Help, My Vandies Sizzle

Hello All, first time posting here, but have enjoyed reading all the posts for several years.
Recently purchased a pair of used Vandersteen 2Cs listed here on A-gon from a great dealer in Hollywood, Florida.
They replaced a pair of Monitor Audio Silver RX8s a few months ago.
 Dedicated listening room with a dedicated 20A circuit, 14x14x8, wood floors over concrete slab, alcoves and bi-fold closet doors allow for some respite from the dreaded "square-room bass boom", heavy area rug covers most of the wood floor, a couple of upholstered cloth recliners, and artificial trees on sidewalls at first reflection points and at front wall between speakers.
Speakers are positioned 7 feet apart, no toe-in, 2 feet from front wall, 3.5 feet from sidewalls, listening chair is 10 feet from speakers. (All measurements measured from tweeters).
Gear is Oppo 103, Krell s300i (integrated). Cables are Anticables.                                                                                   
The problem is a slightly bright sound on most discs, with a definitely hot treble on some, bordering on un-listenable.
Using the mid and treble controls, have tried reducing them by 3 dB. That helped some.
Otherwise, love, love, love these 2Cs.
Not interested in getting back into vinyl.
Will consider any and all suggestions and thank you all in advance for so much good information.

Have you tried playing with the lean back angle of the speakers?  I have 3A Sigs and the stand they come with allows you to adjust the angle, and the manual includes recommendations based on listening distance and listening height.

And, um, Krell stuff can sound kinda bright.....
Something needs to change . Seems simple . Keep the vandys and get a different integrated . Keep the Krell and try different speakers . Oppo 105 i have found has more output than other digital sources . Could be that into the krell into the vandys accentuates the highs greater than the monitor audio combo did . 
Vandy 2's ( the originals) were my grail speaker from the '80's. In no way would I describe them as 'bright' or 'hot'. As Maplegrove suggested, I would change your amp. Many of the later Krell's tended to be a bit harsh.
If you are so inclined, get a McCormack amp (they use Vandy's to test their amps). Even my old Adcom 555 performed well with the Vandy 3a sigs. while waiting for McCormack to upgrade my amp.

I had a pair of 2ce speakers about 8 years ago and  for whatever reason, those metal dome tweeters pierced my ears in my living room, especially on rock.  I was using an all tube preamp and an older Classe' amp (Fifteen) which is definitely not bright.  I replaced all my source components, cables and power conditioner and in the end, the speakers still ripped my ears off.  The kicker in all this is the 2ce speakers replaced a pair of 2ci speakers which were in exactly the same spot and never sounded bright.  The dealer even came to my house to make sure they were set up properly.

So, I sold them.  Lesson learned.

I should also add Audioquest Rocket 88's are recommended by Johnny R. of Audioconnection for use on Vandersteen speakers.
thinking again on this....
Maybe a set of Transparent speaker cables would soothe your treble woes? I could loan you a pair, if you want.

What are the chances you have mids or woofers that aren't working??


The first thing you need to do is get your owners manual. If you don't have one, download one from Vandersteen's web site. Use the formula they give you and do it exactly like they tell you. That needs to be done regardless of whatever issue you're having. If the problem persists, go to the contour adjustments on the back of the speaker and set the mids to 0 and back off the highs .5 ato 1db. That should make the speakers listenable until you figure out what's going on.

I would highly recommend that you go to Audio Connections web site. He just got permission to make all issues of The Audio Perfectionist Journal available to anyone who wants them, for free. Its a small publication that most people probably never heard of. Not to long ago, the person who founded the APJ passed away, and this is like a tribute to his work. In the Journal, you will find the most detailed setup and equipment matching info for Vandersteen speakers in existence. It covers everything you need to know. Start issue 1.
Some great advice here.  Just like to add my that a new/used integrated with AQ cables is my recommendation.  The Belles Aria is a great integrated for less than 2k.  Best of luck to you.  Oh, and the advice given about John R @ Audio Connection is some of the best you'll get.  He will help you get your Vandys singing.  Regards......

So Tom if you didn't think they were thin and forward and hurt your ears you would love them. If my ex wife had a heart and wasn't such a ^$$%^(^  I would love her. 
Thanks so much for all the input. These 2s were built in 1979-80, according to Richard Vandersteen. They have the 6-inch stands which are not adjustable.
All drivers are working correctly. For 99% of my albums, I love the sound though it is slightly tipped-up. One percent are unlistenable because of how recorded.
I have followed all recommendations for setup as per the owners manual, and also what Jim Smith recommends in his book Get Better Sound.
Bob, thank you for your kind offer of loaner cables. I might take you up on that.
I have been suspecting the Krell might be the culprit. I also have an NAD and a Denon I could switch out and listen...
I will check out TAPJ, and also contact Johnny R.
Funny, of all the systems I've owned since the 70s, probably the most musical was a PS Audio Elite integrated with Vandersteen 1Bs... 
Thank each of you for taking the time to respond.
Will post more as things progress...

How set are you on keeping the Krell integrated?  Try a McIntosh, Pass, or Luxman integrated and I bet you end up lovin the Vandys

If your finding only 1% unlistenable you are golden . You can muck about for a long time and try a great deal of equipment to get that last 1 % . Such a small percent maybe some new wires ? 
I think it's that Krell integreated. I borrowed one years ago and it was bright to say the least. There was nothing organic about that amp.

Older Vandys like those sounded absolutely beautiful with Quicksilver amps (I listened to that combination often at Audio Connection back even before Johnny R owned the place).  They also sounded good with Rotel amps of the time, so I'd be curious how they sound with your NAD, that might actually work fine with them.

Hopefully John comes on and gives you some advice, he knows Vandersteens as well as anyone.

You could try moving them a bit closer together. Sometimes this makes them sound warmer. Too much and they will get brighter kinda like a third tweeter. Conversely, try a bit further apart. A bit of toe in has always helped in my room as well. Vandersteen themselves are never bright.

When I had my 2Cs they were attached to "Supervanderstands" which were spiked to the floor.  If your stands have screwed in spikes, try turning in the rear spike completely and turning out the front spikes a bit to tilt the speakers back.

I agree with many others here who assert that 2Cs should not ever sound bright if set up properly.  After graduating to model 3s, I pined for the smoothness of the model 2 silk dome tweeter over the 3s metal domes.

I hope we can collectively figure this out.  

Just to add something not previously mentioned, perhaps swapping the artificial trees at the reflection points with some kind of sound absorption might also help. 
If only 1% of the music sounds harsh, the issue is not your system, its the source music and how it was recorded/mastered. You  probably don't listen to pop or R&B. If you did, that would be more like 25% unlistenable since they seem to be mastered for listening through earbuds and sound awful in good hifi.
Lots of good equipment suggestions, so I won't add to the list.   To make a bit of a leap (since you make no mention of bass issues) is given these speakers are about 35 years old it would be a good idea to check the foam surrounds to see if there is any deterioration.  The problem with Vandersteens is this is not an easy task given how the socks are installed.  You can try to look through the sock material with a bright (but not hot, don't want to damage the fabric) light to see if you can see the foam surrounds of the woofer and midrange in the front and the acoustic coupler in the rear.  Any deterioration will result in reduced output and you may be overcompensating with the volume.

So many excellent suggestions, thank you one and all for sharing your experience and knowledge. 
I will post further with results as time and money permit.

Vandersteen speakers are not bright....many have described them as rolled off in the high (what they hear are the time aligned aspect of them).   You say they have a sizzle to them..... it may be a distortion you get from your tv,  refrig...or some other noise producing gizmo.  If that's the case, unplug everything but the stereo and see if you can locate the culprit by plugging things in one at a time.
Are supplying clean power - especially, to the digital source - the Oppo 103?   Dirty power magnifies digititus. Plenty of info in the Audiogon discussion archives.
Those speakers are definitely 'long in the tooth' if they were built in 1980.
So, it wouldn't be a bad idea to check the drivers. Vandy has some videos on how to remove the top plate and sock on their website. It only takes a delicate pry bar and some patience, but is definitely do-able.
I would contact Johnny Rutan (Audioconnection), he knows just about everything Vandersteen.
Welcome! Tom,

keep us posted as you trouble shoot your system.
sounds like the amp or the source  the Krell is probably open, fast, dynamic and slightly cool sounding but it also maybe passing what is being feed form the CDP.  Try a friends CDP or if you have a DVD player laying around to see what happens before going through all the other trails.  Happy Listening.
I owned a pair of Vandersteen 4's in the mid-80's (bought them used, 3 yrs old). These very large design w/integrated subwoofers (2 X 12" drivers, mounted opposed, linked by steel rod, and operating in sync, 1 w/opposite polarity) still are the best sounding speakers I've ever heard. I also listened to 2Cs often in those years.

None of the Vandy's from that era were in the least bit bright. Not only were they "voiced" with a natural, blooming treble--but their 6 dB/octave 1st order crossovers made it less likely that the drivers would sound hard or bright.

I still have my Vandy 4's in storage, but it's a virtual certainty that the surrounds have degraded. That's less likely w/a tweeter than the larger drivers, but any driver that uses a compliant surround will eventually need to have that surround replaced. It's a fact of life.

If you can get the surrounds replaced, I think you'll love these speakers.
Thank you, jafant, for the welcome!
Several have mentioned clean power. I optimistically listed a dedicated 20A line in my first post. Actually, that is supposed to happen tomorrow when a friend, who is a licensed electrician, makes the final connection of 12/2 Romex to the new breaker. (I have already installed a 4-gang outlet box and run the line from the listening room to the breaker box).
So, my next post should be the results of the dedicated line.
I have looked at the surrounds and they look good.
I will contact the dealer I purchased these from and see if he has any knowledge regarding repairs/updates...
So very grateful for the outpouring of ideas and advice.


I'll second how good the Vandie 4As are.  Makes for a busy system, biamped and triwired, but they sound great.  I had to have my woofer surrounds replaced last year - no big deal.
+1 on the Quicksilver combo. They are superb together.  I've never heard vandies sound painfully bright. Admittedly, I always ran mine with tubes.   If funds and space permit, I can't recommend adding a pair of 2w subs enough. It took my rig to the next level.  Also, integrating the subs really smoothed out the high end.  I moved from the 2s to the 3asigs and now have the Quatros. So obviously I'm throwing a vandy biased opinion your way. 

@tomcarr.  Super interested in what your dedicated AC circuit brings to your system.  I'm just about to do that myself....
" I would highly recommend that you go to Audio Connections web site. He just got permission to make all issues of The Audio Perfectionist Journal available to anyone who wants them, for free."

Typing error. It should be Vandersteen's website, not AC.
Post removed 
Welcome tomcarr!

Try a aftermarket power cord on the Oppo. It was a inexpensive fix for my Oppo BDP105D. Splashy highs, bloated lows.  Good luck!


I have not seen anyone ask what kind of music you listen to.  Also you say you are not going back to vinyl.  Seems to point to poorly produced digital music.  There is so much poorly recorded digital music.  That you only have 1% you find objectionable is amazing.  

From what I have owned and auditioned a speaker cannot be everything to every type of music.  I have heard speakers that just make the highs sparkle and people initially marvel when they hear them.  I now have speakers that sound closer to live music, but they do not zero in on the sound of the high hat. So those bright speakers sounded good on 90% of music but were painful on the other 10%. 

Avoid the poorly mastered recordings.

You can easily spend more trying to solve the Vandi problem then you would just getting some newer speakers, say only 10 years old. 

Hello all, got the dedicated circuit done this morning, connected up, plugged in, turned on drama, no surprises, except within seconds, from being unplugged since yesterday, everything stone cold, the first sounds were...absolutely wonderful, amazing even.
Left it on auto repeat the rest of the day.
Just listened a few minutes ago. It's not bright, everything we talk about (tone, timbre, timing, bass, midrange, treble, imaging, dynamics, soundstaging, etc) is all better, and not by a small margin.
Even my WIFE noticed and says she loves how it sounds now!
Best and biggest bang for the buck I have ever experienced.
I did all the labor except for attaching the line to the breaker.
My total cost, including paying the electrician, was about $200.
I can't recommend this enough, but feel compelled to add the almost-obligatory YMMV.
Thanks so very much for all the input, great points posted by everyone.
To be more specific regarding my music choices, I listen to Rock, Old Country, Pop, Bluegrass, Blues, Jazz, Classical.
I rank according to sound quality (recording quality, not music quality).
I possess roughly 10% class A SQ, 30% class B SQ, 50% class C SQ, 10% class D SQ.
Please note, these are my opinions of recording quality on my system, in no way at all do I consider my system good enough to be class A or B sounding based on Stereophile's rankings of SQ of individual components...
Oops, guess I should have said 9% class D, 1% unlistenable

Wow, great!
I am surprised (and, happy) you are getting such a defined change.
soundsrealaudio128 posts12-17-2016 9:24pmTom

You can easily spend more trying to solve the Vandi problem then you would just getting some newer speakers, say only 10 years old.

I know you just got things working, but maybe sometime in the future, doing something with the speakers would probably be a good idea. I'm pretty sure you can send the speakers to Vandersteen and have them brought up to Signature 1 status. I know that's not completely current, but its a huge upgrade from what you now have. I put my Sig 1's next to my 1.7's, 802D's and Wilson Cubs and they beat all 3 speakers in almost all areas. 
@gdnrbob, Thank you very much!
@mb1audio02, Wow! Thank you very much!
which NAD do you have ?
a thought...
sell the Krell and trade the old Vandys in on the best new pair of 2 's
Richard is a tireless continuous improvement freak ! I heard a pair of his latest 2 signature at Stereo Unlimited in San Diego and was shocked at how fantastic they are...on a small Rouge integrated..
You get real trickle down engineering and a consistant design philosophy across the line.
I will admit my bias...listening to my 3 rd pair of Vandersteens as I write this...
the dedicated line is cool ! thanks for sharing your outcome.
Try to get all your wallwart switcher supply stuff on another dedicated line...that will also shock you....

Hello Tomic601,
Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions.
I am delighted how much better things sound, even more so since tweaking tilt-back, and postions of speakers and listening seat.
I am keeping an open mind concerning new 2s and swapping the Krell.
Unfortunately at this time, my wallet doesn't open as wide as my mind...

Hello all,

Spoke with John Rutan (Audio Connections) who offered excellent set-up advice, (I'm almost there, but as we know, every inch counts), plus some pearls based on his obviously extensive knowledge of Vandersteens and audio in general.
Wow, true professional.
Suggested I don't even consider changing any gear until after the setup is dialed in perfectly, then graciously gave me half an hour of solid information about recording techniques, variables beyond our control and the fact that a lot of recordings simply don't sound very good.
Like others have already said, I can't recommend him highly enough...

Peaceful listening,