Suggest you try the Quicksilver 60W monos with the 'steens.
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Phasecorrect, I really like the tube sound. I already started a thread about finding a SS amp with a tube sound and the ending result seem to be that there is really no such thing; close, but no cigar. However, are you suggesting that it is possible to get a nice tube sound from a SS amp if I used a good tube pre-amp?
You might try the Vandersteen's with a Pass Aleph series amplifier. I use a 100 watt Pass Aleph 4 with my Vandersteen 3A Signatures. Maybe not exactly a tube sound, but you do get a very smooth, neutral sound with a clear, sweet, airy midrange, great soundstage and superb high frequency detail. The midrange is not fat and tubey, but it IS neutral and sweet. There is no harshness, hardness, solid state signature or grain to be heard. You also get an absolutely full-range frequency response which no tube amp and very few solid state amps can equal or surpass. Now the Alephs are not the last word in bass slam or dynamics as far as solid state amps go, but they will certainly go way beyond what a tube amp can do. With careful matching of cables and other components and with their great bass and treble extension, I don't see how you could ask for much more from an amp, tube or solid state. I use a CAT Ultimate preamp and Theta Gen Va DAC with the previously mentioned equipment and am very happy. I suggest you consider an Aleph 5 for your 2CE's. The Alephs all utilize a single-ended design and most only have two gain stages, thus somewhat emulating the minimalist design of the SET's without the hassle of tubes.
I use a CJ PV 10AL & DNA-1 with my 2ce's. I absloutely love the sound of the combo, the pre adds a nice "warm" sound & the DNA has plenty of "oomph". I really don't think this combo can be beat in the lower dollar ranges. I've tried a pair of Kestral HR's & while they are "similar" to the 2's they are not the same, close but definately no cigar. I'd stick with your current speakers & look into a tube pre with a nice ss amp, good luck.
Disclaimer- I am selling my Sonus Faber Grand Piano Homes....
With that stated, the benign load of 6 ohms and 90 db sensitivity
would work with your more powerful set and give you a very romantic sound... with a sense of dynamics that you are probably missing.... if I am not mistaken, the Vandys are biampable and are
recommended as such .... Meadowlark, Audio Physic, Horns of various types could be other speaker options, although sonus, meadowlark and audio physic will be more in tune with what you like about the Vandys.... I am currently using a 35 watt set (deHavilland) and have all the richness and dynamics I could ask for with single ended midrange magic...
I agree with the idea of a tube pre and solid state amp. I use an Audible Illusions with a Theta. Too much of the tube thing can be bad with the 2Ce. They will become a little over warm. If you like that sound---then so be it. Also, SS tightens up the bass.
I wouldn't drive the Vandersteens with anything less than 60+ watts depending on your room and levels.
The only speaker that sounds like a Vandersteen is a Vandersteen!
Also, if you go with Vandersteen's 2 series, I would go with the Signature. It IS a better sounding speaker. More detailed and open.
The Audible Illusions(or any good tubed pre) and the McCormack amps are good with Vandersteen's.
Bigtee, I have a pretty good tube pre-amp that I really like already, so what would you consider a good SS amp to go with the tube pre-amp?
For clarifications sake, the Vandersteen is not the end-all of choices for me, but it was my reference point. Some of the specs that I was looking for included: 90db or better, goes down at least to 35hz and can handle at least 10watts, with a MSRP of around 1500.
I would give a McCormack DNA 0.5 a try. Deluxe version should cost you around $6-700, Rev B upgrade about $200 more. Better sounding than the DNA-1. You can add another to bi-amp later if you want; OR try adding the 2WQ as an upgrade step. I used one with 2cis and a BAT VK3i very successfully before stepping up to bi-amped 3ASigs.
There are a lot of good solid state amps out there. You would really need to decide on your speakers because some amps do work better with certain speaker loads and form a kind of Synergy.
The McCormack DNA .5 is a good choice. The Belles 150A Hotrod is an excellent amp. These are my two top choices in something you can obtain reasonably.
I used a pair of DNA .5's in a biamp for a long time with the 2Ce Sigs. It was an excellent combo with the Audible Illusions.
I then sold the Ce's and bought the 3A Signatures. The McCormack's continued to work well. Then I went nuts and bought a pair of 2Wq's and the 4-ch Theta Dreadnaught. This was pretty much a case of overkill in my room. Once set up, it sounds as good as anything I've ever heard and i've heard a bunch. But the point is that the McCormack's more than held their own in most respects.
As for your speaker recommendations, well, that's going to be tuff. The Vandersteen's are not very efficient and will not play that loud in absolute terms. They do go down in the upper 30's however. I really am at a lost for a good speaker than meets all of your criteria. To go down in the thirties with a 90db rating, it will most certainly have to be a ported design. Sealed enclosures will require more input power but will go deeper. Most ported designs really don't do much below 40Hz. Some people think they do but what you hear is the bump up before the crossover which gives an illusion of better bass than it really is---especially in the $1500 range. There are good speakers out there but they don't sound a lot like a Vandersteen. Meadowlark is a first order crossover but the Kestrel is not the speaker that the 2Ce Sig. is. Might look at the Shearwater used. I personally don't like its midrange but a lot of people seem to.
If you need the efficiency of 90+db, it's going to be tuff in that price range to get TRUE 35hz performance.
Might need to back up and look at Paradigm 100 series or even the Triangle Celius. Excellent speakers that can be found used for this money. Entirely different sound than Vandersteen but accurate speakers non the less. The Triangle has a tendency to be a little bright with solid state. You could drive it with an SET amp. It is very efficient. With all tubes, it sounds nice with extension down to about 40hz.
Bigtee, I currently use B&W DM602 speakers which I think sound damn good, but they only go as low as 52hz. Because of this I use a subwoofer, but I have to set the subwoofer crossover to high to capture all of the range and there is my problem. If the DM602 would go down to the 40hz range, I would be a happy man, but it doesn't and I'm not. I have checked out other B&W speaker in my price range and they all sound good, but none of them go very low. However, I know such a beast has to exist. I recently saw an Infinity Alpha 50, full range, tower that went down to 35, 91db and could handle 10 watts and the towers were at 1000 MSRP. If Infinity could do it, so could other people.
Bigtee, one thing for sure, Audiogon has been schoolin' me pretty good.
I'm going to chime in with one last post. DON'T believe manufacturers specs. If it is a ported design, it will have trouble going below 40hz ( not to say it can't but usually they will be very expensive). Manufacturers spec speakers with all kinds of figures and most are baloney. Your room also has a lot to do with this. I guess what I'm trying to say here is I've never seen a speaker in that price range REALLY go down that low. For example, the B&W 805 Nautilus was spec'd to go fairly low (less than 50hz). In my room, the best it would do using a spectrum analyzer was about 56hz at -6db. It dropped off like a rock after that. Most speakers in your specified price range are going to be ported as I've said before. At that price range, they will have a bump in frequency at about 60-100hz to allow them to produce much at 40hz. Pull out some old Stereophile magazines and check it out.
I would go with an accurate speaker such as the Vandersteen with a genuine low end. Any ported speaker is a hard match with a sub because of the phase shifts around the crossover. A sealed design matches better with a sub.
By the way, B&W makes several lower cost subs that I would think would match up reasonably well with your 602's. Try before you buy is my best advise.
I'm of the accuracy school. It is the primary reason I use Vandersteen loudspeakers. They are accurate. I also believe in phase correct and time aligned designs. You get a lot for your money with Vandersteen because the box ain't much. He doesn't waste money on a lot of wood veneers.
I was in your position some years ago. It is a learning process. I used ported designs for a while and I will never go back. But, the biggest thing is to satisfy yourself. Listen with your own ears and make your own decision. Nobody can do it for you. Good luck with your hunt.
Dynaudio Audience 72 is around your budget. These medium sized floorstanders are giantkillers for your money, don't pass a chance to audition them. They are 4-ohm single wired.
I succeeded driving them to a very high level of musical realism with a pair of 28W 845 SE-Triode monoblocs (Cayin 9084D made by Spark Audio). These are quite affordable here for me. But I understand 845 Triode amps are very expensive in USA. Good luck and post back your findings.
Even with speakers that supposedly do 35hz...it is recommended to crossover the sub at an octave higher...in this case 75 hz...because BOTH would be -3db down at 35hz...
A note on Vandersteens:although I do like their sound, they are not designed to be played even remotely loud, and their bass...although musical...is not the fatest or tightest bass around....for this reason...SS bass power is a must...a tube pre helps "round" things out....
I will have to disagree with Phasecorrect just a little on the loudness thing. Since I don't know which Vandersteen speaker(s) you are refering to, I can say that the Model 5 will play as loud as anyone should be listening to and then some. The 3A Signatures will play plenty loud by themselves and with a pair of 2wq subs will go much louder than a sane person should listen to. These speakers are power hungry and do require it for volume.
The 2 series will not play that loud(especially in the bass) before they run out and begin to compress. However, they play loud enough I feel.
As for bass, they can be full in the wrong setup. I have definitely heard worse. I personally think they sound pretty right when set up properly. However, the subs do improve things quite a bit when set up correctly. Not more bass but tighter, more controlled bass. With the low bass filtered out of the speakers, imaging and transparency really go up. Speed in the bass with the Vandersteen's, I think, is masked by the level sometimes making them sound a little plodding. This level is related to setup. Wrong room or setup and, yes, the bass does need help. But that's really true of any speaker. There seem to be a lot of lean speakers out that with no real deep bass extension selling for some big bucks. The Vandersteen is a very reasonably priced speaker that does give true extension.
Bigtree...my experience with Vandies have been relegated to the series 1 and 2 loudspeakers...the 2 being their best seller...and supposedly the best-selling "hi-end" speaker of all time..with over 100,000 pairs sold...and I must stress...I do like Vandies...and for their price range any bass at all is a plus...but to be honest...I do feel bass performance is their weakest ability...odd since they are known for erring on the side of bass...but for bass dominant material or complex musical passages...especially at what i would consider modest volume...the bass quickly became ill-defined and somewhat slow...they are however outstanding on vocals,strings,acoustic material,etc...and work reasonably well with laid back jazz,hip-hop,trance,etc at low volumes...only when slightly pressed...the speaker "gives out" and appears to be working more hard than it should....