opinion on electronics for Vandy 2Ce Sig

I recently sold some JM Labs and a reciever to move into some Vandys and...

Early this week I auditioned the Vandersteen 2Ce Sig. They will be mine, oh yes, they WILL be mine.
Shortly after Christmas, I will purchase a pair (here on audiogon probably) I need some opinions on electronics.

Budget = ~$1500
I need a pre and amp both. I can probably go a little higher, but lower the cost, the sooner I am listening.

Volume: Once in a while, I like to listen LOUD! I suspect that 100wpc won't be enough...perhaps I am wrong. Anyway, I DON'T want to run out of headroom.

Room: Strange...living room with 20ft vaulted ceilings, very oddly shaped and also open to the rest of the condo, but three steps down (sunken).

Music: I listen to everything, but I really like the double bass of bluegrass music, Knopfler's guitar, keys and horns of Steely Dan and Alison Krauss + Union Station's beautiful harmonies. When I auditioned the Vandys, I thought that the highs needed some more extention....dare I say a little more brightness. I don't want to loose that midbass though. The audition equip. was PS Audio CDP, Anthem pre/amp combo (not sure the model).

I will almost certianly buy used here on Audiogon.

Here are some brands I am considering in no particular order, and would like comments + suggestions: NOTE: I haven't heard ANY of this stuff, and since I am going to buy used, I won't have the ability to audition before I buy...it's going to come down to performance/price.

Conrad Johnson
Musical Fidelity
Rogue Audio

I am also not allergic to tubes, but my wife says she doesn't want 'test tube experiments' in the living room. It seems any tube gear would have to have a case, much to my dismay.

Any and all opinions are welcome, but please don't suggest other speakers. I sat in the audition chair for two hours with a big smile on my face, so they are definitely it as far as speakers go.

One really nice combination I've heard is the Vandy's with the BEL (Brown Electronics Labs) 1001 mkII and an Audible Illlusions Modulus II preamp. You don't see the BEL's come up that often, and if one did, I might be competing for it! It's a Class A SS amp, and I think it only has 50 WPC, but they are "good watts". I haven't heard it pushed to really loud, but this was a great combination with smooth tonal balance and good soundstaging. Do a search on audio asyslum for BEL 1001, and you'll see some discussion. To get you started:

While a they are great values with tight punchy bass and liquid, extended upper frequencies the McCormack amps can be a bit up front, and that's just what the Vandy's need! Perhaps two of the best values in audio that though developed independently seem to have been made for each other. Highly recommended. I should warn you the Vandy's while satisfacory are not the last word in playing LOUD. If you'r after volume you might want to stay away from passive pre's, and might want to consider bi-amping.
I will second the McCormack amp (either a DNA.5 or a DNA 1)Mate then with an Audible Illusions L-1 preamp(if you are using line source only) It is a tube preamp but it is fully encased. These components form an unbelievable synergy that will be hard to beat. I prefer the .5 @ 100w/ch 8 ohms BUT it doubles down to 200w/ch into 4 ohms. The Vandersteens dip to about 3.2 ohms so this should be more than enough power.
The Audible adds a little tube majic to the McCormack which can sound a touch thin in the mids. It also smooths out the tiny touch of roughness in the McCormack also.
One caveat about the Vandersteen's, they will NOT do low bass all that loud (about 90db) without muckin up. Don't be fooled to think they will. They are designed to be accurate reproducers of music(which they are) They are not rock speakers that are designed to shake the house. If you desire that, add a pair of 2Wq subs at some point.
You should be able to get both components for less than your budget. You will be well rewarded with high end sound.
Thanks Guys, this is what I am looking for.

I should have stated that I will definitely be getting a 2Wq (possibly a pair) at some point. I should have stated - loud to me is not 'Stadium Rock Concert' loud, but enough to immerse myself fully into the music. Don't know how to tell everyone what that means.

Anyway, from previous posts, and the advice here already, bi-amping a pair of McCormack .5s is looking really possible for my budget, although I would start with one and have it modded by Steve. Speaking of bi-amping, (WARNING, ROOKIE ? AHEAD!) how is that done without using some kind of Y cable or splitter? Are there preamps that purposefully come with two sets of outputs?

Thanks again,
McCormack would defintely light up the Vandersteens, with say a Rouge 66 pre. But I personaly would try to find a Classe 100 watt amp if there was one available. It won't be easy as I see very few pass through audiogon.

You didn't mention your source? Tubes can play loud, if you like mid-range you may consider going with a tube pre. If you talk to Richard Vandersteen, he will steer you in the direction of tubes. I remeber a conversation I was having with him in which I told him I was switching from my 60 watt tube amps ( on 3a's ) to a 200 watt SS amp. He was not in favor of the move at all. To the best of my knowledge Vandersteen tests there speakers on Quicksilver Audio amps. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

But still without spending time with your listening experience, it's hard to say from here what will work.......
Yes, there are some pre's that come with 2 sets of outputs. Warning, you will not get the full benefit of bi-amping using the built in speakers passive cross-over, this may be even more so with 1st order crossovers like the ones in the Vandersteens. Please don't take this to mean that I'm necessarily suggesting bypassing Vandersteens own cross-overs. This may appear to be contradicting my earlier post, but, I was only trying to suggest a way to possibly, safely increase quality volume. The Vandersteens like power, but have limitations.
I have been listening to CD through my DVD player, but I am going to purchase a dedicated CD...maybe a Rega Planet or Music Hall cd25...something decent without breaking the bank.

I want to make clear, I'm not trying to achieve Nirvana here, just good sound with a budget.

Tubes are certainly okay with me, but like I stated before, I can't go with exposed-tube amps 'cause my wife just doesn't like the look of them, and she won't be able to sonically tell the difference anyway - at least not to the effect that I can.

Keep 'em comin!

I had Vandies with a DNA1 & CJ PV10. I will highly recommend the 2CE's with a DNA-1 but I'd skip the CJ & get an Audible Illusions pre-amp instead. This should yield a very musical system. One thing I will warn against though with the Vandies is you must be able to place properly or they will not live up to their potential. I fought with them for a year before finaly giving up for a smaller pair of monitors due to my room set up.
On the amp end, I would definately recommend DNA 0.5. Go with one, and then go up the scale with McCormack Revisions. Then add a 2WQ, then go to a 2nd McCormack, then a second 2WQ. Consider CJ 10 for a pre, which can be had for about $600 here on the 'Gon. A Rev B mod McCormack and a CJ10 would be a little over your budget, but would be awesome.
Kimber 8TC speaker wire is to me THE wire for Vandersteen's to fix the "behind the curtain" sound. Lifts the top while keeping the mid nice and tightnig the bottom. Just a sug.

All the preamps you mentioned do not expose the tubes. So I geuss I'm confused..... You seem decided on a SS amp. So you won't have a problem with the wife.
Thanks for the advice folks!

Kt 88,

Right now, it looks like a tube pre and a SS amp. But,
after looking around a bit, I wouldn't be against something like Rogue M-120 Monoblocks...tubes, but you can't see them. I've never heard them, so I don't know if they would fit the setup or not. She also doesn't like the look of McIntosh stuff. The compromises we make...

The only tube-exposed amp my wife has given the stamp of approval of are the new VAC PHI series (I was daydreaming online recently, and she caught me.) Unfortunately, they are about $14/monoblock. A little out of budget for me

Hope that makes sense.
would suggest pse studio v's mono blocks ( you can confirm this with richard vandersteen).

they were one of the original solid state designs he voiced the speaker with.

fully balanced design that is very neutral / transparent/and dynamic. what you put in them is what you get out - they go for $500 to $600 used.

if you can try to find the silver signiture's - they go for $800 tp $900. the only - solid state amps that i have found better than these is the classe cam mono blocks ($4.5K pair new vs. pse's $3k new)

for a pre, i think it is okay to go with with tubes. you really need to get them somewhere in the line. you can get 80% of the tube sound with a tube or a hybrid pre with out the tube hassle.

remote ( remote is REALLY Nice, i would consider it mandatory)

audio research ls-2b mkII ( fully balanced with remote)they go for $1000 to $1100 used. truly wonderful pre and very reliable. they only require 1 tube. if you want non remote- they can be had for $700 to $850. this is a great match with the vandies and pse's.

bat 3vki - balanced and with remote- a little warmer than the arc ls-2bmkii. they go for $900 to $1100 depending on options and age. if you can strech a little more- the 5vki non remote is $1250 to $1350. with the price of the pse's that will be about $1800. the bat has more tubes, but a very musical and dependable design.

another non remote pre is the audible illusions l-1.
they are extremly reliable and can be had for $600 to $700 used.

hope that helps !!


You definetly offered the other end of the SS world with the PSE. I auditioned them early on in my SS days, just about 1 week before I auditioned a McCormack DNA-1 " All on Vandersteen speakers by the way "

While I considered the McCormack brought the music too far forward ( for me ) I thought the PSE's were " to polite for the Vandersteen's " In fact I thought 60 watts tubes added more to the music than the PSE's But who knows?

Zstokes if you want you can e-mail me privately.
When I was using the McCormack's (.5's) for biamping, I opened the top and soldered a piece of silver Wonder wire across the two inputs (hot center wire) You could then use the amps for this purpose without the degradation of a Y connector. It in NO way harms the amp and you certainly want have a warranty issues with amps of this age.

Unsound, why will you not get the benefits of biamping using the internal crossovers? They are designed for exactly this. I have discussed this with Richard at a seminar and I don't believe this is the case with these speakers.
Bigtee, I did not say there weren't benefits. I said you wouldn't get all the benefits. Having the (active) crossovers before the amps will allow the amps to work more efficently.
I have auditioned the Vandersteen 2ce sig several times with Rouge equipment and was blown away. The imaging and staging was out of this world. In fact, I pretty much use that experience as a bench mark of where I want to move to when I do drop the coin for new mains.


Each time I heard them mated to the 88 with various sources.

i think quicksliver mono ( kt88's) are a WONDERFUL match with the vandersteens.

the vandies are a great match with tubes however...i didnt suggest them due to maintance. they are a very rugged design and reliable.

however, i was under the impression he was looking for solid state.

in regards to the pse's studio v's being to polite....hummm..

what was the associated gear ?

they are very, very neutral in character and are known to be extremely dynamic. if they sounder polite, chances are they were used with a laid back source and pre.

they are often referred to as "the poor mans levinson".

audioconnection is a dealer in nj and they can be auditioned there, he is also a vandersteen dealer.

i found out about pse studio v's through richard vandersteen. he was the one who turned them on to me, and i have been a believer ever since.

many pre,cd's speakers and cables have come and gone over the years. the only piece that has been consistant is the pse studio v's.

hope that helps !!


That's the trouble of these posts:::: Opinions vary like the changing wind. What you like, I may not like, what you listen for, I may not. Then someone says something about someone else's favorite gear, and we can have a shooting match.

I was posting to Zstokes based on what he was saying. And also my experience of listening to what people were trying to achieve. I wanted to offer an all tube choice becuase to me tube is much more satisfing. And also I find people who want at least a tube front end will quickly find that an all tube system will work for them. I myself will gladly sacrifice a little bottom end slam, for something I can listen to all day.

My comments about PSE were based on my experience. I was using CJPV10, Melos 333, and VAC CLP at the time for my auditioning. Along with a Muse model 2 ( I believe ) dac I was auditioning a McCormack DNA-1, Classe 100 watt ( sorry forgot, but it was the current model ) as well as the PSE. Up agianst these other amps the PSE was " polite "

I have talked with Fat John @ Audio Connection www.audioconnect.com a # of times. In fact he was one of the people who recomended Quicksilver ad Vandersteen to me. He also advised me to listen to PSE, ( which by the way is in my town of Minneapolis )

As to the KT88 amps by Quciksilver, I don't think they are worth the money. That is assuming you are talking about the version built in the early 90's. When I went down the Quicksilver trail. I had several conversations with Mike Sanders. He steered me clear of the KT88's, and at the time said even the M60's would be a better choice.
Bigtee is exactly right re: paralleling the inputs on the DNAs. I had a pair brought to RevA+ for use in bi-amping and that's exactly what SMCAudio did. Just make sure you label them so you or a subsequent owner don't forget.
Unsound, Sorry I misread your post.
Bigtee, no apology necessary. Probably helped clarify things.
I want to thank everyone who has responded with thier opinions. I'm still undecided, but I have a bit more insight into the choices I will make.