sound quality and detail in a B&W I had to spend alot more. The Vandersteen was also more laid back and for what I listen to I can listen for hours the BW is much harsher.

I have the vandersteen in a 7.2 set up and there speakers match super well they all blend perfect. i love the tuning post on some this is key if your room needs it. There large center channel is amazing also, voices sound so natural.

B&W on the other hand is what hollywood uses but unless you go high up in there line there is a huge difference in sound. I do like they way they look much more than the vandersteen though.
My main concern with Vandersteen is their speed and tightness of the bass. If that can be achieved than they could be the ticket for me...
I will add that I've listened to both (802D vs V5) and find the B&W a better all-around speaker than the Vandy. Not at all harsh. Livelier than Vandy. Vandy very relaxed, great for small ensemble and acoustic stuff, but to my ears will not rock like B&W can, aqnd the B&W does small and acoustic stuff very nicely as well. Of course, trust your own ears. For my ears, much as I like the B&W though, my personal favorites in the price range are the big 20.1 maggies and the NOLA Micro, as both offer a different sound that I like very much. For the record, I own B&W N803. Good luck.
The B&W 802Ds for sure. The Vandersteen 3A Signature is good for its price, but comes nowhere close to the B&W 800 series, particular with the Diamond tweeter models.

You'll notice quickly on this board there are a lot of anti-B&W posters, which is fine. They are a well-known and successful speaker company, and no doubt you have those that resent them for that reason (sure, they might really not like their speakers, but most people don't like most speakers, and yet these people are mostly focused on B&W). So you should take with a grain of salt people saying, "easy choice, the "not B&W" is WAY better!". These people probably have never even heard either speaker, but are just criticizing B&W for whatever their reason is.

Anyway, I've heard both speakers and I think your doubts about the Vandersteen are correct. Not a bad speaker by any means, but the 802D is a rare speaker indeed. It's almost not fair to compare these two. For those that love its type of sound, it's nearly the perfect speaker (with perfection being unattainable).
One more final question, folks - which speakers produce BIGGER image, soundstage, particulary drums? After living with JBL 150 for quite a while with their 12 inch woofers I'm kinda used to the BIG drum sound....)))
I dumped my 802's for Vandersteens. I got them at Audio Connection with John who will advise you soundly. He's a patient, and understands what you want. Give him a try...you can always walk out....I bet you put a check down first. Regarding the Vandersteen input posts. You need smaller (vintage) size spades. Yes you can use big one, but if you touch the metal mounting plate with a bit of left over spade, you will blow out the amp. Its best to use the smaller spades...easily installed by any wire manufacturer...probably a no cost request.
Vandersteen uses barrier strips for connectors, so you want to look for "barrier spades". Mr. Vandersteen recommends #10 O-rings (#10 is the size of the terminator, not the gauge they accept). I use these spades.
Stringreen, you said you dumped 802's for Vandies - which ones? With what amps and why? In what way the Vandies were better?
Antonkk.... I now am enjoying Vandersteen 5A's with all Ayre electronics. The B&W's are airless, lifeless, and burn out tweeers (although easily replaced ....I had to replace them twice and got new tweeters under the warranty. )
Did you have 802Ds? What were you running them with?
Contrary to what Dylanhenry says there are people like me who have heard both and choose Vandersteen. I don't know why people put that kind of personal opinion in these threads. How does he know that people who say they don't like B&W probably haven't heard them and don't like them because B&W is a successful company. That's rubbish. Vandersteen is a pretty successful company also.
But I digress. I compared Vandersteen 3As and B&W 802s at length. Not in a showroom either. There is always the issue of upstream equipment, which is in my opinion much more important than room size, given that your room is large enough. My friend Jay, who had bought both sets of speakers to compare them, was pushing them with MFA 200 tube mono blocks, an MFA Magus tube preamp, and premium wire. And MFAs are pretty sweet sounding amps. After extended listening over multiple visits we both agreed that the B&Ws didn't have it. All the usual complaints about B&W seemed to apply. That they were too bright, hard, and forward. That they didn't have a balanced presentation and the bass wasn't crisp enough. I found these all to be valid. And they hurt my ears.Jay's also. Way too much ear fatigue. If I can't listen to speakers for an extended period I'm notinterested, and the B&Ws hurt my ears. The Vandersteens on the other hand lived up to their reputation. A balanced harmonious presentation, big soundstage, great imaging, deep tight fast bass, and a much better emotional connection with the music, particularly the vocals. I've been hooked on Vandersteens since I got my first pair, a pair of 2Cis. People who hear Vandersteen for the first time often say they are too laid back, but I think that is because they, like me, had been used to speakers that were forward and shouted at you. Two days after I got my 2Cis I went back to the guy I had sold my Infinity Kappas to and begged him to sell the Kappas back to me, which he did. But after taking them home and hooking them up again I realized after a while the Vandys were better. In every way. It takes a while to get used to the balanced presentation the Vandersteens make, to realize they don't exaggerate anything, and if you are used to speakers that do, initially it seems like some thing is missing, but it's not. It's all there, in harmony and balance. And they are so rewarding to listen to, they give me a wonderful music thrill.
And I don't think there is any problem using McIntosh equipment to push Vanderateens. Brooks Berdan uses McIntosh almost exclusively in his showroom. He's in Monrovia, Ca., and sells Vandersteen, Wilson, and Quad speakers among others. He says he likes McIntosh and thinks they compliment each other. If you are in So. Cal. go talk to Brooks, he's a real sweetheart. And yes you can put banana plugs in Vandersteen speaker inputs. Just take the bolts out and the banana plugs fit right in. Well, Anton, you asked and there you are. There is a reason why the 2C is the largest selling speaker in the world, and there is a reason why there are so many B&Ws for sale on Audiogon, eBay, etc. I think Vandersteen is a much more harmonious, rewarding, and involving speaker than B&W
Antonkk - Running both the Vandersteens and the B&WD with Ayre K1xe preamp, V1xe amp, C5xemp Universal disc player, VPI Superscoutmaster with rim drive, 10.5i arm, and Benz Micro Ebony LP.
I had a pair of 801's and just moved to Quatros. Could not be happier with the added soundstage that the Quatro's provide. The 802' did not sound neutral in the base, too fat, like my old 801's.

802's were plenty listenable, but after I listened to broken in Quatros, and their magnificent imaging, it is hard to leave that behind for the 802's (about the same price, too).

I use McCormack MAP-1 and DNA-225 and it sounds great. Not sure where you heard it isn't a good match. Dead quiet and great sound for solid state electronics at good prices.
Given the size of your room, and the proposed set-up of your speakers, perhaps you should consider a slightly different Vandersteen option:

2ce Sig II speakers + a pair of 2wq subs.

Although your seating is a bit far back (given the distance between your speakers), your real challenge will be to load the room with bass. A pair of 2wq subs will do the trick. Plus, with the first-order roll-off 3 dB down at 120 hz, your main amps and speakers won't have to deal with sub-bass frequencies.

Personally, I think this would be a better option than either the Quatros or the 3a Sigs in your space. YMMV.

You mentioned, "Regarding the Vandersteen input posts. You need smaller (vintage) size spades. Yes you can use big one, but if you touch the metal mounting plate with a bit of left over spade, you will blow out the amp."

I just looked in the 3A Signature manual, and it says nothing about this.

It does say, "Bare wires should never come into contact with the aluminum dress plate while the amplifier is on. Amplifier damage may result."

That I understand for sure, but why wouldn't Mr. Vandersteen mention the large spade thing in the manual if it was a big risk?

I'm using pretty large Blue Jeans spades on my 2Ce Signatures, fwiw.
Just use common sense and look that a Plus is not near a minus
girls and boys
Thanks Johnnyr