The Vandersteen 2C speakers are one of the great values in home audio, imo. If you like the sound of the speakers, investing in the electronics driving them will reward you with better and better sound from the speakers (within reason). A plus is that the Vandersteens are an easy load for most ampifliers to drive and they are very compatible with tube amps should you decide to look in that direction. I lived very happily with Vandersteen 2C speakers for many years run by a classic Marantz 9 tube amplifier. The sound with 35w of triode tube power was delicious on most of the acoustic music to which I listen.
As to whether you can improve on your current electronics within the price range you suggest, I will defer to others more knowledgeable of the relevant alternatives.
At that price point the McCormack DNA 125 is a natural.
Thanks you for all the input. I had the vandersteens driven by a Denon AVR 3805 (7.1 Receiver 7 x 125 watts) but did not like the sound, it was very muddy. So I bought the Denon POA 2400 and fed it from the pre-amp section of the 3805, the sound improved a bit but still the soundstage was cluttered, then I bought the B&K MC101 pre-map and the speakers started to sing.
Now, I know that the 2400's 200 watts/channel power and the B&K's superb phono stage made the difference. So, I'm not sure if a lower powered (tube amp or a 50 watt/channel Class A amp) will be able to drive the 2Cs.
I almost pulled the trigger on the DK/LSA VS.1 MKII, but because of the company's lack of long track record and the stuff being manufactured in China I stepped back.
I mostly listen to jazz and female vocalists and at times light rock. I know the Vandersteens are not rock speakers.
What are your opinions on the B&K MC 101? Since my Rega P2 has a MM cartridge, I'm using the MM phono stage on the pre-amp. Pretty satisfied, but the soundstage is still not up to the mark.
The McCormack is compatible with most single ended passive, ss and tube pre's. I'm sure you can find one that floats your boat.
I like the Classe CAP 151 feeding my Vandersteen 2ce signatures. I llsten to the kind of music you reference in your post.
I've had Vandersteen 2C's at two times in my life and the best amp/speaker combination I ever had set up was driving them with a McCormack DNA-1. I have no idea whether it's true or not, but I've heard in the past that Richard Vandersteen has used McCormack amps in voicing his designs. May be strictly hearsay. I can say from personal experience that the Vandersteen's and McCormack are an excellent match!
I've heard in the past that Richard Vandersteen has used
McCormack amps in voicing his designs. May be strictly hearsay.
Dogmcd (System | Threads | Answers)
I can say from personal experience that Steve McCormack voices his amplifiers,
preamps, and electronics on Vandersteen 3A Signature speakers.
I would consider the Odyssey Audio Stratos power amp or the McCormac .5 or any of them because of their lack of grain. Plus they both will control the bass and deliver very good soundstaging. I think your weak link is the
preamp. I would go with a VanAlstine tube preamp with phono stage. They can get pricey but there are bargins around. The Audible Illusions 3 preamp is a very good choice too. Don't forget the Conrad Johnson preamps with phono are a very good choice. I think by going with a quality tube unit it will open that soundstage and make things more listenable. The Denon amp is not a bad unit but from what I remember it was strictly mid fi. But a good preamp with phono could improve on it. Find a friend that has a tube preamp with phono and listen to it with your Denon amp. Or try a tube linestage with the Denon and see if you get any improvement. Don't hotrod any gear. Have the preamp plug directly into the power amp and use very good quality wire and interconnects. You may be surprised what you hear.
I had the 2C for 6 years and the Quicksilver silver monos, M80 or M60 were all magic on them. For SS, the B&K, Muse 100 were also good, but the tubes were magic....I even liked the ARC D300 or D240. Jallen
I owned the 2C and drove them with a upgraded stereo 70 with an ARC-6B preamp. Great combo in the right room. I'll never forget listening to the 2C at Music by Design, (now gone)in northern California with an ARC SP-10 preamp and ARC D-115 amp. Wonderful combo. Lot's of choices.
Audible Illusions 3 A,B preamps with Quicksilver amps mid mono's and Silver 60's sound great!! Belles and McCormack solid state amps are really good as well. But, to my ears the 2C sounds best with tubes.
I had the 2CE sigs and since upgraded to the 3aSigs. I had a McCormack DNA1 but, it was bested by a TAD60 and now a couple of TAD 125s. Not true that the vandys are not a good rock speaker. That's about all I listen to. They are very non fatiuging and can pack a nice punch with the right electronics.
My 2 Ce Sig II were originally mated with a Rogue Cronus
and upgraded RCA Clear Tops with outstanding result if
you have a medium sized room but I upgraded to the Belles
150A Ref and it's stunning!
The truly amazing thing about 2Cs of any vintage is that they can perform completely satisfactorily with budget electronics but can take full advantage of any improvement you make upstream. I have had Vandersteens of one sort or another in my stable for most of the past 27 years and I must agree with Exocet that they sound best to my ears with tubes. They sound great with Rogue, VTL and ARC integrateds and hallucinogenically brilliant with the heavy hitting ARC, VTL and Jadis monster amps. Of course, few will pair speakers of such modest cost with such electronics but the combos are nothing if not awesome. The 2Cs can truly take you as far as you would like to go.
I appreciate all the input. Looks like there's a consensus that the 2C's will sound very good with tubes. I have no experience with tubes (none at all). Based on Siliab's recommendations, I did some research on tube integrateds, I like the specification of Rogue Tempest. The only drawback I feel is absence of phono stage. Any other recommendations on integrated with good phono stages( I know most amps come with MM phono stage only, since I use a MM cartridge on my Rega P2 I'm ok with it)
Rogue Cronus has a phono stage. 55wpc.
Thanks Tvad, but 55 wpc is rather too low for Vandersteen 2Cs, don't you think?
...55 wpc is rather too low for Vandersteen 2Cs, don't you think?
It depends on the size of your room and the volume you require. Vandersteen
recommends a minimum of 40 wpc.
From what I have read on this thread, there's nothing even remotely
approaching a consensus recommendation for a tube amp to drive these
In fact, there are many suggestions for solid state amps including models
from McCormack, Classe, Odyssey, Belles, and TAD.
I agree that there are a lot of recommendations for SS amps. But but for 2C only I see at least 3 recommendations for tube amps. Just wanted to get more inputs on tube amps, thats all.
Here's another solid state suggestion: Plinius 8200 MK I with phono.
John Marks of Stereophile places it on his "Tomorrow's Classics" list
Thanks Tvad, not bad at all, it comes with both MM/MC phono stage and 175 watts/channel. Impressive. Have you ever heard this amplifier? Another question, whats your take on the DK\LSA VS-1 Ref. MK II?
I haven't heard either the Plinius or DK/LSA.
I think you could buy a used Plinius to try it, and resell it pretty easily for what you paid. The DK, I'm not as confident. Therefore, based on reputation, reviews and resale, I'd put my money on the Plinius.
John Marks Stereophile "Tomorrow Classics List". Quicksilver, All. I currently have a pair of 2Ce sig2's. A good 50-60 watt tube amp like a Quicksilver Mid Mono or better yet Silver 60's are great. I think the Mid Mono's have a glorious mid-range liquidity, while the Silver 60 provide more drive. Keep in mind that a 55 watt tube amp vrs a 120 watt tube amp will give you better woofer control. It is not going to give you deeper bass or greater overall output. To achieve twice the output will take 10-times the rated power output. And then again, the gain in db output from 50-120 watts is only about 3db. But to me, the sound of music is in the mid-range and top end. I guess it all depends on what you want. Back in the day(1986) I was happy with a mere 35 watt stereo 70.
Agreed, but think about instruments like Cello, they are pretty bass intensive, I couldn't hear the cello reverberation with my Denon Revciver, but with the pre-power combination the sound was very good. I want some heft to the music.
Also, the reason I'm looking for an integrated is phono stage. I only listen to vinyl, so it's essential to have a phono stage, my budget at won't permit me to have a tube pre and a tube power.
There is a Plinius 8200 mk 1 for sale on Audiogon now. If that's what your looking for...
I never much cared for tubes running Vandy's till I heard the more recent Audio Research amps on the bigger Vandy's, truly sublime. I haven't heard them, but would imagine VTL's working very well. Still the Livin was looking to spend "about a grand". At that price point, I think ss is probably the way to go and I wouldn't feel compromised by not going tubes regardless.
I use a Plinius 8200 MKII with my 2CE Signatures, and I think it's a fantastic match.
Just a word of caution - apparently the 8200 MK I (the earliest version) was not all that great - especially in the phono stage.
Plinus was reported to have made a quite a lot of changes for the better when creating the 8200 MKII. Pretty sure they paid a lot of attention to making a much better phono stage.
I listen to vinyl a lot too, and it's very satisfying through the Plinius.
If you were to go the route of separates, I think McCormack is a no-brainer.
For most folks, I think SS is the way to go with VS, McCormack is obviously a good choice. Beyond that if you wnat to go tubes, you need some power, and Quciksilver V4 would be my choice. Ask Richard what he thinks. You might find that QS is his tubes amp of choice. Or high powered ARC.
There are a pair of TAD 125s (Solid State but, sound tubey) for less than a grand out there. That is what I ran my 2ce's when I had them. I now run my 3s. Read the reviews.
For what it's worth, I am EXTREMELY happy with the way my Rogue Audio Cronus drives my Vandersteen 1C's. The synergy is absolutely perfect, sort of like the amp and spreakers were made for each other. The Cronus' built-in MM phono stage is a great match for my Rega P3-24/Exact 2 analog front end. Happy Listening !
I have been using ARC D70 and SP9 for 20 years. I have plenty of low base when I need it. If Base is important buy the Vandersteen sub. You have to take the time with your choice of music to listen to a good solid state vs tube at a Vandersteen dealer or friend and go from there. Maybe you should buy both used then decide on your own then resell what you dislike. I would guess quicksilver would be a good choice from your music given.
I agree with Dhgee...Keep in mind the Dynaco Stereo 70 for example is only 35 watts per channel. But note that tube watts are more powerful than their numerical equivalent in transistor watts. 35 watts is comparable to about 50 transistor watts! A 60 watt ARC D70 is a fantastic sounding amplifier with an output comparable to a 80 watt transistor amp. The load of a Vandersteen 2C (1987) speaker is also tube friendly, 7.8 ohms nominal 6 ohms minimun. The current 2Ce Signature II is tube frendly as well. Over the weekend I visited my good friend who bought my older 1987 2C Vandersteens. The 2C's are truly a great sounding speaker. He has a very large room and is running them with mid fi 1980's gear , Denon reciever, sony cd player and they still sound very good. Most do not know how great the even older 2C can sound. To the best of my knowledge Richard Vandersteen uses ARC gear to voice his speakers. He has owned Quicksilver amps as well. And if you need more bass performance the Vandersteen sub is the way to go. To my ears the Vandersteens have always sounded best with tubes. Not the big tube amps. But the smaller amps that use the EL34's, KT66's tubes....Just my 2c's...But, you could always call Mr. Vandersteen for more information....
I agree with Dhgee...The ARC D70 is a great amplifier mated with Vandersteens. In fact I beleve that Mr. Vandersteen currently is using ARC gear to voice his loudspeakers. Vandersteen has also owned V4 Quicksilver amps as well to the best of my knowledge. As far as tube vrs transistor wattage. Even the Dynaco Stereo 70, for example, is only 35 watts per channel, but note that tube watts are more powerful than transistor watts. The 35 watt Stereo 70 is really about 50 transistor watts! So, a ARC D-70 at 60 watts is perhaps a 80 watt transistor amp. Something to consider. Also the older 2C (1987) Vandersteen is tube friendly as it's only 7.8 ohms minimum 6 ohms. The newer 2Ce Signature II's are also tube friendly. If you really need more bass the Vandersteen sub woofer is the way to go. I just recently visited my friend who bought my old Vandersteen 2C's (1987). He runs them with mid 80's gear. A Denon reciever and sony cd palyer in a very large room. It sounds pretty good. But many have no idea how great this speaker can really sound. To me the Vandersteens have always sounded best with tubes. I perfer the smaller amps that use the EL-34 tube or KT-66. Just my 2 cents. But, you could also ask Mr. Vandersteen by calling him.....
A Watt is a Watt is a Watt. Tube inches aren't any bigger than ss inches either.
Well I will not say transistor watts are different than tube watts. I will say the rating used to advertise power in the early days is different than today and you have to ask what test they are talking about. Back then I believe they mean you could drive a specified dynamic load all the time with the power but today marketing news-propaganda-speak-sell-the-product-pronto talk means something else. Better to just hook it up and see if you like it and lite a match to the slick advertising. Power is a product of current and voltage and tube amps tend to have less current due to the Z transformer since it's an inductor. Well designed tube amps tend to have massive Z transformers and power supplies.
I would not use a Dynaco ST70 for the 2C as it is not enough power and you will probably produce too much clipping. The 1C however is more efficient and is a very good cheap combo for the ST70. The Min power I would use is 50 watts for the 2c. See the 2C spec. If you use a sub it may work buy you just have to wire it up and see if you like it. EL34s are known to have good mid range.
Just looking at your components I would go with an older tube preamp for about $400 or less. Audio Research Sp6, CJ pre-amp from mid 80s, lots of choices. My first tube pre-amp was a Laz cascode basic I got new for $600. Bad power transformers from several samples. AC 60hz leakage on the little flat transformer, which is why I like ARC. No stupid parts selection like that.