For Vandersteen 2Wq users.

How much, if any, does the passive crossover between the amp and preamp change the sound of the mains? I am thinking that it changes it in a way that less bass frequencies are going to the mains; however, how about the mids and his? Do they remain as they were before? If not, how much of a drastic change?
Do you have 2Wq's? I'm really curious about these subs...I've read some really glowing reviews.
The crossover (or filter) is designed to roll the bass out of the mains at 6 db per octave. This is phase correct. In this respect, it does change the sound in a highly controlled fashion. The crossovers hinge point is set to be at about 80hz. Using good quality caps in the filter does not alter the mids and highs going into the mains. The idea is to take the workload off of the mains and pass it to the subs. It allows the use of a lower powered main amp(if desired) and, if anything, cleans up the midrange and highs. Dynamics are improved along with clarity.
The Vandersteen 2Wq's are designed with what Vandersteen calls a "Phase forward error correction." All this does is restore the bass via the subs in exactly the same amount as the filter has rolled it off out of the mains. It extends the bottom to about 18hz through the subs. The idea is to create an extended bottom that is not lean nor bloated but ACCURATE. Most people boost their subs up too much. If you hear the sub, its too high in level. All of the sound should just exist and not be pinpointed in the space as coming from drivers(speakers or sub[s]. If you like the effects of a loud sub, so be it. An inexpensive Radio Shack SPL is a good source to measure your actual frequency response.
You can read up on all of this material on the Vandersteen website (
What he said :).
I would like to add that from my lengthy experience...The passive x-2 filters will change the sound of yours highs and mids in a negative way unfortunately. The active unit is the only way to go for transparency is expensive but to me the vandy sub is almost worthless with the x-2 unless you have an extremely unrevealing system. If the active is too expensive then I would HIGHLY recommend to have a custom filter built with much better caps i.e. DYNAMICAPS,Auricaps,Cardas caps etc. I had one built with DYNAMICAPS and I can hardly hear the influence of the added connection...It sounds MUCH MORE natural and open against the X-2 and is very close the the performance of the active units at a fraction of the cost. Just trying to help from my experiences..good luck!
I totally agree with Aniwolfe. You must either make your filters out of a much higher grade cap or use the expensive Vandersteen model 5 crossover. The x-2 doesn't alter the frequency so much as it just isn't as transparent as it should be. It uses a relative low grade Rel cap. I have used Dynamicaps and also Auricaps. I found the Auricaps to be more to my liking but it is a individual thing. The filters are extremely easy to make. I probably have no fewer than 10 pair laying around.
With the Auricaps, I hear no influence to the mids and highs. I felt the Dynamicaps imparted a touch of brightness.
Let me "piggyback" on Bigtee's post. I have a stereo pair of 2Wq subs in my system (Vandy 3A Sig main speakers), and found that there was a noticeable improvement in overall sound quality when I replaced the regular ($125) crossover with the crossover units used with the Vandy Model 5. The M5 crossovers come in two boxes -- one for each channel -- and have much higher parts quality. In addition, the M5 crossovers also have an internal 9-volt battery that keeps the capacitors fully charged at all times. While the M5 crossovers are certainly not cheap ($600 for single-ended, and $800 for balanced), you can occasionally find a used pair for sale. The M5 crossovers are more transparent than the "standard issue" crossover, and also (to my ear) seem to provide a more seamless blend between the main speakers and the sub(s). Let me close by making a further pitch for a stereo pair of 2Wq's, rather than a single sub. There is a BIG performance improvement with the stereo pair.
This is interesting information that needs to be seriously considered. The Vandersteen has a great reputation, but it seems to be a bit on the demanding side to get it to sound its best. And when it comes to building or wiring anything for myself, well, I can burn water. How bad is that? My birthday is coming up soon and I have been wanting to give myself a subwoofer as a present. My choices are narrowed down to the Vandersteen and a Rel. The Rel may be the choice of someone how has less time or less experience with sound systems, but wants something musical.

Choices, choices, choices...
One more questions. Since the Vandy is wired in a parallel method, along with the mains and only samples the source, does this also mean that if my amp is not producing good low frequencies, then the Vandy won't push those frequencies, either? In other words, the Vandy can amplify a signal it doesn't get, right? Can the Vandy get hooked to the pre-amp instead of the amp?
The 2Wq is designed to operate off of the speaker outputs of the amp. This was done by Vandersteen so that the mains and sub would have the same basic tonal character in the lows. I really do not know of an amp that will not pass a low frequency amplified signal that is inputed into the amp. Most amp problems come about with interfacing with the speakers(such as BEMF from the main drivers)The signal taken from the amp does not effect the amp due to the extremely high impedance of the sub input. If you want to use low level inputs, then the V2W is the one to look at. It is designed more for home theater than music. I also agree that 2 2Wq's are a must for high definition stereo. There is bass separation and soundstage cues down into the low regions from modern sources.
I think if the amp is slow in the bass it could make for a slower sounding sub. I sorta ran into this accidently with the changing of my Theta Dreadnaught to the Belles 350A. The Theta was never known for its bass but for the mids and highs. The Belles is quicker and way more defined through the lows which I feel was reflected through the sub as a quicker, tighter sub performance. However, I do have a caveat. The Belles drives the 3A Signatures better with a tighter, more driving bass line(best I've ever heard on the 3A Sigs)So, this difference could be imparted to the sound through the mains since they are now quicker. With a 6db filter, you do get a considerable amount of frequency overlap.
Sorry, but I'm not a big fan of the REL subs. Also, I find them as difficult as the Vandersteen's to set up correctly. Overall, I do not like the way they blend or sound for that matter. I know a lot of audiophiles seem to like the REL but I find that the Vandersteen sub is easier to make disappear. I am convinced that Vandersteen's sub theory is a more accurate solution and that's what I look for in a system. I have some real questions about REL's theory on this(especially their high rate crossover)but this is me. I'm also for whatever rocks an individuals boat!
I agree with most of the excellent advice above. I was thoroughly researching this subject for myself until recently, when i found some used model 5's.

Let me add a few points: the "forward correction" feature is designed to sense a signal that would cause distortion and remove that part of the signal BEFORE the woofer sees it. This is said to be better than servo correction, which requires an error (distortion) to occur before correction can happen.

As far as crossovers, i have heard many model 5's (including my own) set up with the model 5 xo's, so i know that these are excellent. I have however seen an ad on agon by someone making inexpensive x2's with upgraded caps. i was going to go that route.

As far as the difficulty in setting up vandersteens, i just went through this with my friend who is buying my 2ce's. He remarked how much of his modern electronica music sounds bad through the new speakers, while more acoustic stuff sounds great... i had to explain that he is just hearing more accurately (though i beleive i better cd player would benefit). My point is, with any vandersteen product, careful set up is required, but is rewarded with ever improving sound.