Review: Vandersteen 1b Speaker
OK, here is a musciian with eclectic tastes and a spouse with similar, if even more refined taste in great music, whether that is blues, jazz, classical, rock, folk, R&B, or something form Peru, telling you that rarely, if ever, have I heard anything uder a grand that is more enjoyable.
The 1B's have a knack for disappearing when playing most recordings. The sound is nonfatiguing, and yet there is enough magic to tell you what is in front of it. I have had these for over ten years and orther than changing cables have not had to tweak them other than for setup.
the Vandy's have to 'see each other to sound their best. I have them two feet from the back wall and three feet in, with about 9 feet between them. They are in a fairly large room but can be enjoyed from almost anywhere, although there is of course a reasonably sized seet spot where the imaging and soundstage lock in. They image slightly better than they soundstage, and are best at sounding open, airy and smooth. I have auditioned them against other speakers in this excellent line, but actually prefer the sound of these for their coherence and transparency. the lack of the usual cabinet walls as well as the time alignment is certainly part of the story, but the driver and crossover quality must be the rest. No unwanted cabinet vibrations- heck-no cabinets! Voices are wonderful, as Tracy Chapmans first album or the soundtrack from Songcatcher will quickly show. But they also do a great job with all but the most congested classical recordings. For those, the limits of my receiver/speaker combination will make themselves apparent, not in any tonal errors, but in the ability to generate the scale and authority of say, a Carmina Burana or Mahler Symphony. Within these limits though, there is stilla mystical quality that comes from a tonal balance that sounds very natural, whether or not it specs out on an oscilloscope. Newsflash - my ears - and yours- are not flat, nor is your room, nor is the recording,etc. So their ability to sound pleasing and 'natural' may well be a judicious choice by Dick Vandersteen on which way to tilt the spectrum. Want more or less treble? The use of any coin in the tweeter adjustment slot on back will let you fine tune these beauties.
Efficient? My Ancient NAD 25-watter(6dB headroom) drives them easily. No tough load here. They do care about cables though. Connects, as long as they are well burned in are inexplicable not as good a return on investment. I have run Straightwire through them as well and they were fine, but really like the Tributaries at only $ 5.50/foot.
If I had all the money in the world, I would still keep them- I would just get a fast powered sub(not that the bass is unsatisfactory, but-you know) and upgrade everything else. OK, Ok, so then they would go in the bedroom and I would move the National Debt Model 2's into the living room. The point is, I would keep them.
NAD 7020 receiver, Linn LP12 w/Akito arm and Linn K9 cartridge, Pioneer Legato-bit CDP, Tributary solid silver cables, Arrici stand, $10,000 of room treatments passing themselves off as furniture :-).
Hundreds of speakers over the last few decades. In this price range: B & W, Cerwin Vega(owned), Advent, Allison, Polk, Infinity,JBL, DCM, Mirage(owned),
PhaseTech(owned), Hartley(owned), and too many others to list.