Considering Vandersteen 3a Signatures


I have Spatial Audio M3 Turbo S which I enjoy but was recently considering trying the Vandersteen 3a Signatures.  I love the soundstage and the holographic feel of the Spatial's but I'm seeking greater clarity in the treble and more detail in the mids.  I am driving these speakers with a Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum with KT120 tubes.  The source is mostly analog via VPI Prime, Dynavector Karat and Parasound Halo JC3+.  Also digital via Auirender N100 and Schiit Gumby.  I listen to a wide spectrum of music, but mostly in the rock and jazz genre.

Should I expect a major difference in sound?  Any other ideas for speakers that would fit the bill?
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Did you think about trying another amp first before swapping out speakers?  I have owned both as well as the M3TM's and I'm not sure you're going to get the big jump you think. The spec's on the Spatial's are very misleading as to the power that actually need in the average room much less a larger one.  
I agree that you won't get any worthwhile improvement in clarity/detail. The Vandy tweeter is a bit sibilant compared to the Spatial's compression driver IME. Where the Vandys excel, and panels/open baffles are lacking, is in pinpoint imaging.

The Spatials also play much louder than Vandys before compression kicks in. You're really going to have a hard time beating the Spatials at that price point. You might look into their new X5 speaker.
the 3a-Sig tweeter ( and for that matter mid ) are the same as the venerable 5a
nobody I know thinks the 5a is “sibilant “... but hey, listening would be good. I suppose I could be just a fan boy having owned both...
i know guys getting great sound on 3a-Sig w Parasound, Rogue, Threshold and Music Reference power amps.

try to listen to a bunch of stuff

have fun

enjoy the music !!!!
But before buying, get Jim Smiths excellent book an getting better sound

spend some time in the near field, does that fix the detail you crave ?
if so, invest in room treatment

consider a bit more toe in for detail

kill those first reflections with absorption including the ceiling, definitely the floor

get a Leica disto 2 and obsess on setup





Nice system btw all the ingredients for great

have you rolled better small signal tubes into The Rogue ???? Andy at Vintage tube could help, especially if you mentioned more detailed treble/mid

Andy is a zen master

@tomic601 

But none of those amps you mentioned is a tube integrated.  Closest thing is the Hybrid MR.  Contrary to the Spatial specs they need power to sing and those amps you mentioned would all do a better job plus the upgrade to the compression driver in the M3TM would make an appreciable difference. 
I have Vandy 3A Sigs.  Would never think to call the tweeter sibilant, but I suppose there's plenty of room for subjectivity in that call.

I find the treble and especially midrange detail to be fantastic.  I drive mine with an Ayre V5xe, as part of all Ayre stack.  The Ayre is 300w / channel into 4 ohms and I would put the minimum power the Vandy 3A needs in that ballpark.  My biggest reservation in recommending the Vandies to you is that your amp might not have enough juice.  Can you bring your amp to a Vandy dealer to demo?


I have Vandy 3A Sigs.  Would never think to call the tweeter sibilant, but I suppose there's plenty of room for subjectivity in that call.
I just noted a bit of grain and spit with some recordings that I don't hear in some other speakers. It's plenty detailed but not the most refined metal dome I've encountered. It reminded me of Monitor Audio's aluminum dome tweeters in that regard. Anyhow, the Spatial compression tweeter/mid is more refined - sounds similar to beryllium tweeters.
Thanks, everyone.  I truly appreciate the advice.  I was considering both focusing on room treatments as this is something I have yet to explore and considered some tube rolling with the Cronus Magnum.  As tomic601 noted, "enjoy the music"
I have the 2CE Signature II and love it the details and clarity is superb and if it’s set up and place properly, the sound stage is overwhelming. The 3A Signature has everything the 2CE Sig II has, and one step above as it has a better bass than my 2CE Sig II, I highly recommend the 3A Signature.
The 3A Sig should have the better mid range driver (that is being used in the quatro and Treo) than the 2ce sig 2, as well
Do room treatments. I'm using Primacoustic panels from Sweetwater Sound in a moderately small room with Vandy 2Cs and the difference between untreated and treated was jaw-dropping. Bigger improvement than ANY gear change will do. Remember, the room gives half of what you will hear, (maybe more). And yes, I LOVE my Vandys. Also, agree 100% with tomic601 to get Jim Smith's book Get Better Sound. Indispensable tool to get the best setup to play the room. Finally, I also think you should get the 3As, but that's just because I like Vandys.

Tom
I am also using the Primacoustic London 10 room kit and found that it made a difference. Not huge, but noticeable.
@audionoobie- my room was an echo-horror chamber. I treated all four walls, the ceiling, and the floor to get the desired results.
both the 2 and 3 also offer high precision potentiometer on rear panel to tailor the sound to room and I suppose taste.

minimum power is always a great debate and intensely dependent on room, music, spl level AND importantly duty cycle. I ran 3a sig with a PS Audio 100 C which is SS in a moderate size room w rock, but I dont listen much above peaks of 95 db and the duty cycle is low....

a KT120 is probably the minimum....and agree for many is not enough power....

again, OP if you can get out and cast a wider net for audition that would be good. Enjoy the music !! 


as an alternative to the 5a consider the VLR-Signature with the carbon tweeter and a sub 3 or two x 2wq
this works IF you have pre out / pwr in integrated OR put filter caps in integrated ( typically at factory or solid technician- Ayre does this for Ayre/Vandersteen owners for example )

this allows you to get a VERY refined tweeter / mid and with sub 3 Eleven bands of EQ to game room and with your integrated powering only above 80-100 cycles pretty fantastic sound...

just an option amoung thousands...how fun....
Awesome feedback.  Thanks.  I'm checking out the Primacoutic panels.  They're a hell of a lot cheaper than the Synergistic Research panels I was eyeing.  
Remember if you get your Ayre modded for the Vandersteens, you have to remod it for any other speaker with which to use it. 
IF. possible try to source your acoustic panels locally, shipping can often double costs. PM me as I have worked w probably ten companies across USA.

however all mentioned so far are stellar..
The Rogue Atlas and Chronus Mag make for a fine listening experience
with the Vandersteen 3Sigs
Any perceived sibilance is easily alleviated when using Audioquest solid core or anti cables what you have is fine wire instead of cheaper type ring splashy multi-strand.

The neat thing about the Vandersteen speakers is the way they are able to play intimate as well as complex.
Personally, I don’t share the enthusiasm of PA type design drivers intended for the home, for relaxed enjoyment
Having big 15 inch drivers do some things great but lack speed in the critical midrange transition where our ears are keen, but only you can be the judge with a listen / Comparison.
If at home you wish to choose PA speakers please don’t let me stop you but please realize this isn't the first time folks come back to the well.

Best,
JohnnyR
Vandersteen dealer

Pg62,

I'm a long-time fan of Vandersteen too, but never stepped up.  I have also heard the Spacials on a LTA ZOTL40--very nice too.  If you like the Spacial sound, the Pure Audio Project Trios should offer a similar overall sound with more refined mid/treble.

Mike
Hello pg61.

I have the 3a sig’s and a stereo pair of Vandersteen’s wonderful 2wq subs with their Hp5b (b for balanced version) hi pass filters. This makes for a wonderful sounding true full range time and phase correct system. I have had this system for about ten years now and I am still very happy with it. It is this long term satisfaction that properly set up Vandy’s have that makes for the loyal following that they enjoy. They are very well balanced from top to bottom when used with the 2wq subs. (I’m sure the new Sub 3’s would be even better as they are more adjustable). I think the subs are required to get the most out of the 3a sigs (as well as most other loudspeakers for that matter.) The 3a sigs have a bit of boxy sound to the mid bass that the subs remove by taking the deep bass load off them. It makes the sound more effortless and cleaner top to bottom, really takes them to another level. In fact this combo gives about 95% of what the 5a’s provide with their built in subs. This also allows you to use a smaller amp. I use a 100 wpc class D and with the sub’s 300 watt internal amps handling the deep bass it will play louder than I can stand with no loss of dynamic’s. Without the sub’s yes I would want maybe 200 watts or more depending on how you listen of course.

As I have upgraded my other equipment and fine tuned my setup and room over time, they just keep sounding better and better.

I also do not hear the tweeter sibilant issue and I am using the anti-cables that Johnny R mentioned in a bi-wire configuration.
The reason I mention all this is value. The 3a sig’s, a pair of 2wq subs and the hp5 crossovers can be had second hand for about the new price of the 3a sig’s alone and you will be hard pressed to find a true full frequency range system that is also time and phase correct (most speakers are not) for anywhere near this price. And you can start with the speakers see how you like them and if you do and want to improve them even more then add the subs later to spread the expense out.

I can also highly recommend reading Jim Smith’s book Get Better Sound, in fact you should read that before you make any new equipment decision’s and try to get the best sound you can from your current system then go from there if you feel the need. Most people are not getting the most from their equipment do to a lack of understanding of how to set it up properly and thus the constant gear churn that so many go through. It’s an ongoing learning process and one of the thing’s I love about this hobby.
Also Robert Harley’s The Complete Guide to High End Audio fifth edition is excellent reading.

For the most complete info on Vandersteen loudspeakers as well as high end audio in general read the late Richard Hardesty’s "Audio Perfectionist Journal" It can be found on Vandersteen’s site under the Resource’s tab.
Dick was a mentor of mine I even flew to LA to attended one of his seminars at his home where he demoed the 3a sig’s and 2wq subs. He was able to demonstrate the advantage of time and phase correct speakers combined with a pre-amp and amp with zero feedback (such as cedargrover’s Ayre amp). The imaging is just spooky. Very cool!

If I may offer a tip using subs, especially if you want to maintain time alignment with the main speakers. Move them next to (inboard) and even slightly forward of the main speakers. Low frequency’s are slower than higher one’s and take longer to reach your ears. If you take the conventional approach of putting them behind and against the wall or in a corner the deep bass is arriving well behind the rest of the spectrum in time. I have the smoothest nicest most coherent bass response I have ever had with this setup. Try it.

Anyway good luck in your journey.

+100!!!!

I'm of the opinion that a used pair of 2cs or 3a Sig's with  pair of 2wqs might be the greatest bang for the buck in high end audio.
@bstat or a used pair of 5a or Quattro 
Tomic601
Yes even better if funds allow. Personally I would love a pair of Quatro CT'sBut for sheer value the 2ce's or 3a sig's/ 2wq combo is hard to beat. It says something that they are both still being made all these years later. Someone must be buying them. The 2wq's having just been replaced but at twice the price with the new Sub 3's.
I have Spatial Audio M3 Triode Masters with Cronus Magnum II and Ayre codex.
Absolutely amazing and much better than the Vandersteen Treo (not CT) and Goldenear Triton Reference I had before with same equipment and in same room. To me, it is next level sound compared to Vandersteen, Magnepan, Goldenear and many other old school brands. I have auditioned many, many high end items and tried dozens of pairings with equipment searching for the best and most realistic sound.

To my ears, it’s Rogue Cronus Magnum II for integrateds, Ayre Codex for dacs (fed by Bluesound Node 2) anti-cables and Spatial Audio open baffle Triode Master speakers.

I cannot believe how realistic these speakers are. Open baffle is the way of the future. 
Imaging and soundstage has to be heard to be believed. Not sure what more could be gained by spending more. 

Apple should buy the company, could easily see them at Apple stores everywhere and get the masses into Hifi.