I find them soft as well, Solid State seems like the easy answer. You are lucky in a way as most less expensive amps will work well I would think. There are a bunch of D class amps with oodles of power available fairly cheap. Bryston makes some Class D and class A/B. Bel Canto, Wyred4Sound, Sanders, Red wine, etc.
I'm using a Krell KST 100 with my Vandersteen 2's. It doesn't offer the smoothest upper mid/treble but it helps to offset the Vandersteens. I also have a Rotel RB 1080 that I like and that works well. They talk about Vandersteens being so good you can drive them with amps costing more than $5K but in the real world people who buy Vandersteens used for $600 aren't buying such expensive amps. I've heard a McCormack DNA 0.5 on Vandersteen 2Ci's that sound nice too.
Thanks for the Krell suggestion. Will definitely look into that.
When Stereophile reviewed the 2C's back in 1987 they used a Krell KSA 50. When I bought the Vandersteens I started with a Counterpoint SA-12 but when it started having reliability problems I remembered the review and I bought the Krell for a good price. That was back in the early '90's..I don't buy audio equipment very often. The Krell does bass very well and it's surprisingly good throughout the frequency range.
Krell does bass better than anything else. However, I don't think Vandersteen 2Cs need help in that area. If you want the best from your 2Cs use Audio Research.
RM10, match made in heaven. Buy one used. Some previous comments on this set-up on the A'gon. I had this set-up back around 1996? Used a CJ PV10A Preamp.
Hi. What's an RM10? Who makes it? I assume the preamp in a Conrad Johnson. Not really looking for tube gear unless it's incredibly detailed.
Vandersteen's like tubes. Magic combination would be
a Music Reference RM10 as previously advised or the new
Audio Research VSI60 integrated which I've used with 2CE
signatures in a very large room for some time.
Either one will be detailed and open, plenty of bass and far more resolution overall than any Krell could provide.
I recently went to Revel Studio II's and went to seperates. Will be selling my VSI60 and 2CE signatures sometime but will probably sell them locally.
The Music Reference RM 10 is an small unique and capable amp that will destroy your pre judged thoughts on what an amp is capable of.
Its about as raw and organic an amp you will find for the Vandersteen 2 series. Kimber 4 tc speaker wire and PBJ copper interconnects work great with just about any decent 12AX7 or 6DJ8 tube pre amps...
yes i am also a dealer for MR
I've owned the 2and 3s, as well as the RM10s, but never together. I will
say that the RM10s are one of audio's magical amps, and if John Rutan
says they are compatible in terms of power, then I would think the
recommendation is one to seriously consider. Someone told me that the
best he ever heard the 2ces was when driven by an RM 10.
Johnny, are you guys the Audioconnection in NJ? Do you have the RM10 and 2C on display to try out?
Also, getting off topic here, how are the new Sig II's different from the originals?
For the people who mentioned Mccormack, why does this brand in particular make a good match?
Because the McCormack's tight, punchy bass compensates for the Vandersteen's somewhat bloated bass, the McCormack's somewhat forward presentation compensates for the Vandersteen's somewhat laid back presentation, the McCormack's liquid midrange through treble works very well on the Vandersteens (the Vandersteens though very forgiving through most of this area, do have a narrow area in the brightness region, that can be less forgiving). It has been rumoured that Steve McCormack uses Vandersteens. Considering the very long period of very active sales of the Vandersteens, that would seems like a good idea. Two of the best values in all of audio, and they work just great together. What could be better! The Vandersteens work very well with other gear too. At the value end, ss amps like the PSE's (though I'm not sure of that companies current status, and their older gear might be getting long in tooth), and at the higher cost end, Audio Research. Despite the enthusiasm by some here for tubes with Vandersteens, I'm less convinced that tubes are best with them, especially in the bass. There are some tube exceptions though, such the previously mentioned Audio Research. All in all, I think the McCormacks offer the best sound for the buck with Vandersteens.
I have Vandersteen 2CE signatures (and used to have 2CE's). I had a Conrad Johnson PV-10 with an Adcom 555 (then replaced the amp with a Classe 15 - big improvement). I now have the Emotiva USP-1 pre-amp (with a Yaqin tube buffer between the pre and amp). Sounds very good, and definitley offsets the "softness" of the Vandy's.
Getting a little off topic here, but how do the latest Sig II's sound compared to the original 2C/2CE's? Maybe "upgrading" to the latest version will help? Very interested in the McCormack suggestion as well.
Anybody think 80's Threshold pre/power would work as well as McCormack?
I would not take anyone's description of the current Signature to get a sense of how it might sound different than what you have, you would have the illusion of thinking you really have the answer to that, but you really need to hear it with your own ears. Don't you have a Vandersteen dealer near you? They are pretty broadly distributed. If you are near Audio Connection in NJ, you can even hear what a lowly 35 watt tube amp might sound like compared to a 100-200 watt SS amp.
I would immagine old SS like you mentioned would have to have the capacitors replaced by now if it hasn't been done already.
My experience in comparing the signatures to the 2 Ce's I used to have is that they are just a little better all the way around. Similar sound, but better in detail (both bass and treble), higher highs and lower lows. They still have the same overall sound character. I only upgraded because mine had a damaged speaker and the outside cloth was a little tired, and I had no good way to repair them. I don't necessarily think it would be worth hundreds of dollars to upgrade if your original 2ce's are in excellent shape...
The Thresholds should work nicely. IMHO, the sound of the Vandersteens work a little better with the sound of the McCormacks, you might feel differently. As was previously mentioned an older amp might be due for a refurbishing. That might come with a cost. All in all, with the Vandersteens, I think the McCormacks are the bang for the buck value leaders, all the while not having to make any apologies for the excellent sound they make together.
I recently upgraded my Vandersteen 2C(1987) to the new
Vandersteen 2Ce Sig 2's. The speaker does look similiar but taller in height. All drivers,crossover, and internal
construction are vastly improved. A much improved speaker from 25 years ago as Vandersteen keeps tweeking the model
2. You can match this newer Steen with a good quality tube
or solid state of your choice. As easy to drive as the the older 2C. If your considering to upgrade it's well worth a listen to the newer Sig 2's...All the best.
Belles & Vandersteen a classic combo. Audio Research Classic 60 as well.
Personally, I think that I'd go the other way here:
The soft top end of the original Vandy 2 was an essential part of that speaker's character (and charm). I say "Don't fight it".
I first heard the Vandy 2 paired with the original Quicksilver mono amps (30+ years ago!) and loved the pairing for mid-range centric music. I specifically recall a demo of a lovely acoustic guitar recording that highlighted this effect.
PS The Johnny R who posted above is Audioconnection in Verona, NJ. It's the same store at which I heard the Vandy/Quicksilver demo, cited above (tho, at that time, it was owned by a different fellow, named IIRC Hart Hutschens).
This exactly why I want to hear the Sig II's. I think just changing the speaker might get the sound I'm looking for. I use a Nak TA-4A, but would love to hear other amps as well.
["The soft top end of the original Vandy 2 was an essential part of that speaker's character (and charm). I say "Don't fight it".]
Current Vandersteen 2 Sig 2's mated with Quicksilver amps is a great match as it was some 25 years ago...The older 2c's were less detailed in the mid and top end.
25 years later current issue uses the 5a tweeter and now a newer mid range driver futher improves the long evolution of the model 2 Steen....
The first time I heard the 2C was with a very early set of our amps. They were revealing and musical- no troubles making bass either. We did several shows with Vandersteen speakers, using our smaller amps. One time Richard came into our room to check it out; he commented that our sound was better than what he was getting in his room, which was playing McCormack if memory serves. Both rooms had Sound Anchor stands for the speakers.
So if our little M-60 can drive them, they are an easy load and definitely do favor tubes. But they do have an impedance curve that allows transistors as well.
I'm not sure why, but it sometimes seems that some folks think that Vandersteens are not tube friendly, which is curious given how often they were shown with ARC in the early days -- and Richard owned Quicksilvers (still may). I wonder if it is sometimes confused with another famous 1st order xover, phase and time coherent speakers that really are not very tube friendly.
Rather than the load, I think the sonic signature of the Vandersteens: ripe bass, a bit of a peak in the lower treble and rolled off high end, resembles classic tube amp sound, which might suggest that one might want to avoid doubling up on those characteristics. I think the classic "High Definition" sound of the Audio Research amps are bit different than is typically found on many other tube amps. To be fair, the forward upper bass through mid-range often found on tube amps, can compliment the somewhat laid back sound of the Vandersteen's in that frequency range, more so than the typical withdrawn mid-range of many ss amps. Which is why, and please forgive me if I repeat this again, I think the somewhat unusual forward mid-range ss McCormack amps might work so well with the Vandersteens.
Ah, I do miss the Audiogon edit function!
Another thing to consider is that we're talking about an older pair of Vandersteens here. Tube amps usually cost more than ss amps. I don't think it would be prudent to spend a lot of money on amplification in this instance.
If anyone knows Vandersteens it's Johnny R from Audio Connection in Verona, NJ. I personally believe Vandersteen himself would tout John as one of his most knowledgeable dealers as well as all around nice guys who is forthright and honest. I'd sincerely listen to his comments and give them a little more weight than some other suggestions. I bought my first items from him while a student when he was a young pup himself. Tech Hi-Fi, Rt.4, NJ. He has never lied or steer me wrong; he is everything a dealer should be and is. You can take his info on the Vandy's to the bank. Rethink the comments about the Music Reference RM 10, or Quicksilver.
Agree with everything you said about John Rutan.
As an earlier poster mentioned, many people buy used Vandersteens for under $600 and aren't looking for an expensive way to power them. I just bought a used pair for $325 and am on a very limited budget. Can anyone recommend a suitable integrated in the $300-400 range? Thanks!
I am driving my Vandersteen 2ce's in my secondary system with a Classe 15 power amp and an Audible Illusions Modulus 3 tube preamp. It sounds sublime
Wellers73, forget the integrated, check this out:
Caveat, I know nothing about the seller, or these particular pieces.
If it's not too late to chime in, I am running a second system using 2-ce's ($300)and an adcom gfa-555 ($300), I think hard to beat for the money, though the real star is the welborne labs cato tube preamp which brings warm sound and great depth out of an inexpensive but relatively powerful SS amp.I run a Cullen stage four USB DAC and laptop loaded with flac files.
Tube amps may sound better with the vandies but for a budget system look for a decent tube preamp and some SS power.
I have the Vandersteen 2CE Sig 2 driven by the vintage McIntosh MC 2100 (x2) as set to mono (210 wpc) and by adding the new McIntosh C2300 tube preamp, it just woke up the vandees as in much better sounds stage, more transparent and much lively as if you are right in front of the stage watching it live. So I wouldn't rule out McIntosh just yet.