Need Advice on Amp Setup w Vandies--Arcam/Bryston


Here's the scenario. I have been using my pair of Vandersteen 2 Sigs with a 2W for stereo listening for some time in my "nicer" system, with a more modest 5.1 setup running in a different room off of a receiver. I am moving soon and will be combining my 2-channel and 5-channel systems into the latter for the time being. I have a VCC Sig for the center and will pick up some VSMs for the rears. Right now, I am using a Bryston 2B-LP for my 2-channel amp. While it is very good, I have been wanting to upgrade it anyways. Long story short is that I am in the market for a multi-channel amp.

I have yet to run my 2 Sigs bi-wired, as they are truly meant to be (or so says Richard), instead having single runs of Transparent Ultra with jumpers. I am looking at either a Bryston 9B SST/SST2 (as money and availability on here will dictate), which would put me back into the same realm of using single-run cable unless I switch. Alternatively, I was considering a 7-channel amp (Lexicon GX-7, Cary Audio, or the like) and bridging or bi-amping the L/Rs (but neither lets me do this unless the answer to the following question is yes). Question--do 7.1 processors allow one to do a 5.1 setup and send the same signal as L/R to the extra set of outputs (to have bi-amp channels)? Looking at an Arcam P7 or P777, however, with their loop-throughs, I could feed it from a 5.1 processor (the outs of my receiver) and move to a true bi-amp and bi-wire setup for the Vandersteens (I will get new cables but not on the level of the Ultra, probably just good wire). I am looking for input as to which setup, the 9B or alternatively good 5-channel amp with single run Transparent cabling) would compare to a perhaps not quite as good but still very decent amp with a bi-amp and bi-wire setup with lesser wire.

I know that listening is everything, but my local dealer probably will just have an A38 available that I could then feed out to a 3B for comparison. I know the A38 won't be as good as a P777 would be. I actually did the same many years ago, and that is how I decided on the 2B, as opposed to using Arcam amplification (used their CD and preamp instead). Kind of long-winded, but I appreciate the advice more on how the Vandersteen will perform in the bi-amp and bi-wire scenario. 9B=150W jumpered to highs and lows; P777=150W to each high and low driver via separate cable. Thanks.
I don't have time for a long post now but I can tell you for certain that using 2 sets of speaker cables, even if they are less expensive, is a big upgrade. It usually doesn't work out that way. Most of the time, a single run of a better cable will sound better. I didn't believe how much of a difference 2 runs made until I tried it for myself. Biamping is another matter. I biamp my Vandersteens but I do it vertically, using 2 stereo amps. Now everyone agrees that vertical biamps are the best way to go. I like it better, but thats just my opinion.
If you read all the information on the Vandersteen website, you will see that Richard Vandersteen strongly recommends that his speakers be biwired. He also recommends against biamping. He grudgingly approves of bi-amping only if all other steps have been taken to maximize the system quality ( i.e. the best level of speakers, subs, source, quality amp, etc ) and only if 4 identical amp channels are used, and if the amps are vertically bi-amped. I suggest that you follow the manufacturer's advice. There are a lot of better things you could do with your money rather than biamping against the manufacturer's recommendation.

Personally, I would not build my system around cables, but that's just me.

As for amp choices, you might look into a used Theta Dreadnaught (I ) . They are usually available in 5 x 200 w configuration for about $3,000. Look for reviews by Richard Hardesty (aka The Audio Perfectionist ). He and Shane Buettner, formerly at TAS, used it as a reference with Vandy 5 speakers for many years. ( the Dreadnaught I supposedly sounds a bit softer and warmer that the II. ) If 100 watts/ch is enough, you could also get a Theta Intrepid, available as new old stock now on audiogon for $1495. You should probably go for the higher power, though.

Some unsolicited advice:

If you don't yet have a processor, and you don't have analog sources, you could use an Oppo 103 or 105 as your processor, and run it directly into your amp. I do that with the Theta and it works great, and eliminates a lot of extra processing; it sounds much more transparent, as well.

Once your system is up and running, your next upgrade should be to get a VCC-5 for your center channel, and then perhaps start adding subs. Find a V2W to use as your LFE sub, and then add another 2W to your front channels. ( you shouldn't mix a 2W with a 2Wq , by the way.)

Good luck!
Thanks for the input.

Abind, I would use identical channels of amplification if I go with a P7 or P777, so I believe that qualifies as within the realms of what Richard approves via the manual for the 2s, although I understand the cost/benefit thing. I think that scenario would be closer to vertical bi-amping than horizontal since the amp channels are the same and the multi-channel amp would have been powering the low frequencies anyways. I have certainly heard of the Dreadnaught but don't think I have a dealer around here. I will try to check it out.

Do the Oppos have inputs to them, as well, to allow a DirecTV digital input? The multiple inputs thing would be the only potential hangup, as I could play CDs on the DVD player. Well, I do have a tuner, as well...

I will try to borrow some bi-wire cables and test the sound. It's hard to know what to believe because I have asked the Audioquest rep, and they stand behind bi-wiring. Transparent's official stance, however, is that simply moving to a higher cable with jumpers negates what one would hear beneficial in bi-wiring. It's a shame they no longer make their true bi-cable, but that is what they say for why--the extra cost spent on a bi-cable was better or equivalently spent on a higher level of cable. I didn't know if the complete cable isolation of bi-amping would enhance the benefits of bi-wiring.
Using 4 channels of your multichannel amp is a vertical biamp. The idea is to work the amps the same amount. With a horizontal setup the amps are under a different load because they are powering different parts of the speaker. Under those conditions, the amps sound different from each other.

As far as double biwiring goes, I'll tell you about the results I got in my system. I use The Cable Co. for all of my cables and accessories. They sent me a pair of internal biwire of Audioquest Mont Blanc and some cables other than AQ. After listening to them all, I chose the Mont Blank. I think they went for about $1600-1800. I had a question about the type of spades they used so I called AQ and told them what I was going to do. Audioquest recommended I use 2 separate runs even if I went with a less expensive cable. I ordered 2 pairs of CV-8. (About $1200 for both sets). AQ messed up my order and sent me 2 runs of type 6 instead. (about $400 for both runs and only because they were factory terminated. Type 6 is a bulk cable). They let me keep them until I got my CV-8's. The 6's were much better than any of the other cables, including the Mont Blanc. It wasn't even close. The CV-8's were a little better, but had I heard the 6 before I committed to the CV-8's, I would have kept them.

Albind recommends the Audio Perfectionist journal. I agree 100%. Its a must have.
I agree with ZD.... I found that separate cables for Bi-Wire work best with my Vandersteen 5A's
Yep, just got a pair of 2ci's last week (sellin them this week, that's just they way I am) and experienced first hand that bi-wire is the way to go. Big big difference.