Building a HT system using 2ce signatures?

I have a 2-channel system using Vandersteen 2ce Signatures and Adcom electronics (GFA-5300 amp and GFP-710 pre-amp) that I've loved for about 8 years now. I'm now thinking about upgrading to a home theater system, and am trying to figure out what equipment to get that'll deliver comparable sound without damaging the 2-channel quality and hopefully without breaking the bank. I've been doing lots of reading on Audiogon over the last few weeks and I've got some ideas, but I'm not sure they form a cohesive whole, so I thought I'd see if anyone else had some suggestions:

On the budget front, I was hoping to spend in the range of $1000-1500. To accomodate that, I'm willing to do without the latest features (5.1 is fine, say), and so I'm looking at used equipment. I was also thinking about leaving the subwoofer until later, because the 2ce signatures seem to do pretty well with bass response.

As far as electronics go, I've been pretty happy with my existing Adcom gear and adding more channels of Adcom amplification seems to be fairly simple and inexpensive to do used (GFA-5503 or GFA-7400, say). For the pre-amp, reviews on the net of the older Adcom pre/pros (GTP-740/750/760) seem to be fairly negative, suggesting a high noise floor and lots of failures. Would swapping out the pre-amp for a different brand while keeping Adcom amps work well, or is it better to keep the same brand here? Any suggestions for a good used pre-amp here?

For speakers, what would match well with the 2ce signatures? Vandersteen VSMs are the obvious answer, but I don't see any way to accomodate them in the living room. The VSMs are wall-mount only, the back wall is covered in book cases, and the side walls have windows, doors, and fireplaces making for very little wall-mount space available. So I'm either looking for something that I can put in the bookcase, or a small wall-mount speaker. I've had B&W DS6s recommended to me by a friend, but I'm worried about their lack of a proper tweeter? Any thoughts on this?

As for the center channel, how critical is it to match the tonal qualities? Can I get something that'll sound like my Vandies that isn't a $2500 VCC-5, or should I just use a phantom center for a while?

Hi Ian, I have used Vandy 2ce Signatures with the VCC-1 and then 1c's in back. Great tonal match. You might need to experiment with the 1c placement. The VCC-1 is great for vocal etc, it's weakness is if there is a lot of low frequency information, not major, but there. Vandersteen also makes a VCC-1 size monitor that you can use for rears too. For electronics a Rotel RB-985 MKII or (preferably) ATI 1505 would be a good match for an amp. For a pre, possibly a Version 4 Lexicon DC-1. In used receivers, look for a Rotel RSX-1055 or 1056. The RSX-1065 would be great too, but more money. It might depend on how big your room is. I have a Sony STR-DA777es that is also a great way to go. There are a lot of possibities out there. Good luck. Daveyguitar
I ran a HT system using 2ce Sigs as the mains for several years.

First, to solve your surround speaker issue - get a pair of Vandersteen VLR speakers. They are excellent surround speakers, and you can put them on or in your bookshelves. They'll work great.

Second, if you have a subwoofer for your HT you can utilize the VCC-1 center channel, and it will match well with the 2ce Sigs. The VCC-1 doesn't do bass, so you'll really need a sub (you need one anyway for HT).

Don't make the mistake of getting just any old speaker for the center - it needs to be voice-matched with the mains, or it will stick out like a sore thumb.

I agree with the previous poster - a Rotel processor would be a good choice. I used one in my HT for quite some time, and was very pleased.
Personally, having first had experience setting up sound rooms using both Vandersteen 2c's and Signatures, I would advise against trying to build such a system, personally.
The Signature Vandie's are a bit too laid back and lacking bass punch for involvement and dyanmic prowes for HT, IMO. I'd look at other options.
Often, laid back music speakers make in-effective HT speakers, in that they don't "grab you for movies", I find. I like other options
Hey, Codrus, I was at a similar point years ago and I'll show you what can be done. My advice comes from a STRONG two channel slant; if you spend 90% of time listening to two channel and just want the HT to mess with, this is a plan for it to work for you.

Give up trying to get "comparable sound" out of an inexpensive 5.1 setup. It won't happen, and if you think it will, you'll be disappointed. For $1,500 obtaining speakers, electronics, etc. you'll get a functional surround.

Don't get too hung up on the idea that the Vandy's are not terrific HT speakers. So what. Sounds like you're mainly a two channel person but just want HT once in a while. You're not about to dump your beloved two channel speakers to do HT. (But if you are, then that's a whole different discussion) Don't let a HT tail wag a two channel dog.

For now, seriously, I would buy two pair of Insignia 6.5" speakers from Best Buy and use one pair for rears, as well as a single one for center. All four for under $100. I've tried them in my main rig and they sound great - would be very usable for these purposes. You can try them out and if you don't like them, return them! Then put bucks into electronics. The Insignias will mate fine with the Vandersteens; you're not building the worlds hottest HT. Straight up, you'd have to pump a fair bit more into surrounds and you'd defeat the limitations of your budget to look at higher cost surrounds/center.

If you're not an HT fanatic don't worry that your center is not "voice matched" etc. Yes, it's better to have a matched center. The cheapest Vandy one is about $200 used, probably worth the extra $150 IF you'd do a lot of HT. But, if you can't find one, or only would watch a movie once a month don't lose sleep over it. At your price point, you have to perform triage; something's gonna give, speakers or electronics. I'd say speakers should give way to electronics all things considered in this situation. If you think you must have Vandy surrounds you'll end up blowing your budget on the speakers and wind up with crap electronics to stay within budget or way overspend.

You'd be better off selling the Adccom Pre/amp and upgrading to a nice integrated for two channel. There are some fantastic integrateds for under $1,000 used here on Agon. If your Adcom stuff is anywhere near 10-15 years old this is a no brainer upgrade; any one of a dozen newer integrateds, especially tube hybrid integrateds, will sound MUCH better! Make sure to get one with remote, if important to you. The upgrade to integrated will make the Vandy's sound better in stereo and HT modes.

You're absolutely right; you don't need subs - yet. Eventually, If you want to get serious about HT you'll want to look into it.

Find an Outlaw or Rotel used surround receiver to power the surrounds and do processing, and you'll actually be done within budget. Go much beyond these bounds and you WILL be over budget. And did you even consider Interconnects and speaker wire for longer runs? Take pencil to paper for that cost too.

Your goal is too small; Your goal should not be to prevent damaging sound quality in two channel, but to improve two channel while adding HT! It can be done. If you LOVE the idea of upping the two channel quality and having serviceable HT, then follow my directions and you'll be very happy! If over time you are getting into HT more, you'll have opportunity to upgrade the surround speakers.

I'm sure others would say keep the pre/amp and put more into surround speakers and less into electronics for surround. Fine, BUT there goes your two channel upgrade!