DIY High pass filters for Vandersteen Model 5A Carbon's?

Hey folks! I've just received a pair of Model 5A Carbon's without the high pass filters. These speakers didn't come with bass cabs, so I paid under 2 grand for everything. With that in mind, paying half of that for a pair of high pass filters to me would be quite the investment. I've read online that filters such as these can be built, but I am struggling to find instruction on how to achieve such. There seems to be a decent amount of discussion on Vandie filters here, so I thought I'd ask how to make the filters I've read about. 
I'd honestly purchase them from Vandersteen or used.  I realize some folks build their own, but they were voiced with the components that Richard designed for them.  What do you mean they didn't have a Bass cabinet?  Are you saying you just purchased the head unit?
Just out of curiosity, what happened to the bass cabinets? How would you even hook up the speaker wires  when the terminals are on the bass cabinet, and what do you sit the top part on when it is angled?
The "high pass filter" is in this case just a capacitor. You could even build it into the amplifier housing. You need to know the amplifier's impedance and the target -3 dB point for the filter, then you can find an online calculator.

I'm a little confused. Are you missing the entire lower portion? If this is the case we need to talk about your whole plan. :) If you plan on making your own bass cabinet, you could add  speaker level high pass filter, or use an external crossover or DSP unit like a miniDSP to handle everything for you.


So I just read up on this. The Vandersteen design is a 100 hZ, single order (6dB/octave) high pass filter for the top section.

You could replace both missing cabs with 1 or 2 powered subwoofers. The question now is, how do you manage the crossover? You could do this with the normal features of a receiver or a preamp with integrated bass management (Parasound P5/P7), you could also do this with an external active crossover like a miniDSP or a DEQX.  Some powered subs also offer built in high pass filters.

What you have to watch out for is having at least a 6 dB high pass filter for the speaker cabs. More is fine (12, 24, etc.). 


I have similar concerns with the other folks who have responded. First off the Vandersteen filters are designed to be used with the Vandersteen subwoofer and amp that is housed in the lower half of the speaker.  Without that “lower half” any high pass filter will be dependant on the design of the replacement “lower half”.  If you are planning on rebuilding all this without the Vandersteen subwoofer and amplifier you need to forget about the Vandersteen filter and start from scratch.  In reality if you don’t realize this you are probably in way over your head to get a resultant full range speaker that is anything remotely as good as the original 5A Carbon.  Sorry to be harsh about it but the questions you pose seem to indicate a lack of understanding of the scope of this project.  I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it will be a long slog.

Having said all that, did you, perchance, purchase these components here on AudiogoN?  About four months ago a seller from the Houston area was a selling a set of all the drivers and the head unit from 5A’s (not Carbon) that had been in the hurricane floods last year.  I was tempted by that ad to upgrade my original Model 5’s, but there was no guarantee that the components were still 100% functional.  If indeed, you did buy those with the intent of making a new cabinet, well, good luck with that.  It will be a huge project (yes I’m repeating myself, intentionally).

Now if I have the circumstances all wrong, then please correct me!
Vandersteen has used first order crossovers consisting of one or two high quality capacitors, often soldered to RCA jacks and shrink wrapped.  They should still have these available. You need to tell them the power amp you will use to drive the top end so they can determine the input impedance and supply the right caps.

You are on your own as far as coming up with a bass unit and power amp and crossover to mate with your 5 bits.  My old 4As use a separate crossover that is adjustable for impedance and gain, that was a plug in t the wall unit; I understand the 5s use a battery powered crossover.

You need to find out what the crossover points are as you have everything but the sub.   I have a couple of Hsu subs that are quite adjustable (used only in the video part of my main system)  - if you find out the crossover point of the Vandie bits you've got, you might talk to Hsu about getting a powered sub that would mate with them.  You are probably looking at around $1,000 x2 if that works out.
@wspohn :

You are right, if the OP was going to replace the bass cabinets with Vandersteens then the approach you recommend is ideal. But Vandersteen builds his bass electronics to complement this de-emphasis, something no one else I know of does.

However, if the OP was not going to go that way, this makes it more complicated to replicate, and IMHO not worthwhile. Use a fully active crossover before the amp, and handle it and bass EQ there. With a HT receiver/processor or a preamp like the Parasound P5/P7, this is all built in, though you give up that 1st order matching, but come on, we’re already dealing with a bit of a mash-up. :)

Also, and this is not a popular opinion, Vandersteen's capacitors are crap. You'll do better with alternatives.


No one has addressed the issue of how the top part of the speaker is going to be supported. I would like to see the custom built stand that would be needed to hold that heavy slanted head unit.
As Erik said, the whole thing is a mash-up, and may not be worth the trouble and considerable expense to get it right. And if you did, what would it look like? Frankenspeaker! 
Thanks @roxy54 !

I mean, this isn't of zero value. If the OP approaches this not as a way to save money, but as a learning opportunity, he could get far and feel it was well worth it.

For instance, if he built his own sub cabinet, learns to measure and integrate the two sections, that is a lot of work, and maybe not financially worthwhile, but as a learning opportunity, priceless! :)

On the other hand, unguided, and unwilling to learn a little about crossover and speaker analysis, he will tinker and spend money on this until the day he dies without being happy. :)

Again, I encourage the OP to come join us at in the Multi-way speaker forum. Tons of peeps willing to help on every aspect of this.


All that I lack are the bass cabinets. Yes, a big reason for tackling this project was for the experience, which I am currently lacking in at age 16.. I have the sub amps, crossovers, top part of the cabinet, and all original drivers. I've been working on designing new bass cabinets, which I will probably replace once I have become more competent. I do want to save money wherever possible, (again, I'm 16) but I can shell out cash wherever necessary. I want to learn how to build high pass filters just to confirm that all of the drivers function as they should, and I plan to eventually buy ones from Vandersteen. I'm close to clueless, but I am confident that this will work out for me in the end. Thanks for your input, I'll make a DIYAudio account ASAP.
There are flat pack bass enclosures available at Parts Express. What size are the woofers?
Hey OP!

I'll talk to you over in DIYAudio then. It will hopefully be a firehose of information and many there with more experience than me in speaker building and electronics.


Apparently I had an account already. Same username as this one; do you suppose I should make a thread?
OP, if I was you, I would immediately get in touch with Richard Vandersteen himself.  You can call Vandersteen and ask to speak with him if he doesn't answer.  Tell him your story, age and that you want to learn. I can PROMISE you that he will help you in any way he can. he will spend time to also teach you and may even give you some brands to look at using.  I doubt that he will give you the dimensions of the cabinet and how it's supposed to be put together, but you never know.

I think he's getting back this week, so give it a try.  None of us will be able to give you the info that he will.  Let us know.
Thought: Search for one just in case, but yes, just go ahead and start a new one. 
I own Vandersteen model 5s.  I built my own HP filters.  I have a pair of them with RCA connections.  The pigtails are not the AQ battery wire but they sound the same.  If you want to purchase them I would sell mine and let you try them out.  If they do not work for the 5Cs then send them back and I will refund the money less the shipping costs.  PM me if you want.