Not Thrilled with Vandersteen 2CE Sigs - where is the first place to work on?


Trying to build up the system this year, bought some Vandy 2CE Sigs.  Have the anchors, following instructions for placement, built bass traps and a couple of acoustic panels in my medium-sized but odd-shaped basement listening area - still not thrilled.  Using laptop with Tidal and Dragonfly Red - and some stuff sounds GREAT (Steely Dan, SRV, Beck, Dire Straits, Wilco) - but disappointed in a lot of other stuff.  Some objective opinions on where my issues might lie?  Expectations too high? Hearing the truth of production variations?  Running an NAD C272 at 150WPC and an original 1979 APT Holman Pre Amp.  Not MAC, Bryston, etc - but was expecting more.  Thoughts? Rebuild/recap the APT?  Amp upgrade?  Where might the low-hanging fruit be?
gjinwi
OP’s equipment isn’t up to the task imo. Old, un-revealing gear. 
Tomic knows Vandersteens! tomic601

I had 2CEs for many years (formerly driven by a McCormack DNA-1 deluxe amp and passive linestage) and loved them so much I replaced them with the newest version, the 2CE Sig III. I have heard many great speakers in my 30+ years of hi-fi at shows and dealers, but nothing comes close in terms of value for the dollar, imo. I would have the Treo CT or Quatro CT if I could afford them. But I love the "Vandersteen sound." So do reviewers... the Treo CT is also on AbSound’s "50 Greatest Bargains" list, and there are numerous other glowing reviews. I’ve listened to other touted speakers which had a lot of snap and sizzle initially, but became very fatiguing fairly quickly. I’ve auditioned the highly regarded top $15K Harbeths, and yes they are good, but not even twice as good at my Vandy 2s, much less 5X better. I’d say 15% better, but that’s subjective. I would have multiple systems if I could afford it, with Maggies, maybe Harbeths, maybe Alumines or KEF Blades, or, or, or ...? Chasing perfection can be exhausting and very expensive, and all I really want to do is enjoy the music.

The Vandersteen 2, like many speakers, rewards you with the quality of your upstream gear ("Running an NAD C272 at 150WPC and an original 1979 APT Holman Pre Amp" isn’t going to yield the best results). My dealer says they have paired the 2CE Sig III with $40K of Audio Research gear and they rose to the occasion and sounded great. Their opinion is that the newest 2CE is better than the Vandersteen 3A Signature.

You WILL be rewarded by upgrading your amp/preamp/sources. CAREFUL setup and speaker placement is important too (not too close to the wall!). I follow the Vandersteen owner manual setup guide and fine-tune. My current room is 12x15 with speakers on the long wall and an 8’ throw to my ears and it works. I have had them in a bigger room (and may again) and that worked too.

I have a modest system, but am very happy with the results. Odyssey Audio Khartago/Kismet amp, Audio Alchemy DAC/preamp, Rega Apollo II CD player, and streaming Tidal/Roon via a Small Green Computer server/streamer. Good but not over the top cabling, but BI-WIRED as Richard V recommends. I have an AQ Dragonfly Cobalt too, for playback from the laptop and phone and it sounds good, but not as good as the rack DAC.

System synergy is so important, and why I don’t make major changes in my system often. I am sure I could find speakers I like as well or even better than my Vandys, at 2-5 times the price, but it may require changing amps and preamps etc. As we know, to solve an equation you use one variable at a time and in hifi those variables can get expensive. I would suggest visiting a great Vandersteen dealer and listening to a well set up system and you may be pleasantly surprised.

50 Greatest Bargains in High-End Audio (Absolute Sound)
https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/50-greatest-bargains-in-high-end-audio-3

MID-PRICED

Bowers & Wilkins 705 S2 loudspeaker, $2500
Monitor Audio Silver 300 loudspeaker, $1999
>>> Vandersteen Audio Model 2Ce Signature III loudspeaker, $3279
REL Acoustics T/7i subwoofer, $999
NAD M10 BluOS streaming amplifier, $2749
Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC, $2449
MoFi Electronics UltraDeck+ turntable with UltraTracker cartridge, $1999
Hana SL phono cartridge, $750

FWIW

@audioconnection @patrickdowns lovely helpful posts:-) and I have heard 2’s with the Odessy integrated, massive wall of sound.

sounds like the OP has reached out to John. He is in good hands.
Thanks tomic601 ! I would love to hear your V7's.
We have been selling Vandersteen for 20+ years and never had a comment they sound like “s**t”! We have sold hundreds of pairs new and previously owned in that time and experienced a few previously owned pairs that were not up to Vandersteen standards. Some examples had non OEM drivers installed or burnt parts in their crossovers because of age or abuse but still functioned albeit with substandard sound. 2Ce Sig speakers are 14-20 years old and may be on multiple owners with no one realizing something is wrong. I can assure you that if they sound like “s**t” something is amiss and they should get a complete check up.  
 JohnnyR