I know that Richard Hardesty (Audio Perfectionist Journal) used Theta Dreadnaught (multichannel amp) to biamp his 3As.
In that same vein, you might consider the ATI AT2002 or the ATI AT3002. They are multichannel amps. Start with 2-channels and add 2 more later when funds allow.http://www.ati-amp.com/at2000.html
At your budget point, I would suggest a McCormack amp. You could certainly squeeze a DNA 125 in there. They really do well with Vandersteen's. Vandersteen's are not as easy a drive as some suggest. The DNA series have the grunt.
One of the better amps and the one I used with the 3a Sigs is the Theta Dreadnaught I. Unfortunately, they only show up every blue moon.
Richard V. has backed off biamping the speaker but a biwire is a must. I used a 4 channel Dread and didn't think it sounded as good as just biwiring 2 channels of the amp.
Thanks for the imput. I have really put your suggestions to the top of my list. Do you think that any of these amps, (Theta Dreadnaught, McCormack or ATI) specifically pair better with the Anthem pre 2L that I own. I have read other posts where people confirmed the compatiblity of these recommended amps with Vandersteen, but I am wondering if I am sacrificing anything by tring to force the Anthem into the equation...
Dylano, Richard Vandersteen will guide you on bi-amping his speakers. His crossover requires a seperate ground path for BOTH sets of terminals. DO NOT use multi-channel amps with Vandys. Both Mr. Hardesty and I found out the hard way this does not work! An Aragon 8008bb would work! Sorry, just kidding! The McCormack is a good suggestion, I assume 2Wqs are in your future? The sub crossover makes life much easier on any amp you do choose. My 3A Sigs and 2Wqs are sounding very close to as good as anything I have heard after MUCH hard work. Happy Listening, Z.
I personally have had no experience with the Anthem pre so I'll reserve comment to someone else.
I can say that a tube preamp seems to balance out well with a SS amp with the Vandersteen's. I used an Audible Illusions pre for years with good success.
Zieman thanks. I was favoring the McCormack from the posts I have read, and this really drives home the argument. Congrats on the Aragon, I hope I never meet you on auction again. You are one tough SOB! But honestly, would the Aragon not be as good with the Vandersteens as the McCormack? Any thoughts about compatablity with the Anthem Pre 2L for either of these choices. Thanks.
Can you explain "His crossover requires a seperate ground path for BOTH sets of terminals." in a little detail and as it impacts multichannel amps?
I didn't quite catch the ground thing either. Since I use the Dreadnaught, being balanced, I don't know how you would do this.
I know Vandersteen has more recently backed off biamping. This was in response to a few questions on his website blog.
Since neither wire (+ or -) is grounded in the Theta, I don't know anything that could be done.
While we're on the subject, how is it possible that biwiring is recommended, but biamping is not? I thought biwiring had not basis in science, but biamping does. What gives?
OK, Dylano first. I would not use the Aragon with the Vandys, unless you are willing to de-tune it with warmish, TARA sounding copper cables. These amps are a bit grainy up top. The Vandys will reveal this. I am using yours (!) and the one I already have in a bi-amp system for my shop. The 15 year newer design McCormack does not have this "problem". Again, I assume 2wqs which make life MUCH easier for a smaller amp. I say go with the Anthem, I admit my experience is they do digital well. Now, Bob and Phil, before I got my Krell FPB-400cx, I used my TAS, and the MAT feature to bi-amp the 3As. I called Richard to ask... something... and he said that with this setup I would fry his midrange, if I remember correctly. I did not believe him. SILLY ME. Shortly after this the amp failed. I was never happier I paid retail in my life after this was repaired under warranty. The Vandy haters out there say his crossovers resemble a dead short. My advice is call Richard and he will explain this to you in words only another rocket scientist would understand. If ones preamp has two sets of outputs, by all means use two stereo or four monoblocks on Vandersteens, I do. I hope this answers everybody. Dylano, I will think fondly of you as the lights dim when I fire both bbs up this weekend! Z.
Bob R, Go to the Vandersteen sight and read his question forum. What gives? Got me!
Zieman. Thanks for the advice. We are lucky to have such knowledgeable people here on Audiogon. Even though you took my amp (!) I think your advice will save me enough in the long run that I can forgive you. I am going ahead with the McCormack. Enjoy your set up!
You can't go wrong with Parasound's high current amps. They're an excellent value. Just my two cents. -Mark
I'm still confused about the "DO NOT USE multichannel" amps, when now you say two stereo or 4 monoblocks. How many speakers are you driving in this scenario?
I read the questions/answers pertaining to bi-amping on the Vandersteen site. From what I gather the high-pass filter for the mid/tweet is highly capacitive and I guess the impedance continues to decrease as the frequency increases.
Many solid state amps place an inductor in series with their output to maintain stability into highly capacitive loads. This causes the output impedance to increase (and damping factor to decrease) with frequency.
Whether single-wired or bi-wired, the amp is seeing a parallel load -- the impedance of the high-pass filter and the impedance of the low-pass filter. I assume that the combined impedance is resistive enough to not cause amplifiers any problems and that is why Richard V. is not recommending bi-amping.
Now, all of this brings up a point that I've recently become aware -- building a stable amp is very difficult, because the load is unknown. Because of speakers like the Vandy's the amp designer has to make decisions based on worst-case scenarios.
My point is that it makes sense to me that we should be buying active speakers. Let the designer have control of both the amp and the speaker so that an optimal solution can be obtained. Anything else is a compromise.
go with the McCormack amp. Best fit for your budget would be DNA-225. These amps will work really good with Vandersteen speakers.
Bob, Don't be confused. If anyone has the electronics knowledge to be able to understand Richard, you do. Please call him and then translate the major points in English for the rest of us! All I need to know is that what he says is fact. I will not disobey, ever again! BTW, Krell amps, and many others are stable to 1 ohm or less. I don't think it is as difficult as it is expensive! Vandersteen impedance values do not swing wildly at different frequencies. This is what causes speakers to be typed "difficult to drive". Vandersteens do not fall into this category. Please call Richard, you will learn more in 15 minutes with this man than...but I bet he spends an hour with you!!!Z.
While I appreciate your faith in my knowledge of electronics, it's very much underserved. Maybe you're just poking fun at me? No problem, if so. I'm a lowly code monkey -- software developer. My degrees are in computer science. I did minor in math and physics as an undergrad, but that was almost 30 years ago!
As an example, besides the impedance of a loudspeaker there is something related called "phase angle". What is it? From reading JA's measurements I think it is a big contributor to how hard the speaker is to drive. I think it's the phase angle that causes amplifiers to oscillate and become unstable not necessarily the resistive component. But, I'm just guessing.
From what I've read there's nothing inherently expensive (in the Krell sense) about building a stable amp. It just needs to be a design goal.
I've spoken with Richard V. on the phone twice. First time he was very polite and helpful. I think he was sincere and honest. I was using Meadowlark Kestrels at the time and he thought unless I went to the 3A I wouldn't see any improvement. The second time was about his subwoofers, the high-pass filter (balanced version) and equalizers. This time I found him to be very opinionated with no basis. He was preaching. It left me with a negative feeling. He could have been having a bad day. From that last phone call and reading some of his answers on his web site, I think he's too much of an audiophile for me. Nothing wrong with that; just doesn't work for me.
Bob, I would never poke fun at you. I feel I am the big winner so far in our short history. My shop sounds better than most folks' living rooms! I don't think an amp cares about phase angle, but I do. That is why I have Vandersteen speakers, they are BOTH time and phase correct. Richard has yelled at me too, but I'm still hoping you will give us a translation after talking to him about bi-amping his speakers with multi-channel amps. He told me NOT to do it, then explained why, and it was way over my head, electronicly speaking. Curious minds want to know!
I have been told by dealers that an Aragon 8008BB will work very well on the 3As'. This is the amp I currently have, though it is driving a pair of Mirage M3si speakers. I am not wealthy and at the time, the Aragon was the only amp I could audition that was good enough to live with. Not at the top of my list, but I could afford it. Later, Krell came out with the KAV 250A, but it was discontinued before I was in a position to take a serious look at it (I have a Krell KRC-3 preamp).
More recently, I was auditioning a pair of Vandersteen 3A Signatures. I really liked them, but in the shop they were just lacking some punch. At firt, they were using a Krell Showcase processor and amp (multi-channel). They swapped out the pre to a Conrad Johnson Premier 18LS, and the amp to a McCormack DNA-225. The front end was an Ayre CX-7 (what I use at home). Cabling was MIT PCs and Straight Wire ICs and SCs. The sound improved I thought, but still lacking in punch and dynamics. The midbass and bass were also less prominent than what I am used to at home or what other systems at that shop do (same music).
For comparison, they hooked up a pair of Aerial Acoutics (Model 7?) to the same system, but the midbass was quite unacceptable. At the time, I decided that the overall frequency balance of the Vandies was probably more correct than many speakers, but the lack of punch and dynamics in the shop was too large a negative. The dealer said that the McCormacks tend to have a lighter sound and that my Aragon would probably be a better match. However, they did not offer to let me try the demo pair at home (to see if the dynamics were better on my system and room), so I did not purchase them.
I'm using the Channel Islands D200's on my 3A Sigs and prefer it to the McCormacks I had for years. While the D200's are a bit above your budget, the D100's are within it. Less power but comparable sound. IMHO, it's a great match.
I am using tube preamp ARC LS 16 mkll and AMP-Bel Canto EVO2 gen2 with MIT BIWIRE (shotgun series) and your speakers for really fantastic sound.CD is ARC CD3.