The Vandy is a nice subwoofer. However, the easiest way to solve all of your integration problems is the get a REL subwoofer.
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Well, for starters, the Vandy 2Wq MUST be used with the Vandy-supplied crossover. The Vandy 2Wq system is designed so that the crossover not only switches over from the main speaker to the sub(s) at about 80 Hz, but the subs themselves have a built-in compensating curve that is the inverse of the roll-off to the main speaker.
It sounds like you may have a phase problem. When I first installed my pair of Vandy 2Wq's, I thought the bass response sounded recessed. I talked to my local Vandy dealer, who suggested reversing the phase on both subs (instead of positive-to-positive connections, make them positive-to-negative). Once I reversed the connections -- VOILA! huge increase in bass (both depth and volume).
You may also need to play with the crossover settings in the crossover box. The Vandy guidelines suggest setting values on the crossover to one level below the one that matches the input impedance of your amp. I found that with my Bryston 4B-ST power amp, I needed to set the crossover values to exactly match the input impedance of the amp. You will be surprised how much difference in performance there is from one crossover setting to the next (either up or down).
The crossover box that Vandy supplies for use with the Model 3A's and 2Ce's is OK, but not great. If you own high quality main speakers, you may want to consider buying the crossover that Vandersteen makes for the subwoofer in their Model 5 speaker. The Model 5 crossover is much higher quality, and since it has DIP switches, rather than being hard-wired, you can easily play with settings to see their effect. You can also use this crossover with any new amp that you subsequently buy that has a different input impedance than the previous amp. I have the M5 crossover in my Vandy system, and it is absolutely seamless -- can't even tell it's there.
Last comment: I use my pair of Vandy 2Wq's for both audio and HT, and have been very pleased with them. They may not be the last word in reproducing explosions, nor the absolute best choice for playback at extremely high volume levels, but they do a terrific job with music and the majority of LFE. If you want more "oomph" from them for HT and LFE, try turning the "Q" setting up to the maximum setting, and down (to around 2 or 3) for 2-channel audio.
Of my various suggestions above, I'd suggest you start by reversing the signal leads at the subwoofer inputs. If your phase has been reversed, you will notice an immediate and substantial increase in bass output.
I agree; great answer. Sdcampbell really knows his Vandersteen subs. The REL's have a phase switch, so it is easy to determine which phase is correct without a lot of fuss. You don't need a crossover with a REL either. You can adjust the crossover/slope and volume right at the sub. These are the reasons I stated they are easy to integrate.
That said; the Vandersteen is a very nice musical sub at its price point; and you will enjoy it once you can get it setup correctly.
In my earlier post, I forgot to mention one other factor: placement of the Vandy subs in your listening room. I have talked directly with Richard Vandersteen on this subject, and his guidance (repeated in the user's manual) is to place the 2Wq's in the room corners if possible, but within a few feet of the main speakers. Corner placement substantially improves the bass loading into the room, and having the subs fairly close to the main speakers yields better integration of the frequencies.
If you have your main speakers on a long wall, it may not be practical to place the subs in the corners of the room. If so, you should still have the subs fairly close to the back wall. In short, the closer you can place the subs to room boundaries (back wall OK, corner best), the better the Vandy subs will perform.
The other point I did not specifically address is having one Vandy 2Wq versus two. The 2Wq was ideally designed to be used in pairs, and if you are using only one, you WILL have less output. More than that, if you have only one 2Wq for music applications, you will be losing phase-related information form the music signal, since it is necessary to sum the L+R signals at the sub's inputs.
Vandersteen produces the V2W subwoofer for HT use, and it has a 12" passive radiator on the front panel which increases output about 6 db. The V2W also is driven directly from the LFE output on the pre/pro, unlike the 2Wq which gets its signal from the power amp outputs. If high volume levels are a primary desire, then you may want to think about selling your 2Wq and buy two V2W's instead. This would provide the phase-related information inherent in the music, plus very high volume output.
When I originally bought my Vandy 2Wq, I had only one sub in the system -- it was decent, but not what I had hoped for. When I added a second 2Wq, it was whole different matter -- the bass is tight, full, extremely musical, and fully adequate for HT. If you do not have a pair of 2Wq's in your system, you are NOT hearing the performance that the 2Wq's can provide. In short, I suggest you get a second 2Wq -- I think you will be very pleased with the result.
Last point: using the crossover, as I said in my initial post, isn't optional. Not only does it directly impact the performance of the sub, it also impacts the performance of your main speakers. One of the less-discussed benefits of using a subwoofer in a full-range system is the reduction of IM distortion in the mid-range and woofer drivers in the main speakers. This yields a significant improvement in both apparent speed and clarity in the critical upper bass and mid-range frequencies.
Hope this helps. I -- and some other posters on this forum -- have spent a lot of time tweaking our Vandy subwoofers (2Wq, V2W, and the sub in the Model 5). I can't speak for others, but if you'd like to talk with me by phone about optimizing your 2Wq setup, please send me a private E-mail containing your home phone number, and I'll be glad to call you.
SD, thank you very much for taking the time to go in depth with you explanations. I will take your advice and spend the $150 to buy the crossover. Part of the reason I didn't buy the crossover was I tried one and I felt it altered the soundstage and muddied the sound of the mids/highs of my speakers. It wasn't awful like the temporary xover supplied with the sub, but still a sacrifice. When I ran full range without the xover, I did get a bit of a boomy bass probably in the 80-120hz range, but I felt this was better than having harshness in the highs and was able to play with the settings and placement to where I found it very enjoyable. Obviously from your post, you don't have any of the sound deterioration. I will try again with the temporary one and see if I can find the impedance setting that sounds right.
Also, I do get plenty of bass when I listen to 2 channel music. I route my processor through the processor loop on my music preamp, so the amp is the same amp for both systems. That's why I felt it was more of the processor not being able to route the bass signals back into the two front mains.
Thanks all for your help!
Hi, Alouie. You're welcome. The "permanent" crossover that Vandersteen provides is decent, if not the last word. I think the X-over sells for $125. If you really want to go "top drawer", the Model 5 crossover also works with the 2Wq. It is, however, kind of pricey: $600 for the version with single-ended RCA jacks, and $800 for balanced/XLR. The M5 crossover, however, has excellent internal components, including 1% metal foil resistors, WIMA caps and Infinicaps, etc. The crossover is also housed in a single, single-steel enclosure. I was able to find a used M5 crossover that I bought for $350, and it's a distinct improvement over the "regular" crossover. Something more to think about...
Just to throw in my 2 cents. I use both the V2W and 2Wq subs and am very pleased with the results. The subs blend perfectly with my MG 3.6R.
I orginally started with the V2W for HT and wanted to add a second one to balance the room out. My dealer recommended a 2Wq instead.
For the 2Wq, I use the xover capabilities of my Theta CasaNova instead of an external xover.