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don’t worry about the cables or their length
besides room tmts. (using REW software and a mic) or better Vandies you might see if the Schiit Eitr isolation box improves things
upgrading the source material is another biggie - SACDs are often better recorded than many CDs - and maybe the higher bit rate helps, but no one knows for sure
another biggie might be a Yggy
All good points. I have read that a perfectly square room is about the worst acoustic situation you could be in because of equidistant walls and standing waves. Acoustic treatment could improve things. I would consult some experts (maybe GIK), because I wouldn’t know how to treat this type of room.
In your equipment, I think the weak link are the cables, especially the speaker wire. I have used the Blue Jean Beldon speaker cables and they are pretty much low fidelity. Even the basic 12awg stranded oxygen free copper Monster Cable / Monoprice stuff is a lot better. You can improve upon that with some solid core Audioquest type or other similar cables.
The interconnects can be improved as well. Tons of opinions, but I would look first at some of the Audioquest interconnects due to their solid-core design.
I would say that the Blue Jean Cables Beldon 1695A coax (18awg solid-core) would make an excellent interconnect for the subwoofer.
Since streaming is 75% of your content, maybe look into a USB reclocker, such as Wyred 4 Sound Recovery. Or a USB-to-SPDIF convertor:
A Schiit Yggy could be an upgrade, but it’s expensive and will take up a lot of your budget. I think the cables would really be a first step and would return more benefit for the money you spend. Then, if you had enough left over, look at a used Yggy? or something similar like LKS MH-DA004 or an Audio-GD device?
Mike: I agree with auxinput that contacting GIK about room treatments, giving them a sketch of your room, could lead to cost effective improvements. I agree about upgrading the cabling too, except:
1) In our own personal conversations, you've told me that when you switched from monoprice copper cable to the Blue Jeans Belden speaker cable, you noticed a significant improvement in sound.
2) The vandersteen 2wq subwoofer uses speaker cable, not interconnect cable. I think BJC speaker cable should be fine for that, though I haven't experimented with better cables for subs.
A reclocker could help your USB feed from the iPad, but if you went to a Blue Sound Vault, I think you'd be feeding a DAC with optical, so you wouldn't need to worry about reclocking USB... I think. You could start with the Blue Sound and the Bifrost DAC, and then try another DAC to step up, choosing one that is easily resold if the difference isn't worthwhile. The Blue Sound could be a gateway to high Rez digital, which can be purchased online and stored on the devices hard drive.
The first thing I would do is to add a DSpeaker Antimode 8033 room equalization unit. I don't think any subwoofer should be used without it. Beyond that, I would say that I am not convinced by the virtues of fancy cables, or of tubes. You may want to have a look at the forthcoming DSpeaker X4 pre amplifier/DAC/crossover/room eq.
Personally, I’ve tried using the DSpeaker Antimode 803 with a system built around a pair of professionally rebuilt Quad57’s. The speakers were close to walls, and the room was small, and the system had plenty of base. The Antimode definitely cleaned up the bass, tightened it up, but it also reduced transparency to the main speakers That bothered me, and I did not keep it. For you, it will depend on the current quality of your bass, and the balance in value between tightening the bass and losing a tad bit of transparency. In a square room, it could do a better job then acoustic treatments.
You can try tidal for the first month for free. But you have to be on board with spending $20 a month for music if you like it.
As for electrical. That can be a cost-effective upgrade if there are clear and easy path from your circuit breakers to your room. If that’s the case, like if you have a basement and it’s easy to run new circuits, it can be pretty inexpensive to run a couple dedicated circuits for you audio system. Electricians are pretty good at fishing things through walls, but reasonably easy routes need to be there to make that work.
These days my Quads are the more modern 2805s. I bought a B&W PV1d sub to extend the bass, but did not like it very much. The bass was woolly/slow or whatever you want to call it. Then I decided I was probably suffering from room modes, and bought an Antimode 8033. This immediately cured the problem, and also improved the integration enormously. The Quads are dipoles and therefore do not suffer from room modes to the same extent as other speakers. Subwoofers do, and that is the problem with the integration of subs and Quad electrostats. The dipoles are so clean that the bad behaviour of the subs is accentuated. Add room eq (and preferably also a second sub) and you have cured the room modes, and also the lingering of the tones that give this impression of a ’slow’ speaker. It is not the speaker that is slow but the room.
@willemj - everything you say makes sense, and I believe that the Antimode is best used if inserted between the preamp and the subwoofer (keeping it out of the path to the mains). But the Vandersteen system requires a speaker level connection from the amp to the subwoofer, which means that the Antimode would need to be inserted upstream of both the mains and the sub. This was the situation with my Quad57's where a sub was not needed in my room.
For one you are losing tons of information with the entry level blue jeans snd beldon. I have them for a dvd setup,ok but not high end.for speaker,and interconnects. Music direct has very good Audioquest Colorado Interconnects
Discontinued for new series at 1/2 price $399 a pair ,with similar Loudspeaker cables ,are a Big step up in musicality. Cables in this situation would give the biggest improvement.
cool and interesting system....
first let me disclose my bias as I am a big fan of Vandersteen. I would keep those but religiously check the setup vs the excellent math based system in the manual. get a laser so you know where the tweeter is aimed. also download ( free ) Vandertones and buy a Radio Shack analog SPL meter run vandertones w spl microphone at your listening position....use the curves to tweak the subwoofer position. you might also consider trading the 2/ sub for used pair of Quattro. i owned 3asig for a decade, better but splitting hairs against a top flight 2 with 2 subs...
i would strongly encourage you to develop a relationship with your local Vandersteen dealer - if anything to see what 2’s are capable of and plot out some upgrade paths....i have solid relationships with 4 Vandersteen dealers - all of which display the model 7
agree you are shortchaning yourself on wire..i have a set of Bluejeans in a vintage system...they are just ok...
finally consider a couole of Jitterbugs
get all your digital stuff with wall warts, etc on a seperate circuit as the analog stuff
Other cable recommendations? I think for the Vandersteens with the McCormack DNA amplifier you will need a biwire with single spades on the amp side split into two runs with double spades on the speaker side. Unless you want to stuff two spades on the DNA binding posts, which can be quite cumbersome. I understand that you are using the bananas on the DNA binding posts for your subwoofer. So I think you will need custom cables (I believe Vandersteen doesn't favor using jumpers at the speaker side). So how about some ideas for cables that can be made biwire in the "Y" configuration and with the smaller spades that fit Vandersteen binding terminals? And how much to spend on speaker cables? I have liked clearday cables as good bang for the buck. Other suggestions?
a shotgun biwire and the external config sounds better also!
cables i have heard w 2’s include Nordost, Audioquest ( Vandersteen shares the DBS patent w Low so that might give you a hint), Acoustic zen, and Cardas
AQ make a nice range of spades that fit Vandersteen barrier strips
imo biwire essential